The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


No One Cares About My Cat

Three days after my last post, I started reading No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Mighty Girl Maggie Mason. Here's an excerpt from the back cover:

Millions of people are blogging today, and most of us could use better material. We apologize for "how long it's been since the last post," offer halfhearted complaints about "not feeling like posting today," and desperately begin to catalog our lunch orders. Ham and cheese? Your Pulitzer awaits.

... Writer, editor, and long-time blogger Margaret Mason offers up 100 suggestions that will keep your blog engaging, fun, and full of fresh content. ...

So enough about your lunch, your cat, your afternoon nap--buy this book, my friend. Write something good.

Wait? No one cares what I had for lunch OR about my cat?

Why didn't someone tell me before I waxed poetic and posted pictures of my little kits?

At least I haven't listed my lunches.

But wait! Mason's Tip #31 encourages bloggers to write about their perfect meal, whether it's one they've already eaten, would like to prepare, or have yet to enjoy. Is this really any better than writing about what they had for lunch?

Yes and no. If I post about my lunch (or my cat for that matter) because I lack the imagination and scope to write about anything else, that's bad blogging. But if a blogger wrote sparkling descriptions of noontime meals, that might be worth reading. For example:

Ham and cheese on white bread with mustard.

Maybe Not Boring: Thinly sliced pieces of spiral-cut ham accompanied by an aged white cheddar on artisanal ciabatta bread smeared with grainy mustard.

Of course, that type of description works better when the subject matter (the ingredients) are worth mentioning. Can prepackaged Oscar Mayer ham and a slice of processed American cheese on Wonder Bread with French's Mustard sound so sweet? Maybe...

Nationally-known, brand name ham with uniquely American cheese on soft white squares with tangy yellow mustard.

Okay, maybe not. (That last one sounded eerily like something from a corporate resume.)

Either way, I think lunch can be interesting. As can cats. Maybe the last post about Cheska's trip to the vet was a skosh boring, although I think the last sentence redeemed it: "She looked at him as if to say, 'Oh, more hissing? Okay, whatever. I'm just gonna walk over here.'"

I think the keys to quality blogging are to know your audience (actual or intended) and write something worth reading. And you people keep coming back, so how bad can it be, right?

Even though this blog is named after my business, I've used it as a personal platform and avoided linking to it from my writing website. But I'm aware that clients (actual and potential) could find me here nonetheless. I'm thinking about ways to use blogging as part of my business. I have a few ideas, but would appreciate any suggestions. I would like to draw an audience beyond my friends and family members, as much as I appreciate them. How can I create a blog that can compare with these: Dooce, Superhero Journal, Mighty Goods, Cute Overload, and other that have a wide readership and make it onto award lists. Seriously, I'm collecting your ideas. If you're a quiet reader of this blog, now's your time to post.

Oh, and for the record, little Cheska Sue had a bacterial infection in her intestines but is feeling much better after five days of antibiotics. Five days of bitter pills stuffed into chicken-flavored treats. Five glorious days of treats galore. Oh the yumminess! "Hooray for treats!" says Cheska.

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add to kirtsy | 2:13 AM


Anonymous Allyson said...

well, I care about your cat! But then, I'm a cat-person, so that helps. I find any posts by my friends to be worthwhile, because I want to know what is happening with them. Sometimes lunch is a good topic! With blogs of people that I don't know but stalk regularly, I like all the details. I figure if people are willing to share their lives in this manner, who am I to criticize what they write about? From the other side, as a blogger myself, I figure if people get bored with me, they can stop reading, or they CAN SEND ME COMMENTS AND TELL ME TO SHAPE UP. So unless you are losing readers or people are complaining, I wouldn't worry about it. What I like the best is frequent updates (yes, I know, I haven't been so good at this lately). But I get very frustrated and lonely when over a week passes, and no new post. For the record, Refinnej, I think your blog is mighty-interesting, and I like to read your stories. I like you, ok!?

1/30/2007 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Evad said...

ok let me skip everything you wrote and head right into what you did not write. you left me out of blogs to read. i hope you know that my blog averages 70+ hits a day. i aim for both quanity and quality. its a tricky business but i seem to be living up to my status "Pope of Myspace".

now let me go back and say i do enjoy your blog and glad the franny is good. and yes it is still franny to me.

let me end this the only way i know how...FUN FACT!!!!!

