As the dust settles…reflections

We Arrived. We Blogged. We Conquered. Congrats to my fellow A to Zers who made it through the alphabet in April!

This was my second year attempting, and completing, the Challenge. I feel a little wiser and well-traveled after having made the journey. In my 2012 Reflections post, I likened the challenge to one of those “around the world” parties we used to have in the dorms at college. I was new to the blogging world and eagerly flitted around like a social butterfly, discovering new sites and making new friends.

This year, the Challenge was a bit like mountain climbing. Not in the sense you might think of, starting at the bottom and working my way up to the pinnacle. No, I already knew what the top looked like. At the finish line, the air is clearer, the view is great. I remembered that from May 1st last year! No, the 2013 Challenge felt more like rappelling (or abseiling, as the rest of the world calls it).
Gunks Traps - Rappelling - 2

Photo credit: © Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons

With over 1600 brave bloggers on the sign up list, I attempted to visit as many as I could as I propelled myself through my own Challenge. I tried to follow systematically, starting by using the optional subject headings that were available this year (GREAT OPTION). I hit on the Music sites first, since my theme was the Music-Fan Connection. On days when I chatted about secondary subjects within my theme (parenting, travel, politics, etc), I tried to hit as many sites as I could find in those categories, and so on.  But I also visited haphazardly, clicking on links found though the twitter #AtoZChallenge hashtag, and through the daily status posts on the A to Z Facebook page.

I felt like my feet never touched the same place twice as I rappelled through as many blogs as I could, leaving comments as my footprints.

Foot traffic on my own blog was lighter than last year, but I really appreciated those who came and took the time to comment. The real rock star standouts for me were Another Clean Slate (great writing), Some Dark Romantic (for co-hosting the Big Reveal and keeping the A to Z HOT!), messymimi’s meanderings (great facts), Bibsey (2nd year of alphabetic hilarity, holla!), Whole Foods Living (yum), and Ramblings of a Silly Girl (a city girl after my own heart).

Now, I’m at the bottom of the mountain, dusting off my hands and wiping the sweat from my brow. I’m giving a wave up to all the A to Z winners this year at the top, especially those new to the Challenge in 2013. I’m off to climb another mountain as I attempt to finish writing my second novel, but I hope to take breaks along that journey and visit more of my A to Z comrades.

Thanks to the Arlee Bird and the entire A to Z crew for hosting!

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  • AnotherCleanSlate

    Nice way to do the reflections post! Good luck with the novel!!

    • AnotherCleanSlate

      And big thanks for the shout out!!!!!!

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks! And it was my pleasure to give you a shout out – awesome job with your blog! See you around the webs!

  • Mina Lobo

    Oh. Wow! Thank you *so much* for the shout out. I’m all onion-eyed now. (Like, for realz.) 😀 It’s been great getting to know you and I look forward to checking in more regularly, now that the April madness has passed us by (and I can’t wait for your book in September!!!). :-)

    • Jessica Topper

      Onion-eyed – love it! This is what I love about the challenge – stumbling across good peeps. :-)

  • Arlee Bird

    And thank you for being a part of the A to Z. What a great analogy you’ve given. I never thought of it that way, but, yes, your vivid account makes me see it. I’m glad you were with us again and hope to see you for future Challenges.

    Best of success with the book!


    An A to Z Co-Host

    Tossing It Out

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks for your kind words about the blog and the book, Arlee! Will continue to be a champion for the A to Z, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for all bloggers.

  • Susan Gourley

    Congrats on finishing. There were some great themes this year and I liked the labeling.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks, Susan – can’t wait to see what people are cooking up for next year!

  • Sue Ann Bowling

    Nice analogy.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks, Sue Ann. Not that I’ve ever really mountain climbed, but… it seemed fitting!

  • Emily L. Moir-Genther

    Coming down a mountain, what a great metaphor for AtoZing. Best of luck with your writing!

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks Emily, you too!

  • Rebecca Bradley

    It’s been another great year. here’s to next year!

    • Jessica Topper

      Cheers, Rebecca!

  • Printed Portal

    I didn’t make use of the categories /subject headings I just worked through the numbers (and I am still doing this). Perhaps I should have paid more attention to them. Great to see that it worked for you.

    Good luck with the novel. another great challenge :)

    • Jessica Topper

      Wow, I admire that you are going through the numbers! That takes patience but what a great way to work the A to Z!

  • Bames Kaur Pabla

    I am so relieved I made it. There were some days when finding a topic for the corresponding letter of the day was tough… But I made it. Yay!

    • Jessica Topper

      Congrats, Barnes! I know, some letters come so easy and you look forward to them, others – not so much!


    Wonderful account of your experience of the challenge Well done.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks, Yvonne!

  • Sophie Duncan

    Congrats on finishing the A to Z! Interesting analogy – this was my first year, so I wonder if it’ll feel like that for me next year? :)

    And good luck with finishing your second novel.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks for your kind words, Sophie. And great job with the first year! I honestly don’t think this challenge can ever get old – it’s never going to be the same thing twice! :)

  • messymimi

    You did a great job, and i like your take on the music scene. Go after that novel with all that is in you, i know you can do it!

    • Jessica Topper

      Aw, thanks for the vote of confidence, messymimi! It was nice have you visit, and vice-versa!

  • Tina Downey

    Great analogies! One of the best reflections I’ve read, and I’ve been up a while. Your visiting method was great! If you’d like this post to appear on the A-Z Blog, you’re welcome to guest there.

