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4 things I learned from my first AtoZ Challenge (Reflection Post)

My first AtoZ Challenge is over… and I enjoyed it a lot!

Don’t get me wrong, it was a challenge. There had been days in the middle of the month, I thought I couldn’t possibly do it (bit like when you write a novel), and there had been moments I had to push myself so not to lose momentum. I stayed up past my time at night and read comments ‘til my eyes stung so to return all visits and  comments.
It was hard. But it was fun too.
I met so many people who write great blogs I’d probably never discovered if not for the challenge. I wrote and shared with reader things I’m passionate about, and it was such a thrill seeing people found these subjects interesting too, at least enough to leave a comment. When you  write a novel, it’s a labour of faith. Years may pass before anyone will read even one word, but blogging is immediate. Blogging gives you an immediate return, and that’s an awesome feeling.

And yes, blogging alphabetically for a month thought me a thing or two:

1. You’d never imagine what wonders working on a deadline may do for you productivity

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, because I took part to contests for many years and that was working on deadlines. But that was long ago. My life and my life rhythms were vastly different back then. I often think I don’t have time to do everything I’d like to, now, but you know what?  If you really want to do something, you’ll make time for it.
During the challenge, I wrote in the mornings and uploaded posts in the nights. It happened a couple of times I thought I was too tired, I’d upload the posts tomorrow morning. But then I thought, it will only take half an hours. I can afford to devote half an hour to it tonight and tomorrow morning, I’ll have an additional half an hour to write the new post.
I won’t say it was easy, but it’s definitely doable.

2. I can in fact write a subject matter I love

Before the AtoZ Challenge, I wrote very little about Roaring Twenties America, although I research it for over four years. I’ve never considered myself an expert (I still don’t), so I was very hesitant to write about the subject.
But as I started writing posts for the challenge (and I can’t start to tell you how awkward it felt writing that first A post) I discovered it came quite easily to me. I knew what to write. I knew what I wanted to say in every article. Not to mention that I did indeed come up with 26 ideas regarding my subject matter.
Well, take it as you will, I was surprised.

3. It takes time to network

I knew this before I started the challenge, but you never know it well enough until you try.
I think I didn’t take advantage of the challenge’s networking potentials as much as I could. I could have met more people and read more blogs if I hadn’t had to run after my posts half of the month.
This year I started the challenge with a week worth of posts written and uploaded. Next year, I want to start with all my posts written and uploaded, so I’ll be able to merrily go about meeting people and returning visits and comments and discover new blogs.
And yes, I’m already  thinking to next year’s challenge!

4.There are some awesome people out there writing some awesome stuff.

Grand, I already knew this, but let me state it nonetheless. I’ve read some quality stuff from people who really know their business. I enjoyed every single post I read.

So really, it was a fantastic experience and I can’t recommend it strong enough to anyone. I cant wait to do it again!


AtoZ Challenge Reflection post - What did you learned from the AtoZ Chalelnge? Share your thoughts



Now let me shout out for a few of the blogs I read this month. There are actually a lot of them, but I’ll only mention 10 here for obvious space reasons. But if you’d like to see more, just visit the comments section of my posts and go visit the commentators. They are all worth the time.

Atherton’s Magic Vapour – Who Killed Lord Cadblister?
Every mornings, I would switch on my pc and this would be the first blog I checked.
This is a story, a complete story, in 26 instalments, alphabetically arranged. A mystery, complete of Victorian Era setting and well drawn characters. I loved it!
Melanie also dressed up as each character and took picture to go with every posts. I’m seriously in awe of the job she did.

Alex Husrt – Japan
This is better than any travel guide about Japan. Alex lived there for five years and her look at the country and its culture is from the inside. So many aspect of life you don’t learn from being just a tourist. So many beautiful pictures.

Hopes and dreams: my writing and my sons – Sword&Sorcery movies so bad they’re great
Being a fantasy fan since I was a child, how could I ever resist such a theme? In fact, I didn’t.
Many of the films Lillian talked about were familiar to me. I’ve seen many of them, so it was nice reading about them. Especially because many were from the 1980s… I was a bit nostalgic.
But a few, I’ve never heard of… and thankfully so!

Celine Jeanjean’s Blog – Childhood StoriesThis is a memoir of childhood years spent mostly on Celine’s grandparents’ home in France. I loved all the entries. Celine managed to give these memories that particular feeling, that wonder, that we only experience when we are kids. She mostly told about very common, little, everyday life things, and that’s what I loved the most. In the eyes of her child self, everything was wonderful.
And I loved the humour!

