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T’is the Season – Sorta

Hey, it’s Rey!  How’s everyone doin?!

T’is the season to be thankful and Thanksgiving gave us reason to be just that . . . and got me all revved up for Black Friday.  Mannnnnnn, did I have a great time with all those sales!  (Yeah, okay, so I’ll spend a few months—all right, years—paying it all off, but it was funnnnnnn.)

Given the boss is in a slump at the moment (the poor dear wonders if she’ll ever have control of her own life), we elected to take over today’s post.  Okay, I did.  JJ’s still got a Thanksgiving pumpkin-pie hangover and Linda’s slumped on the lanai, wishing she’d not shoved down that fourth mushroom-heavy tofu burger.

Today, I’m just touching upon things to be grateful for, now and to come:

friends and family    first responders and those who so unselfishly think of and put others first    compassionate souls   easy-going colleagues  kind words  smiles and chuckles  bellyache laughter  unconditional love (like those our pets give, in spades)  supportive professionals  starry nights and sunny days    sunsets and sunrises  colorful flowers  stunning nature  pumpkin pie with real whipped cream (I just heard a shriek from JJ, he-he)  pepperoni-less pizza (!)  hopes and dreams and wishes    worry-less times  pleasant/pleasing music and enjoyable dance tunes    fantastic films  great stories  enlightening posts  beautiful poetry  and super-duper sales!

It’s been a crazy year so far, to say the least, and maybe it’ll only get crazier.  But here’s to staying strong and safe, keeping the faith, and believing next year is going to be a [much] smoooooooooooooth(er) one.

Have an awesome weekend.  The Boss should be back Wednesday, in better spirits (I’ve got her making a list, he-he).

God bless.

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Review: Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea by Michele E. Northwood

I’ve embarked on a reading frenzy these days (won’t last much longer, but it’s fun)!

Michele E. Northwood’s Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea has received great reviews—for obvious reasons.  It’s a fascinating real-life tale.  Usually, I find autobiographical accounts rather flat and dry, but Michele’s flows smoothly, like a gently rippling late-spring stream.  It’s entertaining, engaging, a can’t-put-down read.

Here’s a bit from the Amazon blurb:

Set in 1989, a year after the Olympic Games in South Korea, this is the true story of Michele, a young dancer, whose naïve dream of working in the Far East quickly turns into a nightmare. She finds herself in a host of situations for which she is ill-equipped. Dancing her way across Korea with Louise and Sharon, she is—among other things—propositioned by the Mafia, turned away by the British Embassy, caught in a student riot, and taken to Korean brothels. Both shocking and humorous, this Double Award Winning Memoir takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you follow the life of a timid young girl caught in a male-orientated world of alcohol, sex and seedy nightclubs.

If that doesn’t pull you right in to Michele’s well chronicled story, nothing will.  This last paragraph of the first chapter makes for foreshadowing . . . as, indeed, fate does take its course.  

This struck me as a bit odd and rather deceptive, but I did not voice my opinion. The deed was done. I had signed the paperwork, so all I could do was let fate take its course.

From the get-go, you’re compelled to accompany the threesome on their crazy journey.  

I equated our situation to how animals must feel when loaded into a cattle truck heading for slaughter. I could not help but feel as though we were heading for the same fate – comparatively speaking. What did destiny have in store for us now?

Our author has a disarming narrative manner; description, characters, and dialogue are convincingly presented.  It’s easy to visualize the various venues (like dim or dirty bars with daft or dangerous customers), appreciate the fluctuating feelings as Michele and her colleagues interact with sordid sorts, and hear the emotions as they discuss dilemmas and incidents. 

WPFishnetstwitterDOTcomAs the dancing trio travel around the country, they deal with dubious agents and managers, meet some pervy people, and encounter lascivious males.  Work is often an “audition” and money is tight (if at all).  Food is sometimes scarce and hotel rooms are rat- and insect-infested.  You know things will go from bad to worse before they get better—and there are moments where you wonder if they truly will improve—but you hang in, needing to learn what transpires.

Funny moments intersperse the drama; Michele, Sharon, and Louise share humorous moments and situations just as they share grim ones.  It takes strength—perseverance and persistence—to contend with what they did.  Hats off to them!

The editor in me usually deducts a half point or so when there are typos or the like; but in this case, I so enjoyed Fishnets, I have to give it a 5 out of 5. 

Rating:  savesavesavesavesave

Please check out Michele at:

https://www.facebook.com/michele.e.northwoodauthor

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/michele-e-northwood

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18794280.Michele_E_Northwood

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By the By . . . By Gaslight

It’s rare that I get to pick up a book just for the pleasure of reading—what little novel-related “me” time I have is devoted to reviews for authors I’ve come to know through Next Chapter or social media.

When I picked up By Gaslight (lying on a friend’s coffee table) and read the back flap, I had to borrow it.  I was intrigued.  Very.

LONDON, 1885.  In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Pinkerton, the son of a famous detective, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows.  Adam Foole, haunted by a love affair ten years gone, has returned to London in search of his lost beloved.  But when these two are drawn together in their search for answers, what follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and séance halls.

How could you not want to read Steven Price’s thriller?  Obviously others were of the same mind, because the book (published by McClelland & Stewart, 2016) was a Canadian National Bestseller and on the prestigious Giller Prize Longlist.

Price has an enviable way with description—he writes eloquently, evoking vivid images.

It was a wide tunnel high and well ventilated and the waters moved at a steady drift, muscling past, scraping the filth and detritus of a world city against its bed.

(Can’t you just feel the layers of rubbish and smell the wretched stench of waste?)

This is far from a review, simply a suggestion: if you’re search for a good [long] riveting read, this book is for you.  The one thing that takes getting used to: no quotation marks denoting dialogue.  It’s not unheard of . . . but it is . . . weird.

Regardless, as the Toronto Star called it, it is a darkly feverish page-turner . . . or, even better, as Anakana Schofield advised, a poetic, persuasive pea-souper.  Love it!

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Reveling in Reading

This blog often touches upon writing and editing, but never really upon reading. It’s about time, wouldn’t you say?

I loved reading once upon a time, everything and anything.  As a kid, every second Friday, I’d stagger home, supporting a dozen books in my arms.  Nowadays, I rarely have the opportunity (time, energy, ability) to do so unless I’m reviewing a book or editing it.  How I miss the thrill of turning pages and losing myself.

Still, it’s important.  Reading is a great escape to other places, times, situations and scenarios, which can help us feel better by lessening depression, stress, anxiety.  It’s also been said to help reduce chances of developing Alzheimer’s (something that frightens me vastly, I freely confess, but maybe that’s for another post).  To put it simply, reading is brain food.  It feeds the brain, stimulates it . . . causes the cogs to twirl and whirl.

As you read, perhaps you identify with a character or relate to his/her situation.  What transpires may help define things for you, maybe even offer a solution.  Or possibly that character, the locale, action, simply transport you to another country or county, planet or dimension.  And all is good because for a wee while, everyday life is, well, not everyday.

Reading can prove an effort with all the distractions and demands we experience these days but doing so is a great way to [learn to] focus, thus not being distracted or prone to give in to another demand.  The best way to enjoy a book and not be sidetracked: find a comfortable place that’s free of computers, TVs, and phones.  In fact, if they are nearby, turn them off!  Settle in and give that book the attention it deserves.

To engage in a book is entertaining and/or engaging.  If it’s nonfiction, you’re acquiring knowledge; maybe you’ll use it, maybe you won’t.  Reading allows you to learn, even if it’s fiction and even if it’s a minor detail, something trifling.  Nothing wrong with adding a bit of trivia to the encyclopedia tucked in our head … and nothing wrong with augmenting our vocabulary, either.

For us bloggers and authors, reading enables us to get a feel for other writers’ styles, to discover what works and why, and to ultimately improve our own blogging and writing.  We can even read about how to do that, if we’re so inclined.  The book world is our oyster.

And, if you’re anything like me, someone who has trouble sleeping, it’s said that reading at bedtime actually enables you to sleep better if you make it part of your nighttime routine.

And what about reading print versus digital?  It’s said we should engage in both, although print has more benefits (particularly at bedtime, as just mentioned).

There are studies, too, that suggest people who read regularly live longer.  Can’t say I really care one way or the other, but interesting nevertheless.

My posts are never meant to be overly detailed (I like to avoid the snoozzzzzzze factor), but are intended to tickle your curiosity and, hopefully, inspire you to find out more.  So I leave you with this.  Revel in a good read—often.  You define “good”.  Read what you like, floats your boat, intrigues and entertains you, and let it take you as far as you want to go.

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I Wanna !!!

Rey provided a great idea for a post today when she started hopping up and down, blustering how “I wanna catch the sales at the Center!” (she does so love those shoes and bags).

Instead of always saying what we don’t wanna—uh, want to—do, which is totally negative (never mind a colossal waste of effort and time), how about focusing on what we want to do?

Let’s start off with yours truly . . .

I want to:

♥  blog and write and edit full-time

♥  be mom-care free (after 20+ years, I now readily and openly confess this)

♥  live in Hawaii (at least a few months a year)

♥  spend [a lot of] time at a spa

♥  take daily walks (for miles and miles, with nothing necessitating me to race home and complete another errand or task)

♥  have friends (caregiving can prove quite solitary)

♥  find tranquility and find myself (I’ve lost “me”)

♥  have a life.

Curious about the Triple Threat Investigation private eyes, I asked them to provide three of their “wannas” . . .

JJ:

♥  travel around the South Pacific for a few months

♥  spend time getting to re-know my mother and nephew

♥  take courses (learn everything and anything).

Linda:

♥  get a degree in law and/or journalism (just for the fun of it)

♥  become a rad surfer

♥ love life.

Rey:

♥  expand the agency (I’d like to see us on Maui and Big Island)

♥  get involved more community theater and TV (I love doing commercials)

♥  see our new house and pool are totally renovated—with an agency office.

Fascinating, isn’t it, how we all have such vast desires and fancies?  They may—or may not—change with time.  But the important thing?  To have them.

Keep wanna-ing . . . and believing.

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Primo Promo

As you’ve noticed, there have been a few promotional posts about books being avail for 99 cents.  A great, appealing price indeed.

But is it so great to [constantly] promote?  It can’t hurt.  If you’re not with a publisher who sets the promo dates, that’s okay.  Do it on your own.

Why would you do it?  To . . .

♦  launch your new book (this will generate interest and spark sales)  ♦  increase sales (dropping the price of your book for a wee while can boost numbers and this looks good on you)  ♦  entice book “sales” shoppers (lots of folks love the bargain price tag of 99 cents).

There are free sites to promote your book, but you’ll pay fees for others (some are quite affordable).  I won’t list them here but suggest you Google when you’re ready.  This way you’ll find the most current sites.

It’s recommended that before you do any sort of promoting you have some good reviews on your side.  That makes sense.  Potential buyers might be more inclined to purchase your book if others have provided accolades.

Have a good synopsis (blurb) handy—you’ll need it for the promotion.  Make sure there are no typos, which goes without saying.

Let’s see.  Ah yes.  Make certain your book is live . . . available.  Ensure that retailers have the same price and promo dates (we don’t want to create any confusion now, do we?).

And it goes without saying . . . promote the <bleep> out of your, uh, promotion.  Tell friends, family, neighbors.  Communicate the great news—stupendous price—on social media and via writing/author communities (everywhere and anywhere you can think of).

Happy promoting (and selling)!

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No Buts about It

Coco’s Nuts, the second Triple Threat Investigation Agency case, is available for 99 cents today—the last promo day.

It’s Linda on the North Shore, taking a break from surfing (there are some rad barrels out there).

To pique your curiosity/interest, we’ve been hired to prove Buddy Feuer is innocent of two murders—that of her infamous boss, Jimmy Picolo, and her best friend, Eb Stretta.  Someone did a great job incriminating her and we have to determine who that is—and there are a number of individuals who could be responsible.  It could be Jimmy’s brother looking to expand his own business by acquiring his brother’s.  Or maybe it’s Jimmy’s gambling daughter who owes major dollars to Vegas folks.  What about Jimmy Junior?  Is he hoping to take over his father’s enterprises?  Then there are those “dubious” characters Jimmy’s been known to associate with.  The list goes on . . . and on.

We do stumble across a few more bodies—and dodge a bomb or two—in our search for the truth, never mind that we irk a few people who don’t like to be irked.

Maybe you’d like to check out how we utilize—and expand—our detecting skills?  Please check us out at: https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368.

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Four-Ever Nuts

. . . about Coco’s Nuts.  Hey, it’s Rey (Linda was supposed to post today, but she decided surfing on the North Shore would be more fun).

Have you picked up our second case yet?  If not, it’s Day Four of the 99-cent promo—that’s less than a buck, friends.

In a nutshell, here’s what happens.  The three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency attempt to learn who set up our client, Buddy Feuer, to take the rap for two murders—that of her dodgy but rich boss, Jimmy Picolo, and that of trucker pal Eb Stretta.

We happen to stumble over another body or three as we try to figure out who’s who and what’s what—never mind that we meet all sorts of curious (dangerous) people along the way.  JJ’s cocky “boyfriend” shows up again and there’s a cute guy who works for Picolo that catches my eye . . . but nothing (and no one) is quite what it (or he/she) seems to be, if you catch my drift.

To read about this peculiar—but super thrilling—case, please check us out at: https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368.

 NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Coco’s Nuts plus You and Me Equals Three

I’m afraid I couldn’t think of anything terribly cute or charming re titles today.  <LOL>  Hi.  It’s JJ.

Today marks Day 3 of the 99-cent Coco’s Nuts promotion.  The second official case of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency has us hopping around Oahu and then some.  Exciting and perplexing, we discover that a number of individuals could be a mass murderer . . . including one nutty fellow named Coco Peterson.  He’s missing but seems to play a major part in mystery: who set up our client, Buddy Feuer, to take the rap for two murders?

