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A Great Big Thank You (!) to Jina S. Bazzar

. . . for featuring me on her awesome blog (September 23 2022).

I’m not just going to provide the link here, I’m going to cut and paste the post as well because, well, I’m tickled pink and am feeling a need to share.😊

https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2022/09/23/meet-the-author-tyler-colins/comment-page-1/#comment-8594

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Thank you ever so much, Jina—you’re not just a great writer and blogger, you’re a great friend. 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022 BY JINA BAZZAR

Meet the author: Tyler Colins

Hi peeps. I’ve decided to start a segment in this blog by introducing other indie authors I know and enjoy.

I’m opening  it with a dear friend and author, Tyler Colins. We met a few years back here in the blogosphere, and have been friends ever since.

So, without any further ado, let’s start.

A brief bio:

Tyler Colins

Tyler Colins is primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. She’ll also create business plans, synopses, film promotion and sales documents.

Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (she likes playing detective and developing structure).

Her fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. Her genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction.

She aims to provide readers with smiles and chuckles like the ever-talented Janet Evanovich and the sadly passed and missed Lawrence Sanders, the “coziness” of Jessica Fletcher, and a few diversions and distractions as only long-time pros Jonathan Kellerman and Kathy Reichs can craft.

And now, the interview (read to the end for an excerpt of Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie)

Q: What inspired you to become an author?  And why Hawaii?

A: As an only child with a mother and father who didn’t really have time or support for me as parents tend to, I had to find my own source of “play”.  I started drawing and writing.  My grade 7 teacher, Mr. Kennedy, loved a short story I had written and read it to the class.  I had no idea I had any talent.  That afternoon made me look at myself as something more than a friendless, lonely kid.  Little ’ me was actually good at something.  I started writing . . . and writing . . . and writing.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

I fell in love with Hawaii the first time I stepped foot on Oahu.  It wasn’t that I saw “Paradise” there (because, off the tourist track, it has its issues as most places do), but that I felt a connection to the history and spirituality.  I felt like I belonged.  There wasn’t anywhere I wouldn’t go; I felt no fear or anxiety.  And when I began the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, which was initially intended to be a stand-alone, Hawaii seemed the perfect place to have my three private eyes move to.  Even if I can’t live there—given laws and finances and all that—Hawaii is my home . . . in heart and soul.

Q: What do you think is the most difficult part about writing, and how do you motivate yourself to continue?

A: For me, the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding the time to write.  Mom-care still takes up a few hours, most days, and the full-time job isn’t your usual eight-hour day.  Freelance editing also detracts (but I’d not give up editing for anything because I do so love it).  One day, hopefully, I’ll find a way to juggle time more constructively.

I can’t say I “motivate” myself.     I simply do.

Q: It’s a strange and tough world out there. Do you find that it hinders or improves your writing?

A: It is indeed.  The state of affairs around the world can be daunting and/or depressing.  Some days, it can weigh heavily; you wonder (worry) that those state of affairs will never improve but, then, bursts of hope and faith—like a double Hawaiian rainbow—take over.  And you think, believe, hey, maybe things will turn out all right after all.  I wouldn’t say exterior forces hinder my writing, nor improve it.  But they may provide ideas for scenes or twists in plots.

Q: What is your favorite way to relax?

A: LOL – I haven’t found one yet.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  When I get to Hawaii, that’s where I find ways to relax . . . strolling along a beach, splashing in the ocean, finding a fun farmer’s market, or enjoying shave ice while sitting on a rock by the water’s edge.

Q: Do you read your own books after they’re published? If not, why not?

A: I haven’t read my books after they’ve been published per se.  But when I require an excerpt for a post, then I will scan one or two of them to find the perfect one.  I think the reason I’m not inclined to read them from front to end is that I might discover typos or something that didn’t gel.  Then I’d spend the week or month kicking myself repeatedly.

I believe one of my favorite excerpts is from Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? when JJ and Cash’s budding “relationship” starts to take off . . . or not . . .

Q: If you were to become the mc of the last book you read, who would you be and where?

A: I edit a lot of books, but I don’t read a lot of books . . . save for, believe it or not, the odd Nancy Drew book.  I pick one from the pile in the closet if I’m going to ride the stationary bike in the fitness room.  It’s an easy read and it takes me back to simpler times—when I was kid living in (escaping to) my little world.  I always wanted to be Bess or George, never Nancy.  She always seemed so perfect and privileged, and for a little kid being caught up in a not so perfect or privileged world, I couldn’t relate to it.  But I’d love to be involved in one of their mysteries.  My favorites were The Haunted Showboat and The Secret of the Wooden Lady, so the setting of either one would be very “Keene”.  LOL

111hula1Excerpt for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie

“No stitches required, fortunately.”

Linda propped Cash’s head on a fit thigh and continued to dab a tiny sponge on an open cut above the right eyebrow. “But he’s going to have one big headache, a knob on his temple, and probably a scar. Perfect timing, me stopping by. If Makjo hadn’t taken the afternoon off, you’d be the one administering medical aid.”

He stirred twice, but was having difficulty opening his eyes.

“Fortunately, you’re here,” I smiled wryly, “and you have first aid certification.”

“So will you and Rey after next month.”

Linda had taken first aid and CPR training last summer while still in California. Rey and I had discussed doing something similar upon arrival on Oahu. As professional private investigators, first aid was at the top of the list, but other courses like investigative techniques and interviewing methods were also on the agenda.

“Who is this guy? I don’t think you’ve mentioned knowing someone this hunky.” Digging through a kit, she located antiseptic cream and a large bandage.

“He has different names. Cash. Richie J. Richard. He’s a drug dealer.”

Linda stopped and searched his face. “Really?”

“He doesn’t look like one?” I asked drolly.

“I’ve never met one before.”

“Damn.” He winced, and brought a hand to his forehead. “What happened?”

“You got beaned by our favorite beaner,” Linda explained merrily, gently applying cream to the wound before applying the bandage. “She can pack a mighty wallop.”

He squinted upward. “Who are you?”

“Linda Royale.” She peered so closely, they were nearly nose to nose. “I hear you’re a drug dealer.”

A flummoxed gaze shifted from her face to mine. I was standing behind Linda, looking down, hoping the damage was minor enough not to do any serious or permanent damage, but major enough to make him think twice about entering the condo uninvited again. “Did I deserve that? Bitch.”

If looks could kill. “Watch the name calling,” I trilled, getting a glass of water and passing it to Doctor Linda.

She supported his head and got him to drink a third of the glass. “Do you deal locally or on the Mainland, as well? Do you hobnob with guys who have the status of the once-super-rich-and successful ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross and Amado ‘Lord of the Skies’ Fuentes?”

He eyed her as if she were as demented as Norman Bates’ mother.

“Oh, sorry. You probably don’t want to share your criminal life with us. That’s okay.” Linda smiled and he closed his eyes in a give-me-strength cast. “Let’s get you upright.” She assisted him into a more vertical position.

He noticed her dressing. “Did she bean you, too?”

Linda instinctively touched the binding on her head. “This is courtesy of a creep I had the displeasure of not meeting last night.”

“She got dinged by a psycho,” I said simply.

His expression suggested he wasn’t buying it.

Get a copy! https://www.nextchapter.pub/books/can-you-hula-like-hilo-hattie

Connect with Tyler Colins here:

https://www.audible.ca/author/Tyler-Colins/B01KHOZAL2

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14150735.Tyler_Colins

https://twitter.com/usbound3/

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Tyler%20Colins

https://ca.linkedin.com/in/tyler-colins-24833326

Featured

The Art of Perfectin’ . . . or Playin’ the Blues with Soul

The title popped into my head as I was watching Joe Bonamassa a few nights ago.  Joe, for those not in the know, is a blues rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.  His career’s pretty impressive; starting at age twelve, he opened for the awesome B.B. King.  Anyway, the post’s not about Joe—maybe another time 😉—but about artists perfecting their trade.

How does one segue from playing the blues to improving a craft?  It’s not that far a stretch.  I was considering how well he played, which made me ponder how musicians constantly aim to entertain and please audiences.  They strive to do/offer their best.  Over time, they refine.  They perfect . . . or play the blues with soul and conviction . . . a metaphor, of sorts.

All passionate artists aim to be the best they can be.  As a writer, I revise constantly to improve my work.  As an editor, I amend to help make other works as good as they can be.  Poets, painters, puppeteers, and performers [love alliteration] . . . those that truly care . . . polish words and riffs and moves.

It’s a labor of love, this repetition that aims for perfection.  Nothing is “great” the first time.  All projects and persons are works [of art] in motion.  So, it’s imperative to keep striving . . . and keep playin’ the blues with soul.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.    Colin Powell

Featured

What’s in a Name?

Not much if—as writers—we use it so frequently that it detracts from the storyline.  It’s like overusing the comma, dash, hyphen, or “he said” and “she said”.  Overuse of anything lends itself to tedium.

There are many great storylines out there, but they get lost through repetition.  If readers find a multitude of references to good ol’ Roger on one page, they may not be tempted to read through to the end.  That’s not only a loss for the writer, it’s a downright shame.

Yes, editors help—it depends on the type of editing as much as it does on the editor.  He/she may comment on the redundancy, but not change it or offer examples of how to approach the story with a fresh(er)/crisp(er) slant.

“Hi there,” Ron said with a smile and placed down the coffee cup onto the table in front of the window by the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing. She simply turned to Ron and stared into Ron’s grass-green eyes.

Ron noticed rue of some kind in Julie’s baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” Ron asked, his voice filled with genuine concern. Ron walked across the room to stand before Julie’s chair and hold her hand, but Julie yanked back her hand.

Mistrust was now reflected in Julie’s eyes. Julie stood up and walked to the far corner of the small room, away from the window. Ron smiled dissarmingly, hoping Julie would feel less threatened.

Julie sat down in the other chair in the corner of the small room and Ron walked over to sit on the rug before Julie.

Rather long, given the action, and repetitive.  If we had a dollar for each time we read Ron or Julie’s name, we’d have a nice fat wallet.  Maybe something exciting, frightening, or romantic is about to occur.  But given the repetition, are we that eager to find out?  If there are 20+ mentions of Ron and 24+ references to Julie on one page, would you be tempted to read on for very much longer?  It suggests lack of professionalism and/or care on the writer’s part.

Maybe we can shorten it and make it less tiresome to get through?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled, placing the coffee cup on the table by the window near the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him and stared into his grass-green eyes.

He noticed rue in those baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he walked over to her chair, his voice filled with genuine concern.

When he took her hand, she yanked it back.

Mistrust clouded Julie’s eyes and she stood up and walked to the far corner, taking a seat on the only other chair.

Ron smiled disarmingly, and walked over to sit on the rug before her.

A little better, but still needs work.  How about we rearrange a bit more and add the odd adjective or adverb to give it more pizzazz?  And what genre might this be, so we rearrange/add accordingly?  Suspense perhaps?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled blithely as he entered the small dimly-lit room, placing the porcelain coffee cup on the table by the narrow window.  Seeing a large hairy spider scurrying across the top, he slammed his palm on it.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him, her face expressionless, and stared into his grass-green eyes.  

Rue was reflected in those lovely baby-blue orbs. “What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly as he walked over, his voice filled with concern.  Crouching, he took her slim hand in his.

Feeling the remnants of the crushed spider, Julie yanked hers back, mistrust clouding her eyes. She lurched to her feet and stomped to the far corner and sat in the only other chair.

Ron sighed softly, wondering how he might win over this troubled young woman who’d murdered easily and often.  Smiling disarmingly, and donning an expression of humility, he walked over and sat on the threadbare rug before her.

Writing takes practice.  So does proofreading and editing.  And there’s nothing wrong with writing a story or book without looking back while doing so.  But do make sure to revisit it—with a critical eye, not a writer’s ego.

There’s no quality in quantity when the same names (words and phrases) are used in [over]abundance.  But there is quality in quantity when a number of revisions are made—to make a story the best that it can be.

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A Dollycas Shout-Out

For writers and readers of mysteries, one of the best sites out there is Lori Caswell’s Escape with Dollycas.  The focus is on cozies but is open to all mystery genres.  Easy to navigate and visually appealing (bright and well organized), it’s chockablock full—of author book tours, book recommendations, reading challenges, and giveaways (among other wonderful/exciting things).  You’ll also find Lori’s weekly reading itinerary and a sponsor panel . . .

1dollyalso . . . on which the Triple Threat Investigation Agency books are currently residing/viewable.  But this post is not about yours truly; it’s about the indefatigable hostess who has overcome many trials, such as a terrible car accident two-some decades ago that left her in hospital for over two months and resulted in a year of therapy.  Unable to drive or work long hours, she became involved with reading and disability groups … and 2001 marked the birth of Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.  A dozen years later, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours came onto the scene.

 This year, Lori’s site was #5 on the list of “90 Best Mystery Book Blogs and Websites” and #8 on the list of “45 Best Mystery Blogs and Websites”.  Kudos!  😊  And well deserved.

I highly recommend you check her out: https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/.

Her dynamic, highly successful, site is not the only thing Lori should be proud of.  She has an amazing, supportive [ever growing] family … and the very cute Daisy Mae.

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Hats off to you, Lori!

