Sunday, May 4, 2014

Looking Back on the A to Z!


This was the first year I’d ever participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, but it won’t be my last. First, I’d like to thank all of the co-hosts who created and organized this challenge, because without you, I would’ve never found so many interesting blogs, nor met so many wonderful people.

I’m a writer, and with that title comes not only a yearning to explore new subjects for future work, but a responsibility to continually strive to better the writing I put out. I think it would be impossible for a writer to walk away from this challenge without having gained incredible resources for almost any topic. If I wanted to create a realistic setting for a story that takes place in a part of the world I’ve never been, I’d visit the travel blogs I came across through the Challenge, and I’d find the fuel I needed to flesh out my story. Likewise, I would know who to go to if I wanted to create a character who’s a medium, a character who’s big on games, a character who can cook anything. So what I’m saying is, I’ve learned about a wealth of topics, and I’ve noted the blogs that would prove useful resources should I need to research those topics further.

But I’ve gained a lot more than that. I didn’t learn only about topics. I’ve learned more about people. I’ve made friendships. I’ve gained a sense of community with other bloggers in a diverse world that sometimes seems too large. This challenge has opened the world to me in a way I would have never imagined. I feel as though I know many of the people I’ve met through this challenge, and my new challenge will be to try and keep up with visiting all of them from time to time.

Silvia Villalobos urged me to join this challenge, so along with the co-hosts, I owe her a debt of gratitude.  

            My goal in joining this challenge was to increase my blog readership. I was hoping to bring my 33 or so followers up to 101 followers, so that I could say I had over 100. I now have 215 blog-roll followers, a few dozen e-mail subscribers, and I don’t even know how many bloggers following through RSS feeds. So, I made my goal, and a whole lot more. Most important are the friends I’ve made and the many blogs I joined to follow. Blogs that will continue to teach me through this learning experience called life until the end of mine. I couldn’t be more grateful.

            I wasn’t really prepared for the 40 and 50 daily comments left on my blog–though I appreciated them – because I found it difficult to get back to the sites of each of those bloggers, read their posts, and say something, as well as visit five new blogs each day and write my daily post–but I did it. I had the flu two days and computer problems one day, and I missed returning a comment or two then, but I did get to those blogs the following day.

Next year, I’d like to promise I’ll get smart and write my posts out well in advance, but I’m going to be honest. My life is always busy. I write five days a week, I’m a copy editor for other writers, and my entire summers are busy with painting. Those weeks that my husband and I are preparing exhibits for an art/craft show, it’s all I can do to manage my self-mandated one paragraph to one page of writing per day (I write more during the other seasons.)

It’d be easy during those busy times to tell myself as soon as life slows down, I’ll write those posts. But sometimes life doesn’t slow down, and in case this year proves to be one of those hectic ones, I’ll be writing on the fly again for The Challenge next April. But I’ll make it, and I know that now. (I also now know that should a publisher ever ask me to skimp on sleep for a few weeks to meet a commitment, I could do it.)

            As far as suggested changes for the overall challenge, I really didn’t see much that could be improved upon. One thing I did find frustrating was when someone would leave a comment on my blog, and I’d click on his or her name in hopes of being routed to his or her blog, and instead I was taken to a Google page. On the Google page there would be a number of blog addresses, and I wouldn’t know which one belonged to the original commenter I was trying to find.

I often spent ten and even fifteen minutes tracking down someone’s blog so I could return a comment. By the time I got to the letter X in The Challenge, if I clicked on somebody’s name and it took me to a Google page instead of a blog, I clicked right out of it. I just didn’t have the time to check five blog addresses in comments to find the right one.

When Silvia gave me tips on signing up for this challenge, she did mention I should make sure I had my blog URL in a signature in every comment I left. I’m glad she told me of this, because it made my blog easy to find.