Maybe this excerpt might prompt you to want to check us out . . .

“Of course Buddy Feuer didn’t do it.  Who told you she did?” I demanded, already knowing who had tattled to Ricardo Mako Picolo.  It could only have been one person: Kent “The Source” Winche. 

“Winche,” the health-food freak confirmed, munching noisily, probably a mung-bean, pea-sprout muffin, his favorite according to an article I’d read earlier.  “Actually, he said she was a person of interest . . . or did he say suspect?  Whatever.  He doesn’t believe she did it.”

I paced my kitchen like a tin duck target at a fair ground concession booth.  Every time I passed the counter, I poked a trio of bananas perched in a white wicker basket. 

It was hard to say why Jimmy Picolo’s slick (as in oil-spill, slippery-slimy) brother proved annoying.  Maybe it was the self-satisfied, perpetually tanned face I’d viewed in photos.  He sported a nose too perfect to have been born with.  Evidently, he and his niece shared the same cosmetic surgeon.  He was as handsome as his brother, but more a combination of Bobby Darren of T.J. Hooker fame and Ryo Ishibashi as Detective Toshihuru Kuroda in Suicide Club.  Asian-cast root-beer brown eyes seemed to challenge; they, like the thin lips pulled into a smug smile, expressed a sense of superiority.  As it had in interviews, the man’s mega ego blazed like a Times Square billboard. 

“Thank heavens for the pretty boy’s support,” I responded wryly.

“He’s a big fan of Buddy’s.”  Munch, munch.  Crunch, crunch.  Must be macadamias in that muffin, too.  “Winche’ll give his eye teeth—letteralmente—to reinforce that she didn’t do it.  He claims she could never kill anyone in a million years.  She’s too cute.”

Too cute? 

“He’s got a real thing for her.  Anyway, with you helping, she shouldn’t worry herself none.”  I could hear the simper.  “I heard you girls did a solid job working the Howell case.”

“Really?”  I was nonplussed. 

“When I got your message, I had you checked out.  I do that with everyone whose call I’m thinking of returning.” 

When I didn’t respond, he chuckled and slurped.  Was he also indulging in one of his famous wheatgrass-beetroot smoothies?  “I got a proposition.  You interested?”

“If it will clear our client’s name, of course,” I responded casually.  Poke, poke.  The bananas were beginning to look as if they’d encountered a frenzied chimp.

“Here’s what we’re going to do.”

We’re? 

“We’re going to find the prick that killed my brother.  The why would be a bonus, but the who is the important answer.”

I dropped onto counter stool and rested my chin on the granite counter.  “What’s in it for you, Mr. Picolo?”  Poke, poke.  Oh-oh.  The bananas lay on the polished hardwood floor like washed-up marine creatures.  Button ambled over, pawed them, sniffed, and flopped onto the floor with a loud sigh.

“Like I said, knowing who killed my brother.  The other guy who got rubbed out I could care less about . . . but his family would like to know, I’m sure.  Anyway, I’ll add some incentives.”

“Incentives?” I asked, puzzled.

Ricardo’s laughter was reminiscent of microwaved popcorn: staccato, abrupt.  Heh-heh.  Heh-heh-heh.  “Yeah, incentives.  First one: twenty-five K.”

Nice incentive.  “Second?”

“Coco Peterson’s tattoo and jewelry.  It wouldn’t do for the cops to find them, would it?”

“What the frig?” flew out of my mouth like a horse embarking on a steeplechase before I could contain it.

 “There are a lot of different fingerprints in and around Coco’s stuff.  Possibly Buddy’s, too.” 

What was he talking about?  “I’ll bite.  Why wouldn’t it do for the police to find the tattoo and jewelry?”

“Well, let me think on it.”  He paused for dramatic effect.  Or perhaps to consider his smoothie.  Ricardo Picolo, unlike his brother, did not speak with a quasi-Australian accent, but he did have a habit of over-pronouncing certain words.  “Well”, for example, sounded like a deep-South twang: “wee-eellll”. 

“Mr. Razor may be inclined to talk,” he continued, sounding uncharacteristically flustered, maybe at having found the great cosmos in the foamy drink or a belly-up bug.

I sniffed.  “I understand the man has no tongue.”

I could be inclined to talk.”

If you’re interested, please go to: https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368.

Aloha!

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

 

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Coco’s Nuts X2

It’s the second day of the 99-cent Coco’s Nuts promotion.  Hey, it’s Rey; howya doin’?

Coco’s Nuts is the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s second official case.  We have to  prove our client, former-socialite-Vassar-grad-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer, has been framed for two murders.  She had no motive to kill her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo, and she certainly didn’t shoot her best friend, Eb Stretta.

In spite of what the evidence shows, our private-eye instincts tell us it’s fabricated (my new word).  Coco Peterson, a real nutty Picolo employee, has been missing since the murders went down and he seems to be a chief player in this super weird, challenging conundrum (love that word, another new one).

As we try to find the killer—and there are lots of possible perps—bombs and felons flow like lava from Kilauea when its cutting loose. 

To find out how we solve this thrilling case, please go to: https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368.

 NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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One Down, One to Go

It’s the fifth and last day of the 99-cent Forever Poi promotion . . . and the first day of the 99-cent Coco’s Nuts promotion.  Hey, it’s not Rey, but JJ.

Forever Poi is our third case, which has us discovering who burned down a couple of Chinatown art galleries and left behind two bodies.  There are several suspects.  A day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the gallery owners and an arson victim, broke up with his partner, James-Henri Ossature.  Might James-Henri have set the blaze to collect insurance and be forever free of his lover?  And how does the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree, a former queenpin, fit into the picture?  Cholla Poniard, James-Henri’s sister, is involved in the art world.  Pretty and dangerous, she’s a force to be reckoned with, as is her dauntless lover.

If you’d like to learn how we solve this crazy, complicated case, please check us out at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Forever-Poi-Tyler-Colins/dp/1079716483

Coco’s Nuts is the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s second official case.  We have a tough mission: prove our client, former-socialite-Vassar-grad-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer, isn’t responsible for two murders.  She had no motive to kill her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo, nor did she murder her best friend, Eb Stretta.

Despite what the police believe and the evidence suggests, we’re convinced that Buddy has been set up.  And nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee who has been MIA since the murders went down, appears to be a central piece in this perplexing puzzler.

As we endeavor to uncover a killer amid yet another cast of curious and unconventional characters, exploding bombs and unhappy criminal types suggest we’ve ruffled feathers by asking too many questions.

To read about this exciting and challenging case, please go to:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368.

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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A Fourth to Reckon With

It’s the fourth day of the 99-cent Forever Poi promotion.  It’s Linda taking over posting patrol today.

Forever Poi is our third case, which has us solving a double-arson and murder: who burned down a couple of Chinatown art galleries and left two bodies in the ashes?

There are several suspects we soon discover.  The day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the gallery owners and an arson victim, broke up with his partner, James-Henri Ossature.  They had financial issues, too.  Could James-Henri have set the blaze to collect insurance and finally lose his troublesome lover?  But what role does the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree, a former queenpin, play?  It’s possible that with her dubious past caught up to her.

Cholla Poniard, James-Henri’s sister, is involved in the art world.  Pretty and dangerous, she’s not to be taken lightly.  Nor is her lover, one of several in fact; he has a dark side, too.

If you’re curious as to how the private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency solve this complicated case, please check us out at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Forever-Poi-Tyler-Colins/dp/1079716483

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Not a Third Wheel

Just the third day . . . of the 99-cent Forever Poi campaign.  It’s JJ today, providing a bit of a promotional boost.

Our third official Triple Threat Investigation Agency case has us solving a double-arson and murder: who burned down a couple of Chinatown art galleries … and left two bodies in the rubble?

There are certainly numerous suspects.  The day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the gallery owners and an arson victim, broke up with his partner, James-Henri Ossature.  They had financial issues, too.  Could James-Henri have set the blaze to collect insurance and be rid of his lover?  But how does the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree, a former queenpin, tie in?  It’s possible that with her dubious past a former rival murdered her, but given her new career in the art world, perhaps there’s something else afoot. 

Then there’s Cholla Poniard, James-Henri’s sister.  She’s pretty, audacious, and a definite force to be reckoned with (just ask her two former husbands).  Her lover, one of several, seems treacherous, too.   As a twosome, they’re doubly dangerous.

If you’d like to see how we solve this bizarre case, please check us out here…

https://www.amazon.ca/Forever-Poi-Tyler-Colins/dp/1079716483

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Off to the Races

So to speak.  It’s another five-day marathon of book plugs.  Hey, it’s Rey, with Day One.

Today, through September 11th you can get our third official case (and fourth book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series), Forever Poi, for a mere 99 cents.  How awesome is that?

Cousin Jilly and my BFF Linda and I are out to solve a double-arson and murder:  who torched a couple of Chinatown art galleries and left two charred bodies in the rubble?

Are the arsonist and killer the same person?  We think so and, during the search, encounter a heckuva lot of possible culprits.  Like, the day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the arson victims, had a nasty break-up with his partner, James-Henri Ossature.  There were financial issues, too.  Could James-Henri have done the dastardly deed to collect insurance and be rid of his lover?  What about the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree, a former queenpin?  With her sketchy past, maybe a former rival murdered her?  If this is the case, maybe poor Carlos was merely collateral damage. 

Then there’s pretty (weird) Cholla, James-Henri’s sister.  You have to keep a careful eye on that one.  Her lover—one of a few, it seems—is a strange one, too.  Yup, we definitely have our hands full trying to locate our perp.

Maybe you’d like to see how we fare?  If so, please check us out here…

https://www.amazon.ca/Forever-Poi-Tyler-Colins/dp/1079716483

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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So, Ya Wanna E-Publish?

Hey, it’s Rey posting today.  A former client gave me the idea of tackling e-publishing.  Given a lot of people Linda, JJ and I know have signed up with e-publishers, it seemed a great idea to “chat” a bit about them.

From what I’ve researched, they say it can be a bit more difficult finding one of these as opposed to a traditional one (I’d have thought the opposite, but what do I know, he-he).  Why?  Because different e-publishers have different approaches.

All right, you’ve written your book and now you want to get it out there.  Bravo!  But who do you go with?  You should start by checking out books (genres) like yours and see who’s handling them.  Research the companies so you know who you’re dealing with, what they’re about, and what they’re looking for, and expect from you.

Other important questions to consider:

♦  What are their contracts like?  ♦    What are their formatting requirements?  ♦   Is there a print-on-demand option?  ♦     Will they design your book cover?  ♦     Who’s responsible for editing?  ♦     Where are they selling?  ♦     Who are their retail partners?  ♦     Will they help promote you?

There’s a lot (!) to know—and understand—before you sign up.

Don’t forget to check their standing.  Are there any complaints or “writer beware” statements and grievances?  Look closely and carefully.  Sure, it’ll take time and effort—but you put that into your book, didn’t you?  Make the best (wisest) choice.

Create a list of those e-publishers that look promising—are right for you and your book—and start submitting.  Another way to get a feel for who’s who: join on-line writing communities.  Get input from them.  Check, check, check.  Ask, ask, ask.  Make a list and start submitting.

E-publishers are more willing to take a chance on new writers, even if their books don’t necessarily fall within a traditional category/genre.  So, if you’ve just written a sci-fi-fantasy romance, hey, you may stand a good chance of being snapped up.

Being e-published offers the opportunity of developing a fanbase—whether you’re doing it on your own behalf and/or have your e-publisher’s assistance (chances are it’ll be on you to do, but never say never, as Cousin Jilly likes to say).  So, once you’ve got a book you’re your name is on it, recognize that that can lead to something exciting—with the right approach(es).

Sure, there are downsides to e-publishing, as with pretty much anything out there, but there’s no need to state them here; you’ll learn about them as you’re researching [the right] e-publishers to contact.

As private eyes, the three of us have ascertained (my new word) that the more thoroughly you investigate, the more you have a handle on how to resolve an issue or learn the reality of a situation.  Like a P.I., follow clues and examine evidence to solve your baffling case: which e-publisher would serve you best?

Doncha love short and sweet?

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HA-HA-HA-HA—Nothing to Laugh About

Hey, it’s Rey today.  Just thought I’d update you on our latest case.  We’re calling it HA-HA-HA-HA because that’s how the killer likes to sign his “farewell” notes.  But these serial killings are nothing to laugh about.

We’re close to tying up the case.  Real close.  Dangerously close.  GrimReaperPeeper—GRP for short—is clever and cunning.  He constantly outsmarts the police.  Finding clues as to his whereabouts has been a major challenge.  This guy’s good.  Unfortunately.

Here’s an excerpt . . .

Several seconds later, the door opened—to reveal our three colleagues standing but a few feet away, two Tasers, a flashlight, and a camera raised.  It flashed.

“Talk about perfect timing,” Jimmy C said.

“Ugh, I’m blinded,” Rey griped.  “So?  What?  You been taking pics of the place?  Hoping for a big scoop?”

The big scoop,” he grinned, lowering the camera.

“We found Gail,” I announced.  “Adwin’s escorting her to the car.”

“GRP had the room—probably the entire house—bugged.  Guess he reckoned we’d figure it out,” Rey said.  “Shit, we should have grabbed that speaker.  Oh well.  The police’ll get it.”

Linda tucked the Taser in her hoodie pocket.  “Do you think GRP’s in here somewhere?”

I shook my head.  “He’s close, but not within reach.”

“We didn’t find much, except a well hidden beneath some dense shrubbery to the far rear of the ohana,” Sach said.  “And then, just when we were going to leave, we discovered this passageway.”

