It all started on a Monday evening, when my left eye began to feel tired while reading in bed. Typically a minor result of an allergy or a speck of dust in the eye, I washed my face and hands, put a cool compress on the eye for a bit, and went to bed.
On Tuesday morning, my eye was swollen shut. I began my homeopathic detox process. By that evening, no more swelling, but half my face was in a rash.
Wednesday morning, the left half of my face was rashed and puffy, but during the day, nothing seemed to worsen. I felt it had reached its worse and would begin to subside.
Thursday morning, both eyes were swollen shut, my entire face and neck were covered in a rash, and we were off to the Emergency Room where I got a prescription of steroids.
This, one day before I was committed to leave for Bridge Day, where I was helping set up and attend a booth for our local development corp.
By Friday morning, most of the swelling was gone, and the rash no longer itched. But, I was puffy, and my face was red and chapped, badly.
Friday evening, I was in Fayetteville, after loading the truck in the cold, and was standing outside on a mountain porch, covered with wet leaves, myself shivering in the drizzle with others, outside “A Taste of Bridge Day” eating some of the best BBQ shrimp I’ve ever had.
We were up at 4 am on Saturday to make the 5:30 am security check, and the long vendor’s “parade” to our bridge locations. That alone took 40 minutes, and five minutes after we set up our canopy, the drizzling rain began again. Temperature? Mid-thirties. Great weather for chapped skin faces….
At 3 on the dot, the festival ended, and we shot across the median to race to the hotel room’s heat and for a short nap before dinner and the second night of our weekend rental (one night was not an option).
Sunday morning, I packed the truck, we drove home, unpacked my friend in Grantsville then I unpacked myself and home, and came in to a kitchen strung with empty and full chicken noodle soup cans and bowls and sauce pots, and a sick husband on the couch.
Who told me there was going to be a deep freeze that evening. So, in the midst of unpacking, laundry, kitchen duty, nurse maiding AND repacking my bags, I also went to the garden and ripped up 22 pepper plants that still bore not-quite-ripe fruit.
Dump them out on a sheet on the spare bed, and geez I feel hot, but get packed and get going, I’m due in Marietta to spend two days with my cousin, in from California, whom I have not seen in eight years and haven’t spend any real time with in…. 30 years?
By the time I arrived at my Mother’s (who, as scheduling glitches would have it is at the beach), my fever peaked. My cousin was out to lunch, so I hopped in the shower to sweat it out and sterilize myself. We spent the evening in, ordered pizza, and went to bed early, with plans for a trip to Morgantown to do some relocation research for her.
That night, I had cold sweats under the electric blanket, and felt like someone beat me with a ball bat. I was up to urinate every 30 minutes.
Monday morning, I felt better. I wasn’t dead, I had control of my digestive system, a slight cough, and my fever had broken in the night. Off to Morgantown, where we visited the Visitor’s Center, WVU Human Resources, hospitals and had lunch at the fish market and deli, where I had the best shrimp bisque I’ve had in twenty years. I also tasted a sweet potato soup I think I can copy.
Back then to Marietta, for a nap, then a late dinner at Outback with other cousins, whom I haven’t spend a full meal with in… um…. well, years. I had more soup (excellent french onion) and more shrimp, which in Vienna, are not as good as the shrimp I had at Outback last month in Morgantown.
Good company, good meal followed by a good night’s sleep. the next morning I bid my cousin good bye, and returned home to discover – husband still on the couch where I left him, more chicken noodle cans, bowls and sauce pots all over the kitchen, peppers still on the bed, and four days worth of messages, mail e-mail and work waiting.
No freaking out allowed. Wash the bed linens, wash germy clothing from trip, wash dishes, clean kitchen. String any ripe chilis to dry. Fill hot tub with epsom salts for hubby and I to share, catch up with the mail in bed before falling asleep.
And that brings us to….. today.
Husband, feeling better, went to work. Me, still plumb-tuckered, slept in. Then, I turn to face the future — a deadline two days away, a full schedule of tasks and appearances at GSC’s upcoming homecoming, a husband heading off to Morgantown for an audio workshop.
I think, except for dusting, running the sweeper and making hot pepper jelly, I’m almost caught up.
I have been invited to join Diane Ludwig of the Little Kanawha Area Development Corporation (LKADC) to take part in “Walk West Virginia in a Day” program at the 2009 New River Gorge Bridge Day in Fayetteville October 17.
Diane’s organization represents Calhoun and Wirt County, and with a limited budget for hand-outs and presentations, Diane has asked Two-Lane Livin’ to help represent businesses in the area and provide past issues of our magazine to represent Central West Virginia.
