A to Z Reflections 2017

For posterity, this year’s A to Z Challenge will henceforth be known as, “The Year I Fell Behind on Visiting and Commenting and Never Caught Up.” Catchy, yes?

It started off well enough. Probably because it was a Saturday, and I was able to spend a fair amount of time that first weekend visiting and commenting. But then Monday rolled around, and it pretty much went downhill from there. That’s not to say I didn’t spend a fair amount of time visiting and commenting the following weeks. I did. As much as I could spare/mentally handle. But it felt like no matter how much time I spent, it was never enough.

Going by what Google Analytics tells me, traffic to my blog was roughly the same when compared to April 2015, which was the last time I did the A to Z Challenge. There was about a .09% increase. So, pretty negligible.

Instead, I looked at my Akismet stats, and it turns out in April 2015 my blog got 651 comments (legitimate, not spam). This year in April it got 1206 comments. That’s almost double the amount, which is pretty cool. Why so many more though? I suppose one reason could be my theme was more popular (magical and medical herbs vs. flash fiction based on tree names). The posts were also a lot shorter than my last challenge. This year, most installments were only a couple of hundred words (compared to 2015 where the average post length was about 500). So that probably helped.

What didn’t help the issue is the fact that I’m a slow reader. Seriously. Some people might say they’re slow readers, but I’d bet money I’m slower. So, trying to visit a couple dozen blogs a day at my molasses reading pace, makes for a big time sink. I’m not sure what to do about this for future challenges. Learn how to skim? We’ll see.

And now, because I can and because I find it entertaining, some meaningless stats:

Posts with the most comments:

  1. Ash
  2. Dandelion
  3. Thistle
  4. Zhi Zi
  5. Blackberry

Posts with most traffic:

  1. Ash
  2. Blackberry
  3. Dandelion
  4. Thistle
  5. Ivy

Despite the fact that I spent most of the challenge in “catch up” mode, and didn’t visit nearly as many new blogs as I would have liked, I still like to think of the challenge as a success. And it was fun, too, in a this-is-my-life-now-just-deal-with-it kind of way. I met some new folks and found some new blogs to follow. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

And, speaking of fellow bloggers, here are some of my favorite blogs this year. I didn’t always visit all of them every day, but these were the ones I most looked forward to. In no particular order:

Positive Letters… inspirational stories — Aspects of Rare Breeds in the British Countryside. Lots of handsome animals, some mythical, but mostly real.

Molly’s Canopy — Childhood memories of growing up on a rural farm in the 1950s.

Keith’s Ramblings — Short stories from the quaint and quirky town of Amble Bay.

Djinnia and the English Language — Anime Extravaganza (that’s my name for her theme, and I’m going with it).

Ronel the Mythmaker — Folklore and fiction.

Temenos of the Blessing Light — Promoting pronia, peace, and quiety based on unusual words.

Sophie’s Thoughts and Fumbles — Dragon flash fiction.

Pamela & Ken’s Days of Fun — Exploring the Scottish Highlands.

The Old Shelter — Illuminating the intricacies of Film Noir.

The Multicolored Diary — WTF – Weird Things in Folktales.

Marna Reed — Greek mythology, hilariously told.

Atherton’s Magic Vapour — Stranded! – Re-captioned old photos from Strand Magazine, made into a story.


Thanks everyone for visiting and making this challenge a fun one. Thanks to my new subscribers for hopping on board. Thanks to my current subscribers for continually putting up with me. And thanks to all the folks that organize and make this crazy challenge happen every year. It’s like a exercise in madness, but those are the most fun.



  1. Sara, the AtoZ Challenge is indeed a challenge and the best we can do is… well, the best we can do 😉
    We’ll never be able to do everything we want to do, and sometimes life won’t help (as it happened to me last year).

    I plaid catch up this year too, but I managed it differently. I devoted some days to responding to comments on my blog (I’m still not done on that…), days commenting on other people’s blogs, days writing my own blogs. That’s why I was always behind, but in a sense, it was less stressfull than trying to do everything at the same time.

