Looking Behind So I Can See Ahead More Clearly


This blog had 8,700 views last year.  I tell you, I was floored when I learned that.


All year, as I prepared my blog posts,  I focused on

1. publishing regularly, in my case every Wednesday

2. ending my blogs with a question for my reader, to encourage conversation

3. posting a well-written blog that informs, entertains, or connects with my readers.  If I’m lucky, the post will do all three, making social media mama and blogging guru Kristin Lamb proud.

The measurement, I thought, for how well I was doing with the blog, would be the number of subscriptions I could claim. That number has been holding steady for over a year.  Recently, when I switched subscription service from Feedburner to Jetpack, I lost my 36 subscribers and had to begin from start once again. Slowly, they have returned. And at last glance, I had 35.

And, while I’d like to see that number continue to climb, I never gave much thought to the people who view my blog (i.e., read my blog), but don’t leave a comment.  To learn there are thousands of them was, to say the least, a shock.

A happy shock.


Well, I do declare
Well, I do declare


Now, let’s keep this all in perspective. There are millions of blogs  in cyberspace these days, and thousands of them get far more than 8,700 views in a year. Many of them get that number in a week. Some, in a day.

I’ve never aspired to be in the big leagues.  Instead, my goal has been to build a steady, faithful band of followers who enjoy reading my blog and who connect with what I might say.


I  had viewers from 103 countries last year.  Given there are about 250 countries total, I’m quite pleased with this number.  But, here’s a fun trivia question. Which country was third in the number of views AFTER the U.S. and Canada?

You’ll be surprised.





It was not Kazakhstan. 



It was Brazil.


Brazil Flag

How that happened, I have no idea.

But, welcome Brazilians.  Or, I should say, bem-vindo.



The busiest single day was August 6, the blog that followed the release of my book, At Home on the Kazakh Steppe. That was good to know. After all, warm fuzzy friendship aside, these blogs are here to help us promote our writing (i.e., our books). The friendships I form along the way are a bonus.


Back to August 6.  I had 160 seperate views that day.  One hundred sixty!

Who are these 160 people? Where did they come from?

And, more importantly, where did they go?


But, I digress.  It’s water over the dam, spilled milk, and flown away chickens. Or did the chickens leave when the milk spilled over the dam?  Or was there milk in the coop? Now, that I could understand.

Yet again, I digress . . .   It’s an illness; but I’m getting professional help . . .




Where was I?  Oh yes.  Happy New Year.


In checking back with the blog post I did on January 1, 2014, I feel satisfied. In that post I called my resolutions  “determinations.” Semantics is my friend.


1. I posted religiously every Wednesday, whether I had something to say or not. (insert smiley face here)  Having a gazillion Deleted Scenes to pull from helped. Marian Beaman, my top Commenter for 2014 (Hi, Marian) likes these Deleted Scenes, so, I plan to sprinkle more in over the next two months.


2. I introduced a guest blogger every month except December. (And my December guest blogger can’t say we didn’t try.) Here, in chronological order beginning in January are my 2014 guest bloggers.  Let’s hear it for


Shirley Hershey Showalter

Shirley Showalter

A Little Fish in a Mennonite Sea

Author Kathy Pooler


Kathy Pooler

From Insanity to Serenity

Ronny Herman de Jong


Ronny Herman deJong

Around the World in Seventy-Five Years



Sonia's Photo headshot

Sonia Marsh

 Where Do I Belong?





Carol Bodensteiner

Transportation: The Path Between Worlds






Linda Austin

Finding Your Roots and Keeping Them



Ian Mathie


 Ian Mathie

The Richness of Cross Cultural Experience:
Ten Lessons One Learns




Kathy Pooler

Connecting With Your Purpose



Nancy Gregory at home


Nancy Gregory

Nancy’s Midlife Adventures



book and website photo of Jill


Jill Dobbe

It’s A Small World






Halie Putorek

Culture Shock



These authors and travelers filled the bill nicely, bringing in many new readers (i.e., viewers in WP jargon) and helping me share the story of how fascinating, varied, and valuable cultural differences are. Once again, I thank each of them.

