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saturday, march 27, 2010

On Freedom, Blogging, and Reaching Out

Eight months ago, I gingerly dipped my toe into blogging waters. In truth, I had little idea as to where to start or how. Yes, when a young relative by marriage biked America for Greenpeace, a few times I had opened her brief-to-telegraph-style on-the-road cyclist's blog, but beyond that nothing. Still, I believed blogging was something I coud do.

My plan was follow my usual life style, making it up as I went. In the process, I would look for my 'voice,' something I had not previously thought to do. Even in writing the sci-fi novel, Jolt: a rural noir, voice had been the last thing from my mind; my main goal had simply been to write a good story and lace it well with lots of practical survival information related to responding to mass disasters and, in some places, nuclear ones. Which didn't sound much like looking for voice.

No, voice was more personal. And free flowing. Both of which I hypothesized were necessary cornerstones to successful blogging. I construed blogging would evolve something like this: 

I  would get up in the morning. I would look around. Something would catch my fancy. I'd blog about it. On my personal blog, I'd write about the weather, season, societal concerns, food, the implosion of the Crown Point Bridge, FEMA, SEMA, communication, nuclear fallout, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, Kristen Henderson writing her way out of a 'paper bag,' Health Care, pigging out, grandbabies, and the Walkway over the Hudson.  And on Alva's Writer Publisher's blog, I'd write about publishing, getting Jolt to press and then to market, figuring out how to run a small corporation, readers, writers, and now, syndicating. 

So that's what I did and I watched the numbers and looked for when the number of hits went up on an entry. My thought at the time had been that from that I might infer, given the increase in interest, possibly I was onto 'voice.'That said, I developed a slowly expanding following of a couple hundred people, but, as it turned out, they read whatever I wrote. 

So as my readers read what I write, it turned out that topics more frequently opened were informational and may, therefore, have encouraged re-reading which, in turn, lifted the numbers a bit. Which can't be voice. Can it?

But at its own slow pace, even now, my readership grows, and so it would seem that although I remain unsure as to just what voice is, for my purposes, I've found it.

So, got voice, and I decided to seek a larger audience. That's when Alva had an idea for me. Syndicate . . . as a column. Oh, a column?  It was then I  remembered when in my earlier years I'd followed a couple in the Poughkeepsie Journal. As a kid there was My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt and in the seventies there was the feminist Robin Morgan's. Both were syndicated. Both were written by women. If they could do it, why not me?

As such, welcome to Alva Press' next venture:

Alva is seeking ways to get Roberta M. Roy's or Alva's Writer-Publisher's blog syndicated. To sweeten the offer, Alva, while retaining full copyrights, will grant permission for reprint of any single day's blog for one time use to any established newspaper or magazine wishing to enter into such agreement with Alva for the price of twenty-five dollars per blog entry, offer to end May 31st, 2010. How's that?

If you know a publication interested in presenting a woman's view on a variety of topics to its readers on a regular basis, please have them contact Alva Press, Inc. Email contacts may be through this site. Snailmail should be to the Alva Press, Inc., P.O. Box 2089, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603. Telephone (919) 239-3791. Fax (845) 452-9224.

Alva delights in the thought of your reading Roberta M. Roy blogging in one of your local publications as a syndicated column!

Go to it guys! You can do it.

RMR in Po-Town

12:03 pm edt          Comments

thursday, march 25, 2010

On Alva Blogging
When Alva Inc entered the world of blogging, its audience was no less amorphous and ill-defined than it is now, some eight months later. Now as then, except for the tiny cookies they leave that they may stand up and be counted, Alva's readers remain as hidden from view as ever.  And all Alva knows is that a couple of hundred of them log in an average of twice a month to follow the Publisher Writer's blog at Alva Press or to hop with alacrity to Roberta M. Roy's personal block or her briefer, less frequently updated one on nuclear survival. 

Now the day before yesterday we had a discussion, Alva's woman president and a relatively free-speaking author-acquaintance, a man. The questions asked were two: Why blog? And: Who reads the blogs?

Now, to begin with, I must explain that this purely theoretical exploration of the questions had, on the one side the blogger, herself, and, on the other side, a male author of strong opinions who had not as yet logged into the Alva sites. Nonetheless, the man's speculative observations frequently coincided with the writer-blogger's.  As such, on the outside chance that someone out there might choose to blog back, either in support or correction of his/my theories, I'd like to offer them here.

First of all, given almost none of the readers blog back, it is quite possible that they check in only in the same way as one might in passing, stop by the home of a friend or aging relative more or less as friendly gesture, but also to see how the person is. If this is the case, then in a rather lop-sided kind of manner in which one of the couple talks only and the other listens only, the relationship takes on an aspect of care.

