Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Is Planning Now for the 2015 A to Z Too Soon?


Hello everyone. My name is Tim Brannan. I blog over at The Other Side where I primarily talk about games, RPGs and horror.  I am a game author so I use my blog as a platform to talk about my books, but also to share with others in my blogging community to sorts of things I like to write about.

I have been writing material for games nearly as long as I have been playing them.  I started in 1979 and my first "custom class" was a Healer. And....I am not afraid to admit my first new monster I ever wrote up was a "Smurf". Yeah. I was 10.  My first witch class was written sometime between 1985 and 1986.

This was my fourth year of doing the A to Z Challenge on the Other Side. I have also done it one year on my Atheism blog, The Freedom of Nonbelief and another year at Red Sonja She-devil with a Sword, a shared blog dedicated to the comic book character Red Sonja.  Plus I have guest-posted here before on how to use the A to Z challenge in your own writing efforts and the importance of having a theme to your posts.

One would have thought I would have been more prepared this year!

At some point in February I was still planning on doing an A to Z theme on Vampires.  I had started the posts last year when I did Demons. I had an idea for a book about vampires and I thought it would have been a good way to do some research.  It was. Till I shifted midstream.

My newest book is now at Kickstarter to get funding for art and printing.  "Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock" is, well, the most complete guide to playing a witch in the Pathfinder game.  A bit of background.  Back in 2000 the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons hit the shelves with the "Open Gaming Licence" which briefly meant 3rd party authors could make their own books for D&D and not get sued or anything like that.  If you followed the admittedly simple rules of the Open Game Licence then you could do it.  Well I did and in 2003 I released "Liber Mysterium: The Book of Witches & Warlocks".  A friend of mine released a similar book for witches called "Way of the Witch". We liked each other books and we were happy.  2013 rolls around and this friend, Christina, decides it is time we mixed our books together with the newest version of the D&D 3rd edition game, Pathfinder (it's not exactly, but close enough).  We added in the Pathfinder witch and some others and decided to kick start it as a project.

So far things are going great!  But my extra writing time was taking a solid hit.  I have 13 years worth and thousands of pages of notes and material to go through.

So to save some time I switched over to the A to Z of Witches.

It was a good idea.  Go through notes, post ideas as they come to me.  I only managed to stay about 10 days ahead of schedule and that was nowhere near enough.  So much for my own advice about theme and planning!

I got a lot of great posts up and in fact have enough for another couple months of solid witch postings.   I got to participate in a "mini-hop" of people doing supernatural creatures during the A to Z as well and that was the best!  I have to give very special thanks to Tasha (Tasha's Thinkings) and Sophie (Sophie's Thoughts and Fumbles) for helping me with the idea and then doing all the heavy lifting afterwards.  THEY, and everyone in the Supernatural mini-hop, really made this A to Z special for me.

If you look at my May 5th post I state I survived the A to Z challenge.  Survived is the right word. Not beat, not won, but survived.  Yes I posted everyday and still got in some of my other posts. Yes I visited my neighbor blogs, but didn't always comment on them.  Yes the material I wrote will find a home somewhere in Strange Brew.

But, I didn't get to interact with other bloggers as much as I wanted. I didn't visit every blog on the list like I have in years past.  And while I noticed that I was getting a good amount of traffic from the Supernatural A to Z and from the A to Z site itself, my regular readers dropped off.  So in that respect I didn't do as well as I would have liked.

I write about games.  That is who I am and what my readers want.  I tried to keep the topics I posted very relevant to gamers, but also to the non-gamers.  Most people in the world don't care if some beastie has 5 HD or 15 HD, you just want to know how tough it is. To gamers that is a big deal. It's a big deal to me.

I love doing the A to Z and I am taking my own advice to heart and starting my 2015 posts this summer.  I am still considering doing vampires. So to make it work there needs to be plenty of material for gamers (what we in the RPG biz call "crunch") and plenty of narrative material enjoyed by everyone else (what we call "fluff").

So what is my plan?

  • Start my post writing early.  Crunch takes longer to write than Fluff. I'll need the time.
  • Keep enough crunch to keep my regular readers happy. Especially if it something new.
  • Keep the fluffy interesting to keep the A to Zers coming back.
  • Visit and interact with more of the bloggers in the A to Z. If I write all my posts this should be easier.
  • I would LOVE to participate in another mini-hop like I did this year. That was awesome.

Looking forward to it!

About the Author 
Timothy S. Brannan is the author of The Other Side blog
He has worked on a number of games including the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG", and is the author of “The Ghosts of Albion RPG”, “The Witch”, “Eldritch Witchery” and the upcoming “Strange Brew” which is currently in a Kickstarter Campaign. Please stop by and see if this is something you would like to support.
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Linda Maye Adams said...