Mimesis Monday– Manual in understanding trollsI came late to this one, but I enjoyed it a lot. I followed quite a few storytellers during the challenge and Heidi is one of them. She succeeded in explaining why trolls are still so relevant to today’s life. Why – like all old, even ancient tales – it still make sense to recount and listen to troll stories.

The Multicolored Diary – Epics
Every day, an epic from around the world. This is another storyteller’s blog, another place where you learn stories from other people, other places and other times… and you think, “Other?”
As Tolkien said, there is a reason why some stories came to us, sometimes from the dawn of humanity: they still speak to us, and we’re still listening.

Storytelling Matters – Daily Ghost Post
Yes, this is another storyteller’s blog, can’t do anything about it. And considering the subject matter of my trilogy, you can’t be all that surprise I found this theme fascinating. There were stories of ghosts and ghostly presences, once again, from around the world. Some were weird, some were scary, some were outright creepy. Some other were sweet, and some were even fun. It appears the world of ghosts is as complex and diverse as the world of living.

Wee White Hoose – Scottish Mythology and FolkloreI actually followed a few Celtic-related blogs, and true, I came late to this one, but it really enchanted me. There are stories here, epics, legends, but also history and culture. It’s a chance to see Scotland from inside. It’s people to people and in the end you really feel you’ve received a gift.

Book Reviews by Lenise Brown – Most Beautiful Libraries from Around the World
This is one of the few pic-based challenge themes I followed and it was surprising. I thought I would love old libraries – and I was definitely right – but I discovered I love new ones as well. There are some truly stunning ones around the world. It was a surprise.

Life&Faith in Caneyhead – Musical Memories
Barbara talked about her younger years, especially in the 1970s, as the memories came from music she would listen to back then (do you smell a theme here? Do I sound like I have a soft spot for nostalgia? You’re damned right!)
What surprised me the most about these posts was thinking how the 1970s isn’t all that far away and still it feels like a completely different world. Like a completely different universe. It’s such a strange thought.

Oh, I’d love to go on. So many nice blogs still to mention. I hate leaving them out. But as I said, go visit the comments section on my posts and you’ll track down most of them. And Sabina has just launched the #AtoZChallenge After Party where you can discover yet more blogs (already happened to me!), while here you can find all the other Reflection Posts.

The challenge is over, but there is still so much to discover!




  • Alex Hurst
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 08:36

    You had an awesome theme! I loved it. And I added a couple of people I didn’t know about before. The networking goes on!!

    Thank you so much for teaching me about this decade of American history. It was a really interesting period.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:23

      I don’t knwo whether being scared or thrilled that I’m still discovering great blogs now. So many I didn’t find during the challenge. But hey, better late than never 😉
      Besides I plan to go through the list at leasure now, because I’m sure there are many gems I didn’t find.

      I enjoyed your blog a lot, and I will keep enjoying it.

  • Lillian Csernica
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 08:08

    How kind of you to mention me! I’m so pleased we’re blog buddies now. It’s the beginning of great things!

  • Tarkabarka
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:55

    Thank you for the shout out! 🙂 I am glad you liked my blog. I really enjoyed yours, and learned a lot from it! And thank your for the recommendations, I actually missed some of these blogs!
    Looking forward to next year’s A to Z already! And I’ll be visiting back in the meantime 🙂

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:25

      There are so many awesome blogs I didn’t find during the challenge. I’m enjoying the Reflection Posts because many people are doing shout outs and that’s I discover new blogs.

      I’m so happy I entered the challenge. It was – and it still is – a thrillign experience.

  • Mimesis Heidi Dahlsveen
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 14:53

    Thank you for mentioning me:) And I struggled with the same!!!!

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:28

      I think that’s pretty normal, especially for first-time challengers like me. But I’ve learned a few things and I hope to avoid soem pitfalls next year 🙂

  • Rebekah Loper
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 14:02

    I’m so glad your first A-Z was a success! I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to keep up with yours, but you saw my blog post about April’s insanity. Hopefully I’ll get time soon to go back and read your posts.

    The networking is something I missed this year, and thanks so much for sharing your favorites! I will definitely be peeking in at them!

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:26

      Hey Bekah, some things come first. I hope you’ll settle down soon. That’s the important part.

  • Sabina
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 15:43

    Thanks for spreading the word about the blog party and congrats on a wonderful challenge! I really loved reading about Prohibition and youth culture here and I learned a lot about the myths and facts of the 20s.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:30

      So I’m happy 🙂
      I’m always trying to avoide stereotypes, so I tried to expose some of them here.
      You did a great job too. I’ll be back to your blog for sure.