    My stats are encouraging too. In spite of the changings in the managing of the challenge, visits and engagement raised for me too, which is also nice 🙂

    So, all in all, I think it was a good challenge for both of us, don’t you think? 😉

    • Sara C. Snider

      It was a good challenge, and you’re right, we’ll never be able to do all we want. Maybe I just need to come to terms with that. Glad you’ve had good success on your blog too! 🙂

  2. Hi Sarah – thanks so much for the shout out – glad you enjoyed the posts and it was always good to see you. Success in the A-Z to me is the quality of the comments – and I won’t comment on blogs that don’t interest me … but I certainly couldn’t do much more … loved your range of magical and medicinal herbs and congratulations on all you wrote … cheers Hilary

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Hilary. Interesting to gauge success by the quality of comments. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but I can see how you would. By that standard, I’d say this year was really good year. And happy to give you a shout out, your posts are always informative and interesting!

  3. Your herbarium posts were so good and so insightful. I really am happy that I’ve discovered your blog. I have added a lot of notes to my personal herb almanac thanks to your blog.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Sylvia, that’s great to hear! I’m glad you’ve found the posts useful, and am glad you found your way here too. 🙂

  4. Congratulations, Sara, and thanks for the mention! I really enjoyed your blog and theme and looked forward to visiting as often as I could during the challenge. Pleased to see that many other bloggers felt the same. And I appreciated all of your comments on my posts. I was hoping to write shorter posts, too, but they all seemed to hover around 500 words. Oddly, my shortest ones had less traffic. Go figure! But thanks for that tip for next year. Adding you to my blog feed to keep up in the year ahead!

    • Sara C. Snider

      My pleasure, and I’m glad you enjoyed the theme! Interesting that your shorter posts had less traffic. It’s making my theory look a little shaky now. 😉 Thanks for adding me!

  5. You had a great theme. It’s something that writers like myself would be drawn to because the info could be useful in a story.

    I fell behind on visiting and commenting a lot too, but for me it was a lack of energy.

    • Sara C. Snider

      It *is* useful story stuff, which added a great deal of enjoyment for me in writing them. My own “Violet” post even helped me flesh out a story I’ve had percolating in my head for a while, so that was a big bonus! I hear you on the lack of energy. I usually “go dark” post challenge due to energy reasons. I’m trying not to do it this year, but we’ll see. 🙂

  6. It was a fun theme! I enjoyed reading your posts, and learned a lot from them. And thank you for the shout out! (I gave you one too 🙂 ) Congratulations on finishing the challenge!

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF – Weird Things in Folktales

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I absolutely loved your theme, so more than happy to do the shout out. 😀

  7. I loved your blog theme this year and all the other years. You do a wonderful job.

    I was way behind visiting blogs but I did find a couple of new ones that were fun. Probably way more behind than you were this year.

    Thanks for the shout out. I appreciate it. 🙂

    Hope to see you next year.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thank you Djinnia! We can make a game of “Who was the most behind?” Does it involve shots? Seems like it should. And, if so, that means I’ll automatically lose. 😉 Happy to give the shout out. I’ve got some nifty animes I want to watch due to your theme. 😀

  8. Congrats on finishing the challenge. I too did it in 2015 and it was nuts — I was in Spain on vacation!! But you’re right, it’s madness but in a good way. Maybe I’ll do it again next year. This year was just impossible for me.

    So, are you going to wrap everything up into another book? It’s a ton of research, and you present it so casually and naturally, and it goes well with the last book from the 2015 challenge. You’ve really got a hold on this theme.

    Congrats again! 😀

    • Sara C. Snider

      I remember that challenge when you were on vacation. I was in awe that you attempted it haha. You had some good stories, though. I hear you about being too busy for the challenge. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to do it next year (or, you know, be inclined to do it next year 😉 ).

      I hadn’t planned on putting the posts into a book. I think the fact that it is entirely research-based makes me a little uncomfortable. It doesn’t really feel like “mine” you know? I’m glad you enjoyed it, though. And thank you! 🙂

  9. Thanks for the shout out 🙂

    I enjoyed your theme, and, as Patricia said, great titbits for writers 🙂

    I know what it’s like falling behind, I didn’t manage daily visits either this year (barely managed daily postings, I think my latest post was 8pm-ish on the letter day).

