Sunday, May 8, 2016

REFLECTIONS ON THE 2016 #AtoZChallenge

The April 2016 AtoZ Challenge was fun for me right from the start because my theme was:
The Fun in Writing.
Most of my articles were written ahead of time, with photographs attached. That done, I posted my theme on A to Z Theme Day and met some wonderful people who were also using specific themes for the 26 posting days of April.

Once my "A is for" post went live on April 1st, I visited other sites. I discovered blog posts that were interesting and informative, along with colorful and fascinating photographs. An avid "Pinterest-er", I immediately began pinning my favorite sites and pictures. You can check the board here:

At about the N-O-P mark, I found it impossible to keep visiting the amount of sites I had set as a goal, but I look forward to reading many more of the posts over the next few months.

Never one to let a lack of time keep me from planning a new project, I decided to choose one blog post per day as my blue ribbon choice. It wasn't meant as a popularity contest for "favorite" or "ultimate" or "best dressed" but a choice made on content that stuck with me or struck like a lightning bolt in the moment, for whatever reason.

Following are my 26 Red Ribbon picks from A to Z  
A is for Attack! First We Take Manhattan
One of the first sites I visited on April 1 was TOSSING IT OUT (no surprise, huh?) by Arlee Bird, the illustrious brainchild of the A to Z Challenge. Call "foul" if you must, but the featured songwriter, the song, and the videos in Arlee's first post gave the feeling that the rest of us were left to catch up (for the day.) Arlee's theme, MANHATTAN, drew me back to his site day after day.
Sarah Zuma at THE OLD SHELTER chose Jazz Age Jazz for her theme. I enjoyed many of her posts during April. Blues was the most succinct title for B-Day and my favorite post of the day. 
C is for (Songs that begin with) C
John Holton's THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING hooked me with his post for Day 3.
Along with his post, I chose Can't Buy Me Love by the Beatles as my favorite song for the day.
Damyanti Biswas's theme for AtoZChallenge was the non-profit Project Why. She described Cat Didi as a super Ambassador for Project Why. (Didi is the term younger siblings in India use to address their elder sister.)
What drew my attention in Shilpa Garg's A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE! was her word to the wise meme. I even had to tweet it! For her theme, Shilpa chose Cultivating Happiness.

F is for Friends  This post by Sarah Vanshi at THE TIN TRUNK gave me goosebumps (chills) as I read through the article. She was so subtle when revealing the punchline of her story that I had to read it twice before believing what she'd said.

G is for Girl Teams  Okay, I suppose you won't believe I didn't choose by the blog title. But Zalka Csenge Virág, Storyteller from Hungary, offered excellent reading choices today and one in particular caught my attention. (Check it out!)

H is for Helicopter Ride Over Kauai  I've always been afraid to take a helicopter ride over any of the Hawaiian Islands, so I am deriving my enjoyment from Mary Aalgaard's photographs on PLAY OFF THE PAGE.

I is for Ice Cream (My Writing Workshop) and (Olduvai Reads). Ding-ling-ling! Ding-ling-ling!
Two people chose Ice Cream as their topic for I-Day (at least, two that I came across.) My love for ice cream is double that of most any other "sweet" that isn't made of chocolate, so it seems fair to choose two blue ribbon winners for today.

J is for Jurassic Park For entertainment value, Michael Crichton never let me down. And the movies spun off from the novel are my idea of eye candy! I could watch those dinosaurs all day!

K is for Krli-Q and Knightsbridge KINCAVEL KORNER writes of Lady Kell of Kincavel. I felt "kompelled" to choose this for K-Day!

L is for Love
This post on the blogsite TRUE STORIES, HONEST LIES contains an excellent article for speakers about loving your audience and connecting with the people through love and understanding. As a never-ending struggling member-speaker of Toastmasters, I found this advice warmed my heart.

M is for Mango  Ah, memories of mangoes from the unruled notebook in prose poem style. It has everything rolled into one short entry. Perfect.

N is for Nose Jobs
Some of the details in this article actually made me cringe. That definitely deserves a blue ribbon! Thank you to Susan Brody at THE ART OF NOT GETTING PUBLISHED for an article well researched and written.

O is for Observe  As the stress of working on all my projects for April started to take its toll, I stopped to read the post on ELLA'S EDGE and felt myself relax. At that point, I decided to enjoy each hour and let everything fall into place naturally. Blue ribbon posts deserve blue ribbon awards!

P is for People
THE BOOK WRANGLER intrigued me because the actions in this post are so not me. If I were sitting next to a family on a train, I would have my nose buried in a book, not discussing the book. I know, I need to change!

Q is for Quebec National Historic Site Fortifications 
I love all history of old Quebec and Bhawna from YELLOW MELLOW LIFE has posted some fascinating history and photographs of the area. But what captured my attention was the comment that after Britain invaders took over Quebec they finished building the wall to protect the city from the Americans. Sound familiar?

R is for Reviews
Melissa Sugar over at HAVE YOU HEARD posted an enlightening guideline for book reviewers that is not only a tutorial for those who have questions about how to submit a review, but is also a great benefit for authors who are unable to express these same thoughts themselves. (Not saying I'm in that latter category, or anything.)

S is for School Days
This is my favorite post today because it brought back pleasant memories of my much younger years in grade school. Thank you to Paula and her SMIDGENS, SNIPPETS, AND BITS.

T is for Truth Apparently, this prose poem by Archita on A JOURNEY CALLED LIFE was just what I needed to read at that moment. It captured my attention with the first line.

U is for Under the Surface This topic from Amy Willoughby-Burle struck a strong chord with me. My genealogy research sometimes crosses over into my novel writing. Getting into the hearts and souls of the people who populate the plot is one of the most entertaining parts of writing. (That was an accidental alliteration; so was that!)

