Blurb Burble

Nothing like a good, attention-grabbing blurb . . . excited/exciting words . . . a wooing pitch.

I’ve touched upon writing both blurbs and pitches in past, but given the last edit for “Forever Poi” is [finally] almost completed, it’s time to write a winning blurb.

Cartwheel

Before I share mine, let’s not forget that a [selling/successful] blurb is what convinces someone to buy your book.  Simply put, it’s a sales pitch—yours.

Here are some things to consider re writing one.

Now, just for the record, there are a couple of types—the one you use for the back cover of your magnum opus and the one you use as a review.  Given I’m writing the former, let’s stick to that.

If you’ve never written one, Google some.  Get a feel for what works . . . and what doesn’t.  Review how they’re written and arranged.  Take notice of that first sentence; it should be dynamic and have us wanting to read more.  Consider the words that pull you in.  Note the voice, too; it should sound similar to the book.

Blurbs generally have a formula: they offer a situation or event, provide an issue or dilemma, and guarantee a surprise or shock.  Introduce main character(s) so readers have someone to relate to.  Provide a hint of setting (place and time).  Don’t reveal all, though—ensure you leave folks hanging, so they’ll yearn to know what happens!  Above all, keep it short and sweet in length and sentence structure.

Rewrite that blurb a few different ways.  Determine which one(s) works best, and hang on to them all.

After you’ve written one or five or ten, like your book, leave those blurb(s) for a few days so that you can review (and edit) with new eyes.  Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, and followers for input.

One last note: if you have a writing background and have received awards and/or good reviews, you may want to add this information, but only if it relates to your book.  And if you do, again, make sure to keep it—yup—short and sweet.

Here’s the initial draft of the blurb for “Forever Poi” (feel free to offer input) . . .

The ever-proud owners of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency JJ, Rey and Linda, have stumbled through three major cases with stellar results.  Now, the not-so-novice private eyes have a double-arson case to solve: who set ablaze two happening Chinatown art galleries, leaving a couple of charcoal-broiled corpses in the rubble?  Any number of persons in the local art world could be responsible.  A cast of curious suspects include a haughty gallery owner with a questionable past, an art consultant as treacherous as she is beautiful, a risk-fond photographer who lives on the edge, and an aspiring manager with a dicey history.  If the gals can determine the reason, they might just catch the culprit.  A major insurance pay-out?  An ugly relationship break-up?  Pure vengeance?  Or a cover-up for past transgressions?  Whoever claimed the insurance and art worlds were uneventful or mundane?  Certainly not our sleuthing trio.burned building 

A Blogger’s Lament . . . or . . . Dealing with Disappointment

Okay, I’m not really lamenting (I just thought it was a catchy title)—but I am dealing with disappointment as a blogger/writer.  Sometimes, we need a brick wall to fall on top of us before reality clicks in.  In my case, it’s because I prefer to believe the best of people and, occasionally (sadly), they prove me wrong.

Short and sweet: I’ve been relying on someone to assist with a few projects.  The assurance was there; the product not.  Now, I have to get those ducks back in a row and I’m feeling a bit more than overwhelmed by it.

Maybe you’ve been there, too—dealing with disappointment?  It’s kind of like writer’s block, isn’t it?  You feel . . . stuck.

But then you realize that, yeah, while it does suck, you simply have to suck it up.  But don’t sweat it if you feel like having a little woe-is-me party (I’ve a had a few, LOL).  Have at it, my friends.  Then, move on.

Look at it this way.  Everything happens for a reason (there are no coincidences).  Forget what was and/or might have been.  Consider [and believe in] possibilities and opportunities.  As you explore alternatives, you just might: WedBlogUse2

  • make a [fantastic] new contact or three
  • discover the [new] outcome proves 10X better
  • have found [useful] additional sources/resources
  • expand your horizons and knowledge
  • realize that determination and conviction can overcome any hurt and disillusion.

