lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info and Lola the labradoodle!

A-Z Reflections

I started blogging 6 weeks ago.

And a week after that, my attention was drawn to the A-Z blogger challenge on the Writers’ News Talkback website.

My book was due to be published, I had a gazillion things to do, and like an insane woman I decided to also take on the A-Z Challenge.

And not only take on the A-Z challenge – as well as posting a blog with information about an endangered animal, I decided to write a poem AND draw a picture. And not only do this once a day – but try to get them done as soon as possible, ie do more than one a day, so that the end of the month (when my book came out) I was free for other commitments, as I was also going away on a poetry retreat and had to have time to prepare.

It definitely sounds insane now I write it out – it takes me ages to draw and ages to write, but somehow, it got done! Although I did stay up till 2 in the morning sometimes. I think my hair went a little greyer as well.

What have I learned?

1) The point of blogging. It was a mystery before.

2) I work well under real eye-watering pressure.

3) How to work a blog (I was floundering at the start).

4) How to comment on various different blogger blogs, something I could never do – I found that I had to go in to my cookies and set the Blogger site as an accepted site. No other site has made it necessary to do this – but this solution worked and helped my commenting problems!

5) What a lot of fun blogs there are out there – so many about writing, and many about green issues, fab photos, brilliant illustrations, boundless insanity and also some poetry. Blogs were not something I visited before, but I will be doing so now!

Things I would like to have had:

1)  Instructions for WordPress as well as Blogger.

2) A page which lists the steps in the A-Z challenge, with a link to each part in the steps from the previous year to understand what happens.

3) A less confusing list for all the blog sites – ie no info at the top except what the list is, but perhaps the buttons which can take you to random blogs – I didn’t find those until the last day!

4) Is there any way of getting rid of blogs that don’t do anything/advertise/fall behind more quickly? I joined late and therefore the 5 blogs after mine rule meant I spent ages trawling through people who were just advertising, people who hadn’t bothered to even start blogging (had to check their site to make sure I wasn’t missing it) and people who had given up at H but were still on the list even by M etc. This was demoralising and meant I had less time for the people who were doing it – and in the end I gave up the ‘5 after’ rules and just did random visits.

Although I have to admit I did find some lovely blogs who had given up, and of course there are always mitigating circumstances.

I would like to thank the organisers for their hard work on what must be a gargantuan task, and thank all the people who visited and commented on my blog.

After blogging for 6 weeks I now have 293 followers and 4 and a half thousand hits.  This has to be good!

Picture © Liz Brownlee A-Z blog here.


  1. Arlee Bird

    I would call your experience a big success. Congratulations on an amazing start to blogging. The lessons you learned are valuable ones. As to your list of things you would like to have had, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by the second point about the steps to the Challenge. However, the other points are well-taken and issues that were attempted to have been addressed and will hopefully see continued improvement.

    Thanks for this input. It’s very helpful.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  2. Thank you Arlee.

    re point 2, I suppose what I would have liked is examples. But wallowing in my own ignorance did make me have to be inventive all on my own, which was helpful to me as well, it made experiment.

    Examples of examples I would have liked – I never got to the bottom of how to put a button on each of my blogs that would take a reader straight to another blog, rather than the list, which I felt was rather a messy list, and difficult to negotiate. I am certain this was possible – but not many people seemed to have done this so maybe it wasn’t just me that found this difficult. I found it hard to find out how to do it, and impenetrable to work out how to do it once I’d found the info. I just linked to the A-Z list on each blog in the end.

    By a page of steps – I mean everything you need to now with examples on just one page rather than lots – I missed some of the info altogether as I didn’t know it was there, or it felt hidden.

  3. Well, you’ve definitely had a baptism of fire when it comes to blogging! However, it sounds like it was a good experience, if a lot of hard work. I really enjoyed it too, but agree about working through ones on the list who hadn’t started or got very behind :)

    • Thanks Anita, and for visiting my site. Off to see yours now…

  4. 293 followers after 6 weeks is amazing. You must be doing something right.

    Moody Writing

    • Hello mooderino… yes, I’m really not sure what that good thing was, just have to work it out now! Off to look at you now!

  5. Lovely to meet another poet., my you were busy what with having a book published, I was lucky mine was published early December. This was my third challenge and enjoyed it as much as the first.. You have done remarkably well only blooging for 6 weeks.
    Good luck.

