Monday, May 5, 2014

A-Z Challenge Reflections 2014 #atozchallenge

I think it's a very good practice to evaluate an event in order to give praise and recognition to those who deserve it, and also to offer suggestions for improvement to those in charge, so that they can make improvements for the future.  Welcome to the Reflections Posts!  You'll find the linky below, at the A-Z Challenge Blog, and in my tab above.

In the past, I've used analogies: sex - 2011, sports - 2012, and I've laid it all bare, just a dump of emotion -2013.  Each year has been different, and this year was no exception.

I'm happy to say that this year I did a much more timely job of visiting back, not that I'm anywhere near done, mind you.  That was probably because I wasn't over 1,000 emails behind, only about an average of 300 per day.  More people left links, or at least URL's, so quickly getting to a visitor's blog was a lot easier, and I was more intentional about seizing the opportunity right then.

Visiting more blogs led me to some great, new discoveries. There are many bloggers who are "just like me." They are immigrants writing about the cultural differences between their homeland and their new land.  I even met some whose "new land" wasn't the US.  I learned a LOT.  I wish I'd labeled them in my notes so I could share links, but I didn't. Note to self for next year: write down links that you want to share in your Reflections.

I met some incredibly brave people opening their hearts and souls for the world to see.  I was humbled by their honesty and willingness to share.  I found amazing recipes to try, saw pictures of places I'll never be able to see in person, and I read a whole bunch of amazing flash fiction.  

In other words, I experienced what we hope that you as participants experience when you join this adventure.  In the past I didn't take that opportunity as much because I was too busy with administrative duties and neglected my participant duties.  Note to self: good job. Keep getting better!

As to administrative duties, I had more time to devote this year, hence the email difference, and the visiting difference.  I planned ahead for April, cleared my calendar, and really focused.  I treated it as a part-time volunteer gig, and that mindset made me feel like I was really making a difference.  It was motivating to keep going, and it gave me purpose when yet again, health issues dominated my personal life for half of April. Note to self: planning really is good.  It's OK to be Schedule Woman ;-)

I still don't like the categories.  All you need to do is spend an hour answering the info@ emails (one of my jobs on the team) to know how much confusion, angst, anger, and mess these caused.  We will keep doing them, because YOU want them, but I just have to say again, like I did last year: pain in the buttocks for co-hosts.  

However, I was highly entertained by some of the questions I received at the info@ email address.  I won't embarrass anyone and quote, but I will say this: Note to PARTICIPANTS: there's a reason for the A-Z Challenge Blog: INFORMATION FOR PARTICIPANTS. There's even a FAQ tab. READ IT EVERYDAY. Keep reading it - we're open all year!

I know this is getting long, but I can't help but thank everyone for your tremendous response to my series. Some of you didn't miss a post.  Many of you shared your personal stories and your culture.  My comment section made me smile every day!  

Thank you to my bevy of new followers.  I'm trying to make the rounds, and I appreciate your vote of confidence in me.  It's my intention to follow back, so if I've missed you, please drop me an email or leave a comment WITH A LINK and I'll hop on over.

Of course I have to thank my co-host team (yes, yes, I hear the exit music and see the ladies trying to escort me off the stage...just one more thing...) Love to all of you.  Of course, it goes without saying that all of this would not have been possible without my minions, who got a whole post of their own on Friday ;-)

~Tina, looking forward to reading your Reflections.  I'm going to be on the look-out for some to feature as guest posts at the A-Z Blog...

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: as with all the logos associated with the A-Z April 2014 Challenge, Jeremy Hawkins of


Anonymous said...

Hi Tina. I'm just dropping by to say thanks for all the hard work you put into the A to Z.
I'm just getting into my other writing projects now, but I'll be back for a proper visit later.

Nick Wilford said...

Congrats on your work for the Challenge - clearly there's a lot involved! Sorry I didn't get to more of your posts, but I was just a bystander this year. Next time, I plan to be fully involved. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina - you and your fellow co-hosts did an amazing job .. and thank you so much for being the very willing volunteer co-host with the mostest .. what more could I expect from a Swedish Viking Chick?