“Purely by accident,” Jimmy C said with a self-conscious smile.  “I tripped into it and it opened.”

“This place has suddenly become very creepy,” Sach grimaced.

“Did you lock up the ohana?” I asked.   

Linda nodded.  “Behind us, as soon as we entered.”

“Then let’s head back this way.  Given Ald’s incommunicado, we’ll call Hammill on the way home.”

“Shouldn’t we call him now?” Jimmy C asked.  “He and his team members would probably prefer we hang around.  Maybe I can get some interesting details for my story.”

“This place could be boobytrapped and, if it is, we may find more than confetti raining down on us,” I advised.  “Let’s not take chances.”

“I’m in total agreement.”  Sach pointed forward.  “Let’s get out of here, and fast!”

So, hopefully, you’ll be able to read about this exciting [taxing] case soon! 

In the meanwhile, stay safe, play smart.  Aloha!

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Day Four, Two Days More

… to get Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? for a mere 99 cents. 

Newbie private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—accept their first official assignment: to discover an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife’s secret.  Is it simply a matter of Carmie Howell having an affair, as WP believes?  Or is something more sinister afoot?

Perhaps the latter . . . because Carmie is soon found floating off the sapphire shores of Oahu.  As JJ, Rey and Linda investigate, more bodies fall.  Who’s responsible?  Druggies?  Gang members?  Mob sorts?  [Very] nervous nellies?

Latte-colored eyes gleaming, she leaned forward. “In a quest to learn more about Gino Carpella, I decided to go wayback. Carmie’s twin, as we know, is quite the entrepreneur. He made his first million courtesy of his father’s fabulous pizza pies.” She looked like the original Steve McGarrett nabbing a prime suspect: gratified.

“To make it all happen, he needed financing.” Rey smirked, sucking back a quarter of the drink. “As in a major loan.”

“A loan with nointerest,” Linda declared. “But there was a silent partnership agreement.”

“And the partner is?” Rey prompted with a Cheshire grin.

“Martino Lino Mondino,” Linda announced, not waiting for me to hazard a guess.

I looked from Linda to Rey and back again. “The Martino Lino Mondino?”

“Yup,” Rey said, her expression smug. “As in Mondino’s Supreme Sardinos—er, Sardines.”

“And Mondino’s Superlative Select Meats. And Mondino’s Classy Celebrated Cheeses,” Linda continued.

“He’s absorbed a lot of little companies and cottage industries along the East Coast. He’s also known for foodstuff first and triumphant business deals second.”

“He wins over the competition each and every time,” Rey stated.

“He wins because he eradicates them permanently,” I added.

Linda wagged a playful finger. “There is nothing to prove Mondino ‘eradicates them permanently’.”

“Then why have six competitors in the last dozen years gone the way of Jimmy Hoffa?”

Linda’s smile was dry. “Lots of digging and a couple of calls confirmed Gino’s still tight with Mondino. In fact, the fifty-five-year-old who, I understand, bears an uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story, is a co-signer on the lease for the Seventh Avenue building that accommodates Gino’s head office. Here’s another ‘in fact’: Mondino, who goes by the name of ‘Teen’ if you’re a friend, also owns a building a half-a-mile away from Gino’s—hey, what a great name for a business. Gino’s and Mondino’s.”

If the gals have piqued your interest, perhaps you’d like to check out Hula at:

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Day Three, Not Free . . . but Pretty Darn Close

Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? is a mere 99 cents through August 17.

Novice private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—accept their first official detecting assignment: uncover the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife.  Is it simply a matter of wifey having an affair, as hubby believes?

Not long after they embark on their first case, pretty young wife is found murdered on the shores of Oahu.  And there’s a secret all right, one of many, and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.  Who of the unconventional cast of characters is the murderer?  As Jill, Rey and Linda try to fit puzzle pieces together, they stumble across several more bodies.

A straightforward task becomes anything but.  They’ve dealt with multiple murders in past, however, thanks to a wacky week in Connecticut, and while this new set of quirky personalities proves equally taxing, they have enough faith in their [budding] talents to persevere and unscramble clues.

And, if the trio succeeds, their newly founded business, The Triple Threat Investigation Agency, will prove a viable venture.

Curious?  Please check out the rookie private eyes’ escapades at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Can-Hula-like-Hilo-Hattie/dp/1074454073

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Day Two, Howdy-Do

Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? is a mere 99 cents through August 17.

Newbie private eyes JJ, Rey and Linda accept their first official detecting assignment: learning the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife.  He believes she may be having an affair.  If they succeed, their newly founded business, The Triple Threat Investigation Agency, will prove a viable venture.

The twist: the wife is found murdered along the sapphire shores of Oahu. And there’s a secret all right, one of many, and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.

Perhaps you’d like a little excerpt?

We’d only had to demonstrate she was a cheating spouse who possessed a secret that could prove of value to her husband and help dissolve a four-year marriage. All that had been required: surveying the woman, taking photos as necessary, and delivering nightly reports. Easy-peasy. Not.

What we’d unearthed in the preceding days extended to the sordid world of drugs and gambling, two ugly and dangerous addictions that could drag you under and far like the Molaka’i Express, which was the crossing of the Kaiwi Channel from volcano-formed Molaka’i, Hawaii’s fifth largest island, and possessed exceptionally strong currents. If the vice didn’t batter you, the enabler—the human component—was there to ensure you remained dependent, paid up and/or stayed high, and never screwed him or her.

“Man, she must have really pissed someone off.”

“Big time.” I peered across the darkening Pacific and reflected on that which had brought us to Hawaii: a desire to open our own P.I. agency. But the body sprawled across rough wave-soaked rocks begged one crucial question: what did a meteorologist, actress, and scriptwriting assistant know about detecting? So what if they’d played amateur sleuths several months ago during a murder-filled week at an eerie Connecticut mansion? That didn’t grant them the expertise or street smarts to manage a bona-fide case.

. . . But maybe the more imperative question at the moment was: how were they going to explain a simple undercover-case gone terribly wrong?

If we’ve piqued your interest, please check us out at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Can-Hula-like-Hilo-Hattie/dp/1074454073

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Day One – Havin’ Fun

For five days, Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? is a mere 99 cents.

Promotion dates:  August 13 – August 17

Novice private eyes JJ, Rey and Linda accept their first official detecting assignment: learning the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife.  He believes she may be having an affair.  If they succeed, their newly founded business, The Triple Threat Investigation Agency, will prove a viable venture.

The twist: the wife is found murdered along the sapphire shores of Oahu. And there’s a secret all right, one of many, and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.

Who of the unconventional cast of characters is the murderer? As the trio try to fit puzzle pieces together, they stumble across several more bodies and what promised to be a straightforward task becomes anything but.  They’ve dealt with a sundry of murders in past, however, thanks to a wacky week in Connecticut, and while this new set of quirky personalities proves equally taxing, they have enough faith in their [budding] talents to persevere and unscramble clues.

Here’s an opportunity for the women to prove they made a wise choice in becoming bona-fide detectives. But can they do so before the murderer strikes again?

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Day Five, No Jive

You can still get The Connecticut Corpse Caper for F-R-E-E, but only today.

A cozy mystery with grit, Caper is set in a ghost-inhabited mansion where a lot of weird things—besides murders—occur.

Several guests—including nieces Jill Jocasta (JJ), Reynalda (Rey), and BFF Linda—must stay a week to collect a share of dotty Aunt Mat’s inheritance.  If anyone leaves early, his/her share goes to those remaining.

One invitee leaves the first night and not of his own accord.  Others soon follow.  JJ, Rey, and Linda endeavor to find out who’s behind the murders (and a couple of other curious capers)—before the killer “finds” them.

Feel free to check out how the three amateur sleuths finally solve The Connecticut Corpse Caper at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG

NOTE: FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

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Day Four, No Wish to Bore

. . . but you can still get The Connecticut Corpse Caper for F-R-E-E.

If you find murder mysteries set in old, rural-set, ghost-inhabited mansions entertaining (maybe a little thrilling,) you might find Caper a fun read . . .

Eccentric (kooky) Aunt Mat has passed.  Enter several guests—including nieces Jill Jocasta (JJ), Reynalda (Rey), and BFF Linda—who must stay a week to collect a share of the inheritance.  If anyone leaves early, however, their share goes to those remaining.

The first night sees one person drop out—forever.  Others soon follow.  Who’s behind the murders?  One of the guests?  Or someone not yet seen?  JJ, Rey, and Linda endeavor to find out before they, too, suffer fatal blows at the hand of an obviously deranged killer.  But maybe murders aren’t the only dastardly deeds taking place; clues suggest there’s more afoot.

Feel free (literally) to check out how the trio got a taste to become professional private eyes . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG

NOTE: FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

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Day Two, Free for You

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is free again today—Day 2 of a five-day promo.

The first in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, Caper is not unlike an old B&W mysteries.  You’ll find hidden rooms and passageways, odd goings-on, red herrings, a curious cast of colorful characters . . . and Fred, the resident ghost.

JJ, Rey, and Linda—among a handful of others—are to spend a week at Aunt Matty’s haunted mansion to receive a share of the inheritance.  If someone departs before the designated time, his/her share will go into the “pot”.  One person does depart just hours after arrival—permanently.  And he’s not the only one.  The three young women don Sherlock Holmes’ caps to discover who the killer is; as they search for clues, they realize not all is as it seems.  There’s more than murder afoot.

Please check out The Connecticut Corpse Caper at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG

NOTE: FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

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1-2-3-FREE !

Actually, it’s 1-2-3-4-5, but it rhymed better (he-he).

For five days, The Connecticut Corpse Caper is F-R-E-E, I post with glee.

Promotion dates:  August 9 – August 13

Caper is a cozy mystery with grit.  Eccentric Aunt Mathilda has passed.  Several people—including nieces JJ and Rey, and friend Linda—are invited to spend a week in her haunted mansion to collect their share of the inheritance.  If anyone leaves for any reason, his/her share will go to those remaining.  Only a few hours after arrival, the first “guest” departs—permanently.  Amid strange goings on—such as unsettling bumps in the night—more bodies drop.  JJ, Rey, and Linda don amateur sleuth hats and determine to discover who the killer is.  One individual they’re sure it it’s not: Fred, the hallway-roaming ghost.

If you enjoy old B&W mysteries with hidden rooms, red herrings, and a curious cast of colorful characters, The Connecticut Corpse Caper may prove an entertaining read.  Given it’s F-R-E-E, why not take a chance?

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores. FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

Featured

Can We All Get Along?

I always liked Rodney King’s question.  It’s as simple as the answer should be: yes.  It’s also a simple lead into a simple post . . . about manners, kindness, respect.

“Can we all get along” comes to mind whenever something disturbing flashes on the screen.  But it also popped into my head when something trifling transpired recently.

We bloggers regularly receive spam comments.  Par for the course.  Most are innocuous, a few are annoying, and the odd one can be outright rude or nasty.  I got one the other day that read something like this (I’m sorry I trashed it, to be honest, because I’d like to have featured it):

I thought I’d check out your site for some informative posts but found them of no value-add and boring.  What a waste of my time.

A watered-down version, but you get the idea.  Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.  I didn’t really let it bother me . . . well, kind of . . . maybe a little.  It did prompt me to consider how ill-mannered or impolite—and hurtful—people can be.  Everyone sports different levels of sensitivity and self-worth, and a comment like that could prove depressing, if not devastating, to someone.

Does being rude or hateful provide some strange thrill?  Stoke the ego?  Fuel a need to be spiteful because it’s been a bad day, week, life?  Offer constructive criticism, not destructive.  Or, even better, as the maxim goes, if you have nothing good to say, don’t say it.

Sure, we all have bad days and there are times we experience a need to be vengeful/vindictive because we feel we’ve been wronged.  When there is a pressing need to right that wrong, do it the right way, in a positive way: be encouraging.  And if you feel you’re lacking in the positivity department these days, tuck into an article, course, or vid for a recap.  There are countless ones to be found.

We should never forget about maintaining good manners, providing kindness, and displaying respect but, particularly during these trying (worrying) times, maybe we should make an extra effort.  Kindness goes so much farther than callousness.

Let’s all [endeavor to] get along.  Life’s short—show a little love.

Perhaps Al and Annie express it best . . .

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A Plug for a Pal

James J. Cudney IV is a fellow blogger/writer I very much admire—not only for his writing talent, but for his personableness (yes, it’s a word, LOL) and support—but for his commitment to his craft.  He’s currently doing a blog tour for his latest book and I felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon and provide a plug.

His new offering is Hiding Cracked Glass and it is available for pre-sale soon and will be officially published early October 2020.  For those not in the know, it’s the sequel to the family drama Watching Glass Shatter.  I’m stealing a bit of the blurb from Goodreads (I hope you don’t mind, Jay):

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Intrigued?  I certainly am.  The sequel sounds no less riveting . . .

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?  In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question.

I can’t wait!  If you haven’t read Watching Glass Shatter—or Father Figure or any of Jay’s Braxton Campus mysteries—I heartily recommend you do.  You won’t be disappointed.  Every book is a solid, absorbing read (the mysteries being lighter and quite entertaining).

WPJayABesides being an author and blogger, Jay’s also a reader and reviewer, genealogist and researcher, and thinker.   Can you spell p-r-o-l-i-f-i-c?

Please check him out at:

Website:  https://jamesjcudney.com

Blog:  https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon:  https://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter:  https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Featured

Tucking the Thrill into a Thriller

Hey—yay—it’s Rey again.  Linda accepted an invitation to go surfing on Maui for a few days, so I’m taking over the last genre/sub-genre review post: the thriller.

