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A-Z Challenge Reflections 2022 #AtoZChallenge #AtoZChallengeReflections

Another April has come and gone. Another A-Z Challenge has been successfully completed. And it’s time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, and what bothered me.

Though I usually do an A-Z of Faerie, and though I said in last year’s reflection post that I would do it again this year, I decided to go with reading a boat-load of books and sharing my reviews as well as my languishing TBR.

For the most part, this went rather well.

Let’s break it down:

What Worked

I had serious time-constraints this year leading up to the challenge, but I’ve read and reviewed books that I hadn’t typed up and shared yet, so this was a win-win for me. And I was able to read extra books to fill up the letters that still needed books — which meant that I finally got around to reading books that have been on my physical book shelf since 2018…

Despite having issues with storms, lack of electricity, and my health, I was still able to do what I could to take part in the challenge.

I shared my posts on Twitter and on Instagram every day as well as on Pinterest. I enjoyed recommending books and hearing from readers which books on my TBR they’ve read and enjoyed. I had loads of conversations on Instagram about books, which was awesome.

By doing this as a reading challenge, I’ve been able to make a dent on that ever-growing TBR and do a lot to get to my goal of reading 300 books this year.

I also visited each blog participating in this challenge (more on this below).

People seemed to enjoy my theme (according to Google Analytics, people spent twice as much time on a post than they did last year).

There was even a pleasant surprise when a blogging friend mentioned one of my books under her favourite book quotes.

Technical Difficulties

Just as the month began, a new update came through on some GDPR and commenting plug-ins on my site, and if one didn’t check the “by using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website” box, it will throw a critical error page instead of reminding you to check the box. I did a lot of tech support via Twitter, DMs and email during April. Those who commented directly via their WordPress ID were (usually) fine. I contacted a lot of tech support, and there wasn’t much that could be done until the plug-in developer (and this is a popular plug-in) fixed the bug. We’re still waiting…

What Didn’t Work

Through the month, I made sure to visit each blog on the list at least once. But that doesn’t mean that everyone visited back…

People: do something about your commenting options. I know the latest GDPR updates on my blog made it a bit difficult for non-WordPress users to use (just tick the data usage block and it will work!). But some blogs still see my IP address as part of a spam network and refused to let me comment. Puh-lease! Get your security stuff in order – so many sites had this issue, I just stopped visiting them and stopped trying to post comments, sticking to people I know.

Not everyone on the list was actually participating in the challenge.

Not all links worked: I found a roundabout way to get to the blogs, but I don’t think everyone would have done that.

Not everyone visited back – or even replied on comments left on their blogs.

Some blogs were so busy with more posts than just the A-Z Challenge, that it was difficult on some to find the right posts, as they weren’t always clearly marked (either using the challenge name in the title, hashtags or images).

And some didn’t make it past the first week…

The time zone thing was a problem: most people were days behind me because they posted late at night in a time zone where by the time I go to bed they are having lunch. I preferred to do my visits early morning before heading off to work…

Some sites don’t allow links in the comments and others, besides not allowing links, don’t ask for your website so there’s no way for someone to find you after you’ve commented.

Some sites expected you to create an account to leave a comment.

And then there were those that weren’t even in English…

There were also blogs that were on the list multiple times (or had the same content on several sites…).

What Bothered Me

Maybe I’m getting more sensitive to nuance as I get older, or maybe I’m just done with general BS.

So there were blogs with content issues that didn’t do the content warning on the sign-up list — one specifically, when I opened it for R basically had a porn photo on it. Seriously?

By the time that letter M rolled around (the middle of the alphabet for anyone paying attention), there are those who haven’t bothered to visit me back even though I’ve left comments on their posts since A. If it’s a commenting issue, there are multiple ways to contact me (social media, email, replying to a comment I left on your blog) — loads of people used these ways to contact me to get the commenting issue sorted. So what’s up? We’re all busy. Personally, I was doing the launch for two books in April along with everything else I had to do in a day besides the A-Z.

