Saturday, 1 April 2017

A is for.... Ahlan wa sahlan fi A-Z Challenge 2017!!



is for



Ahlan wa sahlan to the A-Z Challenge 2017 – welcome to the A-Z Challenge. Ahlan wa sahlan is a contraction of ‘you are among your own people here and may your time/journeys be easy.’ It’s a common expression of welcome here. 



Assalaamu aleikum wa barakatu wa rahmatullah

The formal greeting in Arabic  – literally ‘Peace be upon you, and the blessings and mercy of God.’ The rejoinder is 'Waaleikum assalaam,' - ‘and upon you peace also.’

  

Joseph Attieh, a musician from Lebanon, with Rouh (Soul), take a listen to him as you read the rest -





Arabic retains an old-world lyrical charm and the Arabs are very polished indeed, famed for their hospitality, and a rich culture, wholly apart from being oil-rich.  



Arabic is also the liturgical language of Islam, and their faith is a central marker of identity for most Arabs - religion plays a key part in Arablands. However, not all Arabs follow Islam - though the vast majority do.   


A small but significant minority are Christians, Druze, and Jews, though the term Arab is not always accepted by them for their own identities.  I like things simple, and anyone whose mother-tongue is Arabic is an Arab for me! Within each of the faiths are further subdivisions of sects, for both Muslims and Christians, fragmenting the picture even more.  


In short, Arabs are not equal to Muslim, it is far more complex than that. Allah is the word for 'God' in Arabic, and all Arabs use the word regardless of their faith.  (The Arab diva, Fairouz, a Christian, sings this hymn - 'O Mother of God - Ya Oum Allah)







Ablaq, piebald or particoloured, is an architectural technique where tone-on-tone or different coloured bands of materials are used.  This technique originated from the ancient Byzantine tradition of utilising alternating courses of contrasting white ashlar stone and terracotta bricks.



Mahmoudiya Mosque, 16th century, Cairo, Egypt.



Abu Darwish Mosque, Amman, Jordan. 20th century.


Ablaq in the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, 8th century.


So…A for Arabs, who are an Amazingly talented and creative bunch with a very unique brand of joie de vivre and for living life to the full.



Did you know Arabic has so many dialects and different Accents that a guy from Morocco may not be able to speak freely with say, an Iraqi one. (Incidentally, this is also partly true for Bengali, my mother tongue :) In linguistic terms, this phenomenon, where the spoken language is different from the written one, is known as diglossia.







Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 







91 comments:

  1. My partner has discovered (time and time again) how right you are about the famed Arab hospitality when he has been travelling. And has commented that travellers to our country would not usually receive the same kindness.

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    1. Very true, EC! Perfect strangers have gone out of their way to help me/us. The warmth of their welcome is amazing.

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  2. good kick-off for A to Z. This theme will definitely teach me many things. I had heard that the Arab hospitality is quite impressive. As is much architecture.

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    1. Arab contribution to architecture is beyond astounding - the ancient monuments alone would be sufficient theme for several A-Z's!

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  3. This is a wealth of information to start your series off. I've always liked the sound of Arabic music. Good start to the Challenge.


    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I am a great fan of Arabic music, though I have no formal knowledge of any music. Quite a complex musical theory Arabs have, very sophisticated and detailed.

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  4. Good start with the glimps in the arab culture! Very informative as well!
    On point with an often misunderstood area ... Confusing Islamic religion with Arabic race-ethnicity. Religion and ethnicity are pronounced simply and clearly.
    Best wishies!

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    1. Yup, race and religion two separate things but very often conflated.

      A very happy challenge to you too.

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  5. My first A-Z visit of the season and I've learned something already! This is going to be fascinating.

    Click HERE to read my tale

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    1. Past A-Z's have been major learning experiences for me, I love the general education that I get in things I would never otherwise know/find out :)

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  6. For some reason I was expecting a poem. so this is a double delight. The surprise and the the great post. Thank you.

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    1. Poetry is off this blog for this April :) glad you enjoyed the post! See you around..

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  7. Love Arabic music and this post was a delight to read and the music literally music to my ears. Great going Nilanjana!

    A is for Alluring Forest Walks for my Travel Epiphanies
    http://natashamusing.com/2017/04/alluring-forest-walks-atozchallenge2017/

    natashamusing

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    1. Yeah, me too, particularly the complex percussion - totally love that!

