Tag Archives: from Rebecca

:-) #400! :-)

Greetings, readers. In three and a half wonderful years, we have reached entry #400. Wow! Let’s set off the fireworks. When I first began blogging, I thought I might do it for a year before running out of ideas. Not so. I am happy and proud.

In the year or two to come, I plan to write blog entries dealing a little bit more with current events and political stories. My hope is I can broaden my horizons and add a few topics to my repertoire. You probably won’t see me go into conspiracy theories, but you never know. I do have a theory about Malaysia 370.

I know I’ve had many top ten lists, posts about the weather, and entries about my day. That’s why I feel it’s time to expand. I’m still going to do the top ten lists, because they are very popular. That pleases me no end. Also, look for several more ‘From Rebecca’ in the next twelve months.

My next performance, in my apartment building, is tentatively scheduled for October or November. I’m quite certain that there will be pictures to be added to the gallery and possibly even short video clips. I still have pictures from my last show that need to be transferred to the computer before they can be added to the picture gallery.

In a couple of weeks, I’m planning to change the blog’s look. There are certain features that Rebecca and I would like the readers to have easier access to on the blog page; such as tabs, archives, and the calendar. We will have to choose a theme that is refreshing and new, but works for both of us. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

As far as my health goes, I’m feeling pretty good for a guy about to turn 50 in a few weeks time. I’m enjoying the summer, I’m trying to get a little more exercise, and of course my kitty cat Keekee keeps me on my toes. She is my new alarm clock, because she wants her breakfast well before I wake up.

Rebecca and I have some more editing to do on Four’s a Crowd. Any more big news about possible release dates for the novel will be shared with you when it’s time.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my readers for perusing the previous 399 entries. Here’s to 400 and beyond. Please leave me a comment with blog topic suggestions, if you wish.

Have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Top ten list of my favorite authors and series’

I spent all week trying to write a blog entry different than this in my head, but it just did not come together correctly. So I decided to take a page out of Joe’s book and do a top ten list. I wrote a list of some of my favorite authors and picked ten to share with you. All have a book series that I enjoy a lot, and most are mysteries. I don’t have them in any particular order, but I will stick with Joe’s format and give them numbers. Here we go.

#10. Agatha Christie. Main characters in two of her series’ are the spinster named Miss Jane Marple from a small town in England, and the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot living in London. Agatha Christie was the first adult mystery writer I remember reading.

#9. Sue Grafton. Her main character is private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Her books are titled alphabetically, starting in 1982 with “A” is for Alibi, and so far, as of last year, she has reached “W” is for Wasted. I am rereading her series this year and it is like catching up with an old friend. The first few books in the series are a bit dry, but they loosen up as the series goes on.

#8. Dick Francis. Most of his books were not in a series per se, but all of his main characters felt like the same bloke. Dick Francis was a former jockey, and all of his books dealt in the world of horse racing in some way or another. He did have two characters who returned in other books, Sid Halley and Kit Fielding, but most of his characters found themselves in unfamiliar territory and had to fight their way through trouble by their wits and guts. In the last years of his life, he had help from his son Felix in writing his books, and since Dick Francis’ death, Felix has published a few books in the same line as his dad.

#7. Charlaine Harris. She has several series’, most of which I have read. Her most famous series featured Sookie Stackhouse, and was made into a television show called True Blood. I also enjoyed her two series’ that featured the main characters housecleaner with a troubled past Lily Bard, and lightening strike survivor Harper Connelly with her half-brother Tolliver.

#6. Jacqueline Winspear. Her main character is Maisie Dobbs, a psychologist and investigator in London, who was a nurse during World War I and now helps people in the years afterward. The author wrote that she got a lot of inspiration from the experiences of her own family members, who lived through WWI and gave her information about that time. The series does deal a lot with the aftermath of war, and especially the circumstances in this war, and the struggles everyone had in order to recover. A few of the books in the middle of the series do get a bit dark in tone, as Maisie Dobbs drops down in depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. But she gets professional help, and the books gradually get lighter as she recovers. They are written very well, and give a view of a time period that we don’t usually dwell in.

#5. Carrie Vaughn. Her main character is Kitty Norville, who is a werewolf. She has a weekly radio show where she talks about the supernatural, and tries to satisfy her deep curiosity about the unknown life she entered when she became a supernatural creature herself.