I read on a blog in the comments as I scrolled by to leave a comment of my own, some disparaging BS about Millennials not able to read/write longhand and that if they go through the archives of some place that still has stuff in longhand, they’d be lost. I’m paraphrasing here, of course. I also read somewhere that they’d make a mess with their avocado toast… Grr! You know what ticked me off about that? I’m a Millennial. I can write cursive — even won an award for it in school — and I love to write longhand despite being quite able to use technology to my advantage. The microagression there was also that Millennials can’t do much. FYI, I run my own business. Yes, I also work two other jobs to make ends meet, but I also own my own property where I grow my own vegetables, raise chickens, have enough space for two horses to run wild, and enough space for four big dogs (two which I rescued). Does that sound flighty to you? Oh, BTW, my dad who is a Baby Boomer, taught me how to eat avocado on toast when I was a child.

My A-Z of Book Recommendations and Reviews 2022 (AKA my languishing TBR):

A – Annie on My Mind

B – Briarwood Witches series

C – Circe

D – The Devouring Gray duology

E – Emerson’s Story

F – Forty is Fabulous series

G – The Graveyard Book

H – Heartless

I – Magical Midlife Invasion (series)

J – Juliet Takes a Breath

K – Witching for Kismet (series)

L – London Crime series

M – My Midlife Crisis, My Rules (series)

N – Lost in the Never Woods

O – Bloodlines (series)

P – Princess of the Silver Woods (series)

Q – Queen of Nothing (series)

R – Rise of the Lost Gods series

S – Summer Solstice Shenanigans

T – Brewing Trouble (series)

U – Let it All Burn

V – Teeth: Vampire Tales

W – Witches of Gales Haven series

X – Rage Against the Manuscript Guides

Y – You May Be Write (series)

Z — ZzZz (books I DNFed)

My Favourite A-Z Blogs 2022

The Multicolored Diary — Gemstone folklore.

Black and White — How to Make a Fantastical Creature.

The Old Shelter — Enter the New Woman.

What Are They — Continuous Speculative Short Fiction.

The Great Raven — All about Shakespeare.

Tasha’s Thinkings — YouTube: What they Don’t Tell You.

Damyanti Writes — Thriller novel recommendations.

My Top Commenters A-Z 2022

Jacqui Murray from WordDreams

Sarah Zama from The Old Shelter

Anne EG Nydam from Black & White

Natasha Duncan-Drake from Tasha’s Thinkings

Debs Carey from Debs Carey-NLP Coach

Zalka Csenge Virág from The Multicolored Diary

The Verdict

I’ll be doing it again — it was fun to hang out with my A-Z friends. I won’t be randomly visiting new blogs next time — I’ll be in therapy forever if I have to do that (my poor dogs!). I won’t visit the blogs I found microagressions in again — even if they visit me. Life’s too short. I’ll have to reassess if I’m going to continuously visit and comment on blogs where I’m basically ignored. I’ll do this as my theme again at some point. (No, I’m not making plans yet for next year. I was planning to do an A-Z of Faerie this year and it didn’t work out, as discussed in my theme reveal.)

How was your A-Z this year? What did you experience? What did you blog about? Any questions?

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44 thoughts on “A-Z Challenge Reflections 2022 #AtoZChallenge #AtoZChallengeReflections”

  1. This was my first year doing A to Z so I wasn’t sure what should be included in a reflection. I found it interesting to read yours and hear more about your experience as someone that has done it before. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Well done for not only completing the challenge despite your issues with technology but also for managing to visit and leave comments on so many blogs. It’s also good you used the challenge to get yourself to read some of the books on your TBR. I probably need to do something similar to give myself an incentive to get through some of mine.
    I really struggled with finding time to visit other blogs this year. I’ve spent a bit of time reading posts and catching up with everyone this weekend. I’m sorry if you felt I was ignoring you. That wasn’t my intention and I hope you will forgive me. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts and adding even more books to my infinite TBR.

