This special edition of the Joe Zone comes courtesy of author Karen Malena (more on her later). Karen graciously asked me to be part of a “blog hop,” which helps readers hop from blog to blog, and discover new writers. Blog hops can have different formats, and in this one, you will find out a bit about me as I answer specific questions. Welcome, blog hoppers!
Joe’s in the hot seat – let’s get started!
Some Joe Bio Info:
Hello, my name is Joe Potts, and I am the proprietor of the Joe Zone.
I was born and raised in the previous millennium in Pittsburgh, primarily on Mt. Washington. I am a Carnegie Mellon University graduate, with a degree in mechanical engineering (I know, I’m surprised, too), and an “unofficial” minor in English. It gives me great joy to say I am semi-retired. I have lived in Westmoreland County, Pa., for most of my adult life. I’m now in Harrison City with my young wife of forty years, Susan.
I am an animal lover, and Susan and I have had cats most of our lives, but not at the moment (and, no, you can’t dump off a kitten on my doorstep). In fact, my first published piece was about the disintegrating social structure of our five cats.
I enjoy playing guitar at church for our Praise Team. I also like to read, including archaic media such as newspapers and magazines. I especially enjoy biographies. I am a fan of James Thurber, James Bond, Perry Mason, Dave Mason, Mason Williams, William Shatner, Sherlock Holmes, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Floyd the barber, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, and William Shakespeare’s contribution to American cinema, Forbidden Planet. Wyatt Earp was OK, too.
I began writing while in the fifth grade, when I composed a parody of Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” which featured the first appearance in history of a Corvette. I’ve dabbled a bit in science fiction, and occasionally write a serious (harrumph!) piece, but I mostly hang with the humor crowd these days.
And now, a mysterious disembodied voice will ask me four questions about my writing:
What are you working on?
I’m putting together a humor book. Destined to be a must-have (if for nothing else than killing spiders), this book will be a cheeky blend of completely new, just-fell-out-of-my-brain-but-I-wiped-them-off-first articles, and previously-published works with new seasonings blended in, sure to please, or at least to add additional bulk. Keep an eye out for my book when it’s at large, at the usual popular outlets and web locations, or possibly from derelicts skulking around your neighborhood, if the better markets pass on it.
I also have some short humor pieces baking, perking, or possibly simmering, for potential publication in select upscale local markets, such as a supermarket bulletin board or landfill near you. I’m always working on new ideas for my humor blog, Reflections in a Misty Mirror, found right here in the Joe Zone, over by the teleportation machine and trash cans.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I describe my style as gentle, family-friendly fare, with a dash of whack job. Much humor today is based on put-downs, or crudeness, or lewdness. I eschew such things, and instead serve up tasty offerings for you to chew on.
My goal is humor that I could read in my mother’s or daughter’s presence, without blushing, which I do quite readily. How about you? If the general state of humor today might be described as pit bull, my humor is Cheshire cat.
If a sprig of warmth or heart or pathos is occasionally thrown in, so much the better. You could read my stuff out loud regardless of who’s around, including the Pope and Queen Elizabeth (imagine the buzz that would start!). In fact, I encourage reading my works aloud to others. Invite your friends over for Joe Zone readings. Go ahead, shout my latest blog from the rooftops, for the whole neighborhood to hear! (Ladder not included. Not responsible for personal injury or other adverse consequences. Other restrictions may apply.)
Why do you write what you do?
I’m all about the fame. In all honesty, humor seems to be the easiest, so I figure, why not go with that? No, I wasn’t the class clown, I was the class Invisible Man, often mistaken for an empty desk. But I loved reading humor writers such as James Thurber, Norton Mockridge, Art Buchwald, and Don Maclean (the newspaper columnist, not the singer. Although the singer was OK, too. That “Vincent,” you know, wasn’t too shabby.). So, on some level I’m trying to emulate these early influences, who were genuinely funny without embarrassing anyone. Of course, I may embarrass myself, but that’s a different matter.
My subjects can be any trivial aspect of daily life, to world events such as the Olympics, to events that happens only in my mind, such as interviewing Julius Caesar or Bilbo Baggins, courtesy of the Joe-ma-Tron, my time-traveling, universe-hopping vehicle (with backup beepers and snack machines).
Usually my only object is to make people laugh. I’m not going to save the world or say anything profound or influence millions with my sage advice. But if I can alleviate someone’s tedium temporarily, or make them forget the wolves at the door – well, that’s something, isn’t it?
How does your writing process work?
Geez, this test is harder than I thought it would be.
I guess I have to admit that, often, my process doesn’t work very well. I write on, shall we say, a random schedule, in a random way. But most typically, my process goes like this:
– Some humdrum occurrence sounds like a good basis for a humor piece, because I can’t think of anything else.
– I make from one to ten notes on it, usually on my iPhone, depending on what tiptoes through the back door of my brain.
– I sit down to write it, regardless of how few notes I have. (Come to think of it, maybe I should try standing up when I write.)
– Some magic manna falls from humor heaven onto my computer, and a somewhat funny piece appears.
– I beat it two to five more times, at which point I’m so tired of it I never want to see it again, so I inflict it on others.
Pretty easy, huh? On rare occasion, a complete piece will appear as a whole in my brain, and I simply need to type it out. It’s more typical, though, to sit down with a blank mind (one of my best traits), and for things to occur to me as I type, as if somehow my subconscious is reading it from some unknown source.
Well, as they say, another day, another blog hop.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Zone, and glimpses of the behind the scenes workings. Be sure to come back, and tell your friends. Heck, tell your enemies, too – they need a laugh.
Please visit inspirational writer Karen Malena’s author site. Karen was kind enough to invite me to be a part of this blog event. And keep an eye out for her upcoming book on Piggy the cat!
And for an awesome young writer, please visit the site of Grace Yee, who also was part of this blog hop.