Embracing challenges from A to Z:
Notes from a 4-time challenge winner
by Laura Roberts
The annual Blogging from A to Z April Challenge has become a rite of passage for me. I can't remember how I first discovered its existence, but I do remember how intrigued I was by the notion of blogging on a daily basis, focusing on every letter of the alphabet – one at a time – as a special challenge.
The first year I joined the challenge was 2012. Upon discovering that the organizers suggested choosing a theme to help keep your blogging on track, I decided to write about Awesome Lady Authors. The goal was to combat an irritating trend I'd noticed in the media, which seems to focus predominantly on male authors, despite the fact that far more women are reading – and writing – than men. I wanted to play up the female writers I knew and loved, and to discover more of them throughout the month.
Writing about female authors based on the first letters of their last names, I discovered the excellent works of Xue Xinran (a double X, as I've always been a bit of an overachiever), and got a chance to promote the works of several authors I'm friends with, like poet Gillian Sze and spoken word performance artist Catherine Kidd. I also highlighted some of my childhood favorites, like Beverly Cleary (author of the Ramona books) and Louise Fitzhugh (author of my all-time fave Harriet the Spy). The whole exercise made me feel a lot more connected to my own writing, on a personal level that I had previously abandoned in my blogging, and seemed to resonate with fellow A to Z participants as well.
But that was just the beginning.
In 2013 I joined the challenge again. Having published the first book in my erotica series, Naked Montreal, the month before, I wanted to give my readers a less sexually-charged point of entry. I realized that many of my American readers knew little or nothing about the Canadian city of Montreal, and I wanted to help them get to know this alluring, French-speaking "Paris of America," through personal anecdotes about the time I'd spent there. So I wrote chose the theme "Montreal from A to Z," and went for it.
Again, I felt inspired by the challenge, excited to share my thoughts, and wanted to keep going!
After the 2013 challenge was over, I decided to turn my Montreal posts into a book. In November of that year, I finally published them as Montreal from A to Z.
In 2014, I went a little more risqué. Drawing on my past as a sex columnist, I wrote nonfictional posts on the subject of Sex Toys from A to Z. And, as per my 2013 challenge, I published the results as Play With Me: Sex Toys from A to Z.
Laura Roberts Books, I would write about my new hometown, San Diego, highlighting some of its most interesting hotspots, as well as the unusual bits and pieces that might not make the typical guidebook under the banner of "San Diego from A to Z."
Meanwhile, at my erotica blog over at Buttontapper Press, I would also write about Sexy San Diego – focusing on more X-rated sights and performances you can find in the city. That way I'd have not one but two books completed at the end of April.
I'm happy to report that I finished both of my blogging challenges successfully this year, despite the fact that it was twice as much work. The A to Z Challenge has given me plenty of material for my new books, one of which is launching today!
Born from my April blog posts, along with plenty of bonus material, San Diego from A to Z hits shelves today at Amazon. I hope you'll give it a read, and that it will help inspire you to turn your own A to Z Challenge posts into a book.
Visit Laura Roberts Books for her blog and past A to Z posts.