Thrillers are popular page-turners—and, like mysteries, provide a lot of curving trails, and curveballs.  The POV can come from different characters, like the protagonist or even the villain.  They can be written in different styles and be dark or droll.  Types of thrillers: mystery, psychological, crime, romantic, action, political, military, legal, and even supernatural, paranormal and sci-fi, to name a few.

Okay, so we know there are various types, but what is a thriller?  In a nutshell, it’s a story that’s full of action, moves quickly, has friction and conflict and tension, contains suspense and sudden, surprising turns and kinks.  Scenes push the plot forward and place readers on that proverbial exciting but tense roller-coaster ride.  You know something else?  It may not necessarily revolve around the protagonist solving a crime but him or her preventing one from happening.  Or readers learn the nasty, ugly secret (crime, mystery, event, action) right off.  Sweet twists, huh?

It goes without saying that you need a strong protagonist, as well as robust characters, and a believably bad villain . . . or, maybe not (depends on your storyline and what the villain is all about).  Bring those characters to life.  Make certain you include some [important] history, likes and dislikes and idiosyncrasies; what makes these folks tick?  Consider what’s at stake—for all characters.  What motivates them?  Why would they pursue one specific action/response over another?  What’s in it for them?

Throw in a few monkey wrenches.  Don’t make anything overly easy for your main character(s).  Let them vigorously track solutions and ways out.  Conflict, tension and friction are vital—you want those unsettling twists and turns, but not so many (or so minor) that you muddy the storyline or have readers scratching their heads and going “huh?”.

Settings and backgrounds, missions/quests, must be detailed enough that readers can visualize them.  In fact, every component should be crisp and clear; again, you want to avoid any head-scratching (but, then, this holds for any book/genre you decide to write).  And part of this is pacing—keep it swift and uncluttered with unnecessary information.

Research, too.  Get a feel for events that would work in a thriller (espionage comes to mind) and use them, fictionalize them.  With thrillers, there’s that extra layer of excitement (events and actions) that goes beyond simply following clues to corner that crafty culprit.

WP111thrillerClipartdotEmailGrab readers from the get-go.  Start with a sinister or shocking—riveting—act.  Add action regularly, but don’t just shove it in there for the sake of it.  Make sure it makes sense, that it moves the plot along, and that it isn’t so fantastic or abundant that it becomes a bit of a bore.  And don’t forget to insert some suspense; hint at upcoming threats and risks.  Create anxiety.  This builds on that layer of excitement, which urges readers to keep—you got it—reading!

Add questions along the way—through narration or dialogue—so readers are as curious as the main character(s) and yearn to learn the answers.

Lastly, make that ending dynamic and convincing; it’s a crucial moment in your book.  It shouldn’t be limp or expected (and, if it were, your readers likely gave up reading long before they reached this pivotal point).  This is where can tie all your loose ends together or, if you’re planning a sequel, leave some things open to the imagination . . . and the sale of your follow-up book.

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Putting Suspense in Suspense

It’s JJ providing the next-to-last post re reviewing mystery sub-genres and related genres.  Suspense seemed a primo one to add to the list.  You can’t really have a good, riveting mystery novel if you don’t have suspense.  And, of course, you can’t have a spellbinding suspense novel if you don’t have thrills and chills either.  Suspense creates anticipation, tension, excitement—components that keep your readers roused and reading.

Suspense, as a genre, is related to the mystery and thriller, but the main difference: how much suspense you create for your readers.  Are you playing with their emotions [enough]?  Making them feel anxious, thrilled, enthused, eager to learn what’s going to transpire?

Generally speaking, a suspense novel makes readers aware of things that your protagonist isn’t.  Additionally, the crime and/or challenge occur almost immediately.  And points-of-view aren’t necessarily limited to just the protagonist; the perpetrator’s may be provided as well.

The unknown elements, the sought-after answers help create suspense—who committed the despicable crime, why was it perpetrated, what will go down when the perp or an associate reveals the truth, when will the protagonist know he’s about to plunge over the cliff.  But you’ll also want to infuse some edginess in the characters, dialogue/narration, scenes and action to draw readers into the conundrum.

Try something like:

  • A shrill, ear-stinging sound emanated from the top of the dilapidated dwelling.
  • Apprehensive, Henrietta hastily scanned the shadowy laneway, hoping to catch sight of the long-limbed, one-eyed robber.
  • “It couldn’t have been Tom—he was with Libby in the Seaside Bar last night,” Larry explained nervously, scratching his heavily scarred cheek with calloused fingers.  “I’m sure I saw them laughing over martinis around eight.”
  • Detective Mauer glanced up from the mangled body just as the heavy metal door clanged shut and thrust him into darkness.
  • The killer peered around the decaying fence and scanned the vacant shack; had that irritating jackass of a lieutenant discovered the gym bag with the evidence?

In mysteries—as with suspense—the protagonist is usually searching for a killer or culprit . . . that mysterious entity who won’t be revealed until the right, exciting moment.  By not disclosing a vital identity too readily in the story, you’re keeping readers guessing.  This can hold true of the protagonist, too.  You don’t have to, all at once, give up a lot of information about his or her personal and professional background, what makes him/her tick, or what might make him/her react and respond (and not necessarily in a positive way).  Think of it like building a LEGO® house—add one interlocking brick at a time.

Also remember: every character—no matter if major or minor—has a quest, purpose, and/or motive.  How big a part he/she plays in the storyline determines how much information you [need to] provide.

Do make sure readers care about main character(s) or feel some empathy.  This way they’ll get caught up in the suspense as hazards and threats present themselves; they’ll want your character(s) to overcome the dangers, resolve the issues, trump the challenges.

Instead of:

  • Theo turned from the crime scene upon hearing something and saw a tall man slip into the darkness.  Was he the murderer?

Try something like:

  • Hearing a harsh scraping sound, Theo whirled from the bloody crime scene and saw a heavyset tall man, sporting an old-world fedora, slip into the darkness of an alleyway.  Where had he recently seen that same hat?  And what about the man?  Was he responsible for this vile deed?  Theo drew a deep breath, quashing outrage as he considered how Jackson Marlboro must have suffered at the hands of his maniacal killer.

Dialogue/narration can also help keep readers guessing.  If it’s first-person, you’re restricted to expressing what the protagonist sees, senses, and undergoes; if it’s third-person, you have a wider range, but you may want to limit what is revealed by describing only what the character of the moment—or page/scene—is undergoing.  Give a little, but not a lot.  Dangle clues, tuck in a red herring or two, and offer tidbits like the proverbial carrot: think of them like the pieces of a puzzle.  And offer questions within the dialogue to give readers “food for thought”.

Instead of:

  • Jerry looked at the dog.  “Yeah, he seems like a nice fella,” Jerry said, looking at the dog that Roger was petting.

Try something like:

  • Jerry eyed the ash-gray poodle curiously.  “Yeah, he’s well-behaved.  I wonder who he belongs to and why he’s out here in the middle of nowhere?”
  • With a pensive brow, Roger peered thoughtfully at the pooch he was petting, as if hoping he might offer an answer.

Instead of:

  • Maria entered the dim bar, her gun tucked inside her coat.  She looked around and noticed five people at the bar and six seated at various tables around the bar.  They all looked like they wanted to be elsewhere.

Try something like:

  • Maria concealed the Luger and strolled into the dim waterfront bar.  A middle-aged bartender was keeping a watchful eye on the five glassy-eyed people seated at the curved, scratched bar.  Six others were seated at various tables near the dingy windows.  All appeared as if they wished to be elsewhere—lounging in lottery-won mansions maybe.

Scenes and actions should advance the storyline, so don’t add “filler” for the sake of padding the story.  And always bear in mind: show, don’t tell.  If you add description and details, make them interesting, not instructive; otherwise, all we’re reading is “she blah, blah, blah, blah”.

Instead of:

  • John walked into the forest to see what he could find regarding the killer.

Try something like:

  • Determinedly, John plunged into the dense, shadowed forest to ascertain if the conniving killer had wended his way through in an effort to throw off any followers.

WP11clipartDOTemailIn a suspense story, you want the same components as a mystery: a grim event or crime (that motivates your protagonist to take action), conflict, friction and tension (prompting readers to want to discover what happens and how the character deals with the situation), pacing (smooth and swift action and narration so as not to provoke yawns), misleading clues (those twists and turns that keep readers—and the protagonist—guessing), and ambiance (setting and feeling/mood).

Give thought to what readers may want (or not want) in terms of the plot and characters.  Give them a sample.  Yank it back.  Give another.  Jerk it around.  Just for the record: you don’t need a lot of violence to make it “suspenseful”.  Hint at it.  Build on it.  Allow readers to anticipate and visualize it.

There’s much say about suspense novels and what makes them work/successful but, hopefully, I’ve provided enough to get you started.

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Longing for a Literary Mystery?

Hey, it’s Rey today.  To be honest, literary mysteries aren’t quite my, as Lindy-Loo would say, cup of tea.  They can be a bit too cerebral (thanks for that word goes to Cousin Jilly).  But you know?  I enjoy a challenge, so posting about them seemed like a sweet task to take on.

Let’s take a quick look at literary fiction first.  It tends to be more character-driven and doesn’t generally have the fast-moving plots of genre fiction.  Literary books move at a different pace, a slower one maybe, but can be equally exciting.  Events and exploits take place, just maybe not in the form of a hatchet slamming into someone’s head . . . uh . . . a sleuth sprinting after an assassin.  Good literary fiction not only has a plot and theme but tends to be deep(er) because it explores ideas, thoughts, and actions.  Literary authors are likely to be word whizzes and will paint intricate pictures through powerful prose. Some people might say this makes for a slow(er) book, but I think it’s all part of that perspective thing.

One other thing about literary fiction: it really doesn’t have rules.  You don’t have to stick to formulas, like that of mystery and its sub-genres.  The sky’s the limit; feel free to write what you wish.  Just keep the reader riveted.

So maybe you’re longing to write a literary mystery?  Did you know the first literary mysteries date back to the 1840s, courtesy of Edgar Allan Poe and his amateur detective, Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin?  By getting into the minds of his villains, Poe offered readers something new and fresh.  So did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who featured the ever-skillful Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, er, friend, Dr. Watson in novels and short stories between 1887 and 1927.  The innovative “science of psychology” made its successful debut.

Generally, all mysteries: revolve around a crime and the efforts to solve it, investigate how said crime occurred, and attempt to solve it and find out who did it.

The literary mystery is no different, but what distinguishes it from the conventional one?

As in literary fiction, readers will find more character development and complexities; characterization tends to be more thorough and comprehensive.  Readers may get into the characters’ heads, which could be dark, scary places.  Relationships, dialogue and narration can be intense.

Narration is solid if not sophisticated (food-for-thought-and-not-naught).  The plot is more detailed and can incorporate social, philosophical, or abstract concepts, among others.  You’re getting more bang for your buck—there’s more than the mystery that’s afoot (OMG, I do believe I’m on a post roll, he-he).

The thrill of a whodunit is important, of course, but so is what happening around that search for truth and resolution.

From my research and what I learned from my P.I. associates, it’s also been suggested that literary mysteries may refer to books and/or that they use elements of literature to add a turn of the screw or three to the viewpoint(s), voice/tone, and setting(s).  I won’t argue; I’m just putting this out there.  Do with it what you will, my friends.

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Nothing Hysterical about Historical Mysteries

It’s JJ today, reviewing historical mysteries.  I don’t have the opportunity to read them anymore, but there was a time I truly enjoyed them.  Besides old masters Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, a couple of much-loved favorites from long ago (almost historical in itself) are Anne Perry and Ellis Peters.

If you’re considering writing one, pick a period you’d like your mystery to be set in and get to know it well, because you’ll need to include descriptions and details related to that era.  Research should become your new best friend.

Don’t simply plunk history—events, equipment, tools, fashion, politics, concepts—here and there.  Consider which elements are central to the tale and use them accordingly.  The historical information should be accurate and make sense for the storyline and setting.  Then ensure there is a balance between plot/story and those historical components (too much history might prompt a yawn).

If you choose a real city to set your story in, learn all you can about it.  What was popular at that time?  Who was popular at that time?  What did people eat and do for entertainment?  How were the roads?  What were the modes of transportation?  Who ran the city?  Enable readers to see the story; create a clear, convincing picture of a bygone period.  While true events may not play an integral part in your mystery, they might have caught the interest of, or affected, a character or two.  No one, regardless of the century, is oblivious to what is happening around him or her.  If a member of royalty is assassinated, surely that would have had lips flapping?  As such, maybe it’s worth mentioning in some respect, if only in passing.

Don’t forget language.  In the days of yore, people spoke differently.  Now, you may not want to plug in a score of “thou art” and “prithee” but do stir in some past-century flavor to boost mood and feeling.  And give thought to who’s speaking; an officer of the court or law would speak differently than a lord or lady of the times.  Remember: education, like equality, was not granted to all.

Men and women played distinct roles within society and had certain traditions and morals to follow.  Women wore rather constricting clothing and men with money sported the fashion of the time.  Having a swashbuckling heroine would work for a historic romance, but maybe not so much for a historical mystery.  Still, it is fiction—artistic license and all that—so if you think you can pull it off, given the crime(s) and storyline, give it a go.  Do remember, though, readers know their stuff.  Don’t be surprised if you’re called out on something.

And while on the topic of men and women, just who is your main character, your protagonist and “sleuth”?  Develop him (or her) thoroughly, based upon the period you’ve chosen for your mystery.

Last but not least, don’t forget crucial components for mysteries: police/detective work and forensics.  They’d not have used DNA or fingerprints in the 17th century to solve a murder or abduction or robbery.  Learn how crimes were processed.  You don’t have to provide a history lesson—too many details can prove as detrimental as incorrect facts—but do allow “glimpses” how legal folks went about collecting evidence . . . if they even did.