            I’m going to miss everybody, even though I’ll be visiting them often. There is no way I can visit fifty blogs every day of the week for an entire year. I’d never get my regular writing done, and I do give myself a strict schedule. But I’m grateful I now know where to go when I want to listen to good music, and I where to go when I want to be visually inspired by top-notch photography or to get my husband a new recipe (hee!). I know where to good books to put on my TBR list, and where to go if I simply want to read a good story. I also know that throughout the year, I’ll be getting to know the friends I’ve made even better, and hopefully I’ll be meeting a few more.

            If you leave a comment on my blog this week (while I’m preparing for an art show), please know that I may be day or two late in getting to your blog, but I will get there.

My best to you all, and I’ll see you soon.

 

104 comments:

  1. Glad the A-to-Z challenge ended up being such a positive experience for you! I didn't participate, but many of the bloggers I follow did, and it was fun to see how varied their themes were. (But gosh, it could be so hard to keep up with all those posts sometimes, haha!)

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    1. Keeping up was hard, but I'm glad I did it. Maybe next year you will too. :-)

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  2. You gained a new one this weekend--me! It was quiet around here, so I was able to use the extra time to clean up my Followers list and make it make sense. So now I'll be able to comment on people's blogs as they're posted, rather than just clicking through from my contact list. Yes, I gained a lot of new friends, as well from the challenge--so it was well worth all the hard work! Plus it was a blast.

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    1. Yes, definitely a blast. I bet you sold a lot of books, too. :-)

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  3. This was also my first time doing the challenge. Do to technical troubles at times or just not having enough time there where days I visitied more blogs than others. But that gives me something to improve on for next time. Congratz on all the new followers as well!

    LittleCely's Blog

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  4. I congratulate you on completing your first challenge. It was great hearing from you and am pleased you liked my music.
    Yvonne.

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    1. I'll continue to stop by for those great tunes! Chuck Berry, here I come!

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  5. I've never done the A-Z Challenge; I know I would never finish it. But I read some of the posts in it. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. I hope you enjoyed the posts you read. :-)

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  6. I agree about the Google+ pages. In the beginning of the Challenge, I took the time to hunt down the correct blog, etc but I stopped that about halfway through. This was the first time I used a signature when I commented, and I think it made it easier for people to find my blog.

    Hope the art show goes well!

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. So glad to see you here. I'll be in your cyberspace backyard shortly. :-)

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  7. Gaining a sense of community is always fun, as there are many to visit and each are unique. And yep, make things easy to find and comment, screw stupidf disquis and stupid google +

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  8. Congratulations on meeting your goals!

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    1. Yeah, now to try and meet my other goals... :-)

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  9. This was beautifully written, debi!

    I am so glad you dropped by my blog so I could find yours... I enjoyed your posts and they gave me some incredible insight on how to look at scenes from different points of view and genre. WELL DONE!

    You met all the aspects of the challenge. Bravo!

    I was lucky to be able to post daily and return comments, I only visited a handful of new people because I have so many blogger friends I wanted to support.

    As you say... time is limited!

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    1. If I had as many followers as you did starting out, I would not have been able to keep up following them all and joining new ones as well. You did great!

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  10. You reaped the benefits that we see in the Challenge. I think you did what you did well and did it within your capabilities. It's preferable for the Challenge to fit into your schedule without consuming it.

    I also have a problem with those Google+ pages. They often slow down or lock up my computer until they've loaded completely. If we could get everyone to use the signature links especially during April it would be so much better. A lot of people see them as "spam" or are afraid to click on the links and that is a problem. This is why every year we have one or more posts about signature links, but still more education is needed.

    Good job and thanks for the positive report.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. Well, thank you! I'll see you around.

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  11. Debi - your posts were absolutely stellar every day. And you were one of the most prolific "browsers" on other blogs because I saw your comments where ever I went. You were the epitome of an active participant. And now I find you also paint and exhibit and ..... Super woman. Super glad I found you.

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    1. Thank you, Sammy. I tried hard and did my best. That's all any of us can do.

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  12. Yeah, I have the same complaint about Google +. It's annoying.