If you missed any of these postings, I hope you’ll open the links and take a look. I don’t close Comments at all, so feel free to participate in the “conversation.”


OK, back to my list.

3. I updated my profile picture in August, thanks to Woody’s and my niece Melody Starkweather (whose creative talents can be seen here at MelodyStarkweather.ca)


4. I sent out the survey in February.  I didn’t make any changes based on the survey. I need to put more thought into my next one. Maybe 2016.

5. I failed miserably with “activities I enjoy,”
though some less than others.

  • read and review exciting new memoirs (and some classics too), one each month
  • write four hours each day, whether I want to or not!
  • visit my grandchildren quarterly (and their parents too, of course)
  • sing tenor with my local hospice choir — we rehearse weekly plant and
  • cultivate my gardens, daily from May to September

I continue to sing with my hospice group and I got in a grand total of seven visits with the grandkids (and their parents) this past year.

But I am embarrassingly behind in my memoir reading and (worse yet) reviewing.  If I owe you a reveiw (or a read), never fear, it’s on my 2015 list.

Reviews really are important. I once thought they weren’t for I rarely read them. But I’ve learned that an author has a much better chance of participating in various online promotions if there are a significant number of (positive) reviews posted on Amazon. It’s one of those tiny drops in the bucket things. Maybe one doesn’t add up to much, but taken together, they make an important difference.

Cultivating my garden brought me hours of serenity, joy, and physical exhaustion. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I did get two out of the following three checked off my list.

  • paint my dining room and kitchen some bright new color
  • clean the cluttered piles from my office
  • raise pea hens (and a few pea cocks too)


Want to guess which one I didn’t get to?


And, of the final two:



8. I will publish my memoir, At Home On the Kazakh Steppe.

I batted 500.

At Home on the Kazakh Steppe officially launched August 2, published by Ant Press (Perhaps they’ll change their name to Doubleday; I hear that one’s no longer taken).

I’m actually quite tickled that the Chincoteague house I didn’t sell in 2014. That’s because in February of this year, a small group of blogger buddies will join me down there for a week of writing, reading, laughing, eating, and who knows what all.

But, the house is officially on the market. And inquiries are still welcome.


So, I’ll take my 8,700 viewers, my 35 subscribers, my top ten Commenters (and all the others too), and my four best Blogger Buddies and  pronounce 2014  a grand year.


Here’s to 2015.  Bring it on.


P.S.  Maybe this year I’ll get the pea hens.


What “resolutions” did you accomplish in 2014? Or, if you’d rather (it’s more fun) which ones DIDN’T you see? 



14 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I was happy to read your annual review and enjoyed the underlying humorous tone. Also, I see you snagged a man among the guest bloggers you featured. (Haven’t done that yet!) In 2014 I made good progress on my blog, but not on writing memoir. Tonight I begin a 6-month course to proceed with that goal.

    I didn’t realize that your Chincoteague log house is on the market. Lucky me/us, to be able to enjoy its amenities in February.

    You are on the ball rolling into a happy, successful 2015, Janet.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Marian. Good luck with the course. I know the ones I took over the past five years were helpful. I’ll be eager to hear more when we get together. Safe travels.

  2. Joan Rough
    | Reply

    Good review of a year and interesting statistics. I was going to guess you didn’t clean up the clutter. My first choice probably would have been get the guinea hens and let the rest go! Crazy me. Thank goodness I have no room here for such distractions.

    Looking forward to our adventure together!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Ah the clutter. (Hi Joan). I did clean the clutter. And now I can do it again. It seems a perpetual battle. I love a clean, open desk; hate clutter. Yet making that clearing a priority (constantly) seems a battle I’m destined to lose. So I’ve “accepted my lot” as it were. Your post speaks well to this I think. Will we over there soon.

  3. Sharon Lippincott
    | Reply

    Yowzah Janet, your list of accomplishments exhausts me just reading it. Congratulations on all that.

