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Review: THE BLACK FLEET – The Crimson Deathbringer Book Three (Sean Robins)

The third book in the series, The Black Fleet, continues to satisfy.  It’s not quite as complex perhaps as the previous two (The Crimson Deathbringer and The Golden Viper), but it still delivers—with brisk action, campy humor, and the crazy cast we’ve grown so fond of.  They abound with zealousness (or is that insanity?).  The threat this time deals with the fate of the future.  Scary!

There’s protagonist Major Jim Harrison—with new wife, Ella, a career military woman—and his nemesis/alter-ego, Venom.  Jim’s still an ace fighter pilot but is also the author of well-selling autobiographies; not only have they granted him a certain level of fame but have bolstered an ego that was rather big to begin with.  Comrade Kurt returns, as does prankster Tarq, but the “insect” seems a little less dynamic than previously.  General Maada takes a pivotal role and gives Jim a run for his money, er, space fighter, er . . . .

Sean’s characters are well crafted and alternative planets and lifeforms—like the Akakies, Volts, and Talgonians—are thoroughly detailed.  It’s easy to visualize the action in all its explosive fervor.  Energy and danger overflow as heroes/heroines and enemies engage in thrilling skirmishes.

I looked at Earth, visible from the front window, and admired its magnificent beauty for the thousandth time. No matter how often I saw Earth from orbit, this view always made my breath catch and my spirit lift. My planet, where all my loved ones lived, including my unborn child. In this wide universe, this was the only place I called home, which incidentally I’d helped save a couple of times, along with the rest of the galaxy.

If pride really were a deadly sin, then I was going straight to hell.

And now new baddies were coming for her. Well, guess who was standing in their way. But first, there was a minor issue I had to deal with.

“You know what, Tarq?” I said conversationally. “It’s just occurred to me you never answered for the seven hundred million humans you got killed.

Another thrilling ride to be sure, one that leaves you longing for another.  Lucky us—there’s a fourth one to come.

A definite 4 out of 5!

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What about Sean Robins?  As may be evident from the Crimson Deathbringer books, he’s a huge fan of Marvel, Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Star Trek.  He’s a university/college-level English teacher and has lived and worked in six different countries, including Canada.  Sean has met people from all around the world, which is “probably why my characters look like the bridge crew from Star Trek”.

His favorite author is Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), which is why he ended up writing in first-person POV with the same light-hearted, funny tone.  The fact that his MC’s name is Jim is purely coincidental, and has nothing to do with Captain James Kirk either.

Please check Sean out on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter (@seanrobins300) and/or Facebook (facebook.com/seanrobins300).

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2 for 2021

The last 2 weeks of 2020 were nightmarish, for reasons best not shared.  But here’s to dropping negativity and aiming for—and embracing—positivity.

Day 2 of 2021, a brand spanking new year, has  started calmly . . . with resolutions made . . . and now to be kept.

The private eyes at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency shared theirs not long ago, as have I.  We’ll endeavor to see they don’t fall to the wayside.

And while we’re on the topic of a new year, here’s to:

blogging and writing regularly    meeting fellow bloggers and writers and making new friends    augmenting our crafts    keeping promises    moving onwards and upwards    helping / teaching others, and    believing anything is possible.

Life sends many challenges our way (and some seem beyond taxing) but, ultimately, we do overcome them.  Know that any trials and tests you encounter can be surmounted, no matter how overwhelming they may seem at the time.  You can and will conquer them; they will not conquer you!

Let’s keep the faith.  Always.

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Review: Fishnets and Fire-Eating: A True Story (A Dancer’s Diary in Japan)

WPMicheleold1useMy reading frenzy has calmed, but I did have the pleasure of reading Michele E. Northwood’s most entertaining sequel to Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea.  Like the first [personal account] book, the narrative in Fishnets and Fire-Eating: A True Story (A Dancer’s Diary in Japan) is humorous, exciting, and even edifying.

Fire-Eating is an absorbing story, another can’t-put-down read.  This time, we follow the “antics” of Michele and three other young women—performers—who travel to Hokkaido to entertain Japanese audiences with their dancing, acrobatics and, yes, fire-eating.

