Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year--New A to Z Challenge! -- so says Li Vooght

       One year ends and a new one begins.  Li Vooght of Flash Fiction has offered to usher out 2011 as we head into the year of a new Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Let's make 2012 the best ever!  Now let's let Li do what she does so well--tell us her story.

New Year – New A to Z Challenge!

January marks the one year anniversary of my blog, Flash Fiction; and the April A to Z Challenge of 2011 is at least partly responsible for my still being here to celebrate. (In a virtual sense, of course. The Challenge didn't keep me from dying of Woompah disease or leaping from a high-rise.)

Starting a blog is never easy, and when I began I had no online “presence” whatsoever; no Facebook page, no Twitter account, and no blogger friends with whom to commiserate. It was a lonely place at first, although I somehow picked up a handful of followers who offered support and encouragement right from the start. I can't thank them enough.

One day I stumbled on a mention of the A to Z challenge while randomly surfing blogs. I had no idea what a blogfest entailed, but it seemed like a good way to both meet people and to shift my writing into high gear. Although a few people mentioned outlining or writing posts ahead of time, or choosing a theme, I wanted to up the ante for myself. (I really do like to make things difficult.) I wouldn't just post something everyday, it had to be an original fiction or poetry piece. And I wouldn't auto-post or write anything ahead of time; nope, I had to climb out of bed and come up with something that morning.

Then I did a dumb thing. I put it in writing. People took note. And it dawned on me that I couldn't possibly go through with it. And yet...perfect strangers told me that I could. Others expressed the same feeling of “sign-up remorse”. I discovered that by linking up for the challenge, I had joined a community of warm, funny, talented writers/bloggers who were just as interested in reading and helping others as they were in promoting their own blogs. Maybe more so.

I completed the challenge by posting each day with the proper letter, although I failed my own rules at least twice by posting pics with a few words instead of stories. I often generated ideas by randomly opening books and choosing a word or phrase, or by looking around the house for an object or picture. Some days I had a cold hard knot in my stomach, wondering if I'd ever think of something. But it was a tremendous exercise in writing under pressure, and I slowly built up my confidence. In the meantime, I invariably read at least a dozen challenge posts a day that made me laugh out loud – or realize that I'm not the only person in the world with strange habits.

Since then I've polished a few stories and hope to have them included in an upcoming collection, along with some new works. I've made lots of great friends, learned a lot about writing, and figured out how to install those darn widget thingies. I've even co-hosted a blogfest, The Rule Of Three, which opened my eyes to the amount of time, effort and sheer stamina that goes into planning these challenges; I can't imagine how much goes into executing (and reading) something as massive as the A to Z challenge. And so my hat is off to our intrepid hosts!

If you ask me if I'll participate in the 2012 A to Z, I'll say “probably not”. I'll think about it, vacillate, waver, shake my head and dig in my heels. Then the linky will go up, and my finger will hover over the ominous “you're next!”. Chances are I'll press it and sign up. Then I'll second-guess myself, moan, wring my hands, get excited, slip into despair, and finally decide that maybe I can do it, and if not, well it won't be the end of the world.

I wonder if there are 26 Ways That The World Might End. Hmmmm. Now there's an idea.

Happy New Year, everyone, and see you at the 2012 brand spankin' new A to Z Challenge!

Thank you to Arlee Bird , creator of the A to Z Challenge, for hosting me today, for beginning this awesome blogfest, and for being one of my earliest followers. You rock, Lee, you really do. Thanks for sticking by me and supporting me.
        And thank you Li for inspiring, entertaining, or scaring us.  It's like some of those stories she tells.  If you haven't read Li's stories make haste and read your New Year's Eve away.  Now that's one heck of a way to celebrate the New Year!


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Another One Who Reached the Finish Line: Sue Harding

       Sue Harding may blog at I Refuse to Go Quietly, but she stayed noisily right up to the end in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011.  Sue has her success story to tell today.


Well, that's the April A-Z challenge over for 2011! There's a sense of relief tinged with a bit of sadness - relief, because it's been quite a feat to think up and create something new and different for each letter (thank goodness for pre-scheduled posts!); and sadness, because the cameraderie of us 'all in this together' is at an end.

But is it?