There’s a lot to share about historical mysteries, but I believe—hope—I’ve provided enough to get you started.  The rest will fall into place (trial and error, and all that).  Enjoy the time-travel trip.

May ye fare well.

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Nothing Negligible about the Noir

It’s Linda today, reviewing a unique mystery sub-genre: the noir.

The noir isn’t for everyone—it can be, as the name suggests, dark.  It can be gritty and bleak, with tough characters that may not be likable.  The mood and atmosphere?  Also dark.  Generally, the criminal is the central focus and the reader follows him/her into a world that can prove as jarring as it is unpleasant.  If you love happy endings, the noir is not for you.

The protagonist is a dropout from society, someone who doesn’t fit the norm (it was usually a he, but times have changed, so she is quite doable).  Other characters won’t care much for this individual, who will probably appear more a loser than anything else.  He/she would likely have an issue or two, not be very trusting or sociable—a loner, in essence.

Moreover, the protagonist isn’t a hero, but what they call an anti-hero.  What drives him/her?  Retribution.  Selfishness.  Avarice.  A grudge.  Often, he/she will try to find resolution via an alcohol-filled glass or at the end of a revolver.  To keep readers interested—and hoping that something good might transpire—add scenes/dialogue that will maintain that hope . . . until the end . . . when the ultimate [and tragic] downfall takes place.

There’s usually a sexual component—where another character may serve as the reason/motivation the protagonist goes so wrong.  It’s not typically love, but lust.  And lust can equal ruin.

The protagonist doesn’t have to be a P.I. or cop, but given the noir is a mystery, there should be a one!  Traditional noirs tend to open with a murder, but times change and so can the beginning.  But murder does make for a good mystery, regardless of the sub-genre, doesn’t it?

Dialogue tends to be abrupt/curt, quick and brisk.  It’s simple and straightforward and moves the storyline along.  Think about those 40s’ noir films, like one of our boss’ favorite, The Maltese Falcon.  Bogart’s character, Sam Spade, tells Cairo, Peter Lorre: when you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.  Short and sweet … and rather testy if not threatening, n’est-ce pas?

Dialogue should help paint a picture of what’s happening—let us “see” and “feel” that stale, musty dive, burned-out garage, bullet-riddled room.  Similes (comparing two things) and metaphors (words or phrases compared to objects or concepts) tend to abound.

Noir, film or book, often tells the story with first-person narrative.  As the writer, however, you don’t have to; go with your gut.  However, the one component of writing in first person is that you pull the reader into the protagonist’s head.  Then you can play around—have the reader wonder if what is being narrated is indeed factual.  Maybe the protagonist is leaning toward the demented or confused, and is sharing facts strictly as he/she views them . . .  or wishes to view them.

Setting is often the big bad city, but dark and dismal things happen in the country and oceanside, too.  Pick a place for your location . . . the paint it with thick, twisted and ethereal strokes.

Violence is important to the noir—a left hook results in a black eye, a Luger knocks out a character (or a tooth or two), a serrated knife ends a life.  The protagonist gets beaten up.  Badly.  You don’t have to get gory or overly detailed, but you do have to convey it in a way that it disturbs readers, makes us wince . . . and maybe sparks that aforementioned hope that something decent will happen as a result.

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Definitely, there’s nothing negligible about the noir.  And if you haven’t yet stepped into the world of noir, try these three: Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, and Dashiell Hammett.  They’re not the masters of noir for nothing.

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Cozying Up to a Cozy

Hey-ho, it’s Rey today.  We’re still reviewing mysteries and I won, er, got the cozy!  For those not in the know, yet, a cozy is like a traditional mystery, with a few differences.

It’s a popular sub-genre (my new word) where, basically, an amateur sleuth solves a murder or puzzler in a pleasant setting while learning a whack of interesting stuff.  These mysteries often comprise a series and there’s usually a theme or profession—such as the world of gardening, publishing/writing (think Jessica Fletcher), cooking or baking, catering, and even, yeah, possibly, a detective agency.  Our sleuth is an everyday kind of person, like you or me, who possesses good judgment (common sense) that [eventually] enables him or her to figure out who the perp is.

Besides having said sleuth and a bona-fide mystery to solve, a cozy will generally contain the following:

♦ a “family” oriented approach, where swear words and sexual exploits are at a minimum, if at all

♦ a degree of wit and fun or eccentricity, be it through the characters, dialogue, or events

♦ a main character—the amateur sleuth—the reader can relate to or root for . . . an “everyday” someone (again like you and me) who, when faced with the challenges of the crime, accepts them and valiantly does his/her best to ensure the crime is solved

♦ clues, which are revealed to the reader, as well as a few red herrings to provide those fun twists and turns while we’re guessing who did it

♦ an unlikable victim, so we can’t really feel that remorseful that he or she gets axed, er, leaves this mortal coil

♦ a smart cookie of a villain/killer, so our amateur sleuth is challenged, but not outwitted

♦ murder committed behind the theater curtains, so to speak, so the reader doesn’t have to hear the nasty or gory details (or know who the murderer is)

♦ a small-town or rustic setting (back to Jessica and quaint Cabot Cove) that makes for a picturesque, tranquil location.

WP1murdershewroteDOTfandomDOTcomLastly, what makes a cozy a cozy?  The title.  They’re “cute”.  Given Jessica is so well-known, still, here are some titles, Murder She Wrote . . .

 Gin and Daggers

A Palette for Murder

Martinis and Mayhem (love it)

Highland Fling Murders

Murder in a Minor Key

 You get the idea.  Cozy titles are fun, whimsical, playful . . . like me.  <he-he>

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The Capricious Caper

It’s JJ today, reviewing the caper mystery, a sub-genre which can fall in the same category as a cozy.  There are differences, however.  Unlike a cozy, capers incorporate humor and cheek.  A caper can lean toward the whimsical or capricious, as well as the comedic/comical.  Main characters aren’t generally sophisticated or analytical and can lean toward blundering bunglers.

Capers also frequently incorporate more crimes than the typical murder found in the other categories—such as robberies and thefts, scams and hoaxes, and abductions.  Main characters, our lovely lawbreakers, generally commit the offences up front, so the reader’s aware from the get-go.  Moreover, these folks are often oddballs, yet manage to successfully pull off the, uh, caper.  As such, the emphasis isn’t so much on solving the mystery or mysteries, but on the crime or crimes.

The offenders are usually likable and get into hot water and crimes/deeds way over their heads.  They’ll argue and clash, but this will normally add to the comedy and capriciousness.  And given you’ll have a few folks engaged in the caper(s), you’ll likely want to have one of them serve as “the brains”, a team leader as it were.  Maybe the POV will come from this character?  It’s up to you as to how you wish to present your capering caper.

So, what should you consider when writing one?  The plot, of course.  Are the lawbreakers-to-be out to steal money or jewels?  If so, for selfish reasons or benevolent ones?  Are they out to commit more than one crime?  How many?  What is the purpose behind each one?  Committing a crime on a lark may not cut it with readers, but there might be justification for it being a lark . . . to prove something perhaps?  And, if there is more than one crime, how does each one tie into the other?

Give thought as to how each caper will be developed and carried out.  How will our “caperers” pull them off?  Who exactly are these people?  Give backgrounds.  Do some have questionable pasts?  Are they all shifty, or just a couple?  Do they have goals, dreams?  Are they in relationships?  What qualities might you provide so they are likable, witty or humorous, maybe even sympathetic?

Think about how to best build tension and conflict and humor in your story.  What could transpire during the course of the caper(s) that would make readers laugh?  Don’t forget your dialogue; in addition to it moving the story, it should contain both friction and wittiness now and again.

Besides humor, tone and mood are important to capers; as such, they can be more tricky to write.  But who doesn’t enjoy or relish a challenge?  Have fun!

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An Amateur, but Never Amateurish

You’ve got me, Linda, posting today.  The Boss asked us to pick a couple of preferred mystery categories to review, so the first one I opted for: amateur sleuth.

Rey, JJ and I got the notion to become professional P.I.s—okay, my best friend, Rey did—after we’d done some amateur sleuthing at a haunted (yes, by a real ghost named Fred) Connecticut mansion.  We figured out who was responsible for many—many!—murders.  It proved dangerous, frightening, and exciting.

Perhaps you’re interested in writing an amateur sleuth mystery.  If so, allow me to share some key points.

Firstly, you may think an amateur sleuth mystery is the same as a cozy—and you’re right, sort of.  A cozy is almost always an amateur sleuth mystery, but an amateur sleuth mystery isn’t always a cozy.  Amateur sleuth stories can be comical/funny or lean toward the dark.  Cozies generally don’t, but both are commonly lighter; i.e. not overly gory when describing violence and murders and the like.

Amateur sleuth mysteries have the main character(s) digging for clues and answers; they’re curious, determined, and tenacious.  And we love following them as they endeavor to solve the crime; in fact, we love solving the crime with them as we attempt to ascertain who dun it.

The main character should be likable—smart and personable, too.  Yes, he/she may be an amateur sleuth, but he/she is far from amateurish.  A certain level of skill exists.  He/she doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist or a trophy-winning pro, just good at what he/she does.  Sure, he/she can make a mistake or two—we all do in real life—but don’t have the character bumbling and stumbling unless, perhaps, you’re incorporating a comic scene.  Stupidity doesn’t wear well on an amateur sleuth.

Incorporate a detailed background—town, city, monastery, island, mainland.  Make it come alive by offering well-crafted details about location (fictional or not).  Think of smells and sounds.  Let readers fully visualize the place(s).  And what sort of work environment does this mystery take place in?  A telecom company?  Radio station?  Publishing firm?  The [mystery] world is your oyster.

Ensure there’s a valid reason for your amateur sleuth(s) to become involved in the mystery; it could be personal and/or professional.  For example, maybe Mr. Smith wants to discover who killed the janitor, a kind friendly fellow, in his building.  Or maybe Ms. Browne wants to find out who bumped off her beloved aunt’s beau.  Make it valid; make it believable.

Action is a must.  You don’t need tons of it—dialogue and details/descriptions, when well presented, can carry the story—but regular or well-placed action will help move the plot along and keep readers interested.  Think: conflicts, tension, adventures, exploits, deeds.  Don’t forget danger; have your main character face a few perils!

Have enough clues.  Throw in red herrings.  Add twists and turns.  Keep your readers guessing.  Make certain there are enough suspects—that they all have possible motives, could have been in the vicinity at the time the crime was committed, or had the means (were able) to commit the crime.  You want to keep your readers guessing as to . . . yes . . . who dun it.

First person or third?  It’s your choice.  Write in the voice that you feel most comfortable with.

What about romance?  I believe some people enjoy a bit of l’amour in their books.  I do.  But if it doesn’t fit your main character—at least not in this current story—that’s okay.  Maybe he/she finds a sweetheart in the next one.

You may wish to consider having a partner or buddy assisting the main character.  They can bounce ideas off each other, discover clues, and help in dire moments.  A colleague can also prove comic relief; maybe the two interact like Laurel and Hardy?  There’s a distinct relationship and one you can develop/change throughout the series (if it’s your intention to write a few mysteries featuring the same folks).

When the culprit has been unveiled/captured, end the story in a timely manner.  Tie up loose ends . . . and exit effortlessly and easily . . . like I’m about to do.

That, my friends, is the amateur sleuth mystery in a proverbial nutshell.

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Picking the Police Procedural …

… as your mystery of choice.

Hey-ho, it’s Rey.  I’ve got the first post of “must dos” re specific categories of mysteries: police procedurals.  My mother used to read them—Ed McBain, P.D. James, James Patterson, to name a few.  That woman never threw any books away.  We had stacks (!) in the basement.  I was never much of a reader but, once in a while, I’d grab a paperback on a rainy afternoon.  I have to admit, I kinda liked McBain’s books.

You’ll be happy to know that, although our boss gave me some insight/input, I did my own research as to what you need to incorporate in your story (pat on back to me).  So, basically, the police procedural is police crime drama, which looks at how a member of the police or legal force handles an investigation.  Evidence, warrants, forensics and legal procedures are must dos and are interwoven throughout the storyline.

Decide who your protagonist (main character) is and which agency/department he or she works for.  The FBI, DEA, or a local police station maybe?  Make sure to learn the rules/regulations specific to it.  They all have their own, so have the right facts for the right place (i.e. setting).  For example, what are gun regulations, laws, sentencing and penalties in your given location(s)?  Research should become be your best friend . . . and that research can extend to chatting with those in the legal profession.  Call the Media Relations department; they’ll point you in the right direction.  Inquire . . . inquire . . . inquire.  And if you’re in it for the long run, take some courses and/or attend a conference or two.

Incorporate the day-to-day duties of the office or agency.  This is paramount to a good police procedural.  You’ll be providing realistic details re ops and processes, and the like; keep them authentic and relative to the setting/location (crimes that occur in a cosmopolitan city may not occur in a rural farm-rich community).  The procedural isn’t a cozy where poetic license is permissible if not desired (where having Neddy Hickenbottom, the antique dealer, suspended from a cherub statue in a eighteenth-century hedge maze is better [more thrilling] than having Nat Browne, the pizza guy, found at the end of a cul-de-sac in suburbia).

Give your protagonist depth.  Don’t make him/her flat or one-dimensional.  There should be a past (history), likes and dislikes, personal and professional quests, habits, and training/education among other things.  The storyline is important, for sure, but readers do want to relate to your main character.  Make him or her likable or have redeemable traits (nothing wrong with someone being mean-spirited or pessimistic, as long as he/she develops and changes, my personal opinion).  There are rules to be followed and some can be broken, but for the most part, think “authenticity”.  The Boss may have used this before, but I think it’s perfect . . . character development is like painting a portrait.  Add layers and a variety of colors.

