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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!

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Lindy-Loo’s Here Too

Hi there.  I thought I’d have a lightsome title because I’m going to touch upon something that’s not as frivolous as Rey’s post.  Can you spell s-h-a-l-l-o-w?  Just kidding, Rey; you’re my best friend and I love you.  😉

1lindaThe three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency have been friends for a while now, living together in a nice (still-needs-to-be-fixed) house, keeping busy with cases and volunteering, and enjoying life (its ups as well as its downs).

Recently, I got to thinking about my earlier years—like when I was in my teens and married to a jazz musician with a vice so major, it resulted in his passing.  I was young, he wasn’t.  I often thought he should have known better, should have done something—gotten help with the addiction, talked to someone, done everything and anything to be free of his “obsession”.  It cost him money, self-esteem, friends, and then his life in a fleabag motel.

Given my age—and naïveté, I suppose—and always being on the move, given the country-wide gigs, I didn’t deal with it very well.  Constant travel, sporadic sleep, late nights and countless parties contributed to a state of “perpetual un-focus”.  I felt useless, powerless, because Chiffre wouldn’t listen to my pleas to stop, to get help.  I’m not sure, at the time, I even knew where to find that help.  Or maybe I was too scared to deal with reality.

Did I know Chiffre was an addict when we got married?  No.  Okay, in truth, I suspected, but turned a blind eye.  It wasn’t like he was out of control or anything.  It wasn’t like he couldn’t function; he played a mean sax and managed to show up on time for every show . . . at least for the first few months we were married.  Then, slowly but surely, he started arriving later and later, and the pleasantly-worded “I can handle this, don’t worry, hon” changed to a heated “find someone else to pester, I got this”.  He grew more disinterested in things he used to enjoy and lost interest in the marriage; manipulation became part of the daily equation.  Still, together we stayed.

I didn’t criticize, but asked, begged, talked calmly (no matter how upset or stressed or depressed I was).  I started making excuses and lying shamelessly—for him, for me, for us.  Things were lost and broken, much like our marriage.  He was a mess, as was I.  A friend of the drummer was a social worker and he talked to me one afternoon.  He truly cared and his advice was sound and solid.  I should have pursued it, made the calls, checked in with support persons and groups, but I was, well, in denial of sorts, I guess.  I wished I done as he’d advised.  Maybe Chiffre wouldn’t have died alone, with a needle in his arm.

I’ve had therapy since then and have learned that I shouldn’t shoulder the burden or blame.  And that might make for another post one day.  Analysis can be difficult (very soul-searching) but the subsequent healing can prove a blessing.  And I won’t lie; it takes consummate commitment.

I’ve not thought of that dark period of my life too often since moving to Oahu.  I regret it, wish it had never happened . . . yet acknowledge that it helped me grow . . . and learn.  There’s always is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel, even if, at the time it doesn’t appear that way.  I hate to sound trite, but things do happen for a reason.  It’s what we do with that “reason” that counts.  We may get dragged down, but we don’t have to stay down.  Rise to the challenge, the trial(s) and test(s).  You’re/we’re stronger than we think.

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Mr. Smiley

Well known worldwide, frequently used (and overused perhaps), smiley emojis make for great responses when there’s nothing to say or you simply don’t want to share [genuine] feelings.

Mr. Smiley is a great avoidance tool.  I use him regularly . . . often to say thank you, but just as often to avoid stating how I’m doing.  I’m not generally a Gloomy Gus (not publicly anyway); there are days, however, when I can certainly become one (given my personal situation).  So, not to convey my true self, I put on a “fake face”, and no one’s the wiser.  It’s all good.

I rarely use Mr. Smiley to encourage a conversation, but he can serve such a purpose, if you wish him to.  Simply sticking him in a reply likely won’t encourage one, so you may have to add a few words.  Or not.  It’s possible Mr. Smiley may invite another Mr. Smiley, who summons a third Mr. Smiley, who attracts . . . .

Those that [really] know me understand that if I reply with an emoji, I’m too busy/stressed to “chat”.  It’s my subtle way of bowing out.  And it’s all good.

Mr. Smiley makes me smile when he shows up on my screen.  I rather like having him visit in place of “thank you” or “you’re welcome”.  He’s just so much more . . . LOL . . . personable.

Mr. Smiley, or a cousin, can brighten a message or text, even a day if it’s not going well.  Communications can seem rather to-the-point and flat when received as words/instructions only, and that’s fine.  They’re to serve a purpose: inform.  But add a positive emoji and those communications seem so much perkier. 

There’s not just one Mr. Smiley, of course.  You have several to choose from, whose smiles vary from partial to full to toothy to laughing/crying.  On the flipside, you have Mr. Frowny, Ms. Uncertain, Mr. Puzzled, and the [lengthy] list continues—to upwards of 3000.  You could write a book on—or with—those.  An intriguing/challenging thought; perhaps, when time/life opens up, I’ll give that a try one day.

