My Favorite Comfort Food

Blue Bell pistachio almond ice cream.

Right there it is, on the top of the shelf in the light-green container.  Mmmm….

Do you have to ask WHY I like it? It’s ICE CREAM. And really good ice cream. Of course, if it wasn’t great, I’d still buy it, because they’re the only ice cream provider in my area that sells pistachio. But it IS good and rich and creamy, and addictive like crack.

And, holy crap, $4.88!?  How old is this picture, I wonder?  Or where was it taken?  I pay between $6.00 and $6.50 for a container.  Which is probably the only reason why I’m not as big as a house, because I’d eat this stuff every day if I could afford it.

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July 28, 2010 – A Blog is Worth A Thousand Bucks (I Hope)

I had an idea today.  I’ve been thinking about making another blog—one that might actually net income (as opposed to this one, which exists to help me get published and boost sales thereafter).  More than a few people actually make a living blogging.  I doubt I’ll ever get to the point where I do nothing but blog for a living all day, but some extra money certainly doesn’t help (and making money from my blogging—even a small amount—goes a long ways towards making me a “professional writer”).

It seems to me that the blogs that are financially successful and popular are 1) are mostly pictures, 2) appeal to a decent-sized audience, 3) are updated daily, and 4) allow reader contributions.

My thoughts:

1) A picture is worth a thousand words.  Of course, being a writer (and on dial-up internet), I prefer words, but I’m in the minority.  Pictures get people’s attention, and with digital cameras and camera phones, there are more pictures being created than ever before.  Pictures won’t ever replace the written word, but we may very well be heading towards a time when words supplement pictures, not the other way around.

2) If you want to make revenue from ads, and have companies give you samples that you can give away in contests to reward reader loyalty, you have to have a decent-sized audience.  And to get that your blog content has to appeal to quite a few people.  The Cheezburger Network of blogs (LOLCats, FailBlog, PoorlyDressed, etc.) appeals to a very large audience because it’s all humor-based.  They have pictures that will appeal to everyone who likes to laugh.  By contrast, if I had a blog about nothing but medieval history, that would appeal to a very small segment of the internet population and it’s not likely I could get a large enough audience to attract advertisers.

3) Daily updates are what really gathers an audience.  They want to be entertained (or educated or given some form of content free) everyday.  If you don’t have fresh material frequently, and your audience knows this, they won’t come back nearly as often, so you will have lower visitor stats each day.  From a marketing standpoint, it’s better to have a high daily visitor count than to have visitors visit once a week and catch up.  Frequent clicks are what it’s about.

4) Reader contributions are a necessity if you are posting new content every day.  The original creator of LOLCats can’t take picture of his/her cats every single day and upload them and call it an entertaining blog.  The thing about cats is that they frequently sleep and lay around the house; they’re not always entertaining.  And readers don’t want to see the same two cats over and over again anyways.  They want some cat diversity.  So you have to accept outside contributions.  This also has the added benefit of creating a more loyal following, because people enjoying seeing someone else appreciate their work, and they will check back often to 1) see if you used it, and 2) to see what other people think about it.  And when you use reader’s contributions they will be eager to go out and get you some more.  Recognition breeds extra effort. 

So, if I accept those four observations as truth, where does that leave me?  I think Cheezburger Presents pretty well has the market sewn up on funny pictures.  And while I like my comedy (after all, my dad is a professional comedian), I have this hokey idea about making the internet a more educational place. 

While driving back and forth to my new job on a new-to-me highway, I have seen all sorts of interesting graveyards and markers and things.  I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days, and this morning I think the idea finally gelled in my mind: a blog of interesting historical places.  These will include old churches, homes, town squares, battlefields, memorial markers, cemeteries, etc.  There will be at least one picture and a location, but hopefully I will be able to get more information, like why it’s important.  Thankfully, historical markers are pretty common-place in the U.S., so many historical places of note will have some information handy.

I will have to get it started by plotting my section of Middle Tennessee, but I’d like to have other people submit pictures and information on things of historical note where they live or have visited.  I envision eventually having a world map, where you can click on a country (or state) and pull up a roadmap (with interstates and highways), which will be marked with little pins denoting places of interest.  Click any of those pins and it will take you to the blog entry featuring that location’s historical point of interest.  I’ll also have it set up so there are categories, so if you want to just travel to cemeteries or historic homes, you can bring up all of those in a region.  In short, it will allow people with an interest in anything historical to plan trips, or if someone already has a trip planned, they can see what’s of historical interest or note near where they’re going to be.  People needing to do research from a distance (writers, genealogists, etc.) will also be able to use it to learn local history and get a feel for the place.

I’m still thinking about blog names.  One option is “What Happened Here?”

What Keeps Me Up at Night

 

Two things, and pretty much only two things:

1) Imagining scenes for my books (http://keripeardon.wordpress.com/);

2) A guilty conscience.

Unfortunately, I think the two things are linked. The ability to imagine people and places and dialog that doesn’t exist also allows me to imagine horrible outcomes for whatever I feel I’ve done wrong. And I tend to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to feeling guilty. Late library books are a terrible burden. I just hope I can sleep tonight; I noticed today that my bank account was in the negative. I fixed it as soon as I saw it, but that could easily make me feel guilty for a week–minimum.