The quartet—Michele, Rachael, Anna, and Claire—encounter a plethora of interesting (if not off-putting) people, sex-crazed men, Yakuza henchmen and chiefs, Nutty Nora, and a crowbar-wielding fellow who has undergone shock therapy.

The appealing storyline also provides wonderful descriptions of culture and customs, locales and history.  Japanese words and phrases, interspersed throughout, make us yearn to learn a few more while photos supply we-are-there visuals.

As is human nature when people live together for an extended period, tension and friction (jealousy and envy) rear their unpleasant heads, adding to the women’s various dilemmas.  They do manage to work their way through the assorted conflicts, however, though not always well or easily.

One night, not long after they arrive, the women “consult” a Ouija board; spirits appear and impart ominous premonitions/messages.  Bizarrely, if not frighteningly, they start to come true.

Michele2use1As in Far East, Michele and her colleagues are not paid well; someone appears to be skimming their wages.  Still, despite many challenges, they persevere and life (eating/working) doesn’t seem quite as desperate as it did when Michele was in Korea.

I so enjoyed Fire-Eating, maybe even a little more than Far East; I have to give it 5 out of 5.

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For those not familiar with Michele, she’s quite amazing/accomplished.  Not only was she a dancer, she was a magician and fire-eater who toured the world for 20+ years in theater, musicals and the circus.  She has also been featured in the Guinness Book of Records; during her years in entertainment she was part of the world’s largest Human Mobile while working for the Circus of Horrors as their first “girl inside a bottle”.  Other fascinating jobs included working as a knife thrower’s assistant, assisting a midget in his balancing act, and taking part in a Scorpions’ concert grand finale.

Upon retiring from the exciting world of entertainment, she returned to school and acquired a First-Class Honors degree in Modern Languages (English and Spanish).

Michele currently lives in Spain with her Spanish husband, Randy, two dogs and two cats, and serves as an English teacher.  She loves living in the countryside with views of the sea and enjoys sitting on the terrace at the end of a long day, looking at the stars and contemplating (sounds divine).

Please check her and her books out at: https://www.amazon.com/Michele-E.-Northwood.

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Alo-Ha-Waiiiiiii Once Again

Hey, it’s Rey!  So, per my Hawaii post suggestion, Linda took it one step further: the three of us had to feature our favorite Hawaiian author or Hawaiian-themed story.  I’m not a reader, but given The Boss’ love of Nancy Drew, I grabbed The Secret of the Golden Pavilion (I do so like an “easy” read).

This is the 36th book in the series, penned by Carolyne Keene (the pseudonym of many authors) back in 1959.  The mystery finds Nancy and her housekeeper, Hannah, and her pals, George and Bess (and beaus Ned, Dave, and Burt) on our beautiful Islands, formerly known as The Sandwich Islands, by the way (I do pick up facts now and then, he-he).

The case involves an old golden pavilion—no surprise there, he-he.  Someone has been hacking the floor.  Maybe in search of something?  Mr. Sakamaki, Carson Drew’s client, provides the pretty sleuth with two mysterious symbols, possible clues to solving his mystery . . . one of two, actually.  Two claimants, a brother and sister, have suddenly appeared in connection with settling Mr. Sakamaki’s estate, known as Kaluakua, which he inherited from his granddad.  Hmmm.  Are they the real deal?

In addition to learning about the history of the Islands and indulging in a luau and visiting cultural locations/places.  There’s never a dull moment, either . . .

Nancy turned on the television set and tuned it to the proper channel.  The telecast had barely started when the announcer electrified the Drews with a news bulletin which he said had just been received by the station.

“Word has come,” he began, “of a plane in trouble over the Pacific.  It is one which was chartered by a group of students from Emerson College.”

“Oh, Dad!” Nancy cried out fearfully.  “That’s the plane that Ned and Dave and Burt are on!”

Ooooh, will they crash?  You’ll just have to read the book to find out, won’t you?

Aloha everyone!  And Happy Holidays!

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Alo—Ha—Waiiii Once More

The posting assignment from Boss Lady, also known as my BFF Rey, was pushed to the wayside a wee while back, but she was quick to remind me yesterday that we—she and I—hadn’t yet posted about our favorite Hawaiian author or Hawaiian-themed story.  In case you’re not familiar with us (the P.I.s from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency), I’m Linda.  Unlike Rey, I do read—huh?  Oh, sorry Sunshine.

