Whazzup? Thoughts about Words and a Link

At first I resisted text-ese and slang, but I started thinking about Shakespeare and how he created so many words we use daily, and I changed my mind. I think some of the new words floating about–LOL, Whazzup?, whodunit, chillaxing–are pretty cool.

How inventive was Shakespeare? One site lists 1,700 words that Shakespeare first used in his works. These include:

* accommodation
* amazement
* courtship
* countless
* frugal
* fitful
* lonely
* majestic
* suspicious

He also coined many phrases that we use today, including:

* dog will have its day
* eat out of house and home
* all that gilters
* break the ice
* kill with kindness
* it’s Greek to me

The English language grows every year. One reason is technology. We add new words to accommodate (thanks, Will!) new ideas. I was working with a computer tech the other day, a man young enough to be my son, and we discussed how computers of old took up entire floors. How they had to be shut down to cool off. How all the programming was on punch cards. Think of all the changes! It’s now commonplace to talk about:

* Mac
* PC
* Microsoft
* Windows (with a capital “W”)
* hard drive
* laptop
* Internet
* thumbdrive

And of course, words that once had meanings have changed, so that when we talk about “wireless” we’re not discussing a radio.

Another way that words are added is by adopting foreign words, such as jihad, shirah and anime. Since the world is a smaller place (theoretically), we have more contact with other cultures, so we’re adopting more words than ever.

Then, we have the zeitgeist words, the words that come out of our culture. These wouldn’t make sense to someone who lived in another time, but they are au courant and useful now.

* “tea party”
* mortgage backed securities
* Madoff
* September 11

And words from the world of science, commerce and medicine, such as:

* Viagra
* supernova
* blood diamonds
* botox

It’s interesting how the newest words seem to come with the most baggage. That makes sense when you realize that words spring from political situations or cultural icons/changes.

Some words are only regional. Yesterday I was working on Ink, Red, Dead, which is the tentative title for Book #5 in the Kiki Lowenstein series. I described one of the new characters as having grown up in the “boot heel.” Now, if you are from St. Louis, you would understand that this is the southwestern corner of the state of Missouri, and that anyone coming from the “boot heel” is probaby considered a hillbilly by the swanky folks in Ladue.

It’s weird how a word can be so loaded. Kiki would never think twice about someone coming from the boot heel, but other people in the book definitely look down upon this woman’s background.

Another word I’m using is “scrubby Dutch.” Okay, really that’s two words. It describes the houseproud German immigrants to St. Louis. “Dutch” is a mispronunciation of “deustch.” At first I felt pretty squeamish about this phrase, because I didn’t want to be offensive. But a lovely group of my fans met me at a Barnes and Noble in Fenton. They actually asked me to create a “scrubby Dutch” character.

So I did.

Which leads us to another word: EASY.

Yeah, that’s what I am. I’m sort of a pushover where my fans are involved.


Here’s a link to a new review of Photo, Snap, Shot. I was delighted that P.J. liked the book, because she’s a real expert on mysteries. I was hoping I could grow enough as an author to please her!

Lois Hirt Looks for the Smiles

Lois Hirt writes a column called “Dental Scraps.” She’s interested in dental references we include in our mystery books. After she read Photo, Snap, Shot, she donated it to the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore!

I was happy to meet Lois, and to share the fact that I’ve had GREAT experiences with my dentists. In fact, I think so much of my dentist in St. Louis that I even named a character after him: Dr. Mike Wallace.

Lois posted on DorothyL that she “loved the lines where Kiki remembers how she and each family member could take a day to worry.” She quotes from Photo, Snap, Shot were Kiki says, “That way we’ll worry more efficiently. If something happens to any of us on your day, it’s that person’s fault–and we can blame her.”

Actually, that’s an idea I came up with for my own family.

I am learning, however, that worrying is a spectator sport where nobody wins. Sigh.

Lois went on to write, “I can’t wait to see what happens next in Kiki’s life. I absolutely loved the last two paragraphs of the book. I could just picture it.”