#4. C.J. Box. His main character is Joe Pickett, a game warden in Wyoming. Joe is a straight shooter, an honest government agent, who has had to bend the rules on occasion to see justice done. This is also one of the series that both my father and I read, so I feel a special connection to it for that.

#3. Elizabeth Peters. Her main characters are Amelia Peabody and (Radcliff – he hates his first name) Emerson. They are Egyptologists from the 1880s to the 1930s, and solve mysteries as they try to complete their digging seasons in Egypt.

#2. J.D. Robb. Her main characters are Eve Dallas and Rourke. This series is set in the future, where Dallas is a New York City cop and Rourke is a very successful business man. Some of the material can be tough to read as some of it is about sick violent minds, but it is handled with respect and Dallas always gets the bad guy at the end. You may also know this author’s romance novels under the name Nora Roberts.

#1. Janet Evanovich. Her main character is Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter for her cousin in New Jersey. She is not very good at it, especially at first, but she has gotten slowly better at it as the series continues. The first book in the series was made into the movie One for the Money, which got the spirit of the whole series down right, though the book is a bit darker than the others in the series. Overall the series has a light, slap-stick comedy tone.

I love reading and I love books, so this is a small list of authors that bring me joy and that I would recommend. I hope you also have a list of artists that you enjoy. Have a good day.

From Rebecca: New face around here

I am doing the blog entry today because Joe is working with my husband Darren on some ideas for Joe’s work. It is Darren’s first day. Joe and I are used to each other and work very well together, but we have also gotten in a rut. We need someone to bring in new energy and ideas to shake up our mind-set and habits a little bit. Darren has agreed to a trial period of working with Joe to see how much he can advance his writing career. He will work with Joe one day every week or two. Darren is an idea guy and already has a couple of ideas for us to explore. I’m excited to see where we end up in a few months.

There are a couple of challenges to this arrangement. The biggest one is that Joe doesn’t have a suitable seat for Darren in the apartment/office that we usually work in, so they will have to work in public. Right now we are all three working in the community room of Joe’s apartment building, so there is background noise and people wondering in and out. In the future, they might need to work in a noisy restaurant, hopefully with a good internet connection to help them do research, that may be very distracting.

Another question about them working together is, will their styles clash or mesh? From the conversation they are having right now about ideas for an airplane-crash-with-ghosts story, they seem to work together well. They are really cooking today. If they keep this up, and he can follow up on the inspiration, Joe will have a great piece of writing next year.

Actually, this isn’t the first time that Joe and Darren have worked together, though it is the first time they have worked on Joe’s writing. Joe has been doing Dungeons and Dragons (mostly 4th edition) with Darren and me for over two years now. Darren is the Dungeon Master and Joe and I are the players in the game. For four months this last year I was the DM while Joe and Darren were the players going through the adventure. We will start another adventure with Darren as DM next month. So they know each other and have been partners, but they are having a conversation now that they never had before, about writing styles and genres.

We will keep you updated about how it works. Welcome to the team, Darren!

Joe will do another blog entry either tomorrow or Friday. As he would say, take care and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Twitter, so far

I wrote last May that Joe was starting to use Twitter. We thought that it would help him find a bigger audience for his books and this blog, and could be useful for research. Well, not yet. It isn’t that easy to just sign up and find a big audience for yourself, though I know a lot of people put in the time and energy to connect on the social media sites. Joe and I don’t; we just don’t have the set-up to be on for several times a day, every day. So we are a little bit limited in the networking department. As for research, that is slow going too. Joe tried a few times to ask questions and no one replied with a specific answer. He is also a little disappointed that he sent Tweets to a few people and most did not respond at all. I think he likes being connected to the people he has followed, but he has not gotten much back for his effort. I thought that Twitter would help Joe a lot, but so far it has not.

I do not expect the same things from my personal Twitter experience, and I am getting a lot out of this service. I love using Twitter. I follow 56 accounts, with a few being people I know, like Joe, and most being creative people who do works that I enjoy, like Star Trek stars, book writers, and webcomic artists. I feel like I am at a party where I get to walk around and listen to different groups talking. Sometimes I put a reply on someone’s Tweet, which usually does not get a response, but mostly I lurk. I put up my own Tweet when I am on the computer, about four times a week. I have six followers, three of them people I don’t know who I assume follow me so I will follow them. I am not witty or funny in my Tweets, but I try to make them true to who I am and what I am doing.