I decided to go with Matthew Kaopio’s Written in the Sky, penned about a decade ago.  It’s a gritty, intense tale—YA, interestingly enough—that revolves around young Ikauikalani, or ‘Ikau, a fourteen-year-old who resides among the Ala Moana Park homeless.  He does have a “family”, one created over time, but he’s basically on his own.  And life far from safe—he encounters unsavory sorts, like a creepy fellow who offers him drugs and propositions and ghastly gang members who taunt and threaten.

The homeless hold a place in my heart and soul, and this book struck a chord with me.  The story is a solid, if not eye-opening read.  And it’s not for the weak-hearted; living on the streets can be dangerous, and violent.

“How would you like to be branded like cattle?” the leader whispered.  “It only hurts for a short time, then you don’t fell a thing.”  The boy trembled as the bright-orange cherry came close to his eyelashes.  “What, fag, you scared?” With a burst of energy, the boy let out a long, high-pitched scream.  He stepped down hard on someone’s foot and managed to break free.  Swinging his bag again, he smacked the gang leader in the eye, knocking the cigarette out of his hand.  “Assholes!” the boy yelled.  He ran toward the snack bar, loud jeer sounding behind him. “We’re not pau with you, faggot!” the leader called after him.  “We’ll be back, you’ll see!”  The gang hooted and howled as the boy, exhausted, slumped behind a sea-grape tree, wishing with all of his heavy heart for his grandmother to come back and make this nightmare go away.

We learn how this young teen lives—survives—but also [happily] discover there are kind-hearted people to be found.  It’s not hard to envision him people-watching, interacting (with wariness), swimming in the brilliant-blue Pacific, pawing through garbage for food and castoffs, searching for money, and standing his ground, regardless of fear.

What makes him different from countless other ill-starred kids?  ‘Ikau can view the future via clouds.  Upon hearing from his dead grandmother in a dream to locate Mariah Wong (a name he’s not familiar with), ‘Ikau begins a journey to find himself, as well as use his gifts.  As he undertakes this odyssey with an owl spirit guide, he learns about Hawaiian culture and traditions, as well as his family’s history.

For those of you unfamiliar with Matthew Kaopio, he became a mouth-brush artist and writer while undergoing rehabilitation for a severe spinal injury that occurred while swimming; it left him a quadriplegic.  His first book was Hawaiian Family Legends.  I’ve not yet checked it out, but I understand it “combines ancient Hawaiian oral storytelling with modern-day painting”.  Written in the Sky, interestingly enough, incorporates Kaopio’s own experiences in Ala Moana Park during the rehabilitation process and is also based on a 2004 Master’s thesis in Pacific Island Studies.

One last fascinating fact: he was also a skilled chanter.

“Chanting and poetry are ways of harnessing the spiritual and magical power of the spoken word.”

Sadly, this talented man is no longer among us, but his wonderful works carry on.

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Making New Year’s Resolutions (Again) and Keeping Them . . . or Trying To (Again)

Another year is nearly over.  Have I accomplished any of my writing/blogging resolutions?  My personal ones?  No to both.  <loud lengthy sigh>

Now, I could list all the things I let slip to the wayside and the reasons why, but what’s the logic in that?  They didn’t happen.  No point in beating myself up about it.  There’s another new year around the bend—and with it—new resolutions.  Ones to make happen!

Here are mine as a writer/blogger:

♦   write one more book (maybe something outside of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency)    ♦   blog regularly (as I have been, so pat on back to self for managing that)    ♦   re-organize the blog (maybe start a new one), and    ♦   become more social-media savvy.

That’s enough.  Being realistic helps resolutions happen.  If too many are listed, they don’t/won’t happen.

Here are mine as me:

♦   learn to deal with the demands and stress of caregiving    ♦   discover how to balance caregiving with the full-time job, and    ♦   nix the resentment.

That’s enough.  Being realistic helps resolutions happen.  If too many are listed, they don’t/won’t happen.  Hmm.  That sounds awfully familiar.  <LOL>

I’ve got several days to live with these planned undertakings before putting them into action.  Wish me luck!