Emojis can be used to circumvent a situation.  If I’m dealing with a difficult person or circumstance, I can state something matter-of-factly and add an emoji to “soften” the statement or request.  If someone affronts me, I can send an emoji without being rude (tempted as I might be to use finger/hand signage) or stating the obvious.

The point of this post?  Not much of one really.  Simply thinking about how often I use Mr. Smiley.  But maybe, just maybe, I might also prompt, yes, a smile. 

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Spreading the Word Some More . . . Again

Jina S. Bazzar’s fifth book, From Fame to Ruin—a standalone romantic thriller/suspense novel—has been out a short while.   Her blog tour didn’t happen as it should have, so I thought I’d give a quick [well deserved] plug.

Fame is a thrilling read, one you’ll be glued to because you’ll want to find out who-dun-it.  Set in beautiful Brazil, the enthralling story revolves around the music and business worlds and various persons who reside within them.  Both are  as competitive as they can be cutthroat; darkness dwells beyond the glitter in one and rivalry exists in the revenue of the other.

The gripping storyline is filled with twists and turns, and surprises.  Love at first sight does exist.  But does it last?  Can Carol and Ricardo’s rollercoaster relationship withstand the challenges, trials and tribulations certain characters thrust at at them?

aa1jinablogJina is known for fantasy (like the Roxanne Fosch series), but it’s obvious she excels at writing other genres.  Switching categories isn’t easy, so [numerous] hats off to her.

Please check Jina out here:

https://www.goodreads.com/…/58827418-from-fame-to-ruin

https://www.amazon.com/-ebook/dp/B09HSGMFYC

https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/

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Spreading the Word . . .

. . . on behalf of Sean Robins, author of The Scarlet Queen, The Golden Viper, and The White Republic (some of the quirky [fun/exciting] books in the sci-fi The Crimson Deathbringer series).

Jim Harrison is the main protagonist, a fighting hero with an ego and alter-ego named Venom.  He has a trustworthy best friend, Kurt, who helps him win battles.  And there is a great array of secondary characters, such as dogged and determined (win at all costs) General Maada, prank-dense and maybe dangerous (but you can never truly be sure) Tarq, and beautiful femme-fatale mercenary and spy, Xornaa.

So, per Sean’s request, I’m helping spread the word: the box set continues to be a bestseller!  How awesome is that?  If you haven’t yet checked out his books, I highly recommend you do; each one is an entertaining (easy-to-get-hooked) read.

A little about Sean: he’s a university/college-level English teacher and huge Marvel (plus Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate) fan, as is evident in his stories (they’re full of pop-culture references).

Check him out on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sean.robins.77, and Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Sean-Robins/e/B07PS1116K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share, among others.

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The Fairy in a Tale

Fairies seem to be quite popular in fiction (I’ve seen several in the last while, particularly in manuscripts I’m editing).  The ones I’ve “encountered” are usually small, cute, have magical powers, but can sometimes be tricksters (they’re cute but not necessarily sweet).

That got me to thinking where “fairytale” originates from.  The general dictionary consensus is that a fairytale is a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.

The genre originates courtesy of different spoken stories passed down through various European cultures. Per Wikipedia: “the genre was first marked out by writers of the Renaissance, such as Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, and stabilized through the works of later collectors such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.”

Not sure about the other names, but I’m familiar with the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob.  They sported several hats but were perhaps best known for their stories (folk tales), first published in 1812.  Thought I’d throw that in there.

I digress, something I do well.  In today’s fiction market, what makes a fairytale a fairytale?  They’re set in the past is one of the criteria.  I’d disagree with that; they can certainly be set in modern times but contain components of that mythical/mystical/magical world that differentiates it from the world as we know it.  I’d concur that there’s that once-upon-a-time element, suggesting that the story transpired in another realm (a make-believe one).

Common features of the fairy’s fantasy world—forests seem to be particularly popular—include castles and palaces, villages and rural areas, rivers and streams.  Royalty often resides in one form or another.  There are bad sorts to challenge the good ones.  Additionally, there’s a lesson and/or moral to be found.  And, for sure, you have to have a happy ending (or should).

HcXSThe purpose of this post was to enlighten myself infinitesimally, an amount as miniscule as a flitting fairy.

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The Kid in Me & You

Who doesn’t love a good children’s book?  There’s always a little bit of a kid still in us, no matter what our age. But perhaps you’re considering writing a children’s book?  If so, do it!

Figure out what type you’d like to write: early reader, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, YA, etc.  Challenge yourself.  Have fun.  Write to your heart’s content . . . or until the imagination drowses . . . then pick up again the next day.

Before you submit your completed work to a publisher or editor, confirm that it’s professional quality.  This means, yes, you’ll have to edit it.

While you want to be aware of how you express yourself on paper / on the screen for a younger audience, most of the basic editing “rules” still apply.

Have a dynamic opening—you want to catch your readers immediately (reel them in from the get-go).

