Reflections on the 2017 A to Z Challenge #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

As part of the 2017 A to Z Challenge, participants are asked to provide their “Reflections” on their experience.

This is a quick post to share mine and to provide my humble suggestions to the A to Z Challenge organizers for 2018.

Let’s talk about my experience…

I started off strong and ahead of the game with “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”, using a flash fiction piece “Living To Die”, as a base for 26 posts to serialize the story. When I first posted “Living To Die – An Intro to Kate”, it was a one-time stand-alone piece. But after a trip to Hawaii, I thought it would be cool to incorporate little Hawaiian details into a story and so I picked on “Kate”. I had no set storyline and/or ideas except wanting to tackle a more “serious” topic and explore someone’s regrets when death is banging at the door. I took countless hours perfecting those first four posts to my liking but I didn’t mind being behind the schedule I had set for myself because I was proud of my work.

But life took a turn and a health scare forced me to truly think about some of the same questions I was throwing at Kate. I got stuck and my pen became very, very heavy. I found myself struggling to write because in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “Could I be writing certain things into my own existence?”

Is that crazy or what?

Somewhere in the midst of it all and to distract myself, I came up with the idea of introducing “Kate” to “Galen”.  While I waited to find out if things were okay health-wise (they were), the distracting of having to think through Galen’s “purpose” gave the story an unexpected “spin”, one that I had not planned on.

And if you read the Epilogue, you know what I mean. 🙂

All in all, the A to Z Challenge started out smoothly, hit a few bumps but ended well with content I can revise into a novella. I’m exhausted and happy it’s over but I do look forward to next year. Now, it’s time to revise and edit!

Thank you to all who followed the story and became so invested! I truly appreciated your ongoing feedback and commentary.

Let’s talk about the technicalities of the A to Z Challenge…

Kudos to the A to Z Challenge organizers! And congratulations to all those who survived and won!

I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of hours and work that they put in to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This year, the organizers decided to make a big change to the “link posting” process as a way to make the administrative side of things easier for them – which is totally understandable.

If you don’t try new approaches, there can be no progress, right?

I’ll try my best to avoid pointing out what I felt worked/didn’t work during this year’s challenge.

Instead I’m posting what my ideal wish list would look like for the 2018 A to Z Challenge:

  • Limiting links to the A to Z Challenge Facebook Group ONLY.
    • Having to post links on FB + the A to Z Challenge website + the A to Z Challenge WordPress site, more than once I was tempted to simply post my link in the FB Group and call it a day…well, it was more like call it a night.
  • Time Zone Confusion Equality
    • Initially, I was confused when I saw the official “letter drop” the day before it was due at 3PM. Then, I realized that it was because I am in Eastern Standard Time but still often found myself forgetting and posting “early” thinking that I was behind! 🙂 I would love to see the letter drop more  “in the middle” of the road for all so that it is late for some, on time for others and early for the rest of the participants.
  • A return to Category Codes.
    • “Category codes” would make it easier to focus on blogs that truly pique our interest. For example, I write a lot of fiction and also have an interest in reading other people’s fiction so by placing a “category” next to our linky, it would be easier for others to know right away if they want to read or not. As an example, here is the introduction I used and what I added in bold is only as an illustration of what I propose:

There were even a few blogger-writers who took the initiative to list “fiction” participants on their own blogs as a way to make the differentiation. I’ll be doubling back to give all of those a read…

Generalized categories like “Fiction/Poetry”, “Blogging/Writing”, “Travel”, etc. would help me with my “blog follow” choices. Sure, I like to read the occasional post about pets and mommy blogs but not necessarily 26 posts in a row about them.

Sorry… uh, not sorry.

  • A Call to Action to all A to Z Survivors on Facebook
    • In addition to the “Reflections” post, I would love to see the A to Z organizers ask all “survivors” who completed all letters on time to say it on a specific FB post. Besides bragging rights, it would be a place where participants like me who plan on “doubling back” to read “completed” challenges. I’ll be honest, I find it frustrating when I start following a blog, look forward to more and then the blogger/writer goes MIA…

Those are my thoughts in a nutshell on a rainy Sunday morning!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

M  xoxo






It’s Over! Post 2017 A to Z Challenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

Post-A to Z Challenge! It’s Over!

The 2017 A to Z Challenge is finally over and it was indeed a feat when “real” life had to take priority!

I was hoping that my 26 stories of “Living To Die would get stuck in your head and from a number of your comments, it did!

I’m still smiling.

Twisting hearts with unexpected turns in fiction is always a good thing, don’t you think? 🙂

I wanted to do the opposite of my 2016 A to Z Challenge and I accomplished my goal.

Again, for those of you on my email list, you’ll get a notification when Kate’s “Epilogue” is posted. If you like Happily Ever Afters (HEA), I think that you’ll enjoy Kate’s unexpected outcome…

While I take a break in May, I’ll be throwing you all back to my 2016 A to Z Challenge where my 26 posts were based on song titles and the feelings they evoked for me.  Take a little time to get friendly and/or reacquainted with Delaney, Ella, Tyler, Alejandro. And take a listen to the embedded music in each post.

Ladies, beware of Tyler and Alejandro! I’ve already seen how some of you were pulled into their web of … well, you’ll see.

During my break, you’ll see me on your blogs catching up on reading and commenting. I’ll also be spending time on my 52/52 via Instagram so you can check me out there for some mini-updates.

Thanks again for all the support and feedback during the 2017 A to Z Challenge you provided along the way!

I’ll see you in June!

©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.





The “Realness” of Katie & Hawaii?  #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

Photo credit:

Katie is “real”.