    Well, good on you for getting to the end and

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, and congratulations to you too! Amazing that even though you struggled with the postings, you still got them done. Good for you! 🙂

  10. I have the same problem, there’s just too many blogs and not enough time to visit and I don’t think there is a solution. it’s not a bad thing, certainly, I think if people visit at least 10 people each day, that’s enough.

    congrats on finishing. & have a lovely day.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thank you Lissa. You’re right in that there’s always going to be too many blogs. For me, I want to return visit everyone who visits mine, and that’s what I struggled with. Though, some days I didn’t manage to visit at least 10, so that probably didn’t help. 😉 Thanks for swinging by!

  11. I loved your posts Sara. And I totally relate to the inability to catch up despite best intentions. But I figure that’s what the rest of the year is for. No?! 🙂

    P.S. Thanks for the mention

    • Sara C. Snider

      Glad you enjoyed them, Deborah! You’re right about visiting the rest of the year. I think I need to start embracing that more. 🙂 My pleasure for the mention!

  12. Really interesting to look at how many comments you got compared to other years – hadn’t thought of that. Loved your posts so much, and as a nurse it always fascinates me where medicines have originated from and also how people in centuries past helped to heal themselves.
    Thanks for the mention and see you in cyberspace soon.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Pamela. I also find the history of medicine rather interesting. Glad to give the shout out. 🙂

  13. Hey Sara.
    Congratulations and thank you:)
    I enjoyed reading your posts and quite like the comparison you’ve done above and evaluated why you think 2017 was better than 2016 for visits/comments etc. It all looks like good advice to follow.
    I am a slow reader, too. So, like Deborah mentioned above, will be visiting the missed out posts here and the blogs you’ve mentioned over the year.
    Reflection Post

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Arti. I rather enjoy comparing the different challenges and, like you say, it provides some insight. Glad you enjoyed the posts, and hooray for slow readers! 😉

  14. Congrats on completing – your posts were very entertaining, a lot of great information in there. I, too, did not get to as many other bloggers as I had forecast – I think the daily signup list was a hindrance here rather than a help, as I kept seeing the same ones. But it’s definitely a success if you’ve made some good connections to build on for the future.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Nick. Yeah the issue with the list was one of my pre-challenge concerns with it. The few times I visited people off the list, I went to the day before so I had more people to choose from.

  15. Thank you for a really entertaining and informative month! One thing you said struck a chord with me – your post were short. I too set a limit of 200 words and doing that made our pieces more readable and less likely to be skimmed or just partially read. Thanks also for the mention. We really enjoyed your company in Amble Bay!

    Amble Bay: Reflections and other things

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah I knew, intellectually, that having short posts was a good thing, but I hadn’t actually managed it until this challenge. Will definitely be aiming for brevity in the future. Glad you enjoyed the posts, and thanks for a great month! 🙂

  16. Well done on completing the challenge. I think short posts are definitely the way to go with the challenge. There were a few times along the way when I opened a post with a massive wall of text and moved on because I didn’t have time to read it properly.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Cait! I hear you about the long posts. If it’s a theme I’m invested in, I’ll usually read it (or at least most of it). But if it’s a random blog, yeah, I’ll probably move on too.

  17. That is indeed the hardest part!!! I found few people actually read other blogs, and that was in previous years when there were three times as many people participating. It’s a typical blog hop thing that happens–people sign up fully intending to participate, but life just gets in the way!

    • Sara C. Snider

      I’ve often wondered about the people that never seem to visit anyone else. Life getting in the way is one thing–it happens to all of us. But there are some that just seem like they’re in their corner, and they’re not leaving it hehe. Of course, I only have an outsiders perspective, so one really never knows what’s going on or why (unless they tell us).

  18. Thanks for the mention 🙂 I enjoyed your challenge posts a lot.

  19. I enjoyed your A-Z theme and learned a thing or two! Thanks.

  20. If there is any consolation in this, I too fell behind in every aspect of the Challenge which is the norm for me. I’m still trying to catch up to last year.

    Sounds like your experience this year wasn’t too bad. Congratulations on completing the Challenge and thanks for participating as well as sharing your thoughts on this year’s Challenge.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Arlee. And, yeah, it was definitely a good year, all things considered.

  21. I ended up not doing A to Z this year just because I’m so far behind on everything. Sad thing is, I don’t really feel like I actually caught up any. :-/

    • Sara C. Snider

      It’s probably good you didn’t participate, nobody needs that kind of stress when already overloaded. Good luck to you with catching up on everything!


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