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August 23, 2009

Re-vamping the Tarts

Re-Vamping The Tarts

by The Book Tarts with Editing by Me, Margie, Who had to type it in so don't ask me to do that if you don't want me to edit.  Just saying.

We love our readers, and we want to keep you. We know there are younger, firmer, more titillating blogs out there. (Margie, the T-word does NOT mean what you think it does.) [MM Note: no duh.  Plus, speak for yourselves on the younger and firmer.]

We are an open-minded group of women. You can stray as often as you want. But we hope you’ll always come back to us. To keep us young-looking, we're planning a facelift, (we got a group rate). It will be unveiled Monday, August 31. [MM Note: None of this applies to Me.  In fact, stray on Me, Margie, even once, and you will never find the body parts.]

But we know it's not enough to look good on the outside. You want brains as well as beauty. Women smart enough to actually say something.  [MM Note: This part does apply to me because I always have something smart to say.]

[MM Note: Pay attention.  You have to answer these questions - they are not the kind that are, like, philosophy where you're just supposed to think about it, and really, I have enough to think about without someone asking me a question when they really don't want an answer.  For real.]

That’s why we’re asking you: What do you want to read on TLC?
More slice of life blogs?
More about love and relationships?
More about the writing and the writers life?
Information about Tart books and movies? (And yes, one Book Tart does have a movie option.)
More politics? Less politics?
More satire and social issues?   
Or do you love us just the way we are and want more of the same?

Let us know. You keep us endlessly entertained with your comments, and we hope to return the favor. [MM Note: I have my own way of returning favors, but the Book Tarts told me I can't do that any more at the office. Like they know.]

Also, we need more eyes. By that, we mean new readers. Fresh blood. We’ll still love you. We’ve known you longer than the newcomers. If you like TLC, would you recommend us to your friends? Mention us on your lists? In a favorite blog? [MM Note - this sounds creepy - asking for body parts and blood?  How HBO.  But it's not really, so don't worry.  Just do it.  I like this job.  But don't tell THEM.]

Tell us what you did for us, and we'll do something for you.  We’ll put your name in a drawing and give you the TLC books of your choice, one per Book Tart. [MM Note: this is for real.  Who do you think collects the books and sends them out?  Mention Me and I'll include something fun.]

Ready? Rev up your pencils. We’re waiting to hear from you.
[MM Note: I love the rev up part, don't you?]

[P.S.  Lisa is taking a break, and we are proud to present a new TLC Feature while she's gone called Manly Mondays.  We start off with a real bang tomorrow with a blog from James Swain on making it in Hollywood. I already read it, so I know it's good.  Just saying.  And look for other great men in the coming weeks - Gregg Hurwitz, Bill Fitzhugh, James O. Born, David Hagberg and other cool dudes.]


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More Margie, more Margie, more Margie (especially her explanations involving history and politics)!

Maybe we could hear from Rocco on a monthly basis. But mostly, I love you just the way you are. Why mess with success? If it's not broke, don't fix it......please.

I like the blog just the way it is, too. I especially like the slice-of-life columns.

Elaine: We bought a Jaguar. Now I know why you were completely and utterly devoted to Ralph. It is a driving experience like no other.

I also like the blog the way it is. That's why I come every day. I never know what the conversation will be about!

I share the blog with my large array of family, altho most do not share the Lipstick points of view, and with my friends. Keep writing!

I agree with Mary about more Margie, esp. her history lessons.

My votes:

More love. Less politics. Less parenting. More movies. More books.

More about writing. Maybe delve into new and fun stuff like prose poetry, flash and micro fiction, creative non-fiction, syfy, manga, the ever ever ever! changing genre of young adult.

I like quirky stuff from the news.

I love Manly Mondays! When is Blond Bond scheduled?

I can't think of anything I don't enjoy reading here. I'd love more of Margie's history lessons and more visits from Rocco. Something from cousin Rita would be cool. Love the music, too.

