May 09 2016

Reflections on the #atozchallenge, being a blogger, the blogging community, and an unpublished book

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Reflections Post

Reflections #atozchallenge @JLenniDorner blog

I’m reflecting on who I want to be as a blogger after completing my fifth A to Z Challenge.

I want my blog to be smart, insightful, and always fun to read. I like “thinking posts” and getting opinions from my readers. Books and writing are my niche, so I focus largely on that area. But I also want readers to feel like they are getting to know me as a person, so I sometimes blog with that goal in mind. I try to put a lot of personality into my blog. Posts are framed with my voice, my personal experiences, and my take on things.

This means that I share my struggles and successes from my field (writing fiction). If there’s a blogging strategy or technique I’ve learned, I share that as well. And if there’s a stance for me to take on publishing, writing, blogging, or using social media, — I’m going to post about it.

Blog Check-up in 7 steps by @JLenniDorner at the #AtoZChallenge April 2016- imageMaking Img alt work for you by @JLenniDorner at the #AtoZChallenge April 2016- image

My goal as a blogger is for readers to get to the end of my post and either laugh, have a deep thought, feel they’ve learned something, or be glad they spent a minute or two here.

Is your goal to use your blog to build your author brand and eventually drive book sales? CLICK!

Reflection on who I want to be in the blogging community.

First, I want to be someone who’s known for commenting back, following on Twitter (maybe other social media as well), and generally replying to comments.

In my opinion, the blogging community leaders are the ones who donate time keeping this challenge running. Thank the co-hosts and their teams. I’m grateful for this challenge. This is how I connect with most bloggers that I know. The hop is about more than just planning posts alphabetically. That A to Z Challenge is about keeping the blogging community alive, together, and invested in each other. I’m proud to be a part of that.

Reflections specific to the A to Z Challenge

The Adult Content (AC) category still feels too narrow to me. Perhaps it should be used in conjunction with the other codes, such as (AC)(WR) for erotica writers. Or maybe the Adult Content should be defined, as it is on American television (language, sex, violence). Maybe both.

I also wish the Theme Reveal hop had codes, or used the theme names instead of blog names. This would be great for research! Like an A to Z Google search. OR if there were several linky lists for the themes.

  • Use this linky if your THEME is poetry, writing, or book related.
  • Use this linky if your theme includes travel or photography.
  • Use this linky if your theme is all about animals.

The obvious drawback being that someone will have a theme where they write poems on pictures of pets. Does that person link on more than one list? I’m guessing this is why it’s never been done. My brainstorm might be just a sun-shower.

#TeamArlee Arlee's #atozchallenge Ambassador badge 2016 @JLenniDorner

I’ll certainly do the challenge again next year. And I will absolutely volunteer to help out again. #TeamArlee No, I have NO IDEA what my theme will be for next year.

Nearly every blogging friend I have is a result of the A to Z Challenge. THANK YOU to everyone who signed up.

Reflecting on blogging an unpublished book

If someone asked me four years ago if I’d publish this much information about Fractions of Existence on my blog BEFORE publishing the book, I’d have thought the asker was nuts.

Then I read (and saw) The Martian.

So maybe blogging a book, or blogging a ridiculous amount of details about a book, isn’t the worst idea on the Internet.

Last year I blogged my reference book. That was also for sale at the time. In April of last year, one person bought my book on Smashwords and seven bought it on Amazon. Consider that I wrote it for a small niche, for those who wanted to write settings that felt like characters– suddenly eight books isn’t that bad. It’s almost twice as many as I expected to sell, to be honest. (Which is why I self-published that book. I knew it wouldn’t be worth a publishing house’s time and money.)

I don’t know if I’m going to self-publish Fractions of Existence. I am entering one more query contest and submitting to one more place.

HUGE THANKS to JEAN DAVIS for the wonderful guidance.

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Did you write a reflections post? How many times have you completed the A to Z Challenge? Was your blog one I commented at during A to Z?

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Texan? Click!
Debut Author? Book coming out in 2016? Let me know!