I tried to look into at least five different blogs every day and leave comments and mostly I succeeded. Some were blogs where my interest was piqued enough to want to 'follow' - some have already become fixtures on my blogroll! So, what started as a chance to nosey through other people's blogs has grown into a desire to keep up with the musings of these hitherto unknown 'blogger-friends'. So, thankyou A-Z, for broadening my horizons and 'growing' my followers, too! (more than doubled!)

Thanks, too, for the wonderful 'surprise me' button - it was always an adventure to see where I'd land next! :-)

I'd also like to thank all who stopped by to view the eclectic posts on my blog - and for their kind (and constructive!) comments!

Congratulations to all who participated and made it through to 'Z' - I hope those who didn't succeed (for whatever reason) will be inspired to try again next year.

Most of all, thankyou to those who promoted, encouraged and facilitated the whole event and generally kept us on the right path throughout - esp. to Arlee Bird, for all your positive support!

So, the next few days are going to seem strange without the motivation of creating a new post for the challenge......but I'm sure I'll come up with something! (I guess you'll have to watch this space to find out!)


         Sue lived up to her blog name and we thank her for that. Now all of you make some noise about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and tell all of your blog friends about it. What the heck--tell of your friends who don't blog yet to start a blog and join us. The more the merrier.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Fantastic A to Z Ride: Observations by Shannon the Warrior Muse

My Photo     Shannon Lawrence who blogs as The Warrior Muse is one of the bloggers who went above and beyond the 2011 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   She and Tina Downey (whose Reflections post appeared yesterday 12/28) continued after the end of the A to Z Challenge to start the Post Challenge Challenge in which they were joined  by many of you to continue to visit all of the blogs that had participated in April.  In the following post she provides some thoughts on how she will approach the 2012 Challenge based on what she learned in 2011.

The Fantastic A to Z Ride

Amusement Park in Atlantic CityImage by momentcaptured1 via Flickr
       At the culmination of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge this past year I posted my final letter: Z is for Zenith.  I was delighted to have successfully reached the end of the A to Z challenge, proud to have accomplished such a leap in my blogging, having only posted a handful of blog posts before that, and relieved that it was time for a break from the regimen of posting daily and meeting a challenge.  At the same time, I was already thinking ahead to the following year.  I met so many great people via their blogs and this challenge, and I knew 2012 would be even bigger, more spectacular. 

      One of the things I wondered about was whether to go with a theme or not.  It was fun reading blogs that had specifically themed their A to Z posts.  Did it make it easier?  Were those posts better than others that had no discernible pattern?  Was there really a difference?

       As April approaches, I am trying to decide whether to pursue that theme, and what theme that might be, or whether to post as I did last time, talking about whatever fit the correct letter of the alphabet as it came to mind.  Is one way better than the other?  I think not. 

       I’m also hoping to prepare at least some of the posts ahead of time in order to have more time to explore other blogs.  I wasn’t able to make it to many blogs at all during the challenge, at least not compared to how many entrants there were.  Because of that, I’ve spent the time since the A to Z following up on the listing of blogs, having been a part of creating a follow-up challenge that was all about visiting.  I’m not finished yet, but I have until April when it all begins again!  
       Ultimately, the A to Z is about having fun and challenging oneself, as much as it is about networking and discovering other blogs.  No matter what I do differently this year, I know the A to Z will be a fantastic ride!

         Thank you Shannon.  It sounds like you're ready to go.   Who else wants to get on board for the fun ride of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge?   Sign ups start on January 30th.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Fix Your Sex Life: AZ Challenge Reflections from Tina at Life Is Good

           Not only did Tina at Life Is Good provide a fun Reflections post, she probably added some search engine optimization clout with her title.  Thanks Tina!  By the way, Tina along with Shannon at The Warrior Muse valiantly kept up the memory of the April Challenge through the summer as they organized their own Post Challenge Challenge where they invited A-to-Z-ers to join them in visiting all of the April Challenge blogs.  They were a couple of Challenge heroes for sure. 

How to Fix Your Sex Life: AZ Challenge Reflections

I'm so blessed to have found the AZ Challenge through my bloggy-buddy Rayna at Coffee Rings EverywhereThis challenge, as I told you in my A ~ A New Beginning post, came at a pivotal point in my writing. And as I promised in my V ~ Very post, I'll now give you the full scoop of why participating in this challenge was, for me at least, like trying to fix your sex life.