What Ramona said about the writing stuff. One of my favorite things IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD is to "listen" to smart, articulate people talk about how they do the things they're good at and passionate about (that applies equally to guys building custom motorcycles and to writers). So share, please!

The guest blogs are wonderful (not that I don't love all of you) because it's a great place to find new books to read. Oh -- and more "what are you reading" pieces, for the same reason.

And yes, I'll spread the word to my captive audience of students this semester :)

One of the things I love about TLC is the variety of topics, the element of surprise -- What will we be up to today? I will second the proposals to hear more on books and writing and more from Me, Margie and cousins, always fun and informative! I do mention the blog regularly to friends (no more "captive audience" since I've retired). I wore my IOCHFTS shirt (thanks again SisterZip) to amuse my P.T. Mara. I had already decided to wear it to the Apple Store for my work session today, editing the CD (today they promised to show me how to reduce the sibilance of the s's).

I am old and I fear change. I like things just the way they are! I'll go with it, but I reserve the right to grumble about it...

I'm a firm believer in "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"

New colors, okay.

New content? NEVER!

Just the way it is, please! I appreciate the variety of voices and topics, the fun and irreverence and entertaining snark, slice of life whether light or serious, the respect for differing opinions, the ability to expose stupid WTF stuff, the bravery of taking a firm stand on issues in such a public forum.

Facelift all you want. I'm here for the content. I laugh, I cry (mostly I laugh until I cry), I ponder. Then I laugh some more.

It's true. The content is wonderful. I find that I read bits and pieces (if not the whole posting) to Steve and quote a lot to my walking partner, my librarian and to anyone else who will listen to me.
IOCFTS and IACFTC -- I also come for the content.

less politics, MORE ME,MARGIE!
Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with TLC.
I don't just CHFTS, but the humor, too!

More about writing--I enjoy hearing everyone's experiences and perspective on the business.

Guests are great too. I've discovered some new authors here.

What do you want to read on TLC?
A window into the world of mystery writing: your daily routine/thoughts, attending conferences and signings, interacting with fans and publishers and fellow writers, frustration with characters or plot ...

More slice of life blogs?
Okay, we like all of you and what's going on with ya'll, that's why we're here and keep coming back.

More about love and relationships?
As much as you're willing to share.

More about the writing and the writers life?
Yup, see above. ;)

Information about Tart books and movies?

More politics? Less politics?
No politics at all; that's not what I'm looking for in a book/writer blog. There are plenty of those for me to read. I don't want to know your politics at all.

More satire and social issues?
No social issues; satire is always fun.

Or do you love us just the way we are and want more of the same?
You were always lovely but sometimes it's fun to get a new hairstyle, ya know?

I agree with all the previous postings! I love the content as is, more ME, MARGIE should be highly encouraged :) This is the only blog I read daily, too much work and little time for play. I would like to hear more about the writing as Darlene mentioned. I too, have discovered many new authors here.

I think we need to give Me, Margie a raise.

I've only discovered this blog recently. I pretty much like it the way it is.

Absolutely NO on more politics.

And Me, Margie, definitely needs a raise!

I like the eclectic nature of this blog, and enjoy most of the postings. I never know what I'll learn each day. If this site stays exactly the same, I'd still read it every day.

I'd prefer to leave it up to you all to write what you want to write about. That said, if you really do want some guidance in chosing topics, here are my thoughts.

I'm less interested reading about politics and broad social issues here. I usually agree with your positions, so it's not that I'm offended by reading those posts, but I am afraid you may alienate some of your readers. There are lots of other sites to read about these issues if people are interested in them. Me, I'm not a news junkie. Too much bad/sad news makes me anxious. So I'm mostly looking for humor and human interest when I come here.

I'm not saying to cut those topics out completely, because knowledgeable people speaking passionately about things that interest and concern them is always informative. The more that these topics can be brought down to a personal level (how they directly affect you and yours, rather than in broad philosophical terms), the more interesting I'll find them.

