#AtoZChallenge Reflections Post: Have I Thanked You Yet?

Reflections on Blogging A to Z Challenge

A to Z Reflections 2014

If you’ve been to this blog in the last month, you know I’ve been part of the A to Z Challenge. We usually do a Reflections post to wind up, to give us cohosts feedback, to thank those who made this challenge worthwhile for us. If you haven’t participated in the challenge, please scroll down to the bottom, and help answer some of the questions there :)

My A to Z Challenge on this blog was a disaster for me personally.

I scheduled none of the posts, thought I could write fiction based on random pictures and prompts at the drop of a hat. I was traveling through half of April, not in the best of conditions, and most days I almost didn’t write the story. But some of my blog friends made this all worthwhile, so I’ll simply devote this post to them.

 Joseph W Richardson, who gave me his pictures to do whatever I wanted with them. Huge risk, and I really hope I haven’t let him down in any major way.

And to all the folks, whose comments kept me going: I wrote most of the stories half asleep due to exhaustion, or in a lot of pain, or majorly depressed– I got a fair bit of death-related news this month, arranged for funeral anniversaries in the family, battled exhaustion and sickness. All these stories would have been impossible if not for the comments I received from you.

I’ll mention and link to a few of the kind bloggers below, the ones who gave me courage during the tough times– if you haven’t visited them, you’re missing out.

Dan Antion and Paul Ruddock: They’ve read and tweeted all my AZ posts, and left me some beautiful comments. Gave me prompts, besides. I cherish these friends, and you should visit them to see why.

Peter Nena, Keith Channing and Patricia Lynne: I met Patricia during the first challenge, and will never forget her post, all about her getting married! Peter has been a blog buddy for a while, an excellent horror writer,  but Keith is a new friend– I loved his travel posts, and his comments.

Rosie AmberSammy D., Jacqui Murray, Davey Northcott, Susan Scott,Rajlakshmi,Lisa Buie Collard, Vishalbheeroo, Beloo Mehra, HarliQueen, Sonia Lal, uniqusatya : Their comments spurred me on, especially when I found what good writers they themselves are!

 Michelle Wallace : This lady went back and read, commented on all the older stories through April– I can’t imagine the sort of time and effort that must have taken.

David Prosser, S D Neeve: David shared almost all of my posts on twitter, and both these bloggers left cool comments.

I have to thank my fantastic #TeamDamyanti for the A to Z Challenge, Guilie, Anna, Samantha, Csenge, Vidya, Jemima and Mary– they did all kinds of bloggy things to keep me afloat during the challenge, and gave me some beautiful prompts!

And lastly, I have to thank my cohosts: Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ, Pam.

Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ and Pam – See more at: http://amloki.blogspot.sg/#sthash.flv7NsI6.dpufThey made this whole shebang possible.

Through the month of May and then the months after until I cover each of these bloggers I’ve mentioned above, I’ll be reblogging their posts or linking to them, as a small token of thanks for the support they’ve given me. I’m sure I’ve missed a few names, and to them I sincerely apologize…I’ll be sure to link to everyone though, sooner or later, through this blog, or my other one, Amlokiblogs.

I’m also thinking of linking to more of my visitors — this would be for all those bloggers who’ve visited me during the challenge, or before and after. I’ll try and include 3 links with each of my future posts, under a new regular section: Bloggers I Recommend Visiting.

I’m happy my posts receive their fair share of comments and visits– but I think growth is enjoyed best when the entire community grows together, and everyone else receives lots of comments and visitors, too!


Did you participate in the A to Z Challenge? Have you met any of the bloggers linked above– how many of them do you know? Have you participated in any other blog challenges? Did you read any of my A to Z stories this year?

Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ and Pam, without – See more at: http://amloki.blogspot.sg/#sthash.iyNrIz9Z.dpuf
co-hosts Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ and Pam, – See more at: http://amloki.blogspot.sg/#sthash.iyNrIz9Z.dpuf

Do You Reply to Each Comment on Your Blog?

Donatella Versace Sunday Morning thoughts

Do You respond to all comments?

The A to Z Challenge wrapped up two days ago, and I now feel a little lost.

I made a load of friends despite not doing such a great job of the challenge myself, I may have commented on about 60 blogs a day, if that. That’s lower than what a lot of bloggers do on a regular basis. So it is the kindness of other bloggers that helped me sail through.