Ah, I see I have your attention!  As my dear, faithful readers know, I'm a walking, talking, medical worst-case scenario. If health insurance was priced like car insurance, I'd be paying the just-got-out-of-juvie-drive-a-red-sports car-not-so-spectacular-grades-but-would-you-please-insure-me-anyway rate. I go to a lot of doctor's appointments. (Just try my nifty search gadget in the side-bar and type “doctor” to get more stories.)

So I'm in a waiting room, forgot my book, and am therefore paging through, oh, probably Family Circle or Good Housekeeping or some other such magazine. In this issue, the regular marriage counseling  article is about long-married couples trying to recapture the spark in their sex life. There were three case studies. Yes, you get to hear them all because strangely enough, I think that each of these solutions can be applied to struggling writers. 

One couple decided that they'd take turns initiating sex. To writers, this translates as, “You give me a prompt, we'll both write something. Then next time, I'll give the prompt, and again, we both have to participate.” You still with me?

Another couple decided that they would only make-out. For a week. Then they'd see what happened after that week of, ahem, restraint. Writers: If I start to feel the beginning of a slowly smoldering fire,  I'll have to wait to write.  Until next week.  Anticipation makes everything sweeter.  No fair scribbling notes on napkins or jotting down ideas in your notes app. You have to WAIT to write.  Waiting makes the want grow fonder.

The last couple solved their, um, issues, with the equivalent of the AZ Challenge. Sex every 24 hours, come hell or high water or up the creek without a paddle. Once. Every 24 hours. If some unforeseen complication prevented this, then they had to do it twice in another 24 hour period. I probably don't need to translate this one...because...

That last scenario is what happened to me in this challenge. I hadn't foreseen it, but like what I read in the article, knowing that I had to put SOMETHING up every day just kinda freed my brain and my inhibitions. I was thinking, “Well OK, it just has to be something. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be long.” Some days all I managed was just a quick couple of observations, but then on other days, I was in the mood for a longer story. Some days I wrote about something I'd already written about. One day, I had no time time to write at all. To complete the challenge, I wrote two posts on the last day. I'll leave the translation from writing to sex up to you on this one :-)

Big thanks to my 27 new followers. I am honored. Also thanks to all who stopped by and left their footprints. My intent was to visit all of you in return, but if I missed you, please let me know. I really do want to meet you. As for the flip-side, I'm now following 23 more blogs, and I'm looking forward to continuing to build more inspiring bloggy relationships. I had a blast doing this, and hope our faithful and seemingly tireless hosts are willing to do it again. I knew I couldn't homeschool, write a post each day, and get to each of the 1282 bloggers participating during this event. It's like Santa.  Not really realistic.  But as long as the linky is alive, I will keep going until I hit 1282. I'm just too damn stubborn, not to mention competitive, to back down now.

This post was prompted by our challenge sponsors.  They asked all of us  to reflect on this month of writing, and then link up back at Tossing It Out, our host blog.  AND, last but not least...I got the groovy badge over there in the sidebar for completing the challenge.  Go me!  (I'm such a dork...)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Favorite Blogger Speaks: Reflections from Alex J. Cavanaugh

A to Z Challenge Reflections...

Lee at Tossing It Out has asked us to do a reflection post regarding the A to Z Challenge. 

And Elizabeth Mueller made this really cool award badge for those who survived. Thanks, Elizabeth! 

I was amazed at the variety of posts for each letter. You guys were really creative! I was also surprised by the variety of blogs participating, many of which had nothing to do with writing. Thanks again to Lee for asking me to be one of the co-hosts!

I just have two things I want to say about the Challenge. 

Last year, there were only one hundred of us. We were able to visit everyone and it felt more intimate. I made some really awesome friends as well.

This year, visiting every blog was almost impossible. (This Ninja failed!) And in trying to do so, I realized it was more difficult to foster friendships. I’m sure a lot of people lost steam after the first week or so. Those using the special widget started at the beginning, although I think many switched to the ‘surprise me’ feature. I think a lot of blogs were overlooked.

Hart had an excellent suggestion, one I think we should adopt for next year. We start with the blog immediately following ours on the list. We go as far as we can, and if that’s only one hundred blogs, that’s fine. But that way, everyone receives visitors and no one feels overwhelmed.

