A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal



After my complex and demanding theme in 2016, I’m reverting to the approach that I took in 2014 and 2015 – a theme related to a ‘work in progress’.

So, my theme is “The History of Kanata”, the parallel world that is the setting for “Eagle Passage, and if there are more books, “The Manitou Mark” series. I wrote about this world in my blog post ‘This could be Kanata’, and that was a good summary of where the project was mid-December before I did more research.

The main plot of the novel is set in 2020 Kanata – the name originates from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, ‘kanata’ meaning village or settlement. This novel is alternative history with a dose of mystery, thriller, and a touch of spirituality. Spirituality as the heroine, Torill Migisi has latent shamanic powers that have been passed on for generations down the matrilineal line that leads her clan.

Torill’s great-grandmother, Chepi, appoints Torill as the next Matriarch to head the Migisi clan and the family’s successful trading corporation, Migisi Rederi, from Stadacona [Quebec City].  However, she puts off her calling, agreeing instead to transport a mysterious cargo for her brother, Andor, by high-tech airship. Airships are the primary means of global travel and planes are less advanced.


Torill discovers that the cargo is a jet plane dredged from Lake Gichigami [Lake Superior], and then someone murders her great-grandmother. Torill and her airship’s crew are forced to escape the authorities who believe she is the killer and is smuggling illegal arms that could trigger a continental war. Why has the plane got the star markings of their neighbour, the Dixie States? This can’t be the plane that Chepi crashed in Gichigami in 1945. What can Torill do if this jet was Chepi’s plane?

The main plot intersperses with stories about the Migisi ancestors involved with the development of the Kanatian world. I will blog each day in April on a key historical event that changed our world into Kanata. For now, I will give you the initial event that set this alternative timeline in motion.


In December 1000 AD, Leif Eriksson is wintering in the settlement called Leifsbúðir on an island he has discovered west of Greenland. A Sámi slave, Arnbjörg notices that Leif’s old foster-father, Tyrkir is missing and searches for him. Fearing that the old retainer is in danger, she alerts Finnr, the bard presumed to be her father, and he tells Leif. Tyrkir is eventually found, drunk from eating the ‘grapes’ he has picked from some vines. Arnbjörg and Tyrkir identify the fruit as a variety of lingonberries. Leif calls the island Vineland, but his most aggressive followers advice fighting the natives and leaving.

However, Arnbjörg has a shamanic vision in which the goddess Skaði shows her what the land could yield if the Vikings stay and co-operate with the indigenous people. Skaði gives Arnbjörg her divine bow, with which she can convince Leif to remain.

A year later, when the settlers are establishing a trading post at Stadacona, Arnbjörg meets and marries a Chippewa native, Misko Etchemin of the Migisi clan. She becomes the spiritual leader of the Migisi clan and a driving force behind their trade ventures. The rest is history – or rather alternative history.

So, please follow my ‘History of Kanata’ next month in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2017.

Important Links for the A to Z Challenge – use these to find other A to Z Bloggers













The Liebster Award


I hinted yesterday that today’s post would be a response to some good news. Sarah Zama from The Old Shelter nominated me for the Liebster Award. Her A to Z blog on the Jazz Age Jazz was entertaining and informative. And her Reflections post is a must-read for the advice on preparing for A to Z – there’s a lot there that I’ll be attempting to take on-board

I always get both nervous and excited when I’m nominated for such an award, especially from a blogger that I respect. Excited about the recognition – nervous as I need to deal with some crucial questions.

This is actually the second time that I have been nominated for the Liebster – first was way back in October 23, 2013, so my answers may have changed since then.

Rules of the Liebster Award

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you chose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster Award in which you:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog in your post.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  • Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  • Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. [Some claim that this is a flexible rule, so I’m ignoring it. In fact, I don’t qualify. 😉 ]
  • Create a new list of questions for the nominees to answer
  • List these rules in your post (copy and paste from here). Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)


11 questions Sarah asked me

  1. When your started your blog, did you know what you were doing?

It was trial and error, but it always will be as the learning process never stops – no exceptions. I started when I began following blog-maestro Robert Lee Brewer  and his introduction to creating a Writer’s Platform. His ‘challenge’ took me through the early stages of blogging and social media.

  1. Many writers I know tell me they don’t blog because they prefer to write their own stories. Why do you?

Blogging for me is not the same as creating my fictional stories. The posts are a chance to address other issues from writing quandaries to health issues. However, a few posts do stray into fictional areas, such as my interviews with characters in my novels, and this year’s A to Z mystery.

