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

Ring, Ring Cash or Ring, Ring Boom! – Sunday Photo Fiction – 05/07/17


A cell phone ringing in the city was not unusual. Millions rang every day. But this was one of those cell phones that were all over the news. The red ones. The ones that brought extreme happiness or extreme fear and loss. The authorities cordoned off every one they found after a half-dozen experiences. Sure two people answered the phone with the reward of more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes. But on the other four occasions thirteen lives were ended when the devices exploded.

This time when the phone began to ring the police presence was more than ever before. It was necessary because there was still enough folks desperate for money that would take that awful chance. No authority had any knowledge of a difference in ring between the cash phones and those that brought death. All they knew was that a new type of terrorism was created with no leads to provide their suspect or suspects.


Insecure Writer’s Support Group – 05/03/17

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.
survivor-atoz [2017] v1
I am another of the bloggers who took the A to Z plunge in April. I understand why some people don’t want to try this. It can be too daunting, trying to match up 26 topics with the alphabet letter in a span of 30 days. But I managed to do it as I brainstormed my newest project, a historical fiction novel. In truth I found it very helpful in mapping out the course of my novel. When the flag flies on National Novel Writing Month I will be as ready as I ever have.
But as big a reason for joining the A to Z Challenge for me is to meet others. Blogging is such a solitary experience unless you have plenty of visitors who are willing to read and comment in a way beyond “nice post” or “good story”. Sorry if I come off picky or even needy, but I try to give valuable feedback or some kind of meaningful comment when I visit a blog. I found at least 26 new bloggers to follow and read last month, including several who have practical experience publishing, editing and writing good stories.
Each month group poses a question to the participants. This is the question for this month:
What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?
This question is geared toward a past project I suppose, but I think the coolest research will be what I have to do for the project I mentioned above. My new novel will be set in the mid-1860s. It involves a steam locomotive and a lumber & sawmill business. There will be a long list of items I will have to learn about to make sure my novel fits the time period.
Not only that, but I love dialogue in my writing and I will have to be very sure I keep modern slang and references out of the story. I might wish I had a device like Alexa before I am done so that I could ask when this or that became popular. I think overall it will be a fun experience however.
I look forward to meeting more #IWSG peeps. I am always glad to rub elbows with others whose minds are preoccupied with plots, settings, characters and story telling like mine.

Life Without Mom – Friday Fictioneers – 5/05/17

Photo copyright- Sandra Crook



Sophie stared blankly at the photo of Maynard Hall.

“Detective Marcus!”

Sophie’s eyes flashed at her when the harsh tone registered.

“Just coming to my office is not enough.”

“Should be.”

“It’s not. You were hours away from a mental break after your last visit to Maynard.”

“I almost caught him.”

“Maybe you need a new career.”


“You are young. You could do anything.”

“I catch killers!”

“At what cost?”

“Lives are saved because of me,” Sophie said, teeth clenched.

“What kind of life do you have?

“One with no mother.”

“Because of him?”


This is another small scene with my detective character Sophie Marcus.


A Boat for Bill – Flash fiction for Aspiring Writers – 5/02/17


Bill Turner was tired. Tired of doing the same old stories every year. He was the senior reporter for the Beacon Herald and had covered every story coming out of Penley River for thirty-seven years. Included in that number was twenty-seven times that he covered the Woodchuck festival. Everyone loved to rib him with the old joke “How much wood could a wood chuck chuck?” Bill really didn’t care. It was his final time having to endure this, so he sucked in a deep breath and headed off to do the work.

Bill made his way through the usual jumble of furry creatures eager to show off their skill. He gradually wound through the crowd to find a couple of sheets tied between two trees. When he parted the sheets he was met with a huge round of applause.

There was a wooden statue of him to the right and a brand new wooden fishing boat like the one of which he dreamed. Several woodchucks stood smiling as they watched the crusty newsman wiping his tears.

“For treating us like equals!” the wood chuck spokesman said.




If I Was a Fly on the Wall – Sunday Photo Fiction – 04/30/17



In fly circles Freddie the Fly was a legend. He had survived longer than anyone else could remember. But he also had put up with more. There was the near miss of the Venus Flytrap in December of ’16. The scorch marks from the Zapper of February ’17. But what irked Freddie most of all was the saying he heard from humans, “If I was a fly on the wall!”