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Day Four, Only Two More

Hey, it’s Rey and I have an amazing guest post-er for Day Four of the Coco’s Nuts 99-cent promotion—Buddy Feuer, our pleased-as-punch client.  Take it away, Bud!

Thanks Rey.  I’ve never posted before.  Too busy helping run a Maui-based distribution company these days.  I still drive a truck now and again (like it too much to stop completely).

I hired the three private investigators when the police thought I’d killed my boss, Jimmy Picolo (who had some dubious dealings outside of his many successful businesses).  If that wasn’t enough, my best friend was killed a few days later.  And guess who they wanted to blame for that, too? 

Rey, Linda and JJ went up and beyond, I thought.  They talked to all sorts of dicey, dangerous individuals—a few who’d have liked to take them out, I’m sure.  They asked a lot of questions and wouldn’t give up searching for clues and evidence.

Coco, by the way, was a coworker who disappeared in and around the time Jimmy was shot.  He leaned toward weird and a lot of people didn’t particularly like him, myself included.   

“I’ll get back to Coco, Mr. Lookeeng Goo-ood, in a few.”

“Mr. Lookeeng Goo-ood?” Linda chuckled.

I grinned and rolled my eyes.  “Coco believed he was—is—the reincarnation of Freddie Prinze of Chico and the Man fame.  At thirty-five, given the math, this is highly unlikely, but who knows how this ‘rebirth’ thing works.  Moreover, Coco wasn’t—uh—isn’t even remotely Latin.  He’s a Hawaiian-Irish mix, courtesy of Makani Kalama and Druson Patrick Peterson, with taro-colored hair and freckled skin an odd shade of sand-beach brown.”  I sipped some of Linda’s delicious lavender-lemon iced tea.  “Jimmy Junior is—”

“No you don’t,” Rey cut in, pointing her fork and the chunk of cake it loosely held fell onto her lap, but she didn’t seem to notice.  “You can’t move on to the kid until you finish with this peculiar Coco dude.”

Linda and JJ concurred.  Coco Peterson definitely had their curiosities piqued.

My description of Coco was quite extraordinary, but very real.  Hooded bile-green eyes ogled anyone remotely female.  Apparently, when you looked into those gawking, goggling eyes you could almost feel those unusually short stumpy fingers of his clutching you with libidinous zeal.  And that tongue—he flicked it as if he were a gecko on amphetamines.  It was all the more gross because he had a gap the width of the Suez Canal between two big front teeth.  But Coco truly believed he was cute and sexy when he did that tongue thingy.

I have to laugh as I recall that afternoon when I’d first sat down with the three P.I.s  What a wise decision I’d made in hiring them.

Coco’s Nuts was a great case, according to Rey—it enabled them to develop private-eye skills, allowed her to adopt an adorable bunny named Bonzo, and got them some steady cases, even if they were wayward-hubby and missing-poodle ones.

You can check out Coco’s Nuts 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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Day Three . . . Still Me!

Hi, it’s pretty little me again—Rey!—and it’s Day Three of the 99-cent Coco’s Nuts promo.

Coco’s Nuts, the third mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, finds us three private eyes entrenched in our second major assignment: proving socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo.  Bizarrely, her best friend, Eb Stretta, is found a few days later in a nearby alley.  And not long after that, Razor, Picolo’s assistant, takes five fatal bullets.  The police are adamant she’s guilty and the evidence does point to her.

Hoping to help, we contend with a slew of suspects.  A ton of people hated Picolo enough to kill him, but locating the one who actually pulled the trigger proves challenging.  Apparently, the killer hates Buddy, as well, because she’s been set up to take the fall.

Our detecting travels lead us into the dark and weird world of gambling and the “limb-breakers” that are part of it.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars to debt collectors in Vegas and Oahu.  Could this have been a reason to kill her father, so that she could profit from the will?  Or did Picolo’s son, Jimmy Junior, want to take charge of his father’s multiple and highly successful businesses before the old man died of old age?

Nutty Coco Peterson has to play a pivotal part; a driver for Picolo, the odd little guy (pest, some call him) has been missing since the murder of his boss.  As luck would have it, while searching Picolo’s million-dollar Haleiwa retreat, we discover “remnants” of Coco—his tattoo and jewelry.  It appears Coco is another casualty but locating the rest of him is as difficult as proving Buddy innocent.