Something you might find in a procedural: different points of views.  This will enable readers to become acquainted with facts the protagonist might not know.  That’s fine.  Word of advice, though: don’t have too many POVs or you’re going to confound readers.

Given this is a police procedural, you’ll be more limited in what the crime/storyline entails.  Nevertheless, you can certainly still write a stellar and exciting story.  As with all mysteries, provide clues as your protagonist investigates the crime (readers love solving the mystery with the hero/heroine), but don’t be obvious.  Throw in a couple of red herrings, too.

WPflashing-light-animated-clipart-7Think about uniforms and routines, outlooks and processes.  Remember, in the real police world, reports and record-keeping is rampant; it’s not just about following a suspect or solving a crime.  Consider all the elements.

Sounds challenging?  I say it sounds more like fun.  Have at it, my friends.

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Putting the Mystery in a Mystery

mystery:  secrecy  /  ambiguity  /  whodunnit  /  enigma  /  puzzle / conundrum / riddle / unsolved problem

The gals thought today’s post should review the mystery genre—specifically, how to write one.  Sounds good to me.

As you know, mysteries can fall under various categories: cozy, amateur sleuth, professional sleuth, private eye (like our trio, JJ, Rey and Linda), police procedural, noir, suspense, historical, mixed genres, literary, and caper, which is a crime story that leans towards comical (didn’t know that one had a category until recently, so there you go; you do learn something new every day).

Let’s stick to an overall review of penning a mystery, because each category has its own specific components and that would take up several pages.  But, hmm, that’s a thought; maybe we’ll feature each one separately over the next few weeks.  Ah, Rey’s giving two thumbs up.  <LOL>  I guess that’s what we’ll be doing.

You’ve decided to write one but aren’t sure what type?  Well, which mysteries do you enjoy reading?  Cozies?  Then go for that, something familiar.  Later, if you’re so inclined or are looking for a challenge, try something else.

Regardless of the type, you need a compelling story, one that yanks the reader right in.  Have a murder or three (or an enthralling crime/riddle to solve), also known as “plot”.  There should be conflict and tension, and action (but this doesn’t necessarily have to be of the racing-against-time or hit-over-the-head intensity).  Provide an interesting and preferably likable central character—the protagonist and person solving the mystery—and ensure your other characters have life.  They mustn’t be flat or wooden, or sound/seem the same.  I haven’t said this in a while, but variety is the spice of life . . . and stories.

Something else I’ve not stated in some time: show, don’t tell.  Weave the aforementioned conflict and tension between dialogue and activities/adventures.  Neither need be there continually, but certainly often enough to keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat, yearning to read on and discover what transpires!

Give thought to the crime.  If you’re stumped as to what the crime should be, search the internet for real-life ones and adopt/adapt one.  Imagine yours in every detail—how it was committed, what happened before and after, why it took place, and who did the dastardly deed.  Think about clues that the central character might stumble upon and follow.  Toss in a red herring or two.

WPgiphyGive thought as to why your character would be inclined to solve this mystery.  A professional reason perhaps?  He/she is a private investigator or detective, or works in some sort of legal or medical capacity, as examples.  An amateur sleuth may stumble upon a crime or murder and aspire to determine what transpired—but how did said amateur sleuth happen to be there?  Visiting a relative?  Attending a conference?  Moreover, might there be a personal reason the character wants to solve the mystery?  Add a few layers, but don’t stifle your character or reader (which translates into zzzzzz).

Who are your suspects?  You should have a few to keep your readers intrigued, guessing [detecting] along with the central character, and wanting to discover who the culprit is!  Try to surprise your reader, but don’t make the outcome outlandish or implausible.  On the flip side, don’t make your outcome too predictable or easily “reader solvable”.

Assemble your concept, characters, clues and suspects like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to create a complete picture.  Outline/chart how your protagonist [eventually] solves the mystifying crime.  Consider scenes and events.  And don’t forget your setting, either.  Make it come as alive as your character(s), dialogue, and actions.

Happy writing.

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But We Don’t Wanna, Either!!

Hey, it’s Rey.  A wee while ago our boss posted about how she wasn’t really into posting that day/week.  We so-o get it.  With a lot of lanai-lounging and no major case-solving, we’ve gotten a little lazy.  Cousin Jilly, Lindy-Loo, and I are not too motivated to write these days—well, those two more than me, that’s why I’m posting today.

Finding something interesting though . . . that’s another issue.  What would followers/visitors want to read about that hasn’t been posted about?  I don’t want to create a big yawwwnnnnnnnnnn.

Hmm.  How about something fun and totally frivolous—our favorite lanai-lounging cocktails (when we’re inspired to do more than flip a cap, he-he).

My cousin JJ likes the local favorite that tourists suck back by the gallon—the ever-popular Mai Tai.  Here’s her [double-vision] version.

1 1/2 oz dark rum

1/2 oz white

1/2 oz orange liqueur (Grand Marnier is another personal preference)

1/2 – 1 oz coconut liqueur or coconut water

1 tsp grenadine

blend of orange juice and pineapple juice (you decide how much)

crushed ice

plumeria as garnish/decoration (if none available, use a spear of pineapple or slice or orange, or something imaginatively “cute”)

** fill a glass with crushed ice     ** pour all the ingredients, except the dark rum, into a shaker or blender; shake/blend and pour over the ice     ** float the dark rum on top     ** garnish and serve

My best friend Linda has recently started enjoying the occasional Papaya Martini.  She makes a pretty good one, too.  Simple recipe, sophisticated taste (so she claims).

1 oz fresh papaya juice

1 oz Cointreau (or Grand Marnier, if you’re so inclined)

2 oz vodka

a shot (or two) of sparkling wine

squeeze of lime

garnish of choice (Linda likes adding something floral, like a pansy)

** add crushed ice (or cubes if you’re not up to crushing) to a shaker     ** shake well for several seconds and strain into a traditional martini glass (sight counts as much as taste)     ** garnish and serve

And, lastly, you have my current favorite lanai-lounging libation . . . the Mockarita.  I still like my rye and ginger, but when it comes to cocktails, these days, I’m leaning toward the “pretend” ones.

4 ounces limeade

4 ounces lemonade

1 ounce orange juice

1 tsp powdered sugar

sparkling water, lime or orange flavor

garnish with lime slice/wedge

salt for the rim

** use a chilled glass (so much nicer)     ** put salt on a saucer/plate     ** run a lime slice/wedge around the rim of the glass and dip it into the salt     ** add ice and all the ingredients, except the sparkling water, into a blender and blend well     ** strain the mocktail-cocktail into the glass     ** top with the flavored sparkling water (you determine the ratio)

And there you have it: a we-don’t-wanna-either post, with a pleasant “uplifting” twist.

Drunk Good Vibes GIF by sofiahydman

 

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The Repentant Juggler

Normally, I stick to the “theme” of this blog—providing tips related to writing/blogging and editing, and what the P.I.s are up to at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  Today’s post is a tale . . .

. . . the tale of a repentant juggler.

Repentant because, of late, Faith has stepped back from her periodically neurotic self and viewed life, and herself, with new/different eyes.  The result: she feels quite remorseful, if not ashamed.

Juggling a demanding full-time job and caring for an elderly parent (a full-time job in itself) is very difficult for a sole caregiver.  Faith hasn’t slept more than three-four hours a night in many years; as such, she tends to be perpetually exhausted.  So, when She isn’t leaning toward sad or resentful, Faith may feel sorry for herself.  Silly, but true, she thinks with a wry smile and troubled heart.

Faith loves that parent but may not always like her . . . and only because she hasn’t learned to completely forgive and forget.  In her heart, Faith believes she is a good person and attentive caregiver, a decent daughter, but then decides she’s not.  Good people simply do not whine, cry, despair, or question life or the Big Guy.

Perhaps it’s also that her parent is old and fragile, and that may also frighten and fret her.  Faith remembers the strength that once was . . . and remembers who and what they both once were: youthful and robust.  Aging has its merits, becoming “old” does not.

There have been bouts of depression and they have proven debilitating . . . and downright annoying.  Faith has had it with that, though.  Depression has drained her once too often; it’s time to go!

Faith wants to return to the person she once was: a good-humored, easy-going, caring person with dreams, hopes, and faith.  Fortunately, Faith’s moving in the right direction. With the help of a kindly naturopath, healthy diet, and her own [very firm] desire to turn her life around, she’s taking purposeful baby steps forward.

She recalls a once popular expression: when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  She likes that and says, “Look for a huge pitcher!”  And while she’s at it, Faith is going to juggle those tart little citrus fruits, too!  She’s going to flip vexing anxiety into sweet calmness.

The juggler is truly repentant . . . and prays that the Big Guy forgives her . . . and that, going forward, she will embrace, even welcome, the challenges that come her way.  All acts and actions truly lend themselves to learning and growing.

Faith recalls yet another once popular expression: don’t give up, give over.  (Sometimes those trite expressions are just so spot on.)

Life’s too short to be apprehensive or angst-ridden.  She’s looking forward to a wholesome new life and outlook.  It’s all about love—for others and self.

Faith laughs softly and a couple of expressions juggle within her mind [maybe they’ll become personal mottoes] . . .

Be strong, not wrongStay true, not blue.

WPA1AamazonDOTcom

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Day Five, Last Promo Drive

Hey, it’s Rey on the last day of the $0.99 promo drive for our second case, Coco’s Nuts.

Our Triple Threat Investigation Agency is hired by socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer to prove she didn’t shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo, or her best friend, Eb Stretta.  A challenge because the cops and the evidence all point to her pulling the trigger.

As we begin searching for the real killer, we discover a number of people who might fit the bill.  There’s Annia, Picolo’s daughter, who owes mega bucks to folks in Vegas and on Oahu; receiving money from the sizeable inheritance would sure help her from having that pretty face rearranged.  Jimmy Junior might have decided he’d like to take on Daddy’s businesses for himself; he seems super tired of standing in the big guy’s shadows. Then we have Coco Peterson, a company driver, who’s been AWOL since the two murders—and rumors have it he’s a major nutbar.  Then there’s Picolo brother and Stretta’s, too.  And let’s not forget that hottie, Kent, a valuable Picolo employee.  Yup, a number of people certainly fit the killer bill.

Maybe you’d be interested in checking out who the culprit is?  I promise, it’s a twisty-turny f-u-n mystery trip.

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

See ya all soon!

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Day Two, 99¢ For You

Hey, it’s Rey on the second day of the Coco’s Nuts promotion—our second action-packed Triple Threat Investigation Agency case.  Today, through June 15th, it’s available for just $0.99.

In a nutshell, JJ, Linda and I have to prove socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo.  And she certainly didn’t off her best friend, Eb Stretta.  Regardless what the police believe and the evidence suggests, we’re sure that Buddy’s been set up.  As we search for clues, we encounter a slew of possible suspects.

A lot of people hated Picolo enough to kill him, so finding the one who pulled the trigger is challenging.  As we try to find the killer, we take a few detours—into the dark and dangerous world of gambling and debt collectors, who’d just as easily break limbs if ya haven’t paid up as look at ya.  Annia, Picolo’s daughter, owes major dollars to dodgy dudes in Vegas and on Oahu.  Maybe this motivated her to kill her father; she could collect that sizeable inheritance.  Jimmy Junior, Picolo’s son, may have gotten over-eager to take over his father’s multiple businesses; he couldn’t wait for the old man to die of old age.  Then there’s nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee who’s been missing since the murders took place.  He’s a driver for Picolo and the odd little guy appears to play a principal piece in this crazy puzzler.

If you’re interested, please check out Coco’s Nuts out:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Catch ya tomorrow!

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Day One, One More

Hey, it’s Rey on the first day of the Coco’s Nuts promotion—our second action-packed Triple Threat Investigation Agency case.  Today, through June 15th, it’s available for just $0.99 (can you spell b-a-r-g-a-i-n?).

JJ, Linda and I have to prove socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo.  Nor did she kill her best friend, Eb Stretta.  And despite what the police believe and the evidence suggests, we’re convinced that Buddy’s been set up.  In our search for answers, we come across a slew of suspects.

A lot of people hated Picolo enough to kill him but finding the one who pulled the trigger proves tough.  As we follow clues to locating the killer, we travel along a few detours—like the world of gambling and debt collectors, also known as limb-breakers.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars to some nasty folks in Vegas and on Oahu.  Maybe this motivated her to kill her father—so that she could collect a sizeable inheritance.  Jimmy Junior, Picolo’s son, may have been super eager to take over his father’s multiple businesses—and couldn’t wait for the old man to pass naturally.  What about nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee who’s been MIA since the murders occurred?  A driver for Picolo, the odd little pest, er, fellow, appears to be a major piece in this perplexing puzzler.

Yeah, it was challenging–and dangerous–but we had some fun solving this case, too.  e0c519dfe1f34fcf1cd12601fe696bd5If you’re interested, please check out Coco’s Nuts out:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

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Have at It!

These days, it’s certainly not difficult to become unmotivated or uncommitted re writing/blogging.  When in lock-down, inspiration can seem limited and the routine . . . well, routine.  I know I’m finding it tough to stay focused or come up with ideas; I’d rather be a couch potato and suck back a big bag of salt-and-vinegar chips.  Fortunately, or unfortunately—that perspective thingy—work and mom-care obligations won’t allow for that.  So, what better a topic for today than staying inspired.  Let’s have at it!

These are suggestions you’ve undoubtedly heard/read before, but it never hurts to review.

Try to stick to your usual practice.  If you always write in the morning, keep at it.  Maybe you don’t do it as long, but you do it.  If you post twice a week, you continue, even if the content is but a few sentences.  Write what’s on your mind, what you’re feeling. Do a vid, post a pic.  Share.