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The Curious, Elusive Comma

. . . Curious because comma usage can have us scratching our heads, asking, “How do I use this particular, perplexing piece of punctuation?” . . . elusive because this symbol can prove obscure if not crafty (in its own odd, abstract way).  Some writers use them in [over] abundance, while others use them almost never.

Now and then, I like to provide posts related to editing and punctuation and the like.  So, today, let’s look at our little friend, Mr. Comma.

There are “rules” of course, but those, as we know, are often made to be broken.  It’s really a writer’s prerogative how to utilize commas/punctuation but bear one word in mind: consistency.  Develop your own approach and adhere to it.

But, speaking of rules, it never hurts to review common practices/approaches.  Accept them as you like or will.

Use a comma to:

♣  divide separate independent clauses when connected by: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet (most of the time, but I wouldn’t say always)

But, he was never to see her again.  (a definite no-o).

William thought about it, but decided not to see her again.  (possibly)

William thought about it but decided not to see her again.  (better)

Perhaps, the two knew better than I did.  (another no-o)

Perhaps Bill and Joe would eventually learn from their mistakes.  (best)

♣  separate less important information that may not be that relevant to the grand scheme of things

Mr. Ronaldson, an accountant of thirty years, flew to Mexico to start a new life.

♣  provide details after opening clauses or phrases or words that precede the main clause

Last Friday, she went to the movies with Lisbeth.

♣  separate three or more words (phrases, clauses) that denote a series

Tom ordered a plant-based hamburger, French fries, and chocolate milkshake.

♣  separate two or more adjectives before the same noun

Laura ran anxious fingers through her long, wavy hair.

He stopped in his tracks and eyed the shadowy, three-story, dilapidated house.

Obviously, there are more rules, but these are enough . . . for today’s post about the curious, elusive comma.  😉

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Two Down, Two to (Happily) Go

jinauseProlific author Jina S Bazzar has (as you know by a recent post) finished Shadow Pawn, the thrilling sequel to Shadow Walker.  Originally, planned as trilogy, it appears this project may evolve into a quartet.  All the better—while we like to see our favorite characters win battles and settle into a “happy ending”, it’s also great to have their entertaining/intriguing stories continue a wee bit longer.  😉

The Shadow books are a fascinating, dark series that takes us to a fantastical realm of treacherous otherworld souls with unsavory goals.

In Shadow Walker, we’re introduced to the resilient, indomitable heroine, Melaina (Mel).  Per Jina’s blurb: she lives by one hard rule, and that’s never to mingle with the supernatural community.  Driven by fear of discovery, she remains on the fringes of society, occasionally stealing to provide for her aunt and her brother.  So when the opportunity to work for a big corporation falls in her lap, Melaina can’t believe her luck.  But when life looks too good to be true, it’s because it is.  Instead of a dream job, Melaina finds herself facing a blackmailing assassin, with her magic and thieving skills her only salvation.  Failure would expose her darkest secret, but success would destroy any chance for a normal life.

Shadow Pawn follows Melaina as she fights the aforementioned forces, who now hold her aunt and brother as pawns.  Bradley, a former beau, assists in the quest to find them, a challenging feat given it’s difficult to differentiate between friend and foe.  The second book is chockablock full of action, with nary a moment of calm as the two contend with a sundry of devious sorts who will stop at nothing to complete their quest.

Jina is a writer and blogger, as well as mother and baker, and “chocolate fiend” and “coffee enthusiast”, among other wonderful things.  I love this quote from Jina: There is no boundary I can’t cross, no limit I can’t push; my mind is my passport, my thoughts my mode of transportation.  Kudos to you, my dear.

I became familiar with Jina via the Roxanne Fosch Files trilogy, an urban fantasy series that follows the strong-willed, bewitching Roxanne, a young woman with supernatural abilities who is tracked by government scientists and other supernaturals.  To find out more about this talented (and most charming) author, please visit the following:

Blog: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jina_Bazzar

Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jina-bazzar-b4a08967/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jina-S-Bazzar/e/B07B2989VT/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17738345.Jina_S_Bazzar

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HAudible

Hey there.  The audiobook for HA-HA-HA-HA, the fifth in the Oahu-based Triple Threat Investigation Agency series (featuring private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda) can be downloaded from Audible . . . and will be live in Amazon and iTunes in the next 72 hours.

HA-HA-HA-HA finds the three women on a serial killer’s buddy list.  When he’s not taunting them, he’s challenging them to “play the game”—by his rules.  Rules are made to be broken, however—or, at the very least, changed.  The trio attempt to determine who he might be . . . not an easy feat, given the lack of constructive evidence and cast of oddball characters. As they endeavor to stop the man from killing again, they must solve a couple of other cases: verifying whether a hubby has a roving eye and ascertaining who is stalking a young, beautiful woman.  Could it be that these two cases somehow intertwine?  And who will prove the ultimate winner in this deadly game of taunts and perplexities: the clever and cunning killer, or the persevering and persistent private eyes?

These are the official Audible links and coupon codes are available for both (US and UK):

US: https://www.audible.com/pd/B0B9HX1PLX/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-318953&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_318953_rh_us

UK: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B0B9HY4WZ7/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-318953&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_318953_rh_uk

Please note that the coupon codes can only be used using these acx-promo links.

Contact me if you’d like one.  😊

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Root-a-Toot-Toot . . . Got the Tatt!

1NicePNGabcIt seemed apropos to provide a sequel post in case some of you thought I might—buk, buk, buk—chicken out.

True, I did enter the tattoo shop (and a very nice, upscale one it was, with fabulous staff) feeling “pukey nervous”.  The maturity (o-l-d) aspect—some might call it you-should-know-better insight—ought to have quelled the anxiety (or had me running for the hills).  I may not have buk-buk-buked (or is that bukked?), but my stomach sure as heck was doing flapjack flips.  Still, Ms. Warrior being who/what she is, persevered and ambled to the (oh-so-comfy) chair with head and shoulders held high . . . and tummy hoping not to liberate the grilled cheese sandwich it had happily welcomed a couple of hours earlier.

As the saying goes: you only live once.  So, embrace what moves you.  And move the tattoo gun did (providing some quasi discomfort, but not out-and-out pain).  Four-plus hours of outlining and shading was weathered with scarcely a blink or a tear or a flinch . . . until the last hour, when several calming breaths proved necessary.  Still, said and done with [relative] grace.

For those contemplating getting a tattoo, consider—very seriously—what you want.  Select something that reflects you.  It’s a representation of your soul and core . . . history . . . road through life . . . desires/dream . . . strength and conviction.

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Regrets?  I’ve had a few, but this is not one of them.  As soon as my “badge of courage” is healed, I’ll display it proudly.  😊

Featured

Root-a-Toot-Toot . . . Getting a Tatt

Not quite sure where the “root-a-toot-toot” came from, but it popped into my head in terms of the title.  After the first draft of this post, I looked it up.  Besides being the title of a book, it means “something noisy, riotous, or lively, specifically in the early style of jazz music”.

Interesting.  And so not what this post is about.  Which, by the by, is in no way related to writing/editing, blogging, or the pretty private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  It’s a this-is-what’s-happening-in-my-life one.

. . . I’ve opted to get a tatt on my arm.

It was supposed to be a small one on my lower inner arm.  But the artist explained, if it’s small, it can’t be as detailed as I’d like it to be.  What I was hoping would be around 1½” is now going to be around 3-4”.  An in-your-face tatt.

For quite some time (years), I’ve wanted to get one of a honu (Hawaiian turtle) and hibiscus flowers—nothing terribly clever or unique or spectacular, by any means, but … pleasantly pretty.  It was to serve as a tribute to my love of Hawaii and my writing (the “gals” at the agency), but it’s become more than that.

It’s a tribute to my (ever so) slowly emergence/development—as my own person.  This woman is finally embracing the life of an individual, not an extension of someone else, not being molded (controlled) by another.  Finally, I am ambling down that winding pathway, toward that light at the end of the tunnel, to stand alone, tall and tough, (though I will undoubtedly wobble now and again).

While this really has nothing to do with tatts, it’s a fun little [uplifting] root-a-toot-toot vid.

It’s going to take five hours (perhaps you’ll hear me wailing over the waves).  But, once said and done—and pain and tears subsided—I’ll wear it like the badge of courage and strength it will be.

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye . . . Literally

My audiobook, Forever Poi, can now be downloaded from Audible, and will be live in Amazon and iTunes in the next 72 hours.

Forever Poi is the fourth book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series and follows the adventures (and mis-adventures) of the pretty private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—as they take on their third case.

It’s a challenging one, to be sure: determine who is responsible for a double arson and double murder.  Are the arsonist and killer the same person?  The P.I.s believe so.  As they search for clues, JJ (Jill Jocasta Fonne), her melodramatic cousin Rey (Reynalda Fonne-Werde), and her best friend, Linda Royale, encounter a plethora of possible culprits.

The day before the fire, Carlos, one of the arson victims, had an ugly break-up with his partner, James-Henri.  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?  Given her sketchy past as a queenpin, could a former foe have murdered her?  If so, was Carlos merely collateral damage?

These are the official Audible links . . .

US: https://www.audible.com/pd/B0B52J37FQ/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-313370&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_313370_rh_us

UK: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B0B52F5NQT/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-313370&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_313370_rh_uk

1aaaaudibleIf you’re interested, please let me know.  I have a few coupon codes—25 for the US (https://audible.com/acx-promo) and 25 for the UK (https://audible.co.uk/acx-promo).  Please note that the coupon codes can only be used via these acx-promo links (and can only be used once).

A short, but rather sweet post (for yours truly).  😉

Featured

Loving What we Do

I’m back.  Yes, I’ve been bummed out . . . “suffering” from what I advise people not to let get to them (that was a mouthful, wasn’t it?).  Unconstructive criticism and negative attitudes.  Silly me.  To think I’d almost allowed someone to influence me to stop writing.  Silly me twofold.

I love writing.  Not so much blogging anymore, to be honest.  Maybe it’s the time factor (there ain’t a heckuva lot, as Rey might say).  Maybe that it’s a struggle to often find fresh material.  Maybe it’s just that I want a <bleeping> new crisp and clean one.  . . . Maybe it’s just that I want to switch gears and begin editing on a regular basis.

But I digress.  This is about loving what I/we do.  It’s a passion.  A need.  A compulsion.  I love writing for me as much as I love writing for others—in the hopes of providing entertainment and escapism.  While it’s only me and the pretty private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency on the writing/blogging team right now, that doesn’t mean the team can’t grow (not that JJ, Rey, or Linda want that to happen).  All in good time (that elusive continuous passage of time that often seems to take its own passage).  All in good faith . . . hope . . . desire.

Doing what we love brings satisfaction, happiness, __________ (you fill in the blank).  It goes without saying that we need to embrace that.  If I didn’t have my writing, I can’t imagine what I’d do in its stead.  Sit in the armchair and watch TV with glazed eyes?  Stare out the window and wonder what I should be doing?  Dust endlessly?  I suppose there might be something worthwhile to take its place (once I figured it out) . . . but I lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve writing.

I could never give it up—for anyone.  Don’t you, either.  A cliché saying, yes, but so apropos: follow your heart (and don’t let anyone break it or you 😉).

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(Still) Bummed Out

Hey, it’s Rey. 

It’s JJ, hey. 

Good grief—you’ve got Linda, ha-ha-ha (if you’re going to be “cute”, ladies, then I may as well join in).

Linda:

The Boss is still bummed out, so the three of us put our heads together and agreed to post as a trio.

It’s one thing giving advice, it’s quite another following it.  So, what has our boss’ knickers in a knot?  While working on a promo sheet, she went to Amazon and read reviews for her books (she hasn’t done that often and it’s been a long while since she last did).  There were some 5- and 4.5-star reviews, which made her feel great . . . but, alas, there were also some 1-star ones.

Now, you can’t please everyone all the time and we all have different tastes in stories, so that’s fine, and expected.  If you really didn’t like the book, you’re entitled to state this.  What you really shouldn’t do is call someone’s work crap, criticize the editing and typos, or just be out-and-out offensive.  Needless, to say . . . she’s [still] bummed out.  So much so, she’s wondering if she should continue writing.

Having been on the end of nasty criticism, I can feel her pain and distress.

Rey:

Yeah, so can I.  Being panned sucks, big time.  And while I may have posted the other day about—more or less—remaining courteous, I’d be inclined to tell the “editting” criticizer to look at their own writing, ‘cause, honey, you can’t write to save your life.  Me-eow.  😉   (And you wouldn’t want to know what I’d tell the others.)

But that’s the catty side of me, the person I once was.  These days, I’m not as quick to carp or condemn in return.  I’ve got two A-1 colleagues—my cousin and BFF—who (usually) keep me on the straight and narrow.

So, I say, let it go.  Revel in the good reviews and forget about the bad.  Sure, they’re going to hurt, but life ain’t always fair and people ain’t always nice.  So, live with it; suck it up.  Or, as I suggested the other day, go to the source and ask them to elaborate.  Maybe they’ll provide useful feedback.

JJ:

That’s an interesting proposal, Rey.  I get it: recognize the criticism and/or ask for feedback.  I think, though, I’m going to disagree with you.  Or, at least, say: determine from that review, if it’s worthwhile to address it.  The tone, the comment(s) should help you determine if it’s worth pursuing.  However, my opinion re a bad book review, is . . . walk away.  Let it go.  It’s not worth the grief that could develop when the exchange heats up (and it may very well do that).  Be professional.  Always.

