Thursday, May 12, 2016

#AtoZChallenge 2016 Reflections

I knew May was going to be a busy month, but what nobody told me was that instead of blogging every day, I'd be building a new website every day. Believe me, it's not something I wanted to do, but my web hosting service is in the process of upgrading and I've been notified to go with the flow or get left behind. Consequently I’ve had to learn a whole new set of tech-skills faster than you can say "pixel" and my head is still spinning. At this point in the game I'd do just about anything to set back the clock and return to the simple world of going through my ABC's. At least I have next April to look forward to!

Before I landed in this big website morass, one of the things that made this year's A-Z challenge so special for me was my theme of art journaling. To make my posts authentic, I had to create a daily art journal page to illustrate what I was writing about. Despite the extra work, I feel I got much more out of the challenge than I bargained for; I love the small journal I created for the month and it will always be a “Yes, I can do it!” reminder and reward for participating.

Besides the fun of creating a new journal, other benefits I received from the challenge include:

  • Learning I could write under pressure. During the challenge I still had to go to my day job and fulfill all my other routine obligations. But I always posted!
  • Learning that I could create an art journal with limited time and resources. You can do a lot with a little—no excuses.
  • Met many great bloggers--and from all over the world.
  • Felt easier than I usually do about opening up and sharing without my inner critic interfering. There just wasn’t any time to listen to her cautionary ranting. (Thank goodness.)
  • I felt comfortable calling myself a “blogger.” Often I just consider myself an author with a blog and that's the end of it. But I like blogging, and I enjoy having my blog. So I guess it's okay to call myself an honest-to-goodness real-life blogger!
  • I particularly liked having the routine and discipline of posting every day. Although I won’t be able to maintain that kind of schedule (once or twice a week fits my life much better) it made me realize how I can use that same time for a creative exercise every day, and with satisfying results.

So will I return for 2017? You bet! I had a great time with the challenge, and I hope you did too, bloggers and readers alike. Thank you to the A-Z team who made this exciting event possible, and thank you to everyone who took the time to visit and comment on my pages. 

Finally, and as promised, I have selected (using a winner from my visitors who commented on my posts over the month for a copy of Overtaken! Name to be announced in my next post. See you then!

Tip of the Day: In order to participate in the challenge, I gave myself about an hour every day to both write my posts and work on my accompanying art journal pages. By carving out just a little extra time I found I could do a lot. The secret was in telling myself I had to do this—I had promised, I was committed. Now that the challenge is over, what can you commit to with that same dedication? Blogging, painting, journaling, beading? Whatever you choose, promise yourself you'll do it--seize the day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Light as a Feather

I never thought I would miss blogging every day, but already I'm feeling nostalgic for that early morning ritual of stumbling to my computer in the dark to write yet another post!

I'm also missing reading all those great posts from other bloggers that would fill my in-box every morning--hopefully they'll all start up again soon, too. 

At the same time, I feel like I've been through an initiation of some sort, an "ordeal by blogging." To celebrate the end of a long (and intensely interesting) month, the first thing I did when the Challenge finished was go to my drawing table to draw these feathers. Not only did I feel "as light as a feather" to have put blogging behind me for a day or two, but I'd been postponing this small project for a few weeks and really wanted to try it out. 

The feathers came from the last meeting of my colored pencil group when we were all given a handful of wild turkey feathers with the assignment to draw them for the next meeting. On Sunday I finally had some spare time, so I used my new Faber and Castell Polychromos pencils and three different kinds of paper. The subject seemed to fit my mood to a T. While I was drawing, my mind was also jumping all over the place with plans for the coming month, including:

  • New re-prints of two of my books: The Great Scarab Scam and Better Than Perfect. More on this coming soon!
  • Submitting my new novel, The Abyssal Plain with new query letters and synopses.
  • Going back into ceramics. Before the#AtoZChallenge I bought a fresh batch of stoneware clay and made three pots that are now ready for a bisque firing (maybe this weekend?). As soon as they're out of the kiln I'm going to try decorating them in an Asian splash-ink style based on last year's trip to Taiwan. This is an entirely new direction for me and I'm excited to see the results.
  • And finally, speaking of Taiwan, out of the blue I've started to write a series of poems to go with my Taiwan paintings, drawings, and now pottery. This has been a huge surprise to me--talk about a change of plans! The first poem came to me in the middle of the night last week and I had to get up to write it. Now I can't stop!

It's going to be a busy month--how about you? Any plans you want to share? Leave a comment, and have a Happy May!

Tip of the Day: Working through the alphabet isn't just for blogging or the month of April: how about trying an A-Z art journal, poetry or short story series, a picture book for children, or even an entire novel outline with each chapter based on a letter of the alphabet? The possibilities are endless--and once you finish one project, you can start all over again with a fresh approach.