Last year, my goal was to survive the month and gain some new followers. I made it to the end and almost tripled my following.

This year, I didn’t worry about gaining a ton of new followers. Yes, I could’ve followed everyone I visited and gained a ton of new followers. But that wasn’t my goal. I wanted to be a good co-host and spend the Challenge featuring my current blogger buddies. This community is so awesome and I wanted to give back.

As a side note, if you are following me but I’m not following you, please leave a comment! The Google Friends Connect sometimes doesn’t link a blog to your icon, but if you leave a comment, I can find your profile – and your blog to follow!

You guys are awesome and I hope everyone had a blast. It was really cool to hear how many were enjoying the Challenge and meeting new bloggers. That made it all worthwhile - to know there were bloggers in the same position that I was last year reaping the benefits. That is who this Challenge is for, and what keeps it fresh. Let’s make the 2012 Challenge even better!

         Thank you Alex!  Alex went all out the past two Challenges and played a huge role in the success of both.  Hope you follow his lead and become a part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in 2012.  Be sure to tell him thank you.

         The Challenge sign ups will begin on January 30th, 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sue Travers Entered Two Blogs in the 2011 Challenge and Survived to Tell About It

       Yes, that's right!  Sue entered Traverselife and jumping aground and finished with both of them.  Quite a feat for this busy lady.  I'll let her tell you about her A to Z adventure.  

A-Z Blogging Challenge. Reflections

What a journey, what a month.

Firstly a humungous thankyou to Arlee at Tossing it Out and crew for hosting. It's been a massive job for you all, and I appreciate the time and energy that you've all put into this event. Congratulations, well done!

What I've learnt:
Don't tackle two blogs in the A-Z Blogging challenge without preparation! It wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done. It was utterly exhausting, demanding, draining and I'd never recommend it - ever - to anyone who has an ounce of common sense.

I decided on March 31st to enter my second blog. That's plain crazy!
One? No worries.
Drabbles? Fine.
Two? Insane!

The alliterative Drabbles were fun to write over at jumpingaground , although I found it hard to turn off once I got on a roll. All stories are based on real people and events except Yolanda and her yellow yacht. Many are environment or climate related, others are to do with learning difficulties.

I suspect the idea for bullying may have been floating around in my head, lurking, just waiting for an opportunity like this. The structure worked for me. I think if I'd been left to my own devices I wouldn't have attempted it at all or I would have drifted and dithered, with a bit here and a bit there. A-Z provided the scaffolding I needed to do it in one hit.

The list of A-Z Workplace Bullying posts is here.

I had no idea how long each post would take. I spent 1/2 day getting a vague outline together to make sure I would have something for each letter, realised I had something sort of workable, and plunged in. I hadn't anticipated each post would then take many many hours, revising, rewording, checking for accuracy, editing and adding pictures. Some are a bit long, but that's the way they are.

I'm tenacious. This is not good if you're being bullied. It would be possible to hang on and try to make something work when it's destined not to. But for a blogging challenge it's invaluable!

I'll try to remember never to post a comment when I've had a glass or two of wine. It's not good. Now you know why some of those comments were, erm not so clearly written. 

It would have been difficult to have completed the posts without the support and input from other bloggers. Each and every comment helped me get through. This topic isn't fun or popular or sexy - to read or to write. 

Why tackle workplace bullying?  I hope it might be a resource beyond this challenge. I'm horrified at the prevalence of ongoing bullying in workplaces. As a Career Development Professional, my clients tell me what happens in supposedly reputable organisations. The people I work with are honest, ethical, have strong morals and act with integrity. Too many workplaces don't value those attributes, they chew up employees, take everything they can get, then spit out what's left. I felt this was a small something I could do to support others and perhaps shed some light on this appalling behaviour.

Knowledge is power. My aim was to share my knowledge in a hopefully easy to read form to empower others.

What I've learnt about others. People are generous. Of course I knew that, but it's been underlined hugely. People have supported me by encouraging others to read the information, they've forwarded the posts on and have commented in a very positive way. That's what I dreamed might happen, thanks to everyone who has shared and commented.

What have I learnt about blogging?
Success is just a word. Running the two blogs in tandem was fascinating. jumpingaground went from something like 22 followers to 83, but I don't get many drop in visitors or many hits. Keyword search data is wishy washy at best.  But it's fun, and it's for me!

