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Where are all the maternity sections?

It seems that department stores are slowly moving away from the maternity section. I’m not sure when the decline started, but I’ve definitely noticed it as I progress through my second trimester and seek elastic waistbands to comfort a growing abdomen.
I first noticed the problem with Target. I thought the maternity section shrank because of the change of seasons, but then it didn’t get bigger when we transitioned from summer to fall styles. I decided to check out Wal-Mart next. Wal-Mart doesn’t have a maternity section at all, and when I asked a woman who was working about belly bands or anything for pregnancy, she was dumbfounded. I went to Kohl’s, which recently opened near us, with high hopes from my past experience in the stores in Indiana. Its section was a total of five racks- one with sweaters and four with pants. Most of the pants were skinny cut or regular cut. (By the way, who the heck wants to wear skinny jeans when they’re pregnant?) And one of the racks had corduroy pants, another testy subject for me.
This brings me to my next question: Why have these stores stopped marketing to a group of people who have been big money makers in the past? There are huge chains of stores completely dedicated to maternity clothing, which tells me that the market is still there. Online, the fore-mentioned stores have a better maternity selection, so why not offer at least a good portion of those options in the stores? I, for one, do not want to order pants then have to return them to the post office or to the store.
It’d be interesting to learn the strategies behind these decisions. I wonder if pregnant women have been shown to shop online more than in the stores, which fueled the changes.

So I want to write a book…

I have decided I’d like to write a book.
This is not a far stretch for a journalist. Many choose to follow a story or go more in-depth on a topic they’ve reported for years. Unfortunately for me, I do not have a topic from my past I’d like to delve into more. I do, however, have an idea.
I was advised to start a blog and to write magazine articles on the topic to get started, so I might start a new blog soon. My question then becomes how much is too much when it comes to a blog. Should I start posting chapters? If I post chapters, does that give it all away? These are just a couple of the technical questions I still have.
I also wonder if I can make it through a long-term project. I’ve always held an attention span equivalent to that of a 3-year-old. When I had long-term projects as a reporter, I was ready to walk away after week three. I know this will be a long project, and I hope that I can make it interesting enough for myself that it won’t die because I grew tired of the research.
Any advice for a budding author would appreciated.

Fraggle Rock and Ben Folds Five take over the Internet

The latest of the new genre of nostalgia-blended music videos hit the social media streams… Ben Folds Five and Fraggle Rock join together for “Do It Anyway” in preparation for Ben Folds Five’s release of its newest album.

I have to say that I will watch this video over and over, but I’m not sure I’d buy the album. The same thing happened with OK Go! for me. I love watching all of the fantastic videos, but only listen to the music to remember the videos… This might be the way to get MTV back to music videos.

Happy New Year!

I started today with a reminder of what’s important in life.

Today is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The prayers during the High Holy Days reminds us all to re-evaluate ourselves each year. This year has been extremely exciting for Dustin and I, including some good and bad times. We start off this new year in a newly purchased home with a child on the way. I left my position at Bluffton Today after evaluating the job and how it fit into my long-term goals and personal priorities. So I’m starting this year with a clean slate.

No resolutions, only the hope this year will be another year of great milestones in our lives and the determination to make it that way.

Here’s wishing everyone out there a happy and healthy new year!

Devil in the White City

I recently finished a book that’s been on my to-read list for a while– “Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America”

I read this book because this is the type of book I’d like to write one day– completely based on historical research with a novel-like writing style.

Erik Larson creates an interesting mix of history and mystery in this non-fiction tale about the World’s Fair in Chicago. I enjoyed his juxtaposition of the excitement and happiness surrounding the fair with the dark and grim details of a psychopath serial killer.

While the architectural details bored me at times, the story of the murderer always re-invigorated my interest. This technique made it almost impossible to put the book down at times.

