Reflections on Blogging A to Z Challenge 2014

Three years I’ve done the challenge and three years I’ve completed a post for every letter on time. Okay perhaps I accidentally missed a day, think it was Q, but I caught up on a Sunday so I’m still saying I achieved the goal! :p

A-to-Z_Reflection_[2014]

Click to See Entire Linky List at A to Z site

Here are a few thoughts I had on this year’s challenge:

  • Light and funny worked for me—fun to write, fun for visitors. More of that next year for sure. I liked the excuse to inflict my self-taught photoshop skills on innocent parties too. 😉
  • Linking just my name on the list of participants Linky = ho hum and very few unique visitors. Next year, I will determine my theme FIRST, then include that in my blog link.
  • A series of separate posts is better than a running story of 26 installments. I did a serial story last year and though I had a few die-hard lovelies who stuck with me, I personally didn’t like stumbling on blogs on the 22nd of 26 installments. Now had I known certain blogs had serials, I probably would have visited them sooner or not at all. Sorry to be so blunt about the latter, but that’s just human nature.
  • Long posts were less likely to engage me or tempt me into return visits. Short and to the point worked best for me. Pop culture references like television shows, music from the 80’s and 90’s and books tended to be my favorites. It’s always nice to find a common bond, even if the bond was about owning a goldendoodle. 🙂
  • As much as I like the theme coding, so many didn’t include a code in their blog titles.  That said, I kind of missed the grab bag quality I remember from my first year doing the challenge. I hit some of the most delightful blogs by accident, many of which had absolutely nothing to do with writing or books, what my posts have typically been about.
  • Delight a visitor on his or her first visit and they were more likely to come back even though there was probably more pressure to seek out new life and new civilizations. I had some wonderful people visit me and comment regularly (Nicole, Alex, Veronica, Susan, Vikki, to name a few). I had a few others read via subscription. They were more quiet, but a few let me know at the end that they’d been reading. I loved that too. They were also very nice about sending others to visit me and tweeting for me. Awesome! Making them and other visitors smile and laugh was my goal and I’m glad I succeeded for the most part.
  • A few visitors didn’t realize the author of most of the Regrettable books, Lila Shaw, was also me. I didn’t point out in every post that she was me and that I wasn’t really making fun of a real life author’s work (though Lila is published). Even though I did include a preamble that all the books were parodies only and not real books, that often got missed. I understand why. If there’s a large graphic (the cover) and quoted text surrounding it, that’s where the eye would naturally be drawn.
  • I wish I could have visited more blogs than I did, but I was working some long hours at the day job and was on vacation and internet-less for a week. Pre-scheduled posts saved my life many times. I tended to go on marathon commenting jags. I was a little sluggish answering comments, especially after a big batch of reciprocal comments, but I did respond to 100% of them within a day or two.

Technical difficulties

Technical difficulties plagued me somewhat again this year. I don’t know what it is about April and hackers. Last year, my server host pulled down my site during the challenge due to  brute force hacker attacks. I have lots of security in place and was never actually hacked, but simply being a target was more than my host could tolerate. They ended up “firing” me a few weeks after the challenge ended for “abuse of equipment”. Like I crooked a finger at the bots to come and get me! **le sigh** I switched server hosts and have been MUCH, MUCH happier. My new host is more user friendly and more security conscious. Night and day in terms of service. However, in keeping my websites hacker resistant, I had some compatibility issues with plugins, especially after one particular plug-in upgraded (**cough**iThemes Security**cough**). Nothing more fun than being locked out of one’s own website. Fortunately, my CPanel and I have become pretty good friends and I know how to unplug plugins that don’t play nicely in the sandbox. So, to those commenters who were either blocked from commenting or who had to pass mini-math tests before posting for a few days…my apologies. I think I’ve fixed it. Live and learn.

Suggestions for making A to Z better?

Same thing I asked for last year: a random generator of the blogs for “next sites to visit”.

Post Recap:

And for any late visitors, here’s a easy way to see all 26 regrettables. Simply click on any book cover that strikes your fancy to read the tagline and blurb that goes with it. Remember, these are all FAKE books where I’ve made fun of a particular trope, usually in romance.
AmishMotorcycleB4BillionaireCinderellaC4ChillinwithDaddyD4Dessert_LoverE4chocoateMakerF4Domme Fight ClubG4RainbowsEndH4HungryI4AbsolutelyLoveJ4PLAYING FOR KEEPSK4MarshallKittyL4LacemakerM4MommySwapN4WhiteO4VerityFausseP4PandaManWomanQ4WidowsLastLaughR4RuthlessGingerS4Harlequin SheikV4BridezillaU4AlieninBedRevenge so sweetW4CarriedAwayX4XandrasChoiceY4Yodelers-noladyZ4ZFACTOR
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

And that’s a wrap of A to Z, dear readers, until next year, when I shall return. In the meantime, anyone wanting to keep visiting me, I’d love the company.

Cheers and THANK YOU!

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Blogging from A to Z April Challenge — “Z”

Z

Click for list of other participants.

Today I have a new installment in my “Regrettable Books A to Z™” series. For those of you new to my series, this is 100% parody. You are more than welcome to laugh, snicker and guffaw at my amateurish photoshopping and blurb writing. Bad is good. Good is bad.

Last Day! Whew! Before we get to the LAST Regrettable Book, I wanted to say

THANK YOU!

to everyone who visited me and especially to those who made repeat visits. April was a tough month for me at work and sometimes coming home and reading the comments made all the difference between a shi**y day and a not so bad day.

It’s a bittersweet emotion with which I present the last Regrettable Book of the A to Z Challenge.

Z is for Zombie. Yeah, you totally saw that one coming!

First the tagline:

The games have begun. Time to run!

Z4ZFACTORThe blurb:

In the ruins of what was once known as Texas lies the kingdom of New Rome. At the heart of its twelve districts is the shining capital city of Houllas. The citizens occupy two classes—the Firsts and the Reruns. Reruns are Firsts who have died from the Lazarus virus. The virus reanimates their corpses into mindless eating machines. For decades Reruns were the boogie men of nightmares until the invention of a neuroblocker drug that turned them into docile, controllable slaves.

2175 is the year of the one hundredth Z-Games, a throwback to when Reruns were called Zombies. Thousands from the districts flock to the Houllas Arena to observe and bet on the games. The favorite is the Hungry Dozen in which twelve untamed Reruns face off against twelve condemned Firsts, one from each district. If the Rerun wins, he dines on human brains instead of  genetically engineered organic soup. If the First wins, by decapitating his Rerun opponent, he is set free and given a lifetime pension.

Katnip Dean’s life as a career thief is about to end one way or another as she enters the arena. Her opponent? A newly created Rerun, her cohort in crime and first love, Mellark Gayle, the boy she watched die from the Lazarus virus only days earlier. Will love be a strong enough neuroblocker or will Katnip lose her heart as well as her head to the green-eyed boy she used to know?

You have no idea how much I nitpicked over those eyes on the cover! I’ll spare you the gory, but delicious, details.

***

Disclaimer: “Regrettable Books A to Z™” is a completely fictional (duh!) creation for parody purposes only. I have no product beyond what you see in this post. Photos are public domain or stock photos I have purchased. This is not a commercial purpose, however, I retain any and all creative story rights in the highly unlikely event I accidentally create something that might be worth a damn.

AND…

That’s a wrap, people.

Thank you again for making my third year doing the A to Z Challenge a complete blast. I’ll have a reflections post in a few days and I’ll probably provide thumbnail links to all the Regrettables to make it easy for latecomers to pick and choose any they might want to read.