In comparison, traverselife went from about 22 followers to 52, which in comparison is 'unsuccessful'. Keyword searches however, show clearly what people are looking for, and I get significantly more hits daily but less or no comments. I've had quiet, consistent, steady support for the posts from people within and outside the blogging community. That's rewarding. People who've contacted me have given me a huge boost, It really makes this feel like a strong community pulling together, and is a reassuring feeling of connectedness. Thank you.
East Side Gallery. Berlin. 2009.
For me, the month wasn't fun, but it supported my core values and it has been rewarding doing something I truly believe in. I've done the best I can given that it was unplanned and in a sense done on the fly to conform to the challenge guidelines. I'm pleased with the result, and proud I stuck with it. I wouldn't post like that again for a whole month. It took too much out of me. I need a break.

What do I look for in other blogs?
Meatiness, fun, not self indulgent, interesting, challenging without being derogatory or rude.

What next? 
I might do a follow up with something about schools and bullying, add some more links to some good information. Editing needs to happen....drat..... I want to pose the question "Do you bully yourself?" and look at how we're often meaner to ourselves than is healthy. I'm looking forward to eventually writing about the healing process after being bullied. Looking at how we can create rich, full and meaningful lives is something I've wanted to post about, but haven't yet found a structure that feels right. I also want to revisit assertiveness and How to say "No".

Would I recommend this challenge to others? Definitely!

I've just had some insight when I was making a comment on someone else's blog. I went in to this Challenge asking myself what I could GIVE to others. I wasn't focusing on how many followers or comments I could GET.  Hmmm.....

Lastly, I have a newfound respect for everyone who has written a book. How do you do it and stay sane? Characters who wander off and create mayhem, plots that refuse to co-operate - gosh you guys are impressive!

       If Sue was able to keep two blogs running in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge surely you can manage one.   Watch for the sign up list coming at the end of January.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

A to Z Challenge Christmas Special

And now for some Christmas cheer:

Some great A to Z reminder posts have been appearing on your sites.

Dave from Dave Wrote This made an early announcement in December and said that he was getting ready.

The ever-endearing Yvonne Lewis of Welcome to My World of Poetry created another poetic A to Z announcement on December 2, 2011.   Be sure to visit her site and find out the latest about her new book of poetry.   Yvonne has also informed me that she's got her April posts ready to go--now that's what I call being prepared.

A to Z aficionado Shannon Lawrence gave the Challenge a nice mention on The Warrior Muse and displays the badge on her sidebar.  Shannon has a Reflections post coming up on Thursday 12/29 and will undoubtedly have more surprises in the months to come.

On December 12th the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog made it as a Blogger Blog of Note.  Jenny Pearson at Pearson Report was on the spot with an Extra breaking news report.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas The Night Before Christmas When Nicole Dropped In

christmas paintImage by cassie_bedfordgolf via Flickr

          It's Christmas Eve and we have a last minute guest.   Nicole from Madlab Entertainment has offered her A to Z Reflections for this day.  You might remember Nicole from her past visits to Tossing It Out or maybe from her wonderful comments you might have seen on your blog or elsewhere.   So grab a cup of hot chocolate or whatever you feel like having and relax a spell with Nicole.

My Blogging from A to Z Reflections Post

A to Z Challenge
My experiences with the Blogging from A to Z Challenge was exciting, inspiring and exhausting but it was all for a good purpose. The only frustrating aspect of the challenge that I experienced were the captcha features that many bloggers had on their blogs. This made it difficult to visit and comment on as many blogs as I hoped, especially because I am having problems with my computer. 

Still, it was only a minor stumbling block compared to the wonderful experiences that I had while participating in the blogging from A to Z Challenge. One of those experiences included winning my first ever blog award, the Creative Blogger Award from Deirdra who operates A Storybook World and I want to take this time to thank her again for such a thoughtful award.

The A to Z Challenge helped me become more productive as a writer and blogger by posting more on this blog of mine, The Madlab Post. The challenge also helped me to take a more active approach in promoting my blog and making it known to new readers while also meeting new bloggers that share similar interests. I gained an estimated 30 or so followers from my participation in the A to Z Challenge. This total is significantly less than what I desired but it’s also a lot more than what I had before I started the challenge, so the results are greater than I could have expected.

