Tag Archives: Sharon E. Cathcart

Reflection–How the #AtoZChallenge Took Me Deeper Into My Fictional World


by Lillian Csernica on May 7, 2018

This year I dedicated my A to Z posts to exploring the world of my Kyoto Steampunk series. I made some valuable discoveries as I worked my way through the alphabet, some creative, some more on the practical side.

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Take a step sideways. A short story is by its nature limited in length. Every detail needs to be an essential detail. Once you get into a series of short stories, you have to keep developing those details, adding depth, bringing new information. Fujita-san is a regular character in the series, but the reader has so far never seen him outside of his function as Dr. Harrington’s translator. Devoting a post to Fujita-san’s background and qualifications made me think through aspects of his character that no story had yet required. That will greatly enrich Fujita-san’s next appearance.

Be sure to link your posts to other related posts. As the A to Z Challenge progressed, each additional blog post I wrote became an active link that expanded on references made in previous posts, and vice versa. It made for extra work, but it also gave me a wonderful sense of providing a more three dimensional experience. People who read the posts could chase the links back and forth, gathering lots of information and insights into how and why I’m writing the Kyoto Steampunk series.

Avoid the obvious, but keep in mind what’s popular. Some of the more difficult letters required brainstorming before I chose the topic I thought most useful and most entertaining. There were more Japanese words I might have used, but less is more in that regard. The Kyoto Steampunk series is about a British expatriate family living in Kyoto during Japan’s Industrial Revolution, facing difficulties both social and supernatural. I didn’t want to narrow the focus to Japan itself.

Reveal your process. This is where I really had the most fun. I’m always interested to learn how other creative people go about making their art. To be able to talk about how I made certain choices and why this or that story element is important to me gave me plenty of satisfaction. Just telling the story about how the character of Julie Rose came to be made a lot of people laugh!

Stay at least five days ahead. Absolutely essential. Some people manage to get all of their posts written before the challenge even starts. I stand in awe of such organization. Me, I need some pressure to do my best work. I also need breathing room. Staying five days ahead lets me stay relaxed while enjoying the daily challenge of each letter. It also means I have more time to go visit the people who visit me, along with roaming around chasing links to new blogs.

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And now, my favorite blogs from the 2018 A to Z Challenge!

The Old Shelter

Sarah Zama is an amazing writer, author of Give In To The Feeling. Last year she wrote about noir films, one of my favorite subjects. This year her posts about the Weimar Republic opened my eyes to a cultural revolution that was just a name in the history books.

Diary of a Dublin Housewife

Bernie Violet is a hoot. Her posts are written like bullet lists, providing bare dialogue back and forth between Bernie and one of her family or friends. You can hear the lovely Irish lilt that is authentic, not just some writer trying to fabricate a dialect. What’s more, Bernie’s sense of humor never fails to make me laugh.

Sharon E. Cathcart

Winner of much deserved awards, Sharon is a wonderful woman who devotes a lot of time to volunteering at animal shelters. Her latest novel Bayou Fire is well worth a read.

Sally’s Smorgasbord

For variety, entertainment, enlightenment, and laughter, you can’t do better. The sense of community there is strong and supportive. Go and sample some of the delights of this smorgasbord. You’ll be glad you did!

Atherton’s Magic Vapor

A time travel story with each letter of the alphabet being an entry in the mission guidebook. This is an exciting adventure with a unique style and some splendid graphics. I’ll have to read it again, now that I’ve gotten a better grip on the story!

Iain Kelly Fiction Writing

Every letter of the alphabet takes you to a new location. Every location is the setting for short piece of fiction that is rich and compelling. Some of the stories made me cry, partly from sorrow and partly from just how touching they were. Iain Kelly’s writing style is strong, admirable, and a pleasure to read.

Book Jotter

Paula Bardell-Hedley is a reviewer from Wales who keeps up with an impressive amount of reading. I’m impressed by the organization of her blog and the sheer volume of information she provides. Stop by and discover a treasure house for book lovers!

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Reflection Post: A to Z Blog Challenge 2017


by Lillian Csernica on May 8, 2017

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Another April has come and gone. I had a blast this year! Plowing through over a thousand items of Art Nouveau jewelry, art, housewares, etc. brought me a great deal of pleasure and lots of new historical information.

Having survived the previous three A to Z Blog Challenges, I came up with a better strategy for participating this year.

I chose a theme that promised plenty of eye candy: Art Nouveau jewelry. That meant more graphics and less text, so the posts would contain the essential information of interest on each item shown.

I made sure I stayed a week ahead on writing the posts. That did wonders for taking the pressure off and helping me really enjoy writing my posts and visiting the blogs of other participants.

Responding to comments and following up on visits make up the core purpose of the Challenge. Some wonderful people turned up to see what I found for each  day’s letter. I regret that I did not manage to visit more participants this year. A business trip did kept me on the road for over a week, but I did manage to follow up with my “regulars.”

My favorite blogs include:

This Old Shelter

Favorite post: Psychoanalysis: (1940s Film Noir)

Sharon E. Cathcart

Favorite post: W is for Wooing

Diary of a Dublin Housewife

Favorite post: Oh Brother

The Doglady’s Den

Favorite post: Je Taime…Mon Non Plus

Outside Perception

Favorite post: All of them, really. As much as I love movies, I had a good time seeing which one OP chose for each letter.

I do have one request for the A to Z Blog Challenge team:

PLEASE BRING BACK THE LINKY LIST!

The list made it so much easier to see where I’d been and where I wanted to go in terms of visiting my fellow bloggers. The categorization codes were also a big help. When I wanted to try a new flavor, I could spot which blogs were new interests for me. If I wanted to hang out with new writing acquaintances, off I went.

Thank you again to the A to Z organizers. I love the Challenge!

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