Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hunger Games teaser trailer

The full trailer is supposed to debut during Good Morning, America tomorrow.

"May the odds be ever in your favor."

Good Queen Bess: The Elizabeth I project is done!

Margaret George doesn't have many books, but all of them are both a treat to read, and a time commitment to read. They're always very long, but they also always flow well and are absorbing. She will take a major historical figure, usually name the book after them, and write about their lives from their own point of view. It's "historical fiction" in the sense that she endows them with their own thoughts and emotions, and will occasionally do things like consolidate four minor characters that served a similar function into one, or invent a minor character to illustrate something important and real. But it's meticulously researched, and she infers the thoughts and emotions based on real events.

For example, it's not hard to imagine that if you were flirting with a guy, and your cousin hauled off and married him, you would feel pissed off at your cousin, and maybe never speak to her again. It's also plausible that if you got to know the son of your cousin years later when he was an adult, your feelings towards him might be complex, carrying both the weight of your anger towards his mother and your long-stifled love for his stepfather. Especially if you were a virgin queen, married to your realm.

This is where we pick up the plot of "Elizabeth I." As Margaret George notes in the afterword, few British monarchs hold such a continued sway over public imagination. You can look at her and see many things, and people felt that way even in her lifetime. It must have been a daunting task to try to write from her perspective, and there were so many tacks she could have taken, since Elizabeth I reigned for so long and had so much happen. But the primary plot of the novel concerns Elizabeth I and her cousin, Lettice Knollys Devereaux Dudley Blount. Lettice was banished from court when she married Robert Dudley, and when the book opens, she and Elizabeth I have not seen each other in years. Robery Dudley dies soon after the book opens, and that's when Elizabeth I gets to know his stepson, Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex.

We see from both Lettice and Elizabeth's points of view as the book wears on. Robert Deveraux is the thread that binds them together, and although Lettice at first seems like a typical stage mom whose only hope is her offspring, her character evolves. Elizabeth is a bit harder to categorize, which I guess meshes with history. Though this isn't my favorite of Margaret George's books, it's still a good read, and I'd still reccomend it.

Other blogs, not my own

So one of the main suggestions that comes up if you look for ways to increase blog readership is to visit other people's blogs and comment on them. I've been doing this over the past couple of day, just by using the "next blog" button on Blogger. I've made the following observations:

Lots of people start blogs and don't keep up on them. I've found many blogs that haven't been updated in over a year. Some haven't been touched since Obama came into office.

Commenting on family blogs feels weird. I don't know why. After all, the people who run them are the ones that made them public. But are they looking for random people to come and comment that "OMG yes, my baby cried that much too! Wow, you guys are making peanut butter cookies today? Sounds super-fun! Ugh, it's science fair time at your house, too? I can totally relate!" It feels sort of invasive to leave comments for these folks. It's like I knocked on their front door and asked if I could come in and look at their family album, then sat in their living room, eating their food, with my feet on their coffee table, commenting on how each photo was shot and telling them boring stories about how one time I did something sort of like what's happening in the picture.

Lots of people blog about running. I had no idea there was that much to say on the topic, but then again, I'm not a runner.

Many bloggers believe they are better than you. Sometimes it's subtle. One blog said that any comment that revealed obvious ignorance of rules-based systems will not be posted. It made me wish I knew a little bit about them, so I could whip up the most maddeningly ignorant comments I could think of and leave them all over the place, just to be contrary. Sadly, my ignorance is so vast, I didn't even know how to annoy the author. Other times, they're much more in-your-face. One blog that featured mostly the author's political opinions said something like "If you're just a clicker then click on through, this is not the blog for you." Translation: I CAN READ HUFFINGTON POST AND YAHOO NEWS BETTER THAN YOU CAN, BITCHEZ!

Sharing your photography seems to be one of the most common reasons to start a blog. I came across TONS of them. There was the guy who takes mostly action shots of skateboarders and BMX. There were quite a few wedding photographers. There were loads and loads of nature photographers. I commented on some, not on others.

Commenting is deceptively hard. Or maybe I overthink it. If I just wanted MOAR PAGE VIEWS, I could make one generic comment and post it everywhere, like the people who spam for cheap electronics. "Hi! Your blog is excellent resource! I must tell you, I will never buy electronics from store again! My mom got bran new laptop for only $20! Click here see how!" But I guess I want people to come here because they're curious, or I sound interesting, not because they believe some scam. So to me, that means I have to say something worthwhile on other people's blogs, not just NICE POST! HERE'S MY LINK!

At the same time, since part of the point of commenting places is to encourage people to come here, that also narrows it down to where I should comment, in my mind. So I don't comment on blogs that aren't in English, that haven't been updated sometime in 2011, and that I don't find interesting, or at least relevant to my blog.

Those are the easy decisions. Then it gets murky. If someone describes herself as "an avid homeschooler and warrior for Christ," and most of her links are to churches and extreme right-wing causes, but seems to like some of the same books as I do, would she "follow me home?" Would the guy who did a great interview with the man who designed stage clothing for most of the hair metal bands but mainly blogs about death metal "follow me home?" Should I comment? If I come across a poetry blog and I think the poetry isn't to my taste, but they seem to have tons of followers, should I comment?

It's been fun exploring what other people's blogs are like, but I'm not sure how this piece of advice is working out for me. I see a couple of people have been enticed here, and I really appreciate you coming and hope you enjoyed my blog. But at the same time, this seems like an awfully labor-intensive way to try to build a following. I could spend every night for the rest of my life doing this and still not visit every blog. I got accepted into a a book blogging Ning group, so I'm going to try to develop that more. If you're interested in seeing the site, you can visit it here. And anyone with advice, I'm all ears!

What People Google, or Making my Blog More Awesome, part 3

So I noticed that Blogspot has an option called "stats," you know, along with "posting," "settings," "design," etc. In my ongoing (12-hour long now!) quest to make this blog more awesome, I checked into it.

It's neat. It will tell you which of your posts people are looking at, where the people came from (both online and on the internet) and what google search may have brought them here. Very interesting and surprising. For example, several years ago, I titled my post on my saints book "Have you ever come across a St. Maureen?" It's a line from a British film called "Millions," and is said several times throughout the course of the movie by a young boy who has recently lost his mother and is fascinated with the saints. He sees several of them, and always asks that question. Well, apparently he's not the only one: 18 people have come here by googling "St. Maureen." Fans of the film? Catholics looking for a baby name? Guess I'll never know.

I received a number of hits from webistes with .tk domains. I've never heard of that domain before. I followed one, and it took me to a slutty video of Emma Watson and warned me repeatedly that my computer could explode if I didn't stay to watch. I got one hit from someone who had googled "chicken bestiality" and didn't understand it, until I found this old post about a salaciously named but otherwise forgettable short-story anthology. I am very surprised at the continued interest in my post on "Charity Girls." The one person from Etiquette Hell who came to see me truly warmed my heart. That website is one of my favorites. I go there all the time, I've shared it with many people, and always enjoy not just the stories, but the lively debate in the comments and the wild stories some commentors have. So, thanks for your visit.

And thank you to anyone else who comes to see me. I've been trying to get out there more today. I visited lots of folks on their blogs and left some comments, and have applied to join a Ning of book bloggers. I don't aspire to be Regretsy, at least not in terms of readership. I'm not looking for a book deal, a movie deal, or my own line of e-readers out of this. I would just like to expand this blog's circle a little bit, to attract 15-20 followers instead of three, and to maybe even see comments sections where the people start talking to each other. So, thanks for being here, thanks for hearing what I have to say, and if you have something to say in reply, I appreciate that too. Even the chicken bestiality person.