Tag Archives: J&C Wordsmiths

You Say “Oscar”, We Say “No, Sir”… For now…


It’s a beautiful morning in the South Carolina Lowcountry! The coffee is hot and the pets are already sleeping on the couch, or bed, or across the laptop keyboard…
So we saw the reminders on TV today that tonight is the Oscars! Yay! All the stars are going to be in their best tuxedos, custom evening gowns, and slipping in inane comments about how a Republican president will destroy the economy (as if Democrats had nothing to do with our $19 trillion dollar national debt, thank you President Obama for doubling our national debt in just seven years) or how women are not paid the same as men in Hollywood or other such crap. (Hey, we’d love to make Jennifer Lawrence’ salary just once!)
Frankly, the Oscars stopped being entertaining after Johnny Carson stopped hosting, and we stopped watching when stars started getting political and partisan in their acceptance speeches. Frankly, of the eight movies nominated for best picture we’ve seen NONE of them, and only plan to watch one on BluRay (The Martian) for certain and possibly a second (Mad Max: Road Fury) if we’re in need for a lot of cinematic destruction, viewing neither of which will be influenced by an Oscar win.
No, friends, we will spend Oscar Sunday the same as we do any Sunday: drinking coffee, watching the news and then recorded TV shows on the DVR, doing some writing and editing, going to church (Cyndi in the morning, Jack in the evening), and hoping our aching joints will cooperate today (thank you, higher barometric pressure!). Of course, if one of our books gets made into a movie and then gets an Oscar nod then we’ll start watching again…


Leonard Nimoy: My Tribute

One year ago today the world lost a great scifi icon: Leonard Nimoy. I got to meet him once at a convention back in 2004 and the memories of that day remain as fresh as if they were yesterday.

He was introduced to a standing-room-only crowd of fans, which went to its feet when he came on stage to give him a standing ovation, which lasted quite a while! It was simply a pleasure to listen to him as he talked about his new passion at the time, which was his photography and publishing a new book of black-and-white pictures. He spoke so much like Spock: calm, assuring, and inviting. It became the recurring joke of his presentation during question-and-answer when fan after fan asked him when he would appear as Spock again, and he repeated the same answer calmly and politely, “I’m retired.” It became a running joke as the crowd laughed every time it was asked, and I remember just shaking my head and thinking, “That’s why some people think Trekkers are idiots!” We’re really not, I promise! The whole time, however, he truly sounded like he was the family’s favorite uncle with endless stories to tell new family members…

When came the autograph line, I was on the front row with my wife, and our tickets only allowed one autograph per person, and I had two items I really wanted signed. When it was my turn I presented a one-of-a-kind picture: I was superimposed, in appropriate uniform, into a Wrath Of Khan picture of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and he signed his autograph over Spock. (I digress for only a moment to state that a year earlier William Shatner signed over Kirk’s image!) My wife presented my Hallmark Spock Christmas Ornament, and he signed the back of Spock’s chair. He commented over both items, “Quite unique and logical,” with that famous raised-eyebrow expression.

I bought a studio photo opportunity of us with him. When it was our turn he waved us to join him, shook both our hands warmly, wrapped his arms around both of us like we were family, and squeezed us in close just like that favorite uncle would! When we were finished he shook our hands again and wished us well…

Over the last quarter century I have been amassing the Hallmark Star Trek Ornaments and have a Christmas tree dedicated to just those ornaments, many of which have been signed by Star Trek stars. In tribute to Mr. Nimoy, this past Christmas I put his autographed Spock ornament in a bell jar beside that tree.

Star Trek fans, even scifi fans in general, show their respect to all these shows by putting on and attending these conventions. The stars, in turn, return that respect with their wonderfully engaging appearances at these conventions. And when he said his good-bye at the conclusion of his presentation, he raised his right hand in the Vulcan salute and wished everyone to “Live Long and Prosper”.

He did.

I’m doing my best to follow his example…



“Live Long and Prosper”


“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one…”

This is just one of several memorable lines attributed to Commander Spock, First Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, in the now-immortal series “Star Trek” (before you start berating me about accuracy, he was the captain in rank and position on the Enterprise when he first uttered those words). Yes, of course, the exact words were actually written by screenwriters or even added by the producer of “Star Trek 2- The Wrath of Khan”, but it was the performance of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who brought Spock to life, who made the words iconic even thirty-plus years after the movie played in theatres.