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  13. It seems nearly all of the bloggers I visited brought me to their Google+ page. And several didn't share their newest post, so I'd have to hunt for their blog. It was a big pain! If I do the Challenge next year, I'll definitely include my blog URL in my comments. :)

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  14. I know how it goes with being busy. How people can actually schedule posts ahead of time is just beyond me. Most days we're struggling just to finish up Sunday night so we can be ready for Monday morning. No one told me as a kid that real life would be hard.

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    1. I have no excuse. I did hear that saying, but I thought it meant I'd have to actually clean my room rather than shove everything under the bed.

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  15. Congrats, Deb. I know it wasn't easy, especially as a first-time Challenge participant, but you did a brilliant job. Well done.
    Have fun with the art show.

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    1. Yes, we're almost ready for the show. It's like everything else exhausting but fun in life--I can't wait until it's over.

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  16. It wasn't an easy feat, you you completed your challenge successfully. You have a great blog. All the best. Michelle @ writer-way.blogspot.com

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  17. I was a first timer too:) I thought you were an old hat at this with the great writing. Love to see some of your art works too:) Did mine go to a google page? I hope not. I have no idea how people can just write "You can find my blog here" and you press on "here" and you are there-lol I am computer challenged. Oh well. Thank you for all your wonderful comments and will be back always to see yours

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    1. I just put my URL in my signature and then 'paste' it in over and over.

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  18. Very well done 'Reflection' post with much food for thought as to a busy life and having a dedication to your craft. I enjoyed your blog and posts very much, and appreciated the amazing effort and time put into each one. What terrific ideas and prompts...a real lesson on writing. Thanks for your visits and comments. I'm not surprised you are an artist as well....creativity knows no bounds. So nice to meet you this AtoZ Challenge.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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  19. I enjoyed your A-Z posts! You got me thinking about different genre's and I enjoyed coming here and reading your different takes. Congratulations on a good job!

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  20. The comments are overwhelming, which is why I didn't participate this year. How someone like Alex handles 100 or more I'll never know.

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  21. That was a great tip to leave the blog url automatically in each comment -- I found digging through Google+ pages to find the blog link frustrating too.

    Congrats on way exceeding your A to Z goals!

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  22. Congrats on finishing the challenge. It sounds like you blew your goals away, and even had to overcome several obstacles. Keep up the good writing Debi!

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  23. Quite the venture to take on and finish. I've done Nanowrimo a couple of times and can appreciate the time and work.

    Keeping up a successful blog is a difficult task. Rewarding both in knowledge and friendship, but time consuming. However, some days it is the only writing I complete. Looking forward to looking back and reading more here and in those earlier posts.

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    1. Thanks. I did Nanwrimo last year, but I haven't even started revising the novel I wrote. :-) Soon, I say, always soon.

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  24. Your theme was educational and entertaining too!
    So glad we connected via the A to Z, Debi!

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    1. I'm glad too, and I will be sending you that email about the book, but not until after this upcoming art show. Very busy (and exhausted), so I'm too tired to think about more right now.

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  25. Glad you increased your followers by so much! Many people (myself included) found that a lot of people didn't return follows this year. No idea why.
    The Google+ profiles are frustrating. Sometimes you can't find the person's blog at all.

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    1. Yes, I had to do a Google search for "so and so's blog" and sometimes that helped, but it did take more time than I wanted to take. :-)

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  26. I had not heard of the A-Z challenge! Oh, well....I would never have been able to keep up with it this year anyway! Been way too busy and barely got around to writing posts! But this is great to keep in mind for next year. Thanks for becoming a follower of Orthodoxmom3.wordpress.com. I'll be sure to follow and look forward to keeping an eye out for future posts!

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    1. Thanks. I'll be hopping by your blog now and then, too. :-)

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  27. Hi human, Debi,

    Ah yes, I'm vaguely aware of the alternate challenge to mine. This fascination with the alphabet is most interesting. I'm most pleased that the A to Z Challenge has been rewarding for you, my human friend. I know that it's all about the pawsitive interaction you share with each other.

    Google+ is a magical mystery tour. I absolutely hate trying to search for someone's blog going via Google+. Besides, with my slow computer, Google+ takes years to load up.

