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Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Reflection: SammyD #atozchallenge

 As I've been out on the 4th Annual Post A-Z 2014 Road Trip, I've been reading Reflection, and inviting some of our participants to share theirs.  SammyD and I hit it off right away, and I thought it would be great to hear from one of the newbies!  Take it away, Sammy!

"Blessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours; For they teach us to see the world through different eyes." by Jacob Nordby (shared by Happy Holly)
That is one of my blogging goals – to see the world through different eyes. April brought me that, and more. 

I used March to “pre-visit” blogs on the linky list of bloggers with <100 followers and compile a list of "follows" for April. Being a new blogger myself, I wanted to give most of my attention to newbies. 

In early April, I did additional bloghopping to accumulate 85 blogs I regularly visited. I spent several hours morning and evening to visit, read and comment, as well as respond to comments on my own blog. Would I use that approach again? Absolutely! Of the 85 I followed, 83 completed the Challenge. 

Not all visited my blog; not all responded to my comments, and not all are blogs I follow now that the Challenge is over. However, more than a handful of very talented, interesting people have become my cherished blogging buddies. We laughed, cried, learned and supported. I have every confidence our relationships will flourish, and our blogging passions will be richer because of our connections. 

In addition to my treasured blogging buddies, my Challenge rewards are: My new library. Every blogger I followed has not only 26 excellent A to Z posts which are worth re-visiting, but an accumulation of posts I’ve never read. And they will publish future valuable posts. I can travel, eat, garden, paint, think, imagine - knowing I’ll enjoy wherever I meander in my library. 

My referral system. Each blogger I follow has a treasure trove of bloggers they follow. That's a rich reservoir of talent, and the potential for broadening my horizons is immeasurable. 

Material for my future posts. My buddy bloggers have triggered so many memories, questions, emotions, curiosities, musings during my April visits that I have a notebook full of triggers and prompts. It’s impossible in this post to say how uniquely each of you has touched my heart and energized my brain, but my future posts will pay tribute to your individual talents and your cumulative impact on how I view my world. I think about each of you every day, and feel so blessed that you have come into my life. 

What I liked: I pre-wrote 95% of my posts. I couldn’t possibly “wing it”. The support from Co-hosts and Minions! A bucket load of Thank You’s to each of you who worked tirelessly and cheerfully to support this Challenge. I cannot imagine participating AND performing your functions. Kudos to all for your stamina and dedication! The pre-Challenge instructional posts by Co-hosts and Minions. Very helpful. 

What was difficult: Sticking to my theme. I’m not sure I’ll pick one next year. The (no one's fault) snafus between blogging platforms: My WordPress Reader only intermittently picked up non-WP bloggers I followed, so I had to refer to my list and visit them manually. Commenting on Blogspot was a time-consuming process – even with Captcha turned off. I can only assume it was the same hassle for Blogspotters to comment on a WP blog. 

Suggestions for next year: Perhaps Z to A Challenge (backwards) for a change of pace? People seemed to burn out just as the toughest letters came up. A few bloggers suggested we drop Q and X. I disagree. We’re a creative bunch; if we can’t take “literary license” during the Challenge, what’s the point? 

During March instruction period, please clarify when "how-to" instructions pertain specifically to Blogspot platform. I finally figured out it was Blogspot bloggers hosting A to Z, and the instructions were written accordingly. But I wasted a lot of time, as a WordPress blogger, trying to figure out what those instructions meant. 

Will I do this Challenge in 2015? Sign Me Up! Click here to return to the Reflections List for other A to Z Bloggers

She tells it like she sees it, eh?  Sounds a bit organized, planning ahead...I think you can see how we get along ;-) I attest to the fact that she's followed through on this and regularly introduces new bloggers for us to meet!  Be sure to give her a visit at Bemuzin for more of her generous spirit and contagious charm!


  1. Well written stuff. . . . I do like the A to Z, but following blogs and commenting on lots of them is very hard work, by far the easiest thing to do for me is writing an A to Z theme. I did one in May as well as April just as a jolly . . .

    As a blogspot user I must admit I am not a fan of WordPress, but many say the opposite so I guess its what you get used too.

    It is a shame too that the A to Z network seems to go very quiet very quickly once April is over, maybe someone should throw in the odd one day themed event from time to time just to keep folk turning up. . . .