But I have a confession to make: Though I LOVED receiving each comment, I didn’t spend time responding to each. Instead, I commented on a few that I spotted via my phone while running about, and then said a general word of thanks at the bottom of all the comments. The choice, for me, with my limited online time, was between responding to comments and visiting them back, and I chose to just go leave a comment.

I figured I personally would like a comment on my post better than a response to a comment I left.

I’m still majorly GUILTY that I didn’t respond to all comments, not on this blog, and not many at all on Amlokiblogs.

What do You do on your blog? Do you individually respond to all the comments you receive? Do you feel offended if a blogger does not respond to your comments? Do you have comment response tips for me?


#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Z for Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath

The A to Z Challenge is now coming to an end. Through the month of April I posted a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Today I bring you the last of the 26 stories, and I thank each and every one of you who’s commented on the 25 stories so far. I came to know some of you during the challenge, and some of my much loved readers are from before. I hope to visit your blogs often in the coming months. I’m not a demonstrative person, be it online life or offline, but I do hope to return the support you’ve given me in what has been a difficult month!
Writing prompt: Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath

Provided by: Guilie Castillo Oriard friend, fellow writer,  and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti


#atozchallenge : Z is for Zebra crossings must've been designed by a psycopath

#atozchallenge : Z is for Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath

          I dream in black and white, and that’s how I see life. What’s the point of color, anyway?

           Color’s like laughter, completely useless. Both make you look silly, is all. When you’re stabbing someone, all that red is a bit overly done, if you know what I mean. Black, now, black is soothing. It’s a color too, the only one I like, and wear, really.

           Black is the color of shadows, and I like shadows, love living in them, even on this hundred-year-old boat lit up like a Christmas tree on all days of the year. She’s a relic, she is, the Belle of Louisville. Long ways she’s come, from carrying braying mules and bleating lambs to ferrying touristy types from all over the world, who get sneetered with all this history and fork out a good sum to breathe the dank evening air from its decks.

            I arsle about on its decks in the evenings, wiping the glass windows here and there, looking for a likely one. Most evenings I draw empty. They mostly come in groups, the ones I like, the sweet-smiling curly blondes. Uncles, aunties, parents, friends— polecats all of them, setting off such a stink if their darling is missing for more than a few minutes.

            So I’ve got to wait for weeks, months, before I get the right one. Lonely, smiles right back when I smile at her. Traveling alone, finding herself. A divorcee, usually, or someone in her family just died, and she’s on a break, to get away from it all. I tell her I know how she feels, and her eyes widen. I don’t know, not really, not how any of this ‘feeling’ shit works, but I can fake it with the best of them. I’m not as much of a fool as the captain makes me out to be.

              In the end she gets to go away from it all, very far away indeed on the Missisipi, and I get to scratch my itch, know what I’m sayin’?

              I read up on folks like me, folks who don’t feel much, who don’t get stuff like ‘irony’, us folks who dream in black and white. I don’t see what’s wrong with me or black and white. I like zebra crossings, they call them crosswalks around these parts. Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath, too. They say folks like me can’t be cured, but it’s good for us to talk it out, once they have us in the hospitals. I’m not going to no hospital, so here I am getting a crick in my neck, writing in this here, my notebook.

             Time for me to wrap up though, because I spot a blonde one boarding, right across. I just might get lucky tonight.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Been aboard the Belle of Louisville?

(An added Disclaimer: This is absolutely a figment of my imagination, and any resemblances of my character with anyone you know is purely coincidental!)

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Y is for Yes is such an easy word to say when

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Yes is such an easy word to say when

Provided by:  Csenge Virág Zalka, friend, fellow writer, storyteller, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti


#atozchallenge: Yes is such an easy word to say when

#atozchallenge: Yes is such an easy word to say when

        Yes is such an easy word to say when you’re tired.

         Tired of walking the whole day around the island, yes, but tired also of being told what to do, and what to stay away from.    

          Do not heed the siren calls they said, keep your eye on the road, do not eat or rest till we tell you to. You’re a babe in the woods, your sixteen years no match for the forest and its spells.   

           They never tired and strode on, hacking through the undergrowth, scaring away rabbits and snakes and other crawling things.  But he’d had enough of the empty stomach, of never sleeping longer than a few minutes on hard ground, of being terrified of shadows. It exhausted him.

         So, when she asked him to come rest next to her, he said yes.

