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The #AtoZChallenge Reflections Post

My first encounter with A to Z Challenge was last year. I was the 15th to sign up, forgot all about it till I saw a random post talking about it— reminding me I had signed up. I wrote my A-post, a short story, and after the comments, there was no going back. I winged through the challenge, writing stories based on prompt-words other participants left me. A few months later, I came up with A to Z Stories of Life and Death.

This year, I was thrilled Lee asked me if I’d like to help host the challenge–this year has been bigger than last year—more than 1700 bloggers! I enjoyed working with the hosting team– the constant flurry of emails became a pleasant part of my life pre-challenge.

The challenge itself  was a bit of a blur, not only because the #atozchallenge noise on twitter swamped me, or that there were too many AZ blogs to visit and there was too little time, or that I was traveling and mostly feeling unwell throughout the challenge— it was that I winged it all over again.

Despite all the best-laid plans of asking for prompts beforehand, matching photo-prompts with story-starters, and drafting all the posts date-wise–I unfortunately remained me.

I wrote each story on its day, some barely a few minutes before midnight after long days of relentless madness. I even missed a day because Blogger did not post as scheduled, and had to post on a Sunday to make up. (Not the most shining of co-hosts, I’m afraid!)

The two things that kept me going through the challenge were the e-mails from co-hosts (a truly amazing team) and the comments from co-participants. On some days when I wanted to throw away the gauntlet,visit no one, make no posts and just go to sleep already– the emails and the comments kept me going.

I can never thank my co-hosts enough.

Lee, the founder, and leader in all A-Z matters, Alex the Ninja cap’n, Tina the scheduling whiz, Jeremy the Badges and Banners creator, and the awesome co-hosts Konstanz, Karen, Jenny, Elizabeth, Matthew, DL, Shannon and Stephen who took care of all sorts of hosting issues small and big— take a bow please, all of you— the hosting team of A to Z:

Tossing It Out                          (Arlee Bird)
Alex J. Cavanaugh                 (Alex J. Cavanaugh)
Life is Good                              (Tina Downey)
Cruising Altitude 2.0           (DL Hammons)
Retro-Zombie                         (Jeremy Hawkins)
The Warrior Muse                (Shannon Lawrence)
The QQQE                                (Matthew MacNish)
Author Elizabeth Mueller  (Elizabeth Mueller)
Pearson Report                     (Jenny Pearson)
No Thought 2 Small             (Konstanz Silverbow)
Breakthrough Blogs            (Stephen Tremp)

Coming Down the Mountain   (Karen Gowen)
As co-host I did the following in the duration of the challenge: (Things all of us co-hosts did, and need to strategise better next year)

Fought the battle of the Word Verification: I’ve lost count of the number of blogs on which I left comments requesting comment moderation instead of Word Verification. All co-hosts would tell you the same story. I was heartened to note that most participants had worked this out by the end of the challenge.

Fought the advertisers or lame bloggers who added themselves to the list with no intention of taking part in the challenge. Alex did most of the real work though—he manually deleted the bugs from the linky list. (I’m telling you that guy not just writes about distant planets, he probably is a benign extra-terrestrial from somewhere light-years away, with mind-boggling reserves of energy and patience.)

Made it my mission to tell bloggers to make it easier for folks to comment on their blogs. All of us co-hosts did. And again, nearing the end of the challenge, most participants got this.

Tweeted the Challenge via @AprilA2Z , and it was a pleasure reading all the A-Z posts tweeted up. A lot of bloggers helped spread word on the challenge on twitter, and to each one of them, I’m grateful. To those on Twitter not following us yet, please do, so you can keep updated on future A-Z plans.

For the challenge next year, we’d love your help on the above.

Tell us how we can improve, guest post for us at the A-to-Z Challenge site to help raise awareness, and if you have ideas on how you can help us organize better, let us know.

