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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!

But I Don’t Wanna!!

Familiar words?  Possibly you’ve heard them from your child, spouse, partner, parent, relative, coworker, buddy-bud?  Or perhaps you’ve uttered them?  He-he.  Been there, many times.

Take today’s post.  It’s been a but-I don’t-wanna post week . . . because, honestly, I couldn’t think of anything [bleeping interesting] to post about.  T’is true.  Oh, I could rack my brains and come up with something—I usually do—but I don’t wanna!!

There’s just too much on my daily plate with the demanding 9-to-5 (which is more like 5-to-5) and mom-care.  That’s a me dilemma, but you have your own, so we’re not alone.

So how does one quell the I-don’t-wanna issue that flits in and around your head like a pesky mosquito?

The first thing would be to decrease a sense of being overwhelmed, which seems to be part of the I-don’t-wanna equation.  Yes, you’re working.  Yes, you have family obligations.  Yes, yes, yes.  Still, you want to post/write, or engage in a hobby, pastime, and/or project.  Whittle the list; make it manageable.  Determine where you can schedule some time to fulfill that “me need”.  Even if only 10 minutes, assign them to yourself and take them.  Focus and do what you can do.  Always remember, regardless of what outside factors are dictating, you count, too.  So honor that!

If you’re experiencing blank moments, search for inspiration and ideas.  The internet is chockablock full of information—concepts, views, notions, opinions.  Find something that interests/stimulates you.

Sometimes, posting or sharing your intended goal helps; then you have no option but to commit to it and follow through.  I know I wouldn’t want to state I’m doing something and then not do it.  I’m a gal of my word … unless something truly unforeseen and unavoidable transpires, but then I’ll get to it as soon as possible/doable.

If you’re like me these days, kind of “slumpy” <sigh, sigh, sigh>, look for someone or something to move or motivate you.  Contact your know-it-all sis.  Email your no-worries-hiking-in-the-mountains cousin.  Text your man-I’ve-got-an-awesome-life aunt.  Ask for input/guidance.

Social media is a wonderful tool for reaching out to others for encouragement and support.  Join a forum or community or three—maybe one that revolves around something you’ve never even vaguely been interested in.  Learn something new.  It may take you down a new—and exciting—path.

Try not to let the but-I-don’t-wanna-do-it blues get you down.  Flip them around.  It’s not easy getting rid of negative thoughts or feelings, this I know, but it can be done.  Consider your “slumpy”—recognize it and address it.  Yes, maybe it’s not changeable right this moment.  But it will be.

We all struggle with the slumpies, those blank moments, the I-really-don’t-wanna-do-it trials at some point.  Keep the faith, my friends, keep the faith—grab it, embrace it, wrap it all around.  You’re truly not alone.

Four, One More

Hey-ho, it’s Rey, back for the fourth day of the Coco’s Nuts promotion.  Silly Cousin Jilly–I didn’t drink that many Mai-Tais.  Anyway, Coco’s avail for $0.99 for yet one more day (not counting tomorrow ‘course).  Yay!

The Triple Threat Investigation Agency has to prove socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer didn’t shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo or her best friend, Eb Stretta.  Who cares what the police believe or the evidence suggests?  We know Buddy’s been set up and as we start looking for the killer, we find a few people who could fit the bill.

As we attempt to solve this challenging case, we step into the world of gambling and debt collectors.  Annia, Picolo’s daughter, owes a lot of money in Vegas and on Oahu.  Did she kill her father to obtain a sizeable inheritance so she could pay off these bone-breaking bozos?  Jimmy Junior, Picolo’s son, might have wanted to take over his father’s multiple and prosperous businesses before the old guy passed naturally.  There’s kooky Coco Peterson, a Picolo nutbar, er, employee who’s been missing since the murders took place.

Here’s an excerpt:

“You’re positive he left sometime last Friday?” I asked Jem Stretta over the phone. Like Buddy, he lived in Lahaina, but in the Kelawea Mauka neighborhood near his late younger brother, Eb.

“No. Like I told the cops, Eb called me the previous Thursday evening telling me he had a mission on Oahu and he’d be leaving the following evening. Pay was better’n good, he said. He was pretty excited, even mentioned champagne and a trip to Kona on Big Island, which meant it had to pay excellently well. Then he hurried off to do stuff.” Jem’s exhalation sounded like the whistle of an old steam locomotive. “I phoned three times and texted twice between fix-it jobs because I wanted him to get some stuff, but he never answered. I checked with Andy, his coffee pal, and he hadn’t heard from the Ebster in a few days.”

According to Buddy, the fellow trucker had always been extremely responsible and dependable, so his not contacting his brother had been very peculiar.

Jem, short for Jeremiah, lived two streets over from Eb, in an identical single-family, two-bedroom dwelling. According to Buddy, both long narrow houses were trimmed in shades of raven black and tree-toad brown, and had identical four-by-six windows with gun-metal-gray blinds, the same fencing and similarly decorated lanais, with two avocado trees smack-dab center on miniscule lawns. They weren’t twins, although from Buddy’s descriptions, you might have thought so. Besides identical houses, both sported spiky bleached hair, shell surfer necklaces, and lots of polyester. The bothers also had things for greasy food and easy women. Eb was the baby in the family, five years Jem’s junior and fifteen years Hutch’s.

Hutch, short for Hutchkins (their mother’s maiden name), had been the eldest brother. He had died crossing a boulevard while visiting an ex-wife in Mississippi last year — hit, decked, and crushed by a two-ton turkey. The heavyset gobbler had been part of a small-town Thanksgiving Day parade, the thirty-fourth in its history, and possibly the last. A traumatic experience it had been — for the stupefied young driver beneath the large bird, the stunned crowd, and certainly Hutch, who prior to staggering across the path of the wattle-headed bird had indulged in a liquefied version of same (i.e. Wild Turkey).

“Will you check the garage again for Buddy’s gun?” As Buddy had told Ald, she’d left the Glock with Eb when she’d headed to Oahu.

“I said I would.” He belched. The Stretta brothers weren’t known for good manners, but they seemed to be decent souls from what Buddy had claimed. “But if the cops didn’t find her gun, I don’t see as I’ll have better luck. Where’s best to get you?”

I gave the numbers for the agency and my cell.

“Are they still thinking she did it?” His laughter reminded me of a badger: low-pitched, and rumbling.

“She’s at the top of the list. In both cases, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Additionally, her card was in your brother’s wallet, she happens to know both men, and she owns a 10-mm, the murderer’s weapon of choice.” I watched two honeycreepers soar past the lanai window like small colorful comets. “She’s also the right height and left-handed.”

His snort sounded like a puppy’s sneeze. “Maybe they should put me on the list, too. I knew them both, I’m left-handed, and my name and number were in Eb’s wallet.”

“Let me know if you find or hear anything.” I hung up and saw Rey standing by the kitchen counter, perturbation lining that pretty face. “Upset? Or constipated?”

Hopefully, I’ve peaked interest.

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

Back tomorrow, the last day of the promo.  Aloha Sunday!