A To Z Blogging Challenge

The 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge is Knocking on the Door

Can you believe another year has flown by?

It is time for the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge once again.

Most of you know that there are some major changes to the challenge this year. The challenge has grown to such an outrageous number ... which is a good thing, but, it's become nearly impossible for the co-hosts to keep track of all the participants on the linky list each night. I had no idea how long it took each group leader to go through their portion of the list looking for spammers, and for those who simply had to drop out for legitimate reasons. Many of us have been there. It's one hell of a challenge. Not for the weak. I mean for those of us who've been doing it for years, we know what we're getting into. Even then, if we don't write our posts a month in advance, all it takes is a bad week at work or a sick kid and the walls start closing in. Now just imagine what it must be like for the newbies signing up for the first time. 

Suppose they don't have a theme. They didn't pre-write any of their post. They wait until April and off to the races they go. They write and publish that first post. They're feeling good. They click over to the sign up list to visit the five blogs below them as they were instructed to. But, while skimming the sign up list they come across several other blogs that attract their attention way more than the blogs they're supposed to read. So, they hop around for a couple of hours reading and commenting. 

They look at their watch. Damn. It's nearly midnight and they haven't read the blogs they were supposed to read. They haven't written tomorrow's letter B post either Oh, they think, I'll write it in the morning and publish in the afternoon. They check their own blog and see that they have ten comments. Wow, this is cool. So, they feel compelled to visit those blogs. But, I have to sleep they think. In the morning they visit the new blogs instead of writing their post, It doesn't get written until the next evening. Each day they fall further and further behind until one or two days of having to work late and that's all it takes to drop out. Or one week with a kid home with the flu. It happens. I promise. 

And the co-hosts have to monitor the linky list like they're the linky police.
Every single time one of the 2000 + people drop off for a legitimate reason or a spammer gets us, they have to remove their name, their blog and the link to it. Then we all get renumbered. Just thinking about it makes me tired. 

In the past when I visited a blogger who used a different platform than blogger, you know like Wordpress or Tumblr or some other, and they couldn't just click on my name or photo and be directed to my blog, I would tell them in my comment: Hey I'm number 655 on the sign up list. Now I feel like such a fool because I didn't realize once the challenge was underway that number wasn't constant. It was always changing. 

I missed the Theme Reveal this year. My theme is always Crime Fiction, but I'm considering something very different. I will post about my theme change prior to April 1.

In case you are not aware, there is a linky list over at Blog Chatter and Lee, the brain child ... creator of this challenge, Arlee Bird over at his blog, Tossing it Out, has another. You may want to check those out. Blog Chatter is also on Twitter@BlogChatter

Be sure to read this post on the A to Z Site If The List Doesn't Exist - A to Z Challenge

So what are you doing to keep track of your blogger buds (new & old) during the challenge, without the list? 

NaNoWriMo Check in: Day 17

Hey All You NaNo Writers:

Day 17 of NaNoWriMo:

For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo 2016 I just wanted to check in & see how everyone is doing.

Me: Well we're past the half way mark and I'm on schedule. I'm at 39, 070 words. Fortunately, I took advantage of the first week and managed several high word count days. I still haven't had a Rachel Aaron 10K Day, but thanks to Rachel's website and her amazing book 2000 to 10,000: How to write faster, write better, and write more of what you love. I had a few 5K days. This really helped out, because this past week it's been hard to find writing time. If I hadn't jumped so far ahead the first week, I'd be behind now.

I also attribute my writing fast success to author Lisa Cron and her amazing book Story Genius. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. Cron changed the way I pre-plot and my writing has benefited. Knowing so much about my characters and their backstory enabled me to write faster and better. I haven't suffered writer's block ... not once since implementing Cron's technique. Visit her at Lisa Cron: Wired for Story

I'm psyched about her Story Genius 10 Week Course. I'd hoped to sign up for her course after NaNo, but I'll have to wait until the next course is available. I might look into her Story Coaching and Consulting if I finish my psychological thriller/domestic noir NaNo story: The Next Wife.

So, those of you participating in NaNo, how's it going. 

Have you participated in any of the Twitter #NaNoWordSprints?

See you all in December. Happy NaNo'ing

NaNoWriMo 2016: Are You Writing a Novel This November

It's Time for NaNoWriMo Again:

NaNoWriMo 2016 Begins November 1, 2016

NaNo began in 1999 with few writers and it rapidly spread to over 431,000 writers tapping away on their keyboard last November 2015 - (almost a half a million) with one thought in their heads:

Get across the finish line. Complete a novel. Write 50,000 words. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do we write 50,000 words of crap? Can those words be revised and edited into something that resembles a halfway decent manuscript. Ask the plethora of people who've landed agents and publishing contracts from their NaNo manuscripts and they'll tell you, "Hell Yea!"

Many others have a dim view and less favorable opinion of the work they produce while cramming words together in one month. I suppose the outcome of your novel has much to do with the amount of planning you put into your novel prior to November 1st. But wait, you say ... isn't that cheating? I thought you weren't allowed to begin writing until the first day of November. 

True dat!

Very true. And in the past, I did zilch, that's right, nada ... nothing ... until day one. Then I opened my notebook (I'm still a pen and paper girl who gets her creative spark when the pen touches the paper) so I have to write my manuscript by longhand and then transcribe it onto my laptop. Double work. I'm getting better. I brainstorm my scenes in longhand and now I'm able to type the first draft.