Who’s the bigger person?  The writer/doer or the criticizer?  I wholeheartedly believe if you have constructive criticism, provide it; if you’re just being malicious because you’re having a bad day or week, or that’s just your [unfortunate] nature, then take it out somewhere else—go hit a few golf balls or play whac-a-mole.

You have to remember that the review is based on one person’s opinion . . . or a handful, whatever the case may be.  That’s not a huge percentage.  A negative one or two amid the many positive ones is fine, and expected.  Why?  Because, that’s right, you can’t please all the people all of the time.  So, just smile, chuckle, giggle, laugh, dance.  If you can learn something from it, great; use it.  But, if there’s no value-add, truly, it’s not worth brooding over.

And what do the three of us say in summary?  😊  Live and learn . . . and love what you do.  And don’t let anyone tell or influence you to do otherwise!

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Fresh Fodder, Smellin’ Like a Flower

Bad title, huh?  I thought it had a nice little poetic thing going, but Linda groaned and rolled her eyes and JJ just shook her head and walked away with her arms in the air.  Hmmpf.  I don’t see either one of them posting today. 

Hey, it’s Rey.  The Boss has a whack of things to do over the long weekend—yeah, there’s one across the waves and north of the 49th Parallel, which according to Ms. Smarty Pants (Lindy-Loo) is the latitude line that shapes the boundary between Canada and the United States . . . somewhere between Manitoba and B.C., if I got that correctly (and do I really care?).

Anyway, I’m happy to post on behalf of my two fellow [lazy] colleagues.  Maybe I’m not posting something super fresh, but it’s worth touching upon, and that makes it as fresh and fragrant as—you got it—a flower.  😊

The Boss, like most of us, gets bummed out when no one “likes” her post or criticizes her writing / editing.  I get that.  I’ve gotten a lot of criticism in my life, and it’s not easy to deal with, much less accept. So, how do we turn a negative experience into something positive?

Probably the first thing is not to snap at the person who’s delivered the less-than-pleasant “news”.  It’s hard not to want to become defensive, for sure.  But my experience has been that if you can remain cool—take a deep breath or three—then you might just get a useful “take away” in return.  Ask the person to elaborate; they may actually have some useful information/advice.  But if they’re not offering anything of value, leave it, walk away.  Tempting as it might be, don’t criticize in return; that doesn’t resolve much except aggravate the situation; it just makes those sour grapes all the more tart (and hard to swallow).

Look at criticism as feedback.  Criticism is such a negative word, so think of it as feedback—opinions and suggestions.  Those sound so much more upbeat, don’t they?

And feel free to offer your side.  Respond to the “feedback”—not with snarls and an oh-really?! attitude.  Explain your intention, where you’re coming from.  Maybe Mr./Ms. Feedback misunderstood your intent.  And, if he/she didn’t—and doesn’t—get it, move on. 

We can’t be loved all the time, by everyone. That’d be wonderful, but that’s not the real world.  Learning to deal with negative comments about our writing/blogging—our hair, our habits, whatever—is the best course of action.  Who’s the better person?  The criticizer?  Or the criticizee? 

Yeah, I know, Linda’s already snickering about my word usage.  And speaking of criticizers, like my BFF, that’s the beauty of solid relationships; you know where you stand and you how to react.  That’s not always the case with people you don’t know well or at all.  But, regardless of who you’re dealing with, know that responding is best done with a smile (even if forced) and, maybe, sometimes with a grain of salt.

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Two New

Two of my favorite fellow authors have books coming out soon.  Having had the pleasure of reading both, I can honestly say neither disappoint.  It’s a bit too early to provide reviews, but there’s nothing wrong with plugs.  😉

1seanSean Robins’ The Gray Emperor is Book Seven in The Crimson Deathbringer series.  If you’ve read the sci-fi books, you know they’re chockablock full of action (great intergalactic space battles, fanatical alien species) and humor (danger abounds, so do the drollness and farce).  Jim, the protagonist, and his buddies are back and along for the thrilling ride—the beautiful warrior Xornaa, the prankster “insect” Tarq, the solemn unbeaten General Maada.  . . . Or are they?  Perhaps they’re doppelgangers?

1jinas-profile1Jina S. Bazzar’s Shadow Pawn is a future-set murder mystery with a fantasy component.  It revolves around an intriguing protagonist with an equally intriguing history.  Page one yanks you in, as a good book should.  The storyline, action and descriptions, have you wanting to continue reading.  There’s a dark element, which adds to the thrills/excitement.  And who doesn’t love a resilient headstrong heroine who never backs down?

Simple fact: Sean and Jina are exceptionally talented authors whose stories always entertain.  This blog will feature reviews of The Gray Emperor and Shadow Pawn in the next month or so.  Meanwhile, you can find Sean and Jina on various sites (just do that Googling thing); I heartily recommend you check them out.

https://www.amazon.com/Jina-S.-Bazzar/e/B07B2989VT%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

https://www.amazon.com/Sean-Robins/e/B07PS1116K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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No Summertime Blues

The Boss is taking the weekend to do clean-up and whatnot, so she asked if one of us would like to post.  We all volunteered but, to be honest, not one of us could think of something [interesting] to post.  It’s summer.  Vacations abound.  It’s a time to be footloose and fancy-free, to be less stressed, less preoccupied, less work-driven.  It’s a time to dance!

So, we decided we’d keep it light and bouncy.  Rey, Linda and I (JJ) are simply going to provide you with three songs we think reflect summer cheer and gaiety.

Over to you, Cousin Reynalda.

Hey, it’s Rey!  Yay!  Uncle Gary was a child (teen) of the 70s.  Whenever we’d spend mid-July at his Maine cottage, he’d play 70s music.  That was okay; as a kid, I liked anything upbeat.  He’d always start off our stay—kinda like an official commencement to the cottage retreat—with Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime”.  (Linda, who has a whack of facts crammed in her pretty head, said the name was inspired by a poem by T.S. Eliot, “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer”.  Ok-kay.)  Ya know, I can still see us dancing on the dock—and sometimes off.  Yeah, good times.

https://youtu.be/yG0oBPtyNb0

And super smart Linda?

I’m going to go with the hugely talented Norah Jones’ “Summertime”.  She has an awesome, sexy voice.  The piano sounds so right—appealing, pleasing, hum-provoking.  When she sings that song, it’s easy to imagine myself reclining on a chaise longue by the pool at sunset, an icy sangria in hand (which I’ve done many a summer eve).  It’s a great way to chill on a breezy, hot solstice eve.

https://youtu.be/czkLkyS_0S0

Over to you, JJ.

It’s a cross between a relatively newer song and an older one; both put spring into my steps and bounce in my bu-uh-behind.  Rauw Atejandro’s “Todo de Ti” is fun and fresh.  Shaggy’s “In the Summertime” is fun and familiar.  You know, I think I’ll go with singer, rapper and songwriter, Rauw.  I’m feeling some serious dance moves coming on . . .

https://youtu.be/CFPLIaMpGrY

Here’s to the rest of a great summer—hang loose and dance like there’s no tomorrow!  😊

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Can “I” Die?

Sounds rather tragic, if not dark, doesn’t it?  Not to worry.  I’m not thinking of leaving this mortal coil.  😊  Another way to pose the title question: when you’re writing your book in first-person, can your protagonist die?  Not quite as “grabbing”, though, is it?  😉

The question was posed on a writer’s site recently, and it caught my attention.  Quite honestly, it’s something I’ve never considered.  Kill a secondary/crucial character, yes, maybe, but the central character, the protagonist, the narrator?  Never!

But then, I’m a want/need-a-happy-ending gal.  Central characters shouldn’t die; that’s just wrong.  If I enjoyed the read and the hero/heroine bites the bullet after I’ve traveled through thick and thin with them, I’m in a [major] funk for days!  I feel deprived . . . deceived . . . and downright p’o’d.

If it’s really in your heart to do so, though, to accomplish the fatal grand finale, you could switch between POVs—something that drives me absolutely crazy (and will usually have me tossing the book into the recycling bin)—and have another character, or you, detail what’s so tragically transpired.

And, just to ensure we’re on the same page, let’s quickly summarize the three POVs.

♠   1st person: the storyteller is part of the story or is involved in it and relates the action from his or her own point-of-view.  ♠  2nd person:  the storyteller talks directly to you and pulls you into the narrative (not my cup of tea, but to each his or her own).  ♠  3rd person: the storyteller is an indirect onlooker and provides particulars, rather like a journalist/reporter might.

Alternatively, you could end with, well, your protagonist’s end-ing.

I noticed the Colt Python a mere second before Lee fired it—into my heart.  I always thought death was instantaneous when a bullet burst into a vital organ.  But I was dead wrong . . . literally . . . there’s a split “reality check” second.

So, yes, sure, you can kill off your central character.  And it wouldn’t be that difficult.  But do be imaginative.  And remember this: you’d be limited in the sequel department, unless you plan to bring your protagonist back from the hereafter . . . as a narrating ghost . . . ?

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Almost Missed the Posting Boat

Sometimes, things are simply not in your hands . . . like hours-long across-the-nation Internet outages.

What a calamity, what misfortune . . . what nonsense and absurdity . . . and a major reality check.  We’re totally hooked [dependent] on technology.

After spending a few [useless] hours at work, chatting and chuckling about said calamity and tossing about yeah-I’ll-head-home-soon-’cause-there’s-nothing-to-do-here remarks, it was indeed time to do just that.

Seeing people’s faces on the streets as yours truly walked home, had me thinking a major to-do had occurred or that the world was coming to an end.  Countless people milling about outside shops, gulping coffee, eyes wide, staring disbelievingly at cell phones, tap-tap-tapping, hoping [praying] for some connection to the cyberspace sphere.  What the <bleep>?!?!  Say it ain’t so, Joe!  We’ve been disconnected, cut off from the real world, the news, social media, mom and sis, and Auntie Em!  Dang, we’re doomed.

It’s been over 10 hours since “No Internet Access” popped up.  I sure wouldn’t want to be in the IT folks’ shoes today.  Can you spell s-t-r-e-s-s?

. . . And now, I’m back.   Indeedy-do, I almost missed the posting boat.  Fortunately, life has returned to [relative] normalcy.  Not everything is readily accessible as yet, but <audible sigh of relief> we’ll get there.

We always do, one way or another.  😉

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Time for a Shameless Mid-Week Post

If I don’t promote myself, who will?  😉  It’s a job I am so not adept at (what with time, work and life getting in the way), but here goes . . .

My new book collection is now live and can be found at various retailers, such as those below:

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/triple-threat-mysteries-collection/id6443052045

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/triple-threat-mysteries-collection-tyler-colins/1141713349?ean=2940166791627

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=gzt4EAAAQBAJ

Rakuten Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/triple-threat-mysteries-collection

1NCaaaPer Next Chapter—thank you, NC 😊—these collections are targeted toward a specific segment of the eBook market, specifically, “binge readers” who prefer to purchase the whole series / several novels in one go.

Initially, NC is only publishing these collections in wide distribution.  Amazon editions will follow (once the Amazon version is live, I’ll let you know).

And that, my friends, is all she wrote.  😊

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Best Foot Forward

(nothing like an editor making a major flub in the title – LMAO)

An old expression, which dates back to the 16th century if anyone cares, but still used now and again.  Meaning?

♦  to present an ideal version of yourself (to impress others)  ♦  to make the best possible impression  ♦  to start trying hard to be the best, or as good, as you can, or  ♦  a favorable initial impression.

It popped into my head the other day while browsing author-related social media.  Sadly, there are still people out there who like to criticize others—for how they write, an idea they have, a book they’ve written, a manuscript they hope will be published.

In my travels, I also  found some posts that disparaged others for their views, comments, ideologies, and even looks. Are we so perfect that we have that right—to condemn or ridicule or laugh at?

I always attempt to consider others’ feelings and respond/write accordingly.  However, I’m guilty of making a recent comment that, while not outright critical, probably wasn’t that nice . . . which is why I felt compelled to post about it.  It was a rare moment and the post I was responding to rather . . . well . . . shocked me.  So much so, I wrote a terse reply.

While there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism (and I’ve posted re this previously), there’s a lot wrong with critical destructiveness.

We truly are unique individuals, and being “one-of-a-kind” should be honored and valued.  How dull and predictable the world would be if we were all the same.

Treat others with the respect they [we] deserve.  Enough said.

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Being Yourself / Finding Your Voice

A twofold post in some ways.  Always strive to be who you are, not what you think you should be, or someone tells you to be.  Goes without saying, but what the heck?  😉

We have certain mannerisms, expressions/speech patterns, views, appearances, and so forth that define who we are.  Each and every one of us is unique—like a twinkling star in the vast, ever-changing sky.  That’s pretty damn cool.  We should rejoice in that.

That relates to personal/private lives as much as professional ones.  We can spend months, if not years, determining our style (how and what we’re going to write), how we want to be perceived and, yes, who we are as authors.

