2015 Blogging From A to Z Mission Debriefing

A-to-Z+Reflection+[2015]+-+LgMission Code Name: 3, 2, 1… BLASTOFF to Stellar Writing

Security Clearance: Unclassified

Mission Objectives: To meet new life forms and engage in shared and mutually beneficial discourse on a range of topics.

Mission Status: Success!

BLASTOFF to STELLAR WRITINGCo-Commander Rivera’s reflections report:
While it is never easy to commit a month to a venture of any kind, this team jumped into our second challenge with enthusiasm.

Pre-launch tips that worked: We feel the best thing we did this year was create the 3, 2, 1 theme. Having a predetermined post structure helped create continuity and make them easier to write. Creating a custom graphic also worked in our favor. Big smooch to my hubby who is our go-to guy for graphics. He also did our site favicon, the feather logo and our Weekend Coffee Share cup. Thank you, honey! The logo was amazing once everyone started promoting on social media using the official letter image, and made our posts stand out from the rest. Now that the challenge is over, we’ve had a number of requests from our friends to turn the 26 posts into an Ebook. The fact that we have a solid structure to each post will make that an easy transition, and we are considering the Ebook as a summer project.

Some of our mission highlights were:
Hitting our 400th post. May not sound like that many to some bloggers, but for us it was a huge deal.
K is for Kittens! This was Heather’s favorite post to write, and it inspired me to write the goofy S is for Sins. The two lighthearted posts gave us a much-needed break from being so serious, and we think our readers welcomed a bit of comedy during the mid-month slump as well.
T is for Trello! This one turned out to be our most popular post. Sharing great writer tools are something Heather and I feel passionate about. We know writers don’t have spare time, so when we find something that works we want everyone to know about it.

Comments meant the world to us:
Whenever people said a post was useful and they applied it to their own story, it made us happy. It was inspiring to see non-writers dropping in and talking about how our posts helped them make sense of a book they read. One of our top commentators was Sue Coletta. She was always upbeat and willing to share her own experiences and insights. In breaking news, Sue just extended an invite to us to guest blog on her Murder Blog and I have accepted. Another of our top commentators, Shawn Griffith from Down Home Thoughts, has submitted a pitch to guest blog for us and we have accepted. The benefits of comments can be far-reaching.

What we learned this month from others:
Heather selected my P is for Pinch Points post. She had never heard the term before. And as we learned from the comment section, she wasn’t the only one!

We also selected a wonderful new blog discovery made very late in the challenge, Brittany Constable’s blog. Brittany did a literary analysis of books/films with an eye towards advice for writers. The posts were well done and funny too. So please pay her a visit and spread some blog love.

I also want to give a huge shout out to Hannah Givens for her blog Things Matter and her A to Z posts on LGBT characters in comics. I hear lots of writers paying lip service to the “We Need Diversity” mantra. If you mean it get over to Hannah’s blog. And feel free to make a shopping list and support some fellow writers who are actually writing diversity!

Blogs we enjoyed:
Really there are too many to count. Some of my favorite themes were, the photo on Alex Hurst and Elizabeth Hain‘s blogs. And the monsters who ruled at Part Time Monster and Melissa Barker-Simpson‘s blogs. Way to rock the month ladies. But those are all trusted writers that I knew from outside the challenge! As for new blogs? Well, I subscribed to a few that really bowled me over, but as for the rest … well during the next few weeks I’ll be revisiting these discoveries, and reading what a normal blog post looks like. From there I’ll start to figure out who to follow full-time. I fear it may be a large number since I enjoyed so many blogs this year.

Heather’s favorite find was Pensuasion, a theme that pitted two movies against each other and had the readers vote on the which one was best. She liked it because it inspired so much reader involvement and it was fun to read the comments. The comments really are amazing during A to Z.

What didn’t go too well:
Some of the letters still challenge the crap out of us. Z is my nemesis. I licked it again this year by using a totally unrelated word to writing. Hopefully I made it work with Z is for Zymurgy. Heather struggled with the letter Q, but came up with the post Q is for Questions. Other than those two letters, we really didn’t struggle too much, and only two letters got changed to new topics from the original master plan we created in March.