A to Z Challenge

Reading dozens of blog posts was the most challenging aspect of this event for me due to a combination of factors including my work responsibilities, a slow computer and the captcha issue. The amount of published authors and writers participating in the challenge surprised me the most because I thought that the participating blogs would be a balanced mixture of subjects or niches but noticed that the majority seems to include writers with published novels or soon to be published novels. I would participate in the A to Z Challenge again because it gave me the opportunity to increase readership for my blog and also because it caused me to be accountable to a blogging schedule.

The A to Z Challenge also introduced me to some inspiring men and women from around the world who appear to be very successful and happy and able to do what they love, which are all things that I strive for but feel like I fail, so it’s nice to be in the company of people who will bring out the best in what I have to offer. It makes me want to do better and move more swiftly and diligently toward reaching certain goals.

I would recommend the A to Z Challenge to others who need a fresh start with a new blog or who want to turbo-charge the blog that they already have. I would also recommend the challenge to poets and lovers of literature even those who do not blog because, if for nothing else, it provides great writing exercises and entertaining reading activities.


I would not know whether the A to Z team of event hosts did an adequate job of helping to answer questions or solving problems because after a few days, I just stuck with Arlee at Tossing It Outbecause it was a challenge keeping up with all of the hosts PLUS other bloggers participating on top of that....I would never get anything else done that way, so I had to just stick with one host only.

I also do not have an opinion on the preparation leading up to the challenge because I joined at the last minute, like the last day or two of March. I don’t really see anything wrong with the challenge and think that it is a very useful event. The only suggestions that I would offer to improve it would be to remove bloggers from the Linky list who have not kept up on their blogging through the challenge. I’ve come across a few who either did not start the challenge at all and their last post was in like February or March or others who started the challenge but their last post is for letter “D” or something like that.

I know that it’s easy to get behind if something happens but there is clearly a different between a blog that is like 2 or 3 letters behind and a blog that hasn’t written anything in like 2 weeks. An ideal setup would be for one of the organizers to check blogs, or create some kind of check-in system where participating bloggers must sign-in for the day or something. It could be as simple as requiring bloggers to leave a comment on a specific blog or something....and then participating bloggers could go by the current comment section when trying to visit blogs, instead of using the Linky List to visit blogs.

A to Z Challenge

I am glad to have come across some very special bloggers with entertaining, creative, educational or just plain ol’ inspiring blogs. Having already recognized many these bloggers on my “Pay It Forward” post for the letter ‘P,’ I won’t list all of them again but would especially like to bring attention to Alana who operatesWritercize because her blog is like the ultimate cure for writer’s block....and...maybe even slight depression!

Among the new blogs that I discovered and liked enough to follow were Film Sketchr because it focuses on storyboards and concept art from popular movies, Giggle Laugh Cry because it’s such a fun read, It's All Me because the author blogs about his life in such a free, relaxed way, Sand Castles and Snow Forts because each visit is refreshing and Gail M Baughnett - Author because she teaches readers about cool aspects of cultures from different parts of the world such as Japanese phrases and some type of dried Mango and Hawaiian plum powder. I also enjoyed reading the Random Thoughts blog where the author blogs about the ABC's of a Good Friend, which I thought was a clever way for Sharon, the author, to go through letters in the A to Z Challenge.

I must not forget Daily Write where my new-found Twitter buddy Damyanti blogs about writing and reading while also sharing really good short stories that she writes and I also enjoyed readingIt's All Me where the blogger writes about his passion for playing sports and thought provoking topics about life that everyone can relate to such as Youth. There are too many new blogs that I discovered and liked, to name them all in this post, so I'll stop here for now but I do plan on highlighting more of them in my future blog posts throughout the year.

A to Z Challenge

One of the new blog friendships I made that will make this A to Z Challenge more memorable would have to be Beverly from Blue Velvet Vincent and it’s funny how we met. She really helped the re-launch of my King Dong series take off and I later learned that she did not even know about the A to Z challenge until finding my Tweets about our main squeeze, actor Vincent D’Onofrio. She decided to join the A to Z Challenge, even though April had already started.....then the “Surprise” button brought her back to my blog.