It’s a given that there will be people and circumstances that disappoint.  It’s an absolute, however, that disappointment is merely a temporary setback.  It may maneuver you along a twisting path—sideward, rearward, roundward (my new word)—but that twisting route will ultimately lead to fulfillment and satisfaction.

You can be a half-glass-full or half-glass-empty person.  I’ve tended to be the latter for [way] too many years and [way] too many reasons.  Today, I declare that I’m a half-glass-full kinda gal . . . with a lovely, luscious Chardonnay.

wedblogUse1Cheers!

Never Been a Beta Reader . . . You?

Confession: I never knew what a Beta Reader was.  I could guess—and did—but I didn’t truly know.

In the event, you’re curious:

A beta reader is a test reader of a not-yet published book/writing.  He/she provides feedback to the author re issues that the average reader might experience upon reading said writing.

Confession #2: I’ve never used one.  That’s not to say I believe my writing and plots are flawless or that I’m so talented I don’t require critiques/assessments.  I’ve just never given it much thought (maybe, subconsciously, I figure 38 edits for every manuscript will [eventually] capture all those issues).

Beta readers are often writers as well, but for the purpose of the role, they focus solely on reading.  Generally, they provide an overall [objective] opinion of the writing, such as if the:

  • writing appropriately reflects the genre
  • story maintains interest
  • characters are strong / likeable
  • plot and scenes flow logically
  • pacing is smooth
  • description and details are thorough / informative enough (to paint visuals)
  • loose ends were tied up, and
  • climax/ending was fitting / appropriate. betaC

If you’re a writer who’d like to enlist a beta reader, you could request volunteers from your social media followers and friends.  There are sites, too, like Goodreads (there’s a beta-reader community to connect with) and Scribophile, where you can upload your writing and get feedback (with a couple of provisos).  Google for more, but do your due diligence because not all are necessarily right for you.

How many beta readers you have is up to you, but less is probably better, at least initially.  Start with two or three.  Utilize the advice gathered.  If you feel you’d like more input, enlist the aid of two or three more.

The important thing to remember is that beta readers are not editors; they’re first readers providing feedback about your story.  Punctuation and grammar shouldn’t be part of the equation; that’s what editors and proofreaders are for.

If you love reading, or simply want to help fellow writers, maybe you’d like to be a beta reader (I’m serving as one for the first time).  You won’t be paid, but you will receive a sense of fulfillment.  Not only are you learning to “look” for pros and cons, and outstanding issues in others’ writing (which may help you with yours), but you’re assisting and supporting fellow writers in need.  How awesome is that?

beta2

Impending Prospects

It’s Linda on post compilation duty today.  If you’ve read the last two, you know we featured three present and three past events from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio (us).  Today, we’re sharing future hopes/aspirations.  They’re far from thrilling or sensational in the grand scheme of things, but they are ours.

Me (Linda):

  1. I’ve never had roots to speak of. Considering my upbringing, if you could call it that, I’ve never been much inclined to learn my family history.  But I do want to set up roots in some way.  Being married with kids isn’t really my thing, but I like the idea of “stability”.  Maybe, with time, I’ll figure it out. wplinda1
  2. I’d like to write a book. The story may not be a terribly original idea, but given our P.I. profession and my interest in wine and cooking, I’d like to do a mystery featuring a chef as an amateur sleuth. 
  3. A year traveling the world, maybe on a sailboat, is something I’ve been thinking—dreaming—about lately.  It would provide an opportunity to broaden my horizons and see a world I’ve only viewed via travel programs.

Rey:

  1. As I’ve told the gals before, I’d like to see our agency expand to Maui and Kauai.  Maybe in a couple of years, that dream will become reality.  We’ve done pretty good so far, so it’s very possible. wprey1
  2. Speaking of reality, the actress in me would love The Triple Threat Investigation Agency to have a reality show.  Dog the Bounty Hunter had a great one.  P.I.’ing can be just as exciting as bounty hunting.  . . . Hmm.  Maybe I should put that idea out there; whadya think? 
  3. I’d love to own some property—like a house with a lanai and pool.  Condo living’s fine, but there’s something about grass and flowers, and sitting outside, under a heavenly sky.  Never had that as a kid . . . never really thought about it much, either . . . until now.