    Hearty congrats on your reflection pawst. And never feel the need to reciprocate with a comment on my site. You've got enough to do just interacting with those involved in the darned A to Z.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny, the cordial host of The Alphabark Challenge 2014! :)

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    1. Thanks, Penny, and my computer is slow loading the Google pages, too.

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  28. I've long since wondered whether I should get rid of that google plus page link as my blog profile. It's sticking but goodness gracious it can be a challenge. But yay on finishing! I plan on scheduling more too!

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    1. Yay is right. Thanks for stopping by.

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  29. Thank you so much for being a part of A-Z, Debbie! I loved the comments you left on my posts and missed seeing you there over the last ones. I realise I haven't done justice to your blog and will remedy that soon. I simply loved the variety of fictional pieces that came out of single prompts. You made it look so effortless! Hats off for that.

    Shailaja's post

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  30. Wow, you got a great response to the challenge--congrats! I wish I'd done a fraction as well, but I was happy to see my blog traffic and followers increase as much as they did. I'm finally over 100 followers, which is amazing, considered how I started out.

    I agree with your observations, including how hard it was to find people's blogs sometimes. I usually resorted to Googling them, but even then, there were a few I just couldn't find, so in the end I didn't know if they were part of the Challenge or not.

    Life is extremely busy, but I'm glad to have met you and I hope we can keep up with each other. That would make the Challenge more than worth it.

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  31. Debi, you did well visiting as many blogs as you did. I didn't get near that on a daily basis. You had a very interesting theme which I didn't come to read often enough. Hadn't thought about it before, but you're so right that there's a lot of resource material contained in the Challenge posts.

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    1. It's like having our own little library. :-)

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  32. I wish there was some way to sticky a hyperlink or even link Google+ profiles to a website like Twitter does. I'm one of those offenders who comments, but didn't leave a link... and I wasn't very good about sharing my posts either. Maybe next time, I'll be better.

    Loni <--shazam!

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  33. Congratulations for making it through the A to Z. It feels good doesn't it? Feel free to toot away because looking at your Challenge posts you certainly made the most of showcasing your writing talents through. I can't imagine how much energy it took to write in that many genres. Am now following your blog as well!

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm still low on energy, but I'll get it back. :-)

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  34. you did awesome! and i'm glad i got to meet you! i always learn more from this challenge - there are so many great people out there. and i still can't figure out how to make a signature for posting... where can i find it??
    ps - thanks for commenting on my cover reveal!

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    1. I always just leave my blog url after my comment. Like this:
      Best,
      Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

      See if that works for you. Then I copy the signature and just paste it in after each comment I leave on someone's blog. :-)

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    2. oh! i thought it was an automated thing, like with emails. i will try it!

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  35. Wow! You really made the most of the A t Z Challenge. Your hard work reaped fantastic dividends. Congrats on your increased readership and new-found friendships. What a wealth of knowledge we are when combined, huh?

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    1. Yeah, it almost makes me feel like it's possible to pretend I'm smart. :-)

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  36. Hah! A day or two getting back to you... I'm almost a week behind on comments, but I'm getting caught up, slowly but surely. Only 1.5 posts behind. (Oye! Why oh why can't I have a time-stopper?) Anyhow, *high five* we rock!

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    1. I'm about that far behind too, so no worries here. :-)

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  37. Lovely reflections posts Debi thank you! And thank you for all your wonderful ones during the challenge which I've saved.
    Garden of Eden Blog

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed them.

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  38. A-Z is certainly a wonderful opportunity to make friends.

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    1. Yes, I can't believe how many wonderful people I met, and so many with different interests. It's awesome!

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    2. I've done the challenge three times but skipped it this year - too many other things going on. Sounds like a great time was had by all this time.

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  39. It's a commitment, indeed. Glad you joined and I liked what you wrote here today.