  • Anabel
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 21:37

    I enjoyed your very informative theme.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:31

      Well, what to say about your Gallus Glasgow? It was a blast 🙂

  • Alana
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 22:31

    I found your blog late, and I hope to be able to return from time to time and catch up.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:33

      This is a refrain for me. I’m still finding so many good blogs. But hey, now we have time to explore them without pressure. Isn’t that cool? 😉

  • Barbara In Caneyhead
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 23:56

    Let me start by saying I am thrilled you plan on participating again next year! Can’t wait to see what you pick for a them and what you bring to us. Thank you for the kind mention of Caneyhead! You found some blogs/bloggers I missed out on, and I can see several you shared here, I definitely want to go back and soak up. I’ll be seeing you, Sarah!
    Stopping in from Life & Faith in Caneyhead.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:34

      I’ll see you too. It really feel like the challenge isn’t really over, and I like this feeling 🙂

  • Sue Archer
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 01:36

    I see what you mean about following a lot of the same blogs! I will be sure to catch up on some of the other ones you’ve mentioned here. 🙂 So glad to have met you through this challenge!

    • Post Author
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 05:35

      Same here 🙂
      Now that the tiredness has worn out, I feel like I’d gladly start again tomorrow!

  • Alex Hurst
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 11:47

    Thanks so much for the mention! That was very sweet of you!!

    I really loved your theme. A ton of information, but not too much to digest daily. I also had fun reading your comments over at Melanie Atherton’s blog. 🙂 You’re very good at guessing murder mysteries!

    • Post Author
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 06:09

      Actually, I’m normally terrible at guessing whodoneit. I get all entabgled in the story and I forget to reason. But because this mystery unfolded a chapter a day, I think I had more time to consider all the clues.
      It was fun!

  • Trackback: A to Z reflection – lessons learned. | Celine Jeanjean's Blog: Down the Rabbit Hole
  • Celine Jeanjean
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 02:14

    Thank you for the shoutout Sarah 🙂 So glad to hear you enjoyed my theme. Your theme was awesome, I’m really quite amazed by how much you know! You’re like a walking encyclopedia of the twenties! 😉 Also thank you for being such a great reader, it made my day every time I heard from you 🙂

    • Post Author
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 06:11

      I’m far from being a walking encyclopedia of anything 😉
      But thanks. I think when you’re truly interesting in soemthing, learing is very easy.

  • Sara C. Snider
    Posted May 7, 2015 at 15:20

    I think you did a fantastic job. You might not be an expert, but I imagine you know more than a lot of us, and that’s enough. I think I will always struggle with visiting as many blogs I would like in a day, but that largely has to do with 1.) I’m a slow reader and 2.) it can take time leaving meaningful replies. We just have to do our best. Thanks for a great time, and congrats on finishing! 😀

    • Post Author
      Posted May 8, 2015 at 07:00

      I agree. I’m a slow reader too, and when I leave a comment, I usually try to say something. The kind of comment I’d like to receive.
      It does take time.

  • Susan Gourley
    Posted May 7, 2015 at 21:13

    Networking is work and the challenge takes a lot of time and commitment. so glad you have a positive experience and hope to see you back next year.
    Susan Says

    • Post Author
      Posted May 8, 2015 at 07:02

      Thanks so much for visiting.
      I’m already thinking to next year challenge 🙂

  • Lanise Brown
    Posted May 8, 2015 at 08:27

    Thanks for the shout out. I loved your theme for the challenge and I still have to catch up on so many posts! And I know what you mean. The challenge was a lot of work but it was a lot of fun too. 😀

    • Post Author
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 05:34

      I’m happy I found your challenge practically at the beginning. I loved all the places you brought us too. I never imagined there are such beautiful libraries out there.
      Thanks so much for the sharing 🙂

  • Samantha Mozart
    Posted May 8, 2015 at 19:14

    Better late than rushed, I always say. I’m disappointed I came to your blog, Sarah, after the A-Z Challenge — came here through Sara Snider’s shout out. I will be back. F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author and kindred spirit, so, naturally I am fascinated by the Roaring 20s. I’m so glad you chose this theme. I want to read through all you A-Zs. See you soon. 🙂

    • Post Author
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 05:36

      Hi Samantha and welcome to my blog.
      I loved the challenge, but honestly I’m enjoyeng the after-challenge just as much. So many blogs to discover still, so many people to connect with. It feels like these month to next AtoZ Challenge will be quite busy 😉