As in our personal lives, we’re influenced by outside sources—nothing wrong with that, long as we recognize and hold on to who we are.  When we begin to mimic [talk, advocate, look like] someone else, then the uniqueness and originality is nonexistent. The voice we project belongs to another.

Admire fellow writers and artists and give credit and compliments where due.  Read, read, read.  Learn, learn, learn.  And . . . yes . . . write, write, write.  Don’t emulate someone to the point where you’ve become an imitator, an impersonator.  That deprives the reading world of a[nother] potentially great novelist, playwright, poet, or blogger.  It robs the world of you.

Nothing comes easy.  That’s a given.  And it may prove a challenge, even a struggle, to determine the unique person you are . . . and find that distinctive [exceptional] voice that is solely yours.  Don’t cheat us—or yourself—of that.

Shine as only you can.

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When You Think You Can’t Keep Going . . . Keep Going!

The hardest thing about being a writer or blogger, or you-fill-in-the-[      ]er, is to keep going.  You have another job, the kids and/or partner want your attention, someone’s criticized your work, you’re suffering from insomnia so the ol’ gray matter’s not cooperating, you feel like crap . . . the reasons are many.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed for a wee while now.  My writing’s not happening due to an overbrimming plate.  The Japanese course is tough and, although I’m studying/reviewing every day, it’s not sinking in the way it should  (or I’d like it to).  My grades are “ech”.  Sure, I could apply myself more—I could quit my day job and study all day long.  Then maybe, just maybe, I’d do [a lot] better.

Like others who may be in a similar boat, I am beating myself up.  But I do excel at that, having been doing that for years.  I learned it from others who were good at browbeating [me].  As such, it’s tough to shake the I’m-not-as-good-as-others mindset; it was “programmed” from a very young age.

So, here I am.  Poor little old me (emphasis on the “old”).  <sigh>  I can’t get it right.  I should give up.  <moan, groan>  Why bother?  <sniffle>

You know why I shouldn’t give up . . . why I should bother?  Because no one has the right to put a damper on how I feel.  I’m doing the best that I can [at this juncture].  Maybe I’ll do better.  Maybe not.  But I’m doing.  And that’s all that matters.

So, my friends, if you’re experiencing a dry or downward spiraling spell, don’t give up.  Sure, easy to say; difficult to do.  But “difficult” is only a word.  And as writers/bloggers, we’ve been known to through those around . . . in abundance.  So, let’s throw them back.

It’s within us to persevere.  To push through.  There may be a bad day (may be ten), but there will be a good one  (may be ten).  When you [truly] think you can’t keep going, take a long deep breath, square those shoulders, and say—shout!—I can and will keep going!

. . . Yes, you can.

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A Little Sunshine Warms More than the Heart

Just when you think nothing good or pleasant is ever going to happen again, a teeny-weeny transient occurrence transpires and you think—believe—hey, maybe there is a ray of sunshine beyond the darksome clouds. 

My mother’s long-term-care home held a fundraiser recently where balloon-wielding residents were wheeled around the block by caregivers and PSWs.  Led by an adorable [ever-smiling] Corgi-mix canine proudly and happily seated on a woman’s lap and two coordinators joyfully displaying a mammoth banner, off we trundled—50+ wheelchairs on a mission.

The excitement and cheer were tangible, the sky cloudless and brilliant blue, the sun lemon-yellow bright and warming.  A better day you couldn’t ask for.  Tears welled (yours truly is a sponge for emotion) and very nearly cascaded as passing drivers waved and honked.  They expressed support.  . . . They cared.

How glorious!  It renewed faith and hope; yes, both may well wane again, individual and international  problems and plights being what they are.  But, at least for the interim, the boost of optimism—that ray of sunshine—was, and is, most welcome.  I’m going to hang on [tightly] to it for as long as I can.  😉

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Who’s Hustling Whom?

Hey, it’s Rey!

Hey, it’s JJ!

Stop stealing my greeting, Cousin Jilly!

It’s not solely yours, Cousin Reynalda!

Good grief.  Hi, it’s Linda and I’m taking over, ladies.  Go bicker elsewhere.  . . . Go on!

Now that my colleagues are gone, I can get into this post.  It’s a quick one, a down and dirty as my squabbling BFF might say.

We’re still solving our latest case (Disco’s Dead and so is Mo-Mo).  It’s a puzzler.  Just who killed Mo-Mo Martine those many decades ago?  It could be any number of people—and some of them may already be doing the hustle with Mo-Mo on the otherworldly colorful disco dance floor.  Others are boogying down . . . and bowing out (permanently).

Here’s an extract (JJ tells it best) . . .

As we parked the Jeep a block from the bank, yet another call came in.  Given we had some time before meeting Paige Penner, I put the cell on speaker again and leaned back in the driver’s seat.  Sach lowered his seat, stretched his legs, and tucked his hands behind his neck.

“You and your comrades have been calling a lot of people, hoping to solve a decades-old case,” Pug McWilliams chortled, sounding strangely like The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz).

That was quick.  Sach, my “comrade”, feeling proactive, had only left a voicemail ten minutes ago.  “It’s really a new case, given Mo-Mo Martine was only recently found.”

“You say toe-may-toe, I say tow-maw-tow,” he laughed—in the manner of that cowardly lion.

Sach and I looked at each other with what-the-fuck? expressions (it was kind of, well, creepy).

“What can I tell you?  Who did it?  Don’t know.  Could have been Johnny Baloney.  Could have been me.”  More laughter.

Was it you?” I queried.

A snicker.  “Wish it had been, in a way.  I’d like to take credit for it—get a few hearty pats on the back from those still around who care.  But no, it wasn’t me.”

Idly, I watched Saturday traffic pass.  “You had a major fight though.  It was said you were very angry with Mo-Mo after that.”

“Wouldn’t you be if you lost four teeth and had thousands of dollars of dental work done as a result?”  A snort.  “Never mind that, at the time, I was a pretty good amateur boxer and I looked pretty f’g silly having been thrashed by my stupid flabby cousin.”

“The guy got in a couple of lucky punches, that’s all,” Sach offered consolingly.  “You know though?  You should have sued.”

“Yeah, he did get in those punches quick.  Caught me totally unawares.”  Pug sighed.   “Sue that prick?  That’d have gone over like a lead balloon—as in two lead-filled balloons attached to my legs.”

“Did he do that often?” I inquired.  “No one we’ve spoken to has actually stated that.”

“The guy was no saint,” he answered caustically.  “He never got his hands dirty, save when he was cooking, but he had the right people take care of things for him.  And they did it very well and very discreetly.”

Sach and I looked at each other again—with wide, pleased smiles.

“Some real dirt,” Sach mouthed.  He then ventured to ask, “Who’d he off?”

We’ll—hmm, maybe that should be I’ll—keep you updated as to how things fare.

Aloha from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—enjoy the weekend!

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Reel ‘Em In

With all ya’ve got.  Hey, it’s Rey today.

The Boss has 103 errands, Linda’s doing volunteer work at the animal shelter, and Linda’s up north, surfing again.  So, that leaves me to post today.  I was all for sharing my latest sale finds, but Linda pooh-poohed that.  JJ didn’t care much for my second idea: talking about my actress life.  The Boss thought, considering it’s been a wee while, maybe a post related to writing or blogging would be a good idea.  Yeah, sure, whatever.  Yawno. 

It’s no secret that I don’t like to read much.  But if I’m going to pick up a book and keep it picked up—as in not jamming it in a drawer or recycling bin ‘cause it’s boring the <bleep> outta me—it had better catch my interest from the get-go.  It has to reel me in.

I don’t think it matters what the genre is, though maybe if it’s a thriller, suspense, mystery and/or within those categories, something dramatic or frightening or shocking would be a great way to begin, because John’s adventures at the grocery store ain’t gonna cut it.

The strident sound of breaking glass reverberated throughout the small, dilapidated dwelling.  Having stepped onto the porch but seconds before, Nathan whirled.  His fifth victim couldn’t have done that.  She was dead.

I wrote that—with Lindy-Loo’s help; in fact, she kinda proofed this post (let me keep my voice, something the Boss was talking about recently, but made the content “snap” a bit more).  It works, don’t you think?  Aren’t you curious to find out what happened . . . who the victim is . . . what led up to this? 

Other genres might not have such a suspenseful, chilling, or dark opening, but they have to be intriguing enough to keep a reader—someone like me—captivated.  With a romance, something like this might garner my interest.

Accepting an invitation to the gala had seemed like a good idea.  How was Vivana to know he’d be there?  That he’d openly and haughtily snub her, and flirt brazenly with other women?   Cad.  Wasn’t that the word used, once upon a time, to describe an unprincipled man?  Yeah, that was Calvin.  A cad—of the most double-dealing kind.

The opening for a science-fiction or fantasy (and anything in between) novel should be no different.  Evoke . . . draw . . . appeal.

The third moon shone crimson before dark voluminous clouds glided across it like former fairground banners.  There was rain in the dense, damp air.  As was tension.  Something ghastly—and unforeseen—was about to transpire and Roget was the only one to know.  Could he stop it?  Should he stop it?

An opening sentence/paragraph is probably the most crucial part of the book; it can make or break you.  And, as a writer hoping to attract an abundance of readers, I’m sure you’d opt for the “make” instead of “break”; am I right? 

‘Nuff said.  For now.  Go reel ‘em in! 

 

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The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of

Recently, I’d started cleaning up the storage unit downstairs.  <bleep>  Just how much “stuff” can one cram in such a small space?  A lot, let me tell you!  Twenty-years-plus of binders and bins abound (they actually seem to have morphed).

Most of it is writing done over the span of 30 years—manuscripts primarily, some scripts, outlines, and research materials.  The intent [now a hazy memory]: keep them to appreciate the evolution. Looking back [while scanning first pages] my dream of being a successful, established author was just that: a dream.  😉

I got through maybe 1/5 of the stuff, my works of genius <LMAO> but what a great eye-opening exercise.  Yes (thankfully and gratefully)!  This writer, like fine red wine, had improved with time/age.  I could see that my writing has developed by leaps and bounds . . . and I understood why publishers and agents never wanted to take me on during those early [formative] years.

When I first began, I was so sure my stories were solid/unique (as in a great read) and, subsequently, saleable.  Surprise, surprise.  They weren’t.  Maybe the ideas were there, but the execution wasn’t; if it had been, the right approach (talent/skill) might have resulted in acceptance (a contract) instead of rejection (a heaping pile).  Back then, I simply wasn’t honed enough.  I hadn’t found my voice.

That’s what really makes a writer, doesn’t it?  His/her voice.  That distinct, gripping, fascinating voice that differs with every last one of us.

If you, as an aspiring writer, are ever feeling discouraged or uncertain whether to carry on (it can be daunting, to be sure, finding and executing ideas), carry on.  Believe in yourself and your dream.  If it’s in your heart to write, do it.  And keep doing it.  Learn from mistakes.  That’s how we grow.  That’s how we realize dreams.  😉

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A Short Lettin’-Ya-Know Post

Hey, it’s Rey!  I thought I’d post for our Boss today.  It’s super short and sweet.  😊

We’re all pumped . . . Forever Poi, our third official case as P.I.s from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency, is being made into an audio book. Kathy Handrock, who narrated Coco’s Nuts, the last one, is doing it again. 

To give you a quick rundown, Poi has us—me Rey, my cousin JJ, and my BFF Linda—out to solve a double-arson and murder. 

111pexels-pixabay-270815Just who torched two Chinatown art galleries and left two charcoal-broiled bodies in the ashes?  Are the arsonist and killer the same person?  We tend to think so—but the list of possible culprits gets pretty long pretty quickly. 

The day before the fire, Carlos, one of the arson victims, had a nasty break-up with his partner, James-Henri.  There were financial issues, too.  Maybe James-Henri wanted to collect on the insurance and/or be rid of his lover?  What about the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree?  She was a former queenpin so, given her sketchy past, maybe an old rival decided to finally do her in?  If that’s the case, was Carlos simply collateral damage?

We’re hired by a new friend, insurance adjuster Xavier Shillingford, to help in the investigation. 

Yup, we have our work cut out for us but we love every minute of the challenge(s) and danger(s) . . . just as we’d love it if you checked out how we go about solving this crazy case.  😊

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Pat on the Back . . . #2

Still feeling pretty darn good . . . so much so, I felt compelled to once again post about the great news from Next Chapter.   😊

They recently informed me that The Connecticut Corpse Caper has reached a high sales rank in several marketplaces—including Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Google Play and Apple.  Thank you, Next Chapter!

A cozy with grit (and a bit of wit), Caper is the first book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  It takes place in a haunted mansion, replete with hidden passageways, a singing ghost, nasty storms, and curious characters.

Along with a handful of potential inheritance recipients, Jill Jocasta (later known as JJ), Rey, and Linda are to stay at wacky Aunt Mat’s creepy abode for a week.  If anyone leaves before the end of the stipulated timeframe, their share of the inheritance will be split by those remaining.

1awhiteboxStrange noises start to sound.  Odd events transpire.  Bodies begin to drop.  Pulling on amateur sleuth caps, JJ, Rey, and Linda investigate the bizarre goings-on.  Others join in.  And the mayhem commences.

