Wendy Lyn Watson teaches constitutional law to college students by day and writes deliciously funny cozy mysteries, with a dollop of romance, by night. I Scream, You Scream: A Mystery a la Mode–the first of a series about the owner of an ice cream parlor in a small Texas town who solves murders in between scooping sundaes–was an October, 2009 release; the second book in the series, Scoop to Kill, will follow in July of 2010. While she does not commit–or solve–murders in real life, her love of ice cream is 100% true. She’s also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV. You can find her on the web at www.wendylynwatson.com.
When the Debs picked the topic of “favorite online resources,” I bet they were thinking of writing resources. And, sure, I have some of those. I love to use the random word and random sentence generators from watchout4snakes to develop prompts for writing exercises. And when I’m wracking my brain for a good character name, baby name wizard is my favorite, because it not only helps you locate names but names that are appropriate for the age of the character (which boy names were popular in 1953, when the English department chair of my fictional college was born?).
But if we’re being perfectly honest, my favorite on-line resources have almost nothing to do with my writing. They have to do with my own personal brand of crazy.
Hello, my name is Wendy, and I’m a hypochondriac.
My husband says it’s charming (one of the many, many reasons I love him), but I know different. It’s annoying. Can I tell you how nuts I made my coworkers when the anthrax scare was in full swing? Particularly since I worked for the federal court system at the time. Every sniffle, every tickle in my throat, every incipient headache, and my personal threat level hit red. And don’t get me started on being a teacher during these days of H1N1. I have seriously considered buying surgical masks and latex gloves to wear on campus. If I can find them in pink, I may yet.
It should come as no surprise, then, that my favorite on-line resources are webmd and mayoclinic. Two words: symptom checkers. I have a mysterious pain in my big toe? What could it be? How could I find out? Or that weird bump on my earlobe? Hmmmm.
I console myself with the knowledge that my WebMD consultations save me a small fortune in doctor visits (and keep my doctor from screening my calls). Still, I know it’s unhealthy to spend so much time obsessing about the daily aches and pains that plague us all, especially as we “mature.” And, bottom line, that weird bump on my earlobe has been there for at least twenty years; if it hasn’t killed me yet, I can probably safely ignore it.
But until my friends and relations install Net Nanny on my laptop and block the medical sites, I will keep visiting them. And clicking through until I know the differences between the four types of porphyria (none of which I actually have) and the various home treatments for arthritis (which I may have, if my self-diagnosis can be trusted … which it cannot).
The really cool thing? The fascination with these sites is fed by my crazy, but it actually does, on occasion, pay off in my writing life. I’ll stumble across a little factoid about sensitivities to certain drugs or symptoms of poisoning that mimic common illnesses … just the sort of trivia that makes a mystery author’s life a little easier. In fact, I don’t want to say too much, but one of those little tidbits of information became a crucial clue in my current release, I Scream, You Scream.
So tell me . . . what are your vice sites? Celebrity gossip? Fan fic sites? And what are the hidden virtues you find there? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of Wendy’s book!