Professional SmartAly, Making Things Interesting Since The 1900’s

Does this look like the face of a baby who would lie to you?
Does this look like the face of a baby who would lie to you?

Ask my dad what kind of baby I was. He’ll tell you, “Quiet and content. Never cried too much, never made a fuss.” And then he will spend two hours regaling you with stories of the little escape artist I really was and the smartydiaper little pranks I used to pull and jokes I used to play, laughing maniacally when they worked out. I beat my older brother at cards every time. I could outshoot him with a bb gun. Sure, I never won a physical fight, but I made up for it by stealing from his secret stash of bubble gum.

There used to be tons of pictures of me happily sticking my tongue out at the camera whenever someone took my picture. As most of them showcased my stunning mullet (which my mom swore up and down really did mean I had long hair), I will not post them here. I have some dignity to preserve, you understand.

InnocenceNowadays, most of my jokes and pranks are reserved for my books. That’s probably because my hand-eye coordination is better than my ear-mouth verbal connection. I type better than I talk. One liners, you say? I can write you a book of them. But coming up with the perfect come-back to a joke or scathing retort? Usually happens about two months later. Which sucks, because it’s not like I can call the person up and say, “Hey, remember last week, when you said so-and-so?…”

But lightning does strike. Every once in a while I will say something and people will start laughing around me. More often than not, this comes as a surprise to me. Which, apparently, makes the joke even funnier. But really, when your boss starts banging on the desk and all but rolling on the floor, it tends to be a little hard to believe (I still think he was faking it that time).

So what makes something funny? They say if you have to think about it, a joke isn’t funny. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. From the inflection of the joker’s voice, to the faces they make while saying the punchline, timing on the joker’s part and the listener’s, an ability to connect with the audience by gauging their experiences and interests, and on the audience’s part the ability to draw parallels with said experiences and interests, understanding the words and the subtle underlying humor they carry, and then putting all of that together… well, when you start thinking about it that way you realize that to say a funny joke and also to laugh at one involves a lot more brain power than we care to think about.

Is a werewolf blowing bubbles funny?
Is a werewolf blowing bubbles funny? Art courtesy of Blue Coyote.

Now take away half of those processes. Imagine saying a joke with no idea who or where your audience is, how fast or slow they are “listening” to you, what their backgrounds and experiences are, or what their sense of humor is like. That’s sort of what writing is like. Authors talk to readers through a black hole of a divide, hoping that our words carry the meaning we intend, and that said meaning will make it through and touch our readers the way we intend them to be touched.

It’s kind of scary at first, but then you realize that the greatest thing about it is that you get to throw rocks into a dark room, and if you did it right, those rocks will bounce off the far wall and come back to you polished into gold. Okay, bad metaphor, but you get the point. It’s fun. Or it should be, otherwise what’s the point?

So here’s something you might or might not have missed. My website hasn’t gone through any big major changes in a while. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this layout and making it work for what I need. (That’s not to say I won’t totally redo it one day out of the blue because I want to try out something new, though. That’s half the fun!) Over the last couple of years I have done a lot of organizing and de-cluttering, which has freed up some space for me to play with. I have created a new album on my Facebook page with pictures of my main characters and little excerpt introductions for them (excerpts that are not necessarily posted on this site).

You also may or may not have noticed some of the book pages here now have strange little links in the left column. They might say The Story Behind The Story or they might say something else. These link to other places with more information/stories/etc. about those particular books. I just added one on the Blood Trails page I had been looking for for months. You’ll have to click over to see what it is.

My goal here is not to make you go searching for Easter Eggs, but rather to surprise you with something fun, funny, personal and/or interesting when you do happen to find one. And as with anything and everything else an artist, writer, or performer puts in front of you, it will be up to you to decide whether it’s worth while. If nothing else, it’s something to do when you are bored out of your mind at work. 😉 Just don’t get caught.

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