A to Z Reflections

This has been my 4th year participating in the A to Z challenge. I can remember comparing my very first challenge in 2011, to a whirlwind romance… you know the one where you live in the moment; steal away to connect at every available spare moment; experience that heady anticipation; constantly think ahead to the next tryst; you know it cannot last forever but you can’t help yourself anyway… you are sucked in by this entire episode.

To continue the analogy, I must say that the initial heady, butterflies-in-the-stomach, all-consuming flame of new love, has been replaced by the steady glow and warm energy of the familiar…

I chose a fun and interactive theme for both 2013 and 2014 challenges. This is what I discovered.

Last year I seemed to have way more fun than this year. What did I do different from last year to this year? Last year, I responded to comments and what ensued was loads of comments back and forth, amongst a more-or-less concentrated group of visitors. There was lots of camarederie and laughter. However, I didn't really visit a whole lot of new blogs, and isn't that the aim of the challenge, to meet new bloggers?

This year, I didn't respond to comments, but I got around quite a bit and discovered lots of wonderful bloggers, and made lots of new friends as a result. I think about 20-odd new followers signed up via Networked blogs.

Last year I seemed to have more energy than this year. But that's also because this year, I juggled administrative duties: IWSG as well as A to Z minion duties, in between the "natural madness" of the A to Z challenge. So I was really stretched super-thin… but it was worth it! I must admit that I visited every post on certain blogs… just didn't want to miss a single post…

My general thoughts?

Pre-schedule your posts if you can. It eliminates a certain amount of stress, unless you're one of those bloggers who had no choice but to "wing it" or maybe you thrive on spontaneity…

The theme reveal bloghop is a great head start. You get to meet bloggers in advance and take a peek at some of the themes beforehand, so it gives you an idea of which blogs may interest you.

It's frustrating when you click on a commenter's link, hoping to be directed to his/her blog page, but instead you are taken to a Google page. Ideally, bloggers need to add the blog url in a signature, in every comment they post.

If I discovered a theme I really liked, then I gave that blog a miss for a few days. After a while, I backtracked and visited the 3 or 4 blogposts all in one go. I know that, to some extent, it defeats the purpose of a-visit-a-day, but that system worked for me. What do you think about it?

I noticed an interesting phenomenon during the challenge. There were a group of about 15 bloggers who hosted a "mini-hop" within the main hop, complete with a linky list, specifically for supernatural themed challenge posts. I think that was a great idea. There are just too many blogs to visit, and I acknowledge that there are categories, but there are loads of blogs I missed out on, and I'm thinking of flash fiction themes in particular. So, as a flash fiction lover, a "flash fiction mini-hop" idea would have been most welcome. Are there any others who feel the same way?

Thank you to everybody who visited my blog and left a comment. Thanks to all the new followers too. It's my intention to follow back, so if I've missed you, please drop me an email or leave a comment with a link and I'll swing by your place.

                          *****DRUM ROLL*****

  ——–and the winner for the best comment on my theme for the 2014 challenge———-

                              *****extended drum roll*****

                                                         IS

                                       NONE OTHER THAN

                            C.LEE MACKENZIE

Congratulations C.Lee! Your "speaking book" comments were highly entertaining! Not once… or even twice… but you did it over and over again! Just when I thought your comments couldn't get any better… you proved me wrong! (I'll e-mail you shortly.)

…and that's a wrap!

CONGRATULATIONS!

See you all next year – same place, same time, for the 2015 challenge!

(P.S. If you notice a lurker around your place, don't be alarmed… that will probably be me… catching up with certain bloggers/blogs that I've made a note of… at my leisure…)

63 Comments

  1. Sherry Ellis on May 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I didn't see any of the mini hops, but that sounds like a good idea.  This was the third year of doing the challenge for me (first time on Mama Diaries, though).  I think I got about 10 new followers – and those were from the bloggers I visited on the list.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Your posts are ALWAYS entertaining, Sherry!

      Congrats on your winning article! To have your book turned into an animated e-book? That's soooo exciting!  🙂

  2. C. Lee McKenzie on May 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Me? I won? Guess you inspired me with those books–a lot I'd never heard of!

    I'm very excited, of course, and if you could see me, I'd be jumping around sort of dancing.

    🙂

     

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      I think I need to hand over that Princess Glib title you so graciously bestowed upon me. You deserve it! your comments were ab-fab! 🙂

  3. Alex J. Cavanaugh on May 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Congratulations, Lee!

    I know the feeling of being overwhelmed. My blog, co-host duties, the A to Z Blog, the IWSG site… that stuff adds up.

