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May 06, 2012

Reflections

The team over at A-Z has asked that we tell a little bit about what we liked, what we didn't and what changes we would recommend for next year.

So what if I gained five pounds in a month from spending a month at the computer all day at work and then again all evening trying to keep up with the challenge? My nails weren't polished, my roots were gray, my house was a mess, and I was worn out - but I survived the challenge. We have to keep our priorities straight people!

I'd like to say I'm going to work on posts over the year so I'll be ready when next April comes along, but I know I won't get around to it. I also think that kind of takes some of the fun out it. But then again, just keeping up with comments, visiting others, following new blogs and keeping up with new followers is a full time job in itself without having to drag home from work and do a post everyday too.

If I do have an opportunity to work ahead I will do it backwards. The final week with  U, V, W, X, Y and Z are the hardest, and the last week is also the time when we are all growing weary and wondering why we got ourselves into this to begin with. Let's throw Q in there too just to cover the most difficult letters!

I had 298 followers when I started the A-Z challenge. I celebrated 300 the day I signed up for the challenge when our very own A-Z co-host Alex J Cavanaugh hit that follow me button. I promised Alex we would find a way to celebrate and this is it *virtual confetti falling, horns blowing, champagne popping* Fun isn't it Alex? Would you like a refill on that champagne?

Not only did I hit 300 followers, but right at the tail end of the challenge I hit my 400th follower too - L. Diane Wolfe of Spunk on a Stick - bring on more confetti and champagne - cheers!  :)

I know followers are just numbers, not all people who will be reading on a regular basis if at all, but it is fun to see those numbers go up that much within one month. How did I get that many new followers when others might not have? It really wasn't difficult, I just followed our co-hosts idea to try to visit and comment on at least five new blogs from the sign up list each day. Often I didn't have time, but I did try to catch up as much as I could on the weekends.

I remembered quite a few followers from last year once I hit on their blogs or they did mine. Even though we only truly followed each other for the challenge itself and not after it was still a neat little reunion to see those friends again this year. Let's face it, most of us don't have the time to keep up with every single blogger we follow. Having friends we only reconnect with for a month each year is fine too. It's a real life kind of thing.

I'd like to say a big thank you to our co-hosts this year. What a great, hard working, involved group they were. Please stop over to visit them all if you haven't already!

Tossing It Out (Arlee Bird)
Amlokiblogs (Damyanti Biswas)
Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh)
Life is Good (Tina Downey)
Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons)
Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins)
The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence)
The QQQE (Matthew MacNish)
Author Elizabeth Mueller (Elizabeth Mueller)
Pearson Report (Jenny Pearson)
No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow)
Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp)
Coming Down The Mountain (Karen Jones Gowen)

The only thing I could possibly recommend for future challenges is to consider adding categories to the sign up list such as poetry, photos, fiction, etc. As large of a group that plays on this challenge it might make it easier to navigate and find blogs of specific interest. Not that we shouldn't broaden our horizons and visit other categories, but when time management is an issue going directly to the groups we have high interest in would be beneficial.

Overall I really had a really great time with the challenge this year, as well as last year. It's always good fun! I know I will do it again next year even if I don't get a head start, it gives my brain some much needed exercise. It's not always easy, but that's why it's called a challenge!

65 comments:

  1. Congrats on your 400th follower and that you're going to work on the next challenge early.....it does help.

    About the different catagories as I write poetry and all my blogs are poems I find not many people read poetry if they know it's poetry
    so I don't know how I feel about that.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, I know what you mean about the categories, some might go only to one certain category and never visit others - but on the other hand, it would really be beneficial for those who have a certain passion to be able to find the blogs they would really enjoy more easily.

      If there weren't so many participating it would be a different story but it grows larger by the year and impossible to visit all the blogs on the list.

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  2. Categories really are a great suggestion Martha- that would make that challenge less challenging. Enjoyed your reflection and as always I appreciate your friendship.

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    1. Thanks Jen. I certainly appreciate your friendship too :)

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  3. Glad you had a good time and gained many new followers. Cool I was number three hundred!

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    1. Very cool - hope you enjoyed your celebration ;)

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  4. Oh, totally agree about categories, and was ging to suggest it - but then didn't because I thought it would take away that element of surprise in finding something interesting you wouldn't normally visit. But it would have helped me enormously to be able to visit mostly poets - I tried by looking at the names, but it's surprisingly hard to tell!

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    1. I agree Liz. It goes both ways, not sure which would be better! I think if there were 100 bloggers participating I'd enjoy the surprise but into the thousands I just think it would make it easier to navigate and be sure we catch the type of blogs we love the most.

