Monday, October 08, 2012

Madam Mayo Now Available on Kindle Blogs; A Note on the Evolution of Blogs

If you're a Kindle fan, now you can read Madam Mayo via Whispernet. Yet another brick falls from the edifice of Publishing As We Know It. When I started out as a writer more years a go than I'll admit (OK, it was in the Clinton Administration), my goal, apart from writing books, was to publish in large circulation magazines and newspapers, which I did, in fact, at first. I placed a piece in the LA Times and another in the Wall Street Journal; and also stories, essays, and poems in passels of literary journals from the Kenyon Review to the Paris Review. But that was then and this is now and now I just wanna blog-- and publish digital Kindle and iBook editions of longer, more formal essays and books.

But back to the blog. I started "Madam Mayo" back in March of 2006, more as a playful adventure than serious endeavor. How I relished not having to bother with query letters and editors! And I thought the blog's format, provided by, looked mighty nice. It was remarkably different from maintaining a webpage-- bloggers read each other, commented on each others' pages and oh, it was jazzy what the search engines picked up.

Soon I was fascinated, perhaps even addicted to blogging. My blog's archive shows 211 entries that year. In 2007, I hopped up to 295 entries and in 2008, whoosh, up to 311.

Everything seemed yeasty and weird; this was, after all, the moment when not only blogging exploded, but YouTube, podcasting, Facebook, and Twitter took off. It was also a moment when I was actively promoting three books, hear ye, hear ye:

Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press)
Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California (Milkweed Editions)
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books)

Not to mention a literary magazine and my various writing workshops both at the Writer's Center outside DC and with Dancing Chiva in Mexico City.

But blogging at such a pace proved too much. In 2009, I began to cut back, with only 217 entries. By 2010 I had settled on a policy of Mondays only-ish and with guestbloggers, when available, on Wednesdays. By 2011 I was down to 140 posts for the year, and throughout this year I've averaged some 5 - 7 posts per month until-- what happened?-- I was back up to 13 for the month of September!

What happened was I'd seen a newspaper columnist somewhere assert that cyberflanerie is dead. Mangos! That's what my blog is, except when it's not-- lists of all the peculiar, fascinating, informative links I've surfed, for your surfing pleasure.

In sum, blogging is still so new a genre I'm still, after after more than six years, trying to get my mind around it.

I was trying to get my mind around it as far back as day one in 2006, and I blogged frequently on the topic for about two years. (In 2008, I made an archive of those posts as "Gone to the Litblogs"  >)

Here's the blog post from June 13, 2007
Gone to the Litblogs: Narrowcasting and Notes Towards a Taxonomy

Dinner conversation this evening with my amiga K., a DC writer who works in a media organization, about blogging. K. says the successful ones are narrowcasting, i.e., aiming a highly specific blog at a highly specific audience. Indeed: in the litblog world, a good example would be Wendi Kaufman's The Happy Booker, which focuses on news in literary Washington DC and environs. Novelist Leslie Pietrzyk's Work in Progress focuses on, yes, work in progress. In the news world--- for example, for news on Iraq--- a blog I often check in on is Informed Comment, in which University of Michigan Professor of Middle Eastern History Juan Cole offers a daily summary of and commentary on the news in the Middle East. They may not be the end all of the All on this Subject, but between Juan Cole and Col Pat Lang's Sic Semper Tyrannis, I get a better sense of what's going on in Iraq than from reading, say, the Washington Post. For example, last week, when Turkish troops invaded Iraq, to get a sense of what this meant, I skipped the papers and went immediately to these two blogs because (1) both Juan Cole and Col Pat Lang are highly knowledgable about this subject and (2) their blogs often go into far more depth than scant newsprint can. (Though now and again, Col. Pat Lang dips into movie reviewing and showcasing excerpts of his civil war novel...) But back to the litblog world: for literary travel writing, another excellent example of narrowcasting would be World Hum. What of Madam Mayo? I'd put this blog in the category of a Individual Artist Blog. It's about my work and what interests me, as an artist. Some other blogs in said category: David Byrne (musician), Margaret Cho (comedian),Moorish Girl (writer Laila Lalami), Coffee with Ken (Kenneth Ackerman, the writer/ historian/ lawyer). Last thought: It occurs to me that few people over the age of 30 have heard the term "narrowcasting." K. said the under 30s in her office didn't recognize the phrase "Drink the Kool-Aid." Interesting juxtaposition. Possibly meaningless. More anon.

UPDATE: In Clusterfuck Nation--- a hybrid (as per my defintions) of Narrowcasting (comments on current events as related to his book The Long Emergency) and Individual Artist Blog--- Jim Kunstler writes, that this is "a society of envious slobs deluded into thinking that they could become the next Trump if only the Baby Jeezus would whack them over the head with a sock-full of silver dollars." That's pretty much the tone throughout. Post up, bingo, 193 comments.

I never did take my own advice, if it was that. Madam Mayo is about anything and the kitchen sink but narrowcasting.

Funny, these days I don't follow that many litblogs (though I do maintain a hearty blogroll, as you'll see over to the right). Over morning coffee, after a browse through the New York Times and the FT,  if I feel the urge to peek  at the tottering zombie show that is the Euro, I'm most apt to check in with Swiss Miss, the Swiss designer in NYC, who offers such luscious photos and links celebrating good design, or the blog by Rose Rosetree, my favorite aura reader (her aura reading books are gold for any novelist, by the way), or marketing guru Seth Godin for his pithy and soulful advice du jour. But I was and am and will be a litblogger, blogging about books and all the wacky stuff that goes -- or might go into-- into mine. So stay tuned for more about Marfa, Texas, Cabeza de Vaca, biographies, the dead and undead, podcasts, guestblogs, and cyberflanerie galore. And book reviews, of course. One of these days I just might even come up with another book.

---> Sign up for your Kindle delivery here.

More from the Kindle store:

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

Miraculous Air

The Building of Quality (short story with interview)

From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion (long travel essay)

Spiritist Manual: The Secret Book by Francisco I. 
Madero, Translated and Introduced by C.M. Mayo

More anon.