Harrington – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 8

HSteel 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 Saviors to rethink their concerted efforts to escape checkered pasts.

Harrington is the growing city that both O’Grady Timber & Lumber and Rollins Lumber have hitched their wagons to as they seek to expand their market share. Penley River is established, but cannot provide the growth needed for both businesses to survive.

A large contract with Carlisle Company, the organization capitalizing on this opportunity on the ground in Harrington is the coveted answer to Clementine’s woes. Of course that is only if she can meet the contract requirements, which may just be stacked against her. But the potential for growth offered by a deal with the Steel Horse Saviors may put her over the top.

Here is an excerpt:

Clementine stood with Quentin as they listened to Ueley Carlisle talk about his grand plans for doubling Harrington’s potential for population within three years. The sheer audacity of the amount of timber and lumber he desired would stretch both O’Grady Timber & Lumber and Rollins Lumber to their limits. For one to snag this contract would mean the death of the other.

She wished she could get Carlisle’s ear in confidence for a few moments, but Quentin was watching her every move just the same as she. In the high stakes business of survival no quarter could be surrendered to your competitor. What Clementine found so baffling was how Carlisle figured he could build a city with no industry nearby. Where did he think his citizens would earn the money to pay for his construction? Perhaps there would be a new labor source of O’Grady T & L.

Come back next time for the introduction to the middle O’Grady sister, Ingrid.


Gus Owens -Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 7

G.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.

When Gus Owens was still a low level sergeant in the Union Army Quartermaster Corps, Finn Honeycut came along with his brash, unadulterated confidence and quickly became Gus’ go to man when things had to be done under the radar. Never really committed to the Northern cause, but able to put on enough of a front when necessary with anyone senior to Gus, Finn proved his worth quickly and often.

Gus was a substitute elder to Finn and Nolan Russell, another Northern Army Savior, who toiled with him as Hooker’s Army rattled around the roads of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania as it squared off with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in their epic struggle.

Gus recruits Xavier Touchette Broussard, or “Brou” a former Southern Army mechanical genius, when Lulubelle becomes part of their operation and the three continue to make Gus look good as the War between the States spins toward its end. Gus did all he could to shield his guys from potential repercussions from his sometimes questionable methods of keeping the boys in blue on the field. But as you will read in this novel, old debts continue to chase our trio more than a year after Lee and Grant sign their papers in Appomatox.

Here is an excerpt:

Gus knew he needed “Brou” on his team if he was ever going to benefit from the marvel the boys had decided to call Lulubelle. Nolan said it was the name of his grandmother back in Ohio. At first Gus hesitated to call the steam engine Lulubelle, but it wasn’t long until the name stuck. The heartburn he should have felt for adding a Southerner to his team was something he kept to himself for about a half year. Then one night Finn and Nolan came into his tent to confront him. Gus expected the worst but the guys expressed more disappointment that he didn’t trust them enough to share this important tidbit of crucial news.

“Brou” was the kind of man who could fix anything. If he couldn’t repair or figure out how to use something you were better off without it. As Gus’ assignments became larger he brought his three caballeros along for the ride. Without them he could not have accomplished a third of the things he did and of that he was well aware.

In the next A to Z post you will read about Harrington the population boom town that will either make or break both O’Grady Timber & Lumber as well as Rollins Lumber.

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.

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:


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:


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!


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.