JJ:

  1. Learning Hawaiian and Japanese is something I’d really like to do.  So is being taught to hula.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be here for the long haul; as such, I don’t just want to live here, I want to “be” here. wpjj3
  2. Rey’s mentioned buying property.  I think she may have something.  I enjoy condo living, but I also like the idea of having a little land, where rescue pets can roam and I/we can relax under the sun or stars after a long day at the agency.
  3. Having my mom and nephew Quincy move here would be awesome.  She could open a B&B, or something similar, and he could learn to surf.  I guess I’m kind of missing them (I never had a need to have family that nearby before). 

There you have it, friends.  As mentioned earlier, our dreams and desires are nothing sensational or outrageous, like winning a big Powerball pot, but they are near and dear to our hearts.

Here’s to ours—and yours—coming true.

4avK

PRESENTing the 2nd P in 3

Happy weekend.  It’s JJ, continuing with part two of three.  The last post featured three past events from the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  Today, we’re sharing present moments.

Me (JJ):

1.   I’m flying to Florida in a couple of days to spend four days with Cash / Richie J.  If I don’t, he’s promised (threatened) to come here.  Seeing as I’ve never spent time in the Sunshine State, and I don’t feel like having a head-butting contest with my “sometimes boyfriend” (as my cousin calls him), I’ve decided to suck it up and go.  But I’m not staying at his place (that could result in major property damage).

2.   Linda and I have decided to clean out and stock up the office.  It’s a little project we’ve wanted to complete for some time.  (Yeah, I didn’t feel it was that exciting to share either, but if I post about it, we’re compelled to see it through—right?)presentblogjj4

3.   Even though Eddy, our part-time assistant, has lived on Oahu for 23 years, he hasn’t seen much of Hawaii.  I’m treating him to a long weekend on Kauai.  He’s super stoked (which has me super stoked).  <LOL>

Rey:

1.   Met a guy in Macy’s.  He tripped over a three piece, hard-side luggage set and I caught him.  Had to—he fell into my arms.  Name’s Booster (never met one of those before) and he’s a CA.  Doesn’t look much like one.  He’s got a GQ face and not-too-bad bod (medium build, not toned, but not flabby).  We’re gonna have drinks at Duke’s in a couple weeks when he’s back from visiting the folks in Seattle.

2.   I’m still in Cali, hanging with friends.  Loving it, but missing home and those awesome walks along the beach.presentblogrey

3.   Auditioning for another commercial when I get back.  If I get it, I’ll look like me for a change.  No fruit or insect costumes.  Just sitting beachside, looking good, and sipping a long, tall sweet smoothie.  How sweet is that?

Linda:

1.   I’ve decided to start a new blog about Hawaii flora and fauna, which will feature recipes using both.  I’m experimenting every chance I get.  I’ve had a couple of disasters—and there was an adrenalin-pumping condo evacuation—but everything’s a learning curve, right?  presentbloglinda2

2.   My brother and sister are coming for another visit.  We may do some island-hopping as we continue to bond.  Never thought that possible.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t, either.  <LOL>

3.   I made a new friend last week when we literally bumped into each other at a coffee shop.  Eunice is a spinning instructor.  Besides being incredibly fit and attractive, she’s funny and engaging.  Rey, JJ and I have pretty much done everything together since moving here, and having someone “new” in my life is kind of weird, I have to say.

As you can see, there’s nothing earth-shattering to share currently.  It’s all good, though, because there’s nothing to complain about either, and that’s even better.

Look for Linda’s post about prospect (the f-u-t-u-r-e) mid-week.  In the meanwhile, keep going with the flow.  And if the flow gets too choppy, adjust for waves and current, and carry on.  Keep happy thoughts.