I think a year off is a little too soon because so many things change, and sometimes quite drastically. I've found even planning out more than a month of posts is almost too far in advance. But what I did do for the A to Z Challenge this year was take two weeks off and told people they would be getting more of what they were getting already. For the first time since I did the challenge, I've actually kept people afterward.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My theme is always complicated and it takes a year of planning to pull it off. (And this year I had the Challenge portion of my posts written by the beginning of February.) Don't worry about not visiting everyone. I didn't visit many new bloggers as I was just trying to keep up with my commenters.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I am likely to do it next year. I just have to figure out how to keep all my audiences happy.

Arlee Bird said...

I've already got one of my blog themes planned out and now need to convert the outlines to text. Actually the theme was one I had planned out for this year and then changed my mind in March. Better planning sure does make things easier. Actually writing the blog text is even better.

The mini-hop idea is an excellent one. This might be a trend for the future as it's a more practical way to build communities with those of similar interests.

I wish you great success on the Kickstarter campaign.

A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog

Unknown said...

I've started kicking around ideas for next year's Challenge, but I haven't settled on anything yet. I would like to get everything scheduled in advance, so I can visit more blogs next year!

Tina said...

I've already chosen my theme! We'll see if I get any posts written ahead of time. This was my fourth year, and I have yet to have anything scheduled beyond the night before. Keeps it exciting, but a bit stressful for a co-host.
You make some excellent points here about audience mixing and pleasing. It's a balance for sure. I also like the terms "crunch" and "fluff". Sounds like a good candybar to me!
Thanks for guesting, Tim. Your posts always draw a large audience.
Oh, and thanks for the info about the mini-hop. What a neat has my gears spinning...
Tina @ Life is Good
On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

Princess of Dragons said...

There was a supernatural creatures blog hop! How did I miss that! I was doing dragons! Aww, man.

I'm probably not planning too much ahead of next year's challenge, certainly not this far in advance anyway. I've always been a pantser and I don't plan to change!

Chrys Fey said...

I already have my theme picked for next year and the topics for each letter! Yes, I plan early. haha I wasn't sure if I would participate next year, but now I have to since I have it all planned. I won't be starting any of the posts until later though. Maybe in December/January like I did for this year.

Lea said...

It's ok to plan ahead. You can make modifications along the way.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed this year was tough on a few people, including me. Planning ahead definitely makes a difference though, and catering to your prime audience never hurts at all.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I LOVED doing the mini hop. It was like being at a really big party with a lot of things going on and then finding this small group of cool people to talk to. We were all still at the party, but also had our own thing going.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Same here. I think I am going to go with Vampires next year since I also have a vampire book planned for the future.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

July. I am planning on writing my posts in July so I can concentrate on the social aspects of the hop; visiting blogs, commenting, replying more to comments on my blog.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

More to the point how did I miss you!?!
Dragons are also on my list of potential topics to do.

Going to your blog now.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Awesome. I was very happy to have found your blog this year.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I try to be flexible, but shifting mid stream killed me.

Timothy S. Brannan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well your comments are a few orders of a magnitude over mine! So I can totally see that.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I had a few more "keepers" this year myself. So maybe what I missed in quantity I picked up in quality.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Yeah I noticed that as well. Well here is to 2015!!

Philip Verghese 'Ariel' said...

Hi Tim,
And Arlee
I am really taken a back by seeing the title "Is Planning Now for the 2015 A to Z Too Soon?
Of course its a good idea, since i lost control over this year with lot of difficulites in the beginning as well as in the end, this i mentioned it in my recent survival post. Its always good to plan before, this years a to z involvement really taught this great lesson , and i am sure you can freely make visits to our friends page and do so many other things in connection with a to z activities so planning ahead is always good
Thank Tim for this alert and thought provoking piece.
Keep it up
Keep informed
~ Philip

cheerfuloptimistic said...

Doing your A to Z posts ahead of time is definitely recommended. I'm not going to start planning for the next Challenge now, but I might by July with the way I write.

Michelle Wallace said...

I don't think it's too soon to plan. Well, I AM a plotter, by nature...
This was my 4th A to Z challenge and I'll definitely be back next year... and the next... and the next...

Anonymous said...

You can never plan too early; good for you! so sorry we didn't get to visit. Will rectify that now!

Tempest Nightingale LeTrope said...

Hm...from what I experienced it isn't! I was part of a blogging team, and this kicked our butts!
The team is still visiting blogs from the list. We are rather a slow bunch at times.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Great post. It's never to early to plan ahead!

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Love your idea of starting extremly early on the next year's AtoZ. I was starting two months early this year and thought that would be plently of time and then computer crisis at home and at work put me not getting in until the last minute.

Birgit said...

I have already been thinking about next year. I like to keep things simple-I'm a simple kind of gal:) I may repeat what I did this year as there is still so much to say and talk about:) I loved posting ahead of time as that way I got to look at other blogs

Anonymous said...

I've just opened my blog and discovered the A to Z Challange from a friend. It had laredy started, though, so I didn't do it this year, but I plan to do it next year because it looks like a lot of fun. And yes, i think I'll start planning this summer, because I see I'm a very slow writer.