V is for Vinyl Records JUST ME AND RANDOM STUFF Yikes, the memories! I had a stack of vinyls as tall as me! Country Outlaws: every Waylon album; R&R, Elvis since Blue Hawaii and G.I. Blues; The Beatles, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee . . .

W is for Writing Groups I agree with Trisha Faye at WRITER'S ZEN BLOG that a writer's group enhances an author's life. My regret for the day was that I didn't think to write about my writer's group: Waikiki Word Wranglers!

X is for Xenophilia My attraction to this post in THE BEVELED EDGE was that, while it was about yoga, it didn't require me to do yoga. Xenophilia is an attraction toward foreign countries, peoples and cultures.

Y is for Yes The advice at STORM DAM (Everyone has a story . . . what's holding yours back?) is to say YES rather than cowering behind an immediate "no". Sometimes you do want to leap before you look. Y is also for Young Adult Books at GIRL WHO READS. I admit my choice is based on the photo of the girl wearing "tennie-runners" (yes, that's what we called them) in black and white. It also contains a great listing of YA novels.

Z is for Zebra Birthday Cakes Several people chose Zebra as their Z-Day topic and it is always a joy to see zebras. But the set of pictures on MIDWEEK MUSINGS tickled me pink.

I'll be tweeting the above links in June . . . just for the fun of it.
If you add your link to the Post a Comment section below, I will visit and tweet your site also!



  1. This was an impressive list. I have never tried the A-Z challenge, but so many blog friends have, and there have been so many interesting themes, I always feel a twinge of regret that I'm not doing it. Still, I find some great posts to read, which is on of the great pleasures of blogging. I'll have to check some of these posts out.

  2. Thanks for visiting today, Elizabeth. Maybe next year will be your year.

    In the beginning, I joined the AtoZ Challenge to get into the routine of blogging more. Now, even when I think I'll skip a year, I don't want to be "left out" and . . . away I go.

  3. Sounds like you were very busy during April :) There were so many great blogs taking part this year weren't there.
    Best wishes,
    Tasha's Thinkings

    1. Yes, Natasha. Unfortunately, with over 2K bloggers participating, it was impossible for me to visit even 1/4 of them.

  4. Love your idea of highlighting favorite blogs alphabetically for the recap. I might as well go ahead and admit this is another great idea I will be stealing for a future blog challenge 😜

    1. Steal away, Lissa. You do know, your statement commits you to the AtoZChallenge 2017, right?

    2. Actually I've been very careful to say 'future' challenge, not a specific year LOL

  5. Around the N-O-P mark was when I started getting burned out, but I kept going and made it to the end with only a few days I skipped in regard to visiting people.

    1. Something about those N-O-P letters! Guess those were sort of hump days for April.

  6. Great sampling of posts from the Challenge.
    Sounds like you were organized and in control during April.

    1. I was fairly organized, which means not good enough to sail through the month. Anyone who gets to the finish line, one way or the other, is a WINNER!

  7. Gail, I think yours was one of the most unique challenges, so different.
    Thanks so much for the shout out. That post is one of my favourite too.

    And thanks for sharing your favourites. I see that I followed many of th eblogs myself, but some are new to me. I'll go exploring :-)

    1. So many interesting blog sites this year, Sarah. So pleased to hear you enjoyed mine, also.

  8. Well that was damn clever... We made it...Hope you had a great time, thank you for your Reflection!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]


    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

    1. You posted some hilarious ads. Still scratching my head over the use of Listerine for dandruff. Who knew?
      Thanks for visiting, and Congratulations on completing the AtoZChallenge!

  9. Clever way to share blogs - A to Z to the end!

  10. I love the idea of sharing specific posts that you loved each day. I visited Melissa Sugar Writes daily through the challenge, all her posts were fantastic and I'm pleased to see she won one of your blue ribbons :)

    1. Thanks for visiting today; just checked your Reflections and am glad you added some of the blog sites you liked, too. I averaged about 10-15 blog visits per day which means you beat me by about 500! Congrats on completing the 2016 AtoZChallenge.

  11. Such a clever and unique way to post your reflections, not to mention very thoughtful for sharing other bloggers with your list. congrats on completing the challenge! I had a bit of an 'interruption' in my blog visits during the challenge, but am trying to make my way through the reflections posts in hopes to make up for some of that.

    Jingle Jangle Jungle

  12. Congratulations on surviving the A to Z Challenge! I love that you made a list of your favourite posts, also in the form of A to Z! :)

  13. Thank you for this wonderful list of your blue ribbon alphabet blogs. I began following YOU after finding you during my blog hopping in April. This reflection piece will direct me to blogs I didn't get to as a nice filter through your eyes. I know looking at your choices will be a teaching moment of what worked for you. Cheers.

  14. Hi Gail, Great Reflections post! I love your Blue Ribbon idea! Thanks for providing those links and post synopses. Some of those blogs I regularly visited (Tossing It Out and The Sound of One Hand Typing for example) but many of them I hadn't...until now, thanks to you!
    Congrats on finishing the A-Z. So many great blogs out there. Glad to have found yours!

    Michele at Angels Bark

  15. Nice to meet another A to Zer. Congratulations on a marvelous theme! I will look for you on Pinterest.

  16. Finally catching up with our reflection. Happy to be following you and sharing this blogging world. Loved the challenge again this year. Historic hotels and inns turned out to be a success. I always miss the research etc. I'm doing another series here in June on summertimes when we were young and capturing some of those moments again. Come see me when you have time.

  17. Ah, the end of April suggests a nice relaxing break from blogging. Except, May means catching up on all the research, writing, and editing that went by the wayside during the A to Z Challenge! Hope everyone finds a bit of time to make the rounds of participants, especially those who helped to make the event possible!


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