    Thanks again for being a super Ninja Minion and keeping things rolling with the IWSG.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      I really don't know how you manage everything… incomprehensible… 🙂 It was hectic, but I had fun! And I'll be back again next year! As I said before, the A to Z holds a special place in my heart! <3

  4. Michael Di Gesu on May 5, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Congrats to LEE!!!! I know I enjoyed her comments as well!

    You had such a fun theme this year, Michelle! I really enjoyed it. You also did a bang up job keeping up. You have some great suggestions in your reflections….

    I need to write my tonight. LOL. 

    Sadly, I didn't get to pleasure of writing my posts beforehand, so I was one of those "wing it" guys, which kept me from visiting more blogs and making more friends. BUT, I did make a few and I am grateful for that.

    Congrats again on completing the challenge and accepting all your duties so graciously. The challenge keeps getter better because of all the imput hosts and minions have generated throughout the challenge…. Here's to you ALL!!!!!!

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      For a "wing it guy", you did an amazing job! I love those intros Michael… you have a natural flair for that sort of thing… 🙂

  5. L. Diane Wolfe on May 5, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    The mini-hop sounds like a good idea.

    I was overwhelmed and didn't have as much fun last year since I was a co-host. Expectations were just too high. Next year I'll return and probably have fun again.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      It was hectic!! And I spread myself super-thin too… but – I survived! 🙂 Thanks for popping in Diane!

  6. Liz Brownlee on May 5, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Hello! I did enjoy this year – better than last year as instead of drawing as well as writing a poem I concentrated on writing a poem well, and enjoyed that more. i always comment on commenter's blogs, but get behind with 'likes'. 

    I wish oh so much wish i could comment on all blogs – some Blogger blogs keep me out (sob!). 

    I think the way to do the linky list would be to have all the science fiction together, all the flash fiction together, all the YA fiction, childen's fiction, poetry together… it would make it so much easier to visit the blogs you will truly enjoy and are more likely to 'follow' anyway easier. 

    Liz  http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Hello Liz! Welcome to my place! That's a great idea on how to organise the Linky list, but I'm wondering how it would translate technically, when it has to be put into action…

      I'll stop by your place as soon as I get a moment…  🙂

  7. Jamie Dement (LadyJai) on May 5, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I loved participating in your posts. I found them rather fun and definitely entertaining. I just wish I knew how to capture the elusive beast called time so I could visit more people and return to fun blogs. ♥

    PS congrats Lee!

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Lady Jai, I loved your theme too! It was simple and honest. 🙂 When you've discovered the solution of how to capture that beast, please let us know…

  8. krystal jane on May 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Congrats to C.Lee! And congrats to you for undertaking the challenge. For the 4th time! ^_^

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks for playing along Krystal! You need to do the challenge next year! Give it a go! 🙂

  9. Nicki Elson on May 6, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Like you, I tend to have more fun going back and forth with a smaller group – so those mini hops sound right up my alley. 

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks for visiting in those gorgeous pink Mary Jane's… I love to see them here at my place!

  10. Rosie Amber on May 6, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Congratulations, you're theme was really fun and I enjoyed reading the days that I maed it over to your blog.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks Rosie. I think I lost touch with you. You don't have a link to your blog?

  11. Hilary on May 6, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Hi Michelle – many congratulations to see Lee – I note she had her wits about her … I must revisit your posts and see all the comments/answers .. great theme you chose.

    I'm not sure I like the idea of the mini hop within the A-Z .. simply because those people will stay there … I do like to get out and about .. though I hope I'll be seeing Tasha and Sophie of the supernatural hop … regardless of their genre.

    Once thing is also when a list of blogs come up on your (their) home site – we need to know which is the A-Z one .. 

    Generally it works fine .. I've suggested a double optin, or as Alex suggested an email reminder … I didn't get around to many new people – just grateful they found me .. the 'net' does spread throughout the year … I tend to go slow …

    We do what we do and relate to friends along the way and I'm so pleased Lee set us off along this road .. cheers and thanks so much for coming back and commenting on each post, I think !  See you soon .. cheers Hilary

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      You had a wonderful theme. Really educational and entertaining.

      One of the drawbacks of a mini-hop within the hop is that people will most probably stay there… you're right about that. I like your double option idea too – makes sense. See you soon, Hilary.

  12. Marie Abanga on May 6, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Dear Michelle, for a newbee and wannabee like me, it was thrilling. I almost backed out twice but somehow managed to schedule all my post before kick off. Hmm, then I even got some August guest like you and to crown it all, a comment from Arlee himself. This made my month. I visited quite some but I wish I visited much more because I know how much it matters to the likes of 'me' to even get a visit, some support and all. Next year I sure will be back, and with a real theme and not just some random thoughts loitering around 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Marie, I'm sooooo happy you stuck with it and completed the challenge! You did well! 🙂 See you next year again for the 2015 A to Z challenge!