  3. It sounds like you had a successful A to Z, minus a few technical difficulties with people posting, and a maddening round of visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs. Whew! Sounds awful. I know I visited your blog but not sure if I left a comment. Sometimes there are lots of comments and I don’t really have anything interesting to say, so I don’t comment. For sure I wasn’t trying to insult you or ignore you. I did reply to comments on my blog and came here in response to your comment on my reflections. Sounds like you have a busy life and interesting outside of blogging.

  4. I love your theme and hope you continue it next year…though open to seeing what else you come up with. I think I will feature books on my TBR pile next year, because it fits in better with my blog. This year, I missed my mommy blog, so I chose women’s interests. I enjoyed it, but it also required some research.

    Like you, I had to cut off people who didn’t comment back after a while. My time was so limited this year, and I am not a fan of wasting it.

    Thanks for visiting my blog for my reflections post. Hope we stay connected.

  5. I did notice some people quit early, one quit after the letter B which was kind of sad.

    I usually visit everyone on both lists (theme and master) except for the adult content ones. Did you notice on both lists, there is a section titled ‘Adult’ – that’s where each blogger have to say yes or no, whether their blog is adult content or not. Perhaps it’s why you saw the porn blog? I usually download the lists, remove those blogs that are adult content and then visit people, that way, I’ll never see what I don’t want.

    I don’t think I’ll be doing this again next but maybe I’ll change my mind when the time comes. Congrats on finishing the challenge.

    Have a lovely day.

  6. It’s great that this was a win-win in that you got to treat this as a reading challenge and work on your TBRs. Very clever in my mind, as I always come out of April with my list having grown exponentially. I also think it’s great that you’re clear on what works for you and what doesn’t and refine it with each challenge, so next time you can play in a way that feels even more deliciously right-fit for you. I certainly plan to come back and visit the posts I didn’t get to, as I found your reviews very interesting and helpful.

  7. A very comprehensive Reflections post! I agree with some of the ‘What didnt work’ points. TBR list is like a bottomless pit for me. I try to read but somehow havent been able to complete books . Congratulation on completing the challenge! Best wishes for all your endeavors!

  8. That sucks that you had so many negative experiences. The team tries to visit all the writing and book blogs especially, because those are the people who most often like our site. It can be hard because sometimes team members also have their own blog in the challenge. (And one team member is also on the A to Z team, so that’s 3 blogs J has in the challenge.)

    300 books in year! About 6 books a week. Or a book a day with one day off a week to write reviews instead of read? Impressive goal.

    Great post! Hopefully you enjoyed the A to Z Challenge as much as we did!
    ~ The Operation Awesome Team

  9. Now I re-visited your blog. I have visited you more than once the past month, but I have never been able to find out WHERE to leave a comment. That’s the reason I never commented on your blog. Now I found it. I had been too impatient and never actually made it to the bottom of the blog 🙂 I hear you on the “adult content” and passive-aggressive blogs. I gave up trying to make non-working links work. I have eye problems making me dizzy when looking for too long at the monitor – or if the blog is white on black, or is spouting moving GIF’s or videos. Ilmness and bad vision has made me more picky in what I’ll spend my time doing.
    Mostly your book choices did not fit mine, but as your writing style fits mine, I read through many of them anyway.
    If I could ask for something on your blog, to make me come back it would be more simplicity. I had to scroll A LOT to get to the meat, so to say, with things popping up and moving under my cursor. It demanded staying power to get there 😉
    And I jus discovered that Blogger has thrown a fit and is quaranteening a lot of comments, even from long time readers. This might be one of the reasons you get fewer re-visits from Blogger-blogs.

    1. LOL. I know I’ve scrolled to the bottom of posts just to find that some blogs don’t have their comment section there. I hear you on being picky on what one spends ones time on. I’ll look at changing things up next time 🙂 Glad you liked my reviews!

