H is for … handing over

 

H is for … handing over ….

I’m handing over the reins to the rest of the participants in the April A to Z Challenge 2016.

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When I completed my first attempt in 2014, it was hard work, because I had nothing prepared in advance. My topic was ‘writing’ and the whole idea of the month-long challenge drove me on. I completed the alphabet and, met some great people.

I didn’t attempt the challenge in 2015, mainly because I had too many projects underway.

This year once again I had work in progress, so I prepared all my posts in advance, having already chosen to write about natural history – another topic close to my heart.

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Why stop now?

As I’ve said before, I have a blog, but I’m not a blogger – I’m a writer who blogs. This site is a platform to me and, not as it is to some people; a website based journal.

I don’t give up on things, but my heart is not in this challenge. I’ve had a handful of people stopping by to ‘like’, or even comment, but if I continued I’d be doing so for the wrong reasons. I’d feel uneasy and, insincere.

I’ve been following eight other participants, and instead of enjoying the experience, my assessment is – I’m losing writing time each day. It would make no difference how many people I followed, because it feels like a task – which it should not.

If I visit a blog, I leave a meaningful comment. I cannot honestly go from one to another and write ‘Good post’ and move on. It would be the equivalent of leaving ‘Good story’ as a book review on a novel.

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This will be my final post in this challenge and, I’ll get back to my writing.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you if you’ve been one of the few who’ve paid any visits to my blog over the early part of the challenge.

I don’t harbour any negative feeling regarding the challenge, but, I believe this second attempt has proven to me it’s not for me. I did it once, enjoyed it and, I’ll leave it there.

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I apologise to you Damyanti for dropping out, but I did start out with the best of intentions.

As always, I will respond to any comments and, for now, I’ll leave you all to get on with your next posts.

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B is for … Basilisk

 

B is for Basilisk, Barracuda and Buzzard. We’ll look at Basilisk.

There are many lizards but the Green, Plumed, or Double-Crested Basilisk is one of the best-known. The creature has a bright green skin and, distinctive yellow eyes. From head to tip of tail it carries an almost continuous fin, or crest.

There are stretchable areas of skin between its toes similar to, but not as pronounced as those on an amphibian like a frog, toad or newt. The Basilisk can swim underwater for up to 30 minutes.

Basilisk

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Species: The Basilisk is a member of the Iguana family of lizards.

Size: The average length from nose to tail is 25cm, however they are known to reach 90cm.

Habitat: The sub-species can be found in tropical rain forest and, rocky formations, usually where there is a water source.

Location: Generally found across Central America: Western Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

Diet: Basilisk species are omnivores and will eat insects, small rodents, smaller lizards and, vegetation including flowers.

Predators: Snakes and birds.

Info / Strange Fact: The Basilisk is famed for its ability to ‘run’ on water in an upright stance on its hind legs and tail. Hence the creature is known in some quarters as the ‘Jesus Lizard’.

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A is for … Albatross

 

A is for Anteater, Aphid, and Albatross.

We’ll look at Albatross.

The albatross is one of the largest seabirds, and spends most of its life soaring and gliding many miles from land. Lifespan depending on sub-species can last 40 or 50 years.

Albatross

 

 

Species: 21 species are on record, although many are endangered.

Size: Wandering Albatross can reach up to 1 metre in body length with a wingspan of 3.5 metres (10 feet).

Habitat: Sky and open ocean.

Location: Pacific Ocean, mainly found in the southern regions.

Diet: Crab, Fish, Krill, Squid

Predators: Humans, Tiger Shark – which lay in wait off the coast during the breeding season; at the time fledglings leave the nest.

Info / Strange Facts: The albatross is one of many seabirds which have the ability to drink saltwater. Some species can spend their first six or seven years in flight.

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A to Z April Challenge – tried it?

 

A[1]

My first 2014 post

is for April, and it will come as no surprise that the A to Z April Challenge is … a challenge held in April using the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z.

Is it free?   Yes.

Is it fun?   Yes.

Is it worthwhile?   Yes.

Have I ever completed the challenge?   Yes.

What is it all about – really?
Essentially, it’s about increasing your presence in the blogosphere. If you have a blog and you feel you don’t have many followers it can be down to several factors.

– You might have an interesting theme in your regular posts, but may not be relating it in an interesting way.

– You may find yourself wondering how to make your topics attract followers.

– You might even be new to the blogging idea and the best way to learn what works is to visit others – and comment.

– Make an effort to become a part of the international blogging scene.

I’ve provided a link if you click on the logo towards the end of this post. Or you can check out the details here: A to Z April Challenge 2016. You might well fancy attempting to complete the challenge this year. If you make the effort to try it, you have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

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I heard about the A to Z April Challenge from writer, reviewer and prolific blogger, Damyanti Biswas.

I enrolled on the 2014 challenge and I chose to use the topic of writing as my theme for the month. As always, I had several projects on the go simultaneously, so fitting in a daily post and then reading and commenting on at least five other posts became a real challenge.

Okay, having said all of the above regarding my first attempt, I did enjoy my efforts and those of the other bloggers. My followers increased and I still visit some of those bloggers I met in 2014 during the challenge.