The things I really like are everything else that's already here and otherwise mentioned on your list. Especially the humor, because you all do humor so well!

I'd like to see a bit more about writing and the writing life, but ONLY if you all want to write about these things! I know you've said before you didn't want this to be a blog just about the writing process itself. However, I admit to be a writers' panel junkie (over nearly 30 years of convention going), and I never get tired of hearing about the details of the art and the business.

I regularly send links to this blog to anyone I think would like it (two within the past week). I'm the one that got Doc in CA reading this blog (though I never expected he'd dive in with such enthusiasm!).

Avis in NH

I like it the way it is. I also think that "politics" is a worthy topic, although a steady diet of any topic would decrease my interest. One of the things I really like is that I never know what might pop up as the topic. That keeps me checking every day.

I'm sorta new to this blog, but I love to read it everyday. It's great that you are asking these questions and all I can say is that I think that the blog is great the way it. I understand everyone's reservations on the politics thing, since this is a book blog and not a politics forum. However, I would say that above all else I find that Authenticity is the most important thing this blog can impart to others. I would much rather know what I'm getting in a blog, from its writers and their opinions, rather than pussy-footing around a topic. If what you have to say is salient don't let it go just because it might offend, fire away!

I like that everyday I look forward to see what is being blogged about.

I love discovering new-to-me authors. What I would like to see on your side panel is a list of upcoming books by the TLC authors.

If you change the content, don't change it too much. I like the spontaneity of the topics.

Hi, I've been lurking everyday for 2 years. Ever since I read The Cinderella Pact.

This is the only blog I read daily. I really enjoy it as is. The only thing I would change would be less politics. The media is relentless with politics and social issues. Here I enjoy reading about daily life, books, the writing process, and whatever other topic is deemed worthwhile. As other posters mentioned, I enjoy the spontaneity of topics!

More nitty-gritty details on writing life - or things you've learned while researching for writing (for example, Elaine blogging about hotel maids). On those details, pretend I'm clueless - which I mostly am - for example, I enjoyed the tidbits about working with editors and making changes and all that that I've picked up so far.

On politics - maybe a little less. Personally I enjoy your political viewpoints overall, and it's comforting since much of my family leans way the other way. It's nice to have a place where I can get an idea of how to explain my "irrational" leanings (btw, why when I disagree w/ people do they say I'm just not "informed"? I AM informed, I just don't agree with them).

Alright - having written all that - probably less politics. Because (a) it's divisive, and (b) it's not what I'd call the main focus of your blog.

And (c) if some of your readers disagree, it may impact your sales: I no longer buy books from one of my fave SF writers because of a post on his blog about the census being stolen and the Pres making this into a one party state...sigh, and I really like the books... I can respect him being a Repub - and I'd hope your audience would respect y'all's right to be otherwise - but harangues about opponents will get you into trouble. Presumably a "we support (fill in candidate or cause)" or link to a favored cause on the home page would be fine - but not a whole blog article about why the other side of an issue is wrong. For politics, keep it more to the this-is-what-we-believe-and-why type.

On slice of life - there's been a bit too much of these. I enjoy these but they need to be spaced out.

More fun / humorous / etc stuff - Me, Margie; cousin Rocco; funny slice of life things, etc.

I'm not terribly fond of the music-to-(blank) lists. But others seem to be; I just skip those days typically.

This is the only blog I read regularly. And I've even had the urge to do my own blog writing one day after reading the wonderful stuff here :) With my current schedule that's quite a compliment (imitation and flattery and all that).

That's all I got.

Less politics. More life, writing, movies, LOVE!

Love the blog the way it is, and love all of you, including the back-bloggers. I enjoy not knowing what to expect from one day to the next; the guest bloggers; Margie and family; the book recommendations/discussions (I have a HUGE TBR pile thanks to you people); music blogs; and what's going on in your lives.