  • Stepheny Houghtlin
    Posted May 8, 2015 at 21:38

    I am just now finding you through your reflection. This is what I love about the challenge. New blogs by creative people that work hard to present a great looking blog. Congratulations. This was my 3rd year to participate so my reflection has opinions of what works and what doesn’t. Visiting others so they will return the favor is key in finding new readers. I will be back to see you as things settle down. Congrats on your blog.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 05:38

      I’ll tell you the truth, I’m enjoying the after-challenge a lot too. It feel a bit like crowling, because now I’m squeezing reading challenge blogs in among other things I’m doing, but discovering blogs, themes and people is absolutly a wonderful experience.
      I didn’t expect this part of the challenge and I’m loving it 🙂

  • Mary
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 09:04

    Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!

    Mary @ Jingle Jangle Jungle

    • Post Author
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 09:55

      I’ll be there 🙂
      The Road Trip is a fantastic idea, because there’s no way I’ll ever be able to visit all the bogs in the list during the challenge. Not even if (IF) I can organise myself better next year.

  • Arlee Bird
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 21:06

    You’ve made excellent points and got out of this Challenge exactly what we mean for people to get out of it.

    Thanks for your participation and excellent feedback.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    • Post Author
      Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:39

      Being a challanger has been a fantastic experience. I’ll be back next year 🙂
      Thanks for organising i.

  • Fee
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 22:08

    Thank you so much for the mention, and huge congratulations on completing the challenge! I thoroughly enjoyed your posts and I learned so much. I’ll be keeping up with you in the future 🙂

    Fee | Wee White Hoose

    • Post Author
      Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:39

      It was a pleasure! I enjoyed yours very much too 🙂

  • Melissa Sugar
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 22:35

    You had an amazing theme. I feel like I missed so many great blogs because I didn’t get to visit nearly as many as I wanted to . I enjoyed your refelctiom post . I only visited a couple of the blogs that you mentioned but now I know of at least 5 more that I’m eager to check out. We’ve all shared many of the same thoughts about the challenge, but you’re the first person to point out that networking really takes time and effort . It sure does . I’ve never really thought about it, but if you do it right , it is time consuming. I believe its worth every bit of time we put into it.
    Congratulations on making it through the month. I agree with you about deadlines. When we need to do something or when we really want to do something we manage to make time for it.

    Take care
    I am number 424 on the reflection post sign up list.
    Melissa Sugar

    • Post Author
      Posted May 14, 2015 at 13:26

      Hi Melissa 🙂
      April really isn’t enough to visit all the itnersting blogs, but luckily there’s the Road Trip now, and we have all the year to discover. And it’s such a good idea, because I’m still disovering so many blog I’d like to read.
      I hope to see you around. I’m heading over to your blog 😉

  • Paula
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 02:20

    Driving by on the A to Z Road Trip…..I have bookmarked your blog so I can come back later and read all about the Roarin’ 20’s. Fascinating topic.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 14, 2015 at 13:28

      Hey Paula, happy to see you here 🙂
      I’ve only just started on the Road Trip, but I’m sure many wonders await me! Next stop, your blog 😉

  • Random Musings
    Posted May 21, 2015 at 02:30

    Loving your theme 🙂 I think it’s really interesting seeing what everyone chose for their themes! This was my first year too, and I’m excited for next year already!
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip

    • Post Author
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 18:43

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m so overwhelmed by how many wonderful themes filled the AtoZ Challenge. And I’m so shocked how far behind I still am. I’m sure next year challenge will be here before I’ll finish all the blogs I wnat to read.

  • Random Musings
    Posted June 10, 2015 at 17:44

    Great theme idea – there’s so much potential for things to cover which kept it interesting 🙂
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip

  • Cindy
    Posted July 6, 2015 at 00:26

    Hi Sarah! I finally got a chance to read through your A-Z challenge on the 1920s, and I loved it. You are a fount of knowledge on this subject, and you should definitely consider yourself an expert. Even though I know a lot about this time period, it was fun to learn some new things by reading through your entries. Thanks for sticking it out and sharing all of this great content. And thanks for all of your wonderful support on my blog!

    • Post Author
      Posted July 6, 2015 at 06:35

      Hi Cindy, what a pleasure to see you here. And thanks so much for your kind words. It’s a special pleasure, coming from a fellow 1920s enthusiast 🙂

      I hope to see you around. You’ll definitely see me around your blog!

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