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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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Don't worry Nicole - we'll weed out some of those non-participants and advertising blogs this year!


Wonderful reflections Nicole, this will be my third in April and am so looking forward to it.

Happy Christmas.

Pearson Report said...

Hi Nicole,

I enjoyed reading your reflections on last April's challenge. I had/have similar concerns and I'm sure the new team will be looking at some of the great suggestions you've put forward.

I look forward to reading your posts in the upcoming challenge.

Merry Christmas!

Cheers, Jenny @ PEARSON REPORT

Lilly Barton said...

Merry Christmas

Sarah Tokeley said...

What a thoughtful, balanced post. I'm getting quite excited now :-)

Nicole said...

Alex J. Cavanaugh,
Thanks for giving me a heads up on that. It's nice to know that there will be more efforts to sort out the non-participants and the ad-hoc bloggers so the rest of us can have a productive A-to-Z challenge :)

It is something that will likely make it much easier for bloggers to visit more of the *worthy* blogs that are active and participating the right way.

Three times, huh? You're an A-to-Z pro, I see. We've gotta get you a trophy, miss! Thank you for the kind words regarding my A-to-Z reflections post. May this April be the best blogging challenge so far for you, me and everyone else involved.

Hi Jenny-@-Pearson Report,

I'm glad that you enjoyed reading my reflections post. Here's hoping that those non-factor bloggers won't be such an annoying part of the 2012 challenge, for us. I know that no matter what, we will all tackle it well either way, because we made it through this year's challenge, so that makes the A-to-Z winning bloggers much more ready for this one -- annoyances and all.

You are surely welcome to visit before, during and after the upcoming challenge.

Merry Christmas to you as well and have a peaceful, healthy and overall fantastic New Year!

Strings of Fun,

Merry Christmas to you as well! Enjoy the season and I hope you're gearing up for the challenge.

Sarah Pearson,

Thank you for your feedback on my A-to-Z challenge reflections post. I wanted to try and cover as many aspects of the challenge as possible, whether they were directly related to my experiences with the challenge or not (such as feedback on all of the hosts), so I am very glad to know that I achieved what I set out to do when writing it. My goal was to write a comprehensive reflections post that expressed gratitude and was helpful for current and prospective bloggers participating in the challenge, who wanted to know more about the challenge beyond just the aspect of writing the posts everyday.

I'm not surprised by your excitement -- the challenge is inspiring and all the more fun because it is comprised of such as great community of bloggers who are genuinely interested in connecting with other blogs while also improving their own position in the blogosphere. I'm excited right there along with you! :)

Happy Holidays Sarah, strings of fun, Jenny, Yvonne, Alex and Arlee!

If there is one thing that I'm most grateful for this year, it is to find so many encouraging bloggers -- no scratch that, PEOPLE, who support my writing and allow me to be part of their world as well. The Writercize blogger, Alana is among the people that I am so blessed to come to know. She's brought me out of a moment of darkness into a more bright and shining place that I will be forever grateful to her for.

May you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Madlab Post

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nicole .. it's a great time and we meet such interesting bloggers - the irritants sort of aerosol past us ..

Good to know you'll be doing the A-Z next year .. Happy Festive season for now .. and a very Happy New Year .. cheers Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

Great feedback on the A to Z. Sounds like you made some wonderful friends along the way; I hope you can get back in touch with your friend soon.