OK, I could do without the politics, and usually choose not to participate those days. I mostly agree with the opinions here, but don't like the ridicule of the opposite party/opinions that often come with it. As Avis very aptly described, it makes me anxious.

So that said, I would not mind at all if things stayed exactly the same, but I know if you all make changes, I will like them too. :)

I sing this blog from the hilltops every chance I get. I've shared posts with my husband, co-workers, and friends, and I frequently bring up discussions here when having discussions elsewhere. I have definitely shared Margie's holiday histories - they rock! But if you'd like me to do something more concrete to bring more readers, just name it.

And I think Manly Mondays is an AWESOME idea!

I seem to be in agreement with most of the above comments so I have nothing to add there.

I have you on my writing community blogroll and I tell everyone who will listen to go read your blog.

I'm a daily reader and LOVE this site. I have laughed so hard reading your insights that I almost filled up my depends! Har. Har.
I regularly print up the daily blog and post it in the breakroom at work. Someone will go in alone to grab a cup of java, and the next thing you hear is giggling. You're contagious!
Keep everything as is. The little spots on politics are not always agreeable on an empty stomach, but I do enjoy the diverseness. Love when Harley and Sarah talk about family. But I can't remember a "bad" blog.
But could you update the book tarts book lists?

My son is a senior in high school this year, and we're running amok looking at colleges. In addition, I'm the president of the choir booster club this year and am trying to lead the troops off of Debt Mountain.

My debut novel (Freezer Burn - insert applause here) is released and I am running amok to festivals and book clubs and signings.

Please, I'm begging you: No More Changes.


Back from my grandson's first birthday party. (What a wingding!) I gotta say that we try really, really hard not to talk about politics, but we're all very interested in the process and sometimes we just can't hold back! But we try.

Margie, see me in my office, please.

No the politics from this reader. Those are usually the days I tune out. But more of MM's explanations of life, history and holidays, more of the Tart's daily lives as authors and women, and I'm very excited about Manly Mondays (not that way Margie). I came here because I love mysteries and it is fascinating to me to be able to learn about the fabulous people who write them, the processes involved, the juggling of personal lives and family, and all of the wonderful back bloggers. I now feel I know all of you even though I've never met most of you and probably won't ever. But I'd love to. Can you imagine the room with all of us in it, talking and sharing away? Maybe that's what blogging is all about, connecting with a common thread and taking that thread and weaving a blanket with multiple patterns and ideas. I read almost everyday, comment occasionally, but learn so much about so much. But please, politics, No, No No.

I like the mix you've got groovin' here, including politics and parenting. Slice-of-life posts are among my favorites.

I'd like to see more of the inside-a-writer's-life topic. Could be fun. For example, what do each of you do to get started writing for the day? Do you start at 4 a.m. with a pot of coffee and comfy slippers? Do you lock yourself in a private office? Hang out on the couch? Jump right in or whip out every avoidance ritual you can think of?

Other than that, if the post is insightful or funny, I'm pretty happy.

so true, Nancy, we might try to stay away from it, but politics is a real part of life and sometimes it will spill over. We do mostly stay courteous, and then Margie makes us all laugh and feel better.

I was watching HBO a couple of months ago and "The Favor" was on. I thought to myself, I wonder what Harley Jane has been up to lately? I had no idea she was writing books these days. Through her site I found TLC, and a conversation about cocktails and guacamole; I was drawn in immediately.

I'll speak for myself, and maybe in part people of my age group, mid 30's. I personally enjoy the mix of topics and the mix of people that are attracted here to share their thoughts. I find that most of the posts are from a boomer generation perspective, but hearing the opinions of people older than myself is something I come here for. You are all being yourselves and sharing your perspective, which makes it genuine, and that comes through. I can get politics anywhere, but don't mind seeing it here when it shows up. I like the variety of topics, and enjoy the perspective of all the regular and guest bloggers. Like I have seen other people comment, I would be interested in seeing a few posts about writing tips, and I wouldn't mind a peek inside what it's like to live the life of a writer (book tours, working with publishers and the like), where you draw inspiration, what your process is, etc.