  1. Do you plan your posts?

I start scribbling ideas for posts days ahead of when I want to schedule them. I have a black notebook with sketched out ideas, some of which have yet to be developed – like “The First Terrorists”. As the scheduled day approaches, I select the most appropriate idea. Right now I have a review of “The Road” imminent.

  1. Do you stick to a posting schedule?

I have a flexible posting schedule of a weekly post on Tuesday or Wednesday. There’s no particular theme as my readers went for Pick N’Mix. At the moment, that’s enough of a commitment. Looking way ahead, I might have to schedule “The First Terrorists” for October 10th (Columbus Day), especially as this desktop will be in transit to the USA. That will mean some clever scheduling for almost two months.



  1. When you signed up for the A to Z Challenge the first time, did you know what you were doing?

I’d seen a few posts in 2013 so had a rough idea what I was getting into when I did the Challenge in 2014. I chose posts themed around what I was researching for a WIP, but admit that it was a learning process. However, I wrote some posts in advance so wasn’t a complete wreck by the end of April 2014.

  1. What were you thinking when you signed up the second time?

That I needed to write more posts in advance to give myself time to visit others. However, I stuck to a theme related to research for a WIP, although that book is now on a back-burner. This year I resisted the temptation to go with a research theme, as I said in my Reflection above. On further reflection, my research approach might be okay for 2017. Counterfactual history or maybe Snowdon Snippets.

  1. I can hardly resist a blogging challenge. Do you participate in many?

I resist the temptation to do more than A to Z, especially if they are over many days. I have done a few one-off challenges, like posting specific sentences from a manuscript, or details on my current main character.

  1. What is the blogging challenge which was the most fun for you?

In general, trying to select a weekly post that will be of interest to my readers and followers is a challenge. I’m still working on that one, hoping that I will suss what sparks their attention. And what dictates that? The number of comments? Likes? Visits? Probably, the overall reaction. Being ignored is the pits though. In terms of particular posts and fun, I would say that writing the mystery part of “A Brilliant Conspiracy” my A to Z Challenge this year. Challenging because of my rules, but fun as those same rules played a part in the plot and the climax. But I keep worrying that it was too obscure. Was it?

  1. Did you ever produce a vlog? If not, would you consider doing it?

Never have, and won’t consider doing it as I stammer and swallow words because of my disability. That’s also the reason why my days of public speaking ended last century and I won’t do any readings.

  1. Have you ever read articles about marketing to learn promoting your blog?

Read a few but tend to feel that most suggest things that I’m unlikely to do. Perhaps tweaks. Most of the great strides were in the early years. Is that where my blog fails?

  1. Do you think writing a blog is the same as writing a book?

Very different from writing fiction, as different products. However, not in terms of commitment. Both require persistence and perseverance. I find them complimentary – like wine and cheese.


11 random things about myself

  1. Although I’m British, in terms of my maroon passport, I’m actually part Chilean. My maternal grandmother was from Chile and met my grandfather when he was working for a nitrate mining company out there. My mother was born in Santiago.
  2. My office has a view towards Snowdon, which I will miss when we move to the US. However, Idaho has plenty of spectacular mountains and wild scenery.
  3. I went to school in Canada, for a few terms, so got a taste for the outdoor lifestyle over there – especially the skiing. I even went white-water rafting.
  4. My first time on a ski slope I was ready to chuck it all in. I was scared of the nursery slopes. My instructor sent me up the next level run, telling me to try that one. I struggled down, but never looked back. Taking slopes head-on became a regular thrill. I even raced a bit…but not down the nursery slope.
  5. My first success in writing was winning three days with the Royal Navy, when aged about ten I wrote an essay on A Day In The Life of a Helicopter Pilot.
  6. That RN adventure was the last time that I sailed around the Isle of Wight in a large ship – the guided missile destroyer HMS Devonshire – Displacement 5,440 tonnes (6,850 tonnes full load). On September 20th I will sail around the Isle of Wight again but on RMS Queen Mary 2, bound for New York – Displacement 75,000 tonnes.


    Queen Mary 2 in New York Harbor

  7. I still have one of the books that I read and adored as a child, George Brooksbank’s “Old Mr Fox”. With a cover by celebrated artist Archibald Thorburn, this was my father’s copy, which he was given in 1932 for Christmas, the same year the book was published.
  8. My favourite author is J.R.R Tolkien, but I first discovered him when I read the essay based on his lecture “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics“. Reading “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” came a few months later.
  9. I read the whole of “Lord of the Rings” over one very long weekend when I was at Eton College in 1969. I still have the three hardback copies with their wonderful fold-out maps.
  10. History has always fascinated me, so it was one of my specialist subjects at school and at college. I even enjoy Virtual or Alternative Histories, so one day I might work out how the Vikings colonised Kanata.
  11. I’ve had Multiple Sclerosis since 2000 but writing keeps my brain on track, although it can be exhausting. And I now call it the MaelStrom MonSter.