    • Thank you Yvonne, I think i was unlucky not to meet more poets on the challenge, but I stil enjoyed virtually all the blogs I read. Off to read yours now!

  6. 294 followers and 4000 visits after one month is freaking fantastic!

    I got a whopping 11 new followers, but then, I am doing reviews of books that no one on the challenge wrote, so the interest factor was low.

    BUT you had poems and drawings of endangered animals, a subject many of us are glued to, and poems plus drawings that were just grand.

    Maybe the question is why ONLY 294 followers? Congratulations. Me too at 2 am. :-)

  7. I didn’t find you during the challenge but glad to meet you now!

    • Hello Martha, thank you, I will be off to see your blog very soon. You were in spam with a few others – not quite up to the mark on spam and something called ‘pending’ yet!

  8. Going by your reflections post, your venture was a huge success–293 followers is amazing! We’re working on getting the list better sorted out next year—and I think the FAQ tab on the site answered a lot of your questions.

    You’re welcome to do a guest post for us on the site, giving other bloggers the benefit of your first-time experience :)

    • Hello – you are also in my spam, how did that happen! Thank you very much. And I’d love to do a guest blog, but have no idea how to go about this. At the moment, I am spending all my time making cranes for decorations for my bok launch. I am a hunched figure with crabbed hands…

  9. Congratulations on a job well done! And your book looks beautiful and amazing!!!! Good luck with it, but you seem to succeed at whatever you set your hand to!

    • Thank you Elaine. But in all honesty, I have to reveal that there are quite a few things I am hopeless at. I forget all my appointments or turn up a week early or late. Or in the wrong place. I am sitting in my study surrounded by piles of books I’ve got out to refer to and haven’t put away. I burn everything I cook. Or forget half the ingredients. Or put the wrong thing in. You are seeing my better side! I shall come and visit you once I’ve found what I’ve put down somewhere and have been looking for all morning. Twice I’ve forgotten what I was looking for. I’ve written it on a note and put it in front of my keyboard now to remind me to go on looking after I’ve sat down to reply to mails like this one…

      • Blogger wouldn’t take me to your blog, will try again later.

  10. I didn’t find you during the challenge, but I’m impressed you joined in and completed it as such a novice blogger yourself! BRAVO!!!

    Well done, you, for giving it a shot – I hope the tech-skills you suddenly had to find will leave you better equipped to deal with the intricacies of the blogoshpere ;-)

    SueH I refuse to go quietly!
    Twitter – @Librarymaid

    • Thank you, I hope so too! It helped me a bit that just before I started, I asked my website designer to tell me how to post things and delete things so I could change stuff, and he told me. I did a few and realised – it’s not as hard as you think! That made me brave enough to try the challenge and make a blog. The blog is different to my website but no harder. And here I am stil learning – blogosphere, eh? There’s a new word!

  11. Wow, I’ve been blogging for a while now and don’t even have 100 followers. Congrats on your 200+! That’s awesome. I know I came by your blog a few times, but there were so many to visit so I missed a bunch of your posts. I’m going to go back through and read them. :)

    • Thank you Kela! tomorrow i am going to read yours. I haven’t been well today but am hoping to get better tomorrow and do more readings. Hoping to get to bed before midnight!

  12. Congratulations on finishing the challenge and sharing your reflections. I’m following you now and hopefully, next year, we will do it again!

    • Evalina (what a lovely name!) thank you for following. I’ve just mentioned to the poster before that I haven’t been well today, but will look at all the people who have commented’s blogs tomorrow.

      • Grr blogger is playing up, every time i tried to post a comment it disappeared! I wanted to say I liked your blog, and know someone else who did Egypt, she did some interesting recipes.

  13. nickielson1

    That’s so good it’s great! You got quite the intro to blogging w/ A to Z.

    • Thank you nickielson! I really, really enjoyed it. and I always wondered what n earth blogging was about. Well, I learned – i was plunged in from a great height and came up still able to breathe!

  14. You are a great follow…

    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

    • Hi Jeremy! My brother is called Jeremy. We called him ‘Jems’ when I was little because that’s how I pronounced it. My son is called ‘Jem’ after my brother and the boy in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. My favourite book. thank you for following, i’ll be in to see you tomorrow!