As a journalist, I appreciate the amount of time and research that went into this book. If I become a book author at some point, I hope my book is like this one in the respect that it is a story that could be the basis of a fiction novel, but it is based on a true story that wouldn’t be as good if it were imagined.

Geekend #3

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Kazoos

It’s weird that a man from a kazoo factory would present at a new media conference, but he did. Not only that, but it was by far my favorite presentation of the day (although the keynote was amazing… more on that later though).

Stephen Murray, president of Kazoobie Kazoos, was engaging and fantastic. Kazoobie Kazoos is the only kazoo factory in the United States, and it’s based in Beaufort.

Geekend #2

Transmedia Storytelling: Connecting Consumers to Brands through Modern Storytelling

This is one of my areas of interest, so it was only natural for me to attend this session from Meghan Gargan. In graduate school, I got extremely interested in the use of multiple platforms to send a message. In fact, my original proposal for my thesis was identifying the best use for each medium in telling a story. This is still an area I love to read about, and so this session really struck my fancy.

Using her definition of transmedia storytelling as” telling a story through multiple platforms with each new platform adding to the story,” Gargan differentiated the term from cross-media storytelling by saying that with transmedia storytelling, the user experiences a different part of the story with each platform and they can’t get that from any other platform.

She defined two models– franchise and Portmanteau– for creating a transmedia experience.

Using Coca-Cola, Old Spice and Barbie, she illustrated how retail could use storytelling to redefine their brands and get loyal fans to stick with them. I think my favorite part of the discussion, though, was how the Department of Education and teachers could use transmedia storytelling to increase test scores. I think this is definitely an area for more research, and I’d love to see how a school would use the experience to keep kids engaged in their own education.

Geekend #1

Knowing is Half the Battle
Bill Kenney and Erik Reagan from Focus Lab (the people who gave me my ticket) did a good presentation on how to start your own business. I chose to go to this session because both Dustin and I have freelanced, and the idea of starting our own business has crossed our minds. We make more money freelancing than in full-time positions at big companies. However, freelance work does not promise a steady paycheck, and as we make heavy life decisions (like having a family), that paycheck will be extremely important.

While the men gave us some useful information, we had already known most of it because, like I said, we’ve both been there. Here’s a good rundown of what we learned:
– Trust yourself to make good decisions
– Protect your interests with a contract
– Maintain communication with clients
– Learn to say “no”
– Grow at a manageable pace
– Build a powerful team
– Maintain a balance between work and life

I think the most important part for us was the balance between work and life. It’s something we both have trouble doing. “Life is more than your business,” Reagan said. It’s important to set hours you’re going to work and hold yourself and your clients to them.

The guys were great to put their entire presentation online here. While this was a good session, I think we could have gained more from it if we hadn’t already done freelance before. I’m not sure if there’s a way they could have geared it for people who are in our situation, but maybe more tips about networking and finding clients would have helped.

Geekend

I’m going to be writing a few blog posts in the next couple days about some random pieces of technology/new media. The reason? I’m going to Geekend.

Geekend, for those who might not know, is a new media conference in Savannah. The conference is presented by BFG, a large advertising and marketing firm based in Bluffton (but it has huge national clients).

I won my ticket to the conference (unlike my husband, who got one because he works for the coordinating company). Yes, I said “won.” Focus Labs, a Savannah-based design company, held a contest to give away three free tickets to the conference (early bird special price was $95, if you get the idea). The contest was to come up with the geekiest movie titles. Here are a few of my entries:

– Silence of the RAMs
– Revenge of the N00bz
– Lord of the Pings
– Crash of the Titans
– There Will Be Bugs
– No Country for Code Men
– Pwn of the Dead
– Capcha if you Can
– GLaDOS in Wonderland

If you don’t get some of these, that’s all right. I’m a geek at heart, and I’m married to a geek. Between us, we make a great geek duo.

Anyway, for the next few days, I will probably be posting some thoughts on  the sessions I attend at the conference. Enjoy!