Previously made friends and acquaintances reappear: Detective Ald Ives, a little less amiable, Faith Suren, a diner waitress, Petey May, a Big Island detective, Gail Murdock, police Administrative Specialist, Coltrane Hodgson Coltrane (Colt), an agent and romantic hopeful (on my part), and the ever-arrogant Cash Layton Jones, an agent and JJ’s short-term/sometimes lover (I don’t know what to call that relationship, I tell ya, it’s a strange one).

There’s more action and goings-on than I can list, but it’s quite an exciting—dangerous—adventure.  Maybe you’d like to check it out?  You can find Coco’s Nuts at:

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

Back tomorrow (with that guest post-er I mentioned yesterday).

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

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Day Five, So Happy to be Alive

Hey, it’s Rey again.  I ended up handing over the posting reigns to Xavier yesterday (a community theater audition that took priority).  Nice guy, huh?  (And super easy on the eyes, too.)

So, it’s Day Five of the Forever Poi 99-cent promo . . . juggling two  promos at the same time can get kinda discombobulating (hope I spelled that right).

I’ll keep it short and sweet.  Cousin Jilly—you may know her as JJ—and my best friend Linda and I are hired by Xavier to learn who burned down two up-and-coming Chinatown art galleries.  Two bodies were found in the ashes and they weren’t a result of the furious flames.

There are a lot of possible perps—one of the art-gallery owners, who has a curious past, his weird half-sister, who’s as dangerous as she is beautiful, her eager-to-please lovers, and a local artist, to name a few.

Why burn the galleries?  For that matter, why kill?  Greed?  Vengeance?  Mania?  Self-preservation?  It seems any one of these reasons is viable as we enter the intriguing worlds of art and insurance.

If you’d like to find out how we solved this complex case (The Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s third official paying one), 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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Aloh-hawaii

A new posting assignment from Boss Lady (as opposed to “The Boss”), otherwise known as Cousin Reynalda.  She thought posts about Hawaii would be a pleasant change (uh, we haven’t had any of late??).

Linda took it one step further and suggested we write about our favorite Hawaiian author or Hawaiian-themed story.  I liked that idea but Rey not so much (she doesn’t read a lot).

It’s JJ, just in case you weren’t sure, and I’ll go first (Rey’s still scratching her head and uttering words best left unwritten).  I have to go with Kaui Hart Hemmings’ The Descendants.  I loved the movie, as I once posted, so much so I finally read the book.  It was everything I expected and wanted—a great character-driven story.  The book, as an FYI, is told from a man’s POV, yet written by a woman.  It works; it sounds natural and flows well.

The storyline revolves around Matt King, a well-to-do [somewhat self-absorbed, or is that workaholic?] lawyer who is the descendant of a Hawaiian princess.  He’s also a husband who finds himself having to play father/parent when his wife ends up in a coma.  The two daughters, pre-teen Scottie and seventeen-year-old Alex, prove a handful . . . and make him realize how out-of-touch he’s been with his family.

Parenting skills take time to master, but thrust into the role of mother as well as father, Matt begins to develop as pater and person.  Soul-searching accompanies him on the journey for truth and self.  Yes, it sounds like it might be a heavy read, but it’s not; there’s humor . . . even during dire moments.

I look at the photo, which looks like those joke snapshots everyone takes of someone sleeping. I don’t know why we think they’re so funny. There’s a lot that can be done to you while you’re sleeping. This seems to be the message. Look how vulnerable you are, the things you aren’t aware of. Yet in this picture you know she isn’t just sleeping. Joanie has an IV and something called an endotracheal tube running out of her mouth to a ventilator that helps her breathe. She is fed through a tube and is administered enough medication to sustain a Fijian village. Scottie is documenting our life for her social studies class. Here’s Joanie at Queen’s Hospital, her fourth week in a coma, a coma that has scored a 10 on the Glasgow scale and a III on the Rancho Los Amigos scale. She was in a race and was launched from an offshore powerboat going eighty miles an hour, but I think she will be okay.

The Descendants is a great, easy read, something pleasantly diverting to hunker down with on a stormy day or evening.  If I were giving stars, I’d give five out of five.

