Contest Winner! Olympic Cup for the United Nations, plus Alphabet Soup: AtoZ Reflections, IWSG Day, and ROW80

First post-A to Z post!

The rush of posting every day is over. I did my Saturday posts in advance, and one day managed to do five posts in advance, which gave me spare room to catch up on all the lovely comments I'd received, and actually visit a few new-to-me bloggers, too.

Now's the time to post our Reflections on the 2016 Challenge.

For those who haven't done it, I definitely recommend a theme. It helps keep you focused, and it's easy to stray from the theme if you need to; easier than trying to come up with ideas at random in the middle of all that hectic blogging. Something conducive to lots of photos is definitely a plus. Even if you can't write them all in advance (and doing so does take away from the challenge and the thrill a bit), formatting them is helpful. I was able to do this this time around; I set up each post as a draft, and entered my daily drop cap, and added a few lines of what I meant to share that day, and as many of the links and photos as I could. Then, on the day of, it was easier to focus on the actual text, without all the time spent collating photos and references.

This sort of thing is helpful for insecure writers on Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, too!

That is, even for those of us who are pantsters, it helps to have a few kernels to play with. Especially during NaNoWriMo, for instance, when I try to end each writing session with a question or a comment for the next day (even something as simple as "why doesn't he just kiss her?" or "how is she going to keep this a secret from him?"). That way, when I come back to the story, even if I feel inspiration-less, there's a problem to be solved, and I can start working right away.

By contrast, what I'm doing now is about the worst thing that can be done -- not writing at all. Inspiration or muses or not, what the writing muscle needs is constant use. The fact that I'm thinking of new stories is not enough. I ought to write! Even if it's 10 minutes a day (and 10 minutes are so easy to find), even if it's only 100 words (100 words is nothing!) each morning. My trouble is that because I should be editing already-written stories, I feel badly for starting a new story. But that's silly. Better to write than do nothing at all!

I did get a sponsor post written for ROW80, though! And I'm going to try (but I'm not committing to it for fear of failure) to write something for the May writer's exercise on the Forum, set this month by author Barbara Rogan:

"Here's a challenge to stretch your writing muscles. Create a character who does something very wrong. You don't have to show the awful deed unless you want; it's enough to allude to it. Use POV and any other techniques you can muster to induce readers to sympathize with (even if they don't approve of) the evil-doer. This is a bit complicated, so I'm going to allow 750 words for this exercise—but extra credit to anyone who can carry it off in less. On your marks, get set...go!"

But back to the A to Z. Having been both a mere participant and a minion for those tireless organizers, I'm struggling to come up with suggestions to improve the challenge -- I think it works very well, and seems to run almost seamlessly!

I'm going to admit something here... I was in the middle of drafting one of the final posts, X or Y or Z, and suddenly, I thought of a great theme for next year! Only 365 days to go...

Don't forget to pick up some A to Z Challenge gear!

And now...drumroll...our contest winner!

In the past, to draw winners, I've used babies and cats. This time I went with the simple and efficient Random Number Generator.

And the winner of the 30$ gift card to the online book retailer of her choice is...Hilary!

Congratulations, Hilary, and thanks to everyone for playing along and commenting!

In other awards news, the United Nations was awarded the Olympic Cup last week:
The ceiling sculpture is by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló.
"The sculpture consists of many layers of coloured paints composed of pigments from across the globe, sprayed across the ceiling to create stalactites. The work is groundbreaking both artistically and technically and represents the themes of multiculturalism, mutual tolerance and understanding between cultures."
 The Olympic Flame in two lanterns. It looks so small!

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave an inspiring speech. This year, for the first time, refugee athletes will be participating, under the Olympic Flag. The Secretary-General said, "win or lose, they are champions of the spirit. ... They want a flag that waves for their rights. ... They want hope, not tents. ... Sports give children the basic human right of being children, who at least for a few moments can laugh and play."

He added, "Let us all be on the team of the refugees until there is no need for such a team at all."

Congratulations to those of you who made it through the A to Z.
Whether you participated or not, what suggestions do you have for the challenge?


Hi Deniz - gosh how wonderful to be your winner ... but I so enjoyed the Tolkien and Inkling posts - reminding me of my years spent in and around Oxford ... it's almost home, but not quite. Amazon will be great ... .com if pos!

I'll be back to read the UN update - looks interesting ... but must get on just now ...

Well done on the A-Z - with all the links and thoughts about Tolkien, CS Lewis and the Inklings ...

Cheers from a warming up England .. Hilary
Crystal Collier said…
I love that idea--ending with a question. I usually type in a prompt or mark the next major plot point I'm excited to write, but a question? That's genius.
Hi Deniz - yes I think a theme is essential - I was lucky my first year ... I morphed into it and have kept a similar theme going each year - different subject with different headings ... but similar concept.

I can see your thought process of draft posting and then completing would help with the IWSG posting .. and I definitely should do the note taking and then the question - as to what I need to remember to add before I post.

Having your idea for 2017 is great ... one advantage of having to pull out of this year's A-Z ... is my 2017 posts are all planned and sitting in blogger!

Thanks so much once again for the $ gift voucher - I'm delighted ...

A-Z ... just accept there'll be wobblies, but do what we can to comment and meet new bloggers and thus friends ... it's a great Challenge ...

Love that ceiling - I'll visit the artist shortly ... So glad there will be a refuge flag and definitely I'll be happily teaming along with others ... we have a refugee within the British athletics team .. I'm sure there are others ...

Glad you were able to go along to the UN to see the Olympic Cup presentation .. cheers Hilary
Fundy Blue said…
What a great post, Deniz! I'm visiting as an IWSG co-host today, and I'm really glad I discovered your post! So many things to connect with! So many helpful suggestions! I definitely include photos in every post I write. I am so visual! I also leave a note each time I finish a writing session to help me with the next one. It really helps me to focus! I missed your A to Z posts, but now I shall have to go back and read them. I was fortunate to study Tolkien and the Inklings in university, and I have been passionate about Tolkien since I first heard of him! All the best in your writing endeavors!
Cool you got the sponsor post written.
I like the idea of adding a question to spur writing the next day. I'll remember that one.
sage said…
Your A-Z challenge was well done and very informative--it shows a lot of research and I enjoyed reading it.

I like your writing prompt. I wish I could find more time to write.
S.P. Bowers said…
I may have to do the X this month. I love how you half wrote your posts for A-Z. The one time I did it I pre-wrote everything and that made it too easy to get distracted and not participate. The post was going up regardless, right?
Beth Camp said…
I like your idea to set up at least the pages in blogger before starting the A to Z. I did my first organizing this year by creating a table in Word with possible topics for each letter. That's the most I've ever done as usually I write a poem a day, but this year wrote about the research behind my current wip (historical fiction Canada 1840s).

As to the writing, I did find that the challenge of those daily posts affected how much I actually was able to write but a Facebook Group -- 10 Minute Novelists -- came to my rescue by reminding me . . . just ten minutes means 10 minutes of progress. I'm a pantser too, but those 10 minutes kept me connected to my writing. So, if you're being pulled in the direction of a new story, why not just follow your heart! I'd rather write for 10 minutes. . . the editing will come along.
Nas said…
Congratulations to Hilary!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks everyone for your support -- and congratulations again, Hilary!

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