As a computer engineer, I think a facelift is nice. It keeps things fresh and can help to integrate new functionality into a site, but judging by the amount of comments your blog gets (and that won't count the "lurkers" :) ) you are doing something right already. I think it's a great idea to appeal to a broad audience, I think you do, but in the blogosphere, even good blogs can go unnoticed. To that end, and without knowing your planned renovations, have you thought about adding things like "Digg" to get more exposure? Your readers can "digg" individual posts, and it might be one way to draw in new readers, www.digg.com. I've told my friends and family about your site, I see others do the same, and word of mouth is such a powerful tool. Do you guys check on unique hits on your site? I bet you have a lot more readers than commenters. Some people will just always prefer to observe, but it's still great exposure for the writers who post here.

Count me in as someone who likes it just the way it is. I enjoy seeing different writers everyday and if I wanted a more steady diet of the writing process, I can jump over to Jeff Cohen's blog. I don't visit that one everyday because I find it boring after awhile. But TLC is a must read everyday.

I guess I would start by asking what's prompting you ladies to want to make changes? Is it just to draw in new readers (not that there's anything wrong with that), or are you, yourselves, feeling a need for change? Because I think that your feelings about the blog are the most important piece. It's been stated over and over here that people come here because it's a place to read pieces by funny, smart women who are passionate about a great many things. Change is good, but if it impacts on the passion, then it might backfire. So I would say, look first to yourselves. Whatever changes are made must be ones that will leave the passion alive.

That said - more on writing, yes! And slice of life! Politics, I can take or leave. And I seem to be in the minority, but I always am saddened when I turn to TLC and find a guest blogger. I'm here for you ladies, not someone else. (Luckily, most of the guests are so great that I can get past the initial sigh.)

And I have to say that this blog does an incredibly fabulous job of creating a sense of community. I'm not sure how you did it, but it is commendable and noteworthy. Clicking over to TLC each day gives me the same feeling we were supposed to get from CHEERS - a place where everybody knows your name (and they're always glad you came). (Not THAT way, Margie!)

Another vote for keeping the same mix of topics. I'm usually a few days behind in my reading but I do read every post and all the comments and enjoy them immensely.

really, the only reason i go to work is to read TLC every morning.
and to check up on the comments all day long.
oh yeah, i also go to work for the paycheque.

i tell everyone about TLC, i think they are tired of hearing about it.

I enjoy the whole array of topics read and people met here at TLC since I started reading (maybe a year ago??). I also think it is important to keep politics as one of the many topics. My definition of tyranny is when a few determine what the many can hear, and this is true whether it is a few conservatives shouting down liberals or a few liberals shouting down conservatives. All of us who OCHFTS or also CHFTC can handle a few bruised toes or egoes once in a while, unless the only thing that matters in their life is a certain political perspective, in which case, they're probably not coming here . . . .
Please include William and the other men of TLC in Manly Mondays . . . I love hearing from them, too.
I think the personal element is part of what keeps me coming back--I enjoy hearing what progress each of you is making on your latest book or book tour, or latest family issue or health concern or whatever. I've given up on other blogs when they became too ambitious about creating lots of content or lots of entertaining features and lost the personal connection. Yes, I read HuffPo, but only once in a great while, and only when a news story takes me thee. The rest of the time, f'geddaboudit.

Is it too late to chime in? I'm thrilled with the blog as is, but then you all probably already get that. :-)

The thing with political discussions here is that everyone--Tarts and backbloggers--is so damned intelligent that political discussions here are civilized and interesting.

Can't wait to see what you cook up next. And I spread the word every chance I get.

Am I the only one who likes to read the political views???

