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Apparently I’m not a devoted blogger!  I can’t believe it has been so long since I posted something.  

I’ve been reading a bunch–and now it’s for fun!  And I’ve been making some jewelry and putting together costume components for the upcoming Romantic Times BookLovers Convention.  This has been a fun process and Katie and I are having a ton of fun. 

We’ve finally settled on a pattern for our fairy costume for the convention ball.  This is what we’re making– 

 

           Katie is going as an Earth fairy so we’re going to make the pink costume in the upper middle using browns and greens.  I’m going as a fire fairy and am going to make the top right costume using reds and oranges.  

We found some awesome wings on EBay and at a great price.  

Check them out–Here are Katie’s green wings—and yes, she has practiced sitting in them! 

Fairy Wings 

And here are my red wings– 

Red Fairy Wings 

If you ever need costume wings, I highly recommend Fashionwings4u.  These are bendable, well constructed and they shipped extremely fast. 

Here’s a review of my most recent favorite read–This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer, published by Harcourt. 

This World We Live In is a bittersweet, devastating, uplifting view of post apocalyptic life through the eyes of a seventeen year old girl.  Told through her diary, This World We live In explores the lives of Miranda and her family as they struggle through daily existence following a natural disaster of devastating proportions. 

 A year has passed since the moon was hit by an asteroid, knocking it out of orbit just enough to cause tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on earth.  Normal life is over, as is school, shopping, and the lives of many friends and neighbors.  With food shortages, little to no electricity and the constant fog of volcanic ash blocking out the sun, life is no picnic for the survivors. 

 Miranda, her mother and two brothers eek out an existence in cramped and impersonal conditions.  Miranda shares her feelings on lack of privacy while at the same time expressing how alone she feels. Miranda’s voice as she writes in her journal has the reader holding back tears on one page and laughing out loud the next.  

 After her two brothers take a fishing trip and one brings back a bride, the situation becomes even more stressful.  Another mouth to feed and one more living in their already limited conditions brings more worries.  Not long after more visitors appear in the form of Miranda’s father, his new wife, their young baby and three stragglers.  Miranda is immediately taken with one of the stragglers, a boy about her age named Alex.  Her younger brother Jon is taken with Alex’s sister, Julie.  Now, more mouths to feed and personalities to work with as the struggle continues.

 The World We Live In leaves the reader in an ambivalent position.  A tragedy spurs a new direction for the survivors whose changing circumstances give hope even though the future is anything but certain.  I truly hope there will be more to come about the struggle of these survivors, but if it doesn’t, The World We Live In gives one much to think about and much to be thankful for.

 I’ve been reading a bunch since I finished school.  Here’s a list with a few opinions that I’ve been keeping on Paperback Swap

1.  Souless by Christopher Golden (1/4/0) YA and about zombies! 

2. Greywalker by Kat Richardson (1/7/10) 

3. Wolfsband and Mistletoe by Toni L.P. Lelner and Charlaine Harris (editors) (1/8/10) anthology 

4. Kitty’s House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn (1/9/10) Another great adventure with Kitty! 

 5. Undead and Uneasy by MaryJanice Davidson (1/11/09) 

 6. Kiss of Fury by Deborah Cooke (1/11/09) 

 7. Undead and Unworthy by MaryJanice Davidson (1/12/10) 

 8. Unbound by Kim Harrison et.al. (1/14/10) 

 9. Fade Out by Rachel Caine (1/16/10) It’s the Morganville Vamps, ‘nuf said.  A++ 

 10. Your the One that I Haunt by Terri Garey (1/17/10) This series is so easy and enjoyable to read.  I don’t know why, but they are quick reads, too. 

 11. Silent Night, Hanted Night by Terri Garey (1/18/10) 

 12. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (1/19/10) YA and wonderful! 

 13. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (1/22/10) Excellent 

 14.Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (1/26/10) Different world and very cool. Steampunk adventure. 

 15. Betrayals by Lili St. Crow (1/28/10) YA. I love this series. I find I’m liking it much more than the House of Night series. 

 16. White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison (2/4/10) 

 17. Undead and Unwelcome by MaryJanice Davidson (2-5-10) 

 18. Wages of Sin by Jenna Maclaine (2/6/10) 

 19. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris (2/8/10) Satisying and enjoyable conclusion to Harper and Tolliver’s story.  Wish there had been a few more! 

 20. Evernight by Claudia Gray (2/10/10) 

 21. First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost  (2/12/10) Awesome, wonderful story–I wish Ms. Frost would crank out one of these every month! 

 22. Blood Magic by Eileen Wilks (216/10) 

 23. My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent (2/25/10) 

 24. Deadtown by Nancy Holzner (3/5/10) 

 25.  The Host by Stephanie Meyer (3/9/10) With all of the ambivalent reviews around, Ive found that I’m one of those who truly enjoyed this story. 