  15. There will always be those looking for an easy way to advertise and not do anything in return. Nature of the beast, I suppose. I enjoyed reading so many post on many topics. There were still those I didn’t get to, which makes me feel bad.

    Congrats on your book!

    • Thank you Sia, another pretty name! I enjoyed those blogs enormously too. I didn’t manage even a fraction – I did at least 5 a day, sometimes 20, occasionally more – bit still didn’t make a dent. Goodness knows how Arlee and his friends managed.

      • PS Thanks for following – I will look in on you tomorrow!

      • I’m thinking they either lived at their computers all day or they have a secret stash of brain to computer hook ups, lol! Liz, right now my site is under Google flag warnings. My site is clean but since I feature authors and had a bestselling author on 7 months ago and her site was hacked, all who had links to her site came under a series of cascade effect flags. Even tho Google says my site is clean and has never had malware or any suspicious stuff, they still haven’t lifted the flags. If you go to my site, it IS safe, but you will have to click the proceed anyway link. That’s your call. If you want to, I’d love to have a comment, if you don’t feel comfortable, I understand that too. :-)

  16. Ps, we’re hoping for a relatively quick resolution. But if they don’t move fast–it’s computers not people–then I will be resurrecting my WordPress blog to carry on.

  17. Sorry I’ve been quiet, but I just want you to know that I enjoyed reading your posts and look forward to more in the future. A-Z was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?

  18. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  19. HI Liz,
    I’m so glad you joined the challenge so close to the beginning of your blogging career. One of the plans that I’m going to push for next year is a separate training camp for new bloggers and for bloggers new to the A-Z challenge. I think that then a lot of what are now your questions will be answered. I’m assuming you’re up for another round of madness? I just feel that there is no “lose” scenario in a place where more people find you and what you’re about and vice versa. thanks for sharing your thoughts so openly. As hosts, we really appreciate the honest feedback.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

    • Hello Tina, thank you so much. I’ve just found you in spam…. not sure why – but I can tell you I am up for more madness next year! Thank you so much for all your wonderful work to make the challenge a success.

  20. A.D. Duling

    I had a lot of fun on the challenge too and Liz your posts were wonderful, so were the pics :0)

  21. 6 weeks ago! wow! congrats on making it through such an epic challenge

  22. You must have worked hard to accumulate all those followers so fast. I couldn’t keep up the pace of meeting new folks unless they came to my blog. I need a better reading strategy.

    • Thanks Mary, but I was up till about 2 in the morning sometimes, though! I did my 5 a day, the people who commented, and then did a few odd ones after, sometimes up to 20 if i had time. But not often. But the thing I did do was folow all the tips in the WordPress suggestions ie send stuff to my author page on Facebook, link to twitter etc.

  23. I’m so glad you decided to take on the Challenge…what beautiful paintings you have created…I will be following you!

    • Hello Jarm, thank you! You were in spam, which is why I did not reply sooner.

  24. djtsmith

    Well, now I have to go and read your blog! It sounds great! I posted a poem (or more) a day with a Tagxedo illustration, many about animals. I’m working my way through sites I didn’t get to, and like you, I stopped doing the “next 5 blogs” and just jumped around also, so find blogs I wanted to follow. Hope to visit you throughout the year and next April! Following you!

    • Hi there! Thanks, I am off to see yours now!

  25. Wow! What a lot to undertake after only starting to blog and starting to go to comment on blogs! Congrats!

  26. I am now following your blog. Better late then never right? I really love the pictures you did with your posts they are amazing.
    I have to agree clicking on links to blogs that weren’t actually participating in the event was very demoralizing. With so many blogs that did enter it ate up a lot of time.
    But I’m glad I found yours!

    • Thanks Aimee! I’m involved with a big project over the next week, but after that I’m back on the blog and looking at everyone else’s!

  27. Loved the pictures with each post. Glad you made it to the world of blogging. Congrats on completing the A-z challenge.
    ~ Margot

    • Thanks, Margo! I’ve always loved that name after reading My Family and other animals when I was young.

      • Wow I missed that book. My favorite when I was little was Little Bear – we named my sister Emily because of those books.

      • Ah! We named our son after Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird!

  28. 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. Never did find this year’s Surprise Me button. But, was definitely glad when all the advertisers were pulled.

  29. Great to read about your experiences from last year, Liz and all the best for this year! :)

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