@JLenniDorner How do I indicate a fictional character is part Indian with a mother from India? #IndianAmerican #fiction
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The craft of fiction writing is the Theme for the #atozchallenge 2016 on the blog of @JLenniDorner

26 writing reference books containing 26 lessons produced a month of #WriteTips and writing samples

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Hope to see you next year! — J


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  1. I enjoyed some of your writing tips and getting to know a little more about you during this challenge. My biggest regret is not having the posts done before April 1, so I ended up spending more time writing and less time visiting others. This was my third A to Z Challenge and I’ll keep doing it until I get it right. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by The Doglady’s Den during the month!
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  2. Yes, I do have a Reflections blog and I do believe you visited my blog during the AtoZChallenge. This is about my 5th year (I think I skipped one in the middle somewhere.) Also have another novel coming out in June (yes, I’m a glutton for punishment but I never want to be left out of the AtoZChallenge).

    Thank you for your entertaining posts throughout April.
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    • Alana on May 9, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    I’m not a Texan, although I used to be. You visited my blog, and I entered one of your giveaways during the Challenge (thank you). I love the Challenges, but it was so hard to keep up with reading other participants since I was away from home for almost half of it,and didn’t have Internet (or slow Internet) for part of that time. I wrote a Reflections post on Saturday, reflecting on my second Challenge. I hope to be able to participate again next year.
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    • Tasha on May 9, 2016 at 6:39 AM

    Your reflections post is much deeper than mine :). This is my fourth year in the challenge and I have enjoyed this year immensely – thank you very much for stopping by earlier in the month.
    Tasha’s Thinkings
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  3. Well, I feel like a heel for not visiting you, but only once during this challenge. I’m subscribing NOW so I can continue to visit you and perhaps catch up on some of the content that I missed. April was absolutely crazy for me this year. This was my second year participating, and I definitely participated much more this year than I did last year. ( I was very very bad at not responding to comments or even visiting back. This year – 1000% better!)
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    • Juneta on May 9, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    I enjoyed your post and sharing opinions. Congrats on completing A to Z
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit
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  4. I’ve done three A to Z challenges and completed each one. It is the best way to meet other awesome bloggers, gain followers, and have some fun. I’ll keep on coming back and helping the co-hosts.

    I wouldn’t want to split up the A to Z link list into different ones per category because I need to expand my horizons beyond writers’ blogs and this challenge helps me do that.
    Tamara Narayan has this post to share A to Z ReflectionsMy Profile

  5. I always say, “I’m not doing it this year.” And then I do. This was my fourth year and I think the one I enjoyed most because I tried to seek out new people. That’s hard when you have favorites already and don’t want to neglect them. There’s just so much time, right?

    Congrats on making it through again and on doing it with some great posts.
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  6. What a thoughtful post, and with five years of experience under your belt, you’ve got lots of solid wisdom to share. And I certainly think you meet your goals as a blogger.

    • Alison on May 9, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    Thank you for your writing tips and for your role in the #AtoZChallenge. This was the first year we participated and will definitely do it again. I look forward to reading more about the journey of Fractions of Existence.
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  7. Interesting thoughts on the challenge in terms of categories. It is true to say that the Challenge fosters relationships in a big way.
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  8. Lenni, I think you did an enornous job for this year’s challenge, so I do think you should publish the book. It will be helpful for other writers. Sure, they can find the same text here too, but I always think that if people like something, they’ll want to have it. Well, I am like this. If I like a book, I want it. Reading it online it’s ok, but I WANT TO OWN THAT BOOK!!!!!!!!

    A-ehm… so, what was I saying?

    I like that you reflected on the kind of blogger you want to be. I think I should do that too. But it always bugs me: do I really have something to offer?
    I mean, you offer writing tips, people will find it useful, if they want to become writers. They can learn form it, they can improve from it.
    What can I offer? I just blog about life nearly one hundred years ago. How can that be useful to anyone?

    Ok, ok, I’ll stop complaining. This is your post ^_^

    Congratulation on your challenge. It was a grat fit!
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  9. Nice reflections post. I seem to recall that you used to have a blogger blog and have switched to WP. Agree w/ you that the A-Z is how I’ve met new bloggers. Also twitter has been great, like hashtags for #Mondayblogs or #Storydam and #10minnovelists It would be nice if there was an easier way to find blogs I really liked like travel or photos or good flash fiction, but… maybe there would be a main sign up list on one page and then a topic based sign up list on another page. Like a two step process for those people who wanted to share they are blogging with a theme or topic in mind. Good luck w/ getting book #8 or 9 published. I think you’re doing a great job building your platform.