 26.  Firespell by Chloe Neill (3/10/10) YA and not too bad.  I’ll be reading the next one. 

 27.  Storm Watcher by Lilith Saintcrow (3/11/10) 

 28.  Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole (3/12/10) I’m pretty sure that Kresley Cole is my all-time favorite author.  I cannot put her books down once I’ve started. 

 29.  Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison (3/15/10) YA by the writer of the Hollows series–which I love.  This one, not so much. I will read the next just to see if it develops a more interesting and understandable plot. 

 30.  Atlantis Redeemed by Alyssa Day (3/1810) I love the Warriors of Poseidon series! 

 31. Deep Kiss of Winter by Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole (3/22/10) 

32.  Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (3/23/10) This was a unique view of werewolves and I really loved the POV of the story. I’m excited that there will be a second.33. Strange Brew by P.N. Elrod (3/24/10)34. This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (3/26/10) Bittersweet, depressing, uplifting story told in diary form of the after effects of an apocalyptic event. I find myself thinking about this one more than anything else I’ve recently read or seen.

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Goodreads–one  of  my newer favorite sites.  If you’re a reader and haven’t  visited Goodreads–check it out.  Goodreads

Also, take the time to visit Bitten By Books today.  They’re having a release party for Dakota Cassidy’s newest offering, Accidentally Demonic.

I spent Saturday doing a bit of laundry and making a trip to the feed store. Then Katie, Seth and I drove to Athens to check out Avatar in 3D.  It seems the reviews are either way good or way bad on this one.  We really enjoyed it. Although the storyline was a tad predictable, the  imagery more than made up for that.

I’m still reading (and loving)  Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.

Boneshaker

A nice review can be found here.  With it being so dreary, muddy and dull around here, Ms. Priest’s blight-afflicted Seattle adventure has everything I need to overcome my rutty mood.  Zombies whose bite necessitates limb removal, airships, an alternate history, and unlikely heroes–Boneshaker has it all.  Thanks for the ride, Cherie!

The countdown is on to the 2010 Romantic Book Convention in Columbus, Ohio.  I’m taking daughter, Katie and I think one of her friends, Kristen is going with us, too.  We went in 2008 but just for two days.  We’re going for the whole convention this time and are extremely excited!

One of the dinners we’ll be attending is the Faery Ball on Thursday night.  With a theme of elemental fairies, costume making is going to be fun!  I think I’ll try to document our progress.  Pattern choices so far include–

I’m going to be making 3 of these.  One for Katie–who wants to be an earth fairy, one for Kristen who is probably going to go with water fairy and one for me who is going to be a fire fairy.  Because of course, I’m so hot–hee hee.

Visited Bitten by Books today–haven’t checked in there for a while since I’ve been so busy with school.  Glad I stopped by as they’re hosting an interview with YA author of Fallen, Lauren Kate.   I’ve been wanting to read this one because of the setting–a Civil War academy in Savannah.  Check out the trailer~~

Just started The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and already I’m wondering again how wonderful stories end up manipulated and shredded in the movies.

This article in the Seattle Times says it much better than me–

The Lovely Bones’: Director Peter Jackson overburdens Alice Sebold’s delicate novel

I can’t believe that it has been almost a year since my last blog post!  This blog was started as a requirement for a master’s course which I have now finished.  I have my master’s degree!!!  Needless to say, the last few months have been extremely busy with work, family and studying.  Now I find that I do have some time to get back to blogging and I’m going to concentrate on three of my passions–marketing, reading and trying to channel Julia Child.

I’ll be posting odd thoughts about marketing, what my latest favorite book happens to be and any new and delicious recipes I find.  You’ll also see references to my feathered family, too, as they keep me entertained and frustrated at the same time.  My chickens are a lot like my kids in this way, however, if my chickens make me really mad–I can eat them!  (just kidding!)

Before I sign off I want to share a well designed book blog called In Which a Girl Reads.  Check it out, make a comment and be entered to win a book or two!

This blog has been the result of a class assignment for my Emerging Media course.  I must admit that I’ve learned a great deal from my participation in this course.  Mostly, I’ve learned how blogs work and the impact they can create.  In the past I had considered blogs merely as “online diaries” written by wannabe writers, however, apparently I must be one of these wannabe writers as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the blogging process. 

One of the things I’ve learned is that for a blog to be successful, one must try and post regularly.  I think that many start blogs and may post for a few weeks but then they lose interest or don’t have the time for frequent posts. Then when someone does stumble upon their blog, the visitor is likely to be disappointed to find the most recent post to be months old. 

When blogging to create interest in a product or service this could be devastating.  What customer is going to have faith in a business who can’t manage to keep their blog fresh and relevant?  It would be better to not have a blog at all than to take that risk.

