Reflections on my A to Z Experience

Well, I survived the A to Z Challenge.  I’d seen blog posts with that notation months ago and thought, “What is this?”  So I looked into it.  “That would be fun!” I thought.  Then I signed up.

(Stay with me, here.  I’ll get to the point)

I came up with a theme (after someone mentioned a ‘reveal’ and I thought ‘Hmmmm…  A theme…  How cool!’  And I read what people said, both the ‘guides’ and the ‘participants’ about not doing it at the last moment, understanding that you will be swamped, and minimizing the impact of the commitment.

Now, right before the start of A to Z a couple things happened.  I committed to publish a book the end of May.  I committed to revise its sequel (on the timeline, previously published)  for release May 15.  I was in the middle of a huge project at work – I nearly dropped out. But, darn it!, I’d promised.  If not anyone else (face it, I don’t get a lot of traffic), I’d promised myself.  It meant a lot to me to be able to finish.

So what worked well: the camaraderie.  The knowledgeable participants.  The guidance we received from ‘the team’.

What didn’t work well (for me): replying to comments.  I was too darned busy.  I was overcommitted and I was Tired.   I could not keep up my end of the bargain.  I will be going back through my posts and responding to comments and visiting the various blogs.  I hope the list will still be up.  There was so much to see. 

A lot of thought went into making things fun and easy. I did pay attention to the leaders’ comments, and I ran into some blogs that I just loved.  Lots of them.  Of the top of my head, a woman who goes thrift shopping – fun!  The artist who crochets flowers, someone in the UK who is into genealogy.  The dragon lair (well…I knew of that one before, and enjoyed when I was able to stick my head in).  People I knew and followed were lots of fun to watch.

The bottom line is that A to Z was well run and a lot of effort went into making it enjoyable to participate in and to visit.  What I will do differently next year (yeah, I’m signing up) is:

1.  don’t overcommit.  This was a singular occurrence, and I’ll make jolly sure it doesn’t happen again.

2.  do as much in advance as I can, so that I can…

3.  actively participate in visits and comments.


5.  Chill out.

6.  Smile.  It was fun while it lasted and it is great in retrospect.

Celebrating – A Task Finished

It’s good to be able to open your eyes to the things around you that are worth celebrating, even if they are as small (relatively speaking) as a smile from a stranger that you know would easily become a friend.  Stepping into a brisk May breeze, watching the flowers push their way through the soil, even though you know jolly well you’re a terrible gardener.
Today, though, I’m celebrating completing a task I’d been thinking of for a long time.

I’m writing a series of historical fiction set in Egypt and centered around the city of Memphis.  It is known as ‘The Memphis Cycle’, and that city, and the families that lived and ruled there, provide the thread that ties the stories together.  Three are published, one is  coming out the end of May, another should be coming out in November, and four others are in varying stages of development.  
Here are covers 1 & 2.  #2 is scheduled to be published May 31:
The covers fell into a sort of theme – statuary or sculptures against a background that referred to something in the story.  As the series developed, I began to want them to be visible as a related group.  So I redesigned them, keeping the original ‘art’ work, but putting that into a framework specific to the stories..  These are covers #3 and 4.  #3 is projected to be published November.

The line under the image is a hieroglyphic text with the name and attributes of the king ruling at the time of the story.  It seems to be working out.  Here are covers 5 and 6.  #5 is in the works, but it is an involved story and will need another year (maybe two) to complete properly.  #7 is out. 



What really tickles me is that my entire family is artistic and I guess maybe I can pretend to be. (Pretend is the word, too.) For example, while I work with photographic images for my covers, the figure crouching in the corner of Lord of the Two Lands is my own work and is a silhouette drawing. But I’m celebrating, for certain. It’s something I’ve wanted to do in a long time, and it’s coming on the heels of a new release and a reissue.

So join me in a cup of cyber tea, a glass of cyber wine, a stoup of cyber ale, or maybe some cyber lemonade. I’m celebrating!