Remember the opening of Charlotte’s Web?  Young Fern asks why her father has an ax.  Mrs. Arable says he is going to the barn to do away with the runt of a pig litter.  The little girl immediately races out to stop her father.  I don’t know about you, but I was sucked in right away (in fact, I didn’t put that book down until I finished it, a sobbing, blubbering mess).

Ensure that the plot/storyline are entertaining; young(er) readers get bored with bad, silly, or boring plots just as easily as older ones do.

Offer an intriguing (entertaining) main character and ensure the other ones are strong/personable/memorable.

“I am Sam”.  Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham was a favorite.  Simple.  Fun.  Entertaining.  But, then, so were most of his books—all with memorable and fun characters.

If your main character is searching for something, or perhaps themselves, or may think aloud a lot, talk to themselves, or have things to share, consider adding a “buddy” that he/she can bounce ideas off of or enjoy adventures with.  There are many friendships to list from childhood, but think of Charlotte and Wilbur, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Bently and Daisy, Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Roo, Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat.

Make certain dialogue serves a purpose and isn’t repetitive.

Show, don’t tell; ensure action and dialogue make the story come alive.  Keep the “he said” “she said” to a minimum.

Avoid using the same words too frequently, and don’t be overly descriptive or detailed.  Maintain your young readers’ attention.

Provide appropriate transitions when moving to a new scene or chapter.

Be clear.  Keep the flow and action consistent and logical.  The story and action have to make sense (even if in a fairy/fantasy world).  Provide reasons for actions/reactions.  If Mr. Moose and Mr. Caribou have to fly to Alaska on a magical sled, ensure the reader knows why—even if they’re doing it for a lark.

Keep the writing tight and pace steady/smooth.

There you have them, a few suggestions.  Editing your own work, as many will attest, is not always easy or enjoyable (the moans and groans can prove plentiful, so can the caffeine breaks).  Think of editing as a challenge.  Pull on your editor’s hat and have at it.  You can do it . . . and you may even have fun.

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Baring the Ol’ Soul

Emotions are a very real, raw thing, and can be difficult to capture in fiction if not presented correctly or well.  Making them public in nonfiction may prove equally difficult, not only because of how they are described, but because they come from the soul, the heart . . . from experiences that are taxing, trying, empowering, lifting, or bittersweet.  Imaginary or real (dramatized or recounted), they often prove poignant. 

Editing nonfiction accounts of challenging times in people’s lives—memoirs, personal accounts—is tricky at times.  Do you edit with the fiction hat on . . .  and propose the following, without applying the “editing pen”?  Do you offer the same advice you would to a fiction writer?

    • Show, don’t tell.
    • Avoid using the same words too frequently.
    • Be mindful of dialogue and dialogue tags; don’t restate or offer the obvious.
    • Steer clear of repeating an event, action, or conversation.
    • Dodge overused/reiterated devices and approaches that lend themselves to flatness.

The nonfiction hat, particularly when dealing with emotional/heartbreaking topics, wants to be softer, less analytical.  As such, you may be tempted to:

    • keep the simplicity/intensity, even the repetitiveness, that’s being revealed (because, again, it comes from the soul, the heart)
    • preserve—as is—something that is being shared and bared.

Then, the juggling hat appears.  Maybe you determine that the best editing tactic is to allow the narrative to unfold exactly as the writer—soul-barer—intended.  If someone has disclosed some highly subjective if not private moments, is it fair to alter what is visceral, intense, and so very personal?  No, probably not . . . but it wouldn’t hurt to tighten here and there, staying true to the writer’s intention(s) and mode of expression. 

It’s a tough call sometimes.  And editing instinct has to play a part, too.  Get a feel . . . for what feels right.

For someone planning to pen a personal tale, before beginning, give some thought to the following:

    • write [reveal] vital, relevant events
    • don’t communicate every detail
    • share with all senses—allow readers to feel, smell, see, hear, touch (like fiction, pull them in; let them understand the situation from a “sensory” POV)
    • ensure readers get to know you or the person you’re writing about (the quest, struggle/situation, outcome)
    • be honest
    • use dialogue here and there and make it compelling, not of the “he said, she said” variety.

1abckindpngsatSharing a personal tale can prove purging, which is great (I have some of that to do), but it can also be enlightening, instructional, supportive/helpful, encouraging, for readers who have undergone similar situations . . . or those that want to learn about, and from, them.

Consider the goal for sharing [publishing] the intimate account—aim for it—and write [honestly and honorably] from the soul and heart.

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SuspenseFULL

There’s nothing better than a riveting suspense novel, one that is full of excitement, thrills, tension, edginess . . . one that keeps the reader glued to the pages, wanting to find out what transpires . . . yet not really wanting the story to end . . . because it’s that good.  (I’m reading one now; hence the compulsion to post about it.)

So, you’d like to write one and are wondering what helps make a suspense story good?  Don’t reveal all.  You want to grab a reader’s interest/curiosity from the get-go and that is done not just with the story or plot, but through the characters.  There’s a problem or challenge, maybe a few, a mission or quest, maybe a few, that the protagonist (and/or main characters) has to pursue, and solve or resolve.