  10. Ronel, congratulations you over achiever. I am so impressed that you have so much time to take care of gardening BIG dogs, horses, raise chickens, your own business…. when can you read? Do you listen to them while you are taking care of the “farm”. I really need to get back to reading. I have decided to pass on my King collection to my son, so I will have a whole bookshelf available for new books. I have never been much into fairies or folklore or anything like that, but one cannot knock it really until they try it. So I may give it a whirl. Thanks for visiting. I do like avocado toast with a poached egg, but prefer to eat it in guacamole with a lot of HOT sauce! ♥
    Cheers,
    Barbie

  11. Your quotation from Alan Rickman reminds me of one of my favorites, from a not-particularly-famous artist Joey Hartmann-Dow: “Art changes people, and people change the world.” I always remind myself of this when I feel like I’m not “accomplishing” much. So you keep doing your work of writing and sharing your ideas!

  12. Congratulations on finishing the challenge. I am glad you plan to join the challenge again.

    Visiting from A to Z – thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

  13. Congrats on finishing the Challenge! And congrats on your diligence to visit other blogs. That’s more than a lot of participants do. This year I had almost no time to visit more than a handful of blogs during April, which was very disappointing for me. I hope to have more time next year.

  14. You as usual went way beyond the basics. I am always impressed, Ronel. Love your list of problems. For me, because I enjoy problem solving, while I recognized these, they didn’t bother me much. The millenial thing–I have two children who are millennials and they are amazing, smart, talented, ready to recreate the world. So I feel your angst.

    Great job, friend!

  15. Ronel, this is an insightful and interesting reflection. I think it’s wonderful that you were able to visit ever single blog. In previous years, I tried to do that with mixed results. I do appreciate your visiting and commenting and apologize that I am only now getting around to reciprocation. Better late than never? I love the idea of doing book reviews for a to z as that would be killing 2 birds with 1 stone for me (that’s a horrible saying, isn’t it?). I can’t wait to read your posts. And, why, yes, I do live in backward world. 😁 How is your book challenge going? Are you on goodreads? Take care!

  16. Congratulations on completing the challenge! I enjoyed your posts and got such a kick out of it when I recognized a book on your TBR that I’d either already read or was also on my TBR.

  17. I know you have visited my blog, and though with all good intentions I was unable to return the visit. Truly sorry about that. Fact is, this was my first A to Z Challenge and I was overwhelmed with just making my daily posting deadlines. Hoping to do better next year, of course with better planning. ~Ria

  18. What a great idea for a theme. I would have to start now if I was going to do something like that for next year since I usually only read at night before bed so it’s just a chapter or two before I fall asleep. Great reflection post. I admit I didn’t get to visit many people during the challenge but am hoping to make up for it now that things are a little calmer.

  19. Congratulations on finishing, and paring down your “To Be Read” pile. Your top commenters include some well written, interesting blogs (congratulations on that, too). I find A to Z like (cliche) trying to drink from a fire hose. I rarely follow the signup lists anymore because I’ve been disappointed too many times by either people who quit in the first week or make it impossible to find them when they do comment. I tend to visit blogs I’ve read in previous years, and the people who comment on those blogs. I did find that Blogger (I use Blogger as my platform) has been throwing legit comments into spam a lot more in the past month or so and it could be some of those “didn’t return the favor” people were Blogger blogs where the owner doesn’t check spam and never read your comments. Maybe.

  20. Ooh, book reviews, what a great theme! Now I’m wondering if my blog was one of the difficult ones; I’m still using blogger, and just in the last two weeks suddenly it’s been acting up on certain browsers. It’s really clunky for posting as well, but I can’t seem to make the switch to WordPress yet…

  21. Firstly congratulations on finishing the challenge. Secondly I’m not sure if I got back to you after you kindly visited my blog but April did become a bit of a blur. I definitely didn’t visit as many blogs as I would have liked but I’m now working my way through the Reflection posts list. Technical difficulties can be so frustrating and I did have some difficulties commenting when using my phone. I find tracking continuity on comments on my Blogger site challenging at the best of times. WordPress seems to have a better system but I’m not planning on changing platforms. 300 books in a year is an impressive challenge. Good luck with that.

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