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.
Very cool you made books out of your Challenge posts!
I didn't get to visit Laura during the challenge; wish I had since I had lived in San Diego area most of my life before our recent move to Arizona and would have enjoyed reading her take on different things to do there. I did look at her list of topics from both her blogs (didn't realize all the sexy part of San Diego when I lived there LOL). Great for Laura to put them together for books :) Good luck with them!
It is great you created books from your posts. I think it is interesting your main genre is erotica.
And I though I WAS THE GREATEST A to Z Challenge fan.
Wonderful post and good luck with your books.
Keeping two blogs going for the challenge is amazing. You are a real veteran.
Thanks, Alex! I'll admit that going from a blog style to a book style is a bit of a challenge in and of itself, since I tend to use a lot of links in my posts, but it's always fun to go back over my posts and delve a little deeper after the madness of April is through. :)
Thanks, Betty! How does Arizona compare with San Diego for you? I haven't visited the state since I was young, but it might be nice to write a book about the Grand Canyon one of these years... maybe for my next challenge? ;D
Thanks, Ann! It's funny, because I'm always a little reluctant to tell strangers that I write erotica, since I'm never sure how they will take it. But I recently attended a romance writers meeting, and they were thrilled to hear it - it's just another sub-genre of romance to them! That was definitely a change of pace for me.
Thanks, Yvonne! I bow to your status as Greatest A to Z Challenge Fan, since I see from your bio that you were the very first to sign up in 2010. Now that's a cool claim to fame!
Thanks, Susan! I think next year I will probably go back to doing one blog at a time, but I sure do like to challenge myself with different exercises. And Camp NaNoWriMo is fast approaching!
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I can't understand how anyone can do two at a time for a whole month. I'm applauding your stamina and your theme.
The weather is the best thing about San Diego, in my opinion. SD has nice beaches and tons of stuff to do from casinos, shopping, fine arts, etc. The price of living is a specific down of living here.
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