Monthly Archives: January 2009

Facebook r us

So a few months ago I stepped further into the technological age and added Facebook to my growing list of “internet stuff.” My, what an interesting thing it has proven to be.

I first became aware of Facebook through my cousin Caleb Morris, who happened to work as a computer graphics guru at The Piggott Times while I was editor there (see my picture above—it was taken in my office there). This was around early 2007. It’s also the same cousin who now mysteriously doesn’t respond to any of my emails.

But Caleb showed me around one day, trying to prove to me that it was much different from MySpace.com—a site he also had a page on. At the time I was relatively unimpressed and didn’t really have the time to do it anyway, so I just watched and nodded.

Fast forward to September of 2008. I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference up in Minnesota (Minnesoda to the locals) and came away with some info on new technology, social networking and how writers should carefully embrace the new technology as a way of promoting themselves and their work.

I stumbled across a list, I think emailed to me as part of an email loop afterward, that had the top 10 places writers should be online.

Facebook was at the top.

Wow.

Okay, so not really knowing what I was doing—and not getting any answers to my pleas for help from Caleb—I signed up. In weeks flat, I had 50 friends. We’re talking legitimate I know them, worked with them, something—real friends. Needless to say, I was impressed.

I discovered that I could post pictures on FB (that’s the abbreviated version of “Facebook”) and even share them with people not on FB. I liked that because I’d gotten several invites to various picture sites and each one of them I had to “join” before I could actually see the pictures. I’d never see them because I refused to join.

I can post a link to this blog on FB and in fact I’ve increased traffic here considerably just by doing so. As of this writing, I have 363 “friends” via FB. Granted, not all of them are “real” friends anymore, but 90-95% are. Some people want to add you to the list because you both know someone…I haven’t quite caught the hang of that part yet, but it seems to be not an unusual thing. Most of my friends are people I’ve worked with along the way; around 50 of them are former students from when I taught college courses. More recently, I’ve been running across classmates that I hadn’t talked to in nearly 25 years!

BJ got on FB too, and started getting the requests. So we had to dig out our school annuals—we’d hear a name or see a friend of a friend and recognize the name but not the face (25 years can change folks!)…Our high school annuals have been used more the last few weeks than the last 25 years combined.

Since it seems to be the hot thing right now in internet/technology/social networking…why not give it a shot. Heck…even my Mom is on Facebook now! J

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When the Cat’s Away

I’ve just finished reading When the Cat’s Away by Gilbert Morris. Even though Morris is well-known in Christian circles, it was the first work I’d read of his and I found myself enjoying the story—even though it was the third book of a trilogy (I didn’t know that when I got it!)

The reason I bought the book to begin with is that I had the opportunity to meet Gilbert in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last year at the Deep South Christian Writers Conference where he was the keynote speaker. I sat up front—as I try to always do—during his presentation on building characters, and then when he was done he popped down and sat at my table. After he signed a few autographs, we began to chat and I discovered he was, if not a fan, certainly knowledgeable about comic books. Well, we hit it off and had a nice conversation even when we should have been listening. J I doubt he’d remember my name, if that’s what you’re wondering…but he might remember “the comic book guy.”

So I came away both impressed by him and by his character building workshop and decided to put his name on my list of “pick up something from this writer.” I found When the Cat’s Away and got started on it last week.

Set in White Sands, Alabama (along the coast), WtCA is a mystery novel of sorts, but it takes a while before the mystery to really kick in. Actually, I didn’t realize it was a mystery until well into the book. Being a reader of Tony Hillerman, I expect the mystery to be presented much earlier and then the entire novel spent solving it. The characters and situations are all interesting, one of the big “events” of the story being a cat show in which one of the main characters is entering a cat for the first time; first time for both her and the cat.

And even though I liked the book, I found one aspect of it very annoying: interjected sporadically we get to hear the thoughts of two of the cats; one of which was the contestant, the other of which is a mean big black cat that claws just about everyone he can get near. Oddly enough, it is the cat which solves the mystery…and this was kind of a let down for me. Obviously, this has worked before as this is the third book, but I didn’t like the cat solving the mystery.

That said, the prose flows smoothly and is both easy to read and interesting enough to hold your interest. The characters are well rounded and not cookie-cutter. In fact, there is such an amalgamation of different characters; one of them is bound to interest you. So, while I might not put this book on the top 10 list, I have no reservations about suggesting it for your reading list.

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Filed under Books/reading

My life’s other career

Music has always been a pretty big part of my life. As a youngster, I wanted to be a rock star along the lines of KISS, Queen, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin…well, you get the idea. I’d had a little piano—just enough to know the notes but not enough to really play them—and that was it. My Jr. High buddies (Wynndel Stanton, Mike Harris, Kendall Jones) and I wanted to put together a band and so we decided which instruments we’d play and set out to learn them. I was to be the drummer.

So, as a seventh grader, I went to the school band director and told him that I wanted to learn to play drums. No, I didn’t have any drumming experience—that’s why I wanted to learn. But, he said no. I got mad and went home and spent the next year self-teaching myself. To this day I still can’t read drum music, but I can play it if I hear it—I play all by ear.

As happens in school, folks move, etc…our band would also see our other good friends serve stints (Grey Overstreet, Forrest Welker and Scott Cook—Scott had a really cool synthesizer!) with us and we actually learned out to play. We played for the school when I was in 9th grade, and then won the school talent contest when I was in 11th—we won by doing “Just What I Needed” by The Cars. I also provided lead vocals for that one! Ha

After high school, I bought a new drum set, the band split up and then I recorded with a small Christian artist out of Terry, Mississippi. I had the chance to play with a really great bass player—Tim Heape. It was fun. Regrettably, I can only now locate one of the songs we recorded…and that’s on cassette.

I didn’t play much after that until a guy I worked with at Camelot Music (Jeff Albritton) got the idea to put something together. We tried, but could never really get anything going—seems college was getting in the way of most folks we knew. We did, however, manage to get the opportunity to jam with Stevie Blaze, a guitarist who went on to record several albums with the band Lillian Axe.

The drums went into storage when I moved to Hattiesburg to attend USM…and there they stayed until around 2000. Oh sure, I pulled them out now and again to play them some, but I didn’t really play them much until I was recruited by a local Civil War Reenactment group to be a drummer. Now that was interesting! I’d always played sitting down before… trying to play while marching was like trying to hit a moving target.

I eventually caught on and became the Battalion drummer. It was fun.

When we joined FBC Loretto, TN., my now-good-friend and music minister there wanted to put together a praise band. I volunteered quickly and in no time flat was playing the drums as part of the regular service both morning and night. I know that some in the congregation had mixed feelings about the drums, but it was an incredible worship experience for me.

The drums, alas, are now back on a shelf, waiting for the next opportunity.

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