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July 25, 2010 – Writers Conferences

Well, intrepid readers, I now have a job!  Yes, that thing which pays the bills and puts food on the table so that I can continue to live until my book gets published.  I start tomorrow.  This is probably going to mean many fewer posts, as I have to save my spare time for working on my book, but I’ll try to post at least once a week, just so you know I’m still making progress.

While at a medieval lacemaker’s guild meeting, I actually met a couple of ladies who are also writers—one is a published children’s author and does that for a living.  We talked books for a while, and they both recommended that I look into attending writers conferences—that this was a good way to meet editors and agents both, and it could sometimes shorten the acceptance process.  So I have begun the hunt for writers conferences in my area.  If anyone has any they recommend (anywhere in the world, although I, personally, am only going to attend those in or near Tennessee), please post them—preferably with a link—in the comments section below.

One of the ladies also recommended writers groups/clubs as being a good way of networking and especially to find out which agents and/or publishing houses are interested in purchasing work in your genre.

A place I found to start: http://www.tn-writers.org/Home.asp

By the way, I am working on putting some important reference material in a quick link on the right side bar.  The “About the Book” link goes to my proposed back cover synopsis, which is a good summary of what my book is about (hence the name!).  I will be linking character bios there when I have time, so you don’t have to go hunting for them.  I guess I’ve actually managed to make a surviving–even thriving–blog if it’s so big I now need to organize it a bit better.

My Weirdest Pet Peeve

Open cabinet doors. My husband is not physically capable of shutting a cabinet door anywhere in the house, and I’m constantly going along behind him and shutting them. Open, they’re at just the right height for me to hit my head.

When it comes to phrases, “same difference” has to be my biggest one. That’s an oxymoron; something can’t be both the same and different at the same time! Ugh!

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July 18, 2010 – A Beginning and an Ending

Ursus sent me a preliminary sketch of Anselm and I made a couple of suggestions.  Progress is being made!  Woo-hoo!

And speaking of progress, I had this great idea last night for an epilogue to my third book (and the series in general).  Actually, I had two ideas.  The first one slips into the first person as Kalyn recounts what happens to them for the first six months or so after the end of the third book.  The alternative that I came up with—that I like even better—is told from the point of view of a young soldier, who meets Kalyn and a couple of others several months after the end of the third book.  I like it better because it ends the book (and series) on a slightly more positive note, because the young man is given the option of joining them.  The story ends there, before you see what he chooses, but that’s kind of what I like about it.  It’s not a “The End” sort of moment.  It makes you wonder if I might go on to write about this young man joining them (definitely no plans for that, because I’m all out of plot for this series). 

I like not tying everything up into a neat little bag and then throwing it out.  A tiny little opening, a hint of a loose end, makes it end more hopefully.  Sometimes I have trouble coming to grips with books that end—as in the main character(s) die, so there’s no hope for anything else after that.  Mind you, even if the main character(s) don’t die, that doesn’t mean that the series should drag on past its normal life expectancy (coughAnitaBlakeSeriescough).  I just like it when there’s a little hope at the end, so, in your mind, it’s never truly over and done with.  Books that are really and truly over with at the end make me depressed. 

I was trying to talk to my husband about a little bit of this, without actually saying what happens in the epilogue, and, even more importantly, without saying who I’m planning on killing off.  He looked at me, a little alarmed and said, “You’re not planning on telling me how it ends, are you?”  I told him “no.”  He said, “Good.”  That sort of pleased me—that he’s interested in the first book enough that he wants to wait to read the second and third one when they’re done.  So I alone know the plot and how it really ends.

July 17, 2010 – Character Pictures Coming Soon!

Today I heard from my friend, Ursus, who is going to be drawing pictures of my characters.  He asked to see who I had in mind for Anselm, so I sent him the pictures of James Caviezel this morning.  He’s starting to work on it!  I hope to have something from him pretty soon.  I was so excited this morning that I could barely be tolerated. 

I think I’m going to go with Audrey Tautou for Marie. 

 

I had an idea for my third book today.  Not really for the entire book, but for the ending (this will be the end of the series, not just the third book, mind you).  I’ve already played with the idea of having one of my prominent characters die at the end, but then I abandoned it, because I didn’t think I could really go through with killing said character off.  Well, now I’ve about changed my mind again.  I still think it works, for a lot of different reasons—the number one being that I don’t want it to have a perfectly happy ending.  I don’t want a depressing ending either, but I think a mostly good ending, shorn of perfection, is what’s needed.  I’m working on the epilogue for it right now; it will redeem the story a tiny bit, so it won’t end on a completely depressing note.  It will give hope that those who survived have moved on to happier times.

I may change my mind again.  There’s a lot of time between now and book three.  Not to mention there are still some holes in book two, and pretty much none of book three is written, except one scene of warfare, and the death of said mystery character.  Who knows how I might change my mind as things flow along.  The character might get a reprieve again.  Lord knows I sat here and cried while writing the death scene.  (Which, by the way, I hope translates into tears for my readers as well–if I keep it in; it’s a mark of good writing.)