I started the challenge strong and managed to visit over a hundred new blogs to me in the first half of the month, while also keeping up with my friend’s blogs pretty well. Due to a family crisis, I lost all my steam by the end of the month. I feel like I disappointed myself and my friends by slacking off on my blog visits, but my family needs to come first. I’m hopeful everyone understands.

Plans for next year’s A to Z Challenge:
A bit too soon for us to start planning, but we will both be on the lookout for a cool new theme, that’s for sure. Heather and I like the idea of writing something fiction based next year, but we don’t know how our readers would like that. However, next year is light-years away, we have time to weigh the pros and cons before we make any plans.

Mission collusion:
Wow, what a month. We adding so many new followers, and made some amazing new friends. The outpouring of support for the blog in the last few months has just been phenomenal. Today Heather and I make a very big announcement…
In the last four months we have equaled the blog traffic Write On Sisters did all last year!

We are grateful every day for every visit and for every comment. 2015 was the start of a whole new chapter in the Write On Sisters story, and we are humbled with the response. We couldn’t ask for better readers or blogging friends.

Thank you everyone!

Co-Commanders Jackson and Rivera signing off!

Author: Robin Rivera

Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.

32 thoughts on “2015 Blogging From A to Z Mission Debriefing”

    1. Hi Debbie,
      We had a great time doing the challenge this year. We didn’t do the Road Trip last year but this year we signed up and it’s proving to be a wonderful way to catch up on the blogs we missed in April. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. I didn’t find you during the challenge but I am here today visiting for the A to Z Road Trip. Excuse me while I go look around. I hope to see you on the Road somewhere

    1. Thanks, Paula.
      There are so many blogs, it’s not surprising you didn’t catch us the first time round. I’m glad you found us on the Road Trip.

  2. Hello there.
    Well done for completing the challenge! I have yet to visit your AtoZ entries…I’m slowly working my way around the list beginning with the blogs immediately below me in the linky. Visiting and commenting on other blogs does indeed consume a lot of time, but at least we have until the start of the next challenge to finish our visiting!
    Thanks for sharing your reflections.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

    1. Hi,
      Thank you! Congratulations right back to you for taking part. It is a hard challenge! I admire your dedication, I still have hundreds of blogs I missed visiting. The list was so long! My goal at this point is to hit all the reflections blogs, and I’m almost there. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Ah, I have to make sure I read your A to Z posts, they will help me I think. I read a few if I remember correctly.
    Congratulations for finishing! And thanks for stopping by my blog, I hope that you’ll be back and enjoy it in the future.

    1. Hi Solveig,
      Thanks! I’m glad you think our posts will help you with writing project. It was really nice to meet you this month. : )

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks! My husband is pretty talented, so is Heather’s guy. Our blog would be a graphics dead zone if not for their handy work. : )

  4. Aw, thanks for the link! 🙂 And I think an ebook of your A to Z would be awesome. As other commenters said throughout the month, it really serve as a quick crash course on writing and plotting. (Crash course? 321 Blastoff theme? Yes, no, maybe?)

    Also, I love extended examples from fiction, those help me a lot, so I’m super excited to hear about Brittany Constable’s blog/theme!

  5. Hello, your blog sounds as if it was fun… I’m enjoying going through these reflections posts as I presume they are the most energetic of the bloggers, to still be here! Hopefully i will see you next year. I did about three quarters this year which was better than last – don’t think i will ever get them all done, I thnk I write too much in the comments! Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

    1. Hi Liz,
      Thanks for dropping by. Of course we will be back next year, we have a winning streak to maintain. : )

  6. Well, ladies, you absolutely smashed it. I think it’s an excellent idea to turn the posts into an e-book, so I’ll look forward to hearing more about that during the summer. The tips you provided are an invaluable resource to both writers and readers, so to have that in book form, well, it would be really cool! I also loved the graphics, so kudos to your husband 🙂 I also think a fiction theme would be great, but like you said – next year is light years away! I’ll check out Pensuasion – that sounds like fun. I’m impressed you managed to juggle everything and visit so many blogs. I’m looking forward to exploring many more over the coming weeks. Thank you for all your support during the month, and for the mention. I’m really glad you liked the theme. I had an absolute blast 😀

    1. Thanks, Mel! I think we may need to experiment with some fiction posts before next year’s challenge, the idea of doing something completely NEW while doing A to Z sounds like total madness.
      I’m glad to hear you had a fun challenge. : ) The comments were always red hot over at your place, so I think it’s safe to say your theme rocked with Everyone!

