Monday, May 3, 2021

AtoZ Challenge - Reflections & IWSG May

May the month of May bring you little mayhem and plenty of mayhap. (May the Fourth be with you if you happen to be visiting on such a holy day.)

Anyways, I would like to share my reflections for the A to Z Challenge and answer the fabulous IWSG Question of the month.

First, I am happy to announce I successfully completed my first A to Z Challenge! I did half of the entries ahead of time and scrambled desperately to get the rest finished in time. I managed to post them all on the correct day and in so doing proved the strength of my marriage. (Dear husband, thank you for not abandoning me during my crazed, late-night keyboard clacking. Payback for all those long gaming nights if I'm honest.)

For the month of April, my site received around 3,500 visits and 180 new comments. I am very pleased with these numbers as a first-time participant. My blog recently turned one year old, so that is even better!

My favorite part about the entire experience was the connection with other writers and readers. Seeing their comments each day gave me a boost of confidence. A number of readers stuck through the entire series and read through to the finish. I was nervous to create a perfect ending for them. I wanted them to read the last words with a satisfied smile. I hope they did!

On the flip side, I learned about a number of new blogs I now follow as well. I added several in the margin to your left. There are some very inspiring storytellers and artists among them. I tried to reply or return every comment I received. In the coming months, I would like to feature some of my favorite bloggers. It was a long and difficult month and I intend to continue visiting and commenting until I am certain I did my part! Plus, there are many blogs I never got the chance to visit!

Now to the May 5th question:
Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

I received more feedback on my writing this past month than I thought I would. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. I did not expect readers to follow the characters with such interest, nor did I expect them to be concerned for what would happen to them next. (Obviously, I hoped.) I was also pleased with the comments regarding worldbuilding. Reading their comments and dislikes for the villains/society helped me develop the story arc and bend the story toward that feedback. I found great joy in play-acting through my character and seeing the reaction as if I were looking directly at my audience. Special thanks to my most active readers, your comments kept me going:  Zalka Csenge Virág, Deborah Weber, Jemima Pett, Olga Godim, Iain Kelly, Jayashree, Yamini MacLean, Anne EG Nydam, Gail Baugniet, Anstice Brown, Jennifer Duggin, and Alex J Cavanaugh.

Please take a few moments to visit some other fabulous blogs. The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Do you have a copy of the latest IWSG Anthology? Ten fantastic stories await you, and I am honored to say one of them is mine!

Catch the authors on tour!
Tuesday, May 4 - Laura Billings' blog: Bookish Equestrian
Tuesday, May 4 - Jemi Fraser's blog: Just Jemi
Wednesday, May 5 - Ellen Jacobson's author blog
Thursday, May 6 - Mason Canyon's blog: Thoughts in Progress
Friday, May 7 - Louise Barbour's blog: Standing Into Danger
Monday, May 10 - Nick Wilford's author blog
Wednesday, May 12 - Cathrina Constantine's author blog


  1. Congratulations on completing the A to Z challenge! Somehow I missed seeing your blog in my first go around. Well I'll go back and read all your posts now.

    Tim Brannan, The Other Side

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I will have to visit The Other Side, too!

  2. I missed seeing your blog too, and will have to go back and read your writing posts.

  3. Congratulations on your first challenge. I remember the very first year - there were only a hundred of us. The following year there were over a thousand!
    And congratulations on Dark Matter.
    I'm sure your gamer husband forgives you.

  4. Hari OM
    I don't think I realised this was your first AZing experience, Steph. Hooraah! I surely do look foward to seeing more from you - and perhaps Holly???

    You'll find my wrap-up post (encompassing all four attempts) on the Doses of Wild YAM. Onward!!! YAM xx

    1. Thank you so much! Thanks for being such a great motivation to keep going. I loved reading your blogs as well. All the best!

  5. Hi, Steph, I remember my first A-Z Challenge, it was so much fun. I also made many new contacts and where my blogging all began.

    1. Yes, the networking is fantastic! Thank you for visiting!

  6. Congrats on finishing A-to-Z! I've done it a few times and it's a lot of fun, but April is such a crazy month for me at work it's just too much stress.

    Happy Anthology Launch Day!

  7. Congrats on you finishing A to Z. It was the first time for me too, and I found it interesting but also draining. I don't think I would participate again, but it was a great learning experience.

  8. Ooohh, I made it to the list on the left! ❤
    Glad you did the challenge. For some people, it's about posting every day in April. For others, it's about getting all the posts scheduled and then spending the month visiting everyone. And for the really committed (or nuts) it's about both. (I've done that.)

    Continue visiting -- that's why we have a Road Trip!

    Those are some excellent active bloggers! I know those names. Glad you caught their eyes.

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

  9. Congratulations on your first challenge! It has been a really fun read, I hope you will join again next year. And thank you for the shout out, I loved coming back to your blog every day :)

    The Multicolored Diary

  10. Congrats on surviving your first A to Z, and double congrats on Dark Matter!

  11. Congratulations on completing the A-Z challenge. I haven't done one in years. It took all of last year and the first 2.5 months for me to focus. You have a wonderful blog, Steph. It's always a pleasure reading it.

  12. Look at you go! I participated on the A to Z about a decade ago a few times. It is rather intense and super fun! It is quite the experience, too!