The A-Z Challenge 2015: Reflections

April was an absolute whirlwind. This was my first time taking part in the A-Z Challenge and though I had no doubt that I’d make it to the end of the month (I’m tenacious, if nothing else), I didn’t expect to enjoy it quite so much!  I found a heap of new blogs to follow, I made a load of new friends, and I discovered some incredibly interesting topics that I would never have thought to research myself, like life in 1920’s America or the different manifestations of love in the Mahabharata. I also learned a lot about time management and the art of blogging, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting a chance to polish my writing skills – my blog was barely six months old before the A-Z Challenge and I’d only been posting once a week, so this was a bit of a baptism of fire for me. I had written half of my A-Z posts in March but even that left me writing and editing until the wee small hours on two occasions in April. Next time I’ll tackle my month’s worth of posts earlier in the year in the hope of quelling any more midnight writing sessions.

Now that it’s all over and done with, I feel a little lost. I’m thinking long and hard about the direction I’d like my blog to take and how often I need to post, though once a day is probably pushing it! I’m also looking forward to getting comfy with a cuppa and reading through all the blogs from the list that I missed out on. Here are my favourites from the hundreds of blogs that I did manage to visit in April that I’ll be visiting regularly in the future, each of them incredibly talented writers – well done ladies, and thank you all for your support.

A-Z Challenge: HeartSamantha Mozart –
Dementia Caregiving for my Mother, at home

A-Z Challenge: HeartSara Snider –
Flash fiction, based on tree names

A-Z Challenge: HeartSarah Zama –
Roaring Twenties

A-Z Challenge: HeartShubhangi Srikanth –

A-Z Challenge: HeartRosie –
Poets who inspire me

A-Z Challenge: HeartZalka Csenge Virág –
Epics from A-Z

A-Z Challenge: HeartAnabel Marsh –
Gallus Glasgow

A-Z Challenge: HeartPat Garcia –
The Child and the Prophet

My visitor count soared in April with visits from 24 countries (hello, Tanzania! *waves*). The Vestiarium Scoticum post was the most popular with 784 views, closely followed by the post on the Queen of Elfhame and True Thomas with 609 views. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, especially those of you who took the time to leave comments. I’ve had some fantastic feedback and your words of encouragement kept me going when my motivation threatened to abandon me. I also have to give a shout out to my wonderful man for the constant stream of coffee and his endless reassurance and enthusiasm, not to mention his superlative proof reading!

I can’t wait to do this all over again next year, it’s been a blast! :)

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  • Arlee Bird

    This is all great to hear. I think A to Z is a great way to kick off a new blog. I’m glad you survived and had a good time doing it.

    Looking forward to your return in 2016!

    Arlee Bird

    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    Tossing It Out

    • Lisa Landry

      I’m stopping by on my RoadTrip. Congratulations on conquering the challenge. Nice blog~
      MyCajun Life

  • Anabel Marsh

    Thanks for the mention! Hope to see you next year – and in between of course.

  • JazzFeathers

    Hey, thanks for the shout out! :-)

    I came to your blog very late during the challenge, but I enjoyed it so much. There will be time to read through the posts I missed.

    I too am pondering what the challenge taught me about my blog, where I want to take it. It’s an ongoing wondering, I think, but having the possibility to have so many visits and receiving so many comments really gives a persepctive the (at least) I rarely have.

    As to how often to blog, I’ve read from many experts the best is no less than once a week but not more than twice a week, though it looks like any frequency is fine, as long as it is costant. Many experts say blogging more often that twice a week jams people’s reader and rarely people has that ammount of time to devote to just reading blogs they like. I certainly have this isssue with time.

    For me, twice a week is fine. It gives me time to prepare posts and to do my other things too.
    So, these are my two cents. Hope you don’t mind me offering ;-)

  • Samantha Mozart

    Congratulations on making it through the A-Zs, Fee. I love your theme: your posts are extraordinary and so beautifully written and presented. This was my first year taking up the A-Z Challenge, too, and I enjoyed it in so many ways — making new acquaintances such as you, the highlight.
    When I began my blog in 2011, I posted twice a week — but I had a lot to say, about caregiving for my mother and her dementia then, and it proved a personal catharsis.. For the A-Zs, posting daily was not so difficult, because as a journalist I am used to meeting deadlines. However, now for my blog I post at random, whenever the spirit moves me and I have something to say, but often enough that my readers don’t forget me. :-)
    Thanks for the shout-out. I will be adding your site to my blog roll.

  • Sara C. Snider

    Congrats on completing the challenge and thank you so much for the shout out! I generally only blog once or twice a month, so when I joined the challenge for the first time last year, I remember thinking “Are you mad?!” It’s surprisingly fun, though, like you said.

  • Chrys Fey

    Congratulations on finishing the Challenge! Thanks for sharing the posts that inspired you.