          She looked shimmery in the twilight, her eyes swimming with unshed tears, as if it was him she’d been waiting for, for years, millennia. The air around them smelled of orchards, of over-ripe fruit, and the call of a lone nightjar cut through the distant murmur of the sea.

         He sat down and moved closer, into her arms. The arms closed around him, the stone of her body warmed in the sunlight, and turned to flesh. He smiled. No one would find him here. He could sleep.

In the morning they found him, a stone lover in a stone woman’s arms. Her cold unmoving eyes looked upon his closed eyelids, a veiled smile upon her white marble lips.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: W for With the heart of a lion

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: With the heart of a lion…

Provided by: Cheryl KP, friend, fellow writer, artist.


#atozchallenge : W for with the heart of a lion

#atozchallenge : W for with the heart of a lion

      Kill with the heart of a lion, her Pa used to say, slicing the air with his hands, tend with the heart of a lamb.

          She liked the shape of those sun-browned hands, his thumbs bent out of shape, joined back all wrong after he broke them during a butchering accident. A long time ago, he said when she asked him, he was more careful now.

          His hands worked just fine. They birthed calves, made her her dressing table with its dainty drawers, whipped up breakfast for her and her brothers each morning after her Ma took to bed.

            He baked them cakes at Christmas and folded them inside the spicy-sweet tang of pumpkins when he sat carving the rounded shells on all hallows eve, teaching her curly-haired brothers how to handle knives. They lit candles together in the evening, and he brushed her hair into a ponytail when they hung too near the flames.

            She often put her hand on his, and laughed at how different they were. Those same crooked hands cut down the rope she found Ma hanging from in the barn one evening. She couldn’t stop screaming, and held on to those hooked thumbs as she sobbed to sleep that night.


When they came at sunset and started digging she screamed once again. She yelled and shrieked, as did her brothers, now hefty young men, but they came in big black cars, waving papers and guns, in white cars with flashing sirens. They stood around in groups against the fading light. They took him to his room upstairs and wouldn’t let her brothers in. She made them tea while they dug up the vegetable patch and orchards, set up lights in the yard. They took shovels to the stables and the barn. She watched from the kitchen window.

       They found sacks, and inside each sack, hair, bones, clothes, grinning teeth. They slapped each others’ backs, exchanged solemn handshakes. The Old Jackal, they called him, in hushed whispers. They’d found his den, his hiding place.

      They took him out in the dark, the flashing lights on those misshapen hands, handcuffed behind his back. She watched as they walked him out the gate, her brothers by his side. He did tend to us, her soft whisper broke in to the night air, but no one heard her.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: V for Vagrancy had always been his calling…

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing prompt: Vagrancy had always been his calling…

Provided by: Mary Wallace, friend, fellow blogger, and one of the Magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti


Vagrancy had always been his calling

#atozchallenge: Vagrancy had always been his calling

         He turned to look at me so I shoved him and said, well, go on, or you’ll never catch the bus.

  He used to go to library and brought books home, about big words like space and time and how to write well by hand and fancy painting stuff, bright melty things drawn by a madman, Picasso he said the painter was, a yellow-billed toucan postcard stuck in one of them, from Peru, look Grandpa! All useless watchammacallits I wanted put in the burning barrel, but didn’t cos I wanted no library fine. 

         He wanted to learn hoity toity words like Shakespeare, Wildlife, Investment. Vagrancy had always been his calling, he said at dinner one day, he felt like a loser. I later sneaked a look in the word-book his dead grandma given him to reckon what he said.

I could tell him what he needs to learn.

       Tell him he’s not a loser. He’s lucky, not like his Ma who died giving birth to him, or his Da whose car crashed into a truck ten years ago and all that sod’s done is drool ever since. That I might be an old hillibilly but I fed him since he was small, cute as a bug’s ear, and saved enough he could take a bus to city. He’s young and healthy, not like this old coot.

          That we’re all stories, city, town, country, no matter, and stories begin and end, all pretty much the same. The middle is different, but all said and done, the middle don’t mean diddley squat.

           No schoolhouse would teach him that. I could tell him, but young un’s they’re stout as mules. He’ll learn with years, way I did.