We don’t really have any past issues from the last six months, since we reached 100% readership for those issues, but we do have some from our first year-and-a-half (when we only had a 95% readership level) filled with information that never expires.
So, Two-Lane Livin’ is headed to a four-lane celebration.
I have never been to Bridge Day. The thought of the large crowd has, in the past, been enough for me to say, “I think I’ll pass.” Diane has never been there either. She’s afraid of heights.
Aren’t we a pair to head to Bridge Day? <giggle>
Of course, we won’t be on the bridge. We’ll be set up on the approach to the bridge, which I assume, is the four-lane highway leading to it. We also had to get security clearance to be there, so I’m assuming it’s a crowd-controlled situation.
Still, for this country mouse, it’s a big deal, and a great opportunity to introduce more people to the columnists in Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine.
While we do deliver to Nicholas County, we don’t quite reach into Fayetteville. We don’t have enough copies as it is, and the “theories” that readers are converting to online media just don’t seem to be happening with us. Traffic to our online edition is one-eighth of our print readership level, and the demand is for print copies, not for online expansion.
At this time.
My hope, in introducing print copies to those outside our region, is to increase our online readership. Of course, more print edition subscribers would help us reach that goal of meeting requirements for bulk-mail rates for our subscribers. And, obviously, it would be nice to make connections with more businesses that would want to promote and advertise with us in order to reach our 38,000-plus readers in Central West Virginia.
Of course, the reason I’m there is to represent our region, and our counties. We have columnists from Wirt, Calhoun, Gilmer, Jackson, Upshur, Braxton, Clay, Roane and Lewis Counties. We distribute to 16 counties, and we reach right up to – but do not cross – the New River Gorge Bridge.
For Two-Lane Livin’, Bridge Day is a door to a new frontier, a chance for us to reach outside our region. A chance to make personal connections to build our online community.
And who knows? I may even have some fun.
When I left full-time employment status, one of the first things I did was join the local CEOS (Extension Homemaker’s) Club. When I was a reporter for the local paper I, of course, often covered the goings on of such clubs, but did not feel it appropriate for me to join any specific club or serve on any board.
But truly, my neighborhood CEOS made me feel like a club member anyway from day one. They know where I live, know my husband, his parents, our farm. They know what I drive, when we put up hay, when we go camping.
They are my community, and to them, though I hadn’t yet paid dues, I was already a member. So, when I was finally able, I joined.
Now, meeting once or twice a month with a collection of elderly women may not sound like a good time to many in the younger generations.
You don’t know these ladies.
Food. Laughter. Community service. Friendship. Learning.
Now, doesn’t that sound like fun?
I’ve learned from these women. Not just about gardening, cooking, canning. I’ve learned about faith and duty and friendship, and the responsibilities that come with such things.
I have learned how to cook. How to save money. How to be charitable.
Because of this club, I know how many families are fed by the food pantry we donate to each month. (This month over 250 families were served.) I learned what makes great gifts for those in long term care. What needs victims of domestic violence have in the first 24 hours. I know who cares for our community cemeteries (our club), who cleans our roads (our club), who is in the hospital, getting married, feeling better.
I’ve learned about my community.
Of course, I’ve learned other things.
I’ve learned, for example, that it takes just as long to load 12 elderly women on a wagon to drive up a hillside than it does for said women to mow, rake and clean an entire cemetery.
I’ve learned that you do not meet without eating, and you do not eat without giving thanks.
I’ve learned that you often merely need to speak a need aloud, and the answer will come.
And I’ve learned about what I call, “The Country Exchange.”
The Country Exchange is based on the following principle:
“Well, if you’re going that way, take this to there.”
Let me give you a simple example.
A friend totalled her Rover. Once the smashed vehicle had been towed to a junk yard two counties away, she realized she left something in the vehicle. So she called the junk yard, they rescued the item, and were holding it for her.
Now, she doesn’t go that way very often, but another friend happens to work in the next town, and does here grocery shopping in the same town as the junk yard. So she goes two counties over from friend A, picks up the item, and returns to her own home county, still a county away from the owner.
In the meantime, friend B and I have been invited to friend C’s house for dinner. Friend B brings Friend A’s item to me, and I thus return home with the item in Friend A’s home county.
Now you can see where this is going. my next move was to take the item to town with me to where Friend A works, so that she could then take the item home.
But it’s not that simple, because today was CEOS Day. See not only did I have to remember Friend A’s item, I also had to bring a covered dish, extra copies of Two-Lane Livin’ for club members, pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House, trial size bath items for Domestic Abuse services, t-shirts for another friend’s son that came to me from a lady in Belpre, cucumbers to drop at the neighbor’s, mail to go out and my bank deposit. Plus, I left the farm with my father-in-law’s empty prescription bottles.
This is The Country Exchange.
