This was my first A to Z Challenge and while I had fun, it was much harder than I thought it would be. Heck, all I had to do was write a review, nothing more. I didn’t need to write an original poem every day or draw something original. I didn’t need to write a new story each day or continue one all through out the month of April. Nope, none of the hard stuff like that. No original writing, just a recap of my thoughts on a different book each day. Really, how hard could that be?
In the beginning it was easy to find books for the day’s letter. Reading, re-reading again with a new eye, writing the review and then posting it, took more time each day than I thought. Many a night I was up until 2 or 3 AM. In the beginning I made the midnight deadline I wanted, but half way through fatigue started to hit and longer days set in. Rather, longer nights. Even my cat was trying to get me to go to bed.
As the month went on, letters Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z all bunched up together at the end. At one point, after writing 22 reviews I thought I was at the end of the road. The villainous letter V nearly took me down. I had not one book for the letter V, not one author with the last–or first–name beginning with a V. At the last minute villains popped into my head and the post went from a review to a list of villains in children’s books that I thought were some of the worst. Phew! Another day done.
I went to several blogs each day, at first trying to just run down the list, backwards, since I figured most would start at the top and those at the bottom would be missed. I was in the middle. Number 467 when we started. Some days were simply disappointing. I was amazed at the number of those who signed up and either never started or quit before giving themselves a real shot at doing this. I wish there were a way to remove them from the list so I would not have wasted my time.
When I did find someone keeping up with the challenge, I found some terrific sites. Liz Brown Lee, a poet and animal activist, had terrific posts where she not only wrote but drew as well, every day. Susanne Drazic is a children’s writer and fellow graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. Tina Downey is one of the co-hosts who stopped by, along with Arlee Bird, who seemed to have the most on his plate in regard to the challenge. He commented several times and I really do appreciate his remarks. I went to more than one of his sites, so he is a busy man.
I found many great sights and made a point of going to anyone’s site who had come to mine and commented, which is the only way I knew you were here. Each day I averaged close to 75 visitors and maybe 3 comments. In the end, I had eleven new followers, mostly from those who took the time to comment. I think part of the problem is the content. I am not an author site with books releasing soon and great written content each day. I had reviews of books that no one in the challenge wrote. That can be a hard sell.
I found the best eyes for my site belong to mothers and teachers. I love both mothers and teachers, but it would be nice to hear a few more views now and then. The two biggest fans of this site did not participate in the challenge, but they sure did participate in my reviews and for that I thank them. It is nice to have readers you can count on every week, or every post. Thank you Erik and Diane.
Next year I will do this again, maybe with a different blog that does not depend on reviews for content. Then again, I might just find 26 really great books no one can resist talking about. Those visitors who floated in and out silently need to have a voice. I am betting my site is not the only one with more visits than comments. Here is what I would like to see done differently next year:
- Most things were geared for those on Blogger not WordPress, which made me feel like a step-participant using WordPress. Have everything, from badges to the site button that could be added only to Blogger, be more assessable to other blogging formats. WordPress does not accept java-script.
- Stress to those participating to not only visit but comment, or at least click the Facebook, Google, or other button so we know who you are. It would be nice to be able to visit those who visit me. I cannot do that unless I get a comment.
- I thought the challenge was handle well by those running it. I received visits from at least three; all were helpful.
Until next year! A–Z 2013!
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