Hula for Present Blog Post

3Ps . . . from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency Trio

Hey-ho, it’s Rey.  The Boss is being pulled in 10 different directions these days, so we told her we’d be happy to take over for a wee bit.  We put our heads together and came up with a plan to write three posts re three events in three periods from three [pretty] gals: past, present, and prospect, as in future (got that one from Lindy-Loo).

We’re daring to share three major [and private] past events—ones we can’t forget ‘cause they were emotional, moving, or plain out and out embarrassing.

3 and box

Me (Rey):

1.   You may have guessed I’m flirty.  It’s fun.  Hold that thought . . . walk back.  It was fun once upon a time ago.  Nowadays, it’s just entertaining.  Like me.  Back when I had my first and only 9-5 job, I was a Production Assistant for a way-too-serious dude named Fletch.  He was a doc director, who made movies about miracles.  I used to flirt shamelessly back then (which got me oodles of attention and free drinks).  Anyway, I made the mistake of flirting with Howie, the assistant director one night while a bunch of us were at a bar.  Things went from bad to worse.  He fell in love and became my shadow.  I had to tell Fletch.  He was so not happy and ordered me to set things straight.  Howie cried foul when I told him to remove those blinding stars from his eyes.  After a major scene that would have done any soap opera proud, I got canned.  Me.  Can you imagine!?pastRey 

2.   While we’re on the topic of men, you must know I’ve been married three times.  There was Monty the gaffer, Fabio the community theater actor, and Lester the catering assistant.  I left Cecil, a video editor, at the altar.  What no one knows—not even Cousin Jilly—is that I had a pretty serious relationship with a pastor.  Just after completing that second-rate series Flings and Frolic in Fresno I was feeling kinda lost and churchy, so I joined a local religious group.  No, I didn’t get flirty with Pastor Tir, but we did connect and became coffee and movie mates.  Long story short, he thought I should put my great personality and acting to good use, and asked me to take over Sunday school classes.  I was never good relating to kids, but I gave it a shot (I’m an actress after all and can handle any role).  I really starting liking the kids (too much) and weekly “lessons”.  Because acting was my chosen profession (and I was getting too “soft”), I walked away.  Confession?  I still regret it. 

3.   This one you can never tell JJ or Linda.  They’d never let me forget.  . . . Huh?  Ugh, you’re right—I guess they’ll know now.  <LMAO>  Early in my career, I had a fringe-theater acting gig for a couple of months.  One scene had me wearing nothing more than my birthday suit.  The reviews were pretty decent, but I always wondered if I didn’t sell myself short . . . or out.

JJ:

1.   My cousin Rey and I didn’t get along much when we were younger, and when we got together—courtesy of summer family vacations—the trouble we caused, oh my.  Those holidays were filled with squabbles (and resulting black eyes or bruised lips) or embarrassing events—like the time we came across a moonshine still (turned out to be a smoker) and decided to take it for a ride, so to speak.  The lakeside community is still talking about the explosion that took out four sheds, two SUVs, a lean-to, and an outhouse.  That someone’s dog ended up hairless still haunts me. pastblogJJ

2.   I never knew my father, not even his name.  My mother has always refused to talk about him, other than that one time to tell me he’d been killed climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  I’d boasted to schoolmates that “Edmund H” Fonne was an explorer and adventurer, and his last planned exploration—before returning home to his beloved family—had been a fateful trip to Tanzania.  Lately, I’ve started thinking about him again.  As a P.I., maybe I should start P.I.’ing.  But what if I discover something that’s better left buried?  What a conundrum: to detect and expose or to neglect and forget?

3.   While we have a family that leans toward [very] eccentric, I’ve always been [fairly] level-headed.  But I’ll admit that I’ve always envied—and desired to be like—my crazy, now-deceased sister Reena Jean.  She was exciting and unpredictable, a true thrill-seeker.  She’d chain herself to trees or cars or people for causes, travel the globe on a dime and borrowed gym bag to visit obscure sites or meet up with infamous characters.  I couldn’t help but admire that courage—or recklessness as some called it.  That fateful day when she struggled onto a pier during a Category 4 hurricane and challenged Mother Nature to “bring it on” was so cool. Mother Nature complied by yanking Reena Jean into a raging ocean.  It’s hard not to admire that zest for life . . . even if it cost Reena Jean hers.

