Reflecting: A to Z Challenge

A-to-Z+Reflection+[2015]+-+LgThis was my first year doing the A to Z Challenge. I posted my thoughts on surviving and completing the Challenge the other day, but that was before I realized the folks in charge of the Challenge wanted to have an actual reflection written.

Since this was my very first time participating, I don’t really have any major complaints. It was a little difficult to find blogs similar to mine in that massive list of 1500+ blogs. I know many folks dropped out because I started out at number 1200-something and ended up at number 900-something. It would have been nice to have the blogs divided somehow. Few bloggers used the 2-letter coding system to indicate what their content was. I didn’t use the codes because there wasn’t one single code that seemed to fit an all-purpose/post-whatever-comes-to-mind/family friendly sort of blog like mine. I didn’t want to limit myself by selecting WR for writing or BO for books. I wasn’t even sure what LI for lifestyle meant! Maybe the coding list could be expanded (add categories), and maybe it could be a requirement that you have to select one or more categories or you can’t sign up. Maybe someone could set it up so that there are radio buttons to select more than one category when you submit your blog name.

The items that impacted me the most about the Challenge were:
1) The new blogs I found. I found several great blogs that gave me helpful tips and ideas or just plain amused me;
2) The new friends I made. See item #1. I am now following several new blogs; and
3) I learned that I CAN write short stories. The support and encouragement I received from readers helped me to keep going. Maybe it was the overall deadline/pressure of having to post every day (6 days out of 7) that pushed me along. Whatever it was, I loved it and thrived within that setting!

Thank you for creating this blogging challenge. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

I Survived the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge

A-to-Z-Challenge-SURVIVIORIt’s hard to believe that the A to Z Blogging Challenge is over. I survived it and successfully completed it. I exceeded my own expectations. What began as a lark ended rather unexpectedly as a fabulous experience. I had such fun writing my series of short stories, and I made some new friends along the way.

It was suggested to me a month or more ago that I try my hand at writing short stories and maybe out of those short stories a character or two would present themselves for my stated goal of writing a novel one day. As I began to write about a little girl and an old man that she met daily in the park, I began to unconsciously formulate and create characters and a town. Most days when I sat down to put my posts together, those characters wrote themselves.

I am proud of and pleased with what I produced. I am so proud that (as I stated on Wednesday) I compiled all 26 stories into a collection of short stories, and I’ve published them on both Amazon and Nook. If you’d like a copy of the collection or if you’d like to read them all in one sitting, you can now get them online.

COVERI downloaded the early version for my Kindle, and I sat down to read all 26 stories back to back. I tried to be objective as I read, but I was critically looking for faults or errors. I kept expecting to find something oddly out of place or jarring to the story line, and nothing like that jumped out at me. Some of those stories were well-thought out, but most of them were written on the fly. I surprised myself that they were actually not bad.

I have decided to continue Annelise’s story. I have already begun writing with the final short story (Zoe) set as the prologue to a more expanded version of the characters’ stories and lives in the town. Although some characters may never reappear, it’s possible they all might. I purposely kept the ages and timeframe vague in the short stories. As I wrote, I imagined a town from the past similar to Mayberry. I wanted a kinder and gentler place for a young girl to safely wander around on her own. The expanded version will contain more definite references to time and ages. I hope and pray that I am able to do Annelise justice.

Thank you, everyone, for reading my little collection of stories. They were my babies, and the first stories of that type that I ever wrote and put out there for the whole world to see. I appreciated the kind words of encouragement and support – they meant more to me than anyone can know.

A to Z Blog Challenge – Z is for Zoe

ZoeZOE

Zoe came out of her apartment, zipping up her hoodie as she tried to locate her car keys in her large purse at the same time. She moved down the hallway to the stairs and quickly ran down to the lobby. She stopped to check their mailbox on the way through, and she squealed in excitement when she found the envelope she’d been waiting for. She kissed it for luck and tore it open.

A moment later, she dashed out the lobby doors and ran through the park, heading for the apartment building opposite hers. She was in mid-run when she screeched to a halt, seeing the very person she was running towards, working in the park gardens.

“Annelise!” she cried, waving the envelope, “Annelise, it came!”

The teenaged girl, working in the garden at the base of a fast-growing young tree, turned to stand up as she approached at a run.

“Well?” Annelise grinned, “Did you get in?”

“Yesssssss!!!!” Zoe cried, and the two young women hugged each other as they hopped up and down. “Now we’ll still be together! Four years of High School and soon two years of College!”

“This is wonderful!” Annelise laughed, “The dynamic duo rides again! Did you tell your Mom?”

“Not yet,” Zoe said,”I just grabbed the mail on my way out the door. I wanted to tell you first!”

“I’m glad you did,” Annelise said, “I was getting worried I’d have to attend State College by myself. I wasn’t looking forward to making new friends.”

