FAQ by Joan Reeves, Author

Got an invitation to join the newest social networking site out there called FAQ-QLY. So I figured I'd try it out since I like the premise. Check out FAQ by Joan Reeves, Author.

Normally, I stay away from things that smack of My Space. I like the concept of FAQ though, a site where people can register to answer questions. Maybe FAQQLY will be a nice resource for everyone. Maybe every person with info to share will sign up so the psychos won't get on board. Yeah, I'm naive.

The devil made me do it

Played hooky today. My daughter and I went to see THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. We laughed our heads off and lusted after the clothes, shoes, and hats. Definitely a chick flick. I can't see any man with an ounce of testosterone wanting to see this movie unless he has a woman drag him to it. And that scenario works only if he's trying to score points with the woman.

Seriously, Meryl Streep deserves an Oscar for this role.

Thursday thought

When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. (Alexander Graham Bll)

Floodin' down in Texas

Guess I'd better put Stevie Ray on my playlist.

The rain woke me at four thirty this morning. Pounding on the roof, clattering in the gutters like a bunch of mad tap dancers.

I shot this picture from my front door. The last line of bricks you can see is the end of my front walk which is about 3 feet from the curb. That line of bricks is just about under water.

The street is full from sidewalk to sidewalk. Another lovely day in monsoon land. At least the power is on.

Knock on wood.

Power outtages

My power goes off more frequently here than any place I've ever lived - and I've lived a bunch of places from Japan to east of the Mississippi. I don't know why this is the situation, but it sure is annoying.

This is the second day in a row when the electricity has blipped on and off with as much unpredictability as a Texas twister. I scurry around powering down computers and peripherals then turn off the battery backups which are bleeping like crazy. I always think there should be some recorded announcement like on Stargate when they set the auto self-destruct: The battery backup will detonate in 3 minutes. And thus the countdown begins with a constant recorded reminder from the calm female voice.

I thought I'd get these revisions finished today, but the electric utility obviously had different plans. At least I can go make coffee now.

Sling Words out.

Very cool net trick

This is pretty amazing. If you go to Amaztype, you can type your name or a book title in the box, select title or author, and the software will go to Amazon, retrieve the covers of your books and/or retrieve covers containing a portion of your name then create a graphical picture of the word or words you typed.

Sling Words out to continue revisions.

Torn between responsibility and pleasure

This is silly. I know it is. I'm working on revisions for an editor, but today I'm torn between needing to work on the manuscript and...the British open.

I know, I know. You're going to say, "but Joan, you don't really play golf."

This is true, but I spectate. As I've said before my darling husband is the huge golf fan. He got me hooked on watching the major tournaments, especially when Tiger plays.

Well, yesterday Tiger eagled the 18th to finish five under. Today, he's on 17 and he's 12 under!!! Twelve under. Wow.

So I'm running back and forth between the study and the TV in the kitchen.

Yay! Now I can focus on the writing. Tiger just finished with a 65 for the day.

Sling Words (feeling inordinately foolish and pleased - in equal measure) out.

Debunking the debunker

Sometimes I feel as if I must live under a rock because I stumble on news items that apparently everyone else has already heard of. For instance, I did not know there was a guy named Dylan Avery who has created a film with the premise that the American Airlines plane didn't crash into the Pentagon on 9/11. What's that all about? Reminds me of the people who say the Holocaust never happened.

You Tube has this video up that counters Avery and offers "just the facts" with a forensic review and reenactment and another Screw Loose Change that debunks Avery's debunking as well as offering some video footage about a History Channel documentary on the birth of Muslim terrorism against the west.

Scary world, folks. Scary world.

RIP, Mickey Spillane

It's hard to believe but tough guy author Mickey Spillane died yesterday.
I always liked Spillane. Back in March, I blogged about Spillane and his creation Mike Hammer.

Whether you liked Spillane's writing or not, he did it his way and in so doing had an impact on the mystery genre.

Rest in peace, Mickey.

Janis lives on

I'm trying to catch up from a busy weekend in which I did virtually nothing. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, here's a bit of wisdom for a frenetic Monday.

Janis Joplin is on my Playlist at the moment so here's something she said that she herself should have heeded.

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

In an interview once, Janis said, "Who needs drugs when there's booze?" Sadly, she must have felt she needed the heroin she shot into herself.

I was sitting at a tiny kitchen table in an Okinawan apartment on a gray October morning when the English language radio news reader reported Janis Joplin had died of a drug overdose.

Funny, how the events that unravel one's concept of the way things are gets embedded in memory.

Her hometown finally did something to recognize her contribution to music. Check out Museum of the Gulf Coast.

Language is a shong-ing

For those who may not know, the title is an homage to Steve Martin's comedy routine in which he riffs on "for the times they are a changing," except instead of changing, he pronounces it shong-ing.

Anyway, I'm digressing. This morning over my Saturday breakfast, the only sit down breakfast I eat in the week, I was reading last Sunday's newspaper. Sad to say, I've been so busy that this was the first opportunity I've had to catch up on the news, at least the printed variety.

In the Outlook section of the Houston Chronicle, there was a great piece by William Safire on how our language is changing.

I read this eagerly because stuff like this has always interested me, even before I took a History of the English Language class in college.

The interesting thing I found was that, today, our language seems to be changing because of the public utterances of celebrities who, dare I say, speak less articulately than others. They butcher words and use words incorrectly which reminds me of a comedian many years ago who did the same and got big yucks. Anyone remember Norm Crosby?

Mr. Safire made no value judgment about this, and neither do I. Actually, I think it's better that our language has the ability to change with the times and evolve. I don't foresee us ever doing something like the French who actually have passed laws to make sure French stays "pure" and unblemished by the addition of foreign words and phrases.

