Monday, July 27, 2009

How The WB used Twitter at Comic Con and won a permanent fan...

Twittering was all the rage on the floor of Comic Con with fans and booths using the application to entice and to squee over Con awesome-ness. However, no one used Twitter's feed to it's maximum capacity like The WB.

First disclaimer: The WB was my least favorite booth in the Con. Obviously stressed-out employees handing out doo-dads to demando fans filled the booth. Gone was the fun from last year and, in its place, a crowd that forgot they were dealing with non-famous human beings who were trying to fairly hand out "stuff" that everyone knew would end up on e-Bay. My claustrophobia went insane just thinking of that booth.

Second disclaimer: I'm still bitter over not getting two of those nifty Chuck posters. I wanted one for a friend who couldn't make the Con and one for my wall -- that wall over there.

Now, on for my critique:

Like almost all other savvy vendors, the WB Tweeted panel announcements. However, during the announcements, the WB became a victim of the infamous "Left Turn Con Maneuver" where Elite Security changed how line-ups would occur at the WB booth. In years past, this caused chaos among fans to the nth degree. This year, though, the WB Tweet person immediately twittered this change and offered an incentive (free t-shirt) to the first 200 hundred who RT'd it. While I would love that free T, I knew what might occur if that info didn't get out (people - no drama here, that booth was that insane) so I immediately RT'd it as well as lots of others. I personally received that information six times from people I followed.

Info out, was disaster diverted as a result? No scientific evidence exists, but from the tweets went word-of-mouth so when I peeked over during that time, the line was still orderly with minimal of crankiness. I have no idea if I'll ever get that T-shirt, but just helping by RT-ing gave me a sense of "one-ness" with The WB.

On top of that, the WB tried an experiment where, instead of handing out doo-dads at the booth, they asked Twitter peeps to text their badge number to The WB's Twitter account and a t-shirt will be mailed. The WB experienced their first failure when the mailing part wasn't obvious from the initial tweet and people showed up at the booth for their t-shirt, but they quickly corrected that by tweeting their correction several times.

By the end of the Con, I was following TheWBdotcom Twitter feed and I was won over by their obvious fan-friendliness. Will it make me watch their channel in the fall? Yes, it will. I've plans now to add Supernatural to my Netflix cue and get caught up. Will it entice me to buy? Yes, I've ordered my Chuck DVDs this morning.


Because of that feeling of "one-ness" that came from the Tweets. When I RT'd the emergency call, I truly felt apart of a community. Shallow, I know, but I use Twitter as a way of making friends and connections. That RT-ing answered that need in me to help my fellow man. As a longtime customer service person, I knew the chaos that would ensue if fans showed up and found that plans had changed. I empathized immediately with The WB and those underpaid and underloved (by fans) employees: what would the fans do to them? That strong empathy (which is worth gold, but cannot be bought) brought The WB into my "emotional" family and I want to support my "family" in any way that I can.

By the way, hello WB, my new brother/sister? My birthday is December 16 and I live only 15 minutes from Burbank...I expect a party with lots of presents.

Mysterious Musings: Why Twilight didn't "ruin" Comic Con

And why most missed the Twilight boat...

On Sunday, at the Con, people were walking around holding signs saying "scream if you think Twilight ruined the Con". How clueless and what a waste of an opportunity.

First of all, Comic Con may have started out as a fan convention - and it still is to a point - but it's become an all-important marketing opportunity. Science Fiction/Fantasy fans descend upon one center for 4 1/2 days to get their Geek on. They want to see what's coming out at the theater, coming to TV, what books and comics are trending high and what new ones are just around the corner. Smart marketers take advantage of this to create buzz for their product. Fans who do not realize this are just clueless.

The Twilight fans began their camping out on Tuesday for the Thursday panel. A smart marketer would have been there on Wednesday to offer book samples, snacks courtesy of their brand, etc. On Thursday, an even smarter marketer would have passed out water bottles with their brand, samples of their product to entertain, and chatted up the attendees. Did anyone take this opportunity? No. No one took advantage of this marketing opportunity to embrace this wave of fandom or even attempted to woo them to their booths post-panel.

Instead, fans of Bella and Edward (and I'm not one of them), were greeted with hoots and negativity. Many I spoke with felt unwelcomed and unwanted.

Not true.

Today's Bella & Edward fans could easily convert to other fantasy and science fiction experiences if only someone took the time to woo them. Publishers should have prepared "if you like Twilight, try this" materials. TV shows (hello "Eastwick"?) should have courted the mamas of the group with materials. Did they?


There's room at the Con for all fan groups and if we don't become more welcoming to these newcomers, then we're turning off tomorrow's fantasy leadership.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mysterious Musings: The Joy of the Printed Word aka Confessions of a Kindle Reader

I picked up an old Aunt Dimity mystery the other day. I opened up the book and took a deep whiff: it's the smell of old books that make me happy. The feel of the paper between my fingers - the idea that I'm rubbing dried and pressed wood pulp. I flipped back and forth as I reacquainted myself with my favorite parts...found easily due to the worn spine of the book. I sighed quite happily as I once again found myself traveling from Boston to England and rediscovered my love of the ghost we all wish would haunt us...