           I shoved him once more, and turned back as he walked to the bus stop.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Are you a parent? If you are, what did this story make you think about?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: U for Uncharted worlds

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing prompt: Uncharted worlds

Provided by: Samantha  Redstreake Geary friend, fellow writer, and one of the Magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti


#AtoZchallenge : U for Uncharted worlds
#AtoZchallenge : U for Uncharted worlds

       First thing she noticed about him, he wore pale pink lipstick.

        They had to stand close, way too close, for the audition. She could feel his biceps under her hands, smell the coffee he’d just drunk on his breath, and the cologne on his shirt collar. The director urged them to stand closer, come on show some chemistry, did they want the role or not, he didn’t have the whole sainted day, all right?

       She had leaned in then, but today, in the flickering light of the fire, she tried not to look at where she’d left him on the grass. This was meant to be a reunion trip, camping together all by themselves in the middle of nowhere, only now she had a camp, a fire, and no family.

        She wanted to remember him from that first night, when he’d whisked her away from the dressing room, into his studio with its creaky bed, and the landlord had knocked on the floor, asking them to keep it down, and they’d kissed and giggled and kissed some more.

        She wanted to remember him reading bad poetry to Tara, who calmed down in her cradle, and listened to her father with big, droopy eyes. He talked of uncharted worlds, of adventures at sea, of frightened pirates, of stars, and haunted ships. When the book ended, he made up his own stories, and Tara chuckled. She wanted to remember Tara grinning, blowing raspberries, lisping words from her father’s poems, the words of which she barely understood.

        She’d been on movie shoots in different countries, not knowing that behind her back, he babysat by playing dress-up with Tara, put lipstick on her, everywhere. Her brain tried to imagine his hands on Tara, on her budding breasts, her throat, and her bulging eyes as he strangled her, till all she wanted to do was fling herself into the fire.


But enough about what she wanted.

          She hauled him, thank God he dieted and wasn’t too heavy to pull. It would smell, but bonfires often smelled like barbecues.

          She looked up, at the stars flickering from between the trees. Up there, somewhere, was her daughter, on a faraway, uncharted world. As his hair and clothes, then skin and flesh began to crackle and burn, she hoped Tara was watching. 


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What do you look for in flash fiction? What sort of fiction satisfies you?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: T for The bridge connecting the old part of town

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing prompt: The bridge connecting the old part of town

Provided by: Jai Tong, blog-friend and fellow writer.


#atozchallenge : T for The bridge connecting the old part of town

#atozchallenge : T for The bridge connecting the old part of town

          A broken neck one night, nothing much, just a small boy fallen down the stairs. A man shot in the basement dressing room, by his girlfriend’s irate father. The girlfriend in question, she hung herself using sheets next morning, from the balcony. They opened just the same, that evening, having wiped the mess from the front door. And the men and women, they kept on coming.

           We heard stories each snow-covered morning, of the goings-on at night. Of the drunkenness and laughter, of soft arms about necks, of legs wrapped around thighs, of shrieks, the music and often, past midnight, the banshees of delight.

             We clucked our disapproval. We whispered curses at the fading Open Today sign at the pub. That damned opening day had come and gone, decades ago, in the old part of town. Somebody should set that place on fire, we told each other. Again.

              The bridge connecting the old part of town creaked under the weight of cars each evening. The music began, slow at first, then built up to a wail, as all the windows lit up one by one, like smokey amber eyes of the devil. The scent of meat cooking set all mouths, human and feral, to watering. The plunking of wires reached the stars, as did voices grown hoarse with drink and smoke.


Tonight as the air fills with their song, we’ll head down, all of us, together. We’ll gather our habits around us, the cowls to cover our bare heads against the chill. We’ll fight the good fight, we’ll carry the cross, and the sword. We’ll cut down, slash and burn. We’ll cleanse the inn as once we did, decades ago. No ballads, no more, only hymns. No killing, no love, no dancing, no women, no loving nor drunken laughter. Only prayer. Most importantly, nothing to drink but water.

But first we must turn it all to ashes, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. We’ll take a few lives, but what matter? We’ll make the old part of town clean again.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: S for She stood at the crossroads

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: She stood at the crossroads

Provided by: Vidya Sury, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti


#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

They had walked together for five weeks and four days, but it felt like months, decades.

        As if all they had ever done was walk, him leading the way, her following, a little resentful she couldn’t take the lead, and sending up a prayer of thanks she didn’t have to.

         And now, he’d left her standing in the blinding morning light, on the bridge that would take them to the next town. He’d walked away from the bridge, round the bend, and up the hills beside her.