Mr. Nimoy left us last Friday, February 28, to boldly pass into the Final Frontier that awaits us all. I, and my wife, had opportunity to see him at a convention in 2004 as he spoke before a standing-room-only gathering of Star Trek fans. He happily answered questions from my fellow Trekkies about anything, but I was most amused by the few fans who give us genuine ones a bad name; they kept asking him about his next role and, worse, the next time we would be Spock onscreen again. He politely answered that question each time, “I’m retired.” His days (then) were occupied with his photography hobby. It became laughable each time he was repeatedly asked that question, and he took it in stride with never a moment of frustration.

We signed up for a professional photo with him, and we waited our turn at the scheduled time with a combination of patience (like Spock) and excitement (like true geeks). By now we had already been to a few Star Trek conventions and had already gotten into the groove of what to do at these events, and how the stars acted and reacted with their fans. Many stars were content to just be in the picture, just like Santa Claus is part of the background for children’s Christmas pictures; others were more personable… but when it was our turn Mr. Nimoy first shook our hands warmly, thanked us for coming to see him, and took us in his arms like we were family and held us tightly close for the picture. It was the most memorable picture we ever took at a convention, although my picture with Julie Caitlin Brown of Babylon 5 was definitely and unquestionably second high (and that is another story for another day).

Back to the legend that was Leonard Nimoy, and his immortal portrayal of the hybrid alien Spock. I watched the original series in first-run, and then never missed it after school when it aired in syndication. In high school and college I watched it whenever possible on TV. Then when home video recording came into being I recorded Star Trek, and then started buying the video tapes of Star Trek, and finally the DVDs and today Blu-ray. It was Spock’s continual study of a situation and logically seeing through the wrong answers before arriving at the correct one that became my core motivation in life, although I had an occasionally bad recurring occurrence of making mistakes in my own life before finding the correct answers at some point and to some degree. But at his character’s core there was a single truth that continues to bear fruit today, and will long into the future after we are all long-gone: logic will always win out.

Sadly, Mr. Nimoy, along with DeForest Kelley (“Bones”) and James Doohan (“Scotty”), didn’t make it to the 50th anniversary of the first airing of the first episode of Star Trek on TV (September 8, 1966), although he did make it to the 50th anniversary of the filming of the first pilot, “The Cage” (Jeffrey Hunter played Captain Christopher Pike), which was later broken up to be part of the two-part Star Trek episode “The Menagerie”. NBC rejected this episode in 1965 as being “too cerebral” and ordered an unprecedented second pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before” starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk. The character of Spock was the only one to survive the first pilot to the second… and a legend was born.

This weekend I have enjoyed watching some other programs Leonard Nimoy starred in before and after Star Trek. He was a terrific actor in all his various roles; I remember following him as he starred in Mission: Impossible for a couple seasons simply because he was in Star Trek.

But he was best-known as Spock, and he happily embraced his legacy. His demeanor at conventions was much like that of Spock: calm and serene and, yes, logical.

In the autograph line I took two items: a picture of me added into a promo photo of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy from Star Trek: The Experience, and I had already gotten William Shatner to sign it the year before; the second was the 1998 Hallmark Spock Christmas ornament. I handed that ornament to him, and he commented, “It was very logical that someone would bring one of these,” then happily signed the back of the ornament. It will be a little sad to hang that ornament on the tree this Christmas season.

It was very logical to be sad this weekend, but also this weekend was to remember the warmness and passion that was the incredible and unforgettable Leonard Nimoy. Live Long and Prosper… and Peace and Long Life…


Jack Gannon & Cyndi Williams-Barnier



Southern Comfort In The Shade Of The Old Oak Tree

Happenstance. Yep, the best word to describe our book signings. It started with a long-lost dream of writing books together, which in true southern fashion only took 33 years to actually happen—imagine if we really took our time! Regardless, thanks to the current era of self-publishing we created a book within one year in our new career. Pay attention, friends, this is where Happenstance took over our lives and careers…

Happenstance is the short way of saying “being in the right place at the right time”, and works every time if one pays attention. At our debut book signing we met the owner of Short Story America, Tim Johnston, who invited us to do another book signing at his first annual Short Story America Festival a month later, right here in Beaufort! We happily said yes!