Secondly, beyond the possibility that the readers take a mild interest in life of the writer, my writer-acquaintance suggested that since the blogger was female, so too were the readers. This he stated was because women write about emotions and feelings and men are really not interested in that. And as I could not despute that beyond stating I knew one man who followed my blog, as the other three I can identify are women, it was at best, a weak defense.

And then what I have always speculated upon is that a blog is of interest often because in this busy world we rarely have more than a minute or two to spare and when the crunch is on, reading a blog can offer a brief respite from the world of the non-personal. And there even remains the outside chance that something said in it will ring true. Like a handshake. Or a small boost to the spirit.

At least I hope so.

It is for that reason Alva continues its blog, for while its blogs have brought definitely brought an audience, they clearly have sold almost no copies of Jolt. Indeed the fifty-odd copies that have been distributed to date were only done face-to-face or by mail in relation to a thank you.

Any thoughts on the above would be most welcome.

RMR in Po-Town
8:45 pm edt          Comments

sunday, march 21, 2010

Visiting Writers' Page Submissions Sought
Alva Press is soliciting submissions for its Visiting Writers' page. 'Trauma and Writing' brought in two strong pieces of writing, but now Alva is opening its search to welcome any well-written piece of not more than a page in length. Acceptance would result in its inclusion on the Visiting Writers page. Thereafter, Alva would provide a follow-up solicitation of other writing with similar focus. It is anticipated that the result will provide some brief examples that might lend to a discussion of comparative literature for shorter works.

Different from the usual approach to such idea exchange is that, except for the first writer on each topic selected, the writers themselves would select with whom/what they might like their writing compared. Such observed similarities might refer to those associated with topic, style, or a mix of the two. 

The results of the use of this approach would suggest that the writers were themselves cognizant of a similarity in focus with the previous submission or submissions. This novel approach would result in the writers rather than the readers being the ones who suggest the initial observation of the similarities in focus.

By encouraging writers to express their own observations of similarities between what they and another or others have written, Alva anticipates making available a somewhat fresh point of view from which to compare and interpret the literature so presented.

RMR in Po-Town

10:33 pm edt          Comments

tuesday, march 9, 2010

Drum Machine . . .or Is It Drum Machine?
Good news. Joan Schweighardt has read Kristen Henderson's poems and liked them. As editor for this project, Schweighardt's suggested editorial changes are minimal. Further, her scepticism on Alva's accepting publication of a book of poetry has been diminished to the extent that she agrees Alva should publish these oddly articulate gems for the world to read. Only if we are lucky, may we anticipate breaking even on them, but the readers of the world need Henderson.

In other, there still remains the possibility that Drum Machine may not be Drum Machine. This stems from the question of which poem best represents Henderson's works overall. If we could all come to agreement on that, then naming the book would be easy. The problem is, however, we are only beginning the discussion.

RMR in Po-Town, Celebrating

9:43 pm est          Comments

wednesday, march 3, 2010

The Cart or the Horse?

So isn't the cover to a book just an introduction: a banner, braggert, tentative wave, hopeful hop, noisy discordant? And doesn't its central questions remain as always: catching the eye, representing the content, and providing for universal appeal? Its bottom line is to sell the book. So what's the big deal? Jolt has a cover, doesn't it? So, too, will Drum Machine by Kristen Henderson. Yes? Hmm.

Yes. Drum Machine will have a cover. But to get a cover, Alva Press needs a concept. Next it needs a visual image to represent that concept. And fonts that fit the feeling. And colors.

Well, that's easy.

Think so?

Have you looked back into the blogs related to pulling together Jolt's cover? Doing so was not what one might expect. For several reasons. First, artists are terribly invested people so it's important not to attempt to wrest the overriding concept from the author, no matter who he or she is.

Next, there is the photographer or artist--better a naive one who just happened to have what you needed than something made to order; a gentle shutterbut who will not decry and writhe in pain if the image is cropped, distorted, or changed in hue. (Or a really sophisticated one, who understands the drill.)

Then there is the printer. Each one has his or her specs that impose the question of how to get the image or images and inscriptions to fit on the pages. And just right. Which means possibly stretching or shrinking or cropping or in some way, adjusting the original plan. After which, there are other potential delicately danced wars, this time between the designer and publisher or the writer and designer or the writer and the publisher or all three. 

But finally, reason usually rules. A cover is designed. The book is printed. The publisher is content. The author is elated. The designer posts the cover on his or her wall. The printer breathes a sigh of relief. And everybody waits.

Maybe this time it will be a best seller. A Nobel prize winner. Or minimally the Pulitzer.

RMR in Po-Town, Beginning the elegant wrangle

10:14 pm est          Comments

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