And yet, not an hour before I downloaded from Amazon new books for my Kindle DX.

I love my Kindle. I love having a library of 50-odd books at my fingertips that ways less than a pound. I love flipping through the "pages" and tracking my process with the meter at the bottom (and hate that part, too as I'm only 8% into the book that I must read for book club...which meets on Saturday).

However, it lacks the smell...that touch...that ability that with those two important pieces of tactile experiences it cannot draw me back into happy feelings. My discovery of Aunt Dimity came as a result of a visit to a used bookstore where a fellow customer pressed it into my hands with a "you must read this" sense of urgency. I still recall the experience of inhaling that book while sitting in the Starbucks down from the bookstore...and I go back to that "happy happy joy joy" time just be touching and smelling the pages.

MMmmmmm...old book smell...bookstore smell...why can't they bottle that?

I love my Kindle DX and while I can most certainly bookmark my favorite places, there's nothing more joyous than having an old favorite flop open to a beloved passage. Kindle's don't have book spines: no spines to break or bend to favorite sections. While Kindles allow for note-taking, it's not the same as discovering long-forgotten thoughts in the margins of old books. I treasure the comments in a cookbook recently gifted to me...just small thoughts like "a favorite" or "ick". I'm not writing in some of my cookbooks as a result.

I don't see my Kindle ever replacing my love of paper books. I'll always treasure my old favorites in paper or hardback. Certain authors, such as Steve Hockensmith or Tasha Alexander, will always be purchased in hardback.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mysterious Blogging: Why I Suck at Twitter

Have you ever been caught short of funds at the grocery store and then someone behind you said "here - I've got it"? That was me. Have you been at the bookstore and found yourself stumped over which book to choose and then had someone say "try this"? That was me, too. Have you stood in line for a movie and found yourself in discussion with a total stranger who seemed genuinely interested in your thoughts and opinions? That was most likely me, as well.

I'm one of "those" people who seem to wander the world and want to befriend those who seem in genuine need at some moment in time. We come in, help, and then walk away with no expectations (ok, some of "those" people are way too needy...but that's not me). I love to distract kids while standing in line at Disneyland. I've nudged fellow customers with spare change to help them pay their bills. I've straightened many a messy display at various department stores simply because I know what it feels like.

That's the key to "those" people: we've been there, done that, know the feeling. We've been short at the register a time or two. We've been lost or confused in various stores or in various locations. We know what it's like to be on a tight budget and can only choose one or two of something and worry about the right choice. We've stood in line, lonely and bored, hoping for a conversation or a time killer. We've been where you are and want to make your life a bit better.

Unfortunately, you may not want help and that's why I suck at Twitter.

Twitter, that lovely social network, enables people to reach out to one another. It also allows those who feel the need for expression to do so. I can't tell the difference. I have a few people I follow who reach out and then reach back. I've mis-stepped a time or two, though and that's where I get in trouble. Which just ruins my day...

I still love Twitter...but it's a social minefield for people like me. Sigh.

Mysterious Wanderings: The Little Road Trip Handbook

I love Twitter. I meet interesting people, I have great chats, and I get free books from time-to-time.

Being a lover of road trips, I delightedly responded to author's Erin McHugh's offer for a free copy of her newest Sterling Publishing release, The Road Trip Handbook

Not necessarily for the faint of heart, road trips can bring a family closer to the US of A while driving them farther apart. After two years of marriage, hubby and I went for a three-week tootle around the country. While I tend to run to the plan-it-out, David really yearned for the the "let's just go where the road takes us". We ended up compromising and did a bit of both.

Erin recommends - and I concur - planning your trip as far as getting the car checked out, stocking it with essentials (hadn't thought of packing my own TP, thanks Erin for that tip!), and leaving certain things behind: like emotional baggage (Yes!). However, we disagree on one thing: she says leave a camera behind and I say "bring it on!" we took over a thousand digital photos on our trip and I confess I still get misty eyed when I see my photos of Laura Ingalls Wilder's home (my heroine!). 

She's also correct in suggesting that you watch a few road trip movies prior to leaving as a way of getting "into the mood". I'd even go so far as to suggest that you pick a few American-made films and plan a hunt for the shooting locations. 

There are practical chapters: speed limits, suggested radio stations, silly laws (no musical horns in Kansas!), and even some classic road trip suggestions for those new to the "sport". 

I'd like to take another car trip this summer: traditionally we pack a variety of tour books to keep us amused along the way as well as suggestions for possible stops. Erin McHugh's Little Road Trip Handbook is one we'll pull out earlier and definitely pack in the car.  

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mysterious Reasons for Blogging

I guess 95% of all blogs go unread and yet new ones pop up every day. Why do so many start to blog? Why do something no one will read? Less than 1% actually achieve "blog stardom", so the answer doesn't involve fame. Less than 1% actually make money of any it can't be the dough, either. So, why?