The protagonist, like the main characters, should have issues and/or a complicated past.  Something drives him or her.  Or maybe something makes him or her want to avoid the world.  What incidents/events have molded the protagonist?

Teasing the reader here and there can add to the suspense.  Perhaps Jim’s private-eye partner, Ralph, has been severely beaten.  Jim is supposed to meet him at ten, and is waiting, eager to hear what information Ralph has received that will help them solve a puzzler of a case.  The reader is aware of what has happened to Ralph; Jim is not.  Tension builds . . . particularly if the thugs who’d done the dastardly deed have discussed meeting Jim at the rendezvous spot with the intention of “taking care” of him, too.

Perhaps certain characters are bleak or somber, mysterious or treacherous, deranged or self-centered; this makes them dangerous, intriguingly so.  Revealing snippets of what makes them tick—or doesn’t—will keep the reader wanting to learn more.  Will the somber and deranged Mr. Darke succeed in his desire to bring down a former ally?  Can Ms. Perile convince her employer that a coworker is the saboteur and, subsequently, the reason the company lost a major account?

The reader should know more than the protagonist.  Not everything, but more.  Anxiety and hope want us to continue reading—and spur the protagonist.  At the same time, the reader wants to be solving the mystery/dilemma with him or her.  And there’s certain dread when the reader, like the protagonist, comes face to face with evil or terror, be it in the form of a serial killer, a maleficent boss, wicked wife, or pugnacious partner . . . or ghastly past.

Throw in surprises/shocks.  Have something happen that comes from left field—something no one, character(s) and reader(s) alike, ever expected.  Maybe someone unpredictably dies or proves to be a completely different person (be it via a personality change, revelation re background, or switch in intentions).  As with mysteries, suspense novels should throw out a red herring or two, offer clues and/or foreshadowing, elements that create excitement, anticipation, and tension.  The reader is dying to know what’s what.

Create suspense early and sustain it throughout the story.  In each chapter, you want to have a question or two that remains unanswered; this will prompt the reader to continue to search for the answer(s).  Perhaps reveal something startling or unforeseen in the last paragraph.  Determine what works best, given the plot and characters, and have at it.

Additional storylines can be added—lesser ones.  Perhaps you’d like to share action/dialogue between two villains or secondary characters; make certain it’s tight, of value-add, and interesting.  Flashbacks can also help but keep them manageable and to a minimum.

Finally, before “the end” arrives, ensure all loose ends are tied up, because you truly want to avoid reader head-scratching.

Now,  a great [suspenseFULL] read is beckoning my return.

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Jewel in a Journal

Hey, it’s Rey, with my first post of 2022.  The Boss’ blog—when it’s not featuring me and Linda and JJ, and our Triple Threat Investigation Agency—tends to deal with editing and writing from a published perspective.  That got me to thinking about sharing something not related to the world of publishing, something I started last year: journaling.  It can prove a real jewel.

For those not in the know, journaling is, basically, jotting down your thoughts, emotions/moods, and memories.  It’s a way to purge—what’s eating at you, what makes you sad or angry or happy.  Record problems and issues (when you revisit them later, you may find solutions or see that they weren’t as intense or bad as they seemed at the time).

I’ve heard it said that it’s beneficial, not only to watch yourself develop/grow, but in that it can enhance how you work and act; it allows you to think, contemplate, mull over, and process and, thereby, deal with stresses, traumas, and challenging situations.  It’s a little too cerebral for me, but maybe we can have Linda post about that at a future date.

Journaling can be comforting.  I know when I’ve had a bad froth-at-the-mouth day and I sit down to write what’s p’o’d me, I actually feel calmer once I’ve let it all out.  Now, I may still want to yell at the person who’s annoyed me, or kick the door shut, or scream, but not nearly to the same degree.  And, with time (a few minutes, a few hours) I’ve shut off those non-productive emotions like I’ve shut my journal for the day.

What I can also confirm is that journaling works—you really do feel good once you’ve laid it all out on paper or screen.  It’s kind of like having a silent psychotherapist; you reveal all, no holds barred, and you don’t receive advice you feel is useless or know you can’t follow.  Re-reading journal notes can be eye-opening, sometimes jolting, sometimes soothing . . . and sometimes kind of like an epiphany (my new word of the year).

Think of it as a record of you.  Even though I’ve only been doing it a short while, I like that, years from now, I will have accounts of who I was, what I was going through, and how I dealt with or resolved problems.  Will I laugh?  Cry?  Groan?  Roll my eyes?  Maybe all, he-he.

Not sure you can do it?  Feeling intimidated?  You can do it.  Remember, you don’t have to write a full page.  You don’t even have to jot down full sentences.  Write one line or use point-form (words that describe that day, that moment).  Swear if you like.  It’s your personal journal and you can say whatever you want.