But, there's nothing in the rule book that prevents us from doing a whole lotta prep work prior to November 1st. I wish I had culled this or practiced this during my first few attempts at NaNo. You can work on your character charts, character backstories, your premise, concept, plot points, pinch points, plants, set ups, reveals etc. If you're writing a mystery or thriller you can try out a a few different villains and potential endings. I don't just do work ups on my protagonist, I also do an extensive work up on my detective and my villain. I gleaned this from the book I just finished reading, which by the way is one of the best books on the writing craft I've ever read and I've read them all.

I just completed Story Genius by Lisa Cron and I can only say I wish I had read this amazing book at least two months prior to NaNo. Lisa Cron has changed the way I think about writing character arcs and how to tie the character's past into the story so that readers will truly care about your story. Plot is nothing if readers don't resonate with your characters. If your readers don't know why your character is doing something or what the impact or consequence is for the character, then readers won't care about your book. That is as simple as I can state what she so brilliantly lays out in her book.
If you buy only one writer's craft book this year, buy this book. If you only have time to read one chapter before you begin your NaNo project, you must read and learn how to apply chapter 7.
Read more about Lisa Cron Here. She is also the author of Wired For Story.

Angela Ackerman highly recommend Lisa Cron's Story Genius Author Accelerator Course

Pros & Cons of NaNo:


  1. You learn discipline, whether you finish your manuscript or not. You learn the BISHOK ...butt in seat, hands on keyboard, mentality. Writing close to 2000 words per day is bound to teach you discipline. It's like participating in the A to Z challenge. Anything that requires writing every singe day, is a good thing, in my opinion. You don't have the option or luxury of procrastinating. For me, this is benefit numero uno.
  2. It feels good to get your novel out of your head and onto paper or on the computer.
  3. It's rewarding to know you can accomplish such a challenge
  4. Once you complete NaNo, all of your ideas that were stored in your head, on sticky notes, your iPhone, tablet, scattered notebooks, torn off pieces of scratch paper, and god knows where else ... now they are all organized in one place. 
  5. You give yourself permission to write quickly and write badly which allows the creative, right side of your brain to overpower your inner editor and when you read back through what you/ve penned you will be amazed and some of the juicy tidbits and nuggets that you've written. You will write in such a frenzy that you won't even recognize some of the raw, powerful, visceral work you produced.
  6. You will become a better writer, regardless of whether your book becomes published
  7. You will have a complete book, ready to revise, come December 1st.
  8. Once you complete NaNo, all other writing contests, will seem so much easier. Writing your next book will be much easier.
  9. You writing craft will improve 
  10. Once you've completed NaNo, you know you can meet a deadline
  11. You have permission to shut the rest of the world off. Your spouse and kids get to take care of the housework, cooking, cleaning, dog walking and more for just one month. When that sign is up that says "Do not disturb." They know better and chances are they will bring you dinner, coffee, wine, chocolate or whatever it is they know you love.


  1. Technically, the rules require that you begin a new novel. You are not permitted to work on a manuscript that you've already started. So, if you're knee deep into a novel and you're really hitting your stride, making damned good progress ... do you want to stop that forward movement and lose your motivation to begin a novel that you don't know anything about? It can be a distraction. You have to choose what's best for you. I made the wrong choice two years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about the novel I'd been working on. It occupied my mind the entire time I tried to concentrate on my newer work. At the end of November, I attempted to revise the mess I made in November. January came and went and I never really felt the same strong pull toward that original novel. It's now shelved.
  2. For those of your who work during the day, and have a family and other obligations,  2000 words per day can be a difficult task. It's frustrating when you get further and further behind.
  3. If you're a regular blogger, you'll need to decide whether to skip the month of November altogether or prepare your posts in advance. You won't have time to visit many blogs for leisurely reading and commenting.
  4. If you travel for the week of Thanksgiving or have house guest for that entire week, it can add enormous stress to your life.
  5. Because you are working against the clock to put numbers (words) on the board ... your finished product will be crap. But, all first drafts are crap.

In my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons. You'll never know if you don't try.

If you need some help or tips getting started. The best place to turn is Writers Helping Writers

Check out their NaNo Triage Center

Raimey Gallent is hosting a NaNoWriMo2016 Blog & Social Media Hop

If you're not already a member of One Stop For Writers Now would be an excellent time to join.

Jami Gold has a boat load of advice to help you with NaNo

Don't do NaNo without Roz Morris' Doing NaNo? Nail it With this Resource Kit

And probably the most comprehensive list of tips I've come across, don't miss Kelsie Engen's 23 Tips & Resources for NaNoWriMo - She's broken it down into 23 relatively short post. You can skip around and find the posts that are most helpful to you. But, do read this blog. You won't be disappointed. 

So, what's the verdict? With only 4 days left? Are you in or out?

Do you have any tips to share? Pros or cons?

If you're participating, how much prep work do you do in advance? What's are you writing?

I'm writing a psychological thriller/domestic noir. 

Title: The Next Wife

Something different than my usual legal thriller. I have a great idea in my head, but I'm still working on the pitch. Hopefully I'll have it narrowed down to one line, under 30 words by Monday so I can try it out on you. I'll need some feedback. No need to be kind.  Agents won't. So let me have it.

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