On the trail West

First, a PS to my last blog about Ned Christie.  I’m ashamed I didn’t think of this earlier. Some comments to the blog made me realize that I had a neat story to tell about how I first learned about Ned Christie. Back in the day I was working for a newspaper as a features writer, and I often had assignments for local news stories.  I was asked  to write a story about this little item in another paper saying that a pistol authenticated to have belonged to the “Cherokee outlaw” Ned Christie had turned up at an  auction.

My editor wanted the whole story, and so that’s when I learned  about Ned Christie, the last true Cherokee Warrior who worked so long and hard fighting for his people’s rights. I even found a photo of Ned in my researching, in fact I ran across much more information than I could use in the article for the paper, which had to be kept to 750 words, if I remember correctly. But you never know when and where information can be used so I filed it away.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that if readers want to know more about Nede, there are two great books out there they can read. One is by Oklahoma author Robert Conley. The title is Ned Christie’s War and it was published by M. Evans. Readers may have to search for it in a used book store, as Amazon doesn’t have it. I was fortunate enough to meet this delightful man twice, once at a Western Writers of America conference, and again at Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where he autographed a copy of his book for me. The other book about Christie  is Larry McMurtry’s Ned and Zeke.

Now on with today’s subject, which goes back to writing, something I plan on doing occasionally on this new blog. I’m preparing a Kindle book that will include a collection of my earlier blogs on writing. They proved to be popular with readers. I hope to get the book out in time for Christmas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the advice we’re given for optimizing ourselves on Facebook, our blog, and all those other sites: Pinterest, Muttonline, Twitter, well, you get the idea. I’m advised to define my mission, which I’m told is not to market my books, but rather to make friends who will grow to be so intrigued by me they will want to buy my books. So my goal is to intrigue, inform, inspire and entertain without ever saying to the reader: Have I got a book for you. I know you’ll like it cause I’ve been on your website and/or your blog and  I’m a heck of a nice person. I’ve learned  what you’re interested in. This is today considered spamming.

Okay, that’s too “in your face,” so I’m working on finding people who truly like historical romance, especially in the western vein and sharing information they might be interested in. I tried uploading a few blogs about the historical stories I’ve unearthed during researching my books. So far, people don’t seem all that interested, though I’ve had a few comments. Mostly from people who already read my works. I realize I need something that will attract a core of new readers. They’re out there somewhere, but it’s hard to know where.

Lately I’ve changed my blog’s focus from aiming at writers to aiming at readers. (Does this mean writers don’t read?) No, of course not, it only means writers who know lots of writers can only afford to buy so many books.

Back to my mission. Hey, that would be one of the keywords I should use for this blog. Or not. I’m not sure if keywords have to be subjects that everyone recognizes or stuff like mission, create, research. I don’t think these words are particularly zingy. They’re even dull, in fact. So let’s try keywords first, then write a blog using a few? Afraid I’d end up with something less than readable. Using keywords that people are using to search for my type, style, genre, is important, if I could only pin down what they are.

I’m told to bold subtitles, add bullets followed by a list of facts. To me, this would get old fast. Since I’m a reader of fiction, I don’t want to read stuff that appears to have been written for a college English or history class.

Let’s see:


  • Western Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Cheyenne
  • Cherokee
  • Western Women

Okay, does that interest any of you? Does that inform or intrigue you? It might, but it seems a dull way to do it to me. I’d rather write about a western woman who left Missouri after the Civil War. She was a photographer. Would you be interested in knowing that by 1859 there were at least 10,000 women involved in photography? That some worked as assistants for Matthew Brady, the famous Civil War photographer?

Or how about the adventures of two women who left Fayetteville, Arkansas with a wagon train going west to the gold fields of California, and they walked the entire way, never riding in a wagon? After hearing their stories, you might be more likely to say, hey, I enjoyed that, maybe I’d like to read one of her books. To me, that’s what blogging is all about.

Bulleted lists are too schoolified for me. But I could be wrong. It’s happened on occasion. So what do you think? Let me know what sort of blogs you truly enjoy.

About veldabrotherton

For thirty years I've been a writer. Publication of my work began in 1994 . I'm pleased to have recently settled with Oghma Creative Media as my publisher. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. I recently signed a contract to write westerns again, and what fun it's been working on the first one. If I weren't writing my life wouldn't be so exciting.
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7 Responses to WHY DO WE BLOG?

  1. Jan Morrill says:

    Good post, Velda. And, I follow you because you ARE a heckuva nice person AND someone whose writing I enjoy. As for blogs I enjoy? (Besides yours, of course.) Subject wise, just about anything. But I do prefer brief blogs that give me information quickly, and I must admit, that often includes bullets and lists. 🙂

  2. Jack LaBloom says:

    Those two paragraphs at the end about the photographer and the two women who left Fayetteville are gold. They told me something I didn’t know and something I am curious to learn more about.

    Bullets are out for me. I almost always ignore a blog post that contains bullet points.

    Short paragraphs are the kind of posts people like me read. I’ve learned that few people have time to read the 1000 word short stories I’ve posted on my blog. I understand why because I have the same problem. I’m trying to read all my friends blog posts and Facebook posts, and everything else. I just can’t read fifty 500 – 1000 word posts a week. Someone will get left out.

    But I can read paragraphs like those two you wrote above in your post. Okay now I want to learn more about those women you mentioned. The photographer and the other two women. Tell me the Title of the book they’re in and where to purchase it.

    Now all I have to do is learn how to do that.

    • Thanks for the helpful comments from Jan and Jack. Yes, you’re right, I should’ve included the title of the two books those women are in. Images In Scarlet is the photographer, and Dream Walker is the two women who walked to California. The latter is based on a true occurrence with real people all except for the hero and heroine. You’ve both given me food for thought. Thanks for following my blog.

  3. nasrin_torabi_pho@yahoo.com says:

    1859 there were at least 10,000 women involved in photography؟ please tell me about this . thank dear Velda.

    • Be glad to. Most of these women were working as assistants to men photographers, but many learned the trade and struck out on their own. In my research notes for this book, which are saved to CDs and not on this computer, I have information about several specific women who were popular and well thought of in the profession. The cameras they used were heavy and bulky to handle, but they managed to drag them around. In my book, Images In Scarlet, I show a lot about how women worked in photography, though it takes place after the Civil War, cameras hadn’t improved too much during that time from 1859. If I can locate some of my original research notes I’ll write a few blogs about these women and their cameras and work. I have photos of several styles of old cameras which I can post with the blogs.

  4. Marsha Ross says:

    Each time I read your blog, you provoke my thinking about writing and marketing. You are an inspiration!

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