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  8. Hi Nila! If all your posts are this dense, no wonder it's taken so long to prepare!! There are so many aspects of Arab culture we can be thankful for and you've named just some. Thank you for a well-thought out post. Look forward to many more. :-)

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    1. I've had to edit huge chunks off!:) :) more time on chopping than writing...so many things left out...can keep going for several A-Z's methinks...thanks for being here!

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  9. I've not been to anywhere in the Middle East, so thank you for this glimpse into part of the culture there. :-)

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    1. ME has a totally fascinating history! and music, and poetry and... :)

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  10. Love this post. I know so little about the Arabic countries, and I'm eager to learn soemthing from someone who lives there.
    Truly fascinating.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

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    1. It is an utterly captivating place with history that goes very deep indeed..

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  11. I feel like I've already learned a huge amount and we've only just started. Looking forward to more!

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    1. I invariably end up learning something new for every A-Z myself both in the researching and reading...

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  12. Nice start for the Arabic month! I like your pictures.

    It's true that if a Moroccan and an Iraqi met they will probably speak in English. But it also depends on their level of knowledge of the language. Since living in Morocco, I've seen all kind of linguistic situations.

    -----
    Name: Eva
    Blog: Mail Adventures
    #AtoZ Challenge Theme: Postcards
    Letter A: Adventurers. Because any postcard is a little adventure, isn't it?

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    1. Yup, very true. My experience is that educated Arabs are often bi-/multilingual...and literacy is high in the Gulf, though maybe somewhat lower in NAf

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  13. I learned a lot I didn't know (and probably shoukd've) thank you for this intro! Unfortunately extremism influences our perception of this amazing culture too badly, I'm glad to read a positive summary. Thank you!

    On my Journey To Courageous Living A is for Achievements and Aspirations featuring the famous 'I'm a bitch, I'm a lover' - come, check out!

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    1. Yeah,the shoutier minority always hijack the thread and get more media space...

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  14. Found your excellent blog through Arlee Bird.
    Congrats on a wonderful start to the challenge.

    Yvonne

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  15. Beautiful! So glad I'm following your blog....

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  16. Hi Nila – so fascinating to read … so much to take in – I will definitely need a few read throughs. Then I have the wonderful music to go with the catching up. Love the welcome phrase … something we should all aspire too encouraging others along the way …

    I thought Joseph Attieh’s music wonderful … love the music of the Middle East, though I’ve never visited …

    So useful to have that explanation about Arabic and Muslim – I’ll definitely be back for these thoughts …

    The Arabs were and are no doubt incredibly talented … their architecture is extraordinary, but their mathematics was eye-opening … and then those Accents and the word ‘diglossia’ … I’m hope less with languages – can manage English!

    What a great A for Arabiana post – thank you … cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/a-is-for-aurochs.html

    Today’s A - Z Challenge 2017 post

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    1. Just to add to your comment on my blog - yes Jean Auel came up somewhere a few years ago ... but I've added her books in to my Wish List - thanks for the reminder ... H

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    2. Middle Eastern music has a definite earworm quality to it...great to dance to :) probably those complex percussions are related to their mathematical abilities?

      The medieval Arabs were serious nerdy types, they had a thirst for learning and had a finger in every scientific pie...

      I read Auel many years back, can't remember titles etc, but do remember the 'world building' details with mammoths and sabre tooths and all, very absorbing and unputdownable, you'll like it!

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  17. Wow, such intricate craftsmanship! I love it. Thank you, I can't wait to see and learn more! My faith is an off shoot of Islam, Baha'i, as Christianity is of Judaism, but I know so little, truly! Always open to learning more though! Thank you, Nila!

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    1. That's great to know! The Baha'i temple in Delhi is one of its most iconic buildings. Many Baha'is in the ME too but like the ME Christians, now being persecuted in some places, sadly.

      The Arabs were/are indeed master craftsmen/women - their facility with so many materials - paint, stone, wood, textiles, metals, ceramics - are beyond compare.

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  18. What beautiful architecture. I've learned a lot from your first A to Z post. I'll be back!

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    1. Indeed. Arab/Islamic architecture is just sublime, and the deeper in the past one goes, the more marvellous it seems :)

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  19. I listened to the hymn sung by Fairouz. We in the United States have so much to learn, if only we would open ourselves to this.

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    1. Fairouz has the voice of an angel! The Arabs call her by various lyrical names - Ambassador to the stars, Neighbour of the moon are two I can recall right now :) She has been singing for half a century, she has sung in every Arab capital and kept herself completely above politics - no mean feat in the complex political situation of the ME. She is just grand! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  20. Enjoyed reading your informative post on the Arabs and their culture. Thanks for sharing Nilanjana!
    https://radhikasreflection.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/alphabet-a-apprehension/

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading. All the best for the challenge.