If you think it gets crazy at the stock exchange, you should see six women trying to load the right things into the right vehicles to get to the right people after a CEOS meeting.
One person takes the donations for long term care. Another has the box that goes to the senior center. A third has the signed get well cards for members and friends in the hospital. I had the box headed to the newspaper office. Plus, of course, we had to fix a plate from our covered dish lunch for the one who couldn’t come because of work.
I go to town with a full box — I come home with a FULL BOX. This one found the special flour I was looking for. This one brought extra cupcakes for everyone to take home. This one brought her column to the meeting. I got rid of cucumbers, but came home with cantaloupe. Another had saved coupons for our dog treats to give me.
Following our meeting, I stood on a corner in town and watched our members head to their destinations, carrying our community services in boxes, plates and bags. So much taken care of by so few.
I went to the paper office, carrying the original item left in the crashed Rover. I walked out carrying a house fern left for me the day before — to be transported back to Friend B, and empty pickled sausage jars from a recycling center committee member who had left them there for me to pick up so I could make bigger batches of pickled eggs.
All these gifts delivered and received, and I never spent a dime.
THAT is The Country Exchange.
Ask any magazine or newspaper publisher how many copies they print AND how many copies are left over on average, and watch the tap dancing begin.
Some won’t even tell you how many copies they print.
That alone amazes me. When you purchase print ads in a publication, you are paying for so many copies. Two-Lane Livin’, for example, prints 15,000 copies. When you purchase ads from us, you are buying 15,000 copies of a certain size ad. If you buy a business card size ad, you are paying .002 cents per ad. That’s about the average for all of our ads.
But how many copies does The Trader’s Guide print? How many copies does WV Living print? Those numbers should, in my humble opinion, be included on their rate sheets – but they’re not. How does a person know exactly what they are buying?
(Just so you know, The Trader’s Guide prints 8,000 copies. I don’t know how many WV Living prints.)
Now, I’m not knocking those two publications. I actually drool over the beauty and full color of WV Living. It’s beautiful and very well done. I have yet to miss a copy. But I just can’t grasp not telling clients exactly what they are buying…
If your print publisher does tell you how many they print – then ask them how many copies, on average, they have left over. It makes a difference you know, in the value of your ads.
I’ve met publishers who don’t even know those numbers.
But I haven’t met a single one who knows the numbers and shares those numbers with their clients.
Let’s say, for example, you purchase a business card ad from The Trader’s Guide for $19. That’s also .002 per ad. But, if they only sell 6,000 of 8,000 copies, only 6,000 copies of your ad were seen. Then you are paying .003 per ad.
Sure, in the long run, it only totals about fifteen cents a year in a weekly publication, but that’s not really the point.
The point is, the clients really have no idea what they’re paying for.
When I see Trader’s Guides in the recycling bin at the recycling center I think, “well, there’s several hundred ads no one ever saw.”
It’s money wasted. Paper wasted. Ink, wasted.
At least they recycle.
Of course, some people buy ads for the image and prestige, not the actual numbers. (That’s why a business card ad, $40 in Two-Lane Livin’, will cost you $145 in Country Roads Journal. In WV Living, a similar size ad costs at least $350. Those full color glossy pages ARE really nice.) The audiences are different. One might reach your target market while another won’t. There are many different reasons to buy ads in different publications, and Two-Lane Livin’ is not the outlet for every business.
But, I’m the kind of person who wants to know what I’m buying, and I want to get my money’s worth.
If you are the same, then let me tell you:
We print 15,000 copies of Two-Lane Livin’ every month, and we circulate them in over 500 distribution locations in 16 counties.
How many end up in the trash, recycling bin, or locked away in storage?
Every New Year’s Eve, people all over the world decide to try new paths, make some improvements, bring some changes to their lives. Others, perhaps like me, have another annual moment when they do the same — the birthday. I now have a third “new year” I respond and react to — the birthday of Two-Lane Livin’.
I realize, my blogging has not been a priority for me this summer. Perhaps there are two things I should share about my blogging habits:
1. When I’m not posting, things are happening.
2. In Winter, I’ll likely wear you out with frequent updates.
This month, we released the second anniversary issue of Two-Lane Livin’ – Volume 3, Issue 1. (The September 09 issue.) By now, we’ve laid our foundation, and we’re ready to build.
By all means, the magazine is our main endeavor, and advertising is our main product. But not many realize that our business name is actually Stumptown Publishing, and their are other projects Frank and I want to work on that aren’t the magazine. Their are venues we want to explore and perfect, and we have been studying.