  7. Great reflection! I think your theme worked well, too, and you are so right about the graphic. I’m probably going to try and do that next year.

    I also fell off during the second half of the month, largely due to family stuff. Just spent the weekend (mostly) digging myself out and getting caught up on some writing for May.

    I’m thinking I am going to go through my comment threads over the next month and visit commenters I missed during April.

    1. Thanks! I think the theme was a hit, but we did run out of space references after a while.
      Graphics are my new thing! I want to have many more designed by the end of the year, and for all sorts of different types of posts.
      I’ve spent today just moving blogs over to my WordPress reader and catching up on the blogs I really enjoyed this month. But soon I will have to do exactly what you’ve suggested and work my way down the comments list making sure I didn’t miss people. : )

  8. Fantastic job on your A-Z Challenge! I loved all your posts and I agree that the structure made it easy to read/follow and to know what to expect. I’m excited to give Trello a try this summer.

    1. Thanks! I know you did fantastic with your blog, but I have to say I’m a total theme and structure convert now. I doubt I will ever attempt A to Z again without this same type of set up. It really helped keep our word counts down too. We only had one post that topped 500 words all month. Let me know if you need a hand with Trello. I’d be happy to give you pointers.

  9. Wow! Fantastic job, Robin and Heather. I know one of my favorites was the W for Wellbeing article. Writers don’t discuss that topic often enough, IMO, and it was great to see Heather address that. 🙂

    Don’t worry too much about the end of the month, Robin. Family and personal matters always come first. I hope you’re doing OK.

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thanks for asking. Things are getting better, but we lost the family cat. My boys took it very hard and my youngest wasn’t sleeping at all for several days. It will take some time, but it will get better. : )

      W was a great posts. I’ll pass your kind words to Heather.

  10. I hope you do put these into an e-book. That’s a great idea. And congratulations on the 400 posts! As someone who normally writes a post once a week, reaching 400 would be amazing. 🙂

    I hope you both enjoy a well-deserved rest from the challenge!

    1. Thanks, Sue. I’m always amazed when we hit a major milestone. So many blogs die before the first year is up. But Heather and I are staying strong, and sicking to our commitment to blog every week. Sooner of later the posts start to add up, but adding 26 in a month really helps grow the numbers. : )

      Enjoy your rest too. The amount of research you clearly put into your posts this year must have been insane, but so well worth. You really knocked everyone out with your posts! Just loved them!

    1. Thanks! Heather and I always have too many projects lined up. But everyone has been so encouraging, I think this one might get shifted to the top of the list. : )

  11. Thank you SO much for the mention – proving my point once again that you two rock! This challenge was fantastically done. Clean, concise, informative. Really well done. Bravo!

    1. Sue, you are too cute! : ) And you are very welcome. We love being able to do shout outs and links for other bloggers.

  12. Great debriefing! And I’m glad you enjoyed my blog! <3 Your posts here were great. T and Z knocked it out of the park. I think the unique graphics really DO make all the difference (I got a ton of comments on my banners), but more importantly, your posts were focused and useful. That's a huge winning combo.

    I'm definitely following this blog full-time! ^_^ Like you, I do have to give new blogs a grace period, though. (Luckily, I followed about 300 a month before the challenge, to get a feel for their blogs before A-Z… and yeah.. you're going to be following a ton!!

    1. Three! Hundred! Blogs! Excuse me, I need to go back to bed now, I’m exhausted just thinking about that.

      Your banners are fantastic. I think more custom graphics is my number one area of physical change I want to improve with the blog this year. I have the style and colors the way we like it, but we want to storm the Pinterest stronghold this year. Graphics are key to that goal.

We love comments and questions.