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    1. Thanks, C. Lee. and just so you know, I'll be reading your book, Alligators Overhead, between patrons and customers at the show this weekend. :-)

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  40. Great to meet you! I felt myself nodding in agreement with many of your reflections... I also intended to schedule my posts in advance - and didn't - I also didn't get around to as many other blogs as I would have liked. But there is still time now! http://www.hjblenkinsop.co.uk

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    1. Great to meet you too. I'll be over soon to follow you as well. :-)

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  41. Thank you for visiting my blog site during the AtoZChallenge, Debi. I was not so vigilant this year and am still getting around the list! Aloha, Gail

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    1. I get it. I was gone a few days, and now I am really behind. But I'll just pluck away until I catch up.

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  42. Hi Debi - good to meet you via Silvia and the Challenge ... congratulations on achieving as much as you did ... and as you say it's meeting new friends, learning new ideas and thoughts .. enjoy the summer - your painting and creative courses ..

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary! I'm looking forward to a summer of reading, writing, painting, and grandkids. :-) Now that's truly Heaven on earth.

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  43. Congrats on completing the challenge Debi. Glad to have met you through A to Z and to be one of your new followers! :)

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    1. Thanks, Melissa. I appreciate the visit and the follow!

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  44. I think you did an amazing job of the challenge-- and I'm glad it led to new friendships. The one thing I'm going to harp on through the year, to all bloggers is the need to leave a link that leads back to them.

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  45. Hey Debi - I so agree! I loved meeting new bloggers, but the hardest part was keeping up with all of the return comments, and the Google + profiles do NOT help. I just switched mine back to a regular Blogger profile (it took me a while to figure out how to do that, LOL!) Now that I'm back to a weekly schedule, and have a whole week to get back to people, it really helps!!

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    1. My schedule is still a bit topsy-turvy, but I'll get there. :-)

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  46. Debi, you usually get out of the A-Z what you put into it. I'm so glad it was such a positive experience for you, and wow, that's a lot of comments to get on the A-Z. I'm glad you achieved even more than you expected. It's good when bloggers take the time to make it easy to comment. I did a whole post on this before the A-Z. Google+ profiles are the pits for quick return comments.

    Hoping to see a lot more of you Debi.

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    1. Thanks, Denise, and I'll see you soon.

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  47. Congratulations on finishing! I found it hard to make time to get back to blogs too. I think that was the hardest for me. Have fun at your art/craft show!! :)

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    1. Hi Ava. I did have a blast at the arts and craft show if you don't count the truck tire that blew out on the way, and the tire on the camper that blew out a mile from our house on the return trip. We had a good show though, so it turned out well.

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    2. Ai yi yi! (as my Pennsylvania Dutch relatives and, okay, I would say) Glad the show turned out well despite all the tire troubles! :)

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  48. Wait a minute.... You got back to the sites of each of those bloggers, read their posts, said something, and you visited five new blogs each day and wrote your daily post? You need a special award, I'm telling you...

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    1. I did my best. Now and then I check back at previous days' comments and find one that came later, and so I missed it. but I try to get back to them all. I'm still dragging after the A to Z, and then the art/craft show, but I'm going to concentrate on dreaming about sleeping when I sleep tonight, so that I'll get double the sleep--my regular sleep and the sleep I'm getting in the dream. :-)

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  49. I didn't cover as much ground with this challenge as you did. However, I finished the challenge, and I'm happy about that. Yes, the Google pages drove me nuts. This is the first year I've had to deal with that. The two previous years that I've done this challenge, I wasn't taken to Google pages. So this must be a new thing.
    Precious Monsters

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    1. Who knows, but it was a bit of a pain. Glad you managed the Challenge too.

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  50. glad to hear you writers had fun at the Blogfest :) Have fun at the art show too! And thanks for the follow!

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    1. The art show went well, so thanks for the good wishes.

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  51. Great reflections post, Debi. I agree with all you said. I have spent time lost in google, and I have learned so much through this, my second challenge. Love visiting the main website too because it was always filled with excellent tips. MJ Joachim has a survey up on the challenge now: http://mjjoachim.blogspot.com/. Check it out. Glad to meet you and thanks for stopping by to visit me as well. Maria,
    Delight Directed Living

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