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  21. Hey Nilanjana! Good to see you in A to Z as well!

    I've grown up in the Middle East (and currently live in that region), and it's always fascinating to see how diverse the culture is. Certainly not the monolithic image most people seem to have.

    I also get the feeling I may learn a few undiscovered aspects of Arab culture from you this month. I'm excited to see the journey you've got planned!

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    1. Hi Arpan! Great to see you here and great to meet a fellow NRB in Arablands :)

      Yeah I have answered too many odd questions about that 'monolithic' image, so I thought I might as well use them as a basis for A-Z. Hop on for the ride! :)

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  22. I was in Córdoba two years ago, and it was a stunning experience. One of my favorite memories :)

    Weird Things in Folktales - Shrew blows nose into snout

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    1. Cordoba is utterly lovely! whole of Andalusia really...just gorgeous.

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  23. What a rich and informative post, and what a wonderful start to the challenge. I'm so looking forward to your future posts. Happy A-to-Z-ing.

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  24. Interesting! It's good to read about Arabs without all the negative things in the news tagging along for once.


    A is for Apollo 11 moon landing: Was it real?

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    1. What I read in the media and what I actually observe are so different as to be absurd :)

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  25. Oh wow, he has a gorgeous voice! Even though I don't speak a word of Arabic, I love to listen to Arabic language songs. There's something so beautiful about them!

    26 Thing To Hate About Writing: A is for Authors

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    1. Oh,language doesn't matter when it comes to music. I don't have enough Arabic to understand lyrics in the original, just get myself a translation mostly.

      Arabic music system has something called maqamat and three quarter tones which I, being totally unmusical have no clue about, but it's a complex, sophisticated and very refined set of rules.

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  26. It's so interesting learning about world cultures. I'm glad I came by.

    https://djinniaandtheenglishlanguage.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-to-z-challenge-2017-alucard-asuna.html?showComment=1491059549012#c6191304387681194357

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    1. I love learning about new cultures as well. Thanks for visiting.

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  27. I am really looking forward to learning more about this culture. Truly enjoyed the music. Thank you for sharing.

    ~Mary
    #AtoZChallenge #BOTB 1970's Billboard Hits - A is for...

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    1. Music is so often the first thing we hear about a culture, and food, of course :) Nourishment for body and soul :)

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  28. I find that fascinating that all Arabs use the word Allah for God. Makes sense but never thought of that.

    - Joy at The Joyous Living

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    1. I didn't know that either till I came to the ME, as I didn't know the word 'rab' which is used in India for God/Lord is actually an Arabic word.

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  29. How very interesting. I'm excited to join you on this journey.

    I love your A to Z list in the sidebar. It makes it easy to find fellow participants.

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    1. Welcome!

      That bloglist is my way of coping with the listfree A-Z format :)

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  30. Such an interesting month you have planned. Diglossia makes sense. English has so many dialects. I remember learning to read as a small child, and the teacher would pronounce the word. My small mind would say that is not how you say that. But English has not diverged that much yet. Give us about 500 more years.
    I admire Arab culture. This is going to be a treat.

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    1. Arabs do have a rich culture, and I hope to showcase a few aspects here through the A-Z. I do believe that diglossia exists in every language it's a question of degrees only. But definitely in the case of Arabic, it's to an extreme degree.

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  31. A rich culture indeed. Im glad you included the music track. I love cultures and seeing how art and music is expressed through each. We have a world full of various expressions of beauty.

    Thanks for sharing with A to Z!

    Join @moondustwriter for A Piece of Uganda

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    1. We do indeed! And both music and art are things we can immediately connect and respond to without the need to know the language. Thanks for visiting.

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  32. Wow, I just learned a lot in just one post!
    I like the meanings of the first two phrases.
    A blogger buddy of mine has spent a bit of time in the Middle East and in Egypt and posted about it. He loves that area.

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    1. Every place has its own magic and ME has more than its fair share :) and Egypt is beyond words totally. I am so not surprised your friend loves it!

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  33. Really interesting post - and your opening welcome phrase brought back lots of memories as I worked in the middle east over 20 years ago. Looking forward to the rest of the month.
    Days of Fun

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    1. I hope I can bring back further lovely memories for you...and I am going to miss the ME more than I can express when I finally leave, whenever that may be...