Re the FAQ ... I wonder if that couldn't be a different colour so it stands out ... and perhaps it should be referred to more often as the build up to the Challenge commences ...

Trying to be organised with the Challenge is a challenge .. again I flunked out ...

There's a good reflections post with some notes on how she coped - which I admit I'd like to be like - aspirations for the summer ... see here for Tasha's thoughts:

Cheers and thanks so much and for all the fun and laughter we have from the continuing friendship .. Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Can you fix my entry? I entered the wrong category...
Glad you were able to explore the list more. One of these years, I'll get that opportunity.
And you did an AWESOME job handling the emails!

Philip Verghese 'Ariel' said...

Hi Tina,
Its really good to hear about this year's activities at A to Z pages!!
Amazing indeed!!!
Wonderful to know that you did better than last year, even in spite of many difficulties, Indeed I missed you this year. I just joined in, in fact this year i was bit behind with lot of problems. But everything fixed in time LOL
Thanks for sharing,
Have a happy week ahead
Will shortly come back with my stuff.
Have a good day
~ Phil
your ex. minion LOL

TheCyborgMom said...

Love to you too! Thanks to you and all the co-host (and minions) for all the hard work you did. I know behind the scenes must be a lot, and no one really sees all you do...but I recognize that it's an accomplishment. See you around Tina!
Visual Proof

Brian Miller said...

ha. the administrative side of running sites is...interesting indeed...i get some interesting emails at times as well for dverse...

see i am glad when the end comes...i get to see my friends more then...smiles.

Anonymous said...

Super summary from both participant and co-host perspective. I agree with Hillary - the FAQ should be prominent and mentioned often because it did contain very helpful information.

As for the categories...I'm in the camp who forgot to categorize when I signed up AND I couldn't remember what the category abbreviations meant as I scrolled through the list selecting blogs, so I'm indifferent to whether it's used in the future.

I would like to know which bloggers are WordPress and which are BlogSpot. I PROMISE I would visit and follow a number of blogspotters, but frankly it's so much less time-consuming to follow on your own platform! Maybe that would make it too much of an "us vs them", though, and that would be counter to what the Challenge is intended to accomplish.

Oh, here comes the neck hook to pull me off stage!

Thank you thank you for all your support and behind-scenes work.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I couldn't get around to a lot of posts, which is why I didn't participate this year, but there were some really informative ones.

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Tina,

Very nice sum up.... It was a lot of work for you and your minions, but you all did beautifully and made this year's challenge all the more special!

CONGRATS.... you all deserve a round of applause!

A Beer for the Shower said...

I already thought participating in A-Z was difficult. Reading about the administrative duties just sounds exhausting. Congratulations on making it through in one piece! You want to be our administrative e-mail answerer? We get lots of stupid questions, too, and you sound better prepared to deal with them than we are.

Unknown said...

I wish I had more time to visit everyone's blog, especially the ones writing about different cultures. I find those so fascinating. It was so hard to keep up, though. I don't know how you hosts do it! Seriously! :P Congrats to you!

Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
Trying to be Positive in Life and Writing
Caring for My Veteran

Vinodini said...

Hey Tina...thank you so much for this wonderful platform that you and the co-hosts provided us.Huge exposure and lots of learning.Got to know about the challenge almost 12 days late but guess I made the most of my time :)

Mary Aalgaard said...

Your theme was great this year. I read many of your entries. Thanks for co-hosting. I never remember to add my category, and whatever, you read and read, and eventually you remember which ones resonated. It was a great April, and I ate my way through it on my Dine off the Page category.
Play off the Page

Stephsco said...

I commend you for organizing! I do like the categories though I can understand the confusion since it's up to participants to include their own category and I'm sure they forget or want to amend their categories.

As for the FAQ, I work in a customer service position with a very intelligent customer base. And yet, my job wouldn't exist if people read directions. Some people think it's easier to call and have someone do the work for them. Or they DO read the directions but second guess everything and want to go over each item in detail to make sure they are doing things right. People are funny. God bless those who serve.

