A-Z Blog Challenge 2018 Theme: Haiku Puzzles Return

~ Do you like puzzles? ~
~ Do you like tiny poems? ~
~ Then this is for you ~

~ Find clues to a word ~
~ Starting with the day’s letter ~
~ Within the haiku ~

~ Can you guess the word? ~
~ That is my challenge to you ~
~ Starting in April ~

The A to Z Blogging Challenge is back, and I’m participating for the third year in a row. One day in April will be dedicated to each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, and bloggers are invited to post something related to that letter. My theme is, once again, haiku puzzles. Each day I’ll have a short poem following the haiku pattern, with lines of five, seven, and five syllables. The poem will describe a word that starts with the letter of the day. Your mission: to figure out the word described by the puzzle.

The A to Z challenge for 2018 begins on Sunday April 1. (No fooling!)

See you there!


2017 – Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I have to say there are a whole lot of things I won’t miss about 2017. But that’s mostly relating to current events, nationally and globally, not what I focus on in this blog. So as the year turns, I’m going to take a few minutes to look back on 2017 and look ahead to 2018. Before I do, though, I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who read or follow my little blog, and especially those who take the time to post comments. You have no idea how much you lift my spirits every time.

In looking back to 2017 I collected a whole pile of blog statistics (*yawn*) but ditched them. Instead I’m just going to look at how I did with respect to the goals I set a year ago, and then set new goals for 2018. So here we go!

Looking Back: 2017 Goals

  • Revise my work in progress (WIP): I’ve made very good progress on this front. The book has gone through a whole series of revisions, and is right now in its 6th version and is out to my local critique book for another round of feedback. I still have faith in this project and am pleased with what I’ve done so far, though of course it can always be better.
  • Participate in the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge. I only missed six of the possible challenges this year, and all of my most popular posts were in this category. When I look at the top five, I see a theme of using small, close-up images to reflect on various larger themes:
  • Keep up the Wednesday Words posts related to writing. I missed this one completely. I shifted Wednesday Words to Weekend Words when the Photo Challenge moved from Friday to Wednesday, then it just got dropped. I had a very busy spring with unusually intense work and personal demands, but I’m not finding that excuse very satisfying.
  • Participate in the A-Z Blogging Challenge in April. Once again I posted haiku puzzles, this time focused on topics from fantasy and science fiction. It was a ton of fun, but not quite as successful as the 2016 challenge, and I think that’s because the F/SF focus meant it frustrated some folks. I’ve got a reflection here.
  • Dance at my daughter’s wedding. I was the primary wedding planner, which is one of those demands that led to me dropping the Wednesday Words commitment, but it was TOTALLY worth it, even if I didn’t actually do much dancing. You can read more about it here.

Looking Ahead: 2018 Goals

  • Move forward with my WIP: I plan to get connected to a new group of beta readers online, polish the book to a high gloss, and start querying. At the same time I’ll start working on my next book, so there will always be a WIP to move forward with.
  • Continue participating in the WordPress photo challenge: This is an obvious one, since it’s the thing I did most in the last year and produced all of my most popular posts. I’m going to try to get them all!
  • Participate again in the A-Z blogging challenge. This has been fun twice, and I will definitely do it again. I expect to return to the original plan of haiku puzzles for ordinary words, not the F/SF version. It seems to appeal to more people.
  • Post more on writing: I don’t think I can commit to a weekly post on writing, but I hope I can post more than the seven I did all last year.

So that’s it – my mark for the turn of the year. I hope your year turns well!

WordWacker’s 3rd Birthday

Yes, today is this little blog’s third birthday! I like to have an image each time representing the event, and today I pulled together the number 3 with one of my other interests, showcasing one set of polyhedral dice, suitable for Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop role-playing games, all showing the number 3. Cool, huh?

My main topic today, though, is to look back at another year here at WordWacker. Here are some highlights:

Some Statistics: Things are growing as well as I might hope. Yes, I’ll never make any Top Blog lists, but what’s happening here is generally making me happy. I’m up to 281 posts and 191 followers (up from 131 followers at this time last year). Hi, followers! I love you all! I’ve lost two followers on the WordWacker Facebook page (from 8 down to 6), but that’s never been anything other than a mirror of the blog itself, so it doesn’t surprise me. On Twitter, where I post occasionally, I’ve gone from 18 followers to 75.

Blog Posts: Here’s a breakdown of what I posted on this year. It adds up to more than 60 because some posts fall into more than one category.

  • Photo Challenge: 37 (some just posting a photo with little comment, like this one on Earth Day pointing out There Is No Planet B, some with associated essays, like my post on the science of water in Water’s Edge)
  • A-Z Blogging Challenge: 28 (the 26 letter posts, the Theme Reveal, and the Refection looking back at the experience)
  • Writing: 23 (including longer posts relating to writing in general, like this one on Cultivating Creativity, and shorter ones like this one encouraging people to Visit the Shark: Do You Know Janet Reid?)
  • Wedding: 4 (I managed to restrain myself from focusing on this ALL THE TIME, but did have an early post showing the dress as we were Counting Down to the Big Day, and a look back at the event when it was over, sharing my wish that the couple will Live Long and Prosper.
  • Miscellaneous: 8 posts that really didn’t fit any of these categories, like this Poem I dropped on a day when I was feeling too sick to do anything else.

Writing and the Book: The initial goal of this blog was to chronicle my writing journey. As you can see from the blog post statistics I’ve shifted away from this to a certain extent, but I don’t want to lose that focus. Here are some changes I’ve made, and what I plan for the future in this arena.