The answers lies within the human need to call out into the abyss. Put a group on the edge of a canyon and some, if not all, will shout "hello" to see if answer will return. So thousands of people sit in front of their computers and type out their "hellos" and then sit back to see if anyone returns them. The odds appear stacked against them. 

"Mysterious Brew" represents my third attempt at blogging. My first attempt, "Confessions of a Bored Housewife", depicted my need to vent my unemployment frustrations. I really didn't want anyone to read it and I don't believe anyone did. My second attempt, the name escapes me, centered on a hope that publishers would discover my pithy book reviews and send me free books - a bad reason for a blog. This attempt? I don't need anyone to read it. Don't care if anyone does. The blog centers on the hope of focusing myself and my reading habits.

I started reading way back before kindergarten thanks to my brother's comic book collection. Through the years, I've always possessed a gigantic reading pile with tastes all over the place. In '77, I careened between Star Wars (a book I picked up in a grocery store never having heard of the movie), Louisa Mae Alcott, and books on old Hollywood: a blissful summer of non-stop reading and discovery. Since then, I pinball consistently all over the reading spectrum with Young Adult, Mysteries, Sci Fi, History, and everything in-between serving as bumpers. 

I want to focus entirely on Mystery for awhile. I need to discover what encompasses mystery and why some publishers push certain titles as mystery and why they pull certain titles out and into other sections. What makes a good mystery story? Where else in life do elements of mystery lie? 

Do I care if anyone reads this blog? Nope. I feel contentment in my place in the crowd. Within the herd, I can explore, journal, and stumble without anyone feeling the need to point out my humanity. 

If anyone does read it, please respond and let me know...especially if you possess knowledge of a path I must travel down. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

CSI with Laurence Fishburne

Can Dr. Raymond Langston adequately fill the shoes of Dr. Gil Grissom? 

I sure hope so. In the weeks opening Season 9 of the popular criminal procedure show, Grissom's dry humor was MIA and in its place appeared a morose and depressed character. The show, which in Season 7 & 8 seemed standing on shaky legs, looked even shakier. 

Then CBS announced that the oh-so-serious actor, Laurance don't-call-me-Larry Fishburne was replacing the happy-to-go William Peterson. Fishburne, who sometimes comes off as taking himself far to seriously, seemed an odd choice. After all he'd been aiming for an Oscar for years and now he was taking a TV show? Oh, please. 

However, in his first appearance in the ninth episode, Fishburne seemed the same uptight performer as always. That continued into Episode 10. Then his first real starring role in Episode 11 occurred. Fishburne plays the role of a professor who appears to live his fantasy. Fishburne brings a real sense of humanity to his character and makes the role his own.

I've been a spotty watcher of CSI for some time now. Fishburne, with only one episode under his belt, may bring with him a breath of fresh air that brings new life to a almost-dead series.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly

While perusing my local B&N, I randomly pulled a book off the shelf and found myself holding The Ghost and Mrs. McClure

A mystery that's part Sam Spade and part Ghost and Mrs. Muir (loved that movie), it takes place in a bookstore haunted by a ghost who's bound to the store thanks to his murder over 60 years previously.

Penelope Thornton-McClure escaped her deceased husband's family and moved in with her aunt in a small town on the east coast. When she's not deflecting her former in-laws, she's enduring the town's hyperactive councilwoman, and trying to make a dying bookstore live again. On her first big author appearance, the obnoxious Timothy Brennan falls over dead during his presentation bringing instant fame to the bookstore and Pen's first murder mystery. 

Years earlier, Jack Shepherd entered the store while on a case and was murdered. The murder remains unsolved and Jack's spirit remains within the store. 

Well, guess what? Brennan was Jack Shepherd's nemesis in real life and used Shepherd's notoriety to build his writing career. So, I'm guessing, this is the reason why Jack is able to communicate with Pen and assist her in solving the mystery behind Brennan's death.

The romantic tension between Jack and Pen works well and it's interesting that while Jack communicates in Pen's mind, Pen can visit Jack in his time through her dreams. The interaction of the two characters bring to mind the interaction of the Captain and Mrs. Muir (which obviously served as the inspiration of the novel).

The book is light and an American version of the cozy. It won't change anyone's life, but it will make a lovely diversion on a rainy afternoon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A perfect day for murder

Tea, weather, and a mystery book: all lead to a great day for murder.

I never intended to read mysteries and all started doing so at the bequest of my store manager while I worked at Barnes & Noble. At the time, I read Sci Fi, YA, young readers, and history (lots of history). However, my New Years Resolution that year centered on trying new things. So, Pam (the store manager) convinced me to start a mystery book reading group for our store.

Five years later, I teach instead of sell, but I still love a good mystery. Since I work with kids all day long, I see this blog as an outlet for adult creativity. I intend to review mystery books that come my way as well as any other mysterious happenings I should learn of.