Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies, Fencing and Tag

Wow! The last month has been entirely the busiest month I can remember in recent history (if we're counting only happy busy months), culminating with today. My daughter is having a cookie decorating party tonight (extending our annual tradition to her friends). So today, we baked 3 batches of sugar cookies, resulting in who knows how many cookies, and made 6 batches of royal icing resulting in 12 colors (including black!). And now I get to put my feed up for a few well deserved minutes.

While the women of my house spent the day in the kitchen, the men were off on more manly pursuits. My son competed in a fencing tournament today. I love to watch fencing. I missed the tournament today, but my husband took some good shots. My son's the one on the right. I can tell by the shoes!

I've been Bookwormed by Linda Gerber.

The Rules are:

1) Open the closest book- not a favorite or most intellectual book- but the book closest at the moment, to page 56
2) Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following
3) tag five innocents [or more]
4)Julie takes it a step further and suggests doing the same for your manuscript

Okay - this is tough for me. On my desk are html and Dreamweaver books - not exactly riveting reading! On the shelf behind me is my entire TBR pile (minus the 3 books down by the nightstand.)

So, I'm going to cheat. I picked a book about to leave my possession as a Christmas gift for my stepfather - Vlad: The Last Confession - The Epic Novel of the Real Dracula, by C.C. Humphreys. I saw Mr. Humprhey's speak at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. I'm a sucker for folks with an accent reading Shakespeare. I melted the first year at Surrey listening to Jack Whyte quote MacBeth. Listen to Mr. Humphrey's podcast if you want to see what I mean. But I digress.

I bought the book with my stepfather in mind, but hoped to get a chance to read it before I gave it away (he's a writer too, he'd understand). But time did not allow, so this may be my only chance. (Unless I can convince him to loan it to me when he's done.) So, onto Page 56:

"A slave was defined by having lost the right to choose. She would be borne in a palanquin to Mehmet's saray. He would take her any way he wanted. She would break a vial of pigeon's blood over him if she did not bleed enough. She would choose nothing for herself."

Since I'm not up to page 56 in my new rewrite, here something from page 5 of The Long Road (working title), by Jenny Graman Meyer (me!):

"A pebble skittered to a halt at her feet and she glanced down, puzzled. It was followed by an acorn, this one bouncing off her toe before it rolled to rest against the wheel of the vardo. She glanced toward the trees, and had to dodge a walnut headed straight for her head.

As if a ghost called by her thoughts, Mirek emerged from the trees surrounding the campsite." know!

And I tag: Jo Bourne (who recently won a fresh-fiction award), Lottery Girl (who hasn't posted in way too long), Darlene Marshall (who recently posted some writing tips), Karen Henry (who posts frequently about Diana Gabaldon's writing), and Catherine Duthie (who needs to send me some new writing! I miss Jack)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh, Go Google Yourself

(available from

Admit it. You've done this too!

I was sitting around today while working, waiting for a report to run. The system was very slow, and I got bored. I'm not sure what triggered the thought, but I decided to Google myself. I have to admit this isn't the first time. (Do you think there is a support group for this sort of thing?)

I started with "Jenny Graman". This, my maiden name, I am relatively sure will be my pen name - should I ever need one. I found the typical stuff - and thanks to this blog, the real me (or at least the pen-name used-to-be real me) shows up. The fact that my blog is now the top result when searching on Jenny Graman (even though I haven't used this name for 20 years - other than on this blog) shows the power of setting up your blog or website before you're published - it gives the search engines time to find you, and rank you at or near the top.

Then I searched on "Jenny Meyer". I always get a kick out of this. I'm a well-known jewlery designer. I'm married to Spider Man! And, best of all, I own my own Literary Agency - what am I worried about? If I'd just finished the book, I apparently have an "in" into the publishing world!

I'm used to finding these listings when I search on Jenny Meyer. It's one of the main reasons that (1) I plan to use a pen name if I'm ever published and (2) I don't bother using a psuedonym when posting on the Compuserve forum and other places -- there are just too many of "me" to ferret out anything truly related to me.

This blog does not appear on the first few pages of listings. Apparently, separating your first and last name with your maiden name results in a lower ranking. In fact, there is no sign of the "real" Jenny Meyer on the first 5 pages Google returns.

But here's the one that really bugged me (and this is new from the last time I googled myself). The blog HERE, which nobody has posted in IN OVER A YEAR! appears on PAGE ONE of the Google search results. WHAT? Ironically, not only does this person share my name, but they write. I swear, the post in this blog about Jenny Meyer is not me!

So, besides morbid curiosity, what does this mean? Well, for one, separating your first and last name with something in the middle (like a maiden name) lowers your search engine ranking. As a published or want-to-be published author, getting a good ranking is part of the process.

Second, the content of your posts do contribute to higher rankings. If you want people searching on a particular topic to find you, include key words in your posts. If you write, say, about Polish gypsies, include those keywords in your posts, perhaps in your profile, in a welcome statement on your blog or website. As an experiement, I am going to check back in a few days and see if this particular blog post appears in the Google listings higher than page 5, since I've intentionally included "Jenny Meyer" several times. Should be interesting, right?

What else can you do to improve your search results ranking? Well, I'm no expert yet, but I have been reading up on the issue as it relates to my web design business. In the interest of having a good, searchable title and keywords , come back in a few days. I'm pulling together an post on things you can do to improve your blog search engine results!
* UPDATE: I've been doing lots of research, and have put together a series of articles on optimizing your blog, beginning in January. Be sure to stop back!