    Like you, I sometimes become discouraged about a lack of comments. Then I realize how seldom I leave them. And like you, I recently checked my stats for the same sort of jolting joy. Whether those people actually READ the post or just pop by is anyone’s guess. And I do not know how to assess how many people plug blog feeds into reading software. We only know about email subscriptions.

    Unlike you, I’ve found that my traffic has increased as my posting frequency dropped and predictability went out the window. I post on a whim now, perhaps giving readers a break as I give myself one. Food for thought when and if you hit a snag.

    Best wishes for fulfilling as many new resolutions this year and brilliant success in every respect.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks so much Sharon. I’m fascinated that your numbers increased as the postings deccreased. My blogging guru Kristin Lamb is surely spinning in her desk chair. She claims numbers go up with frequency of posts and that three a week is ideal. I tried that in 2013, but knew it wasn’t for me. I decided I wasn’t after quantity so much as quality. And I determined to identify 10 blogs that I wanted to follow and that followed me. I’m almost there.

      I have been considering blogging less, even monthly. But haven’t come to a decision yet. I know I often unsubscribe to blogs that come out more than once a week.

      Your statement “plug blog feeds into reader software” is rummaging around in my head, trying to land. Can you help me? Is this connected somehow to those RSS Feeds I can’t get a grip on?

      Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to conquer the technical aspects of this. I just click here and there and write.


      • Sharon Lippincott
        | Reply

        Yes Janet, some people use feed readers to read blogs and other ongoing material, and they create the link with an RSS feed. Blogger has a reader built in on the Dashboard that posts fresh material from blogs I follow. But I forget to look …

        I know Kristin’s position. Let her spin. Just yesterday I chatted with this with Ian Mathie and he echoed my experience: those announcements that appear regularly and often are easily ignored. Those that surprise me are jewels to be immediately enjoyed.

        Simple writing. Less is more. If you don’t have something important to say, listen and think until you do.

        The one caveat I can think of for blogging consistently often is building credibility with The Publishing Establishment who tend to believe Kristen Lamb and her cohorts. If you want to go after a major publisher, better crank out those posts and show the stats.

  4. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    You’ve had a stellar year, my friend! I love your attitude and sense of priority here: “build a steady, faithful band of followers who enjoy reading my blog and who connect with what I might say.” And, of course, your sense of humor that graces every post. Congratulations and here’s to another successful and exciting year.I’m looking forward to making memories in Chincoteague. Thanks for your generous links.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’ve learned from you, Kathy, that sharing brings its own reward. Thank you for living that lesson. I too look forward to our time together.

  5. Joyce
    | Reply

    Hi Janet, this is my first visit to your blog (from Twitter). I like this idea of an annual review. It is a brave, transparent nice thing to do for your readers. And I like that you meshed your real-life goals with your cyber (blog) ones. Good ideas — thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your 8,700 views. ~Joyce

    P.S. Your being in VT, your bio, and your quality of writing are what brought me and kept me reading.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Joyce, Welcome I’m glad you’ve found your way here. I look forward to getting to know you better over the next many months.

  6. Kelly Boyer Sagert
    | Reply

    I just knew that peahens was going to be the answer!!!

    And, do you know one reason why I think you’re gathering this loyal band of followers? Because you don’t have a hidden agenda. So many blogs today provide “content” in the hopes that the reader will do A, B and C. You want genuine conversation and don’t hide the fact that you like it when people read your book. Up front, straightforward, no BS.

    My point of view, anyhow . . .

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh Kelly, thank you. That is lovely to hear. I’ll say more about my desires for this blog over the next year in this next blog, Wednesday morning. It’s always nice to have you drop by. (I’m in Ohio at the moment, too, btw. Wish you were just a tad closer to Cleveland).

  7. New Year’s Resolutions |
    | Reply

    […] better), want it, and go after it.  Some we achieve and some we do not. I’m no different.  In last week’s blog, I checked off getting my book published (finally) but, alas, no pea hens. There were goals […]

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