At least that’s what I’m getting from some of your comments. Dealing with a medical diagnosis, feeling alone in the world and slipping into a dark place with a desire to give up…

And if you don’t have an affinity to Katie, for some of you, maybe Hawaii is “real” for you.

I’ve tried to quietly weave some of my own Hawaian island experiences into the story and if you’ve been, hopefully they have got you reminiscing about your own travels.

When I started writing “Living To Die” as my A to Z Challenge project, my goal was to step away from writing the romantic stories to which I always gravitate.

I wanted to tackle a more serious story and explore questions and thoughts we have all had at one point in our lives:

  • If you had less than 24 months to live, what would you do?
  • Would you give up and wait to die or would you tackle everything on your bucket list?
  • Would you tell anyone or would you keep it to yourself?
  • What regrets would you have about the life you had led or the things you had done?
  • And if you had finally met the perfect man/woman, would you even bother to open up your “dying” heart to them?

These are all questions that Katie is thinking about…

In the coming months, I’ll be revising this story into a novelette/novella and all those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE COPY

I would for you to sign up since I’m trying to build my email list.

Enjoy your Easter weekend with family and friends!

Marquessa xoxo



A To Z Challenge 2017 Update #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

Happy Sunday Folks!

This quick post is to update you on the A to Z Challenge that I’ve embarked on again.

With the subject matter I chose for “Living To Die“, my brain is working overtime to gather my thoughts on how to unfold the story so that it is not too depressing and a little thought-provoking all at the same time.

I’m not as advanced as I would like to be and that is mainly because I spent wayyyyy too much time revising A, B, C and D to get them to my liking.

Yeah, #writersproblems. 🙂

I already know that I’ll be spending most of my April writing trying to keep up with my own posts.

C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?


  • To all my fellow A to Z Challenge participants whose blogs I recently followed and/or visited, I will be back when I can. I created a special WP list just for those A To Z’ers and will be dedicating the month of May to catching up on your posts if I missed any;
  • To all my fellow A to Z Challenge participants who have started following me, I realize that my posts are longer than suggested so feel free to come back and visit me when you have time;
  • To all my fellow bloggers who I regularly follow on WP, Twitter, IG, I’ll catch up with you next month.

Oh yeah…I’ll be posting my A to Z posts the evening before they are really due.

No, it’s not because I’m an eager beaver. It’s simply because I need to copy and paste a clickable link on the A to Z Challenge website and A To Z Challenge Facebook Group forum since the organizers are using a different approach this year.

Have a great week and I hope that you enjoy Kate’s story!

©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.



BLUE SUGAR UPDATE: OUR DAUGHTER’S #HairLoss #AlopeciaAwareness

Please share.

authenticitee speaks

I’ve been wearing blue lipstick at times and with pretty good reason!

I shared in this space a couple of years ago, about our then 10 yr old daughter’s battle with sudden hair loss as a result of Alopecia. Blue is the awareness color for the condition and our daughter; now a 15 yr old HS student, shares her story every chance she gets.

She’s courageous. Courageous because no one would ever have to know. See she was diagnosed withAlopecia Areata where there arepatches of hair loss. Her remaining hair is thick so depending on the hairstyle, bald spots can be hidden. But now she’s getting older and experimenting with different hairstyles so newly formed bald spots are visible. As a creative being, she’s discovered thatblue lipgloss and strategically painting only one nail blue; sparks a conversation she’s ready to have.

I never shared photos of…

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Writing About What You Know #writerwednesday

For those of you who blog about your daily lives, day-to-day happenings, books you’ve read or topics that you have an expertise in, naturally you are writing about what you know.

But for bloggers who write fiction, are you basing your stories on what you know and have experienced?

Are you creating your stories based on things you would like to know and do the appropriate research?

Or do you simply throw caution to the wind and totally go with your imagination?

I’m not exactly sure what genre (according to the publishing world) my fiction writing would fall into but I do know that it would involve romance, diverse characters (#diversity) and a realistic setting because I know enough to write about those things.

I could never envision myself writing about long blond haired Fabio-like muscle men who sweep down to rescue the heroine in distress like in the Harlequin books my Granny used to devour. I also wouldn’t be able to wrap my brain around writing a female lead character who could have stepped out of an episode of The Housewives of (Pick-Your-City) because I know nothing about the world of the bold, beautiful and bored.

And that’s why I can’t totally agree with the first line of that quote.

I much prefer writing about what I know and making my stories as real as I can with a little drama and twists thrown in for good measure. I love writing about locations that I can describe in detail because I’ve experienced them and about events that have happened, could actually happen in real life or that I could build on for additional oomph.

That’s my kind of fiction.

Do you write fiction? And if you do, what kind of fiction do you write?

©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Originally posted on November 3, 2015


Harry’s Secret About His Wife – “Tainted Love” #fiction #TryPod

couple kissing

credit to and found at

I finished writing Part 6 of “Tainted Love” weeks ago and was satisfied with how I ended the story, letting Harry share the secret about his wife to Meg, the woman with whom he was cheating. It was a quick and dirty ending to close the loop.

Then recently, I was listening to one of Cheryl Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” podcasts where she read a letter from listener “Ashamed and Confused” (at the 25:40 mark) who just so happened to be in a similar situation as Harry.

Quite an interesting podcast.

Maybe as a future project I could flesh out Harry’s character and add to his part of his story! 

That podcast is from the same Cheryl Strayed who authored the bestselling memoir “Wild” and made into a movie. It is still on my Netflix TBW list.

By the way, if you would like access to the “Tainted Love” short fiction, you can also sign up for my mailing list here .

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

As part of this March’s Podcast Awareness Month, why not check it “Dear Sugar or the other podcasts I listed in this Maybe You Like To Watch But I Prefer to Listen and Get Your Freak On .

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.