I’d like to end the post with a word of thanks to each and every person who commented on my A to Z posts. I would dearly love to pick a few, but I wouldn’t, because this year, while visiting as many blogs as I could as a co-host, I developed a true appreciation of just what it takes to drop a comment a blog. And then to come back another day and do so again.

So all of you who were kind enough to comment on my stories, my heartfelt thanks. And because I really, really mean my thanks, here’s an open invite to guest post on this blog or on my other blog Daily (w)rite. If you have commented on my A-Z posts, please feel free to write to me at atozstories at gmail dot com in case you’d like a guest spot. All guest spot guidelines here.

The A-Z linky list would be alive through the year, and I’m working my way through it all over again– I’m grateful to each one of you who participated. I knew some of you from before, but would not have known a vast majority but for the challenge.

See you all here at my blog and at the A-to Z site, till we meet again for the challenge next year.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • boysmum2 says:

    Visiting whilst on my A to Z Road trip, commenting my way round the world. I must admit the word verification did bug me a little but like you I found most had switched it off by the end of the month.

  • SharleneT says:

    Hello, from #62 – aka Rockin'Chair Reflections! I didn't get to everyone during April, but have begun my trek through the list, hoping to finish up before next year's challenge! Congratulations on finishing. Come visit when you can. Word Verification was my biggest bugaboo, too! We had so many entrants, this year, that getting to comment etc. was probably the biggest challenge. Thanks for helping us and all your hard work!

  • Betty Alark says:

    Congratulations on completion of the A-Z Challenge!

    Great reflections post!

  • a.eye says:

    Thanks for co-hosting this! It was my first time doing it and I loved it!

  • Donna says:

    What a great month! Thanks for co-hosting! Wonderful job and I enjoyed your writing, though I couldn't get to it as much as I'd intended. Commenting is fun, and encouraging but hard to fit in some days!

  • Thank you for the opportunity. I'd like to offer my services next year to alert someone to those who should be removed from the list. Also, as Guilie suggested:
    it might be a good idea to separate categories so we don't waste our time. I visited nearly every one of the blogs.
    Thanks for the visit.

  • You are amazing…can't believe you posted on the day, each day. That in itself is quite a challenge! Congrats for making it all the way through.

  • I've never done the challenge simply because April is a chaotic month for me. But I love reading a lot of the posts. You all do a great job.

  • Your posts were fresh, I can't imagine that you had any troubles. Reading your stories kept me inspired. I think you made a wonderful host. 🙂

  • P V Ariel says:

    I am a bit late comer here.
    But i enjoyed reading it,
    The way of your expression is really enchanting,
    I left half way due to some unavoidable tour to my native land
    Anyways, though bit late i enjoyed reading your posts
    Keep posting
    Keep Inform

  • And what a great co-host you were! Your stories were so entertaining. I'm eager to see what you'll come up with next year! 🙂

  • Libby says:

    I can't believe you wrote those stories the day of! Crazy!

  • baygirl32 says:

    this year's challenge was HUGE! 🙂

  • MAJK says:

    like you I wrote each post the day of (or sometimes after) the day it was meant for. It was exhausting but worth every second of it because out of it came the makings for a novel I am really enjoying writing and a chance to meet a lot of wonderful people.

    Thank you for encouraging me to join and keeping my spirits up all along the way. I can not wait for next year.


  • Suze says:

    Thank you so much for your hard work in co-hosting the Challenge, Damyanti!

  • It was certainly a pleasure working with you! And I had to laugh at fighting the Word Verification. That's a real pain.

  • This was my first A-Z challenge. Came in unprepared, posted off the cuff, and loved it! You guys did a great job hosting and I'm definitely signing up for next year! Thank you!

  • Tina says:

    It was a pleasure to co-host with you! Thanks for your very kind encouragement. As we head into the off-season, I'm very glad to see you promoting guest posting. We want every participant to know that they've earned a chance to guest post at the main A-Z blog. Thanks for helping spread the word.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

  • It has been such a joy connecting through the A-Z challenge. I look forward to following your blogs (just added the second one to my list) in the year ahead.