Attending the evening reception on the first day of the Festival, we were introduced to the president of the annual Beaufort International Film Festival, Ron Tucker. He’d gotten word about us, and was anxious to meet us. At that reception, out of the blue, he invited us to write a screenplay of our debut novel, “Murder In Twos and Threes”, to submit for competition in the next film festival. Twenty-nine days to get it done, yikes! We’d never written a screenplay… but, we studied, wrote it and got it in on time! No, we didn’t win…

As self-published authors, we had to sell ourselves to get book signings. One such venue was at a local vineyard, September Oaks. We did one signing alone, then were asked if we knew of other authors who could join in—after some emails and phone calls our “Novel” Wine Tasting and Literary Festival was born! Happenstance yet again—the owner was so pleased with the quickly-assembled event that he invited us back for a second year!

The local manager of the S.C. Tourism Commission happened to notice us from all the social networking about our festival, and invited us to be part of Lowcountry Tourism Week. She asked if we knew other local authors to take part, which we did, thanks to our own Festival. With the success of Tourism Week’s author days, during which we served as a knowledgeable welcoming committee to visitors, we were invited to set up every week (any time we wanted) on the grounds to welcome visitors, and sell our books… costing us nothing except time and gas. They let us store our tent/tables/chairs in their employee break room—and even better, Tourism Week allowed us to meet Virginia Lori Jennings, PDMI author… that’s how we found our new home with PDMI!

So, in conclusion of our story, it was by Happenstance we met an anthology publisher at our book debut—and today have a regular free venue to sell our books, plus our fellow PDMI authors’ works, to a fresh round of interstate travelers each day. We learned the history of the grounds, worked up a welcome speech to greet visitors, and make sales to people from across the country and even a few from the other side of the Atlantic, and place a business card in the hands of hundreds of visitors!

Ah, to sell books in the comfort of the shade from centuries-old live oaks on the grounds a 19th-century plantation… all we need now are some mint juleps!

Just remember: wherever you are, you may meet someone important, although you may not know it at the time… because meeting the right person at the right time just might happen to move you on to bigger and better in short order.

Happenstance… works every time…



Why Won’t Walter Edgar Call Us Back?

We’ve tried; we really have… so why won’t Walter call us back? As Maude always said, “God will get you for this, Walter,” if you don’t call us…

We listen to you all the time (well, at least for the two years we’ve been published authors), and when we heard you interview new authors we submitted ourselves to be interviewed. Jack had brown hair, and Cyndi had a short bob-cut… now his hair is almost snow white and Cyndi’s pulling hers out. We’re being very patient, Walter, but come on already!

The more we listened, the more we learned it’s not just the newbies who get on his show. Anyone heard of Pat Conroy? He’s not a newbie… nor is Steven Naifeh, or Benjamin Dunlap or Jonathan Green. Now if we told you who they all were you wouldn’t go to Google to look them up, and Google would go out of business, so go Google them and keep a Google tech employed, okay?

Well, we know that Walter is a big history buff, and even though our first works are not about history (nor do we write in the buff, just to make that clear!) and we’re not yet renowned (or even reverbed for that matter!) we do want the chance to talk with you and tell you and your listeners all about us! Not that we really like to talk about ourselves, but we need to promote ourselves on a $0 budget (right now we are corporals in our own army, and we hope to promote ourselves to sergeants sometime soon, with your help). We do live in historic Beaufort By The Sea Twenty-Three Miles From Yemassee, but we don’t write about history. Should that make any difference? If you talk with us we will make history! And hopefully some more book sales!