Perhaps you’d like to learn how JJ, Rey, and Linda were “inspired” to become professional private eyes . . . founders of their own agency . . . on the beautiful island of Oahu, no less?  They and I would love it if you did.  😊

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Pat on Back

. . . or A Shameless Saturday Promotion as it might have been called back when (haven’t posted one of those in a long while).

The Connecticut Corpse Caper, the first in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, was recently featured in a top-genre list on the new Next Chapter blog.

How exciting (for me).  😊

https://www.nextchapter.pub/blog/free-cozy-mysteries

Corpse, as an FYI, revolves around a week-long stay in a creepy oversize Connecticut mansion, replete with hidden passageways, disappearing and reappearing corpses, and seven quirky inheritance recipients.  And if that’s not enough to make for hair-raising moments on a secluded storm-bound estate, how about a ghost named Fred?

A stipulation in the will of Jill Fonne’s aunt: if a guest leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.  The first one to leave—permanently—dies just hours after arriving.  People soon start dropping like flies.  Donning amateur sleuth caps, Jill (later called JJ) and her associates, Rey and Linda, endeavor to solve the mystifying murders.  Others jump in, and the bumbling and stumbling—and mayhem—begin.

Perhaps you might check us out . . . and learn how and why the trio decided to become professional P.I.s—the proud founders/owners of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency?  😊

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Saying No

I wish I could, oh my yes, say no.

Saying no is next to impossible for me.  As such, I end up committing to things that take me away from my own plans and desires.  Nothing wrong with that now and again—and it’s a rather unselfish thing to do, which is good—but at the cost of losing one’s own identity or life or dreams is probably not the way to go.

The intention was to write this from a writer’s/blogger’s perspective (to remain organized and on schedule). It became apparent, however, that no matter what our profession, we need to remain focused and motivated as much as possible, despite the various events and trials in our lives.  Easier said than done . . . but not done if not said.

Why is it difficult for me/us to say no—unequivocally and firmly (and without hesitation or a quivering lip or twitching eye)?  For me, it’s probably because I don’t want to disappoint someone and/or feel bad (guilty) for declining to do something.  For others, it may be that they don’t want to be perceived as self-centered or indifferent.

Occasionally, I will say no, but then add something to “soften the blow”.

♦ “No, I can’t help you right now, I’m working on an important project.”  ♦  “No, I can’t, sorry.  I’ve got an appointment.”  ♦  “No, my mom’s expecting me at three.”

The problem with these?  The asker can request I assist at a later time, when I am free/ready (I’ve fallen into this trap a few times, which serves me right for fudging and waffling).

My cousin has no qualms about saying no—affirmatively <he-he> and regularly.  If she doesn’t want to do something, she won’t.  Period.  And she won’t blink an eye.  (Gotta love that resolve.)

As she states, just say it.  It will be difficult at first, of course, but practice makes perfect.  And don’t allow yourself to be manipulated (I do, so easily).  Stand firm.  Stand strong.  No means no.  You won’t do it now and you won’t do it later.

My mother was great at manipulating me.  I’d bend over backwards to do something for her (and many times I didn’t want to or see the logic of doing what was asked).  Family members may be the hardest people to say no to, and this I can attest to.  Of course, there are certain emotional/mental factors that can play a part, given relationship dynamics and all that, but that’s another can of worms, uh, kettle of fish.

It’s said if an honest comment (not a disparaging or criticizing one) isn’t accepted with the good intention it’s delivered, then the recipient likely isn’t a true friend / caring individual.  If that’s the case, is it so wrong to say no if that’s truly how you wish to reply?

Recognize someone for who he/she is.  Don’t soften your response/stance to avoid him/her, or you, feeling uncomfortable.  Do the right thing.

Give thought to what saying yes entails.  Do you really want to do it?  Will it take away from your time (work, schedule, needs)?  How will you feel after you’ve done it?  Happy you accomplished something [for another person]?  Resentful that you gave away your much-needed time/energy?  Angry [at yourself] because—once again—you couldn’t say no?  Exhausted . . . ?

no-nodding. . . Don’t be afraid to say yes to saying no.

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Professional” Review$ . . . ?

As eager [excited] writers, we’re always hoping someone will post a positive review of our work.  Unfortunately, for someone like me, who doesn’t do any promotion or marketing or networking—long story not short but hoping to change the ending soon—I can only do that (hope).

I’ve reached out the odd time to virtual friends for advice—and they’ve been amazing with their support and recommendations—but, alas, time has never been an ally.  But hoping to change that, too.  The plan?  Reach out to various review sites/blogs to see if I might garner a review or two.

I hear, though, reviews are about as difficult to get these days as winning the lottery—unless you pay for them, of course.  . . . Pay for them?  How much?  How often?  Will I/we get the [right] bank for our buck?  I personally can’t shell out $200+ to a single review service, never mind several (maybe when I win that lottery, but certainly not now).

They say a five-star review from a well-know site—a qualified reviewer—would carry more weight than one from a fellow struggling writer or blogger with limited reach.  Maybe.  I’m not so sure, personally, but maybe those who state that are those searching [yearning] to make $ome $.

Why am I on the fence?  Because I don’t read reviews.  I base a “will read” decision on the book itself.  Firstly (usually), the title and/or cover have to grab my attention—enough that I am curious to check out the first few pages.  If I like what I read, Bob’s your uncle.  That’s how I make my decision whether I’ll commit time and energy to a book.  Maybe others do, too.

One thing to remember: if you do pay a “qualified reviewer” and he/she doesn’t like your book, ouch, you’re out some serious bucks, as well as that review (because you sure as {bleep} aren’t going to want it published).

It’s a tough call, and a personal one.  If you have the money to pay for reviews from reputable sites/reviewers—and do your due diligence because you don’t want to get taken—then go for it.  It may prove a worthwhile investment.  If you don’t have the money?  Why not simply ask?

I’ve seen many fellow writers request reviews.  Where?  In their books, for starters!  On their blogs/websites.  On social media.  In posts on authors/publishers site.  Yu-up, that’s what I’ll be doing . . . when t-i-m-e [finally] allows.  😉

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Commenting or Criticizing?

You’d think we could make [a little bit of] an effort to be kinder, less harsh and critical.  You’d think we could endeavor [just a tad] to be more encouraging—not just of friends and families, but those unfamiliar to us.

I belong to various writing/publishing groups and enjoy most posts I read: they offer advice, support, accomplishments, projects, struggles, challenges, updates, input, or greetings.  I learn a few things and “meet” new people, fellow writers and/or editors.  It’s all good, as the saying goes.

For the most part, people who follow or visit those groups are pleasant, happy to share stories and/or pat one another on the back.  It’s three-bears-porridge heartwarming.  Then, the odd time, you come across someone who believes they are gifted and talented, so much so they have no qualms about blasting others for how they write or scoffing about viewpoints they hold.  I came across one of those quite recently and, I suppose, it prompted me to post this.

Criticism—slating—isn’t productive.  I believe we all know that.  Yet some people have no compunction about disparaging others.  They don’t seem to recognize the negative impact (or maybe they do, which would make it all the sadder) their “opinion” creates; they don’t realize (or wish to acknowledge perhaps) that they’re being critical.  They’re merely expressing a view, providing a comment.

Any posts that censure or belittle someone are far from views or comments; they’re outright criticisms.

No one’s perfect, save maybe the critic who believes he/she is multi-talented/skilled; he/she is as close to excellent as anyone can get (and how blessed are you?).  Accepting one another for who and what we are—faults and flaws and all—seems too utopian to be doable.  But wouldn’t it be nice . . . ?

The point of this post?  Not a lot, to be honest.  I’ve no mind to detail the psychological and related reasons behind criticism (can you spell y-a-w-n?).  There’s no desire to provide steps to becoming less critical.  You can always research it on-line if you’re so inclined.  I’m only . . . humbly . . . expressing a view.  😉

11111111clipartkeyMaybe I’ll just end with a well-known, often-used phrase: if you’ve got nothing good to say, don’t say it.

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Finding . . . Me-Mo

. . . as in ma, mi, mu, me, mo . . .

Couldn’t resist . . . do enjoy playing with titles now and again.  😊

Ma, mi, mu, me, mo, by the by, are Japanese characters.  They belong to the hiragana alphabet . . .

12047_01

Today is a bit of an aside—i.e., not related to books or editing/proofing, and the like.  It’s about my new adventure on the journey down the road called Life.

It’s been challenging settling into a new way of life, finally being on my own.  Yes, there’s still lots of mom-care, but she’s being taken care of by some very fine folks.  Now that I have a little more “me” time (when I’m not working 12-hour days for the “9-5”, ha-ha), I’m pursuing one of my long-wanted desires: to learn Japanese.  I had my first class this past Monday.

Is it difficult?  You betcha (as Rey may say)!  And who knew there were three alphabets?!  Hiragana, as displayed above, katakana and kanji.  One is daunting enough to learn, but three?  Well, I say, bring it on . . . one challenge at a time.  😉

So far, I’m finding that repetition works.  I “recite” during daily walks.  Mnemonics work too (for me); the visualization component helps immensely.  My intention is to give this introductory class everything I’ve got; maybe maybe maybe, I might just aim for certification.  But, for now, one day—er, class—at a time.

Wish me luck (because I will need it).  Arigatou.

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The Eagle has Landed

Not really, but it makes for a great dramatic heading/title.  😉

Actually, what’s landed is the landing page for . . . me.  (Thanks once more, Next Chapter.)

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/tyler-colins

Per Next Chapter, this landing page receives considerable traffic via their marketing platform’s Facebook and Google Ads advertising campaigns, as well as book back links.  The goal is to have appealing, easily navigated page(s).

Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo and Google Books and all major marketplaces can be found on the Buy Button.

Perhaps you might take a second and check out my landing page . . . and help out a fellow writer/blogger . . . and very hopeful gal?   I’d truly welcome any and all feedback.  😊

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The Piece de Resistance . . . or, at least, A Post Piece

As promised the trio last week, I’m providing a post piece of a creative/fictional nature.  Well, not really, it’s just a speedily penned piece containing a flurry of thoughts.

Cliffhanging

Do you hang on the words of someone’s promise?  Dangle at the edge of a precarious decision?  Clasp the present moment as if there’s no future?  Refuse to peer below for fear of what may lie waiting?  A suspenseful situation, hanging from a cliff . . . but not entirely scary.

Life hands you lemons; you make lemonade (I’ve made many a pitcher).  There’s validity in that familiar phrase, like the one about the light at the end of the tunnel or miracles do happen or [fill in with expression of preference].

Some of us may be pessimists or, at the very least, sceptics . . . as opposed to septics, of course, which may not actually be all that different in the great scheme of things: cynical versus toxic.  Then, positivity proves limited.

There’s something to be said for maintaining a positive outlook, embracing faith.  If you don’t believe, how could something good come your way?  How could encouraging, optimistic feelings and forces enfold you if negative ones encase you like a huge glass bubble? 

Cliffhanging is electrifying and testing . . . daunting to be sure . . . but it could also prove thrilling [enjoyable].  Confront negativity, face fear.  Hang on, hold on.  Refuse to let go.  Gaze below.  What will you see?  A never-ending expanse of jagged concrete?  Or a vast field of downy daisies? 

Will fear stop you cold?  Or will faith empower you to embrace the unknown?

cliffOnce cliffhanging’s been mastered, what’s to prevent cliffdiving

Just a flurry of frivolous, fragmented thoughts.  Far from a pièce de résistance . . . but a postable piece . . . kind of, sort of, maybe. 😉

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Another Post Piece . . . Paradise Defined

As shared previously, the gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—JJ, Rey, and Linda—have started a creative writing course.  Linda and Rey have provided their pieces; now, JJ’s up to bat.  She did a lot of head-scratching, but finally penned something she’s relatively pleased to post (based upon the homeless folks she’s befriended in and around the agency).

One Person’s Paradise, Another’s . . .

They live amid the banyans, in parks and along shorelines, in man-made tents of cardboard, broken surfboards, and/or plastic fastened with frayed ropes.  Men, women, children, aged a few months, aged countless years.  Poverty and hardship never discriminate.

They saunter along crisp sun-dried grass, scorching white sand, and searing-hot sidewalks under a magnificent blue sky.  A brilliant rainbow arcs across a cove under a delicious lemon-tart-yellow sun.  It whispers of a promise—a better tomorrow—and prompts a smile or two.

Mike believes in those rainbows.  He’ll return to his home state in a little while.  Just as soon as he collects enough cash.  As soon as he stops spending it all on booze.  He likes his drink.  Many do.  But Mike doesn’t drink to toast friends, celebrate, or rejoice in good fortune; he does so to forget, to ease the pain and loneliness.

Mike’s been labeled “undesirable”.  He’s fine with that.  Always has been.  As he says with a weary smile, “It is what it is.”  A few persons he meets on his journey seem to care; they offer a sympathetic smile and a small handout, say hello and buy him a bite.  Others ignore him as if he’s transparent, a street fixture, or dog poo left on a curb by a careless, unthinking owner.

Being homeless isn’t a choice.  It’s misfortune, a disastrous event.  Sometimes such an event can be remedied; sometimes not.  Life is not always predictable and unforeseen/unpreventable circumstances can push people like Mike onto the streets.  As some might claim, “shit happens”.  Like dog poo alongside a curb.

