Looking back at the A to Z Challenge 2013

After 26 posts during this years A to Z Challenge I’m still buzzing from it all. This was my first year doing the challenge and I only read about it in March, but I was so glad that I took the plunge and committed to the idea.

How I approached the challenge – I didn’t want to divert from the common theme of my blog where I support writers and authors, I’ve got quite a list of books that I’ve read but I wanted to put out new posts, so I sent out messages on the social networks looking for authors who wanted to promote their work through my challenge. This was great it filled most of my letters with books that I may not have otherwise even considered, and added to my TBR pile. For each individual post I thought it appropriate to display the A to Z Challenge badge to help keep promotion going throughout the month. I also chose to display up to 5 randomly chosen links each day to other A to Z Challenger’s blogs to encourage more visitors to the challenge.

What I liked about the challenge – I liked the support from the A to Z Team, their enthusiasm and encouragement. I couldn’t believe how many people had signed up at the start of the challenge (over 1500). I liked the way it brought people together from across the world.

What I loved about the challenge I loved the fact that it changed the way I approached my own visits to other people’s blogs, I realised that just hitting “Like” (at the end of the post) is only part of your relationship with fellow bloggers, what really counts is taking the time to leave a comment.

What frustrated me – A few sites made leaving comments really hard, sometimes I had to search around the site to find the challenge post and it was a shame when people were unable to par-take in the challenge this year or were unable to finish the month for various reasons.

My own advice to others – Planning, planning, planning. Each day your post doesn’t have to be long and detailed, but draft it out ahead of the challenge, that way the hard work is done and you can enjoy the journey. Also committing to visiting at least 5 sites a day was easy when I had previously set up links to them in my draft posts. I usually went to more than 5 because I enjoyed it so much.

Bloggers worth a mention

http://blackfrogpublishing.wordpress.com/

http://pullupatoadstool.blogspot.co.uk/

http://stephenyhoughtlin.wordpress.com/

http://sarahcradit.wordpress.com

http://damyantiwrites.wordpress.com/ (Co-host of the challenge)

survivor_[2013]

Make Christmas less Stressful

I’m hearing you groan already! Not another person talking about Christmas! But the fact is, it comes around every year on the same date and is one of the most stressful times of the year. Here’s a few ideas to make it less painful;

1) This week agree where you will be for Christmas Day, or who you will invite and make that call. Relatives will thank-you for being up front. Bite the bullet if you don’t want someone. Then they have plenty of time to organise another venue.

2) Make a list of presents before you are faced with all the gift wrapped items that the shop want you to buy. Think laterally about presents; magazine subscriptions last a year, bird feeders and seeds help the wildlife and the birds are great to watch.

3) Get a pretty box and fill with Christmas cards, stamps and addresses. Keep it near and you’ll be tempted to write a few each day. You may have time to put in a note about your news this year.

4) Book a day in November to do all your Christmas shopping. Go on your own or with a friend. Start with a coffee, then agree to meet back up for a late lunch. Then split up again in the afternoon.

5) Buy all the wrapping paper, and general household extras needed over the holiday period before the shop get manic. Make a list and tick items off as you go.

6) Book a Turkey as soon as possible. Buy chocolate, biscuits and wine soon because the shops are doing offers like 3 for 2.

7) Plan Something different for Boxing Day. Many places are open all year round except Christmas Day. A few years ago we went to London Zoo on Boxing Day, it was practically empty, and the drive into London was easy as there was very little traffic.

8) Get a Flu jab, no one likes being ill! Lots of places are doing them now for less than £10.

9) Plan to enjoy yourself, do something for you and refuse to let the stressed out miserable gits get you down.

Merry Christmas!