“Aw, you’d have done great,” Zoe told her, “You’re a stellar student, you’re pretty, and you make friends easily. I would have had a harder time starting somewhere new.”

“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” Annelise said, wiping the sweat off of her brow with her forearm. She crouched back down to continue weeding the forget-me-nots at the base of the tree.

“Hey, why don’t we go out for a burger and a malted to celebrate?” Zoe asked.

“That sounds great,” Annelise said, “Let me finish up here. I wanted to weed and plant this pack of impatiens.”

“That tree has grown so much,” Zoe said, “The flowers look so pretty around it, too.”

“Yes, thanks,” Annelise said, “I think he’d like it, don’t you?”

“He sure would,” Zoe told her, “But you told me he liked everything you did. How long has he been gone now, Annelise?”

“Six years, “Annelise said, “We planted this tree in his honor the spring after he died. I wish he was still here to sit in its shade. He’d have liked that, too.”

“I wish I’d met him,” Zoe said, “It sounds like he was a great guy.”

“Barney was a sweet and wonderful old man,” Annelise said, “He liked the park, his store, the kids, the sunshine, the flowers and trees and chocolate ice cream cones.”

“He liked you, too, Annelise, and he would be proud of how you’ve grown, too,” Zoe said, patting her shoulder.

“Thanks, Zoe,” Annelise sniffed, “Go tell your Mom about your acceptance letter. I’ll finish here and go wash up and meet you in about a half an hour.”

“You got it,” Zoe said, turning to run back towards her apartment.

Zoe dashed back inside the building and didn’t see Annelise wipe away a tear as she continued planting flowers at the base of Barney’s tree.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

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A to Z Blog Challenge – Y is for Yolanda

YolandaYOLANDA

Yolanda looked up as the main doors opened. She was in the process of helping one of the patients walk down the hallway.

“That’s it, Mrs. Landry,” she said.

Yolanda smiled at a young couple as they walked by her with a young girl and a toddler in his stroller. Several of the patients were excited to see the children. They kept stopping the young couple to smile, wave at or talk to the children and their parents.

“Okay, Mrs. Landry,” Yolanda said, “Here we are. I thought you might like to sit next to Adelaide.”

“Thank you,” Mrs. Landry said, as she let Yolanda settle her in the chair. Yolanda picked up a nearby light-weight blanket and tucked it around Mrs. Landry’s legs.

Yolanda did a quick scan of the area to make sure none of the other patients needed anything. She straightened a pillow behind Mr. Stevens’ back and patted his hand when he smiled up at her. She headed back to the nurse’s station.

“Anything else need doing, Phyll?” she asked her co-worker Phyllis.

“I think we’re good at the moment,” Phyllis sighed, “A break in the chaos. Whoops, there goes the bell for Mr. Webb’s room.”

“I’ll get it,” Yolanda told her, turning to head back down the hallway.

When she got to the room, she found that the young family who had come in had gone to Mr. Webb’s room.

“Sorry to bother you,” the woman said, “He seems to be out of water.”

“No problem,” Yolanda smiled, “I’ll get him some more.”

She went to fill a Styrofoam cup with ice water. After she’d attached a lid and straw, she took it back to the room.

“… and I went on a school trip this week, Grandpa Barney,” the young girl was chattering away when she went back in.

“I didn’t realize Mr. Webb had grandchildren,” Yolanda smiled.

“Honorary grandchildren,” the mother smiled, “I’m Holly, and this is my husband Joe, daughter Annelise and son Robbie. Annelise adopted Barney in the park a few years ago. They’ve been fast friends since.”

“He has perked up a lot,” Yolanda said. She went over to straighten Mr. Webb’s pillow and lap rug where he sat in his chair.

“He has always had a soft spot for children,” Joe said, “He used to run the hardware store in town – out where the supermarket is now, and he was a big fan of the kids. He’d fix their bikes for free, and they’d stop by there all the time to tell him of their exploits.”

“I never knew that,” Yolanda said, “He’s one of my favorite patients. On his good days, he always has a smile for me. He’s never a bother.” She patted Barney’s shoulder. “Well, I’ll get back to work. You let me know if he needs anything else.”

“Thank you,” Holly said.

“Grandpa Barney, Robbie can say elevator!” Annelise told him as Yolanda walked out.

Yolanda smiled and went back to the nurse’s station.

“What’s so funny?” Phyllis asked her.

“Oh, nothing, I was just smiling at how cute those kids are who are visiting Mr. Webb. I’ve never seen them before.”

“They come in a couple of times a week – usually during the afternoon before you get here. Nice family,” Phyllis said.

“I thought so,” Yolanda said.

She turned as an older male patient shuffled up to the desk to ask for help with a jigsaw puzzle he was working on. She went over to referee what was quickly becoming an arguing match over the puzzle pieces.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

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