OUR WEB SITE
I have already mentioned current and pending changes for our web site. Two years ago, I didn’t have the knowledge to design a web site that could do all the things it could (should) do. I upgraded my design software and found that I hated the program. Then, my blogging brought me to WordPress, and I have been learning. This two-year anniversary seemed to be the right time to apply what I have learned to our magazine’s web site.
So, our online edition now has an RSS feed (already included at wvnewsline.com), better presentation, and allows for comments and interaction. Within a few weeks, we’ll be working to integrate audio and video projects created by WVU students.
By all means, when we started Two-Lane Livin’, with our web needs, I was certainly in over my head. Over the last two years, I have basically been treading water while the rest of the world was swimming competitively. I’m ready to see what I can do.
I know there are going to be glitches. I’m not completely happy with the new site as it is, but I still think it looks good enough to launch. I realize that it is a huge internet “faux pas” to launch a web site under construction, but I’m to the point where I think folks will understand. It doesn’t LOOK like it’s under construction, and I’ve come to look at our online edition as a work in progress — a creation that has to flex and grow with this publishing revolution and the new technology that appears every day.
When Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine launched, Frank and I also began some home-based internet courses through American Writers and Artists, Inc. Specifically, we have been fine tuning our education in travel writing and photography – me in the writing courses and Frank in the photography courses.
We are nearing the end of our training. Now granted, it doesn’t take most people two years to finish these courses. But Frank and I have been launching and producing a magazine in the same time frame. We’ve worked through the courses at our own pace, reviewing and renewing our knowledge when time allowed.
We enjoy travel. We enjoy traveling to secluded places, out of the way places, unpolished locations. Frank takes hundreds of photos wherever we go. It only made sense to develop these gifts and habits and use them in our magazine. But, everything in Two-Lane Livin’ is designed to be positive. And would mean travel articles we write would also need to be positive – not journalistic reviews from an objective traveler.
That’s why we decided to use our services for travel “advertorials.” Not as travelers come to review and judge the location and experience, but as professionals there to market and promote the features and benefits of the destination. We will be offering this service for a fee, however, a full page feature in Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine – reaching over 35,000 readers – is included in the package.
CUSTOM PUBLISHING NETWORK
In making the rounds for Two-Lane Livin’, I ran in to many, many people who were needing printing and publishing services. Business cards, rack cards, web sites, posters — you name it, it seems someone has asked me about it. At the same time, I have met folks who offer such services: proofing, printing, copy editing, web design, book cover design, etc.Each of these people has a special niche, skill, talent, ability of their own.
It occurred to me that really there just needed to be a way to connect the right project with the right person.
And so, we created a Custom Publishing Network. Project requests come in through our office, and we send the details out to our network. Quotes, turn around times, etc, come back in to us, and are then presented to the client. The client chooses the network option that best suits them.
It’s a simple concept really. The network (so far) includes four designers, two copy editors, two writing technicians, and five printers. We already have two book projects coming into the network, and have been approached for a new business marketing package. The book projects alone will need the services of at least three of the network members (who have never met by the way), and the client can find them all “under our roof.”
I haven’t yet created the web site for our network yet. That’s one of the “under construction” sections yet to come.
THE PRINT EDITION
All this talk about changes, some may fear that Two-Lane Livin’ in print is no linger a priority. Not so. The print edition is also seeing some improvements.
First, our spot color pages have all been converted to full color pages. Our Reader’s Page was a spot color page, but we began receiving so many beautiful photos, we really wanted to present them in color. Also, the requests for full color ads are on the rise.
We also changed the main body text for the magazine from Times New Roman to Gill Sans. This change will allow me to fit more words on the page, make it easier for the reader to read it and — hopefully give what so many call, “The Two-Lane Paper” more of a magazine look. I will likely never use magazine layout styles (too much white <wasted> space), but I do want readers to get a tighter grasp on the fact that we’re NOT the news.
Starting next month, we will also be featuring an antiques column, made possible by a “column exchange” with The Marietta Register. The Register will be using Two-Lane Livin’s “Only Organic” in exchange. This is a neat trade I think. The two publications serve different regions, so there’s no real worry about readers having read the piece in the other publication.
THREE’S A CHARM
I’m excited about these new developments. I see a whole new world of possibilities for us in our upcoming third year. The rest of the world may be gloom and doom about magazines and publishing venues, but I don’t see that for us. Here in Central West Virginia, we have the potential to grow. We’ve spent two years forming our roots, and it seems that we’re working to bloom and produce fruit just like our garden.
Oh – and speaking of the garden – that’s the other reason I haven’t been blogging so much lately. The garden’s coming on. Pickles, salsa, beans, peppers. Lots of canning and freezing happening every day.
In fact, I think I’ll wander out to the garden to see what awaits me now. And when I return? I’ll work on our new online edition a little more. I’ll have updates from the new issue online soon.