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  34. So wonderful Nilanjana to be given a round up of the 'Arab culture' to kick off the month. Thanks for stopping by!

    http://imagery77.blogspot.my/2017/03/they-are-to-dazzle-on-rostrum.html

    Hank

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    1. Glad you liked it. Thanks for visiting!

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  35. Such a well detailed post! I love the language Urdu and have always found verses written in the language mystical and beautiful. Arabic people sound very similar to Indians - so many languages and dialects , religious [ but not all ] and a love for music :)

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    1. Loads diffused from Arabs through trade and travel into India, some via Persia, others directly...and the opposite way also. The cultural exchanges between Arabs and Indians have been since ancient times and happen in modern times also...their music influences Bollywood still. And our films are viewed here, many actors very well known and loved.

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  36. Fascinating. I'm loving listening to that music. Didn't know about the term Ablaq - tone on tone is a favourite visual of mine. Happy A to Z ing.
    Anger #Lexicon of Leaving

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    1. Arabic pop is catchy. I listen to a lot of it :) Happy A-Zing to you too!

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  37. Lots of great information in your post. It is interesting how different dialects and accents impact how a language is spoken. WeekendsInMaine

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    1. Accent maketh the person...some would say

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  38. I love learning about different cultures. The music was a perfect backdrop. Thanks for this fabulous insight into the Arab world.
    Debbie @ THE DOGLADY'S DEN
    Latest post: Azzurro: Going AWOL in Switzerland

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    1. P.S. Thanks for including me in your blogroll! I have added your site to my rss reader. Cheers!

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    2. Glad you enjoyed it. Always up for a bit of learning :) even better if it's a new culture

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  39. My daughter studied Arabic in college and studied in Morocco and Oman. I've learned a lot from her about the different dialects and religious sects. She loved Oman and their people. I wish all the world had her understanding of the truth.

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    1. Oman is indeed a beautiful country! And some amazing history there too. I'll be featuring Oman in the 'O' post.

      Once you live in the ME, however short or long the time, it's hard not to succumb to its charm! :)

      Certainly the world could do with more openness and compassion and understanding of the truth right now. Thanks for being here and the support!

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  40. What a wealth of information!
    Arabs are not equal to Muslim, it's more complex? That's news to me. I'm guilty of lumping them together.
    Ablaq is really an eye-catching architectural technique. Love the visual textures.
    I'm thinking about the aural delight of varied accents/dialects in a marketplace...

    I can imagine the amount of information you uncovered during your research... and then had to decide what to include in your posts?
    Thanks for the informative post!

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    1. Hah most of the preparation went into chopping out stuff :) even so, I have a sneaky feeling its all TMI...we shall see.

      Syria and Egypt were profoundly Christian before the Aab conquest, and both countries have a sizable minority of Christians still, or at least Syria had before this mess started. Copts, who are the Egyptian Christians, have their own Pope and own calendar different from the Western Christians, so do the Syrian Christians, these sects go back before 451 CE, to the very beginnings of Christianity itself. There were Christian monks and saints in the deserts well before Rome adopted Christianity as official religion and popularised the faith. There are continuously working Christian monasteries still in both countries going back to the 3rd-4th century, protected from the Arab armies by dispensations given by Prophet Mohammed himself, also in Lebanon. Islam recognises both Jews and Christians as 'people of the Book.' Lebanon is the most diverse in the ME - more than 40% of the population are Christians, fragmented into many different sects. Jordan has the oldest churches in the world. Religion and religious history in the ME is complex, deep and utterly fascinating!

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  41. Thank you for the warm Arabian welcome :)

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    1. Afwan! :) that's what the Arabs would say

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  42. Great first post!
    Heather
    Co-Host, 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    https://hmgardner.blogspot.com/

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  43. Thank you for an incredibly intersting post. I love learning about other cultures and such.


    J -- Co-host the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference and Speculative Fiction Writer
    2017 THEME = Speculative fiction story featuring telepathy.
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com

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  44. I missed everyone's A post on Saturday. Now I'm trying to read two posts today for each blog I follow that's participating in the A-Z!

    This looks like it's going to be an extremely informative A-Z from you!

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    1. I hope to inform and entertain! :) This time A-Z starting on a Saturday has thrown me a bit too, but the routines will stabilise I'm sure...

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Thank you for stopping by! If you are here from the A-Z, please leave me your link. A clicky link would be super, but just your url pasted in will do fine too. Just please, please, don't leave me to figure things out from a Google profile! :-)