    You write so beautifully, you continually inspire me to grow my own writing skills. Thank you!

  • Janyce says:

    I really appreciate your hard work during the challenge, along with your co-hosts. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and it was a great way to break into blogging.
    Thank you so much for making April such fun. 🙂

  • Sheila Siler says:

    Thanks for all your work on the challenge – I appreciate it!

  • My brain is still in overdrive, twitter escapes me… you did a great part!

    Reflection is a good thing, You have done a great job on the A to Z Challenge…

    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

  • Nicki Elson says:

    Outstanding job by all of you co-hosts. You truly do amaze me. Hope you're feeling better!

  • I wish I had participated last year just so I had any idea what I was doing. But it was the most wonderful experience getting to co-host with you and the rest of the team this year!

    Konstanz Silverbow

  • Your theme was one of the best. It was an honor co-hosting with all of you!

  • D.G. Hudson says:

    You visited my blog a few times and I thank you, Damiyanti. I'll check in now and again to see what's new.

    It was a fun experience for me. Now back to checking out the Reflections list.

  • EvalinaMaria says:

    Congratulations on finishing the challenge and sharing your reflections. Thank you for being a great team. I'm following you now and hopefully, next year, we will do it again!

  • I just realized that I never visited your site the entire challenge. At least, I don't think I did. I know I read some of your posts, but I guess it must've been in my reader. Sorry about that. :/

    Anyway, I'm going to catch up on any posts I missed. Just wanted to say hi and looking forward to what you post in the future 🙂

  • Sue H says:

    Well done, you, for co-hosting! Not an easy task, on top of entering the challenge yourself, too.

    I hear you on the 'commenting' issue – so many bloggers were using word verification or owner-approval posting for comments (and in some cases BOTH!!!) – my own pet peeve, as it slows down the process (and when I was using my phone to blog-hop it was really hard messing about with the predictive text getting tangled by the verification process!)

    Anyway, another A-Z done and dusted – onwards to 2013! 😉

    SueH I refuse to go quietly!
    Twitter – @Librarymaid

  • Mina Burrows says:

    The challenge was awesome. I can't believe you banged out all your FF so effortlessly. WOW. They were great.

    Thanks for co-hosting again and offering us the opportunity to guest blog. That's awesome too. 🙂

  • @ami says:

    Thanks for co-hosting.


  • I'm so sorry you weren't well during April. It seems that quite a few of us came down with various bugs. Hope you're feeling masses better now. I'm also sorry I didn't manage to visit more often. I can well understand you almost reaching the end of your tether as a co-organiser. Did you see me dangling on the end of that tether? It was overwhelmingly hard.

    Thank you so much for finding the time to visit me. I really appreciated that. I hope that next year we can subdivide ourselves in some way because 1700+ blogs are just too many for any human blogger to visit in a month.

    Take care and hope you have a better month in May 🙂

  • I think all of the hosts did a really great job.

    I'd told one of my Yahoo groups about the A to Z and many of them signed up. I told them to turn off word verification, but sadly few of them did so. I tried!

  • wow! Congrats and thank you for all the work you put into this! Love how your first A-Z resulted in a collection of tales. That's awesome!

  • Lynn Proctor says:

    i don't know how you did it–yours was a very hard writing task–thanks for all you did!

  • Rob Z Tobor says:

    It is hard enough just getting posts out each day, let alone doing any co-host work which bearing in mind the number of starters in this challenge must have been hard work. So I would just like to say well done.

    I am not entirely convinced I want to do it again myself, I blog almost everyday anyway, and doing it in the format I did it this time might just send me mad.

