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

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Ueley Carlisle – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 21

U.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 an auburn-haired beauty fighting to save the family business who causes the three to question their grand scheme to escape their collective pasts.

Ueley Carlisle has not stake in the future of O’Grady timber & Lumber or Rollins Lumber except for the fact without one of them his dream of doubling Harrington’s population is nothing more than an apparition. The sixty year old has been on the western wave of migration, throwing up ever larger towns as he progresses.

Seeing what is in Penley River he feels confident he can proceed with his mater plan. The three year initial contract he offers is something that will set one of the operations up for a long time of stability with the promise of follow on contracts in the years to come.

Here is an excerpt:

Ueley Carlisle stood on a small rise looking to the west of Harrington’s planned business district. He could see in his mind the lateral extensions to the west, northwest and north. The rail line was already in place and would be just right for his new designs.

He was willing to invest in Penley River to build up all the industry to keep this town mainly a residential center. The commerce would come with the population, of that he was sure. He could see Harrington be the model of great towns and eventually cities as the Unites States of American continued to grow.

Tomorrow is your introduction to the final O’Grady sister, Venus, who tends to side with Delilah, her mother, to complicate Clementine’s efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Trumble – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 20

TSteel 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 who causes the three to question their grand scheme to escape their collective pasts.

Colonel Thomas Trumble was just a Captain in the Fall of 1859 when all the sings of a coming military conflict began to consume the minds of everyone around him in the United States Army. Mr. Lincoln’s War as he came to call it, was something unnecessary in his mind, just a waste of money, men and opportunity.

Through his time in the inspector general’s department he was a vocal critic of all things related to the war. He wasn’t a Southern sympathizer by any means, he just hated the whole process. Two trips to view the carnage of a battlefield was enough to convince him that the war had to stop by any means. But that did not mean he was willing to condone any practice by the men in blue, such as Finn, Brou and Nolan.

By Mid-1864 the now Colonel had earned his nickname “Trouble” meaning if he was on your trail there was nothing good to come.

Here is an excerpt:

A low rumble went through the crowd when the trio of deep blue uniformed riders approached. The taller rider bore the hardware of a senior officer, something rarely seem in this far west. He searched the crowd like he knew his quarry would be here. Minutes later he beckoned to one of the men waiting for his next mining shift to begin.

“You there. I’m looking for three men.”

“If you have work there is more than three looking,” the tired voice replied.

“No work. I am seeking old soldiers. I need them for another task.”

“What are the names?”

“Russell, Broussard and Honeycut,” Trumble said.

“Sir you are several hundred miles south for those three. They headed up to Ohio through Kentucky.”

“Kentucky!” one of Trumble’s men exclaimed.

“Then Kentucky is where we will go next,” Trumble said.

As they watched the riders depart the man who gave the answer leaned near to his friend. “I hope Finn kept the trail hot to California like he planned. Trumble won’t stop until he finds them!”

Tomorrow you can check back at The Fiction Playground for the for the next post about Ueley Carlisle, the developer in Harrington that is ready to demand more timber and lumber than either O’Grady or Rollins can fathom.

 

 

Saving O’Grady Timber & Lumber – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 19

SSteel 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 who causes the three to question their grand scheme to escape their collective pasts.

By now you understand the overarching plot of The Steel Horse Saviors revolves around the plan hatched with the aid of Lulubelle the steam locomotive to rescue O’Grady T & L. Clementine gradually begins to see the truth that her way of trying to maintain the status quo will never equate to a long term future for her business or her family.

Allowing the trio of newcomers to voice their opinions so freely is something that comes slowly to Clementine. She has always had to fight to have her voice heard over those of the men in her life. The proof that Finn, Nolan and Brou are in her corner brings her around to their ideas.

Here is an excerpt:

Clementine’s head was spinning. These three strangers, well she knew she had to reassess what exactly they were because they certainly were making a positive impact to the future of O’Grady Timber & Lumber, were proposing some earth shattering possibilities. If everything they promised was possible Clementine was going to have just as daunting a problem ahead: finding reliable labor.

She knew she could learn a lot from these three very different personalities. Finn was brash, confident and willing to take on any challenge. Nolan was strong both physically and mentally, proving he could withstand the sometimes reckless plans Finn hatched. Brou had the technical mind to put non-working machines back in order.  She found herself wondering if she could continue what they wanted to start if they decided their time in Penley River was done.

Tomorrow you can check back at The Fiction Playground for the third recap of the weeks six posts as well as another roster of new bloggers you might want to visit. For that click on this: Recap #3.

 

 

 

 

Rollins Lumber – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 18

RSteel 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 who casue the three to question there grand scheme to escape their collective pasts.

Rollins Lumber, while the main competitor to O’Grady Timber & Lumber, is nowhere near as developed with only a decade in operation. The main difference is the ruthlessness Quentin Rollins brought with him into this new business venture. From his past as a tenement manager with hundreds of residents Quentin has learned how to get what he needs in negotiations.