I love it as it is. A great mix and you never know what you will get. Info on writing, books, movies, vacations, parenting, some politics, some funny, and some serious. I love knowing I am going to get intelligent points of view from everyone on all kinds of topics.

I too have lurked daily for many years. This is my first time commenting. I love the blog as is. If anything I would go with less politics. Election time was tough. I tuned out for awhile but always come back. I am completely addicted. Thank you for the daily fix!!!

I agree with Karen about politics, I tuned out during election. Too much coverage everywhere so less politics for me.

I come here for the laughs.
The slice of life blogs have kept me laughing all day somtimes (Harley and the water police etc). Knowing what is going in your lives is like an email from a friend. I too tell others of some of the funny comments.

Having discovered many new books to read, I love when you tell us what you are reading.
I don't always appreciate guest bloggers but thats just me. I like to know every day that here is a little present to open, doing something just for me.
I don't read any other blog, no time
Yeah Me Margie, you crack me up.
But overall, please just keep blogging.

I enjoy the blog the way it is. Variety is the spice of life. I try to read the blog everyday or so, even if I don't comment. Love to hear from Margie, Rocco, Kathy, Elaine, Harley, Nancy, Sara & Michele. While I think the guest authors, particularly male, who blog are very brave, I always feel like it's just something to read - don't feel like I can honestly fire back at them!

I am another who likes the surprise that I receive every day, when I come visiting TLC. I like knowing what everybody is thinking about, working on, needing help with, contemplating, celebrating, groaning about, everything.

It keeps me feeling like we are not just strangers out there, but people who are getting know more about each other and more about the originators. And all the craziness that goes on in the meantime.

I will send links to friends and family on blogs that I feel would really interest them, and then hope that they actually come to visit. Who knows....somebody out there may be here because of me. And then there was the basket raffle...which a dear friend won... having only read two of you before, she is in heaven now for the sheer joy of the collection of books she received. :)

This is one of my favorite communities, & I love things just the way they are!

No, Lorraine, you're not the only one who enjoys the politics. I have always appreciated the civil tone the TLC women have chosen, even when they feel strongly about something or someone in politics. I was not capable of anything but ^%&*#@ when it came to a certain female candidate, but I would tune in here and read compassionate, realistic comments from the TLC ladies, whether they agreed with that candidate or not. Ya gotta respect that.

I have to agree with Kris. I love the sense of community here. I had no problem jumping in right from the start and commenting on anything & everything. I was welcomed with open arms and have actually met some of the other backbloggers at a couple of Elaine's signings. {{{HEY, Mary & Rita!}}}

I like it just the way it is, politics, sex and Me Margie's fairy tales (they are the best) and all. I don't mind hearing someone else's opinion because sometimes it makes me see things in a different way and might actually change my mind. When I don't agree, its ok.

I like the slice of life stuff...sometimes the comments make me laugh out loud. There is such a diverse group here.

Keep it coming, ladies! I'm so glad I stumbled upon all of you!

More about writing, less guests :)

I have a bunch of book blogs bookmarked, but this is one of the very few (because of time constraints) that I visit regularly because it is head and shoulders above the rest. Topics are interesting and varied, and the comments are just as much fun to read (sometimes more?) as the blog. So I wouldn't change a thing EXCEPT . . . as little about politics as possible, please. And more giveaways would be greatly appreciated. There's nothing better than winning a book I wanted to read anyway.

Keep up the good work!

love the politics and I think you all have a wonderful balance of subjects which is what makes TLC a daily stop.

I just found this site a couple of weeks ago (I am trying so hard to remember where, seems like in the back of a book I was reading??) and I love it! I know I'm really new, but I love the randomness of the blogs, you never know what will be talked about. I pass along the link to my friends who I think would be interested.

I love this blog, and read it daily. I was in withdrawal while we were on vacation with no computer access. I have read all your books and always check out the new myster authors - My Kindle bill is outrageous. Keep up the good work!

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