  13. Lynda Dietz on May 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I enjoyed your posts each day and thought your theme was really creative! Some days, the captions came to me easily and other days, I just read Lee's and thought, "I can't top that one." No one deserves more to win it. That gal has a quick wit!

    Glad to have found you during this challenge! Now you're stuck with me. 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Yes, Lee really rocked the "book comments"! She sure has a sharp wit! And in the words of that Huey Lewis song, "I'm happy to be stuck with you"… 🙂 It will be a mutually sticky situation. 🙂

  14. Robin on May 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Congrats Lee!

    I enjoyed your theme, but I got behind on the visiting and commenting. I am so happy that you made so many new friends!

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Your theme showcasing different blogs was a great way of acknowledging bloggers… a great way to pay it forward… and I also fell behind on the visiting/commenting. Just too much going on. Thanks Robin! 🙂

  15. Debi O'Neille, writing against the wind on May 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    The mini hop sounds like a good idea, but I'd want to join so many of them…:-) And I'd be hopping just as much and to a variety of different genres, themes, or styles. 🙂 Congrats on making it through all the work you did, and thanks for the encouragement you gave me along the way.

    Best,

    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Your theme was educational and highly creative too! I'm so glad we met during the challenge. 🙂

  16. S. Katherine Anthony on May 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Congrats to Lee!

    I loved LOVED your theme! It's my top favorite. The caption interaction was awesome! And your intros made me smile every time. 😀

    • Michelle Wallace on May 6, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks SK! You are too sweet! A real darling. Your theme suited you perfectly!  🙂

  17. Susan Gourley on May 6, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    You give lots of great advice. I love the comparison it a love affair during that first year. My first year was very much like that. Whew.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

      You had such a wonderful theme! Really helpful! That first year "high" has been replaced by the steady and reliable bond of a familiar connection that has the potential to last for a long, long time… 🙂

  18. J.L. Campbell on May 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Hi, Michelle,

    Presecheduling helps for sure. If only I could make a good headstart on that. I was frustrated by Google+ profile pages too that led me to comments made by the blogger I was trying to visit, rather than taking me to their blogs. Still, I met some new people and had fun putting thought into my theme.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Joy, I was so impressed by your sketches. They blended well with your thought-provoking theme. The captions were great… nice ideas for plot/dialogue development!

  19. Penny on May 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Hi human, Michelle,

    Yay to a reflection pawst!  Pawesome news!  Just think, you can do reflection pawsts about reflection pawst about the amazing alphabet challenge. Next thing you know it's April Fool's Day and the whole weird obsession with the alphabet starts all over again.  Arggghhhh and HELP.  Somebody make it stop!!!!!

    An interesting phenomenom was that alternative challenge that was a light-hearted, way less stressful challenge than this one.  

    My human and I are exhausted just being here to support you and others involved. Talk about irony.  

    Congrats to my adoring human fan, Lee, yes that Lee, not Mr. Alphabet Dude, Lee.  

    Seriously, congrats on embracing the ideals of a sharing, caring blogging community within the cult that is the A to Z.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny, the cordial host of The Alphabark Challenge, 2014! 🙂

     

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 8:38 am

      Your human, Gary had a great light-hearted and alternative challenge post, Penny! 🙂 Thanks for the visit. Love to you both!

  20. SittieCates on May 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Congrats, Michelle! Wow, your fourth year? That's so cool! It was my first time to join this, and it was really, really fun!

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      It's a fun challenge, Sittie, and a great way to meet new people. Hope to see you again next year!

  21. Damyanti on May 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Hey Michelle, I  think you rocked your theme!

    I saw another blog hop for dog owners, and I'll be keen on a flash fiction hop :), of course! and yep, this was my fourth year, too 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      So we started the challenge the same year! Cool!