    Write with

  • Paula

    Congrats on finishing your first challenge. I have now done it 3 times. I had a lot of traffic this time but I wish more people would leave comments so I can visit them and leave comments. Because that is what we are all about, isn’t it. I’m on the Road Trip now trying to visit all the blogs. See you around I hope

  • Melissa Sugar

    Congratulations on finishing your first challenge and I’m glad you liked it as much as you did. It’s always a good idea to plan your post months ahead of time and I made the mistake of not doing it this time . It really cut down on the number of blogs I was able to visit and that is my only regret . I think you have an amazing blog. There’s nothing like jumping in to this challenge when youve just started your blog. I admire your enthusiasm. You will figure out the best direction to take your blog. And now you have lots of new friends , so that’s a plus . Thanks for sharing your favorite blogs.
    I am number 424 on the reflection post sign up list.
    Melissa Sugar

  • HilaryMB

    Hi Fee – well done on completing the Challenge and generally enjoying the process. I have to go through your posts to read them, as I came upon your blog late and I was way over my head with other things to fully do what I needed to do in the Challenge …

    So pleased you joined us .. and are looking at the pros the challenge gave you .. and I love the blogs you’ve listed for us to look at – many I know … cheers Hilary

  • Pat Garcia

    Hi Fee,
    You made it, Lady. I didn’t know that this was your very first time and that you have had your blog only six months. A great big hug and congrats from me. You have done a fantastic job.
    Believe it or not, all of us who participated are winding down. It takes me about two to three weeks to find my normal rhythm. I have already planned to jump into the blogs that I love so much and like you with a cup to tea or a nice glass of red wine sit back and read and share with the writer how much I enjoy his or her blog.
    But then there is also the catch up, My email box is overflowing and I don’t even want to describe what my desk looks like. Oh well… I made up my mind that it will probably not change and as long as I am comfortable with it, it is okay.

    Thank you also for the shout out on your blog. I really appreciate it.
    Hope you have a great weekend.

  • Nancy Barber

    Well done! Thank you for the tip on The Old Shelter. Off to stop there on my road trip!

  • Tarkabarka

    I am happy to hear you enjoyed the challenge! :) I hope you’ll participate next year too! I loved your posts and learned a lot from them. Do you plan on doing a regular series? I have seen some blogs that decided after A to Z to start a weekly posting schedule, and this year I started one too on both my blogs. I am also picking up some other blog hops and blog fests for fun :) Hope to see you around! Thanks for the shout out! :)

  • Linda Stewart

    Hi Fee, this is my first week of catching up with so many excellent blogs I missed in April. The blog hop, aka A – Z Road Trip – gives us time to visit participants of the challenge and enjoy the writing of others at a more leisurely pace. Your presentation is polished and I can’t imagine how much research was required for each post. Such commitment – inspirational! (Linda)

  • Random Musings

    This was my first one too. I started blogging in February, and like you, doing this has made me start to question where my blog should go next. I now have a schedule with themes for each month and what I will be doing when, and I think this challenge helped me become more organised that way.

    Popping by as part of the A to Z Road Trip
    Debbie ( My Random Musings Blog)

  • Alana Mautone

    Congrats! I am visiting from the Road Trip. It was two years from the time I started to blog before I found there was such a thing as blog challenges. I waited three years after finding out about A to Z before I finally took part this year. You are right, it has been a blast! Hope you are successful in finding out what you want to do now. Great things can be ahead of you.

  • Stephenyhoughtlin

    Finding you on the road trip this morning. A beautiful day in North Carolina so I have my top down on my imaginary Audi rag top car. Enjoyed your reflection realizing what a successful and well presented challenge you presented. This was my 3rd year and I too am rethinking the future of my blog. I have found a comfortable range of things I like to write about, but how to keep things fresh and interesting? I am feeling a bit lost too missing the enjoyment of the process. I wrote all my posts ahead of time and tweaked them just before publication. Highly recommend. I’m in the garden now and hope you can stop by. I want you to see the Magnolia tree in bloom!

  • Shawn Griffith

    Just found you while following the road trip. This is my first A-to-Z and I’m still reeling from the volume of great blogs. I’m glad I found yours. Thanks for a nice wrap up post. Makes me want to go re-write mine :-) I am still finding my writing voice so it’s nice to read about other people’s journey. My blog is still young, but growing. Drop by if you get the chance. :-) Have a great week.

  • Cathy Kennedy

    Hello for East Tennessee, Fee! I’m glad you had fun your first time with the A2Z gang. This was my second year and I enjoyed it just as much this time as last. I, like you am rethinking how to do things with my blog. Daily posts are a bit of a reach for me to do. I tend to share three to four times per/week, but am visiting on the in-between days, except for the weekends. I would like to find a better system than I have with finding new bloggers and visiting familiar blogs more often. Here’s hoping we’ll meeting again on the AtoZRoadTrip frequently. Feel free to stop by for today’s read: Meet my new neighbor!

  • Kern Windwraith

    Just catching up to your blog via the A to Z road trip. What can I say, I’m a very slow driver, apparently. :)

    I’ve participated three times now and love the challenge. You’d think I would have figured out that pre-writing is the way to go, but I’d only outlined a handful of posts by the time April 1 rolled around. That made for a lot of late night! Next year, I’m pre-writing.

    I’m going to have a peek back through your A to Z posts to see what I missed. Before I hie myself off to do that, I just wanted to say that I love the look and feel of your blog–elegant, clean, very visually pleasing.

  • Yvonne Van Dalen

    Also my first year and catching up on the blogs via the Road Trip. I didn’t pre-plan but will certainly consider it for next year! See you long the road!

  • Paula

    I am so happy that you completed the challenge. I am crusing by today on my A to Z Road Trip

  • C. Lee McKenzie

    April always zips by and leaves me breathless. Glad you did the AtoZ. Sorry I didn’t catch your blog. So many to read and enjoy.