Mike would welcome another chance.  If only he could lay off the booze.  It consumes him as he does it.  Liberally.  He’s a nice guy, with soul and heart.  Sadly, not everyone bothers to find that out, save for those who live with him amid the banyans . . . in man-made tents . . . of fragmented dreams . . . .

Perhaps I’ll provide a “piece” next time (and, in the interim, I suspect I’ll be doing some serious head-scratching myself, LOL).

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Another Post Piece Puh-leeze

As mentioned Saturday past, the gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—JJ, Rey, and Linda—have started a creative writing course.  Linda provided her creative piece, Rey’s next on the list.  We saw her pen several pieces on napkins; most landed in the wastepaper basket with a few “choice words” blowing into the blustery breeze.  But, late last night, her pièce de ré·sis·tance was finished (as were JJ and Linda with the unrestrained self-satisfaction).  😉

I Wanna Know, Puh-leeze . . .

◊  why a wide boulevard sidewalk only seems to accommodate a zigzagging 90-pound person who can somehow morph into the width and span of a Hummer?  Try as you might, you can’t seem to meander past. 

◊  how your unemployed (through choice) forty-something friend, still living at home with Mom and Pop, gets away with it?  (And would they like to adopt me?)

◊  if airport baggage handlers bowl 10-pin with your bags?  The more dents and holes, the more points?

◊  why telemarketers call you just as you’re about to sit down to eat or climb into a crowded bus?

◊  why weather and “forecasting” channels spend millions on analytic equipment and can still only confirm that it’s a rain day when it actually starts to fall?  (That one was for you, JJ.  As a former meteorologist, maybe you’d like to speak to that one?  He-he.)

◊  why the boss waits until 4:45 p.m. to pass you an urgent project he/she has been sitting on since 8:15 a.m.?  (That’s for my 9-to-5 chums.)

◊  who actually believes willpower is easy to control?  (I can’t resist a sale.  Never have, never will.)

◊  why, just as you’re ready to blast someone for something stupid they said or did, they share something absolutely (unexpectedly) nice/lovely/kind . . . and all that anger and energy you’ve been amassing as to be put back on the stockpile?

◊  why Murphy and his law is always <bleeping> right?

◊  why what goes around really doesn’t come around?

◊  . . . how come there’s not more love and peace, respect and kindness in the world . . .?

JJ, who’s next, has been sitting at the laptop for the last couple of hours . . . mostly scratching her head . . . and catching up on Facebook friends.

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Post Piece(s) Please

The gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency have started a creative writing course.  Too funny.  I’d have thought they’d be more interested in martial arts or P.I. Techniques 101, but they said they got “the bug” after writing so many posts.  They asked if they might post a short “fictional” (maybe yes, maybe no) piece over the next week and a half.  Why not?  😊  And, winner of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock (they always [secretly] loved The Big Bang Theory), is Linda.

Geometrically Dispersed

Her life: a mosaic.  A jumble of uneven, misshapen pieces.  An alcoholic father slumped in one corner, an abusive mother ready to swoop on her prey in another.

She was that square peg.  Never fit into the round hole.  Her school chums were few, her friends nonexistent.  Thoughts always self-contained.  Fun forever self-made.

Creativity existed in newfound words and wide-ranging colors.  Stories and pictures, different to view yet similar in tone.  A collage of scattered, asymmetrical concepts connected in translucent, multi-dimensional form.

Layers of wisdom collected over years.  Slivers of solitude.  Splinters of hope.  Tranquility and liberty within reach, but not embraceable.  A patchwork of memories and dreams . . . geometrically dispersed.

Rey’s up next week.  She’s already [frantically] penning something on a cocktail napkin (the gals are at a beachside bar, enjoying some sunshine).

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What’s Old is New Again

An appropriate title, and not one that necessarily just applies to fashion, fads, or trends.  In this case, it’s about finding/using old manuscripts and rewriting them so they’re new again . . . fresh, fun, fantastic.

Hi, it’s JJ today.  The Boss will be back soon.

I don’t really write much, just the odd posts, like this one, but I do narrate our cases, as you may know if you’ve read any of them.  The Boss pens them and proofs them . . . and revises them and edits them . . . and then repeats the cycle.  Whew.

She’s written a number of manuscripts over the years.  Many have found themselves stuffed in bottom drawers or crammed in uppermost cupboards.  Cobwebs form and the paper yellows with age.  They weren’t great, but they weren’t that bad that she felt compelled to trash them.

She’s not alone.  In fact, a FB friend posted the other day that he pulled out an old one he’d started writing years ago, while still learning the ABCs of writing.  His thought was to rewrite it entirely.

As a non-writer, I’d find that very daunting.  However, upon subsequent thought, the “foundation” is already there.  If the plot/storyline is a decent one (you’re pleased with it and/or see potential), why not simply do a major in-depth edit?  That might sound challenging but, if nothing else, it’s a great exercise.  You’ll have an opportunity to practice your editing skills, and you’ll get to “touch up” the original piece of art by making it more colorful, exciting, animated, and vibrant.  It’s rather like taking a simple LEGO house and building it into a multi-floor LEGO mansion.

The other option is to take that original manuscript, re-read it, and note which parts work well or are worth keeping and/or can be added to an entirely new book.  The Boss has done this on at least two occasions.  We’ve heard her say—gratefully, and with a little relief perhaps—that she’s so-o glad she kept all her old writing.  That makes sense.  Why toss out something you’ve poured your heart and soul into?

Those old manuscripts serve as a great way to see how far you’ve come (developed) as a writer.  Maybe they’ll promote chuckles or laughter, maybe grimaces or winces.  That’s okay.  All writers begin somewhere.  No one’s born an expert or is so skilled that the first thing he/she writes is a masterpiece.  It takes time to become the best that we can be [at whatever career we choose].  All beginnings denote the start of something great—the fantastic path to fulfilment.

Keep writing—and rewriting.  Look to the past to see what you can bring to the present.  Perhaps Morgan Harper Nichols (American Christian musician, songwriter, mixed-media artist, and writer) says it best: 

One day you will look back and see that all along you were blooming.

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Poka-Polka-Poke

It’s Linda on poka-polka-poke post patrol today.  So many topics, so little time.  Or is that so few topics, too much time?

It’s been a weird week, and an eye-opening one.  Not that anything earthshattering or overly enlightening caught me by surprise . . . other than . . . I got poked!  You know, I must live in a Facebook vacuum of some sort, because I’d never heard of this before.  And it’s been around for a long while.  Who knew?  Yours truly didn’t.

So, as I now understand it, pokes were/are there to remind people you’re still around.  It’s “old-school” Facebook (2004 is when the poke was first launched).  Ok-kay.

You can still see and send pokes, you know.  To do so, just visit your pokes page.  Yeah, I know, like really?  I had no clue one existed.

There are three main reasons you might have wanted (might still want) to poke someone.  One: to introduce yourself (instead of sending a long message with/without pics to express keen interest).  Two: for the sheer fun of it.  Ok-kay.  Three: simply to say “hi”.  Isn’t that what we use Messenger for today—to remind friends we’re here?

I took a gander and found the poke page relatively easily by going to “Search”.  And I must confess, I was rather tempted to poke every last person on the page . . . so I did.

It was kind of fun.  Poka-poke-poke.  And, oddly enough, for some bizarre reason, I felt a desire to put on a lively/fun polka as I was doing so.

If you’re in a poking mood, add some “mood” music, and have it it.

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Gotta Love them Freebies

Hey, it’s Rey.  So, we’re back on posting duty for the next week and a half.  Me first, then Lindy-Loo, then Cousin JJ.

The Connecticut Corpse Caper (Triple Threat Mysteries Book 1), our first unofficial case—where strange doings and dastardly deeds got us wanting to become private eyes—was recently added to the Free Books page on the Next Chapter website.  Woo-hoo.  Gotta love them freebies.

So you have a clue . . . a bunch of inheritance recipients are gathered for a week-long stay at JJ and my wacky aunt’s estate.  There’s a resident ghost, a bunch of secret corridors, weird sounds, and things (and people) that go bump in the night—like dead bodies.  Suspects abound, as does the weirdness; we amateur sleuths have our work cut out for us!

Why are those bodies dropping, you wonder?  Well, two-hundred thousand dollars is to be awarded to every person after he or she has stayed the course.  Should someone leave, regardless of reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.  Someone, obviously, wants to make sure that inheritance won’t be shared.

If you’re interested in learning what happened—like how we solved the complex crime—you can find Corpse here:

https://www.nextchapter.pub/free-books

As an FYI, there are currently over 50 series starters available, and more are being added weekly.  Just thought I’d give NC a little plug, too.  😉

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Don’t Take it Personally

Writers and bloggers need to have thick skins—because criticism of the non-constructive variety, no or few likes, and limited followers can prove discouraging.  And being discouraged may prompt us to stop writing and posting.  How would we ever grow/develop if we let negativity [or something we deem negative] “influence” us?  How would we realize our dreams if we let someone or something affect our progress?

Taking criticism personally, on any level, in any profession, is of no-value add. Sure, it hurts.  In fact, it bleeping stings [I’m still applying hydrocortisone cream in an effort to quell the prickling].  And maybe we even get pissed off (a great phrasal verb that says it all).

Emotions have their place, but not when they affect our professionalism or conduct.  We should never respond similarly if we’ve been criticized or drag ourselves about the place with our tails between our legs because we didn’t receive the response(s) we’d wanted / hoped for.  So what if someone didn’t like a story or post?  So what if no one read said story or post?  But, alas, we do.  I do (this I readily confess as I rub on that hydrocortisone cream because that damn stinging won’t cease).

A fundamental fact: we can’t please everyone.  And we shouldn’t try to.  Maybe, just maybe, something we’ve written simply didn’t gel with anyone.  It happens.  That’s okay.  Use it as a learning experience.  Why might no one have responded or liked a particular post or work?  The tone?  Topic?  Shoddy writing?  Amateurish approach?  Or did it simply plop into someone’s inbox . . . among the many.  We can’t always read them all.

If you’re really bummed out about it, give it some thought—and try a different approach next time.  And if there’s truly nothing wrong with that piece you’ve so diligently crafted—at least, that you can determine—move on.

Was the criticism unjust, angry, ugly?  Understand that the criticizer is like the rest of us—far from perfect.  Maybe he/she was having a bad day.  Or took umbrage at something you stated, or umbrage at something totally unrelated and vented—at you.

No followers or likes?  You want them?  (I do!)  It saddens you that you don’t have any or many?  (Saddens me . . . a lot.)  Some folks seem to receive a gazillion likes, while some of us seem to get very few, if any.  So, what are we going to do?  We’re not going to let it get us down.  Sure, we can make it a full-fledged quest to acquire those likes, but it’s always possible that no matter what we attempt, they don’t/won’t come our way.  Know this: it may not be our fault.  There are many reasons why those likes and/or followers may not be possible (and some have to do with hashtag performance, posting times, and content shared, but that’s another post), but one of the many ones?  Many people tend to read and like posts of—or follow—people that are already pretty popular.  Simple fact.

Whatever the case, don’t brood.  Moping has no merit.  Why waste the day with a heavy heart?  Recognize that events—or non-events—happen for a reason and, generally (hopefully), make us stronger, better . . . and help us develop that thick skin.

What’s important [and necessary] is that we realize responses [or lack of] are not a reflection of who we are or what we necessarily write/post.  Never allow lack of likes, or non-constructive criticism, crush your self-esteem.

Give yourself a pep talk and a much deserved pat on the back—you’ve come far and you’ve got a distance to go.  Journey [move forward] with pride . . . and don’t take it personally.

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Happiness is What You Make It

I’ve been reflecting a lot on life the last few weeks.  How insane it can prove.  How trying, challenging, difficult, dangerous, sad, maddening.   How uplifting, pleasant, fun and fun-filled . . . and how <bleeping> swift.

The daily visit to my mother at the long-term facility is proving an eye-opening undertaking.  It’s a journey through time—that of the residents and that of mine.  In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten to know the names of most of the staff and the thirty-some residents on that floor.  We may not be close, but there’s a teeny-weeny connection.  So, when one of the residents passes, it rather hits home in some inexplicable way.

I bring my mother a coffee and cookies an hour before breakfast is served and sit with her as she watches the bustling downtown view from the small dining room.  We chat about the weather, traffic, rude residents (those who make loud sounds annoy her)—oops, pardon me.  Fellow “hotel guests” is how she views them.

Happy to extend a helping hand whenever possible, I assist with dish clean-up before taking my mother for a walk in the long, maze-like lobby.  It’s not the same as a stroll in the neighborhood, but it’s something.  Weather permitting, and virus outbreaks aside, maybe, just maybe, outdoor strolls will become a possibility.

The majority of the “guests” don’t seem as alert or aware as my mother.  Many sleep away most of the day.  A few are spoon-fed.  The odd one cannot speak and many are hard of hearing.  A handful engage in conversations only they are privy to.  I suppose that’s inevitable when dementia enters the picture.

It’s a secure, strictly run facility, but those residing within receive much-needed care 24/7.  It’s a tiny, enclosed world—but it’s a safe one, and it’s theirs.  They have the opportunity to partake in activities, watch movies/TV, listen to music, and participate in social happenings.

At first, it made me sad to watch, to recognize that their days are truly numbered.  But happiness is what you make it . . . and the staff and caregivers (and family members) do their utmost to make it the best that it can be.