      And yes, yes, yes to that mini flash fiction hop-within-a-hop idea! 🙂

  22. Elise Fallson on May 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Sorry to hear you had less energy this year during the challenge. I know the feeling all too well. But you got through it (braver than I am) and from what I see, you had a great theme and people really enjoyed it. Can't wait to catch up with you Michelle, and congrats to Lee!  🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Hey E, how are you? Well, the A to Z is behind us… until next year… and now I need to get my butt into editing mode… 🙂 … yes, we need to catch up sometime…

  23. Jacqui Murray on May 7, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I have to say, I'm exhausted trying to keep up with the blogs of too many efriends who participated in AtoZ. I wanted to support their daily effort, and even more, they were turning out amazing posts. But–good grief–I was spending 5x as long answering posts as usual.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Jacqui. That's what happens in a challenge of this nature… and can you imagine the loads of good blogs you don't get to see… which slip through undetected…? Too many blogs, too little time!  🙂

  24. Mary Aalgaard on May 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I enjoyed your posts again this year. They spark creativity. Well done! Sorry my blog and commenting glitches were so frustrating.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 8, 2014 at 5:43 am

      No worries, Mary! I need to pop over to your place again…  to see "what's cooking"  🙂

  25. Michelle Stanley on May 7, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Hello Michelle, I like your reflections post, also got to read the supernatual bloghop and thought it was great too. This was my first time entering the challenge and found it awesome.I didn't get the chance to visit many new ones or return to a few I liked due to limited time. But am doing that now. Michelle @ http://www.writer-way.blogspot.com

  26. Michelle Wallace on May 8, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Hi Michelle! *waving* As I mentioned before, due to the nature of this challenge, there will be blogs that slip through. But at least the linky list is still there, so we can visit at leisure…

  27. Celine on May 8, 2014 at 8:19 am

    It makes sense to forego answering comments to spend the time visiting new blogs, especially if you've done it before. For my first year I'm quite happy to have spent as you say quite a bit of time chatting in the comments with a concentrated bunch of people and gotten to know them better. Next year I might do it differently though. 

    I loved the fact that you picked an interactive theme, by the way, that was such a great idea! 

    I also like the idea of giving blogs a miss for a few days and coming back for a catch up. It makes it more manageable, otherwise it can suck up so much time!! We all need to write at the end of the day 😉

    • Michelle Wallace on May 8, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      With each A to Z, I've learned something new… 🙂 Hopefully that will all come together in some way, and help me to manage my next A to Z better…

  28. WriterlySam on May 8, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I had a ball visiting your posts–they were clever & creative!! I owe you a Biltmore-prize, perhaps coffee is in order *my energy source*:)

     

  29. Janice Heck on May 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I like the mini-blog hop idea. I tried to check out the WR code because I wanted to meet more writers. I visited a lot of them, but I still check back to find more. Going for my fourth A to Z next year. Each year gets better and easier, although I still haven't mastered writing ahead. Next year? We'll see. I'm featuring some new writers on occasional Wedesday Writers posts.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      I'll stop by to check out your Wednesday Writers posts…  🙂

  30. Julie K Pick on May 13, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Congrats to Lee! You had a fabulous theme Michelle, and I'm sorry that I couldn't visit more. It's amazing how much you were able to accomplish at once! Great job, Michelle!

    • Michelle Wallace on May 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      It was a hectic time, but I managed to pull it off!

      I missed you during the challenge, Julie… 🙂

  31. Hilary on May 13, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Hi Michelle – I appreciate your comment on every single letter – that was amazing and much appreciated.  Lee's wordsmith certainly stood her in good stead .. I thought I had one or two good ones – but certainly not the number Lee had – brilliant and congratulations to her.

    Each year is different isn't it …and G+ is a pain .. and the challenges between different levels of bloggers .. but for some reason thisyear I finished on a high a very exhausted one .. but bloggers 'started pouring in' .. just wonderful.

    Next year I must write my posts in advance and I must get out and meet new bods … thankfully many found me … 

    Great to been around with you for the 4th year .. cheers for now .. and see you shortly .. Hilary

    • Michelle Wallace on May 13, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Hilary, you DID have one or two good ones, but Lee just outdid herself at every turn… she's such a sport! 🙂

  32. Jerralea on May 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    This was my first year of doing the A-Z.  I really enjoyed it, and am already thinking of a new theme for next year … totally different from this year's.  I hope I will be able to write them ahead … but I'm kind of a "fly-by-your-pants" writer.

    • Michelle Wallace on May 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      You are really brave to write your posts "on-the-fly"… I have to be organised or I'll be totally stressed out! See you at the 2015 challenge. You have 11 months to prepare!  🙂

  33. Sammy d on May 16, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Hi Michelle – such a great description of first love, first year because that's what my challenge was this year! I look forward to "warm glow" next year. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting as often as you did. I really appreciate your interest and all the minion volunteer time you put in.

    i'm sorry I did not get to visit you during A to Z – i had spent a lot of time preselecting blogs to follow and obviously in a list of 2,000 missed a lot. I was incredulous at the amount of time it took me to read and comment, but it was worth every hour!

     

     

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