With the A to Z Challenge in mind, I’d first like to nominate a few fellow A to Z-ers for this award.

Tasha @ Tasha’s Thinkings Wrote 2.5 blogs during A to Z, including her entertaining spooky one on Fictional Phantoms.

Miriam @ An’ de walls came tumblin’ down  Her A to Z was clever stories in which each sentence began with the chosen letter of the day.

Jen @ Lexical Creations This children’s writer tackled a double theme for A to Z. Each post featured an Alphabet book and an instalment of her own fun alphabetical story with letters as characters.

Cheryl @ Plucking Of My Heartstrings Her 2016 theme was non-profit organizations that deserve support, so please visit as many as you can.

Maryann @ if i only had a time machine Her informative and detailed A to Z posts were A 1970s Time Capsule from A to Z. Facts and video clips galore.

Archie @ Travel With Archie – and finally a great travelogue with A to Z posts on US cities. Wonderfully informative and great photos.

Finally, I’m choosing two other bloggers that are deserving of the Liebster Award.

Chrys @ Write with Fey Catching sparks for stories and passing on torches of inspiration.

Mark @ Time Present and Time Past        Author/Lecturer who knows how to tell his facts in an informative and engrossing way.


And these are the questions for them, and of course most are about blogging:

  • Do you have goals for your blog? What are they?
  • Do you have a blogging schedule?
  • I can hardly resist a blogging challenge. Do you participate in many?
  • What is your favourite way to interact with other bloggers?
  • What is your own personal favourite of your own blog posts, and why?
  • What kind of blogs do you like to read the most?
  • Where would you most like to visit?
  • If you could have any kind of pet, what would it be?
  • If you could choose to live in another time, when would you choose?
  • Would you change your chosen career path?
  • Do you have a favourite book that you re-read?


Again, thanks so much to Sarah for giving me the possibility to share the love. And thanks to all those that have inspired me to nominate them.

A to Z Reflection

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]


Eleven days after the great event seems a reasonable period of time for honest reflection on the Blogging From A to Z April (2016) Challenge. It’s also a good moment to respond to a friend nominating me for The Liebster Award, as that poses some A to Z and blogging questions. However, that will be tomorrow’s post so stayed tuned to this channel.

So first my thoughts about this year’s April Challenge.

After my first two years, 2014 and 2015, I wanted to do briefer posts that would be quicker to read. As I said in my Blogging from A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 2016, I wanted something different, tighter and more cryptic. In that I succeeded, but in my desire to produce something ‘challenging’, I chose to write an episodic mystery that created more work. Each episode consisted of one word for each of the letters of the alphabet, commencing with the letter of the day. Of course, I imposed other rules and then as a bonus, had a ‘horse of the day’, and a ‘daily poison’ – again from A to Z.

I did succeed in writing all but a few posts in March, so succeeded in reaching Z and the end of April. However, I struggled to read a lot of other blogs each day – probably about a dozen or so – in addition to the other posts that I follow.

I loved the variety of A to Z blogs out there, and I intend to explore some more in the months ahead. I’m incredibly impressed at the depth of talent in the blogosphere.

My IWSG blog post last Wednesday expressed my concern at making comments, even during quieter periods. So I’m in awe of those that multi-task successfully throughout the Challenge, and don’t believe in clones.

My Liebster comments tomorrow will highlight those bloggers who impressed me, and I admit that I found many individual posts invaluable as well as informative. Maybe I will learn from them in my approach for the 2017 Challenge.

I won’t be giving up blogging quite yet, as doing the A to Z Challenge holds the MaelStrom MonSter at bay by keeping my brain active and distracted.

As for the A to Z Team, they did an excellent job – as always.  So a special thank you to those that worked hard to make it possible, from the co-hosts to their helpers/assistants. Here they all are.

A Brilliant Conspiracy

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2

Blogging from A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 2016

April and the A to Z Challenge is drawing near, so today I’m posting about the Theme I intend to follow for the Month of April on Writing Wings.

The Challenge runs over 26 days – with Sundays off for good behaviour – and each day will be based on the alphabet, from A through to Z.