Some say vary the routine so things don’t become mundane or stale.  If you’re someone who can stick to commitments, then yes, give it a try.  Myself?  If I don’t do something at a certain time—“I can do XYZ at three instead”—it’s pretty much a done deal that it won’t happen.  I am a creature of habit and must honor that.  But what works for me may not work for you.

This might be a perfect time to redesign your blog and organize files.  Nothing better ‘n neatness, I say.  After that, heck, what’s wrong with working on a closet or two?  Drawers?  Cupboards?  Have at them, too.

Take breaks—go for a jog or stroll, ride a bike, walk the dog, cat or hamster.  A change of scenery (other than the view of your laden dining-room table or desk) is always a good thing.  And, for the interim, remember your social distancing.

Consider goals.  What do you want to see happen or do a couple of months from now?  A year from now?  If you had goals before, are they still the same?  Do some soul-searching.  List those things you want to engage in and/or have happen.

What about taking an on-line course to enhance your writing and blogging skills?  Or maybe learning something new, something you’d never have considered before?  If I had the time, I’d go for learning Japanese (an aim of mine for some time).  The sky’s the limit.  You could even work on obtaining certification in some area.  An exciting possibility, isn’t it?

Most importantly perhaps, stay connected with your writing/blogging communities.  Get involved in virtual chats and emails.  Find writing and blogging buddies, if you haven’t already.  Tweet.  Visit FB, Instagram, and all the other social networking sites too numerous to list.  Fine out what other folks are doing and saying.  Hook up with others for inspiration and interaction.

And, if you’re going through a bit of a bad or non-inspired spell, step back . . . take a look at all you’ve done and accomplished.  You’ve worked hard.  You’ve stuck to it through thick and thin.  That’s awesome!

WP1mot123RFdotCOMNever give up.  Keep hope and faith strong.

Have at it—it’s all for you.  It’s all for us.  We are in this together.

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What’s Up, Buttercup?

We are—so up and so ready to face another day.  Hey, it’s Rey!

The three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are still lanai lounging and solving the odd case via the Internet and phone.  A new way to private-eyeing.  Whatever works, right?

HA-HA-HA-HA should be available by end of July (our boss is doing her best to get our latest case recorded as quickly as possible).  It’s an exciting—if not testing and trying—one that involves a stalker and serial killer (we do seem to attract those like bears to honey—must be some invisible invitation tattooed on our foreheads).

As I’m reclining on the chaise longue, watching the kids play in the grass, and Linda and JJ are grilling veggies and fish, I thought I’d share another excerpt with you.

“Any witnesses or sightings re the murders or murderer?” Rey asked, studying a large thick slab of cheese-heavy garlic bread as if it might grow teeth and bite back.

Which prompted a smirk from Sallo.  Snorting, he said, “It ain’t gonna chomp back.”

Appearing doubtful, she took a tiny bite, chewed, and nodded.  “Damn.  It’s good.  Real garlicky.”

“Told you so,” he simpered, digging into the chili.

Linda and I followed suit.  Sallo would share information when he was ready and not a blink before. 

Half-a-bowl later, he motioned Clem for another beer and sat back.  “Jo Belcastro saw a black van around 7:30 the night you found the bodies.  He was jogging along Date, near Laau, heading nowhere in particular.  He noticed it because it was standing alone, real close to that house that burned down last month.  As a landscaper, he tends to notice things that don’t fit well, but he didn’t think about it again until he settled in with the news last night after his jog.”

“He called the police simply because he remembered a van parked near beside a burned-out house?” Linda asked, skeptical. 

“He heard of the murders—who hasn’t?—but he wasn’t really following the news.  Too many landscaping projects.”  With a smirk, he started on the garlic bread and we returned to our chili. 

A couple minutes later, he was ready to pick up where he’d left off.  “When he caught up on them last night—and saw the request for people to come forward if they’d seen anything out of the ordinary—he remembered the van and decided to call.”

“What could he tell you about it?” I asked. 

He frowned.  “Not a helluva lot.  Black.  No lettering.  Basic windows.  Didn’t catch the license plate.  Only noticed it because it was the only vehicle there—in the shadows, slightly off the street, near that house some ass had set a torch to.”

“That sucks,” Rey said.

“Yeah.  But there’s something positive.  Belcastro tripped and another guy and his dog, who weren’t that far away, went to his rescue.  Belcastro was okay.  Just a skinned knee and bruised ego.  They chatted briefly.  Belcastro patted the dog and asked his name and all that, and then they parted ways.”

The three of us leaned in close—grateful we’d all sucked back garlic—anticipating something more useful was about to be imparted.  “When Belcastro called to tell us about it, he mentioned Barty the Springer Spaniel.  Seems Barty’s a favorite in the area, so it wasn’t hard to track down his owner.”

Linda gave a thumb’s up.

“Barty’s owner, Murphy Geist, saw the same van that night.  Considering he wasn’t far behind Belcasto, how could he not?  Anyway, just after the two parted ways, owner and pooch continued their nightly stroll.  After circling around, maybe ten or twelve minutes later, Barty began acting a touch weird—straining at the leash, making whiney doggy sounds.”

“And Geist didn’t think to see what might be bothering Barty?” I asked, astonished.

“He’d been mugged a couple of times and figured it might be some thug lurking in the shrubbery with bad deeds on his mind.  He decided it was a good time to head home and head home fast.”

“And?” I prompted.

His expression bordered on smug.  “He sighted a guy in the van.”

I’m gonna leave ya hangin’ there.  He, he.

We are doing our utmost to stay well and safe.  I hope you are, too.  Take care everyone!

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Review: James J. Cudney IV & Frozen Stiff Drink

Frozen Stiff Drink marks Book #6 in James J. Cudney’s Braxton Campus Mysteries—a series I (and many others) are quite fond of.

Before providing a taste of this delightful whodunit page-turner, I feel compelled to compliment Jay on his progression as an author.  His writing style—first-rate to begin with—keeps improving with every book.  The wry humor is wonderful.  Descriptions/details are enough not to overwhelm (or bore) and enable readers to vividly visualize persons and places.  And the repartee between characters is also deserving of praise.

In Frozen, Kellan Ayrwick, the protagonist, deals with a newcomer on the security scene, an arrogant fellow—the not-yet-ex of April, the woman he’s dating—named “Fox” (and he certainly seems as wily as one).  Meanwhile, the not-too-well-liked Hiram Grey is murdered.  Once again, there’s an assortment of suspects and, to complicate things, Grey’s murder is but the first.  Hampton, Kellan’s brother, falls under suspicion when his father-in-law (and founder of the firm where he works) also enters the realm of the deceased.  The intriguing plot has numerous [fun] twists and turns that has us surmising throughout.

Oh, let’s not forget our favorite granny, the sometimes biting but lovable Nana D, who also happens to be mayor of Wharton County.  She goes missing during a fierce snowstorm and Kellan, understandably frantic, attempts to find her.  Does he?  You’ll have to pick up Frozen Stiff Drink to find out.

Kellan’s adorable eight-year-old daughter, Emma, and his ward, Ulan, travel to Disney Land with Kellan’s parents.  Enter ex-wife Francesca, a woman with ties to the mob (you’ll have to read the other Braxton Campus mysteries to learn more), wants her daughter back.  So not good.

If you’ve been following the series, you’ll find several familiar characters—some likable, some not.  Hey, that’s life.  And if you’ve not yet had an opportunity to read any of Jay’s books, I recommend starting from the beginning, because it’s always nice to see how characters, and writers, develop.

The entertaining, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat Frozen Stiff Drink deserves a five out of five.  Park up your feet, grab a beverage of choice (a glass of a lush, full-bodied rioja would be an ideal choice), sit back . . . and savor!

Rating: savesavesavesavesave

For those who don’t yet know Jay, he is a truly amazing and industrious soul (who also happens to be an awesome, supportive person).  With a technology and business ops background under his belt, Jay not only serves as author, but blogger, reader and reviewer, and genealogist and researcher.  Impressive, to say the least.

Please check him out at:

https://jamesjcudney.com/

WPJayblogbooks1

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Tripling the Light Fantastic

Day #3 of the discount promotion for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie has the three of us P.I.s tripping the light fantastic (something we, alas, don’t indulge in often).

Hula features Rey, JJ, and me embarking on our first official Triple Threat Investigation Agency case.

The assignment is to discover the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s young wife, which seems fairly clear-cut.  Follow Carmie, the young wife, and ascertain what this pretty woman is up to.  Maybe she’s meeting a lover.  Maybe she has something underhanded in mind (hubby is super rich, after all).  Unfortunately, we find her floating close to the shores of a deserted Oahu beach.  An assortment of curious suspects has our work cut out for us.  As we track down clues, we unearth a few secrets, not all belonging to the unfortunate, deceased Carmie.

Drug pushers, informants, and gang members . . . and a few more corpses . . .  are just some of the people we contend with in the search for Carmie’s killer.  Becoming private investigators is one thing, being successful ones another.  Maybe you’d like to find out just how well we fare . . . ?

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

https://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Colins/e/B01KHOZAL2%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B01KHOZAL2?_encoding=UTF8&node=618073011&offset=0&pageSize=12&searchAlias=stripbooks&sort=author-pages-popularity-rank&page=1&langFilter=default#formatSelectorHeader

Stay safe and be well.

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores. FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

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Going Forth with the Fourth

. . . day of promotion.

Hey, it’s Rey.  It’s the fourth day for the free/discount promotion re The Connecticut Corpse Caper featuring my cousin JJ, my BFF Linda, and yours truly.

Caper got us sporting sleuthing caps (or as Adwin, JJ’s now ex-beau said, “Snoop Sister” bonnets).  Look who’s laughing now, though?  We solved the case!  Not bad for a trio of snoopers, huh?

To give you a quick overview: a few friends and family members gathered at Aunt Mat’s haunted mansion to collect a share of her inheritance.  We had to remain a week to collect our share, but if anyone left early, his or her share would have been added to ours.  We’d barely just arrived when one member of the group died—and not naturally, the poor flabby slob.  More bodies soon started dropping.  And, man, were there some weird goings-on (like ghostly, ghoulish ones).  The three of us put our heads together, collected clues, and succeeded in finally solving the bizarre case.  Can you spell f-u-n?

Promotion price?  F-R-E-E  (if only everything were)

Promotion dates:  May 10 – May 14 2020

Be good and stay well—back tomorrow.

https://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Colins/e/B01KHOZAL2%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores. FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

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Shame on Me . . . Again!?

T’is true—t’is time again to do some shameless self-promotion.  Which begins <drum roll> tomorrow.

The gals from The Triple Threat Investigation Agency will take over after today—they have no cases and are looking for things to do.  And Rey’s proven quite the blogging/posting enthusiast this year (so expect her tomorrow).

The Connecticut Corpse Caper—which launched the professional P.I. careers of JJ, Rey, and Linda—will be available for a discount / free promotion beginning May 10th.

A crazy week at a haunted mansion—where a number of individuals can inherit a nice bit of money if they stay the course—results in a few murders and bizarre shenanigans.  JJ (Jill), Rey, and Linda, don amateur sleuth hats and determine to solve the crazy, complex caper. 

Promotion price?  F-R-E-E (sounds good to me)

Promotion dates:  May 10 – May 14 2020

Won’t you please help us boost our Popularity Index (PI)?

https://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Colins/e/B01KHOZAL2%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

WPMay9IIFrom the four of us, a big most grateful thank you!

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores. FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

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Day 7 – Looking for Another Felon

Happy Sunday.  It’s JJ today.

Today is the seventh day of promotion—the third for Coco’s Nuts.  It’s available for 99 cents!

In the second official Triple Threat Investigation Agency case we’re searching for a felon (or two).  Rey, Linda and I are out to prove that socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer didn’t shoot infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo, who also happened to be her boss.  A few days later, her best friend is gunned down.  It doesn’t help when Picolo’s assistant receives five fatal bullets.  Things don’t look good for our client.  Still, despite what the evidence suggests, we’re sure Buddy was set up.

Loads of people hated Picolo enough to kill him but finding the person who pulled the trigger is tricky, given the collection of curious characters—including the daughter who owes Vegas folks a few serious dollars, his son who may want to take over the businesses, an AWOL nutbar named Coco Peterson.

Our private-eyeing travels lead us down a few detours, such as the world of gambling and debt collectors.  We also ruffle a lot of feathers by asking too many questions.  Hopefully, we obtain answers before something significant blows up . . . like us!

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Aloha Sunday!

Laughing Out Loud – Literally

HA-HA-HA-HA, the fifth mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, has our private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—caught up in a serial killer’s sadistic game.  And he wants the trio to play by his rules, “ha-ha, ha-ha”.

GrimReaperPeeper, or GRP as they call him, proves to be as charming as he is calculating and cruel . . . and the four develop an odd bond as more victims fall prey.  What is the significance of the floral etchings and black roses found on the fatalities?  Why are they found in particular locations?  Is there a common denominator?  . . . And just how long, and where else, has he been committing these baffling murders?

Who is GRP?  A true “whacko”?  A disgruntled man with an axe to grind?  He doesn’t appear to follow the usual serial killer profile.  Perhaps he’s a professional?  Someone wealthy?  An individual no one would ever suspect?

Whoever he is, he’s good—very smart and exceptionally shrewd.  Fingerprints and DNA are never found at the crime scenes.  While JJ, Rey and Linda diligently attempt to determine his identity, they accept a couple of casual cases—that of a wayward hubby (they’ve proven fairly accomplished at those) and a stalker shadowing a pretty, young woman.  

With the assistance of Detective Ald Ives and a couple of his seasoned detectives, handsome Hammill and surly Sallo, the three private eyes travel winding trails, search for useable clues, and are yanked into dangerous situations that could, ultimately, prove terminal.