My most exciting interaction with Twitter was the first week in October, when I wrote the blog post here about Schlow Centre Region Library and then Tweeted a link to it on my account. Schlow library saw that Tweet, and promoted the blog post on their Twitter feed! And Tweeted me a thank you for the blog post. And then the views on Joe’s blog hit 36 on October 3rd, which is a big number for one day. Wow, that felt powerful. A real taste of what I was hoping Twitter could do for Joe, if we could figure out how to do it on purpose.

So we are still beginning to explore Twitter, and I am having a lot of fun with it. Maybe Joe will too at some point. Twitter does not fit his style though. He fits Facebook much better. He likes to socialize with people he knows and likes already, and to write more than can fit into 140 spaces. And when someone comments on something he wrote, he can easily see it; with Twitter he has to look in a certain area and even then it might not be obvious.

Joe should be writing another blog next week. Take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: A novel in pictures

I am reading a fascinating book, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston. As it says on the cover, it is “a novel in pictures” and has “full-color vintage memorabilia on every page.” I am most of the way through reading it.

The novel is about a woman’s life from 1920 to 1928. She wants a career in writing (although a husband might be nice along the way too) and she narrates the story about her life in pursuit of her goals. The style of the book is what I love most. It is set up as a scrapbook that the narrator Frankie Pratt, ( she hates Frances), put together with pictures, items, and other memorabilia of what she is telling us. The text is written in short sections on her Corona typewriter, which she then pasted on the pages with the relevant items.

This published book doesn’t actually have items pasted into it of course, since that would have been bulky and expensive to do; each page is a photograph of the assembled items and text. It still feels like a scrapbook, even though we cannot feel the textures of the paper and cloth or open the cards depicted.

All the items are from the 1920s and I feel like I am browsing through an old catalogue. On one of the pages about a picnic is a picture of a wrapper for a Hershey’s almond chocolate bar. I had no idea that Hershey’s put almonds in their chocolate bars that early in time. I am also amused by the price of five cents on the candy wrapper. On another page, page 37, is a list of “Vassar College Required Clothing for Freshman Students 1920” which includes, “5 skirts (no hemline above 8 inches from floor),” “Exercise tunic and bloomers,” and Corsets (no “Parisian chemises” or Teddies”)”. Memorabilia on this page are pictures of clothing items cut out of the Sears Catalog, including the prices, (I see that an all wool canton crepe skirt cost $6.98) with a text balloon stating, “I order my Vassar wardrobe from the Sears Catalog.”

The author information on the back flap mentions that Caroline Preston has collected scrapbooks from childhood and held a job as an archivist at the Peabody/Essex museum and at Harvard University. She put in the acknowledgements that she was inspired by the scrapbooks of her mother and the memorabilia of her Godmother. She also has a section on her webpage explaining that she collected the materials herself and describes how she put the book together.

I highly recommend this book by Caroline Preston, published in 2011 by HarperCollins, titled The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt. It makes me curious about non-fictional scrapbooks.

From Rebecca: Working with Twitter

Joe and I spent some time today working on new material for the blog book; after that we started working with this blog’s links to social programs. Joe noticed that the last blog entry he did, a short note on why there were almost no blog entries these last two weeks, did not show up on his Facebook page. We went into the blog settings and re-linked it to his Facebook page. If this entry shows up there, we will know it worked. Then we got bold.

Recently, Joe has been dabbling with Twitter. We have been researching it, and it looks good. Twitter can be used for personal fun and also can be a business resource. Maybe, possibly, we can sell a few books from connections on this source. I am excited about the possibility of finding research materials for future projects through Twitter links.

Today, we looked up how to connect Joe’s Twitter feed to this blog. It took a few tries and the help section of WordPress, but we did it. If you scroll down the page, you should see a box on the right hand side with Joe’s latest Tweets and a link to his Twitter account. Good for us!

Please keep in mind, though, that Joe is just getting started with Twitter, and the box might not be full or have new entries in it for a while. He is putting one toe in the pool to check the water out, before he dives in.

If you see any problems with the feed, or anything else on the blog, feel free to let us know.