I admit, I am a writer who blogs, as opposed to a blogger who writes.

What does that mean?
It means that for me, blogging is a means to an end. It is an author platform.
For many, blogging becomes a social activity and in several years experience of the international community, I’ve found insights into many areas.

What did I do in my challenge posts in 2014?
As an example, I’ll provide the link here for my final post of 2014:Z[1]

https://tombensoncreative.com/2014/04/27/z-is-for-zoom-in/

Here is the link to my complete challenge profile for the 2014 challenge, which is in my blog Resources for Writers sub-menu:

https://tombensoncreative.com/my-a-to-z-2014/

 

Do I have any advice for those are considering the challenge for 2016?
Yes. I’d have two pieces of advice, apart from suggesting you try the challenge.

1. Don’t use the first topic / theme that comes to mind. List about five things you’re really interested in, and then choose one.

2. Set up a file with the letters of the alphabet, and build a small catalogue of posts in preparation. It’s even better if you can prepare your entire month (26 posts) in advance. All you have to do then is either edit them or have a quick look before posting.

Blogging A to Z 2016Interested?
Why not check it out by clicking on the logo to the left, or if you like, I’ll happily field early questions. Better still is to contact Damyanti directly.

Thank you for reading … and maybe we’ll see each other out there in April.

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Z … is for Zoom in.

Z[1] is for zoom in. This is my first attempt at the A to Z Challenge, and although at times it was hard work, I feel that I’ve been rewarded in several ways. The best way I can demonstrate my appreciation to the organisers, moderators and my fellow participants is to give them a big thank you.

It feels appropriate that I should do it by way of highlighting them here. Among my list are a couple of good sites I found during my blog patrols, so although not participants, they were worth finding.

The list below is in no particular order apart from the first person, who I believe played a huge part in the success of the overall project.

A handful of the blogs I followed through April, which includes participants and non-participants:

http://amloki.blogspot.co.uk/ Damyanti was added to my Blogroll recently, and it was from her that I found out about the A to Z Challenge 2014.

Damyanti has been one of the hosts that kept this monster running smoothly, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the others: Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ and Pam. I am listing their blogs at the end of my post, and I will be visiting each one after the challenge.

* http://janiceheck.wordpress.com/ Janice for advice on punctuation, grammar and written English.

* http://gypsyshutterbug.com/ Tara is worth following if you haven’t got time to go around the world yourself.

* http://loebick.com/ April is a wife, writer, woman, reviewer and blogger worth checking out.

* http://charitywrites.blogspot.co.uk/ Charity and her children have taken followers on a journey back in time with Dr Who. I have loved this blog through April.

* http://lynnelives.wordpress.com/about/ Lynne is a writer and painter and has lived all over the UK.

* http://princessofdragons.wordpress.com/ Princess of Dragons will provide any and all information on these mythical beasts. This has been another favourite site of mine throughout April.

* http://sydneyaaliyah.com/ Sydney is a Contemporary Romance writer and her debut novel it due for release in June 2014.

* http://www.stephaniefaris.com/#!stephie5741blogspotcom/cgvp Stephanie is an author of fiction, and non-fiction (technical).

* http://www.murderousimaginings.blogspot.co.uk/ Yolanda has a site worth checking if you have murder in mind. Another personal favourite.

* http://b-due.com/ Becky has a site and history to look at if you need to take stock of life, or want to feel inspired.

* http://juliejordanscott.typepad.com/ Julie wears many hats in life, and her blog contains quotes, questions and prompts.

* http://julialundauthor.wordpress.com/ Julia is a writer with her debut novel only recently available. It’s a great read.

* http://echoesofthepen.com/ Paul is a novice writer, a book reviewer, and shortly to be an online interviewer. If you want to get the word out, impress him with your book and get him onside! He’s also a nice guy and writes a decent short story.

* http://stephenthom.wordpress.com/​ Stephen is a young musician and novice writer. He needs some support and encouragement.

* http://wktucker.com/ Kathy is a natural storyteller. Her site will be staying on my Blogroll.

The A to Z Challenge 2014 – team:

* http://tossingitout.blogspot.co.uk/ Lee

* http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.co.uk/ Alex

* http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.co.uk/ Tina

* http://www.beingretro.com/ Jeremy

* http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole

* http://authorstephentremp.blogspot.co.uk/ Stephen

* http://hmgardner.blogspot.co.uk/ Heather

* http://frodofrog.blogspot.co.uk/ AJ

* http://mjjoachim.blogspot.co.uk/ MJ

* http://unconventionallibrarian.com/ Pam

Given that there were over 2000 participants, I think these guys, and Damyanti, mentioned in my intro, are all owed a debt of gratitude. I will get in touch to thank each of our support team in the coming days.

After today, I’ll trim the blogs I follow, but however many are on there, I will do my utmost to make regular visits. I hope you’ve enjoyed this experience as much as I have. From today, I’ll be working on my latest novel again, having left it to simmer since the beginning of the challenge.