This non-official case is as complex as it is confounding, but as is the trio’s way, they won’t give up.  They must stop GRP . . . before he potentially stops them.

storm

Hey, it’s Rey!  Not a bad synopsis for our latest case.  Our boss figures it’ll be out there early next year.  We’ll keep ya posted!  

Michele’s Seamless Fishnets

I’m referring to Michele E. Northwood’s “seamless” smooth-reading Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea It was a great, riveting read that compelled me to give it a five-star rating (please see last week’s review).  I’d gotten so involved in the three women’s lives and mis-adventures, I found myself wondering what transpired after they’d returned home.

I contacted Michele and asked if she’d be interested in doing an interview—she was!  If you’ve not yet read Fishnets, please do; you won’t regret it.  And if you have and you’re curious to find out more . . . here you go, my friends . . .

An obvious question: do you still keep in touch with anyone from the Fishnet days?  If so, who?  Do you reminisce?  Or do you just not go there?

I’m still in touch with Louise via Facebook.  Occasionally, we share photos and reminisce, but as I mentioned at the end of my book, the memory fades and we tend to obliterate the bad experiences and remember the good ones.  Although it’s impossible to forget some of the experiences, we usually talk about funny or pleasant times and ignore the negatives.  Occasionally, the name of our agent pops up, but I think time mellows a person and I hold no malice towards him.  

When did you begin writing the book?  What served as the “trigger” to write it?

To answer that question, I have to go back to my time in Korea.  I knew from the first couple of days being in that country that we were living through a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I kept a detailed diary of every single day.  I came across the two notebooks I had filled a couple of years ago, and when I sat down to read them again, I realised that it would make an interesting book.  I thought that the uniqueness of the situation would be eye-opening, not only for other dancers but for readers interested in travel and the Far East, as well as appealing to anyone with a curiosity to discover the not-so-idyllic truth behind a dancer’s life.

It took me over a year to write the book and it was released in 2019.

 What were your takeaways from the experience?  Any regrets?  Lessons learned?

I have no regrets about doing the contract.  Although I went through some unpleasant experiences, the three of us dealt with each episode with a lot of laughter, something that I also wanted to get across in the book.  It wasn’t all doom and gloom; we had some good times too.

The experience made me mature and become a much stronger person.  I was an extremely naïve twenty-year-old who was thrown into a seedy world that I was ill-equipped to deal with.  I soon realised the need to stand up for myself if I hoped to see this contract through to the end.  But I was lucky to have Louise as my friend, as she was much more worldly-wise and mothered me for the first few months of the contract.

Some readers have asked me why I didn’t just go home.  This would have been impossible.  I was on the other side of the world at a time when cheap airfares were nonexistent and a one-way ticket back to the UK was eight hundred pounds.  This was a huge amount of money for me at that time, and with our intermittent salary being literally drip-fed to us by our agent, the thought of saving up enough money to buy a ticket home was an insurmountable task.

I think we were all committed to seeing the contract through, regardless of the circumstances. As I said earlier, in between the bad experiences, there were some good times too. These positive experiences kept us all going.

I have no regrets about my time there, I think I grew as a person, particularly mentally, and I learnt to accept that throughout life there is always a Ying and a Yang. We all experience good and bad events throughout our lives and we have to deal with whatever life throws our way.    

That’s a great, sage outlook.  What happened after?  How did the experience affect you?

Well, believe it or not, I went on my next contract with the same agent!  This time I travelled to the island of Hokkaido in Japan!   (In fact, I’ve just released the second book in the Fishnets series. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Fishnets+and+Fire-eating&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

I guess I felt that if I could cope with Korea, then Japan couldn’t be any worse.  Japan was a totally different experience.  I enjoyed the contract, but once again I experienced some daunting experiences along with a lot of laughter and weird experiences.  To whet your appetite, here is the blurb from the new book:

MichelleNewBookabcThis amusing, true story tells the tale of four young, professional dancers who travel to the island of Hokkaido, an area steeped in mystery, myths and legendary beasts.  When the quartet discovers that they are living next door to an ancient Japanese Indian tribe, they drunkenly decide to conduct a Ouija board session and, from that night onwards, things never seem quite the same again.  Not knowing, understanding or really appreciating the ancient Japanese traditions, culture or etiquette, the quartet finds themselves in some hilarious situations as well as living through some shocking real-life experiences.  They stumble their way around massage parlours and maternity hospitals, museums and temples, learning the intricacies of the hot baths and the Japanese green tea ritual.

The girls are plunged into a world of secrets and mysteries where nothing appears to be what it seems.  People vanish without a trace, and there is the strange disappearance of a large amount of money. What is the big secret on the island?  Who is in control?  Will the girls manage to keep themselves safe?  And will they ever uncover the truth behind these mysteries that seem to enshroud them all?

Sounds intriguing!  You’ve certainly sold me; I can’t wait to read it.   . . . Have you returned to Korea since?

No, I have never returned. I sometimes imagine going there out of curiosity, to see how it must have changed since 1989.  It would be interesting to visit the same old haunts, but as I have a terrible sense of direction, I´d probably never find them again!

How did your sister’s time in Korea go?

As I mentioned in the book, she seemed to have hit the jackpot compared to me.  Her agent seemed attentive to the trio and their accommodation was almost palatial compared to our digs.  However, her relationship with her agent also turned sour.  He became abusive towards the girls and my sister eventually left, leaving the two other girls she was contracted with to work as a duet.  She started modelling in Korea which was more lucrative and on her return to the UK, she never danced again.

Good for her; a happy ending, indeed.

Thanks so much, Michele, for sharing this captivating insight into yourself and your fantastic journey.   You’ve certainly piqued my interest and I’ll be looking for Book #2!

A few more fascinating facts about Michele—she:

◊  was not only a dancer, but a magician and fire-eater who toured the world for 20+ years in theatre, musicals and circus    ◊  went back to school upon retiring from the entertainment world and now has a First Class Honours degree in Modern languages, (English and Spanish)    ◊  has been in the Guinness Book of Records, during her years in entertainment for being part of the world’s largest Human mobile while working for the circus of horrors as their first “Girl inside a bottle” (wow!)    ◊  rubbed shoulders with Sting, Chris de Burgh, David Copperfield, Claudia Schiffer and Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gees    ◊  worked as a knife throwers assistant; assisted a midget in his balancing act; and also taken part in the finale of a Scorpions’ concert.

Michele currently lives in Spain with her Spanish husband, Randy, two dogs and two cats, and is an English teacher, preparing students for the prestigious Cambridge English examinations.

A great concern of Michele’s is climate change, the abundance of plastic pollution, and hates the way man unkindly treats the other species that inhabit this beautiful planet, which we are slowly destroying.   She loves living in the countryside with views of the sea and likes nothing better than to sit on the terrace at the end of the day, looking up at the stars and contemplating.

She can be contacted/followed at:

https://www.facebook.com/michele.e.northwoodauthor

Twitter : @northwood_e

Pinterest board: michele e. northwood pinterest.es https://www.pinterest.es/nextchapterpub/pinterest-board-michele-e-northwood/

Books by Michele:

Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea (a true story)

Fishnets and Fire-eating: A Dancer’s True Story in Japan

The Blood Red Retreat (coming soon)

The Circus Affair

Day Five, Still Alive!

Hi there!  This is Xav.  My mom posted yesterday and when I heard what she’d done, I begged my private-eye friends to let me do it, too!

As she told you, I had a pretty serious drug problem . . . and I wasn’t even eighteen.  What I was, actually, was a mess.  You’ve probably read and heard enough about the ugly world of drug addiction, so I don’t need to repeat what you already know.  But let me tell you, it’s not a place you ever want to find yourself!

On a sweeter note, it’s the fifth and final day of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  You can purchase it for .99 cents.  You can’t even buy a burger for that.  I say, go for it!

Besides my story, there are a few murders, dangerous drug dealers, and ornery gang members who don’t like being questioned by JJ, Rey and Linda.  Guess I wouldn’t either, if I didn’t want to end up in jail.  But they stick with it—even nearly get themselves killed—and finally figure it all out.  How cool is that?

Check us out at . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Day Four, Can You Take One More?

Promo post, that is.  It’s Linda and I’m here to introduce a lovely lady Honey Konani, the mother of teenaged Xavier (or Xav, as he prefers).  She actually called JJ to ask if she might have the honors.  JJ—Rey and I—were happy to oblige.  Over to you, Honey . . .

Hi.  I’ve never done this before, so please bear with me.  I met the three private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency when JJ brought home Xavier after a bad bout with drugs.  

Before I get into that, please note that it is Day 4 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  You can purchase it for .99 cents—today through November 17.

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that this first official case has the three women attempting to discover the secret of the young and pretty wife of a rich, elderly gentleman.  Sadly, she’s found murdered in the Pacific.  In the quest to find the killer, they happen upon drug dealers, gang members . . . and Xavier, in a dark dank alley.

Regrettably, I’d grown accustomed to his “flights of freedom”, as I called them. Oh, I fretted as any mother would, but I no longer experienced hysterics or despair as I had the first couple of times he’d ventured off (“staying with a friend”, “sailing with a school chum”, “visiting a cousin on Big Island”). My belief in God kept me sane and calm, and hopeful that my son would one day see the light and stop doing drugs. Yes, I’d known for a while, but hadn’t voiced it, not to him, not to my daughter, not even to myself. To do so would have meant acknowledging a bleak truth.

Thanks to these three women, Xavier eventually turned his life around; he’s still clean and seeing life with fresh eyes.  I’ll be eternally grateful to them.

You can check out Hula here . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Day Three . . . with Three . . .

. . . Lovely ladies who are professional P.I.s on Oahu.  Hey, it’s Rey—welcome to Day 3 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio (that’s us, those lovely ladies, in case there was any doubt) solved our first case.

It all started off pretty simple: find out what William Pierponce Howell’s young pretty wife, Carmie, was up to.  He was thinking “affair”; we were thinking the same.  But then we found her floating along the shores of a quiet beach, and it wasn’t because she couldn’t swim.

It turned out there was something suspect in her past . . . as there was in hubby’s and a few other folks’ history.  This led us into the weird world of gangs, drug dealers, and criminal types.

If you’d like to learn how we solved this challenging—dangerous—case (and nearly ended up like poor Carmie), please check us out.

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Aloha all.

Day Two, Yeah, Me Too

So you’ve got Cash here.  Yeah, JJ talked me into posting about the promo today (Linda wheedled and Rey, as is her way, threatened to rearrange body parts).  Man.

Anyway, here goes . . .

. . . It’s Day 2 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how JJ and her colleagues from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency solved their first case . . . and how JJ and I first met (in a dive where drug dealers and felon types liked to call home).

It all started when the threesome had to discover the “secret” of a rich old coot’s dishy wife.  Unfortunately, they found her swimming in the Pacific.  As they determined to find out who the killer was—and more bodies dropped—they encountered the aforementioned drug dealers, druggies, and gang members.  And, no surprise, none of the nefarious offenders liked being pursued, much less questioned.

Here’s a little taste (no one can tell it better than my hon, JJ) . . .

“Howzit? Mind if I sit?”

Cash stood a good 6’2” and was more muscular up close, like one of those extreme wrestlers.

I motioned one of the ladder-back chairs across from me. It creaked when he sat.

“I’ve never seen you in here before. I’d remember.”

“That’s not an overly original pick-up line . . . Cash.”

“I wasn’t aiming for a pick-up,” he replied. “And Cash is the name. My mom loved Johnny Cash. I got the name Cash because my brother, born two years before me, got Johnny.” Jade green eyes seemed to see beyond that which they viewed. “You don’t look like you belong here.”

“Why? Not enough make-up? Or maybe I’m not rowdy or brassy enough?” I asked with a cynical smile, feeling oddly catty. Malevolence was something I experienced only when sleep-deprived.

“Not young enough.”

My flat response was “mahalo”. Thank you.

“It’s more of a guy place and the women that do come are generally not in their late twenties and above.”

I took a sip of the flat beer in the mug. Ugh. “I’ll make sure to apply for Social Security on Monday.”

His laughter had a rich timber, like a temple bell.

“You don’t exactly look like you belong here, either.”

“Why’s that?”

I met his probing gaze. “Besides the fact that the preferred color for members of the male persuasion in here is black, you look more like someone who’d be sipping martinis while sitting in a jazz lounge or an oceanside bar. You don’t have that tough-ass attitude most of the males here have.”

“I’m very tough. Trust me.” His smile was dark and for the briefest second, I sensed a no-nonsense-or-crap-accepted side.

To be honest, I was quite surprised the three of them didn’t end up with a knife in the neck or a bullet in the brain (I’ve been around) but very happy with the outcome: the successful—if not bizarre—culmination of the case.

Given I’m very fond of JJ, I’d appreciate you checking out how they performed as first-time private eyes.  Guaranteed: you’ll find the tumultuous trip quite entertaining.

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

 

Day One, What Fun (Again!)

Welcome to Day 1 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For a mere .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency did during our first official private-eye case! 

. . . All we have to do is uncover the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife—an affair.  There’s a twist, though: trophy wife is found murdered on the rocky shores of an off-the-beaten-track  Oahu beach.  And there’s a secret all right, one of many in fact—and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.  Who of the curious cast of characters is the murderer?  As JJ, Rey and I try to fit puzzle pieces together, we stumble across more bodies … and a few unscrupulous sorts who don’t like us poking our noses in their business. 

While this new set of quirky personalities proves quite taxing, we have enough faith in our developing talents to persevere and unscramble clues.  It’s the perfect opportunity for us to prove we made a wise choice in becoming bona-fide detectives. 

If you’d like to come along on the zany but fun roller-coaster ride, please check u out at . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

(The Boss requests—humbly and happily—if you had a moment or three, perhaps you might be willing to do a review?)