  • I continued to participate in Janet Reid’s flash fiction contests through 2016, but then I stopped getting involved. This was partly to redirect my energies in other directions, and partly because the people who participate in these contests are so amazingly, astonishingly good that I wasn’t in the right league. I’m still a faithful reader of Janet’s blog, though, and if you’re interested in writing or the business of getting published, you should be too!
  • I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo right now, pushing to revise my novel by the end of July. (Yes, I should be working on that RIGHT NOW!). The last time I did this, in 2015, I was posting compulsively about it. This time I just posted once when I signed up and will post again when I finish. Win or lose.
  • 10 Minutes a Day: I pledged in January 2017 to write at least 10 minutes a day, and post my progress on the blog. Mea maxima culpa – I failed to follow through. This spring semester was the most demanding one I’ve had in a long time, with routine 50-hour weeks at work, and I just couldn’t keep it up. Yes, I know lots of other people work more hours than that and still manage to crank out wonderful books. I am not one of those amazing people. Good to know, I guess.
  • Wednesday Words: In October 2016 I started a regular feature on writing that I called Wednesday Words. I wrote or reblogged on this topic regularly until WordPress changed its photo challenge day from Friday to Wednesday. At that point I switched to Weekend Words, but posted under this tag only once, on February 13. After that I just ran out of time. I miss this regular focus on words and writing. So I plan to come back to it in some form or other, even if it’s just once a month, after I finish the revision I’m working on now.

So, bottom line: The blog is healthy and growing. My interest in doing it is still strong. I plan to make some changes, bringing writing and books more into focus, but mostly I plan to do more of the same.

Here’s to a long healthy blog life in the future! I hope you join me.

A to Z Reflection 2017

I did it – another April participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, along with hundreds of other bloggers around the world. This was my second time working through the alphabet, and it was just as much fun as it was before. My theme was almost the same as last time: haiku puzzles, but this time focused on words from science fiction and fantasy. The challenge was both harder and easier than last year. It was harder because my April was a busier month in my personal life, since I’m serving this year as chair of my college department and my daughter’s wedding is coming up in less than a month. It was easier because I anticipated this, so I worked well ahead to write the haikus and draft the posts, and then took full advantage of WordPress’s capacity to schedule posts ahead of time. Each weekend I stacked up all the posts for the whole week and got them ready to go. This meant that all I had to do during the week was reading and commenting on posts by other people, and responding to all the wonderful comments I got on my own posts. This is the fun part of the A to Z challenge, so I made sure to budget time for building and maintaining these connections.

Now it’s time to look back at the numbers for the month, and compare them with my stats from a year ago.

  • I posted 29 times in April, which is not quite as many as last time but still not bad for a 30-day month. This included the 26 alphabet posts plus three others, all related to the weekly WordPress photo challenge. (I only missed one challenge in April, which again isn’t bad for a month when the A-Z Challenge is happening!).
  • Focusing on just the 26 alphabet posts that were part of the A-Z challenge, I see that I collected a total of 850 comments (more than double last year’s count). The fact that people take the time to comment on my posts continues to amaze me. Every one of those comments lifted my heart! The post that earned the most comments, at 17, was the one for the letter Q:

He snaps his fingers,
And with limitless power
Plays games with starships

The answer to this haiku is simply Q, the designation for one of the recurring antagonists in Star Trek. Since he sees himself as infinitely superior to us puny mortals, Q would be completely unsurprised at coming out on top in any category you care to name.

  • All together, the 26 letter posts this month earned 192 “likes.”  This isn’t double last year’s number (137), but it’s still a substantial increase. The post for the letter P was the one with the highest number of likes at 17,  and is also one that earned only marginally less than the top number or comments, at 16:

Nasty hobbitses
what is in its pocketses?
No! That’s mine! It’s MY —

I guess lots of people love Lord of the Rings. Some of the science fiction/fantasy fans I know say that, knowing the letter of the day was P, all they needed was the first line. Nobody else but Gollum would say that, and all Gollum talked about was his precious.

  • One more number. During April this blog gained 25 new followers, bringing my total up to 185. I can’t say how much it means to me that there are so many people who find what I ramble on about here to be useful, or entertaining, or in some way worth their time. Every single one of you counts as MY precious! I will do my best to return something to you for the gift of time you’ve given to me

Let me say thank you
To everyone who stopped by—
You are all the best!

Z Haiku #atozchallenge

Princess of Hyrule,
With the Triforce of Wisdom—
Sometimes cross-dresses

We’ve come to the end of the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2017!  I thank everyone who stopped by during April, and especially those who stuck with me through the month. It’s been a blast! We’re finishing with one last haiku puzzle. Can you figure out the name, from science fiction or fantasy, that starts with Z and is suggested by the haiku? This one’s not from a movie or TV show, but from a video game. Though she’s sometimes a damsel in distress, there to be rescued by the game’s main character, in other parts of the series she’s a force to be reckoned with on her own. If you know who it is, let us know in the comments.

Y Haiku #atozchallenge

Talks backwards, he does,
And teaches, “There is no try—
You do, or do not.”

Here’s the haiku puzzle for the day in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. What character from science fiction or fantasy has a name starting with Y and is suggested by the haiku? I think this one should be relatively easy for most people, even those who are not major fans. He’s small and looks like a Muppet, but you do NOT want to get on his dark side! Know who I’m talking about? Tell us in the comments.