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  5. I like the idea of categories but then sometimes you do find something you find interesting that if you did not "have a look" as they say in the UK, you would have missed it. I was tired at the end, you might read my post about the number of followers thing. But I did have fun, and had a few surprises too.

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    1. Agreed, but even though I visited 5 a day on average and sometimes many more than that on the weekends I didn't make a dent in the list. I will check out you post :)

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  6. The categories is a neat idea, but then some might not fall into just one, so that could get hectic if they put themselves in like 10 haha. Congrats on the 400 followers too, the a to z is how you found my zoo and how I came to be here at your sea. I had them done a month in advance which is usually the case at my place, anyway, so not a huge deal for me..haha

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    1. The categories would have to be worked out by general blog type or challenge theme, maybe just a category for "general" as well for those who chose to just wing it - like me!

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  7. I have to pretty much agree with everything you said about A/Z, Martha. I do like the categories of blogs. One thing I did like was short and simple posts with people I visited; I know I tried to trim my as short as I could especially as the month wore on. I am not sure if I'm going to do it next year, but if you do (and amazingly it will be here before we know it), I'll be sure to read them all :)

    betty

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    1. I agree Betty, short and simple is best for the A-Z. We all want to visit lots of new blogs and be able to at least somewhat keep up with our regulars and new friends alike. Those lengthy posts can really be time consuming - not that they aren't enjoyable. Short and sweet is definitely best for a challenge like this. Still so glad you decided to participate!

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  8. I saw that you had like 2000 participants - that was a lot of A,B,C's to go thru! Congrats to number 404! Love, sandie

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    1. Thanks Sandie. Hope to see you playing along with us next year!

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  9. I like the spirit with which you approach this Challenge. Great job of adding over 100 new followers and now I am another one (I could have sworn I was following already!).

    You took the right approach and it appears to have paid off.


    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thanks Arlee (and I would have sworn you had already followed too! Weird). Glad to have you as a follower now. Thanks for coming up with this challenge - genius! :)

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  10. I totally agree with the categories thing for next year. That way I can visit blogs geared more towards my own interests.

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    1. Here's to categories JoJo *Cheers*

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  11. My category would be stuff (*hangs head*). Congratulations on 400 followers - that's awesome!

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    1. No problem, my category would definitely be stuff too! Nothing wrong with "stuff" blogs, they are my favorite! :)

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  12. Hullo, Ms. Martha -- and thanks for popping round the Breakfast. Love the spirit of your blog and profile! :)

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    1. Thanks Suze! I'll be back by to visit again soon :)

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  13. Yeah it was a lot of fun. I loved those moments when I went "Oh yeah! So-and-so from last year!"

    :-)

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    1. You are the only one who commented on that, I thought that was really neat too. It shows that those bloggers made an impact on us even if we didn't keep up the rest of the year - it's like a reunion!

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  14. I'm glad to have found you via the challenge. I started out with 25 bloggers and ended up A-Z with 90. Then I did my first Insecure Writers Group and finally broke 100.

    Like you, I tried to read 5 new blogs a day. Sometimes from commenters on other blogs, always from commenters on mine. The only thing I did wrong, well not wrong but not effective for me, was to try to keep up with all the new blogs I followed. Now I have to weed them down to ones I really want to read. LOL!

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    1. Congrats on breaking 100 Donna! It feels good no matter how much we know not all who follow will read on a regular basis. My method is to always comment back but let things chill otherwise. I live a very busy life so those who come by to comment are my top priority. Blogging is all about developing relationships, at least it is for me.

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  15. Someone, I forget who, had mentioned the categories idea to me back near the start of the Challenge, and at the time I didn't think it'd make a big difference. But now, on the other side of the Challenge, I like the idea a LOT!

    I also think that, if I do the Challenge next year, I'd want to build a theme around the hard letters first...dang that Q! ;-)

    Some Dark Romantic

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    1. Categories would just make things so much easier, especially for those of us with very limited time. That Q really was the hardest!!

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  16. For the life of me, I don't remember what my Q post was! I'm gonna have to go look, lol.

    And I like the category suggestion too. Not that I won't visit other people in other categories, but it would be nice to know what a blog is about before I hit it up. :)

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    1. I'm like you Cassie, I would definitely go outside of the categories I might normally read if and when I had the time. Of course if one of the categories was humor those would be my first visits. Thanks for all the laughs along the was through this years challenge! I'm going over to see what your Q post was too, lol! :)

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  17. Hi Martha - thanks for becoming one of my followers! I agree that the category idea would help, as long as there's space for non-category-friendly blogs too.