    Tina @
    is Good

    April 2013 A-Z
    Challenge Blog


    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks, Tina! I would be honored to have a guest post on the A to Z Blog! Anything more I have to do, or would you just post it as is? Very cool – thanks!

  • Ellen Wilson

    It felt just like you described and we did see a lot of treasure along the way 😀
    Congrats on completing the mountain!

    • Jessica Topper

      Treasures, for sure! Congrats to you too!

  • Stephanie Scott

    My thoughts and process are similar–I started with tags I’m most interested in (writing and books) and skipped around from there. I also clicked on twitter links. Like you, I noticed lighter traffic, fewer comments, and fewer new followers. I think blogging has plateaued and people have so many online interests these days, that blogs dont’ have the same pull. But i also appreciated all the thoughtful comments and interaction!

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks for weighing in Stepahnie. You’re right, there are a lot more distractions online these days, but still so many stellar blogs out there. People don’t know what they are missing! I guess we have to go for quality over quantity. :)

  • M. J. Joachim

    I’m not a mountain climber myself. However, I can definitely see your point of view. It’s beautiful on top of a mountain. It’s fun hiking all the trails along the way. Hiking is more my style, where my feet stay on the ground. It’s amazing when the journey finishes. So many memories, a fatigue that’s more than worthwhile. Congratulations on finishing the challenge. Best of luck as you work on your novel.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks for the kind words, M.J. I actually don’t climb either, but it seemed fitting! And your analogies are spot on as well. Congrats on a hike well done!

  • Claire Gillian

    Wow! I’m in awe of your secondary goal…which for me would have been harder than just the blogging. Good for you!! Love the look of your blog, by the way.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thank you, Claire! I pretty much took the month off from writing to blog, so nose needs to go back to the grindstone. But in the best way possible – writ to live, live to write! Congrats on the challenge!

  • Teresa Coltrin

    It was a great race. Congrats for finishing.

    • Jessica Topper

      Cheers, Teresa – congrats to you too!

  • David Cairns

    Well said. You’ve climbed the mountain. Abseilled down it. What next? Blasting through the moutain…I’ll look forward to that in 2014. Congrats on completing the 2013 Challenge.

    • Jessica Topper

      Oooh, I like that imagery, David – blast through that sucker! As long as we have A to Z, there will always be a mountain to climb somewhere!

  • Jessica Topper

    Thanks Laura – you too!

  • Jessica Topper

    Thanks Tami – I remember your blog, it was a fun one! Congrats!

  • Jessica Topper

    Thanks, Fay! Best wishes and congrats going out to you too!

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  • Connie Gruning

    I enjoyed your posts. This was fun, I had a great time with the Challenge. Congratulations for finishing!
    Wooo hooo! We rock!

    Peanut Butter and Whine

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks Connie – awesome finish on your part too!

  • Melissa Sugar

    Thanks for sharing your A to Z blogging challenge, experience. I hope to get my own reflections post up soon, but I’m taking a little breather. Congrats on finishing. You had a good idea, hitting certain types of blogs first. I wish I’d thought of that. I just visited blogs, randomly. I am a new follower from the challenge. I wish I’d found you sooner, but there were so many blogs and I was just trying to hit as many as I could during my (very) little free time.

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks Melissa – good idea on taking a breather – it’s well-deserved! I think you & I were of the same mind on our A to Z themes, mixing our business know-how in with our writing. I too wish I had found you sooner – so many great tips!

  • Joanne Clancy

    Congratulations for finishing the A to Z Challenge! It was my first time this year, and I found it challenging but rewarding. I enjoyed your posts throughout the month, and I wanted to nominate you for a Liebster Award :)
    You can check out the details here:

  • Evalina Zamana

    You did it, well done!
    Evalina, This and that…

  • ajc1023

    What a great reflection post!!!

  • J Lenni Dorner

    I loved those blog categories too! That was sweet.
    Stopping by from the #atozchallenge . Congratulations my fellow reflector post maker!


  • doreenmcgettigan

    Congratulations on finishing the Challenge again!!

    I tried to visit systematically but my eyes wondered all over the place and I just landed where ever and commented. It was always interesting and I enjoyed every blog I visited!

  • Jennifer Chandler

    Wonderful reflection post and a very apt description of the entire experience! I didn’t make it around to nearly as many blogs as I’d hoped, but everywhere I did visit gave me something new to think about.

    Happy to “meet’ you via the reflections list! Best of luck in finishing your second novel.


  • Jarmila V. Del Boccio

    Very clever perspective! I’m glad you enjoyed the journey, Jess. Hope to see you next year!


  • Nicole/TheMadlabPost

    This is by one of my favorite Reflections posts for the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge, that I’ve read so far. Your liking it to climbing a mountain and strategies for visiting participating blogs is easy to relate to and well presented. Thanks for joining the party!

    #atozchallenge Co-Host

    • Jessica Topper

      Thanks for stopping by, Nicole! Climbing a mountain in just 26 steps makes it sound a lot less daunting, doesn’t it? 😉

  • Shannon Lawrence

    The second year was easier on me, too. I was a “seasoned” blogger by then, at least compared to my first A-to-Z, and that really helped. Good luck on your novel!
    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    • Jessica Topper

      What a difference a year makes, right? Thanks Shannon! Hope to see you on the A to Z again next year!

  • spuduka

    Another blog that has not bee updated since may, still I will carry on

    • Jessica Topper

      Congrats on your first A-Z! It’s tons of fun, isn’t it?