That many smile and/or wave, even laugh, is heartwarming; now and again, happiness rears its cheery, lovely head.  Perhaps it’s short-lived—much like life—but happiness is what you make it.  Appreciate and embrace it.

♥  Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.  ♥   

Robert Frost (American poet)

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Floater Day / Teaser Day

Hey, it’s Rey . . . and JJ . . . and Linda.

The Boss has a lot on her plate, so the three of us kinda volunteered to take over posting duties for today.  Kinda, because we’d really planned on taking a “floater” day.

While Lindy-Loo’s gonna float on her surfboard on the North Shore, my cous and I are gonna float on our Sach’s uncle’s sailboat.  It’s a gorgeous day for being on the sapphire waters of Oahu!

We’d packed our gear last night and are heading out the door, so there’s little time for actually writing a post.  But we put our heads together and thought—<bleep>—why not provide a little teaser from our latest case (Disco’s Dead and so is Mo-Mo).

Take it away, JJ!

           At sixty-three and 6’2”, Domenic Vespuzzi was agile and toned, thanks to a morning home-gym routine and decent diet.  The wavy pewter-gray hair (“plugs” per Rey) looked as lush as a shag rug.  The Burberry suit was impeccably pressed, as was the white Givenchy shirt.  A Burberry tie adorned the corner of the tidy desk.

          Domenic nodded to his young assistant, Gunther, as he placed a padded envelope on the corner, bowed his head, and left with a nod to us, seated in three matching executive chairs with antique platinum finishes. 

            He sipped espresso from a black- and gold-trimmed Versace cup and placed it on to the saucer, eyeing it for several seconds before passing Linda the envelope.  “The list of everyone you would be interested in speaking with is in there.  As well, you’ll find a key for my brother’s Naniwa Gardens condo.  We kept it over the years.  Maria-Luisa, Johnny’s wife, left in 2002 and Johnny Junior—JoJu—stayed to ’05.  It’s cleaned once a month, but everything has remained the same.  Maybe you’ll find something no one else ever did.”  He sighed softly and swiveled to peer at the unspectacular view of industrial Kapolei.  The interior certainly contradicted the exterior.

            Rey, Linda and I glanced at one another.  Were we being dismissed?

            Linda started to rise first and the sound of her shifting prompted him to swivel back.  His expression was one of sadness.

            “Johnny was said—rumored—to be many things but, to me, he was always a kindhearted kid.”  He chuckled briefly.  “He did have a good heart.”  He nodded to the envelope in Linda’s hand.  “I’m sure those you speak with will say the same.”

            “No doubt,” she said with a fleeting smile as she tucked the envelope in her leather satchel.

            “If you find the truth, I’ll give $25,000 to each of your favorite charities.  Monk seal saving, animal shelter, and homeless shelter,” he said, gazing from one face to the next.  He’d done his homework.

            “That’s very generous,” I said.

            His smile held little cheer.  “It’s more of an incentive.”

            “We don’t need any incentives,” Rey said brusquely.  “We’re good at what we do, and we give every case 150 percent.”

            He studied her face for several seconds before offering a dry smile.  “I do have a meeting in fifteen minutes that I’d like to get ready for.  Is there anything I can tell you before we part ways, ladies?”

            “Were you ever part of the mob scene?” Rey asked casually and rose.  As did he.  With her incredibly high-heeled strappy sandals, she stood equally tall. 

            “Would it matter if I did?” he asked nonchalantly.

            She met his keen gaze.  “Only if you murdered someone.”

Aloha Saturday!

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Declutter The Home, Declutter The Mind

Experiencing writer’s block?  Work block?  Life block?  Give thought to doing some decluttering.  It can prove quite therapeutic.  It frees/organizes physical spaces while soothing stress and clearing the mind.

When I’m at a loss as to what to post, I focus on something else, something simple, distracting, but absorbing.  For some, it’s cooking.  For others, like me, it’s getting the home in [some sort of] order.

Besides taking you away from the task of posting, consider the benefits of decluttering.  You’ll have:  ♥  less to clean/dust and manage down the road  ♥  less stress, because there’s nothing more stressful [and annoying] than seeing all the things that need cleaning and/or decluttering  ♥  more time (because you won’t have to do as much or work as hard the next time around)  ♥  a sense of accomplishment (if not relief).

Now, you’re undoubtedly thinking of all the rooms that will require the removal of unneeded/unnecessary “things” and groaning and moaning at the thought.  Don’t.  One thing at a time, at a day.

List all the decluttering/reorganizing you want to do . . . and dedicate one or two hours a day—or week, whatever works for you—and do it!  I’ve been binge-decluttering for a week now, one room and area at a time.  I know my limits—like when I start frothing at the mouth or swearing once too often.  When I’ve reached either stage, it’s time to walk away and chill.

While you’re decluttering/reorganizing, look at what you’ve accumulated over time.  Ask yourself, honestly, the following questions. Do I really need to keep this?  Does it serve a purpose?  Or is it just a dust-collector?   

Check off your completed tasks at the end of the aft/day/eve.  Even one checkmark is something to be proud of.  You did it!  You really did it.

And you know another little plus about decluttering?  It’s “unintentional” exercise, something I don’t believe I get enough of.  With the shelf-scrubbing, moving [of items], bending and crouching, I do believe I’m getting a fairly decent workout.  And that’s very good.  😊

Now, will decluttering/reorganizing/cleaning remove the writer’s block?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  I find, when I’m distracted and/or focused on something else, a post idea often pops into my head . . . like posting about decluttering!  <LOL>

Hmmmmmm.  Maybe the next post should be about dusting techniques. 

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The Good, The Bad & The Humdrum

If, as a blogger/writer, you’re scheduled to post certain days, but you’ve no real (edifying/entertaining) content, should you publish?

It’s a conundrum, to be sure.  My commitment is never missed: Wednesdays and Saturdays always feature a post.  The topics are related to the theme of my blog: writing, blogging, editing, and the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  Now and then, I’ll add something “motivational”—how to remain positive, staying focused, finding time to blog/write, and so forth.  I rarely stray from the theme . . . unless giving a personal update. 

Some days and even weeks, the brain fog is thicker than the peasoupers found in Ripper’s Whitechapel haunts (let’s see how well the recently ordered Prevagen really works).  Still, I’ll post on those two days.  After all, I’ve committed!

But those posts aren’t always good (i.e., I’m not that pleased with them).  They can prove humdrum, even bad (though I’d prefer to think those are few and far between).

So, to post or not to on those days when the ol’ gray matter isn’t cooperating?  When one’s well—for the interim—has run dry?  Does one toss something onto the blog for the sake of respecting the commitment (and hope for the best)?

. . . It’s a conundrum, to be sure.

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Never Look Back, You’re Not Going That Way

The actual saying, by leading transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, is actually: never look back unless you are planning to go that way.

1satI prefer the above (title) version, found on illustrator Emily Elise’s poster (thank you, Sophie).  I’ve always been a firm believer in never looking back.  A bit of bad luck, that, recollecting.  It doesn’t really have much benefit, unless you’re at a family gathering and reflecting on amusing or meaningful moments.  Otherwise, looking back—particularly at those times you wish you could kick yourself in the butt about—can prove depressing or discouraging.  What happened  can’t be undone.  End of story.  Hopefully, you’ve gained knowledge and insight from actions taken, lessons realized, and mistakes made.  Accept them.  Embrace them.

Effectively now, I’m all about moving forward.  Many years have flowed past [escaped] me and I could easily weep over that.  But I won’t.  It’s water under the bridge—those lessons [finally and most assuredly] realized.

Don’t let things that “might have been” discourage you.  It’s a no-win situation.  Things happen for a reason.  Maybe we can’t see that at the time . . . maybe we can’t see that for months or years to come.  But everything and everyone in our lives serve purposes; they define us.

Pull up those [strong] shoulders and never look back.  You really aren’t going that way.  You have a unknown [exciting] future to welcome, agreeable/challenging/fun deeds to do, intriguing places to see, and interesting individuals to meet.

Take pride in who you are . . . and who you’re becoming.  Sure, you erred; we all did and do.  But that’s life.  You want to smack yourself in the head about something?  Do it.  Then move on and . . . yes! . . . never look back because you’re not going that way.

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It All Happened . . .

. . . too many <bleeping> years ago to count.

I was thinking—yes, I still manage to do that these days, but barely—that I’d post about the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  You’ve heard/read enough about the five books, but not how it all got started—or the rollercoaster ride of publisher and agent queries, and [many] rewrites.

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was meant to be a standalone—inspired by those B&W mysteries and movies with haunted houses that I loved as a kid.  Couldn’t get enough of them.

I figured out the basic plot (multiple murders with missing corpses), location and setting (antebellum mansion with lots of hidden corridors and rooms, of course) and that there had to be a resident ghost.  The rest—décor, dialogue, events—fell into place.

Characters I also determine (flesh out) as I go along re descriptions, likes and dislikes, habits, and history, but I do have an idea what they are professionally and age-wise beforehand.  Do I decide who the murderer is from the get-go?  Not usually—not until pretty much the end.

The first “edition” done, I began sending it off.  Got rejections from publishers and agents.  No reason, just the usual not-accepting rhetoric (it would have been nice to receive a teeny-weeny bit of input).

Eventually, when I was about to give up, an agent signed me up.  Within a month, she’d found an interested publisher.  Woo-hoo!  Well, when I found out who it was, I naturally went researching.  Not a good one—bad rep.  You couldn’t even access the site.  I won’t go into the details, but I told the agent I’d heard unfavorable things about the publisher, which evidently put her in a bad mood.  She told me no one else had liked my manuscript, that the dialogue sounded the same for everyone, etc.  More researching.  It seems said agent pretty much only used that one publisher.  Not sure if she’s still doing that now.  Don’t really care.  Fortunately, she was professional enough to let me out of the contract, and for that I’m [still] grateful.

And her criticism was appreciated (even if not delivered in a particularly pleasant manner).  I reread the manuscript with different eyes—and <bleep> if she wasn’t right.  I’d made my  characters all sound the same!  Another rewrite . . . and another . . . and character manipulation.  I refocused.  Put on my editor’s cap (it had blown away during a heavy gust).  Gave my characters distinctive ways of communicating: phrases, expressions, curse words, gestures.

Proofing and editing one’s work is vital, but getting input from other sources (preferably not friends and family members, who can be rather subjective) is so necessary to make a story happen—for it to come alive.

I so enjoyed revising and completing Caper—and JJ, Rey, and Linda loved playing amateur sleuths so much, they wanted to go professional—that it had to serve as a springboard for a series.

Something positive truly does always emerge from the negative.  It may not seem readily evident at the time but, down that ever-winding road called Life, it [eventually] becomes apparent.

While I may more oft than not take advice/input with a grain of salt (writer’s ego and whatnot), I will also ultimately (a few days/weeks later) give that advice/input more serious reflection.  I don’t like to give up, as I’m sure, you don’t either.  Sometimes, however, we do need to give over . . . even if only a wee bit.

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A Reboot . . . A Boot in the Butt

Every now and again, we all need to reboot . . . to receive a self-inflicted (required) boot in the butt to get back on track.  But, before that can happen, we also need to recharge.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with pulling back a bit, nothing wrong with taking a break.

Sometimes, there’s just [way] too much on our plates—which can, on occasion, take on the proportions of [overflowing] super-store sized carts.  And navigating those babies isn’t the easiest.

If a vacation is affordable and doable, taking a week or two to unwind might prove ideal.  Out of sight, out of mind . . . out of home, out of reach.  Other ways, simple ways?  Take a nap.  Take a walk, a run.  Do something different—visit a new part of town, see a sight you’ve never seen, take the transit if you’ve never taken it or let it take you somewhere you’ve never been, have coffee/tea in a shop you’ve never been to.  Have lunch/dinner with a friend.  Call someone you’ve not spoken with in a long time.  Do something “fun” (something silly perhaps).  Sit down and journal.  List all the good things in your life . . . itemize all that you’ve accomplished this week.

The list could go on [and on].  What works for me?  Walking through the cemetery, feeding the squirrels and chipmunks.  De-cluttering.  Noting what I want to achieve during the day or week.  Recording what I’d like to undertake over the next few months (which may change, but that’s okay).

The gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency wanted to share the top three actions/activities that help them to recharge, which is great (often, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to commit to anything outside the business).

JJ:

  • taking Button for a long (long!) walk
  • going to a new café/restaurant, sitting by the window, watching the world go by while I enjoy something I might not usually eat
  • sailing on one of the tourist-tailored catamarans or sailboats and letting the wind blow through my hair and marveling at how calm/choppy the sapphire waters are . . . and grinning with awe when I sight sea life.

Rey:

  • hitting a sale (I hit them when I’m stressed or happy too, but who doesn’t love a great sale!?)
  • finding an audition (to try out or simply to watch)
  • calling or meeting with friends.

Linda:

  • jogging or running or lifting weights
  • surfing on the North Shore
  • trying new recipes or “concocting” my own.

Give it some thought.  What would work for you?  What might give you that [needed] zap of energy?  Then, turn that thought into an action . . . and give yourself that boot in the butt.

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The Wheels of Time . . .