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    1. Hi Lizy. I totally agree since I'm a non-category blog too!

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  18. I was your 400th follower? Wow!
    I wish I'd had more time to visit other bloggers, but now I can go back and catch up with the new followers and commenters.

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    1. Yep, you were 400 *passing tray of champagne* I think we all wish there was more time in the day for visiting during the challenge. Love that they are leaving the list up for those of us who didn't have time to visit all of them - I have to wonder if anyone made it through the whole list with so many participating!

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  19. CONGRATS on your 400+ followers! Great Reflections Post.

    Susanne
    PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER

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  20. Excellent idea about planning ahead - I think I'll do the same with those evil end of the alphabet letters.

    Well done for reaching the 400 mark too :)

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    1. Hey Grover, as much as I like the idea of planning ahead I know I probably won't do it, lol. Some people had the whole challenge done ahead of time!

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  21. ....and add another follower!

    Excuse me while I dust this confetti out of my hair, is there any champagne left....?

    Congratulations for completing and surviving the challenge - it's a bit like a marathon: you start off keen, flag a little, maybe feel like throwing in the towel - and then there's the glorious sight of the the winning post coming into view! :-)

    Here's to 2013! Cheers!


    SueH I refuse to go quietly!
    Twitter - @Librarymaid

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    1. Hi Sue, it's really is just like a marathon! I never thought of it that was but that's describes it perfectly - and we made it to the finish line! Go us! Thanks for following. I'll be by soon! :)

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  22. Since you recently came from a pretty long hiatus, it's most impressive you took on something this expansive. Great job!

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    1. Liz, because I've been going for an extensive leave is probably why I was crazy enough to do it, I forgot what it really takes to get through something like this!

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  23. I'm so tickled we connected on A-Z and look forward to reading your future blogs!

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    1. Thanks Donna. I'm looking forward to hanging out in your world too :)

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  24. Thanks for stopping by my blog during the challenge. Looking forward to your future posts. It's nice to meet you :)

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    1. Thanks Kela. It's nice to meet you too. I'll be by to visit and see what you've been up to since the challenge soon :)

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  25. Hi Martha .. I'm not sure I like categories - because that element of surprise isn't there .. and I suspect I'd miss out on some great friends - that I've made by the surprise element from last year to this .. We can skip past blogs we're not interested in .. and connect with those we are .. because it'll be eclectic at least we'll mix and match a great deal .. and looking back - I'm not sure where you'd fit??!!

    Cheers I'll catch you anon .. Hilary

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  26. congrats on hitting the 400 mark! and finishing the challenge

    sorry about the extra 5lbs

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    1. Thanks baygirl. The 5 pounds just gives me a reason to get back on track with working out :)

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  27. Nice meeting you thru the challenge. I can't believe I actually completed it!! I never finish anything! I agree with your suggestion; I found some blogs early on and forgot to add them to my feed, thinking it would be easy to find them again....still haven't! Would love to be able to look under specific categories and locate blogs that way.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Adena. I guess with the challenge we should just follow any blogs we visit that we like right from the start. Categories would definitely make things easier.

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  28. Reflection is a good thing, You have done a great job on the A to Z Challenge...

    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

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    1. Thanks Jeremy, you did a wonderful job yourself :)

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  29. I love your idea of adding categories to next year's challenge. With so many blogs to visit that would help immensely!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Janyce. I sure hope the co-hosts will consider categories for next year!

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  30. I agree with having blogs categorized for the challenge. That would be SO helpful! Other bloggers have requested that too, so maybe next year...I'm now making my way through the reflections linky list. Does it ever end?!?!? :-)

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    1. Hi Mare, thanks for stopping by! I sure hope the co-hosts will agree to categories although I know it was mentioned last year too and I think those who prefer the element of surprise won. Not that it's not fun doing it that way, but there just isn't enough time to visit them all! I'm working my way down the linky list too :)

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  31. Congratulation on finishing the challenge. I didn't visit all blogs during the challenge but, cross my heart, I'm visiting every single one with reflections post! I hope you nails are polished, roots aren't gray any more and house is in order - until next April!

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    1. Hi Evalina, I haven't quite caught up yet but soon enough! It's worth it for all the fun we have and all the new people we get to meet. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the following :)

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  32. Some say "follower" but my parole officer calls it "stalker" (ha ha)

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    1. I once had that on my followers widget title too :P

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  33. What yummy recipes you share on your blog...and great photos, too! Congrats for finishing the Challenge...thanks for all the work you did with the A to Z team to make it happen. Hope to see you next year, Martha!

    MakingTheWriteConnections

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    1. I had a great time - will definitely be back next year!! Thanks :)

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