During this course I’ve also learned the importance of networking through social media sites like Facebook or MySpace.  These sites are attracting more members daily and it looks as if their membership will continue to grow.   Even Oprah has jumped on board hosting Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, for a recent show where all things Facebook were discussed.

oprah

I still need to figure out Facebook and MySpace–I guess I’m just a bit leary of posting something that may somehow be used against me!  The things Photoshop can do are amazing!

I think people and businesses will continue to use blogs to express themselves and to build brand relationships.  I do think that the format may change somewhat as technology seems to always be improving on the basics.  Twitter seems to be a blog spin-off in that people are sharing what they’re doing, but in 140 words or less and without the graphics.  I’m sure as digital capabilities continue to evolve, then our methods of communicating whether it be blogs or Twitterspeak will also continue to evolve.  For the IMC practitioner the challenge will be to try and stay as current and up to date as possible.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about social media.  First a quick definition–see if you agree with it. I like this one as it makes more sense than others I’ve read.  It was written by Joseph Thornley, CEO of Thornley Fallis a full-service communications and public relations firm.

Social media are online communications in which individuals shift fluidly and flexibly between the role of audience and author. To do this, they use social software that enables anyone without knowledge of coding, to post, comment on, share or mash up content and to form communities around shared interests.

Some examples of popular social media sites are on line discussion forums like those available at Weightwatchers.com; networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace; and social messaging services like Twitter

Chris Crumhas blogged about some ways that businesses around his hometown of Lexington, Ky. have utilized social media–along with suggestions for others to jump on board.  His post can be read here–Real Life Examples: Local Social Media Marketing in Action.  Seeing how businesses are putting social media marketing techniques into use is a great way of gaining an insight into just what can be done with today’s technologies.afaceatwti1

 Taking a look at Facebook, I’m amazed at its continued growth.  Facebook has now outpaced MySpace with a registered user base of over 180 million.  Smart businesses can use this huge community to their advantage by using just a few simple ideas.  One thing a business can do is to watch what people are saying about your business and use that to build and improve on your brand’s reputation.  By having a Facebook presence your company will increase brand awareness and chances for interacting with customers.  Facebook also has many ways of targeting ads through user profile information.  Because people can opt in to be your friend, you can target messages specifically to those who have already shown an interest in your business.

Recently we have been discussing marketing to minorities and whether or not that is truly an ethical thing to do.  First off, what is a minority?  Definitions can be somewhat ambivilant on what should be considered a minority.  According to the federal government a minority is basically  anyone who is not white–i.e. Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians,  American Indians, etc.  This definition refers then to ethnic differences.  What about those who are in same sex relationships?  Would they be considered a minority group?  And what about little people?  I ask because I just saw a television commercial starring a “little person” that was advertising Burger King Burger Shots.  It actually occurred to me to wonder if this was a politically correct thing for Burger King to do.

We seem to be always wondering if we’re offending someone–whether it’s little people, African-Americans, American Indians, people with pink hair and nose rings–where does it stop?  How does today’s marketing professional avoid accidentally stereotyping a minority?  Probably the best way of avoiding a faux pas when it comes to minorities and marketing is to ask the opinions of either a focus group or a consultant before any campaign is initiated.  By doing this  if there is some overlooked offense, it can be corrected before a costly and probably unforgettable, error is made.   Check out these ads from the past–what trouble these would cause today!

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achina1arats1

Here’s an old TV commercial that would never make it in today’s politically correct culture.

This 2006 ad shows just how hard it is to be politically correct these days.

This semester my class has revolved around types of new media and how IMC (integrated marketing communications) can use these media to connect with consumers.  But what exactly is new media?  A simple definition is that new media is a general term for all forms of communication that are a result of the use of computer technologies.  This is contrary to old media which is represented by print, magazines and any other communications that are static in their presentation.  The main identifying element of new media is that it has the capability of being interactive.  So what are some examples of new media?  Here’s a few of the more popular, but of course, this list grows almost daily. 

  • Web sites
  • streaming audio and video
  • chat rooms
  • e-mail
  • online communities
  • Web advertising
  • DVD and CD-ROM media
  • virtual reality environments
  • integration of digital data with the telephone, such as Internet telephony
  • digital cameras
  • mobile computing
  • Naturally, all of these new technologies have put a serious crimp in the print business.  I’ve posted before about the demise of the newspaper business and it doesn’t seem like its going to get any better.

    amed

     So of these, which is the most important to those who practice IMC?  The actual question is which of these is of no value to IMC practitioners?  The answer is none.  All of these methods of communication are important and useful to interact and build a relationship with consumers.  As more and more become plugged in and logged on, the importance of staying digitally fresh and up to date becomes apparent. 

    The most valued consumer relationship is one that is interactive.  This means that the consumer knows they can communicate with a business and be heard.  Whether this is through a corporate blog where consumers can post their product opinions or through twittering with representatives of Barack Obama, people want to interact and they want to do it digitally.

