Nice Girls Don’t Bite

Posted on May 28th, 2011

Nice Girls Don’t Bite by Joan Sween


4/5 stars


Bottom line:

Great read for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries with a humorous Transylvania twist.


Erleen and Louise, two Minnesota antiques dealers, return from hunting antiques in Transylvania to discover that they have been transformed into vampires. As if that’s not bad enough, the two women soon find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery, kidnapping, and murder. Will they figure out what the leader of an international drug ring wants in time to save their friends?


  • Loved the premise of two middle-aged women becoming vampires, but vowing to maintain their Minnesota-niceness.
  • Humorous asides were plentiful but not distracting
  • Fast, easy, entertaining read.
  • Explored and played with several vampire stereotypes.


  • Some formatting issues in my version. For the most part, these did not affect readability. Alerted the author to these issues.
  • SPOILER: The exact circumstances behind the dealers becoming vampires were never revealed. While the reader doesn’t need to know this, I was interested in a little more detail about what happened.

Full disclosure:

I know this author personally, and strove to keep any personal attachments from this review.

Profile pages and other musings

Posted on May 27th, 2011

After putting off updating my profile pages on various sites for a while (apparently almost 5 years), I think I’m now caught back up.  It’s so much easier to point to my about page on this site.

For my worst transgression, here’s my former Facebook profile with comments:

Okay, in order, personal, work, school, and play, a quick summary (well, for as busy as I am, this is short) for those just tuning in….

Brenda and I are still together, recently celebrating our 9th anniversary!  Brenda’s finishing up school at GVSU, pursuing a degree to allow her to teach elementary school.  We’ll be getting married next May, and Brenda’s getting started on all the wedding plan “stuff” now.

Whoops, Brenda and I got married over three years ago.  We’re about to have our first kid.  Sorry, dear!

No surprise to those who grew up with me, I’m currently a software engineer at IBM in Rochester, MN.  I work on all kinds of interesting projects (well, interesting to geeks, anyway), most of which I can’t go into detail about.  I’ve recently become involved in the architecture of some new systems that, again, I can’t really talk about.  Ah, confidentiality agreements…a wonderful thing.

Mostly still true. The systems I referred to ultimately ended up being used to power Watson (seen on Jeopardy). I was not directly involved in any of the Watson work, but it was cool to see that hardware I helped develop (with hundreds of others) was used in such a fascinating way.

I should be able to talk about my current projects in another three years or so. 🙂

On to something I can talk about in a bit more detail.  To get kids excited about engineering in general and computer science in particular, I am currently co-leading an IBM-sponsored LEGO Education Outreach project in southeastern Minnesota and Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  This is our second year.  We have sixteen schools and over two hundred fifty students involved in the project this year, with a half dozen more schools clamoring to get in the program for next year.

What do we do in this LEGO Education Outreach program?  We teach students how to program robots to solve various tasks, using light sensors to detect changes in its environment, touch sensors to detect obstacles, sound sensors to react to the noise in the environment, and ultrasound sensors to detect how far away things are.  The kids who have participated are excited beyond words, literally begging their teachers to allow them to work with the robots more.  Much of my time outside of work is spent  coordinating this program (along with the help of several other key members of the core team).

Again, mostly still true. The numbers have changed (last year we had 26 schools and over 400 students), and the activities have evolved to more complex projects. To make time for our soon-to-be-born baby, I’m stepping down as the official leader this year, and Jim Lembke is taking up the reins. I still plan to remain involved, but on a much less-vital basis.

I also volunteer once a week at the local library, teaching students who speak English as a foreign language various subjects, from addition to calculus, biology to physics, geography to sociology, and English to Spanish. (I think that covers the broad range).

This is no longer true. I stopped this volunteer work while I studied for my Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, and have not yet restarted.

Instead, I spend more time leading the local writing group and writing my own stories. I’ve also really ramped up my freelance editing efforts. This keeps me more than busy enough, as my wife will no doubt agree.

When I do have time to “play,” I’m usually at the <a href=””>Martial Arts Fitness Center</a>.

This also is no longer true. While I enjoyed (and still enjoy) martial arts, I no longer actively participate and/or teach on a regular basis. I do, however, often use my skills against the neighbor’s kids (all around age 5) as they keep trying to take me down. When they get a little older, I’m going to be in real trouble if they learn from my techniques. Hopefully my soon-to-be born son will help protect me!

That’s my update. So glad I took the time to point people to the about page I actually keep up to date.

Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!

I gots me pirate boots

Posted on May 26th, 2011

Yar! I got me pirate boots through the mail today. Now I gets to work on me book trailer.

Keep yer ears to the sea, me hearties, there’ll be more in the summer.

Note: the pirate dialogue in the book is much better. 🙂

Getting closer

Posted on May 17th, 2011

For the past month, I’ve been mostly focused on revisions for my novel.  Last night, I printed off four copies for my critique partners.

In unrelated news, a small forest disappeared from southeastern Minnesota yesterday evening.

It’s close.  Real close.  More details soon.