    Rob Z Tobor

    1. Hi Rob - thanks for being such an active participant in A to Z.

      The hardest part of writing for me is having to "futz" with the computer for ANYTHING!! But finding other interesting bloggers, making new friends, discovering new interests is my favorite part.

      I'm sending Tina another special, warm thank you for taking me under her wing before the Challenge started and flapping encouragement my way (strong-arming me) whenever I started to panic that I was in over my head :-)

  2. Great reflection post! I made a friend in Sammy D during the challenge and am so glad we met. :) Yes, there is a bit of a hassle commenting on different platforms, (I use self-hosted Wordpress but also have a Blogger account set up), but there are ways to make it easier. Fodder for a future article....

  3. Hi Debbie - thanks for continuing to follow this blog; I, too, am glad we met and found a shared enthusiasm for all-things-Santorini. Your Greek photos and history tidbits were especially interesting to me during the Challenge.

  4. Hi Sammy! Great to see your guest post here - YOU made the A to Z Challenge worth it to me, letting me know that people out there do read and care. Your support and wit helped me shape who I want to be as a blogger, and how I want to interact with other bloggers and their writing. Thank you for all that you do - I'm so glad I met you! <3

    1. Oh, thank you Marci, you are so sweet! I had such a great time journeying through April with you. You had one of the best themes, by far, and I enjoyed all 26 of your posts! It's meeting people like you that has made blogging so much fun. You have definitely broadened my horizons from belly dancing to roller derby to frolicking with llamas :-)

  5. I can't imagine doing it without at theme, although after five years, it's now a habit.
    Glad you made some good friends. That's what it's all about. This year, I noticed a lot did not comment or follow back. Might be something to address for next year.

    1. Hi Alex - thanks for your comments. I keep thinking about "the theme thing". Not only did I get frustrated by my own, but I found I liked the variation in topics from others who didn't pick themes. But I also found bloggers whose themes kept me interested the entire month.

      I'm not sure about the commenting and following back. If I follow someone, I want to actively engage with them, and it takes lots of time to read and comment meaningfully on a lot of blogs. It's difficult to suggest a formula or expectation that everyone wants to, or will, follow. I found that most bloggers responded when I left comments. I was very satisfied with the interaction. Not to beat a dead horse, but WP and blog are not "commenter friendly" for cross purposes. That is unfortunate, and continues to frustrate me.

  6. Thanks for being here and sharing your enthusiasm, Sammy
    We as a team are most definitely NOT going quietly into the night! We are addressing the issues that have come up in the Reflections, and the platform issue is one of the biggest.

    Rob - we are also planing events for during the year, so stay tuned. I know you already finished the Road Trip, but a lot of us are bonding through that! Disappear? Pshaw. Not us.

    We welcome ideas from all of you, and if you'd like to be our guest here, just drop me an email. Contact tab above has them.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

  7. Tina - thanks again for your unfailing enthusiasm. I get inspired every time I hear from you. If you have open "guest spots", I suggest re-posting a few of "The Best Of" daily A to Z posts from various bloggers, similar to what you are doing with Reflections. I could recommend specific alpha posts that I thought were outstanding, and I bet others could as well. We all missed so much; it would be fun to see some of those, and provides another way to travel the road after the Challenge is done.

  8. Sammy, I'm glad you enjoyed your first A to Z. This was my second. I wrote a post to help WordPress bloggers a few days before the challenge. It was well publicised by the #atozchallenge. Here is the link in case it helps anyone

  9. Thank you, Sue. I tried to read all the posts before hand, and found them all very helpful. I will check your out in case I missed it. Glad you stopped by.

  10. I loved your posts throughout the challenge, and your comments on my posts-- thanks for this post--it underlines a few issues we cohosts are already mulling over.

    1. Thank you so much! There were so many posts and bloggers I missed, but the many I found have certainly become treasured friends. I appreciate your comments and support.

  11. This year I had a bit of a theme. I also did all my posts in advance.

    1. Hi Jo - thanks for continuing to support A to Z. I admire writers who could sit down for 26 days and publish good content on that day, but I would not have been able to do that. Perhaps not enough writing practice, and being insecure enough to think my writing needs lots editing, but I've always been a plan-aheader so I stick with what works.

  12. I discovered the challange too late to partecipate this year (my blog went live just before April), but all I read about it is exciting.
    I'm certainly partecipating next year :-)


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