Linda:

1.   I never shared my married life with Rey and JJ.  Barely 18, I married this super talented, great-looking jazz musician named Chiffre Royale, a brilliant sax player featured on several notable artists’ albums.  The guy was twice my age, but oh-so-cool.  When we chatted at that festival, he seemed so into me.  Who knew that far-out look and attitude was due to drugs?  Not me; I was too pie-eyed and naïve.  Chiffre died in a fleabag motel of a heroin overdose one night after a gig.  The call came at 4 a.m. and at 8 a.m. I was on my way to Cali with nothing more than a duffel bag filled with clothes and a head full of memories.pastLinda1

2.   I’m not overly knowledgeable about my past.  My mother had two kids they always said, but there were three of us.  Who flunked math?  JJ never knew her father and Rey has some scattered memories regarding hers, but my parents are ghosts; even the tales told by relatives were ghost stories.  Unlike JJ, though, I have no desire to learn anything about my history.  Some things are truly better left buried.

3.   This one makes me laugh, especially when I look at photos.  Rey hasn’t been the only one to dress-up in silly costumes.  I once earned money dressed as a globe-round pig with a pork-pie hat and checkered bow tie.  For six months, I stood outside a fairly successful fast-food joint as Paulina Porker, and waved and oinked at customers.  It was the only way I could make ends meet.  It was okay, though—live and learn, and all that.  Mind you, I’ve never looked at pork the same way since.  <ROTFL>

I’m sure we were all being careful about which “events” to share (‘cause if I recall a few dozen doozies, so can they).  Maybe, with time, we’ll share more.  There’s something soul-cleansing and guilt-releasing about purging.  Sometimes, though, you need to do it in dribs and drabs.

JJ’ll be here on the weekend with some present-day offerings.

Aloha all.

An Abundance of Accolades

Many bloggers share personal everyday experiences, even when their blogs have a particular non-personal theme.  I like that.  A lot.  I’m not as prone to disclosing facets of my life.  Truth is: I have next to nothing at this juncture to disclose (not being negative, just candid).

Currently, my time (for those not in the know) consists of caregiving for Mom and working a 9-5 job.  I was recently put into a new role  and, to be frank, it’s “tryingly stressful”.  Time has become even more of a factor—i.e. I’m scrambling to grasp it.  Also have another [minor but unpleasant] health issue.  As such, my life at this time doesn’t seem overly joyous/joyful, but it’s all good (downs and ups are par for the course).

I do, however, find absolute joy in the fabulous blogs I follow, too many to mention here.  They entertain, inform, inspire . . . and keep me motivated when I sometimes want to give up.

I love that my fellow [faithful and focused] bloggers:

  • write so eloquently that a casual walk along a sidewalk sounds exciting
  • share their struggles [addictions/disabilities] and successes in overcoming them
  • post picturesque pictures of travels and loved ones with lovely lyrical tales
  • engage in ambitious projects . . . and then engage us in the excitement
  • have adorable pets that provide much pleasure and that awesome unconditional love
  • communicate their writing progress and process in enlightening detail
  • reveal their faith—and inspire us to maintain ours
  • impart information in fascinating and edifying ways
  • offer [welcome] support, guidance, and friendship.

joypost2Accolades to you all, my friends.  You make the blogging world such a brighter place.  Count your God-given blessings, and honor your talents.  And should life/work ever seem tough or challenging, never give up.  We’d be lost without you.

Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups

There’s something Allie can’t remember, hidden memories bordering consciousness that refuse to surface until one day someone, something, ignites horrifying images of a forgotten night.

FBSunThe above book blurb for E. Denise Billups third novel succinctly sums up Kalorama Road, an exciting rollercoaster ride of memories—intricate pieces that, in due course, complete a complex jigsaw puzzle.