Don’t be intimidated by the thought or commitment.  Just grab a notebook and pen or sit at the computer.  Give it two minutes, if that’s all you can commit to.  You don’t need to do it at the same time each day, but I find, for myself, that sitting down at night, an hour or so before bed, works for me.  Maybe you’d like to do it while having a morning coffee.  Whatever works . . . works.

Should you share?  A good question and I can’t answer that.  I’d prefer to keep my journal private, but who knows?  Maybe one day I’ll feel that others can benefit from my experiences and solutions.

You won’t know how helpful or cleansing it can be until you try it.  So, if you haven’t tried journaling, I simply say . . . give it a go!

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Another Year Arriveth

As the 31st approaches, there’s a certain energy in the air.  It’s different from that experienced the week prior, but it’s definitely there, electric, tangible.  There’s hope . . . optimism . . . faith that things will be better. 

And the beauty of a new year waiting around the corner is that anything is possible.  The pandemic will finally disappear.  World peace will prove achievable.  Despots and tyrants will see the light.  Wars and violence are things of the past.  Lessons are learned and applied.  Prejudices and biases are forgotten.  Inequality and intolerance no longer exist.  Hardships and burdens will vanish.

Here’s to a new year that is forgiving and bountiful, filled with days that hold promise and potential.

Happy 2022 everyone!

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Resolution / Revolution

T’is that time of year where we offer up resolutions to the spirit[s] of New Year.  Some we may keep, others we’ll discard and forget . . . until New Year arrives again.

In essence, we rather resolve to revolt—to embrace something we wholeheartedly believe is in our best interest, only to reject it when we grow weary of persistently [trying to] hold onto it.

You know, the definitions of resolution and revolution hold some similarities:

resolution = perseverance  /  purpose  /  resolve /  determination  / tenacity

revolution = transformation  /  alteration  /  reform  /  change  /  conversion

In fact, a revolution can be described as “a sudden or momentous change in a situation”.

But I digress.  <he-he-he>  It seemed fitting, at year’s end, to list resolutions with the [great] hope of sticking to them.  So-o, let’s see if these are doable (they seem simple enough):

♦  lessen depression/stress/resentment (and accept the current situation as it is)    ♦  clasp patience (and hold on tightly)    ♦  write another book (time is not my friend at present, but I’ll extend a hand in greeting)    ♦  get out more—literally    ♦  lose five pounds (guess I’ll have to knock off those gosh-darn-nummy UK snowballs)    ♦  take an on-line course or two (got to / want to keep learning)    ♦  clean clutter (and move out those damnable dust bunnies)    ♦  start my life finally (God/karma/deity willing, of course).

They sound easy-peasy enough.  Let’s check a couple of months from now.  <he-he-he>  As Rey might say, “Never take something too seriously; life’s way too short.”  How true, how true.

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Cul-de-Sacs & Detours

Similar title to previous post.  But different route.

I rather liked the last post, but apparently it went down about as well as a toppled wheelbarrow filled with wet gravel.  So, I yanked it from public view and kept it for myself.  One day, I will revisit it and laugh, cry, groan and/or moan.

To be honest, I had originally thought of cul-de-sacs and detours in terms of my writing but became sidetracked and focused on that which should remain private.  Enough baring the soul, which served a purpose once upon a time; now, it’s a true “the end”.

As a writer (and editor), I’ve traveled many roads . . . such as the small path I first stepped on at the age of twelve, when I realized I so enjoyed writing and wanted to pursue that as a vocation.  But I remained in a cul-de-sac for several years because I simply couldn’t view the avenue that would lead me onward . . .  to that desired profession.

I ambled down different paths—went to film school and even worked in the industry for a wee while, until the music world opened up.  Those were exciting times.  But even better?  I even had the opportunity to write some promo pieces and that desire to become a writer reemerged in a major [driven] way.

Part-time courses proved fun.  Writing associations and groups were enlightening.  Taking pen to paper was enthralling.  I was on my way to hammering down Writer Highway #33.

Oddly, the access roads on which agents and publishers resided led nowhere; they didn’t seem excited about the manuscripts I so gleefully and proudly submitted.  Why?!  I had marvelous stories to tell, my-oh-my yes.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the perspective), the required skillset [talent] hadn’t really developed—something to do with not seeing the forest for the trees.

Yours truly took a detour or three—kept writing, but not learning.  I think it’s a writer’s thing, probably best known as “ego”, where we don’t/won’t listen to constructive criticism, and continue going (plodding along) and ignoring the signs.

I never gave up, though, even when I received countless rejections and one [very] cruel response from a publisher.  I inflated the vastly deflated self-esteem and plowed down a congested artery, knowing it would be difficult to navigate.  Somehow, some way, however, that ultimate destination would be reached.

Several years later, after paying many tolls, [finally] learning means and methods, and taking the [very] long way around, I arrived at that longed-for journey’s end: becoming published.  A dream come true.  Yes, it doesn’t pay much, and maybe the fame (or notoriety? LOL) isn’t there, but it’s all good.  Very good indeed.  <pat on back>

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Coco’s Nuts, Day Five, Another High-Five . . .