Quentin Rollins believes he can manipulate Clementine and O’Grady T & L however he chooses while he quietly but steadily pulls their business apart. The entrance into the equation of the Saviors and different voices for Clementine’s ears puts a whole different spin on the status quo.

Here is an excerpt:

So, let me get this straight,” Finn said failing miserably to hide the incredulous expression on his face. “You cut all the timber that both O’Grady and Rollins use in their operations?”

“That’s right. Quentin used up all of his timber just prior to father’s death. His new timber will not be mature for at least another five years.”

“You have a monopoly, Miss O’Grady,” Brou said.

“A monopoly?” Clementine asked.

“You control the market,” Finn said. “You can set the price.”

“That isn’t fair,” Clementine said.

“Has Rollins always been fair to you?” Finn asked.

“No,” Clementine said lowering her head.  

“You can demand a new price from Rollins Lumber. If they refuse you can haul it elsewhere on Lulubelle,” Brou suggested.

In the next post you will find out more about how the Saviors plan to save Clementine, the O’Grady family and their business in Saving O’Grady Timber & Lumber.

Quentin Rollins – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 17

QSteel 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 who casue the three to question there grand scheme to escape their collective pasts. .

Every good book has a great villain. With no villain how can you create good tension and create a high stakes showdown? Quentin Rollins is the head man of Rollins Lumber Company, the main competitor to Clementine O’Grady’s Timber and Lumber Company. While the companies have had sufficient work to co-exist in a tenuous relationship until now, many factors are morphing into a mix that will cause their competition to become a once-for-all showdown.

Quentin not only wants control of the timber and lumber business, he wants Clementine to become his wife. She has absolutely no interest in any man as the novel begins, especially one bent on tearing down what her father worked so hard to create. The entrance into the equation of three new men with questionable pasts who just happen to bring along a new locomotive the likes of which could unseat the balance of power forever are enough to set Quentin on a path of ruthlessness that even he wasn’t sure was possible.

Here is an excerpt:

Quentin could see all of his best made plans evaporating as if they were smoke. Yes, just like the thick black smoke belching out of that glorious steam engine he knew forever changed the equation he had labored so hard to slant in his direction. He had the cash to try to lure the three strangers to his side, but he knew Clementine had a more powerful asset, her beauty. If he was going to realize his plan to absorb O’Grady Timber & Lumber he had to find away to get rid of these men and their machine.

But the muscular one, he conveyed a strength unlike anyone else in this town. Quentin’s well-established reputation did not seem to phase this guy. he was a war veteran, that much Quentin had learned. He probably had seem some terrible things that steeled his resolve. No matter. Quentin was too close to shy away now. He would have O’Grady T& L and Clementine for himself, of that there could be no mistake.

In the next post you will find out more about Quentin’s piece of the lumber business, Rollins Lumber, in and around Penley River.

Penley River Trestle – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 16

P.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 an auburn-haired beauty fighting to save the family business. The Saviors must decide if they have moved far enough away from the past each one of them worries about before they can help O’Grady Timber & Lumber.

Clementine O’Grady knows her business so well the changes that can make the difference are crystal clear. Her problem in trying to make those changes is simple economics. Like restoring the line from her lumber operation to the rolling acres of mature timber that her father had worked his whole life to develop. A shattered trestle which requires major engineering expertise has been an ugly albatross for too many years.

Now the Steel Horse Saviors will be tasked with not only deciding if and how the trestle can be restored, but to put their skills to use making Clementine’s dream a reality. From there the positives will multiply so rapidly O’Grady Timber and Lumber may have another more exciting problem: finding enough skilled labor.

Here is an excerpt:

Clementine pointed past the remnants of the trestle to where a narrow path led into the tall trees. Finn grabbed his binoculars and focused on the opening, realizing there was rail leading into the distance. On each side were magnificent trees, which would certainly help fill the need for O’Grady Timber and Lumber. Finn repositioned the binoculars to the mass of broken beams and sagging rail that comprised the Penley River Trestle. He felt it was possible to salvage and even repair this vital connection, but the time they had remaining to get the contract complete was going to make things very tight.

“We need some of those trees to fix it,” Nolan declared.

“He’s right,” “Brou” agreed. Without that size trunk it won’t be strong enough.”

Finn studied the scene for a few moments before he walked forward to stare at the river. When he turned both of his compatriots felt their stomachs tighten. They had seen this look too many times before.

“We can cut the timber and float it down to the saw mill. It will save time and get us closer to fixing that behemoth.”

“What if one of those big logs smashes into the remaining supports?” Nolan asked.

“We’ll just have to guide it so it doesn’t,” Finn answered.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to learn more about the villain in The Steel Horse Saviors, Quentin Rollins.

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.