Aloha, my friends.

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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.

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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

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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.

A Film is a Petrified Fountain of Thought

So is a book, I believe (thank you to Jean Cocteau for that quote).  Post #5, the last in the “series” of favorite books/authors who have influenced me in one form or another, goes to Russian-American author, Ayn Rand.  I’ve enjoyed all her books, but I think The Fountainhead takes the number one spot (I still see Roark’s architectural creativity in certain dwellings).

A quick what’s what: this 1943 novel revolves around Howard Roark, a young architect with an innovative flair.  A designer of modernist buildings, he won’t part from his concepts to act on other’s wishes; it’s his way, or no way.  He symbolizes what Rand viewed as the “ideal man”.

A fairly intense read set in the 20s, Roark is ousted from Stanton because he won’t stick to historical architectural convention.  He heads to New York and lands a job with a once celebrated architect, Henry Cameron, who has lost favor and only receives the odd contract.  They create some notable work, but don’t do well financially.

Roark’s destined to be crushed by self-centered individuals.  Ellsworth Toohey, a malevolent soul, is a collectivist critic of architecture who wants to ruin Roark’s career.  A man who embraced wealth after being born into poverty, publisher Gail Wynand pursues power over others; he proves disloyal to our young architect when he can no longer contain popular opinion.  And let’s not forget the intriguing heroine, Dominique Francon, a columnist for The New York Banner.  She fluctuates between aiding and undercutting Roark (a love-hate relationship if ever there was one).

In some ways, it has the elements of a well-crafted soap opera, with characters possessing envy, greed, and pride, among other things, and how those feelings influence, alter, or destroy relationships/marriages.  We also have good versus evil, which makes for solid tension and friction.

Rand received several rejections for The Fountainhead.  Fortunately, she had an agent, who diligently submitted the manuscript to various publishers.  Knopf contracted the book in 1938, but when she was only half done come late 1940, the contract was annulled.  More rejections ensured.  Finally, Rand began submitting herself . . . with success.

I always liked the concept of individualism, which Rand is known for, and is the primary theme of The Fountainhead—“not in politics but within a man’s soul”.  And that soul belongs to Roark, a resilient, independent man who won’t give up principles and vision for money or fame.  Nor will he befriend someone to move up the corporate ladder.  Strong and resolute, he’s true to himself.  Roark embodies the traits/qualities I always wished I possessed.  (No wonder I particularly enjoyed that book so much.)

And, yes, there was a movie . . .  a petrified fountain of thought . . . 

Nothing Will Come of Nothing

One of many notable Shakespearean quotes (King Lear).  I like to take it further than King Lear telling Cordelia, his daughter, that she won’t get anything from him if she doesn’t praise him—if you don’t make an effort, ain’t nothing going to happen.  Period.

Post # 4 re writers/books that have influenced/impressed me over the years is dedicated to The Bard, who I never tire of.  I love The Sonnets in particular but could read Hamlet or Macbeth for the umpteenth time.  True escapism.  Traveling to another time and place.  Yes, a definite favorite.

This great English playwright, dramatist, poet and actor prompted me to immerse myself in English history.  A fascinating period, yet I can’t say I’d like to have lived in those turbulent times with gruesome sports—bear baiting to this animal lover goes beyond despicable.  I do, however, rather enjoy the “romanticism” that bleeds from the pages of certain plays, the immorality that trickles from many, and the cleverness that courses from others.

1shakespeareblDOTukI think one of my favorites is Sonnet 43—there are 150 as an FYI—When Most I Wink, Then Do Mine Eyes See Best

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form from happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

This sonnet, it’s said, comes after three that are known as the “betrayal sonnets”.  It’s believed that betrayal is staining the emotions the narrator is expressing.  In the first lines, the speaker refers to the differences between his days and nights. At night, he can see because the youth illuminates his dreams; during the day, however, things are darker.  I’m fine without clarification or elucidation; I simply enjoy reading Shakespeare for the sheer beauty of the lilting communication, and the vivid imagery he inspires.

It seems appropriate to end with this quote (from Hamlet):

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.