    To answer your Qs, this is my 4th A to Z. Maui Jungalow
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  10. Wonderful suggestions. I visited your blog and learned some things. As for blogging snippets of a book, I have been doing that since I joined the A to Z Blog Challenge. Over the past four years, I have blogged snippets of The Child and The Prophet and I am glad I did. It help me tremendously with my direction.

    Shalom aleichem,
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  11. This is my first A to Z Challenge. I really enjoyed it. I felt like I rediscovered my love for writing. It’s very nice meeting you. I’m sorry we did not meet sooner. You have a new follower.
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  12. Thanks to you and all of the other A to Z volunteers for your hard work on making this a great event.

    I can relate to your comment about the theme linky and wishing it could be more specific. I raise a similar thought in my reflections post (to be published Wed) about wondering if there was a way to flag up special interest groups so that you can more easily find blogs of interest go you.
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    • jeremy on May 10, 2016 at 10:45 AM

    I really sucked this year, I missed all my favorites from years past as I spent time visiting new places… gobblers who wasted my time with long… long.. long posts. May the Force be with you… always!

    We made it…Hope you had a great time, thank you for your Reflection!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]


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  13. I’ve done the challenge three times now. Will do it again. I’m not sure I would like to have separate linky lists, as I try and look up non-writerly blogs through the A-Z. But more details on the themes etc would of course be welcome.
    A great, thought provoking reflections post. (loved some of the comments too 🙂
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    • JEN on May 10, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    Yes, I wrote a reflections posting, using my honorable mention ABC book – The Alphabet from Z to A (with some confusion along the way)

    I really enjoyed your giveaway this year, but have a suggestion that you shorten the list of way to enter. Maybe you can have 10 ways to enter each day (Keep the repeats, but add a few new ways each day)? Can you tell I have no idea how those giveaways are set up? 🙂
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  14. I loved your writing tips and I always felt like I learned something when I visited through the challenge. I had a similar observation in my reflections post about the AC category. I think the AC label puts people off and often the stuff isn’t hard core, just not something you’d want a child reading
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  15. Starting on the Reflection portion of the #Challenge. The first year I participated I was busy writing during April and like you, didn’t visit as many other blogs. It’s like playing bridge. You only trump your partners ace, once and you never do that again! Now you know, writing ahead of the April 1 start is the ONLY way to go.

  16. Lenni, I enjoyed your informative writing tips and I think you should publish your book. I bought your book last year after the the challenge and it was incredibly helpful. You alway go above and beyond with your posts and you are indeed known in the social media arena as someone who can be counted on to interact and retweet or give others a shout out. You are always promoting other writers and helping others. You are a credit and an asset to to the writing/blogging community. I didnt get a chance to post a reflection post this year because my husband had emergency surgery on May 2nd and is still in the hospital. Fortunately, he is out of the ICU, and is on the road to recovery. He is scheduled to be transferred to another hospital soon for physical therapy and should be home in another two weeks if all goes well. It’s been a hell of a year and a half with my mom breaking her hip and nearly dying, my dad dying in January and now my husband who has been in bad health for quite a while, having this unexpected surgery, unrelated to his heart condition. All I can do is continue to pray. They say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, so I suppose I’m just being tested in some way. Push through, as my kids keep telling me.
    If I had written a reflection post I wish I could say I would have thought of all the things you did, but I didn’t even come close. I never even considered tags for theme reveals, but that’s a brilliant idea. I also agree with you on the (AC) topic. I bet many people skip right over it, and there was a lot of AC that was more AC-PG 15 in my opinion.
    You really covered so much in your reflection post, I can’t comment on it all. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your posts and how much I value you as a writer and blogger and how truly appreciated you are in the social media world. Thank you for all that you do.
    Melissa Sugar @
    Melissa Sugar Writes
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    • Sadie on May 19, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    Thank you for sharing your tips throughout this challenge. As a first year participant I found it equally helpful to read your suggestions for changes next year.
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  17. Your post is so thoughtful and it really impressed me a lot.

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