Billups has a gift with words, no question.  She can paint vivid pictures (“an overwhelming scent of roses whirls gossamer coils about me”) that help us visualize the setting or locale and experience what characters are feeling, sensing, and undergoing.

What makes Kalorama Road stick out from others of its ilk is that the plot twists and twines not only through the lead character’s POV, Allie, but those of others.  When we’re in another character’s head, however, we’re never that far removed from Allie; we see her from another’s perspective.

The switches in POV would have proven more dynamic if characters had different voices.  No one in real life speaks the same—some use jargon and lingo, some have accents, and others display positive or negative tones or attitudes.  How characters communicate actions, details and thoughts would benefit from a few variances and idiosyncrasies.

There’s more telling than showing, which we’re often told as writers not to do, but it works.  It’s as if we’re invited to read various character’s diaries; as such, we receive a “confidential” sense of inner turmoil and personal conviction.  They all have quests and we’re pursuing them in tandem.  The mystery of that strange, terrifying night on Kalorama Road will be solved if it’s the last thing we do.

Kalorama Road could easily be a five-star book—with a little reworking of the POVs (and some punctuation/typo clean-up).  It has a bit of a “not final” draft feel, but it’s definitely worth a read.  So pull up a chair, grab the book and a coffee (as java-lover Allie undoubtedly would), and enjoy the twisty turns and zigzag slopes of a suspenseful (“slightly supernaturally-infused”) mystery.

Rating:   star2star2star2star2   4 out of 5

E. Denise Billups was born in Monroeville Alabama and raised in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance. A burgeoning author of fiction, she’s published three suspense novels, Kalorama Road, Chasing Victory, By Chance.

reviewpic1Social links for E. Denise Billups include:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kalorama-Road-Denise-Billups-ebook/dp/B079J5YFYJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38340854-kalorama-road

Youtube: https://youtu.be/QhVJLy6QOK8

Switch Up: Wednesday’s Post Thursday

Hi, it’s Linda.  Just a quick post to let you know that the usual Wednesday post will appear tomorrow – a stop on E. Denise Billups’ Kalorama Road book blog tour.

On the Triple Threat Investigation Agency front, it’s volunteer day for Rey and JJ and I.

Have an amazing day (I know we will).

Linda

 

Reviewing the Art of the Review

Next week, you’ll find my second book review.  I’m excited (aiming do do one every two months and, hopefully, more frequently down the road).  This inspired me to pen a quick “refresher” post re writing one (see The ABCs of . . . Reviewing Reviewed).

If you’re new to writing reviews, or are thinking of setting up a book review blog, there are several things to consider, but let’s narrow it down so it’s not overly daunting.

The first thing to do is identify the book by author, title, and genre.  Then, add a bit of background and/or brief overview of storyline/plot.  Easy, right?  Of course!

In subsequent paragraphs, incorporate the following.  Be as detailed or succinct as you deem fit.

♦ Title:  Is it catchy, fitting the storyline/plot . . . good?

♦ Genre:  Does it fit the intended category?

♦ Storyline/Plot:  Is it easy to follow, logical, strong, intriguing?  (What’s the story about?)

♦ Characters:  Who are the main characters?  Were they believable?  Were there quests and issues to add tension, friction, or suspense?  Could you relate to any of them and if so, why?  (You may want to make mention of a favorite character.)  What about character POV: is it is logical / does it work?

♦ Did you like the book?  If you loved the book, state this.  If it was simply another well-written book, say so.  If you hated it, don’t claim you loved it, but be considerate when you provide a reason for not being enamored.  Remember: you didn’t write the book, someone else did.  We all have different writing styles and approaches; let’s respect that.BlogReview2

Make sure to include some author bio info—what he or she has previously written, any qualifications or awards, and website and/or blog links.

When offering a summation/conclusion, include an appraisal.  Would you recommend it?  Is there something you didn’t like about the book?  Maybe it wasn’t a five-star project in your estimation.  Why?  Is there something you would have done differently?

. . . Feel free to ding me if I follow my own recommendations/guidelines.   <LOL>