Still, there is a part of me that does cringe when I hear someone in the public eye who speaks without regard to the basics of subject-verb agreement or misuses words or says "ain't" (when I went to public school this was a cardinal sin!).

Guess that explains the T-shirt I designed for my Smart Chick shop. When I wear it, I get a lot of looks and laughter. It's the tee with the Bette Davis quote: "I always make it a point to speak grammatically. Who knows? It might become popular again."

Maybe I should send a t-shirt to Mr. Safire.

Email for the paranoid

I found this site recently which is perfect for those worried that email, once sent, probably exists forever on some server somewhere. This is not an exaggeration. Read about FBI computer forensic scientists, and you can get seriously paranoid. Luckily, most of us aren't worried about divulging Great Aunt Hattie's recipe for Banana Nut Cake in an email. The only repercussions might be a little haunting from the beyond.

However, if you are worried that the life of an injudicious email is remarkably similar to a radioactive substance, then rush over to Big String where you can sign up for a free email account that will enable your emails to not only be recalled once you come to your senses, but also they can self-destruct.

Isn't that cool? Must be a book premise in there somewhere.

Trivial Thursday: Happy birthday, Indy!

Oh, my goodness! Indiana Jones is 64 today. What seems more outlandish? Indy is 64 or swashbuckler Han Solo is 64?

You know, even if Harrison Ford is 64, I'd still pay to see a new Indiana Jones flick. Sixty-four or thirty-four, Harrison can swash his buckle over my way any time he wants. He's almost in the same league as perennially attractive as Sean Connery.

Opening scenes that don't work

I've been judging a spate of contests the last few months. Sometimes, I get entries so good that I wonder why the contestant is wasting time entering contests. They should be submitting to agents/editors.

Then there are the other times....

One trend I've noticed that I haven't seen in a long time is opening a novel with a dream sequence or with a fantasy scene of some sort - something completely in the character's head.

If a writer creates a highly dramatic scene in which the dreaming character faces their own specific horror, fraught with emotion and action, does it work to draw the reader in? Usually, no.

Upon opening a book, the reader does not KNOW the character so his nightmarish suffering does not move the reader. In fact, it can be a rather ho-hum experience for the reader who will more than likely skip ahead to find out where the STORY starts. That's right, the story. A dream is not the story. It's just mood setting.

As a writer, you must realize what you are striving for immediately is reader identification. You want the reader to say: "yeah, I understand that guy. I like him. I'll follow him for 400 pages to see what happens along the way." The reader must "bond" with the character and care about the character. This is done by seeing how the character acts and reacts, by seeing the character's goals and efforts to achieve them, by getting acquainted with the character. You can't get acquainted with a dreaming character.

So save that nightmare that explains his deepest motivation for later in the book - after the reader is already acquainted with the hero and is willing to follow him on his goal quest.

Hope that makes sense. I'm tired and probably sound like I'm ranting after reading one too many manuscripts that begine with a dream.

Sling Words out and to bed.

Passing on a good idea

Maybe you've got this little message in your email box already. It's such a good idea, I thought I'd post it here.

Next time you come home for the night, and you go to put your keys away, think of this. You already have a security alarm system that you probably don't even think about.

Start keeping your car keys next to your bed on the night stand when you go to bed at night. If you think someone is trying to break into your house or if you hear a noise outside your house, just press the panic alarm (you know the horn beep button) on your car key chain.

Test it. It will go off from almost anywhere even inside your house, and it will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break in your house, odds are the burglar or rapist won't stick around because after a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that.

Try yours to make sure it works before you rely on it. Just know that you must press the alarm button again to turn it off.

And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there.

Share this idea with everyone you know. Maybe it will save a life or stop a rapist.

Best I can do

I have a tough time keeping up with anything other than my highest priority items in the summer. Summer makes me lazy. The lines from the song Summertime: "Summertime and the living is easy" is my theme song.

Call it a throwback to my childhood when summertime meant three months of playing softball, eating watermelon until I was ready to pop, and reading book after book, often into the wee hours of the morning. One of my favorite memories was lying in bed with the attic fan pulling the cool breeze in through the windows while I read one exciting mystery after another. Nancy Drew when I was much younger and Mary Stewart, Ed McBain, and other masters of the genre.

This is a roundabout explanation of why there are no blog entries for the last few days. About the best I can manage right now, even though I promised myself I'd blog today, is a good quotation. This one is particular relevant to my lazy attitude.

Wait for it. Wait.... Here it is: "Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap."

So said one of my heroes, the great Barbara Jordan, the late Congresswoman from Texas. I've always thought she would have made a great President of our country.

Shaking my head in wonder

I just discovered a high school friend of mine is to be arraigned in a couple of weeks in federal court on bank fraud charges. Frankly, I'm shocked. I thought this guy was one of the good guys. I never questioned his integrity, and I certainly would never have thought he'd have done something like this.

Truth is stranger than fiction. A cliche, but too true.

Trivial Thursday: Texas

I'm doing research for a book set in the open spaces of west Texas. I found a couple of facts that made me go, "Wow."

Texarkana, a town near the Arkansas-Texas border, is 812 miles from El Paso on the far western border.

Texarkana is 791 miles from Chicago, Illinois.

El Paso is actually closer to Los Angeles than it is to Port Arthur on the eastern border.

Somehow, seeing all that in print makes it seem weird. Drive around Texas very much, and you'll be like me and wish for German autobahn speed limits. None.

July 5

Okay, it's the day after Independence Day, would everyone in my neighborhood stop shooting off the fracking fireworks?

Sling Words, feeling very cranky and unable to concentrate on writing a sentence due to the constant barrage of firecrackers.