What Do Readers Want?

Here it is, a new month, and I am taking two more courses. The first is Blogging 201: Branding and Growth. That course is the reason I am writing this post. Our first assignment is to set three goals for the blog. Before setting those goals, we are to think about the purpose of the blog and what a successful blog would be in our wildest dreams.

Purpose of the blog

I’m writing a family saga, and I set up this blog to generate interest in the books before, after, and in-between publication. The first book, Cordelia’s Journey, is set in 1855 in Kansas Territory. It was published in October, 2015. I completed a rough draft of the second book, For Want of a Father, set in 1859, during this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). As I begin the revision of that book, I am wondering what part of the process readers might find interesting. What topics would appeal to readers, and just who are those readers?

Audience

I see my readers as people who enjoy stories about family, faith, and friendship in an American frontier setting. The main characters are young, but I see all ages as possible readers. The main character in Cordelia’s Journey is 13. In For Want of a Father, my novel in progress, there are two main characters, one thirteen, and the second seventeen. They are both female, so girls and women will probably find the book more appealing than boys and men, which means girls and women age twelve and up are the most likely readers of the blog.  However, the third book, which is in the planning stages, will be set in the Civil War and have three main characters, a girl of fifteen, a boy of sixteen, and a young woman of nineteen. In each new book in the series, the characters will mature, so the audience may broaden in age and gender as new books are added.

What do readers want?

I have published about a dozen posts to this blog already, but I don’t have many readers yet, so I haven’t had much feedback. I’m listing some ideas for posts below and would like your reactions. What topics, if any, would catch your interest and cause you to follow the blog?

Possible blog topics

  • Character biographies: What do the characters want and why?
  • Family relationships: who gets along and who doesn’t?
  • Quotations from actual newspapers of the times about the general events the characters face
  • Slang words of the day
  • Research and revision methods: the process of writing historical novels

Help! Do you find any of the topics above appealing? Can you suggest some I haven’t listed? Please leave a comment and let me know.

As for my wildest dreams, let the Pierce family become as popular as Harry Potter.

Cordelia's Journey now available in e-book and paperback on Amazon
Cordelia’s Journey now available in e-book and paperback on Amazon

 

 

 

 

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Of Stagecoaches and NaNo Stats

Cowtown stagecoach, Wichita, Kansas
Cowtown stagecoach, Wichita, Kansas

Okay, so it’s not the Old West, but this picture of a stagecoach taken at Wichita’s Cowtown is the best I have.

Question: “What do stagecoaches have to do with NaNoWriMo word statistics?

Answer: I did what NaNo writers are advised not to do. Research.

While zipping toward my word count last week, I became obsessed with the size of Old West stagecoaches and what they would hold. Cordelia, one of my main characters, is heading to Denver on the Pikes Peak Express in 1859, and she has some annoying travel companions. How many? More than I had originally planned. You see, based on the western movies I have watched, I thought stage coaches had two seats. It turns out they had three. Each seat held three passengers, so the coach could hold nine. Also, up to three passengers could ride on top with the driver and shotgun guard. The amount of mail and other freight packed into and on top of the coach often left passengers scrunched against each other, making Cordelia’s approximate twelve-day ride from eastern Kansas to Denver uncomfortable to say the least. If you are interested in learning more about stagecoaches and what it was like to ride in one, check out History of the Stagecoach and Stagecoach Service in the 1860s. As a bonus, check out this map of nineteenth century Kansas trails, which includes the Express route through Kansas Territory in 1859-1860.

Question: So what about your NaNo statistics?

Answer: I’m proud to say that I’m keeping up with the daily word count. I’m actually a little ahead with 20,523 words as of this morning.

Question: Weren’t you taking two online courses at the same time? What about those?

Answer: I’m keeping up with the fiction MOOC, refining scenes from my NaNo novel for my assignments. When it comes to Blogging 201, I’m still at the starting gate. However, I am down to the last lesson in the MOOC, so I’m planning to spend the end of this week making blog improvements.

What? You say it’s about time?

I think so, too.

November 2: Still in the Game

blog nov 2 trifecta b

I’m feeling a little crazier tonight than I did yesterday, but I’m keeping up for the moment. Here’s my report.

NaNoWriMo

The goal is 1667 words per day. I have a total of 4158 for the two days, so I am over goal. After writing a couple of hours at home, I attended my Emporia group’s kickoff party at the public library and wrote another 1,000 words.

Fiction MOOC

I’m barely hanging on here. My assignment is due tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. I need three characters who disagree about an event and place in which they were all present in the past, and I need to include a present setting, all in 800 to 1,000 words. The characters will be Hiram Pierce, the father, Ambrose Pierce, 14, and Lucy Pierce, 13. The current setting will be their new house. The previous setting will be the cabin they built and lived in when the first moved to Hidden Springs. The event is the death of Minerva Pierce, Hiram’s wife. Given the lateness of tonight’s hour, I will have to do some fast writing tomorrow. The good news is that the words will count for NaNoWriMo, too.

Blogging 201

Today, I checked out features and themes. When I chose the theme for this blog, I thought it was responsive. Now, I cannot find that word in any of the description of the features. I did see that it would work on mobile devices, so I’m hoping that is the same thing. I found information on how to make the menu the way I want it, but I didn’t have time to do that. There is tomorrow.

That’s it for today. I’m stumbling off to bed, probably to a night of wide-awake thoughts on one or all three of the above subjects.

November Trifecta

piercenano 1

As if the fiction MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I’m taking isn’t enough, I’ve signed up for the WordPress Blogging 201 course and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). There’s so much to learn and so little time. However there is overlap. I told myself that when I got up this morning, stumbled to the computer, and delved into creating the Nano word count for the day.

I’m in the fifth week of the  MOOC through the University of Iowa and have been immersed in developing characters, point of view, and plot. I’m working on voice and setting this week. Through all the lessons, I have used my saga characters in my assignments. There is overlap one; the MOOC has been helpful in  preparing for NaNoWriMo.

Where is the Blogging 201 overlap? This blog is supposed to be all about keeping my fans updated on my saga in progress. It is pretty obvious when looking at this post that my blog needs help. I have not yet figured out how to use widgets and set up sidebars the way I want. In fact, I really need to add a fourth tool to November’s learning marathon: making graphics. I’ve noticed that when my blog post shows up on Facebook, there is a big blank space where a graphic should go. It’s an ugly blank space. I tried to make something in Photoshop Elements, but I still haven’t learned that program, so I tried Microsoft Publisher. As you can see, I managed a graphic, but if I had a day job, I wouldn’t dare quit it.

So here I am with 1700 words, a bad graphic, and this post. Come back tomorrow and find out if I am still committed—or being committed.