As a writer, I’m always searching for just the right word—he smiled disarmingly, the gut-churning smell of rotting debris, the soothing scent of plumeria.  The Bard always presents the perfect ones for the given episodes.

Cheerio!

Something Chillingly Entertaining this Way Comes

And that would be Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked this Way Comes . . . another terrific book that I’ve read a few times . . . simply because it’s that good.  I’m not a fan of the sci-fi, horror or fantasy genres per se (I prefer the “reality” of fiction, he-he), but Bradbury’s my exception.  Never got into King but did read some Koontz back when.  A gal-pal was a horror fan and suggested—badgered—I read a few of her favorites (hers, I emphasize, far from mine).

Bradbury was on my junior high school English-class reading list—The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and Dandelion Wine specifically.  I so enjoyed those, I went out and bought The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked this Way Comes.

Something Wicked was written in the early 60s and is described as “dark fantasy”.  It revolves around two teenaged best friends, Jim Nightshade (great name) and Will Halloway, who are about to turn fourteen.  The story opens with a lightning-rod salesman, Tom Fury (love it) telling them a storm is headed their way.  Fury, by the by, isn’t necessarily what he seems, but you’ll have to read the book to learn more.  That night Will and Jim meet up with townspeople who sense something [ominous?] in the air.  Oooh, what could that be (in addition to foreshadowing)?

Boys being boys, the two head out at three in the morning to watch the arrival of a traveling carnival . . . one that turns out to be pretty freaky and creepy.  Even more eerie?  The carnival is overseen by—got to love this name too—the mega-tattooed Mr. Dark.

Dark has magical powers of the, pardon the pun, dark side; he can make wishes come alive.  He’s also pretty good at sucking the life out of folks.  Fear is a predominant theme in the book—like that which Will’s father harbors of growing old.  Jim, on the other hand, can’t wait to grow up.  Age/aging is also a theme.  Perhaps that’s why I could relate to this book so much; when I was younger I had an obsession with growing old (I absolutely feared it).

Like a carnival merry-go-round, Something Wicked spins a fascinating if not frightening tale of the proverbial good versus bad—or the upright versus the wicked.  And something I hadn’t known (or perhaps it had been forgotten over the years), the title is based on a line from the weird witches in Macbeth: “by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”.  Ni-ice.

1Something_Wicked_This_Way_Comes_(1983_movie_poster)Yes, there was a movie of the same name, and the 1983 flick was a decent adaptation of the book (saw it three times).  It featured Jason Robards as the unhappy father, Jonathan Pryce as the devious Mr. Dark, Vidal Peterson as Will (and Arthur Hill as the adult Will narrating), and Shawn Carson as Jim.

An America screenwriter as well as an author, it’s said Bradbury started writing during the Great Depression at the age of eleven.  Impressive indeed.  A fascinating man, he received countless awards, was a strong supporter of public library systems, and served as consultant for the Los Angeles Student Film Institute, among many other things; I won’t reiterate/list what you could easily Google if you’re interested.  But this talented man certainly entertained—and prompted a few frissons—over the years. 

Hmmmmm . . . think I’ll head down to the storage room and pull out a Bradbury book or two.

Unraveling the Memory Web

Welcome to Post #2 re books that have influenced or affected yours truly.  This time, I’m going to go way, way back . . . to a lovely children’s book, one of the best-selling of all time, by E.B. White . . . Charlotte’s Web.

Written in 1952, the story revolves around a lovable little pig, the runt of the litter, named Wilbur and his companionship with an amicable barn spider called Charlotte.  It’s a bittersweet tale, one that had me sobbing—hysterically—into towels in the bathroom (in my parents’ house, showing emotion was taboo).  I can’t say that any other book has affected me the same and I’ve never forgotten that tale over the decades (yes, it’s been that long).

There’s a kid named Fern Arable who pleads for Wilbur’s life.  Naturally, her father, being the kind caring soul daddies can be, gives him to her.  Initially, he’s a pet but when he begins to grow, he’s sold to Uncle Homer.  Exit Fern, who kind of blends into the background.