Thanks so much, Lois. You put a great big SMILE on my face!;)

Aloha! A Review of PHOTO, SNAP, SHOT by Cindy Chow

Note: Cindy is the first reviewer to notice that Kiki, too, is prejudiced. By the end of Photo, Snap, Shot, she must question her own assumptions about other people

I admit that I completely lack the Martha Stewart gene. My one attempt at a DIY
design project resulted in six – that’s six – pieces of my furniture becoming
“‘marbelized” in paint. I come by it honestly, though, as ten years of my
childhood photographs reside in shoeboxes at my parents’ home, all in their
original Kodak envelopes.

So it takes a lot for me to continue to follow a “crafting” mystery series, as
there’s pretty much no chance that I will ever follow the crafting hints and
tips. However, Joanna Campbell Slan’s Kiki Lowenstein’s Scrap-n-Craft
mysteries is a series that does have the humor, realistic characters, and
complex plots that compel me to read each engaging new entry. The third in this
series, Photo, Snap, Shot(Midnight Ink) continues this excellence and never

Thanks to financial support from her late husband’s mother, Kiki Lowenstein’s
daughter Anya attends the elitist prep school Charles and Anne Lindbergh Academy
(CALA). It’s the last place one would expect violence to occur, so when Anya
discovers the body of her teacher there Kiki goes into full panic mode. The
school is eager to cover up any hint of impropriety or scandal, so it’s no huge
surprise that the woman’s African American boyfriend, the basketball coach, is
immediately implicated and arrested.

After being warned repeatedly from interfering in previous murders, Kiki’s more
than a little surprised when Detective Chad Detweiler actually asks for her help
in clearing the coach, who happened to have been a Little Brother Detweiller
mentored and believes is a convenient scapegoat.

This places Kiki in an emotionally precarious position, as Detweiler is the
married man she dreams about while two perfectly acceptable other men, one of
whom is the man she SHOULD want to love, stand at the sideline. As they say
though, the heart wants what the heart wants. However, any rash actions she may
contemplate are definitely curtailed by her watchful mother-in-law and friends.

As Kiki ventures in the rarefied world of the CALA elite, she discovers that the
headmaster’s wife and four CALA mothers all had past ties that unite them in
hiding past secrets. The murdered teacher herself also had a cloudy past
despite her recent path to redemption.

What surprised me so much in this novel was how the chip on Kiki’s shoulder that
resulted from her insecurities and feelings as an outsider prejudiced her
against all of the mother’s of CALA. Slowly, as Kiki questions and begins to
know more about each woman she understands that each woman is far more complex
than she realized in her initial snap judgments. The author fleshes out each
woman realistically and empathetically in a way that enables the reader to
understand the sacrifices they’ve made and how they’ve become who they are..

Rather tortuously, but realistically, Slan concludes Photo Snap Shot with a
cliffhanger that leaves some questions unanswered and definitely has the reader
wanting more. The next Kiki Lowenstein mystery can’t come soon enough. I love
Kiki, a character who has grown stronger in will and character as the series has
progressed while never losing her sense of humor.


Cindy Chow
Kaneohe Public Library

Queenie D's Review of Cut, Crop & Die

It’s not often you get reviewed by royalty. Queenie D gives her take on Cut, Crop & Die here http://www.book-club-queen.com/cut.html

Here’s an interview we did together: http://www.book-club-queen.com/cut.html

I must admit, I shared a lot more about my characters with Queenie than I have in the past. I’m curious to hear what my fans think about my future plans.

After we corresponded by email, I learned she and I are almost neighbors! So I’m planning to visit with her and her friends at the “In the Streets” celebration in Frederick MD on September 26. Stay tuned for details.

On Thursday at 8 a.m. EST, check out the forum at http://www.spottedcanary.com/ I’ll be announcing details of a new contest where the winner gets to name a character in Book #4 of the Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery series.

I’m heading out this Thursday for Scrapfest at Mall of America, Minneapolis. I’ll be signing up at the Archivers store on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, on Friday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’ll also be stopping in at Scrapbooks Too for the evening crop Saturday night, as well as dropping by Uncle Edgar’s to sign books. For details, visit http://www.booktour.com/ and put in my name.

Meanwhile, I’ll try to get my Fall 2009 newsletter out to all of you. Be sure to sign up at my website http://www.joannaslan.com/Have a great fall!