I guess she and I were meant to connect since we sorta already met by communicating with each other on Twitter and she even gave me a Stylish Blogger Award, my second blog award that I received during the challenge. Unfortunately, our great times together during the A to Z Challenge did not last very long. A mutual love for the "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" star quickly led to a budding blogging friendship but then a few days ago, she informed me that she has taken down her blog and doesn’t know when she will return.

I thought it was just her blog but then I noticed that she also removed her Twitter profile and other online places that she was involved with although I'm not sure if the sudden hiatus includes the Facebook profile for BLV. I understand that this is just the Internet and we have not been communicating for that long but I miss her already and hope that she returns to blogging, tweeting and being online but in the meantime, I hope that she is okay and I wish her the very best.

I’d like to thank Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out for organizing the A to Z Challenge and for also visiting this blog and commenting on various posts. I also thank all of my fellow bloggers who participated in the challenge and visited my blog and left comments. I’m pretty exclusive and didn’t really care to have many blogging friends when first joining the challenge, especially since I felt like I had enough....I had Glozell and Herman atTerrible Analogies and some fellow freelance writing friends and I figured that’s it...they’re all I need in the world!

A to Z Challenge

I guess I now have to accept the fact that my circle of blogging friends has expanded beyond my expectations and, well, hmmmm...I guess that's not toooooo bad. I like some of the rest of y’all....most of the time! *hehe* 

A to Z Challenge

Congratulations to all who completed the A to Z Challenge!

May you continue to blog and read often throughout the year and have fun doing it.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Jeffrey Beesler Tells You What You Oughta Know About the A-Z Challenge

           One of the big surprises of the 2011 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was meeting Jeffrey Beesler from World of the Scribe.  From the beginning Jeffrey became such a vocal advocate for the Challenge that we ended up inviting him to co-host with us.  He took on the role as co-host with fervor and was a real asset to the 2011 Challenge.  We were proud to have him on board with us.  In this post he tells us his thoughts on A to Z.

You Oughta Know (An A-Z Challenge Reflections Post Special!)

Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out has requested that next Monday, May 2nd, be a time for participants of the A-Z Challenge to reflect on their experiences throughout of April. Because of something else I already have planned for that day, a huge announcement coming, I’m going to do my reflections post right now, as I find that these are things You Oughta Know.

First of all, I’m glad my fears of the challenge were unfounded in large part. Although it has been hard work going to 30 sites a day and not hardly having any time for anything else, the work has been well worth it. I’ve met so many wonderful new people through the challenge, which was pretty much the whole point of A-Z.

I’m also glad to have friends like Arlee and Alex J Cavanaugh who've taught me a thing or two about courage, and about doing the right thing, by asking me to co-host. I can think of no greater gift these two have bestowed upon me than their friendship during this past month.

Of course, it hasn’t always been candy apples and honeydew melons. I’ve stumbled upon some self-serving sites, bickered with the commenting function of Disqus, had less time for writing, and at one point, the weekend of the letter N, I really felt the strain of doing the challenge.

Now, having pointed out the downsides, I have a few thoughts for A-Z should the challenge return next year.

1.     1.  If you sign up to participate, make sure you participate. If this is something you can’t commit to, or are just using to score yourself a few hits without bothering to try, then by all means do not sign up. These blogfests are meant to be fun.

2.     2.  Set yourself some realistic goals and expectations. This is a huge step. I’ve run the gamut of comments ranging anywhere from 62 on the letter A to the low of 15 on the letter W. Do not for an instant fool yourself into thinking you’ll score 100 comments with every post. You’ll only set yourself up for disappointment.

3.     3. On the flip side of #2, if you do set goals, make sure you work your posterior off to meet them. I myself have set up the goal of reaching 30 blogs a day until I get to the end of the linky list, which will take me until May 11th or 12th to get through. Fortunately, I only have a little over 400 more blogs left to visit.

And finally, having said the above, I want to point out that I got exactly what I wanted out of the challenge, and even a few things I hadn’t expected, like being interviewed and featured at Wordsinsync. I’ve settled on the goal of doubling my follower count for the A-Z Challenge. On March 31st, the number had been at 200. As of this writing, it’s sitting at 403. I’ve more than exceeded my goal, but that’s because I’ve worked my tail off for it.  

So there you have it. My reflections post. I want to thank each and every last one of my new followers for joining me on my writing journey. 

         Thank you Jeffrey.  You are a true blog friend and always helpful.  Readers should heed your words here--they were well said.

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