. . . keep rolling.  Sometimes, for a twinkling, they stop.

As many of you know, I’ve been doing mom-care for a long, long time.  It’s been a rollercoaster ride, to be sure.  It hasn’t been easy, especially these last two-plus years, where [more] health and mental issues have developed and intensified.

Recently, the dementia kicked in, rather full tilt boogie.  It’s frightening to listen to, sad, traumatic.  Not for the person experiencing it, of course; all is fine in his/her world, and that is undoubtedly a blessing. 

Unfortunately, almost simultaneously, the osteo-arthritis decided to do a full tilt boogie as well; my mother could barely walk . . . until she could not walk at all.  Frequent falls began.

There was no option but to bring her to the hospital to see what was happening.  There, the dementia evolved into delirium, something that apparently occurs when older people are in such a setting.  Elderly patients struggle to convey information, ask a question, play with imaginary items, remove their robes, cry and/or cry out repeatedly.  For those who are visiting—family and friends—it is disconcerting and heartbreaking.

The time has arrived where my mother must now enter a long-term-care facility and that will happen once a bed is found.  It will be challenging/tough for both of us—me to see someone who enjoyed and embraced life move to a new “residence” where she’ll be primarily bed-bound, and her because she won’t be returning to a home she knows and loves. 

With time, she’ll likely forget about that . . . as she will me.  The wheels of time, for her, will simply cease rolling.  With fall, comes winter.  With life, sadly  but inevitably, comes death. 

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JJ’s on the Bandwagon

My turn at the bat.  Rey and Linda posted about themselves, so I feel compelled to do the same.  But my likes and favorites would make for a snoozy post and I’d not experienced anything traumatic or poignant . . . except the death of my sister, Reena Jean.

My sister and I weren’t very close.  She was rather flighty and very unpredictable.  She was also a thrill-seeker (her recusant ex called her a wing-nut).  Still, I rather admired her; I liked the impulsiveness.  My sister had boldly if not smugly stood on (clung determinedly to) a pier by the ocean during a Category 4 hurricane.  She challenged Mother Nature to “bring it on!”.  Mother Nature granted the request by yanking Reena Jean into the raging deep . . . and had the last laugh.  It’s hard not to admire that zest for life . . . even if it cost my sister hers.

That got me reflecting on our unconventional family members.  Some people claim they’re eccentric, others say they’re quirky, and a few would profess off-the-wall and/or whacky.  You may have met Aunt Mat (The Connecticut Corpse Caper); she’d likely top the list.  The sexagenarian is truly dotty, but quite enchanting.  She’s never one to mince words and tells it like it is, which can be both refreshing and daunting.  [That she may be a secret serial killer is something we don’t speak about.]

Then there’s eyebrow-less Uncle Flex, sour-faced Great-Aunt Gertrude, toupee-crazy Uncle Charly . . . and the various aunts.  Jane Sue won a ton of money in a lottery and always has some “sweet young thing” hanging off an arm.  Ruth June is a born-again Christian who writes tame romance novels that sell fairly well; she’s also the proud owner of ten dozen crocheted blankets and fifteen dozen handcrafted doilies.  Rowena Jaye, Rey’s mother, was what they used to call a “homemaker”, though she didn’t excel in that department—lumpy mushroom-soggy rice anyone?  Sue Lou, the one with the highly shellacked hair (she still resides in the 60s), was a librarian once upon a time; these days, she spends her time at her large Maine cottage, practicing taxidermy on the fish she catches.

If I posted about them all, you’d be reading for a full day.  But I do have to mention one more person: my father.  I never knew him, not even his name.  My mother had always refused to talk about him, other than that one time (I was about nine and had asked) to explain, with a sigh and roll of the eyes, that 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.  As a private eye, maybe I should do some serious P.I.ing and learn about him.  . . . nawwwww.  Sometimes, mysteries are best left to remain unsolved.

JJsatDespite the family leaning toward madcap and weird, I’m rather fond of [most of] them.  I wouldn’t be who I am if I’d not experienced those zany moments, attended chaotic get-togethers, or helped bail the odd one out (that’s another post).

Here’s to the ever-fanciful Fonnes!

Me Day, You Day, Any Day is a Good Day . . .

Like many, I often feel a need to take a me day, a vacay day, a holiday—any day reserved solely to relax—but work and life always manage to get in the way.  😉

As soon as it appears it might be doable, something comes along, such as an essential task, necessary errand, crucial project, or urgent situation.  And then there are commitments, like posting on the ol’ blog on set days.  As the saying goes, however, it’s all good.  Well, most of the time.  LOL

Given I haven’t had a me day in years (decades, as it were), I got to thinking about what the perfect me day might be.

It would entail (in no order of relevance):

    • ignoring commitments
    • forgetting about emails and messages and texts (once you get pulled into those, you’re a goner for hours—at least, I am)
    • turning off all phones (I have three too many)
    • eating fun/comfort food while sitting in front of the TV [finally] watching a show/series time hasn’t allowed for previously
    • noshing on [a big bowl of] ketchup chips
    • avoiding all forms of exercise
    • not noticing dust or lint, or crumbs, veiling the floor or rug
    • wearing a big, loose T-shirt and fluffy socks1PNGkey
    • forgoing on make-up
    • scratching a couple of scratch-and-win tickets
    • watching the birds on the balcony
    • taking a nap (what a novel concept).

The list makes for perfect me day—in my dreams. That’s okay, though.  Nothing wrong with imagining what might be.  In fact, taking the time to consider it is rather restful in itself.

If you have an opportunity for a you day, grab it, and enjoy.  And on that note, back to work for yours truly.  Let’s see, what to tackle first . . . 😉

The List: Every Writer’s Friend

You’re writing a book.  You’re loving it.  It’s great.  Hemingway would pat you on the back.  Christie would applaud your twists and turns.  . . . Your readers are scratching their heads.  When/how did Monty’s wife, Judith, become Barbara?  Cara was living in a flat in Chelsea.  How’d she end up in Greenwich?

Accuracy and consistency are important.  Both lend themselves to professionalism, something every writer—aspiring or published—should embrace.  There’s nothing more off-putting than reading something and finding it filled with irregularities . . . also known as glaring mistakes.

You want people to remember you and your work—for the right reasons.

I believe in lists and summaries.  But that’s so much more work!  I hear the groans.  Yes, it is, yet not really.  If you set up a chart, you only need add a few words here and there.  In that chart, you list points, ideas, descriptions.

1clipartlibrary (1)Having a list for characters—in my humble opinion—is necessary.  Note each one’s name (!), appearance, traits, idiosyncrasies, and significant events that made them what they are.  A quick example:

 JOHN SMITH

    • pale blue eyes, wavey blond hair below the ears, chubby at 5’7”
    • 38 years old; born in London; parents dead (mother hit by car when he was 10; father died from colon cancer)
    • likes dogs, hates cats (with a passion)
    • is a teacher by day, killer by night . . .

You get the idea.  The same holds true for a summary.  Have a list that breaks down chapters into scenes and note what happens.  It will help not have David finding Jessie’s body in a well in Chapter 3 and then finding Jessie’s body in a cellar in Chapter 10.  😉

Again, the summary / chapter list can be quite simple, a few words here and there.  Something like this works:

CHAPTER 4, SCENE 3    October, Thursday 10:30 a.m. – breezy and cloudy / Jeremy meets with Lester at a beachside bar; they theorize about the murder (how did the body end up in the cave / what is the significance of the star etched into the victim’s forehead / why can’t they determine the identity of the victim).

A summary / chapter list will help you see how your plot and book have progressed.  It will be simpler to determine if something is missing or seems incomplete.

Holes in a garment can be fixed; holes in a published book not so much.  A list for a writer can prove your best friend.  It won’t let you down.  😊

The Facts, and Nothing but the Facts

. . . Or “ma’am, just the facts” as Sergeant Joe Friday [actually] said in the 1950s TV show, Dragnet. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction: know your facts.  Accuracy is a must.

Devices and gadgets, events and activities, fashion and customs, music and art, phrases and expressions (among others) must be correct for the time/period being written in.  Stories are made to entertain.  Facts are meant to inform.  Exactitude is vital . . . so is [a writer’s] credibility.

If you’re writing a western or historical novel that takes place in the middle of the 18th century, it’s likely people didn’t have tissues or ballpoint pens.  Women wouldn’t have worn brassieres and men wouldn’t have known about boxer shorts.  One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, it’s improbable that a person would have said, “that’s so cool” except maybe if referring to the weather.  They’d not have said “sweet” unless commenting about a dessert or fruit.  Become familiar with the period of time being written in.

If you’re writing a story that takes place present day and are using real places, ensure the details are accurate/correct.  Don’t mention that John went to a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto and have it located on the other side of town.  A real place should be in its actual location.  If your story is set in a city or country you’ve never been to, acquaint yourself with it.  Anything related to the here and now—and the story—should be properly (accurately) detailed.  Quoting someone?  Sure, have at it, but ensure the quote is correct.

That holds true of any genre, including fantasy and sci-fi.  Granted, you may be able to stretch some truths, given these worlds don’t [yet] exist 😉 but you’ll likely be incorporating some technical or scientific details.  You may even refer to events or inventions that lead to the creation of your future/other world, so it never hurts to become familiar with technology or science.  Research is never a waste of time (at the very least, you’ve learned something new).

The example above—“ma’am, just the facts”—is how Friday said it and not the way we often use it or see it: “the facts and nothing but the facts”.  This brings us to something that you may want to do and not leave to an editor, who may not always cast that critical an eye: fact-check.  This process verifies that information is factual and ensures the story/writing is correct and concise.

You can fact-check as you go along in your writing or do it at the end of the first/last draft; determine what works best for you.  My process is that I’ll write a scene, edit it, and note what I’d like to expand on, like a setting or dwelling, clothing, whatever.  Say one of my characters is attending a luau. If I want readers to get a taste of what that entails, I’ll research luaus—preparations required, types of food and entertainment, locations (where might they take place), and so forth.  I may have read pages (!) of details but, in the end, only write a couple of paragraphs.  But that piece of writing will be descriptive . . . and accurate.  😉

Get facts straight.  For all intents and purposes, your fictional world is the real world to a reader. Don’t disappoint them by having glaring errors.  And don’t disappoint yourself by not having done [provided] the best [most accurate] work that you could have.

Sci-Fi in the so High Sky

In terms of catchy headings/titles, a little alliteration or rhyming words can work well.  Sometimes they bomb, big time, and sometimes they result in head-scratching or “huh?”.  This one popped into my head and refused to leave, so at the top of this post it had to go.

A while ago, I promised to revisit a couple of authors . . . and I always honor pledges.  Sean Robins’ latest book—The Gray Emperor: An Epic Space Opera/Parallel Universe Adventure, the seventh in the series—has been garnering great reviews.

★★★★★ “I have to say the ability for this author to tell a story has got me hooked. I fell in love with all the characters and it became a goal to find out what happened.”
★★★★★ “I loved this! I highly recommend this to any fan of pop culture, especially Star Trek fans!”
★★★★★ “This book was a Godsend as I was struggling to find a book to engage me. Sean Robins got it right with this book and I’m super excited for more.”
★★★★★ “Plot and characters are well developed and filled with real emotion. Pleasantly surprising twists!”
★★★★★ “I found myself becoming involved with the characters and caring for them and their struggles.”
★★★★★ “I loved this book! Great story, great characters, awesome movie references and humor.”
★★★★★ “This author is very talented, grabbed and held my interest.”

My own one-sentence review: A quirky and fun read with engaging characters and thrilling sky-high battle scenes.

For those not in the know, in The Gray Emperor, ever staunch General Maada leads his fleet to the White Republic universe, where the Xenoakakies rule with an iron fist. There, he encounters a few old friends, as well as some new foes, including the Death Angel, the legendary enemy pilot who’s killed the general’s doppelganger.

While Maada has been through his fair share of dangerous and/or doomed battles, this one takes him into an entirely different realm.  The resolute insects’ hold on this universe seems unshakable, and their fleet dwarfs the general’s in vast numbers and power.  But Maada is indomitable and will fight, whatever the cost.

Maada, flying the Crimson Deathbringer off the ground and towards the approaching enemy fleet, checked his tactical display. Forty-six thousand space fighters from seven different species were following him. He had led the forces under his command into battle countless times, but this was the first time he was in command of an allied force fighting an aggressor with the entire galaxy’s survival at stake. That thought filled his chest with fierce pride.

He had been in this position before, fighting first the Volts, then Father, and later the White Republic’s navy to save billions, but on both those occasions Jim had been in command. This, however, was his fleet, and it would be his victory.

Along for the electrifying ride: Jim Harrison the protagonist and narrator for all the books in the series, Tarq the jokester, and Xornaa the femme fatale mercenary and Xortaag spy.

aThe Crimson Deathbringer Series 1

For those not familiar with Sean, he’s a huge fan of Marvel, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Star Trek.  He’s also a university/college level English teacher who has lived and worked in different countries.  To find out more, please check out Sean and his new book at:

https://www.amazon.com/Sean-Robins/e/B07PS1116K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/18999889.Sean_Robins

https://www.audible.ca/search?searchAuthor=Sean+Robins

https://www.facebook.com/seanrobins300/

https://seanrobins73.wixsite.com/website

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