ZotA: A reflection on our A-Z Journey

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As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time.

It would probably be fair to say that 2020 has been a strange year.  The zeitgeist can be summed up by the conversation between 2019 and 2020:

2019:  I can’t believe I managed to out-do the last few years!

2020: Wait until you see what I’ve got in store! [Waggles eyebrows]

We started the month by saying neither of us were able to participate this year.  There were a number of excellent reasons for this, not all related to the implications of lives affected by the implications of Covid-19.  Both of us prefer to have a linking theme to work with, and both of us are haunted by the behemoth that our 2018 challenge ended up becoming… But we did want to do our bit. We decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage people who visit us to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.  As we noted in our A2ZChallenge Survival Guide:

2. Say hello: a fundamental tenet of A2Z is going and saying hello.  The thing is, with over a thousand people, sometimes nearly two thousand, having a go at this blogging thingy, it can be tricky to know what to look at.  It is well worthwhile though – Debs and David have both met great people through the A2Z, people with whom they are both still in contact…

The Challenge could be used as a modern day update for the parable of the seeds: some blogs, despite signing up well in advance, never actually post during April; some start strong then fizzle out after perhaps a week or so; some are just not of interest to certain readers…But some make it through the entire month with entertaining content.  Surprisingly, in one sense, this last group is the majority.

Surprising to us, was that we managed to get through the month with a daily instalment of a blog or two that spoke to us in some way, inspired us to be better writers, entertained and delighted us.  Surprising not because of the wealth of excellent blogs (I’ve already said that they are there for the looking for), but because we were able to find a link to the letter of the day, and even some of the tricky ones are not that tenuous!

Some of our highlights are old friends, made during previous challenges, but some are new, and we’re looking forward to keeping up with these new friends moving forward.  We’re only sorry that we couldn’t visit more blogs, give more shout-outs.

Thus ends another challenge, and we’re delighted to be in the survivors club, given that we didn’t think we’d be doing the challenge this year!

missionaccomplished


© Fiction Can Be Fun, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: X

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


We’re on the home stretch now with today’s letter – X

X2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

I clearly wasn’t thinking very clearly when we set up the schedule, or I was being chivalrous…lets go with chivalrous!  X is one of the most difficult letters in the alphabet to work with.  Just 0.15% of words in the English language begin with X, although it only scores 8 in Scrabble.  It’s no surprise that A2Zers have a tendency to fudge this post with either a made up word or a misspelling – we’re all xhausted by this point.  And I am no exception!  Having carefully scoured the master-list, I could find nothing that leapt out at me.  Having come up with all sorts of clever wheezes to play with X, I still could not find anything.  However, there is some kind of serendipity, because on my Xth attempt, I found some buried treasure: X marks the spot.

So, today, I proudly (and slightly tenuously) present Tyrean Martinson.  Tyrean is presenting a novella; she is one of a handful of people who are making the brave attempt to present a continuous story, with new episodes everyday.  The link I’ve provided will take you all the way back to A, so that you can begin at the beginning.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T
The letter U
The letter V
The letter W

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter X which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: W

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


We’re on the home stretch now with today’s letter – W

W2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

For today, I’d like to add:

Writing Wings from author Roland Clarke. It was a tough decision to hold back featuring Roland to this late in the Challenge, but it did allow me to tick off one of the trickier letters of the alphabet, as I was confident that he would make it through to the end. Not only is Roland a veteran of many an A-Z Challenge, but he’s also shared his well thought-out posting plan. This year Roland is posting highlights from previous years, not only as it allows him to participate with the requirement of limited new writing, but provides the added benefit of bringing his previous work to the attention of new Challenge participants and readers. Last year, I started reading his tale of Welsh detective Sparkle Anwy (which has subsequently evolved into a novella Azure Spark), but life got in the way of my being able to complete this (and many other wonderful tales), so I’m delighted to have been given another chance to pick up the thread once again. Despite the tremendous calls on his time and energy, Roland is also a terrifically supportive member of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Do drop in & have a read.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T
The letter U
The letter V

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter W which we should read.


© Debra Carey, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: U

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


 

On we go with today’s letter – U

U2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

And now, as they say, for something completely different.  I’ve used role-playing games, or rather the mechanics behind them as the starting point for a couple of posts here before (one on characters and one on teams), so it was a delight to stumble upon Uniquely Maladjusted But Fun.  Jaime is building a month’s worth of prompts around table-top RPGs, which can also be used as writing prompts.  Entries include items, locations, NPCs, quests: none are quite like anything I’ve seen before.  Uniquely maladjusted, in fact, but fun.  Mission accomplished, Jaime!

Another blog that intrigued me, providing food for writing thought although not about writing specifically, is Ujjwal Mishwa’s.  Ujjwal is looking at the meaning of dreams for her challenge.  In terms of trying to act on the interpretation of a dream, I’d place this in the same category as astrology: the brain is far too complex to assume that everything that crops up in a dream can be ascribed to a particular meaning.  But the posts are full of fascinating tidbits of information which I’m looking forward to following up on.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S
The letter T

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter U which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: T

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


On we go with today’s letter – T

T2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

Today, we have a Horror double feature!