After all, we have stories about good versus evil. What’s a better topic than that? Our villains kill people, our heroes catch the villains. The story is how the heroes catch the villains! And we have developed a villain who will constantly befuddle our heroes book after book. Where would Batman be without The Joker? Or Bugs Bunny without Elmer Fudd? Or even George Burns without Gracie Allen? We don’t spend our entire stories about the heroes being heroes, or the villains being villainous the entire time… we explore their lives before they become the heroes and villains in combat! Sounds much like a marriage, doesn’t it?

We could do you proud, Walter. Hey Aaron Patterson, while we haven’t written anything about President Obama specifically (although we allude to a president who uses a teleprompter to talk) to get us on YouTube, we are having a meeting with Bigfoot in the fourth book in our series… or are we? We’re not really telling, so maybe we shouldn’t have said anything about that. But then, we are trying to tease our upcoming stories…

Well, if you don’t want us, perhaps Michael Dresser will have us. His website does after all say “Click here to be a guest on our show”. We’ve been clicking, we’re ready to be guesting!!!

We seem to be making a name for ourselves without Walter and Michael tho (or would that be “names for ourselves”, hard to keep our tenses correct as we are two authors but one author team… wow) but it would be nice to be picked up by one of the big name hosts to give us a few minutes of fame (doesn’t even have to be 15 minutes, just enough time to plug our book titles, please!). It’s been very challenging as self-published authors to get word out about us…

Oh, wait, that’s right… we have a publisher now! Hey, Walter, Michael, Aaron! We got a publisher without you! Wanna have us on now so we can share our secret with all your listeners and viewers?

What’s that? Okay fine, we’ll leave a message. Meantime, we gotta go set up for our weekly book signings at Frampton Plantation, South Carolina I-95 Exit 33. We did it without ya, guys! But we’ll still talk with you any time! Please call us… and leave a message…

Jack and Cyndi
(Or if there will be a harassment lawsuit our names are Barack and Michelle)



Book Signings and Bikinis


Ah, springtime, how we awaited thee and revel at your arrival… although, we could do without all the bloody pollen! Fortunately, the April showers have been plentiful and the powered green has given way to the grassy green… and weedy green… and tree leafy green… we know, it’s also to bring May flowers, but it ain’t May yet!
With spring we also welcome our first book signing events of 2014! We just participated in the first of the year, the new Folly Beach Wine and Sign founded by friend and fellow author Diann Shaddox. What a beautiful day and way to start the book-signing season! There were copious blue skies, tourists, visitors, and diners on the famous Folly Beach Pier, as well as a myriad of literary and artistic talent for a day on the Pier outside Locklear’s Beach Bar and Grill. While there was the occasional musing of where the girls kept their wallets in their tiny bikinis, we didn’t care because we’ll take money wet or dry, and credit cards are always accepted!
We’ll be a little drier for our next appearance, at least dry from the ocean, at this Saturday’s Annual Palmetto Electric Meeting / Festival at 4063 Grays Highway, Ridgeland, SC, from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday’s forecast is for sunny at 76 after a three days of rain, so the grass may be damp but otherwise the spirits and customers’ spirits should be soaring! We hope for more pockets with wads of cash (since, being inland, we won’t be dealing with bikini-clad folks with no pockets… then again, with that forecast temp, we just might!) to buy not only our books but the works of all the local vendors… but especially our books, yes.
Most of all we love to meet new people. Even if they don’t buy our books, they will at least leave knowing they had a good conversation and visit with two local authors who are having as much fun as they are.
And we’re not even wearing bikinis…!



(Take The Test & See How You Rank!)

