Blogging from A-Z – ready or not, here it comes

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good
“Who’s Tina?” you ask? I have no idea.

I’m about to start another blogging challenge. This time, instead of seven days, it will be a month long. (Yikes!) For the seven-day challenge I completed in January, I had about three days’ notice before it began, and it was a tough (albeit rewarding) week. This time I’ve had three weeks to prepare – but I’ve also been working on my taxes, starting a business and creating a blog for that (plus trying to get a little sleep – oh, yeah, and working at my day job), so my topic list isn’t as full as I would like it.

This time, the challenge is to blog from A-Z during 26 days in April. (We get Sundays off for good behavior.) Here’s how it’s supposed to play out:

“On April 1, blog about a topic that begins with the letter ‘A.’ April 2 is ‘B,’ April 3 is ‘C,’ and so on. No posts on Sundays and we finish with Z on April 30. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.”

I chose to “go random.” I just couldn’t think of a theme that would cover all 26 days. Maybe next year. 🙂

I have half of my topics tentatively picked out, but I have slots open in case you want to make suggestions. Here’s what I’ve got so far (subject to change – for instance, Thursday’s is supposed to a book review, and I’m only about halfway finished with the book):

A-Z Blogging Challenge - April 2015 rev03-27-15

So there you have it. Expect a post from me every day in April except Sundays (if I survive the challenge). And if you have a topic you think might be interesting, feel free make a suggestion in the comment area below. You are also welcome to ask me for more information on something I’ve listed on the calendar. Such as, “Fearless? What do you mean by that?” I might even have an answer for you before I actually sit down to write the post. 🙂

The beauty (and maybe the horror) of this is that it will keep me on my toes. The perfectionist in me wanted to have all 26 topics lined out before I started. But I don’t. Not even close. So that is the beauty and the wonder and the lesson. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 30 days.

So bear with me, people. They don’t call it a challenge for nothin’.

See you tomorrow.

Share this post:

A good night for storytelling

PoachersPage_withAutographIt was a dark and stormy night.

No, really. It was.

It was a night for storytelling and books, two of my favorite things.

It was dark, yes. Cold.

And it poured rain. But that didn’t keep a few dozen people – me, a few ladies from my monthly reading group, some bespectacled academics and a handful of students (who weren’t ready to admit they were there by coercion) – from enjoying an hour or so of conversation with bestselling novelist Tom Franklin at Lyon College in Batesville.


Franklin, 2015 winner of the Leila Lenore Heasley Prize at Lyon, read excerpts from a couple of of his books – Poachers (a short-story collection), Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (I’m reading that one, and we had a quiz about the title in a recent post, remember?) – and, as far as I can tell, an anthology that contains one of his stories (“The Safety Man”), before he took audience questions.

Despite fiddling with my camera and two dead batteries for several minutes during the readings, I had thought of a bucketload of questions, but when Q&A time came, this is what I managed to ask:

“What’s your favorite Stephen King book?” (Different Seasons.)

I am so brilliant.

But, shoot, he had already answered some of my questions as he talked about his books, his writing process, his influences (King among them), his beautiful and brilliant poet wife – the whole writing thing. And I couldn’t think of anything more substantial, more thoughtful – something that made it obvious I had been paying attention.


Afterward, when I stood in line to wait for Mr. Franklin to autograph my books (I bought Poachers and Crooked Letter), I asked my second-most-brilliant question: “What’s your favorite book of your own?”

Smonk,” he said, without hesitation.

He had sold out of that one before I got up to the table, and I was disappointed. Until he said:

“It’s not for everyone.”

It’s extremely violent and sexually explicit, he said.

His mother cried for three days after she read it.

Well, shoot. I wanted to read all of his books. Now I’m not so sure. I certainly don’t want to make my own mother cry. I’m very curious about this book, though.

It’s not that I’m into extremely violent, sexually explicit fiction (or nonfiction). In fact, just the opposite is true. But I am into good writing. I’ve spent a lot of time lately trying to read good writing, especially fiction, in the hopes that it will make me a better writer. Is reading a sexually explicit, extremely violent novel worth it? Will it be helpful? (I ask myself that question a lot.)

I’m going to have to do some praying on that. Yep, some serious praying. I will let you know. (I wouldn’t even be having this conversation – this inner battle – if I hadn’t met the author last night and really liked him. I also am enjoying Crooked Letter, which I’m about half-finished reading. It is not sexually explicit or extremely violent – so far – although I would clean up the language a bit if I were writing it. But that’s just me.) (Update: I’m not going to read Smonk.)

Then I asked about Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favorites since childhood (maybe why I picked up Stephen King in 10th grade), because the story “Poachers” won Franklin a Poe award for best mystery story a few years ago. Poe invented the short story, my new writer friend said with a smile.

So, even though I’m only halfway through my first Tom Franklin novel, I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Meanwhile, this evening in small-town Arkansas promises to be another dark and stormy night. Maybe a little snow or freezing rain.

Perfect for curling up with a couple of dogs and a good murder mystery.

Hello again, Chabot, Mississippi.

Who’s your favorite mystery writer?

Share this post: