Throwback Thursday: My 2014 Blogging A to Z Reflection

Since the Blogging A to Z in April Challenge begins next week and I’ve put the Tolkien on hiatus for the next four weeks, here’s my 2014 A to Z reflection from my personal blog, which I have since moved to Just Gene’O and redesigned. Published May 19 of last year.

Among other things, you can look at it and tell I am much better at blogging now. I’d never publish something with text this dense and so little art today. Well, unless it was a Throwback Thursday from last year 🙂

The resource page of mine and David’s posts from last year never happened, because we got busy. This is a cool post for a throwback Thursday on the eve of the A to Z Challenge because, lack of sophistication in the blogwriting aside, it’s a window into where I was last year, and I am being quite honest here. About all of it.


Diana alerted me to the A to Z Challenge in the most dramatic way possible. She reblogged the signup-page on Sourcerer in February as a surprise post. Perhaps she just did that in fun — surprise posting is a game we play with one another — but I have to imagine she did it that way in part because she knew I’d be skeptical. And she was right.


A blogging challenge that requires you to post daily, six days a week, AND visit five other blogs every day is not to be taken lightly. It took me whole day to decide I wanted in.

The challenge was grueling by the end. It put a lot of pressure on my already-tight blogging schedule. The visits took more time than I thought they would, and prevented me from keeping up with a lot of my friends for a month. Still, it turned out well.

I’m pleased with the posts I ended up with. I got this blog lots of new followers, and found several bloggers to interact with that I otherwise never would have discovered. I’m planning to do it next year, perhaps with both of the blogs I manage. But I’ll be better-organized and the posts will absolutely be written in advance. Here are a few things the A to Z Challenge taught me.

  1. Short posts can be good, especially if they’re pithy and include either useful or personal information.
  2. Art is less important for something like A to Z than it is for normal, everyday posts. I spent too much time finding art for the early posts. The A to Z badges and the occasional pin from Part Time Monster’s Pinterest boards worked just fine.
  3. If you’re using a big challenge to gain followers and meet people, you get out what you put in. Halfway through the challenge, I had to cut down on the revisits and comments just to get the visits done. I still gained followers during the last two weeks, but not at the rate I gained them during the first two. And my comments leveled out when they should have been increasing.
  4. There’s a market for useful writing-related blog posts. It’s not a market that requires you to post every day, but even more than with other forms of blogging, quality is important. Writing posts must be well-written, and if you’re giving tips, the tips must be useful. That doesn’t mean you only have to talk about advanced techniques. If you’ve been writing for a while, things you view as basic are probably useful to someone in your following. Every writer learns skills in a different order, and no one’s good at everything.

Here are some things I should have done before April 1 that I did not do. I will do them all next year.

  • Didn’t write my posts ahead of time. I intended to do it in March, but March was crazy. I’ll not wait until March to get started for next year. I have next year’s theme picked out for this blog. I’ll have the list of specific topics by July 1. I’ll write two or three per month all year long and save them up. If we decide to do the challenge with Sourcerer, that decision will be made and topics chosen by the end of December. The posts will be written by multiple bloggers, or else Sourcerer won’t participate.
  • Didn’t sign up early. List placement is important. I’ll be watching for the registration page to appear next year, and I’ll sign up on Day 1. I’ll do it the minute the page is published, even if I have to take a couple of personal hours off from work to do it.
  • Announced my topics too early. I did not realize the topic reveal was a thing. Next year, I’ll do it at the same time as everyone else, and spend time reading and commenting on other peoples’ topics.
  • Didn’t download the A to Z-themed art beforehand. Because I didn’t realize it was there until a week into the challenge. Next year, I’ll have posts loaded and ready to go well before art is released, and  I’ll spend a Sunday afternoon in March adding the art to my posts. (Both this and the previous item are a result of the fact that I was too busy to learn everything I could about the challenge before it started).
  • Didn’t bookmark blogs from the list ahead of time. This just didn’t occur to me. Five new blogs per day for 30 days is 150, but lots of blogs drop out, and sometimes you have to visit 10 to find 5 you want to comment on. Next year, during the last week of March, I’ll create a folder in my bookmarks menu for the challenge, and I’ll bookmark 200 blogs from the list to start with. That way I won’t have to load the list even once during the first three weeks of the challenge. I’ll be able to open the bookmarks five at a time and get right to work every evening.
  • Didn’t get my reflection in before the page to index the link closed. I’ll write my reflection on April 29 next year and have it ready to go on May 1.
  • Didn’t use the WordPress tag indexes to full effect. I barely looked at my readers at all in April because I was slammed, and something had to give. I should have been spending 30 minutes each evening browsing the A to Z-related tags, giving likes and leaving brief comments.

To sum up. The A to Z Challenge is fabulous. I recommend you try it at least once. But it was tough. I spent so much time getting though it, Sourcerer’s growth stalled and I had to step away from the circle of bloggers who talk to me often. I had to shut down this blog for three weeks in May to get back on track.

I created that situation by not preparing for it properly, and that’s a mistake I will not make again. Next year, I’ll be set up to have my posts scheduled exactly 24 hours apart, and I will be ready to visit 5 or more blogs every night in the most time-efficient way possible.

Here are my 26 posts. The big surprise of the challenge for me was the number of posts I ended up with that apply either poetic or musical concepts to prose writing. I didn’t set out to do it, that’s just how they turned out.

Week 1:  AudienceBiographicalCanonDictionEuphony

Week 2: FantasyGenreHonestyImagesJargonKenning

Week 3: LyricMotifNarrativeOnomatopoeiaPacing(don’t) Quit!

Week 4: RevisionSocialToneUtopianVillanelleWorlbuilding

Week 5: XanaduismYarnZeugma

I’m planning to post these links on a resource page sometime this summer along with links to David’s writing-themed posts from DBCII. That will give us 52 posts on writing to share with other writers. Starting a glossary of writing techniques is the reason I chose the theme I did. David’s topics don’t overlap with mine very much, and we didn’t collaborate on the topics. It’s just a happy coincidence.

survivor-atoz [2014]

My A to Z page is finally updated and Sourcerer is back on track, so I’m going back to posting here more frequently, and filling in with reblogs and short comments on other bloggers’ posts as I have time.

A to Z Badges by Jeremy of Being Retro

Wordless Wednesday: Hot Rod


Photo by Gene'O (Yes, this IS an actual photo taken by me.)

Photo by Gene’O (Yes, this is an actual photo taken by me. It came out rather well!)

Marvel’s Marvelous Marvels!

Good day, everyone! For this week’s loose review, I’m going to be switching things up a little bit and looking at a Marvel classic. This particular selection is 1994’s Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

Marvels is an interesting accomplishment for a number of reasons. The closest analogue I can draw in other comics would be Kingdom Come, but that’s not just because of Alex Ross’s artwork. The book is also a sort of love letter to older comics continuity. Whereas Kingdom Come was an ode to DC’s Golden Age, Marvels is a love letter to Marvel’s Golden and Silver Ages.

I have to say that I was greatly impressed with the book. I’ve heard wonderful things about Marvels for years and have only recently been able to give it a shot. The story is unique (at least in the time that it was written) in that it is told from the perspective of average people. The main character whose point of view the reader shares is a photojournalist named Phil Sheldon, who makes it his life’s work to document the rise of the beings he terms “Marvels.”

The story begins in 1939 when Phil is young and still trying to make a name for himself among the various fictional newspapers in Marvel’s New York City. The earliest stories in Marvels deal with Marvel’s first Golden Age characters, namely the original Human Torch, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and Captain America. Busiek and Ross really capture the helplessness and the ignorance of people witnessing superheroes from the outside for the first time, and this theme is carried throughout the book. From the Human Torch and Namor duking it out across the rooftops of New York, to Captain America’s adventures in World War II, to Galactus‘s invasion of the earth in the 1960s, everything is mysterious to the common onlooker and nothing is explained to them.

Perhaps the most powerful portion of the book is the common person’s viewpoint on mutants entering the public eye during the 1960s. Much as was Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original intention with the X-Men, parallels between these stories and the Civil Rights Movement cannot be denied. I must say that it was a bold move on the creative team’s part to present hatred of mutants as a sort of bandwagon sport that even Phil Sheldon gets pulled into. Mutant sighting reports go out over the radio like the country is at war with them, and armed mobs hunt them in the streets.

Phil’s own perspective changes when he is forced to interact with a mutant face to face. During all of this mob violence, Phil’s daughters secretly take in a little mutant girl named Maggie who was abandoned by her family because of her appearance. Upon meeting her, Phil looks into her eyes and flashes back to his time as a war correspondent in Europe during World War II and the horrors he saw in the concentration camps the Allies liberated. From this moment forward in the story, Phil is a changed man. I do not wish to spoil what happens after this, but I will tell you that I am not ashamed to admit it left me a bit weepy. That said, the issue’s cover image still gives me hope.

Despite the fact I love period superhero stories like this one (X-Men: First Class, anyone?), I’ll admit that I did expect a bit more from it. Marvels wraps rather suddenly, and we are left at the end with very little aside from scenes of not really understanding what’s going on in the world and an almost self-destructive fascination with the superhero concept.

While these are done rather well, I think they may have lost some of their thunder since the original publication of this book in 1994. I feel that these themes have become a regular part of superhero stories over the past two decades—questioning the superhero and its appeal, and insisting on greater inclusiveness in the perspectives presented in superhero stories, to clarify.

Marvels is my reading recommendation for this week, if you haven’t already experienced it. If you have, let’s have a chat in the comments below. Before I leave you to begin working on my A to Z posts for next month, here’s a bit of hope from the late, great Leonard Nimoy, whose passing I have not yet had the chance to comment on in these blogs. Hang in there, everyone. I’ll see you next time.

The Ultimate Roundup of Blogging A to Z in April Theme Reveals


First: Thanks,, for the awesome interview, and for featuring Sourcerer this week. It was a LOT of fun, and you made it oh so easy for me.

Some of our contributors are doing the A to Z Challenge at their own blogs, and I promised to toss their theme reveals into a roundup today. I also have friends who aren’t contributors here who help me mightily week-in and week out. If I had a couple of hours to really think and gather up links, I could probably round up 60 or 70 theme reveals for you.

And I haven’t even actually hit the list yet on account of I’ve been answering threads and loading posts all night. Since I don’t have the time to make a huge list, here’s a list that includes four categories of blogs.

  • Sourcerer contributors.
  • Feminist Friday hosts who are doing A to Z.
  • Bloggers I (or in one case, a friend) started following to during last year’s challenge and they’re still commenting on our threads.
  • One’s here because we met through a blogger I started talking to during April last year, and we talk OFTEN.

Just to make things more interesting, I’ve alphabetized the list. That way, if  you are just joining us and you don’t know who my sister is or which one of these blogs is the first one I linked to, they all have an equal chance of grabbing your attention because you have nothing to go on but the blog title.

As always with a list of this magnitude, if you belong on it and I’ve left you out, that is an oversight and if you point it out to me, I’ll apologize and add you.

Alex Hurst, Fantasy Writer in Kyoto

Comparative Geeks

Infinite Free Time

Melissa Barker-Simpson

Nerd in the Brain

Not a Punk Rocker

Part Time Monster

Things Matter

Victim to Charm

Write On, Sisters!

(No Tuesday Texture today because honestly, I just don’t have time to load one and this post must take precedence. But there will be a Wordless Wednesday tomorrow, and the Tuesday afternoon photos ain’t going nowhere). 

#geekpastiche FTW!