Freddie finally got his say one morning when he found a leftover can of Five Hour Energy and a laptop open to the word processor. He decided this was his time.

An Open Letter to Humans, by Freddie J. Fly:

Dear Humans,

If you think being a fly on the wall is all that then let’s trade. First of all I barely ever get a chance to rest my wings on said wall before you are trying to whack me with whatever is in your reach. A newspaper, flyswatter, hairbrush, hammer or another inanimate object is usually on the way.

Trust me there is no information or activity in the world worth your life. Buzzing around is a little less hazardous, but you still are after me. Just let me be, well, me!


Freddie J. Fly




Zeke Barton – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 26

Z.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 that causes each of them to reconsider their efforts to escape their various pasts.

Zeke Barton is one of the few remaining employees that joined O’Grady Timber & Lumber at its inception. Beginning as a lumber jack Zeke quickly rose to be the foreman as he proved his worth to Angus. Having a dependable second allowed Angus to concentrate on spinning up the lumber side quicker than he expected.

Zeke wants to continue with O’Grady timber & Lumber for as long as his body will allow, but the financials are just as clear to him as they are to Clementine. But the possibilities tossed around by this new trio give Zeke a hope foreign to him for almost a decade. He sees a future where O’Grady Timber & Lumber is the only show in Penley River.

Here is an excerpt:

Zeke knew Clementine would immediately resist the possibilities these three strangers presented. She was fiercely loyal to her father’s legacy. But they weren’t really proposing to take the business to a new plane, just offering ways to restore all operations so that it could be what it once was, a commercial powerhouse.

Brou was his favorite of the trio. The little mechanical whiz seemed to have a golden touch. Zeke could feel the hair on his neck bristle as Brou merely mentioned firing up both saws at once. There was a brief time, maybe three solid years where both machines ran simultaneously. He was almost giddy thinking about how big a moment that would be.

With this post I have done what was never done before, at least for me, and survived the 26 post A to Z Challenge. On Monday or perhaps Tuesday I will roll out a reflections post with links to all the Steel Horse Saviors posts, a list of new bloggers I found during this adventure and my review of the experience.

If you have been along for the ride I thank you. We are solitary beings most of the time and taking this time to connect is good for all of us. Good luck as you continue on through your blogging journey. If any of you are eyeing the 2017 NaNoWriMo in November let me know. We can build out a NaNo Group.


Yvette Dumond – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 25

YSteel 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.

Yvette Dumond is a worldly young woman who has landed in Penley River after coming to America from France and spending a brief amount of time in New Orleans. She is about as opposite from Clementine as possible, causing Clementine to reassess her devotion tot eh family business. They are similar in age, but Yvette’s life experiences even to this point far outweigh any potential Clementine sees in the future.

Yvette is intrigued by the Steel Horse Saviors due to their mysterious pasts. In particular she focuses on “Brou” seeming to know more about him than he is comfortable with. Yvette is the kind of girl Finn has fended off his whole life and will likely cause him some grief with Clementine.

Here is an excerpt:

Yvette loved her life. Okay, she never expected to be stuck in a little place like this when she stepped onto the ship leaving France, but she was hands down the star of the show here. Being French  and female in America was like a golden ticket. All the men wanted to know you and all the women wanted to hate you. She always got the most attention and what she wanted from everyone.

She had an ace in the hole, which was an offer to relocate to a locale further west when she either tired of this small burg or her luck ran out. But right now with the three new strangers generating a new level of excitement she liked her chances to keep her crown in Penley River.

Tomorrow is the 26th and final post of the 2017 A to Z Challenge. You will meet Zeke Barton, Clementine’s foreman at O’Grady timber & Lumber.


VR Won’t Put Money in Your Pocket – Carrot Ranch Weekly Flash Fiction


“What the heck is Ramsey doing out there Clem?” Abe questioned.

His seventy-two year old neighbor was blasting away at the ground, kneeling to watch the newly created hole, moving another ten feet and repeating the process.

“Ever hear of them Virtual Reality things?”


“Apparently Ramsey strapped on Aaron’s new set last night and watched the Beverly Hillbillies. Now he’s convinced he can repeat Jed’s luck,” Clem said

“Stupid redneck. Don’t he know he is using the wrong ammo?”

“What are you talking about?”

“In Jed’s book ‘Finding Oil For Dummies’ he said to use real lead shot!”