Here's my A to Z wrap-up post. I also have an End of Challenge book giveaway going on for either contemporary romance or contemporary YA.

JoJo said...

I like the categories because it cuts down on how much I spend going to blogs that may not have topics of interest to me. If I knew anything about computer code or spread sheets I would volunteer to make some kind of table that breaks down the blog participants into lists by category. That way if you are a crafter like me, you can go right to the list of blogs doing craft posts.

My biggest buggaboo as you know is Captcha being left on. That has to stop.

AJ Lauer said...

TINA!!! You're so wonderful.
Thank you so much for bringing me to the co-host team this year! <3
We need to have celebratory coffee sometime soon! (because oh boy will I be needing caffeine the next couple months...)

Andrew Leon said...

Without getting into it, I'm just going to say that a-to-z has become less worthwhile every year. There were some things this year that I found extremely upsetting about it. I'm not saying that I'm not participating again, but it's got a horrible return on the investment.

Amanda Lee said...

Thanks for hosting the A to Z Challenge! As you know, this was my first year to participate. Sadly, I flaked out in the last week and a half. I thought it would be easier to blog while visiting the grandbaby, but turns out she liked coming into Grandma's room early in the morning for snuggles and My Little Pony play. I could either send her away or close the laptop and enjoy that baby...

Jo said...

I didn't get to visit as many as I would have liked but I did return visit to everyone who visited me.

You co-hosts did a fabulous job. I am having a hard time keeping up with everyone today though.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed your theme this year, Tina. And I can't imagine this challenge without you.

I wish we could cover you in gold or chocolate...or something lovely that you like :)


Unknown said...

Great work! I tried to go to as many A-Zers as I could. Loved your Swedish post they were educational and fun!

Claudia said...

that's the cool thing in blogging life - that you meet so many interesting people... i don't like the administration part so much and try to keep it as simple as possible...ha.. and wise planning def. helps to make it through busy times..

Anonymous said...

I almost toyed with the idea of being a host next year. Reading how many emails you received, I just changed my mind over to, "what am crazy?" Thanks for being a host!! You did a great job!!

Be well,


Sandy said...

Thanks for popping round to tell me the info for road trip was up. Just added the badge and link and am pealing out!

Sandy at Traveling Suitcase

klahanie said...

Hi human, Tina,

You sure have been one busy lady with all this alphabet stuff. Of course, what I really like is that it was all about pawsitive interaction and accumulating followers, drive by bloggers and even some sincere followers who will actually return.

You did very well, dear Tina. Despite my intense dislike for the A to Z, I respect you and those genuine bloggers for the sharing of ideals in a thoughtful ethos.

Reflection pawsts about reflection pawsts. When will it end? Oh yeah, it doesn't end. Soon it will be April Fool's Day, 2015! :)

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny, the cordial host of the Alphabark Challenge, 2014 :)

Rob Z Tobor said...

I am unsure about a reflections post at present I may do a very short one, I just need to draw a picture and then see how it goes. The real world is rather busy at present.

Thanks for the mention on the A to Z I have now left a little comment.

CA Heaven said...

You did a great job, bot on the organizing committee and in the A-Z challenge itself.

Sweden is a great country. It's probably the 2nd best country in the world >;)

Cold As Heaven

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for all you did, Tina! You're a real trouper! ;)

Unknown said...

Hi Tina. Thanks for the glimpse into what you face. I am sure it is quite a challenge being part of the challenge team. You all do a great job and we appreciate your investment in making this such a spectacular experience. Great reflections post. Maria, Delight Directed Living

Rachel said...

I can't imagine having 300-1000 emails a day! Or at all. I never have more than 10.

I am not sure if I can do a Reflections post this year. Those 13 shifts I was scheduled for? Yeahhh, lost 3 because I'm stuck in bed with on and off fevers. I haven't had fevers since I was 18 with an ear infection. All I'm allowed to do is sleep (which is convienently all I have the energy and brain power to do).

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Hello, Tina,
Just wanted to stop by and thank you directly for co-hosting the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. :-)
The View from the Top of the Ladder

Kathe W. said...

Great reflectiopn post! have a lovely weekend!