Eighty-five percent of the world's glass, at one time, came from Jeannette

you can read more at:

1/30/2007 10:25 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Nosylla. Was your comment on reading "my stories" a sly reference to my other blog that I have yet to publicize or post on? Or was it just coincidence? Either way, I agree about liking the details about cats and meals and all manner of personal things. Popular blogs like Dooce and Superhero are full of personal details. And what's a good piece of writing, fiction or non-fiction, without a sense of personal connection to something?

1/30/2007 1:58 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Evad -- Do they really call you the Pope of MySpace? Don't you think your Catholic readers might take offense?

How do you maintain your 70+ hits per day average? If you're going to fling around such statistics, back them up, bro'! :)

1/30/2007 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Evad said...

oh silly silly sis. yes they do call me Pope of myspace. my catholic readers take offense? never! they love it. they keep coming back for more! that is part of why i get so many hits. i dont filter what i say. i do allow certain people to read certain blogs, but never filter a thought. i currently have 67 hits on my blog today and it is only noon here. that does not count hits to my site, just the blog. some come and see the site but dont read the blog. ill break 100 today easily. i think i backed that up pretty well.

1/30/2007 2:08 PM  
Anonymous acissej said...

i, too, enjoy your blog. it's really the perfect place for me to enjoy your cats since they can't make my eyes itch over the internet!
i'm actually eating lunch right now, so i'll tell you about it. i'm enjoying petite, oat-like, round makers of joy reminiscent of a vintage 1982 cardboard box. they're submerged in the chilled maternal juice of a bovine. mmm...delicious.
but, seriously. here's something i'm wondering. if they sell donut holes, why don't they sell cheerio holes? i'd totally buy them.

1/31/2007 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Evad said...

Acissej, the holes are used as seeds to grow more cheerios.

1/31/2007 4:23 PM  
Anonymous nosylla said...

They'd be like. . .grape nuts. yeeuch.

2/01/2007 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Evad said...

im glad i could bring everyone here writing their name backwards. this bring ejoy to me. what is ejoy. just a word i created that stands for electronic enjoyment. ejoy is enjoyment you get from anything eletonic. writing your name backwards on this blog is def ejoy. im glad everyone is coming around to my way of thinking. now i will be the norm! no not normandy, just normal.

Nnej, holla at me, Evad, when you read this.

2/01/2007 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your blog because I saw your comment on Maggie Mason's site about her book (which I just bought). I'm new to blogging and am wondering if 70+ hits a day is good for a blog. Personally, I'm gunning for more.

Your post was very funny. Creative.

Personally, for lunch today I had a hummus appetizer decorated with sundried tomatoes, feta and black olives drizzled in olive oil with lightly toasted whole wheat pita triangles arranged on the plate in such a manner that the entire creation resembled Cheska Sue. Or maybe not so much.

2/01/2007 4:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Just to let you in on a little secret, evad, Ally and I have been using our names backwards for about 13 years now. It's just one of our many language "things." We had a lot of those things, it seems. So glad you could join us! :)

2/01/2007 5:40 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Hi, Kandice. Glad you found me/us! Great lunch description, even if it didn't look like Cheska. I could go for some hummus…

As for a "good" number of daily blog hits, I guess that's really up to you and what you're aiming for. I'm hoping to have more than 70 per day, too. The last post on that was open to comments received 875 comments! I have no idea if there is an average reader to commenter ratio, but you have to assume that that blog has a TON of readers. Then again, that is one of the "big time" blogs. Maybe I should research the reader to commenter ratio idea…

2/01/2007 5:50 PM  
Anonymous nosylla said...

I get about 20--30 hits a day, and I'd like more, too. I don't get as many comments as I'd like, but that's ok. I'm not really doing this for comments. And yeah, evad, nnej and I have been backwards for years. I can even write backwards, by hand, and sometimes I take sermon notes this way. Way to catch up with us. :)

2/02/2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Jess -- "chilled maternal juice of a bovine"? That's the most unique, and most disgusting, description of milk I've ever encountered. You made a cereal lunch sound interesting. Well done!!

2/04/2007 2:05 AM  
Anonymous Evad said...

Just got back in town. i think this is the most posts you ever got on a blog. thats good, jack good. any who...70 hits is good depending on what type of pushing you do. i let my blogs do their own promotion. i dont advertise or push it on anyone, people i dont know and friends find it and just start reading it. so based on not trying to get so many hits, 70 is good. later folks!

2/06/2007 11:02 AM  

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