    After my last post, I realized I hadn’t delved into the many other ways to increase blog traffic.  Besides the contest angle, some of the other ways to attract visitors to your blog include posting regularly.  And of course, if you are a witty, inventive writer all the better.  By posting regularly and passionately you are more likely to have regulars who will return again and again to hear what you’re saying.  However, if they’ve visited once and then a week later, visit again only to find no updates, then they’ll be disappointed and not likely to return.

    You can also discuss controversial issues.  Nothing stirs up interest like a good controversy. When the following cartoon appeared in the New York Post, bloggers everywhere found excellent blog fodder.

    achimp1 

    Inviting guest speakers to post on your blog is another excellent way of increasing traffic.  For example, if your blog is a place where you discuss trends in make up, inviting a professional make up artist to blog about a new technique should inspire those with similar interests to stop by and visit.  This works best when you and the guest blogger post about the upcoming visit.  Then, those who have never heard of you but do follow your guest speaker will be led to your blog and become enamoured with your witty writing skills.

    Another skill you need to develop when trying to increase blog traffic is that of creating a visually attractive post.  It is absolutely necessary to include pictures, charts, bullets, color etc. to keep your blog visually appealing.

    This fascinating tip from SEOmoz on the importance of brand building with your blog

    Possibly one of the most important aspects of all in blogging is brand-building. As Zefrank noted, to be a great brand, you need to be a brand that people want to associate themselves with and a brand that people feel they derive value from being a member. Exclusivity, insider jokes, emails with regulars, the occasional cat post and references to your previous experiences can be off putting for new readers, but they’re solid gold for keeping your loyal base feeling good about their brand experience with you. Be careful to stick to your brand – once you have a definition that people like and are comfortable with, it’s very hard to break that mold without severe repercussions. If you’re building a new blog, or building a low-traffic one, I highly recommend writing down the goals of your brand and the attributes of its identity to help remind you as you write.

    Another important factor to remember when trying to increase traffic, is to write simple, but catchy title tags so that those who subscribe to your blog will be curious but not overwhelmed. Making sure to use the right tag words both in your title and throughout your blog is essential for search engines to find you, also.  Running your title through a couple of search engines may help you find a way to improve your wording in order to receive more hits.

    The top things to remember when encouraging blog visits would be to keep it simple, witty, visually interesting, tag worthy, interesting (through contest, guest bloggers, etc) and mostly remember to write passionately.

    There are sure alot of blogs out in cyber world now.   But do you know what a blog is?  I know some people don’t because when I tell them I’m writing a blog, they ask what in the world is a blog and why am I writing one.  My quickest explanation is that a blog is an online diary where you write whatever happens to be on your mind and then invite others to read your thoughts and post comments.  For some, this is a matter of self-expression–the need to write down and share their thoughts on anything from daily homesteading activites to political ramblings and ravings.  For others, writing a blog is part of their effort to further their brand’s recognition and awareness.  Many corporate blogs are designed for this purpose.  And there are some that are really good at getting their message across without sounding like they’re trying to shove advertising down your throat.  I’ve written about corporate blogs before and I still feel that two of the best are Dell’s and Kodak’s.

    What is apparent about these two blogs is the passion for the products the bloggers are discussing.  They are not just raving about computers or cameras, they are sharing their interests and product expectations with others who do the same.  Because their products encourage lots of consumer interest, drawing these folks into reading the blogs and commenting is fairly easy.  However, what do you do when you have a product that doesn’t necessary have a huge following yet?  Or how do you encourage communication with those people who may be interested in what you have to say about your product?  In other words, how do you chum in readers to your blog?

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    I like to read–alot.  Some of my favorite authors have created blogs to discuss what they are currently working on.  This helps to create interest for their upcoming books and hopefully aid in sales.  Some of the ways that these authors encourage readers to visit again and again is to hold contests.  One of my favorite authors, Gena Showalter, not only posts regularly on her blog  (also a way to chum in visitors), but she routinely holds contests for her readers to win books.  And what serious reader doesn’t want to win a book?  When looking at ways to increase traffic to my blog, I posted on two forums where I’m a regular visitor, Backyardchickens.com and Paperbackswap.com.  I asked for people to visit and comment on my blog and at the end of 3 weeks I would choose a prize winner.  For backyardchickens.com visitors I offered either $15 to be used in the BYC store or a $15 Amazon gift card.  For Paperbackswap.com I offered a choice of several popular hardback books, $15 Amazon gift card or 4 credits to be used at PBS.  Both of these posts led to many new visitors to my blog.  The amount of traffic increased tremendously with some  very nice comments made.  Just check out the stats below.  You can easily see how much the traffic jumped in response to my posts announcing my contest.

    ablogstat