No tour of the A2Z could be complete without a visit to a huge friend of this blog (he’s contributed a couple of short stories to our prompts, and also an article in our ‘Now with added’ series), the inimitable Stu Nager of Talespinning.  Stu is a Challenge veteran, and has produced several stories using the frame of the A2Z  (which I hope will one day be published – HINT HINT).  This year Stu is writing song lyrics about – well actually you should go and check them out.  It’s tricky to explain.

Tasha’s Thinkings, from the keyboard of the wonderfully productive Natasha Duncan-Drake, has also seen more than one A2Z roll by..  Natasha always finds an interesting angle on this, and this year is no exception: each day she is presenting a drabble, inspired by a vampire-related word.  Having used the H word above, to some extent this is simply a classification – there isn’t really room in a drabble to plumb the depths of horror, and many of these are much more fun than you might expect.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q
The letter R
The letter S

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter T which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: R

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


On we go with today’s letter – R

R2020
A reminder that you can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

For today, I’d like to add:

Celia Reaves: Celia has lots of great content to engage with on her blog, but her AtoZ theme this year is brilliant.  Each day she has a chosen word, starting with the letter of the day – but you don’t know what it is.  Instead, she has written a haiku clue and you have to work out what the word is.  A great distraction and something get the neurons firing.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O
The letter P
The letter Q

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter R which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: P

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


On to today’s letter – P

P2020

You can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter.

Today’s shout out has to be for the awesome-sauce James Pailly and his blog Planet Pailly. James is both a good friend to this blog, giving us a great short story from a prompt we posted, and giving us a #SecondThoughts piece which led to the creation of our new series ‘Now with added…’.  The majority of James’ blog is given over to presenting science and sci-fi concepts in an accessible way, but he also presents some of his fiction writing too, and also his thoughts on writing as a process (as part of the Insecure Writers Support Group).  His theme this year is the background to his forthcoming ‘Tomorrow News Network’ series, and specifically the first novel ‘The Medusa Effect’.  There is a popular meme, ‘Take my money!’: if I only has the snippets to go on, and if James’ decides to go down a Kickstarter or Unbound route, I would definitely contribute to getting this book puplished. ‘Nuff said.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K
The letter L
The letter M
The letter N
The letter O

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter P which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: L

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


 

On to today’s letter – L

L2020

You can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter. For today, I’d like to add:

Literacious: With a theme of pairing spices and kid’s literature, what’s not to like?  Each day, Laura presents a spice or herb (or occasionally a blend) and then goes on to present a recipe where you can use said spice, and links it to a children’s story.  I’m looking forward to chasing up the references on both counts.

Labanan: I’ll be honest and say I’m not entirely sure how the web-name marries up with the title of the blog, or the name of the writer, but Jan Morrison’s A2Z posts on the subject of revising your #WIP are on point and well worth a read.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G
The letter H
The letter I
The letter J
The letter K

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter L which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: H

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


 

… with today’s letter – H.

 

H2020

You can find participants via the Master List, but in order not to miss any of April’s blogging riches, you may also seek participants via the hashtags #AtoZChallenge and #A2ZChallenge on Twitter. For today, I’d like to add:

C.G. Harris:  C.G. Harris is the nom de plume of two separate writers working together on some books that I am definitely going to need to have a look at very soon.   The theme Harris has gone for is slightly nebulous, but full of humour.  A little jaunt through writing, with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy, written with a good deal of wit.  I’m looking forward to following the rest of their posts this month.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to John Holton, another stalwart of the Challenge that makes sure it all happens, and a great human being.  I am in awe of someone who could make a mistake in blog scheduling so that it was ambiguous what his theme was going to be for the challenge and then just go ahead with BOTH themes.

If you’re catching up, here’s our previous highlights …

The letter A
The letter B
The letter C
The letter D
The letter E
The letter F
The letter G

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter H which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020

An A-Z Journey through the Challenge: B

As we may have mentioned once or twice ;), we’re both great fans of April’s A-Z Blogging Challenge. Set up by Arlee Bird back in 2009, it’s grown like topsy since that time. As neither David nor I are able to participate again this year, we decided instead to highlight one (or more) blogs each day, to encourage you to visit, to make new friends, and to find some entertainment during the current crazy world we’re in.

Some of these highlights will be old friends we’ve made during previous challenges, but some will be new. We don’t plan to stick to any theme other than maintaining a (possibly tenuous) connection to the letter of the day.


 

April has begun, and the runners and riders are off!  Today is B – B for Blog!

B2020

 

Debs got us started yesterday with two blogs that were new to both of us, both of which I’m looking forward to looking at in more detail.  For today, I’ve got:

Black and White: Words and Pictures by Anne Nydam, which has the added advantage (from the perspective of connections to B) of being on the Blogger platform.  Anne is looking at nursery rhymes, and illustrating her posts with block prints of pictures associated with the rhymes.  Some of these come from venerable books of nursery rhymes, and some are her own charming productions which come from her own book.  I haven’t quite worked out why, but Anne is slightly ahead of the rest of the pack already.  As of writing, today’s post isn’t up yet, but yesterday’s ‘G’ was  excellent, and I enjoyed looking over the rest of the series.

Let us know of other blogs connected to the letter B which we should read.


© David Jesson, 2020