In Homer’s barnyard, the other animals ignore our sweet swine.  That’s so sad (especially to someone who had difficulty making friends as a child).  Craving friendship, Wilbur is befriended by Charlotte.  When it’s learned the little porker is on the chopping block, it is sweet Charlotte (no pun intended) who comes to his rescue.  She thwarts his demise by weaving praising words into her webs.  People notice and believe this is nothing short of a miracle and, lo and behold, the farm becomes a tourist attraction.

Our four-legged friend is entered in the county fair and, while he doesn’t win the coveted blue ribbon, he does receive a special prize.  Having been accompanied there by Charlotte and Templeton, a barn rat, Wilbur returns home with Templeton.  Charlotte <sniffle> is dying of natural causes and decides to remain on the fair grounds; she does, however, allow Wilbur to take her egg sac home, where her children will one day hatch.

They do, but <snuffle, snuffle> most leave.  Only three remain and take up residence in Charlotte’s old doorway.  Happy to have new friends, Wilbur names one of them Nellie.  The other two name themselves: Joy and Aranea.

I never saw the movie (don’t think I could sit through it without a three-tissue-box cry, but I’ll include the trailer below), but the book is a truly a bittersweet tale with a beautiful ending . . . one that would appeal to big kids, too.  You can take it as a simple children’s story or go up and beyond, and read dissertations on the repeated death theme, story pattern or language style (it’s a little more complex than a ten-year-old might imagine).

American author E.B. White wrote several children’s book in addition to Charlotte’s Web, including Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan.  He was also a writer and contributing editor to The New Yorker magazine, among other things.  A gifted man, to say the least.

More memory unraveling to come . . . .

Flying over Memory Lane

I’ve always been loath to state my age, or even hint at it.  Vanity?  Maybe.  But you’ll have an idea, anyway, when I post this review . . . a flight down memory lane.  <LOL>  So be it.

The aim of this post, and a few to come, is to review books that I enjoyed over the years, that may have influenced me (this is how to write) or stayed with me (lesson learned).

In this one-off case, it’s actually the movie (later the book) that captured this kid’s interest—and awe.  Her parents, on a rare outing, took her to a mammoth cinema with draping curtains, plush seats, and fancy chandeliers (at least, that’s how this wide-eyed kid remembers it).

As soon as the lavish curtains lifted and the lights dimmed, excitement coursed through me (and it wasn’t courtesy of the sugar surge from a mega-sized chocolate bar).  Then, the music started.  Intense, feverish, hypnotic.  On the colossal screen: a raging blizzard, hurtling snowplows, active airport.  I was riveted!

American composer, arranger and conductor of film music, Alfred Newman created the fantastic music to Airport.  It still brings on chills of excitement every time I watch it—which is often.  That it dates back to 1970 is irrelevant.  It’s still entertaining and exciting, the “comfort food” of films. 

1AmazonCOMQuick background: based on Arthur Hailey’s bestselling novel of the same name, it was written and directed by George Seaton, screenwriter/playwright/producer, and starred Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin.  Other central characters were tragedy-to-come Jean Seberg, destined-star Jacqueline Bisset, and ever-lovely Helen Hayes. 

Years later, I picked up the book and enjoyed all 440 pages immensely.  The intertwining lives of the various characters makes for a first-rate soap opera.  (The next time I watched the movie, I understood the underlying relationships and reactions.  Not that you need to read Airport to watch it, but it’s a nice little bonus.)

The storyline?  Well, the film—the first of the 70s disaster flicks—takes place in a Chicago airport during a blizzard.  One plane has managed to bury itself in the deep snow, blocking a vital, much-used runway.  The King of Cool (Dean Martin for those not familiar with the nickname) is the pilot of a Rome-bound flight, one that needs urgently to turn around from its intended destination and land on that blocked runway.  The reason?  Ooooh, that would give away the plot.  Can’t do that.  But, I promise, it’s gripping.

A simple summary, but a fun watch.  And an enjoyable read.

1haileyArthur Hailey, by the by, is a British-Canadian author who also penned Hotel (on which the TV series was based), The Moneychangers (which became a mini-series), and The Evening News, among others.  Interestingly enough, some critics found him a “plodding writer” while others believed he was a talented storyteller.  I strongly agree with the latter.

I fly down memory lane (also known as Airport Lane) a lot film-wise.  But I’ve decided I’d like to re-visit the book.  I’m looking forward to a[nother] most pleasant flight.