. . . to the 99-cent promo.  For one more day, you can get Coco’s Nuts for under a dollar.

Nuts is the third mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series and the second official case for budding private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda to solve.

All the trio has to do is prove that socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer didn’t kill her boss or best friend—regardless of what the evidence suggests.  As  they navigate the dark world of debt collectors (folks who will do anything to get their gambling “clients” to pay up), a few more bodies fall.

The list of suspects is long and the task of locating the real killer is a daunting if not dangerous one.

Maybe you’d like to find out how they do?  Please check out the P.I.s at:

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

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Coco’s Nuts, Day Four, Just Two More

That’s it . . . just two more days to get Coco’s Nuts for 99 cents.

Coco’s Nuts is the third mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  The three novice private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—are out to prove that socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer didn’t murder her boss, the infamous Jimmy Picolo, or her best friend, fellow trucker, Eb Stretta, or . . .

As the body count increases, so does the list of suspects and odd if not dangerous characters.  But nothing will deter the persevering P.I.s from finding the culprit (and successfully solving their case).

“It seems a pretty sure thing that Coco’s chatting it up with Jimmy, Razor, and Stretta.”

“What makes you so sure?” I asked offhandedly.

“That was Denton. He and Jimmy Junior and Coco are close friends — have been since grade school, softball, and summer camp,” he elucidated. “Neither has heard from Coco like in two weeks.”

“Were they supposed to?” Linda asked.

“Coco has never missed Denton’s birthday, but he did this time.”

“Not a good sign, is it?” Rey asked with a crinkled brow. “Maybe strange little Coco met up with our gun-happy dude?”

Kent glowered and gulped back wine like a barfly trying to forget yesterday’s hangover.

“Should we add that to the tasks list?” Rey jested. “Find strange little colleague?”

Kent regarded us eagerly.

“We could look, if you like, but that’s a lot of turf to cover.” I wasn’t prepared to tell him the truth about Coco at the moment; revealing the truth would be the same as taking out a front page ad in the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Gerald Ives would not be pleased to have been one of the last to know.

He released a lengthy exhalation. “I’ll make a few calls and find out who saw him where and when. We can map a timeframe and take it from there.” He rose and grabbed the bottle of wine.

“Maybe you should start with his landlord,” Linda suggested, holding out her glass for him to top up.

Kent shrugged. “Coco once told me he never mingled with neighbors or the landlord. He had a run-in with Mr. Spamball about his pet rat, Willard. I doubt you’d get much help.”

“Spamball? Rat?” Rey asked, bemused. She found rodents as appealing and useful as reality shows featuring has-beens.

“The fat dude has skin the color of Spam,” Kent explained.

Rey’s expression wavered between distaste and disgust. “What happened to the rat?”

“Winkee, Mrs. Thomasino’s cat, happened. She was a retired meter maid, originally from Pasadena, who lived in the apartment above Coco.” He looked woeful. “When they found Willard, there was nothing left but a tail.”

We all looked woeful as we pushed away pizza and focused on wine.

If you’d like to see how they deal with threats and perils, please check them out at:

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

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Coco’s Nuts, Day Two, Woo-Hoo

It’s promo day #2 for Coco’s Nuts—available for just 99 cents.

Coco’s Nuts is the second paying case our Triple Threat Investigation Agency undertakes.  As [still] rookie private eyes—Rey, and Linda and JJ (me)—search for evidence that demonstrates socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, Jimmy Picolo (an entrepreneur with “questionable ties”, who had an enemy or ten).

We’re certain Buddy has been set up.  But how to prove it when all the proof proves otherwise?  It’s a challenging case that keeps us on our toes and takes us into some curious and dangerous (if not deadly) realms—like debt-collector territory, where they “collect” any way they deem fit.

Here’s an excerpt:

A fine mist enveloped me like steam-room vapor, but a dark sky suggested dense rain would soon return. It was gusty, too, as if we were experiencing the tail end of a tropical storm. As I waited for Ric to finish addressing an assistant, I slipped off the PVC rain jacket hood and rearranged a bulky nylon water-resistant drawstring bag so it wasn’t pulling my left shoulder.

“If you find something of note in my brother’s North Shore refuge, I want to know about it.” A threat lingered beneath Ric’s honeyed words

Standing at the designated intersection, I scanned puddle-heavy streets. Kent, driving a Cherokee-red Mustang, should be pulling into view any moment. He’d dropped by Fugger’s to pick up a spare key for the North Shore retreat. The chauffeur hadn’t been keen on passing it on when initially approached, but Ric’s okay ensured the key was ours for the day.

“Did you hear?”

“I heard,” I replied curtly.

“Are you going to call me when you’re done, hon?”

“I’ll call, but what are you expecting us to find?”

“Remnants of Coco Peterson maybe.”

