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:
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.
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
C – Circe
E – Emerson’s Story
H – Heartless
U – Let it All Burn
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
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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