In previous years, I have chosen themes that were linked to Work In Progress… and I rambled somewhat. So I wanted something different, maybe tighter and more cryptic.

So “A Brilliant Conspiracy” was born.

This is a short saga based around the following ‘Blurb’.

Archibald Brewster claims detective expertise, frustrating genius hospital intern Jamila Knox.

Luckily, muscles never obstruct progress.

Questions remain, silently taunting, until vengeance wakes xenophobia-yapping zealots.

Inspired by this mystery, I will post a brief episode in “A Brilliant Conspiracy” on every day of the challenge, from A through to Z, each one starting with the relevant letter.

Each episode will consist of one word for each of the letters of the alphabet, initially in alphabetical order. As each letter is ticked off, I will then use it anywhere in the following episodes. For instance, Day 3 will start with ‘C’ for ‘Confessions, and somewhere I will use A and B – possibly for ‘Archibald’ and for ‘but’. By the time the mystery reaches Z, all the other letters will be in non-alphabetical order. That means 26 posts, each one of 26 words.

As a bonus, Archibald will pick his ‘horse of the day’, while Jamila will assess a ‘daily poison’ – again from A to Z.

I’m attempting to concoct these cryptic episodes in advance, but it’s proving tough. So if I fail to complete this challenge, then this will be, “Another Baffling Confusion”, especially if there is no Z.

Why not go visit the others on the linky list to find out what sort of posts you can look forward to elsewhere.

You can also visit the A to Z Facebook page where you’ll be able to see what everyone’s posting about. And there are the A to Z pinterest boards, the G+ page, and Twitter where the #atozchallenge tag rules.

See you on April 1st when Archibald and Jamila embark on their adventure.


Plodding Towards Publication


Today is the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group post and I am flip-flopping between positivity and insecurity.

I should feel positive having completed the 100k in 100 days challenge that began on January 1st, and then plunged straight into the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, completing that as well. I may be exhausted but I’m still writing, although not as frenetically.

However, my A to Z Challenge failed as my posts were too long – details on my last blog post here. And I still shuffle my way forward over getting something published. It should be ‘best step forward’ as I am productive, but there is too much unfinished and unresolved.

And how do I get the work published? I see better writers than me self-publishing, but I lack the means to do that – starting with the health to cope. I’ve been looking around at small presses but I fear that my writing is not suitable, and my promotion skills are lacking.

Snowdon by Juanita Clarke on Duskweald

Snowdon by Juanita Clarke on Duskweald

Or does “Storms Compass” fit into the new interest around novellas? I need to add an overarching plot that will weave the stories together, but the length might remain within the shorter length – and the tales have been professionally edited.

And if novellas are the future, what do I do with my plans for the Snowdon Shadows series? They will be full-length novels as they stand. Or do I trim them to the skeleton? Where do I go?


Purpose of the IWSG day: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post our thoughts on our own blog. Talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. Discuss our struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with our fellow writers – aiming for a dozen new people each time

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

Lessons learnt for next year’s A to Z Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

Reflecting on how I survived the Challenge is hard, but I do know that I’m wearing the T-shirt as I write – and I’m okay.

This post will be shorter than others as I suspect that you have had to read too many of my words during.

I realised as the month unfolded that my posts were too long, although I hope they were informative about ‘The War of 1812’. The research will be useful when I eventually get back to my novel “Seeking A Knife”, although I need to concentrate on the novel preceding it in the Snowdon Shadows series.

Writing the posts and updating/amending them as I went along took too long, and left me with too little time to visit many other bloggers, even some of my regular haunts – apologies.

Those I did visit regularly and enjoyed were:

Tasha’s Thinkings – an example of how to do A to Z and have fun

Alex Cavanaugh – the Ninja Captain is always worth visiting but how does he do it?

Magic Moments – an Indian perspective from Pratikshya Mishra, often looking further East

if I only had a time machine – Second World War insights

The Old Shelter – information that I never knew about Roaring Twenties America

Insecure Writers Support Group – succinct and insightful; and one of the guiding lights

There were other blogs that I dropped by, but not on a regular basis like these. Over time I intend to visit some more, but at the pace I do things it will take a few months. (My wheelchair goes faster than my fingers or my mind.)

So inspired by the way that others approached this challenge, and encouraged by the way that it has been organised, I am now looking forward. Next year I will plan better, and choose a short post theme – letters of the alphabet.


Just kidding. Not sure what I will do but will be something easier for everyone, especially passers-by. Suspect that the window-shoppers take one look and run.

For more reflections by other blogging survivors, visit here.


Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.