“Remnants?” I asked, keeping my tone neutral. “As in . . . ?”

“Jewelry maybe. A tattoo maybe.”

Again, mention of both. By the way, do you know if there’s any truth to the rumor that Coco’s sucking up the big one? Kent’s question tumbled around my head like dice in a crap game.

“Is he dead?” I demanded. “Did you or your brother kill him?”

“You’re the detective, hon. You tell me. Check in around nine tonight — hold that thought. I’ll check in.” Ricardo Mako Picolo disconnected.

I stared at the cell phone, not sure whether to curse or laugh at the man’s audacity. And just because he’d previously mentioned an incentive, who’d decided I was on the Picolo payroll?

A horn that belonged on a freight train and not a classic car sounded. Kent Winche waved cheerfully from the driver’s seat of a very bright, highly polished 1965 Mustang Convertible.

“Very nice,” I commented nonchalantly upon opening the passenger door.

He winked. “It’s got character . . . like me.”

“You, Mr. Winche, are a character.” With a droll smile, I slipped onto the leather seat.

If you’d like to learn how we fit the [many] pieces of this crazy puzzle together, please check us out at:

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

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The Two-Parter Continued: The Still Inexhaustible Robin Murphy

1robinm (1)The previous post focused on Robin Murphy’s critically acclaimed books—and she has penned many, from a paranormal mystery series to chick-lit and nonfiction.  This one centers on her informative [impressive] website/blog.  Her site is what I’d love mine to be: instructive, well written, and smartly designed.

“Where our experience makes your journey easier . . . keep on writing.”

Robin’s absolutely correct about there being countless books, posts, and articles telling us how to market books.  I myself have read many and, for the most part, find that they can impart some tidbits of useful information.  She’s also spot-on when she says, “you need to choose which is best for you and what you feel comfortable doing.”

Not everyone has the time to spend countless hours marketing, networking, and/or promoting.  And while we should be exceptionally careful (wary) about putting out money to do any of these, if the company is legit, then financial expenditures (b-u-d-g-e-t) may also be something to take into account.  Determine what you’re capable of accomplishing . . . and go for it.

The purpose of this post is not to repeat what Robin asserts and presents info-wise, but to have you to visit her comprehensive site.  Check out the fabulous advice/guidance this bestselling author has to offer.  You’ll find writing links, marketing tools and tours, podcast interviews, and even book covers for sale.

1rookie2abc

“Writing is my passion and I have met so many amazing people that have helped me along the way.  I want to share what I’ve learned in the best possible way of instruction that I can.  I hope I can achieve that here and I wish you luck.”

As an aspiring writer (or even a published one), you might want to read Robin’s edifying book, the “practical, hands-on and user-friendly” A Complete “How To” Guide for Rookie Writers.

To learn more about Robin, please check her out at:

http://rookiewriterssolutions.net/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/rookiewriterssolutions/

https://twitter.com/authorrmmurphy

https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Murphy/e/B007TO7NEQ%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/robin-murphy/38/213/338

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Forever Poi, Oh Boy!

Today marks the first day of the 99-cent promo for Forever Poi.

Forever Poi, the fourth mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, has private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda out to discover the answer to a perplexing question: who torched two Chinatown art galleries and left two charred bodies in the rubble?

Are the arsonist and killer the same person?  The trio believes so.  JJ (Jill Jocasta Fonne), her melodramatic cousin Rey (Reynalda Fonne-Werde), and Rey’s best friend, Linda Royale, deal with a plethora of possible culprits.  The day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the arson victims, had a nasty break-up with his partner, James-Henri Ossature.  There were financial issues, too.  Could James-Henri have done the dastardly deed to collect insurance and be rid of his lover?  What about the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree, a former queenpin?  Given her sketchy past, might a former foe have finally sought vengeance?  If so, was Carlos merely collateral damage?

When the trio is hired by insurance adjuster Xavier Shillingford to assist in the investigation, it soon becomes evident that professional arsonists did not set the fires.  As they immerse themselves in the challenging case, a host of curious [and sometimes creepy] characters materializes.

If you’d like to see how they fare, please check them out at:

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

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A Two-Parter: The Inexhaustible Robin Murphy

Given they’re two different components, I thought I’d first focus on the books and  second on Robin Murphy, her website and offerings.  A lovely Maryland-based lady who wears many hats, Robin constantly contributes, in one way or another, to the literary world.

1robinmAnd just who is Robin Murphy, for those not in the know?  Besides having served in the administrative and graphic design areas for several years, she’s a speaker, writer, and the sole proprietor of Rookie Writers Solutions.

Robin is an Amazon blockbusting author of a paranormal mystery series—thanks to her fascination with the paranormal, murder mysteries, and ghost investigations—featuring Marie Bartek and the SIPS Team.  The first, Sullivan’s Secret, was an Amazon bestseller, while the subsequent [highly recommended] books have received notable critical acclaim.