In the world of writing, one must research every minute detail to assure accuracy, no matter the subject. “Write what you know,” they say. Does that mean J&C Wordsmiths are sociopaths / psychopaths / serial murderers? Yikes! Heavens no! However, we do a tremendous amount of research for our novels, since our protagonists are chasing after very complicated serial killers. The subject has been an interest for us for many years (oh, about 35 or 45 years, but who’s counting?) and we’ve never lost interest. The more psychological, suspenseful, and thrilling the book, the better. Throw in a tremendous amount of cat and mouse chases, twists and turns, some disturbing and often volatile circumstances, and our TASK FORCE series may be someone’s genre of interest. In our opinion, a “good book” is one that tells a rivetting, compelling story… or, in our case, many stories that all cleanly lead to the finale. In all our novels (published and those still in the writing phase) we try to get the reader inside the head of those murderers, to put the reader in the killer’s shoes from the killer’s childhood on up. We want the reader to feel compassion for what our villains go through, what turns them into the killers they eventually become. Our goal is to get the reader to LOVE to HATE them, HATE to LOVE them, feel sorry for them and their psyches are molded into evil personalities, and fear the monsters they become. Attention to detail is one of the most critical components to create a book that’s worth reading. We want the readers to get into the moment, see it, feel it, touch it, taste it, smell it, and become a part of the world that they’re reading. We spend a lot of intensive time on the last paragraph of each chapter, even the last sentence, to make it so intriguing that putting down the book for the night is not an option! We want our readers so entrenched in the story that they can’t wait to get to the next page, the next chapter, even the next book in the series! As writers, we not only wish to intrigue our readers with a solid entertaining suspense story, we also want to educate. As part of our serial-killer-personality research, we found an interesting article written by Jim Edwards of the Science Section of the Business Insider, dealing specifically with sociopaths (not psychopaths, they’re two different things, but kind of similar). He put together a short question/answer transcription that may help us understand how to spot some tendencies of a sociopath. We use this test on our own villains! Beware: it could be your boss, your spouse, your child, the next-door neighbor, the mail carrier, your best friend… even yourself! Many times, we’d never suspect these people! Here’s the sociopath test that Mr. Edwards put together. Read the questions – don’t cheat – the answers are at the bottom – see how much you really know… QUESTIONS 1          Are you superficially charming and intelligent? 2          Do you have delusions or other signs of irrational thinking? 3          Are you overly nervous, or do you have other neuroses? 4          Are you reliable? 5          Do you tell lies or say insincere things? 6          Do you feel remorse or shame? 7          Is your behavior anti-social for no good reason? 8          Do you have poor judgment, and fail to learn from experience? 9          Are you pathologically egocentric, and incapable of love? 10        Do you generally lack the ability to react emotionally? 11        Do you lack insight? 12        Are you responsive to others socially? 13        Are you a crazy party fiend? 14        Do you make false suicide threats? 15        Is your sex life impersonal, trivial, or poorly integrated? 16        Have you failed to follow a life plan? ANSWERS 1          For sociopaths, the answer to this question is yes. 2          For sociopaths, the answer is no. They’re super-rational, coldly so. 3          Sociopaths are rarely nervous or anxious. They aren’t scared of risk. 4          Sociopaths are unreliable. 5          Sociopaths are comfortable not telling the truth when it suits them. 6          Sociopaths rarely feel guilt. 7          Sociopaths may have “inadequately motivated antisocial behavior.” 8          Sociopaths think they’re smarter than everyone else, but they take risks the rest of us would not and don’t learn from punishment. 9          Sociopaths are. 10        Sociopaths don’t experience emotions the way the rest of us do. 11        Sociopaths aren’t self-reflective or meditative. 12        Interestingly, sociopaths often have to fake their reactions and responses to the rest of us in order to get through their days without being “spotted.” 13        Sociopaths engage in “fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without.” Sociopaths often crave (meaningless) sex more than the rest of us. 14        Yep, sociopaths are drama queens. 15        Sociopaths lack the ability to love. 16        Sociopaths have difficulty holding down jobs. (It requires long-term obligations to others.) Read more on sociopathic behavior at: http://www.businessinsider.com/questions-that-diagnose-whether-youre-a-sociopath-2013-7?op=1#ixzz2ZeH3mqY0 Of course, those who exhibit one or more of these, or similar, traits are not necessarily sociopaths! OH! BE LOOKING FOR OUR LATEST TASK FORCE NOVEL, COMING SOON: “THE LATRODECTUS MURDERS”. It’s going to be a creepy/crawly experience! Make sure you keep the lights on! Like our blog? Leave us a note! Start a discussion! Give us some “likes” on our sites! Click “Share” on your Facebook page! Our novels/short stories can be found on Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores nationwide, and worldwide. If you happen to read one, please rate us on Amazon—it would be a great favor! We’re pleased to report we’re STILL holding that 5-star average on Amazon!

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