The first time they met, she felt a spark somewhere inside her clothes, her stomach, and he felt it too. She saw it in his eyes. But they did not refer to that spark, except in the most roundabout of ways like when he asked if she liked the way rain-soaked earth smelled, and what it reminded her of. She told him it depended, and when he asked the obvious question, what, she pretended to have fallen asleep.

          They talked about Socrates in the beginning, and the death of Camus, and how the large hadron collider would fail. Slowly it became about what rations to buy. She paid for bars of chocolates which she could not eat, because of her stomach ruined by weeks of drinking roadside water, but she had to carry them. After a while each bar seemed like a brick inside her backpack.

           He made plans, drew lines on maps by torchlight, lying inside the tent. She’d put up that tent, while he’d sat on a nearby rock slapping mosquito repellant on his neck and arms. She worked so she didn’t have to watch him. She wanted to watch him all the time, each flex of his shin as he walked, the way his perfect, round butt fitted his shorts, so she kept her eyes to the ground instead, and kept her hands busy. She felt overworked, her body hurt, but she kept at it.


Now, she stood at the crossroads, watching the way he’d gone, the shallow slopes that would lead to steeper ones.. He had no time for this he’d said when she complained of backache, wanted a day of rest.

               She could follow him, catch up, say sorry yet again for a tantrum she hadn’t thrown, spend more nights waiting for him to touch her, on his terms, the way he stopped by in the red light areas they’d crossed in the shanty towns on their way. Relieves my tensions, he said, to nothing and no one in particular, when he came back from one of those evening jaunts.

               But she wouldn’t. Nor would she wait for him to come back and find her. When backpacking, you meet people and pay your debts. When the debts get paid off, you part, and that’s that. She flinched at the weight of her pack as she strapped it on. She would walk. Each day, you wake up and walk, putting one foot after the other, he used to say, you make your own way, alone.

               Maybe that’s the lesson she needed to learn. Her back cramped, but she took one step, then another, away from him, towards the lighted bridge.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Ever been backpacking? Had a fallout with a friend or a significant other?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: R for Rather than give in to temptation

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Rather than give in to temptation

Provided by: Tina Downey, close friend, comrade-in-arms for the A to Z Challenge


#atozchallenge :Rather than give in to temptation

#atozchallenge :Rather than give in to temptation

          Mum says it’s evil to steal.

          Sure, the first time you try it, you go Gawd I can’t do this, but then you’ve picked it up and chucked it in your handbag, your fingers shoved into your pockets to keep them from trembling, blood singing in your ears as you wait for the alarms to squeal on you, and then you’re out, striding out into the daylight, and they tell you they’d cut the tags out for you and ask you how you feel, and you tell them you’re doing great, just awesome. You want to do it again.

         Rather than give in to temptation, Mum says, earn your cash, make sure you work to pay for what you want and don’t get into trouble. Gucci shoes, DKNY jeans, any amount of bling, I want it all. So that’s what I do these days. I work.

         No one can see my face, its only shaking my bits at the camera, twirl some panties, shimmying around a bit. Who cares if some weirdo in outer Serbia is jerking off to it, right? I have Paypal, and my Paypal has the zeroes, baby. You can buy anything, they deliver it to you, right where you want it. You gotta love internet! And if anyone gets into trouble, it will be the school, because guess what computers we’re using? lmao

Mum says it is evil to show yourself, but I didn’t fall from the sky, y’know? She must’ve done some showing someplace to get me, right?

       Anyway, what’s good and what’s evil? Who gets to decide which is which? Some day, I’m gonna ask Mum, but I doubt she has an answer.

       And d’ya know we’ll do today? We’re gonna be good girls! We’ll dress up all lush, the nipples, y’know, and today it’ll be the real deal, a reeeal Man, and I’m supposed to…I’m not telling you! Lots of Syrup heads, and tons of snow, that’s all you need to know…that rhymes, lol

         So excited, don’t know what to think ATM, but I know I’m gonna be evil, baby, and it’s gonna feel soooo good!! We might even get it on. What does Mum know, she doesn’t get JO, or TDTM, or 420 or even PIR, poor thing.

          But I love her so. She tells her friends I’m a good girl, and I am, right? Right.

           Mum says it is evil to lie…here I am, telling you the truth. OK, PIR, so gtg, ttyl!


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Do you have teens at home? Do you get teenspeak?