I’ll now add this post to my main menu ‘My A to Z Posts 2014’, so it will be there for open reference for one and all. Now, out of recent habit, I suppose I’ll have to write a post for tomorrow. Take care everybody out there and I’ve got a thought for you to take with you with your writing in mind.

‘If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got’

From a tired, but satisfied participant who started the challenge with 30 followers. Bye!

R … is for Resources

R[1] is for resources, which for me includes reference and reading. I’ve added the other two words because they are interconnected, and play their part in today’s topic.

What do I mean by resources?

This covers anything that assists us as writers. In some ways it’s unfortunate that in these times of the information super highway, when many people think of resources; it means the Internet. Rather than reach for one of those neat, tightly-packaged items – a book, a lot of folk are content to ask Google or some other search engine.

Yes, it takes a few keystrokes and virtually any subject can be traced. Likewise, when this is done, there are several sources. Without doubt, one of the main sources is Wikipedia, so we’ll take that as our example to prove a point.

What do we find in every Wikipedia entry?

In it’s simplest form, we find a disclaimer. The fact that the statement mentions words like ‘verification’ and ‘reliable resources’ doesn’t indicate that everything in the entry has them – it indicates something else. The information is verified up to a point, which means if you quoted it, you are putting a lot of trust in those who compiled it. Use it by all means, but cross-reference your information with at least one other source.

What do we find in an established reference book?

Apart from being there, (even when there is no electricity), we find the names of the author, or authors. Not far inside, we will find out what qualifies them to suggest they know anything about the topic. We will also see whether it is written as a credible reference, or it is simply an opinion piece in book format. Remember also, that these handy packs of organised paper are great for filling up a shelf beside your desk.

For me, the Internet sites serve to remind me, or point me in the right direction, or to give me a basic understanding. A book on the other hand normally carries with it a certifiable qualification alongside the author’s name, and that is important if I’m intending to use the information elsewhere.

Why is reading a resource?

The immediate answer to this is, that if we are writing creatively, then we should read. There are several reasons for this, and not least because the celebrated author Stephen King recommends it in his outstanding book, ‘On Writing’. Before I forget, if you haven’t got a copy – get one!

Reading helps to expose us to a variety of genre, authors, and styles. In my own case for example, in the past couple of months I’ve read: thriller, fantasy, romance, adventure, erotica and historical. I have many books on my shelves that have yet to be read, but I also have reference books that have paid for themselves many times over.

We can learn snippets of information by reading, even if it’s a short story, or somebody else’s blog or website. Okay, perhaps we will find information and want to chase up more sources to clarify it, but it might first have been found reading a competition entry. As I’ve tried to do throughout this A to Z Challenge, I’ve given examples, and this post has what might be considered a peculiar example.

A few months ago, I wanted to point out some of the basics of creative writing, so I wrote a short story to do it. The story is, ‘An Aspiring Writer’, and although I’m not an authority on the subject, the comments I’ve had, indicate that there are some credible points made. It was fun to write, but I did give it plenty of thought.

On my blog now is a new and expanding menu for the use of any visitor which contains resources for writers. If you have any suggestions, they are welcome, and will be accredited if used. Apart from that particular menu, my intention is to create a menu to feature all my ‘A to Z’ posts.

Once again, I thank you for reading and I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘S’.

The Self-Publishing Conference 2014 – a review

Before I write my review, I’d like to reiterate a statement I made on this very blog on 11th March 2014.

‘Even if we don’t take all the advice that’s offered to us, we owe it to ourselves to find out what is on offer out there, and this has to be one of the most beneficial days any self-published author could spend.’

I would now like to follow that quote by saying, that if I hadn’t already said it; I would be saying it now.

The event was held at the Stamford Court Conference Centre in Leicester yesterday, Sunday 30th March 2014. It was well organised in every respect, including overflow parking, to allow for those who don’t know how to guide their car between two white painted lines …

There were 4 sessions, which overall offered a choice of 21 seminars to attend. This meant that each delegate made their own choice of which seminar to attend during any particular session. These were pre-booked. Apart from the final seminar, each was followed by a refreshment break.

Rather than tie my faithful (or new) readers down, with a detailed view of everything, I will be writing individual posts over the coming weeks on the four seminars I attended, which were:

1. Work successfully with bookshops and libraries to sell your book.

2. The importance for new authors of an author website.

3. The importance of cover design.

4. Using your existing author website to the full.

Needless to say, the impact of the seminars I attended will be reflected in my follow-up activity. For now, I’ll say no more on that subject. I would suggest, that attendance at the conference next year would be beneficial to any self-published writer. I will most certainly be highlighting it in my diary.

Sponsors of this year’s conference were: Writers & Artists, Writing Magazine, Nielsen, Matador (Troubador), Kobo, Writing Life, Cornerstones, TJ International, Cameron, Self-Publishing Magazine, Booked PR, and The Writers Advice Centre.

It would be remiss of me to leave out one important personal aspect of my attendance. I got to meet fellow writer and blogger, Paul Ruddock. We attended a couple of the seminars together and used every available moment in between, to discuss views that would have taken a much longer time by email or blog post. For any of you that wondered; yes, he really is a nice guy.

The A to Z Challenge starts tomorrow.

Thank you for reading.