  • fidel says:

    Had a blast! Thanks to all for the good organisation and support.
    Suggestions in my Reflections post:(1) Categorise by genres to make it easier to visit 1900 blogs!(2)categorise/indicate city, country of origin to identify the gaps and cultivate participation from more countries.
    Fareeda Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Well done Damyantie! Your writing style is intriguing.
    Duncan In Kuantan

  • You did a fabulous job, as did all the hosts/co-hosts. It was refreshing to see that even the co-host felt like she just wanted to go to bed on some nights! Whew;) Nicely done, I have no concerns, it was lovely! I do believe from reading so many of the blogs over the course of the month that you made many bloggers feel a part of the blogging community, and you made them feel heard. As writers that is our greatest wish, to be read and heard. Thanks again!

  • Hi Damyanti! I have to give a special shout-out to you because if you did not post about the AtoZ Challenge on the Word Works page on FB, I'd still be in the dark about this wonderful, wonderful, truly life-changing challenge! I'll have to make this edit on my Reflections post! You've been such an encouraging presence and I am inspired by your writing! Hope to see you in person soon! 🙂

  • Thanks so much for being a co-host! I really enjoyed your fiction over the month. 🙂

  • Martha says:

    Thank you for everything, the challenge was awesome! I agree with you about Alex, I don't know how he does it!

  • Hi, Damyanti,
    I still have yet to read all your stories 'cause I know I'm missing out.

    I really appreciate what the A-Z tea did because if I could barely keep up, I don't know how you all managed with so many blogs to visit.

  • Tonja says:

    Thanks for co-hosting and for trying to eradicate word verification.

  • shelly says:

    Sometimes our best writing is done off the cuff.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I concur with just about all of your assessments except that I think you were a real champion of a co-host. With all you were dealing with you pulled it all off admirably. And what a Twitter sensation you were.

    I have great admiration for you and am proud to have you on our Team. It was a great team wasn't it.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  • michelle says:

    Thank you for all the sacrifices and hard work you put in, to make the challenge such a memorable one!
    Your collection of stories last year, is the reason why I decided to try my hand at 26 fiction pieces for this challenge…

  • Mina Lobo says:

    Because it was my goal to visit as many A to Z participants as I could during the week, I didn't make it back to you as often as I would've liked. But I'll be checking in, for sure, now that the madness is over!

    Thanks for being a great co-host!

    Some Dark Romantic

  • lynnelives says:

    Many thanks for your hard work and to all your co-hosts too. This was my first year and you made it easier with your comments and tweets.

  • You were our Twitter champion! Glad you didn't give up, Damy. Doing the posts every day is tough sometimes, but I enjoyed your flash fiction pieces. Thanks for doing one for me!

  • Thank you for you lovely comments and all of you hard work during the challenge, it was a delight for this newbie!

  • Word verification makes it rough to visit blogs. I appreciate your crusade against this.

  • I think you and all the co-hosts did a great job. I was mostly amazed at how many repeat visits I had from co-hosts who were trying so hard to reach all the participants!

  • Anita says:

    I agree, thanks to you & the other co-hosts! I really enjoyed it & thanks for taking the time to visit my blog 🙂

  • Jocelyn Rish says:

    Thank you so much to you and the other co-hosts! Y'all did a fabulous job. And I really enjoyed reading the stories you came up with for the prompts.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed it (and if you need any help next year – count on me). I stopped at "S" but that was unintentional – I went away and, unexpectedly, had no internet access! Next year I'll be better organized and schedule my posts beforehand.
    My only regret is that I didn't get around to a TENTH of the blogs I wanted to. I wish there was some way I could chart them all – I think Alex has some sort of filing system, maybe he could explain it? Thank you so much for a superb month of learning!

  • mooderino says:

    Well done, a grand job by the hosts.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  • This year's challenge was huge and I think all the hosts and co-hosts did an excellent job. I loved your stories this year.

  • Well, your collection of stories last year was the reason I decided to do a similar theme this year. I enjoyed the book you made too.

  • Shannon King says:

    I would agree that this years challenge was a blast and very big. I was shocked at how many blogs linked up! Amazing! Glad to have met you…blessings!
    thanks for coming by my running blog I sure appreciate your comment on my Ryan Reynolds post!