  • Sullivan’s Secret (2011)
  • Secret of the Big Easy (2012)
  • Federal City’s Secret (2013)
  • Secret of Coffin Island (2015)
  • Savannah’s Secret (2017)

1books

Point and Shoot for Your Life, was a one-off, or non-series, book.  Viewed on NBC, ABC and FOX, it was voted one of “The 50 Best Indie Books of 2016”.  Another intriguing/entertaining read, it revolves around down-on-her-luck photographer Hannah Mills, who is out of work and about to get evicted.  A relative wills her a rare Navajo blanket worth a million dollars, but before Hannah can auction the blanket, human traffickers kidnap her niece—and the blanket is the ransom.

There’s nonfiction as well: The Complete How-To Guide for Rookie Writers.  It has been described as “a very practical, hands-on and user-friendly book to enable a rookie writer to learn how to get their newly created work produced and available to readers”.  Sounds like a worthwhile read for any writer!

One last fascinating FYI: our prolific writer was also named one of the “50 Great Writers You Should be Reading in 2011”.

More in part two of . . . The Two-Parter.

In the meanwhile, please feel free to check out Robin here:

https://www.facebook.com/rookiewriterssolutions/

https://twitter.com/authorrmmurphy

https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Murphy/e/B007TO7NEQ%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/robin-murphy/38/213/338

Still Show? . . . Still Tell?

Belonging to different on-line writers’ groups provides an array of viewpoints re approaches to writing.

♣  No, you don’t have to use Times New Roman font anymore.  ♣  Nothing wrong with using [a jumble of] various POVs.  ♣  Don’t put two spaces after a period.  Old school.  Old hat.  ♣  On no account do you have to show and tell; many great writers didn’t!

That’s why they were great.  They possessed talent.  They had a distinct voice.  They knew how to detail and describe, and draw in readers.

Newbie writers—sorry if “newbie” is a bygone word, but I rather like it—haven’t yet mastered a voice or style.  And, if they have, hats off!  You’re nothing short of genius (using that as an adjective, just to be clear).

Perhaps you don’t want to be show-don’t-tell writer.  Nothing wrong with that.  But maybe employing the approach, if only as a learning tool, isn’t a bad or worthless suggestion.  We develop as writers—as we do in any profession or craft—by practicing, studying and applying what we’ve learned.

That’s it.  Short and sweet.  And that phrase still applies . . . I’m telling you.  😉

Hear We Go . . . Again

A short and sweet FYI post . . .

The P.I.s from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are thrilled.  HA-HA-HA-HA, their fourth official case, is being made into an audio book. Kathy Handrock, who narrated Coco’s Nuts and Forever Poi, is at the helm again.

A quick rundown . . .

HA-HA-HA-HA has JJ, Rey, and Linda on a serial killer’s buddy list.  The GrimReaperPeeper, or GRP, has taken intense [obsessive] interest in the trio.  When he’s not taunting and teasing them, he’s challenging the private eyes to “play the game”—by his rules.

His texts and calls are frequent and calling cards are never that far.  He’s smart, scheming, and dangerous.  And clever and cunning to boot because DNA and fingerprints are never found . . . not on the tortured bodies, not on the black roses he leaves pinned on his hapless victims, not by the waterways and streams where they’re found.

JJ, Rey, and Linda delve into the symbolism of flowers and water as they attempt to figure out what makes GRP tick.  Maybe there’s something in this crazed serial killer’s past that has prompted him to kill in the manner he does?  Finding facts and clues proves challenging, but they can be as relentless as their “admirer”.  They’ll figure out who he is if it’s the last thing they do!

And it may well be . . .

Hear We Go . . .

The audiobook for Coco’s Nuts, the fourth book in the Oahu-based Triple Threat Investigation Agency series—featuring private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda—is now available on Audible . . . and should now be live on Amazon and iTunes.  😊

Coco’s Nuts finds the three rookie private eyes entrenched in their second professional assignment: proving socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo.

Despite what the evidence suggests, JJ, Rey and Linda are certain that Buddy has been set up.  In their quest for answers, JJ, Rey and Linda contend with a slew of suspects.  Several persons hated Picolo enough to kill him but locating the one who pulled the trigger proves challenging, and the trio endeavors to uncover a killer amid another cast of curious and unconventional characters.

 Their detecting travels lead them along a few detours, like the world of gambling and debt-collecting limb-breakers.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars in Vegas and Oahu.  Might this have motivated her to kill her father—so that she could collect a sizeable inheritance?  What about Picolo’s son?  Could Jimmy Junior have been [too] eager to take over his father’s multiple businesses?  What of nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee, who has been missing since his boss’ murder?  The odd little fellow (pest, some call him), appears to be a central piece in this perplexing puzzler.

Perhaps you might be interested in checking out how the P.I.s fare?  Here are the official Audible links:

US: https://www.audible.com/pd/B0B3541LKT/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-310244&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_310244_rh_us

UK: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B0B356PR3S/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-310244&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_310244_rh_uk

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