Here an Ear, There an Ear

As mentioned a couple of days ago, The Connecticut Corpse Caper (the first in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series) is available as an audiobook  through Audible … on Amazon and iTunes.

Hats off to Cindy Piller, the narrator.  She has a pleasing/pleasant voice and I’m ever so pleased that the book sounds so pleasurable.  <LOL>

Silly early-morning humor aside, I’d like to offer 25 coupon codes to those who might be interested in downloading Caper.  The code can only be used once via the acx-promo link.  If interested, and I humbly hope you are, please message me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OahuPIs/) or comment by way of this blog; please specify US or UK.

US:
https://www.audible.com/pd/B07XQ3TTFV/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-163671&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_163671_rh_us

UK:
https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B07XKZKP77/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-163671&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_163671_rh_uk

The sleuthing gals—JJ, Rey, and Linda—hope you’ll enjoy listening to how they got “inspired” to become private eyes in Hawaii.

Aloha.

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I’m All Ears

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is currently being made into an audiobook.  How exciting is that?  Can’t wait to hear it.  Of course, given I can’t find the time to promote myself and the Triple Threat Investigation Agency ebooks and hardcover books, I’m not sure how I’ll manage to market this one.  But where there’s hope, there’s … hope.

Audiobooks were up an impressive 20% across the publishing realm in 2017, while print books were up by a mere 1.5% and ebooks <gulp> were down by 5.4%.  In fact, audiobook sales in the U.S. in the last two years have amounted to $2.1 billion (per Scribd data).  Not too shabby.

Here are a few more not-too-shabby facts based on a survey done by the research firm Management Practice.  These can be found in an interesting July 2019 article—“Audio Publishers Association Survey: Nearly $1 Billion in 2018 US Sales”—by Porter Anderson (Editor-in-Chief at Publishing Perspectives and Co-owner/Director at The Hot Sheet). WPearsPorterAnderson

·       Publisher receipts in 2018 totaled almost 1 billion dollars, up 24.5 percent from 2017

·       Unit sales were up 27.3 percent over 2017

·       Audiobook listening is on the rise, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital’s The Infinite Dial 2019, which shows 50 percent of Americans age 12 and older have listened to an audiobook, up from 44 percent in 2018

·       Audiobook titles published in 2018 totaled 44,685  (an increase of 5.8 percent over 2017)

·       The ages of listeners: 55 percent of all audiobook listeners are under the age of 45, and 51 percent of frequent listeners are aged 18 to 44 years

·       Time for listening: 56 percent of audiobook listeners say that they are making “new” time to listen to audiobooks, and subsequently consuming more books

·       Where they listen: 74 percent of audiobook consumers listen in their car, up from 69 percent in 2018; the home is the second-most popularly cited spot at 68 percent, down from 71 percent in 2018, and this coincides with increased adoption of in-dash car players

·       Smart speakers provide growth opportunities as penetration among audiobook consumers is nearing twice the US average—42 percent of audiobook listeners age 18 and older own a smart speaker

·       Podcasts: More than half (55 percent) of audiobook listeners tell researchers for the survey that they’ve also listened to a podcast in the last month, continuing a strong historical association between podcast listeners and audiobook listeners

·       The most popular genres sold in 2018 in audio were general fiction; mysteries and thrillers/suspense; and science-fiction/fantasy

I used to listen to audiobooks back in the 80s (yeah, dating myself, huge sigh) when they weren’t popular. In fact, they were pretty limited then, but they did exist.  Didn’t catch on very much though, probably because the quality—unlike today—wasn’t there.  Still, I rather enjoyed driving through the countryside, listening to Sherlock Holmes.

Personally, I love reading print books, holding them in my hand, flipping pages, earmarking them (I know, I know, slap on wrist).  But I could get used to the audio version.  Given I’m/we’re always running somewhere and doing something, it makes total sense to be listening while running and doing!

So, did you hear about . . . ?

Forever Poi Promo Post

A quick shameless self-promotion post – nothing new if you’ve seen my recent Facebook posts – but worth mentioning (again) from this humble author’s perspective.

Forever Poi, the fourth in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, is available for .99 through September 9th on Amazon, thanks to a New Chapter promotion. This case has private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda solving a double-arson and murder—specifically, who torched two Oahu Chinatown art galleries and left two charred bodies in the rubble?  The trio encounters a sundry of suspects, each possessing a viable motive for having done so—insurance collection, unwanted lover, dicey past, sour grapes …?

The gals would love for you to accompany them as they track leads and clues, encounter strange and suspicious persons, and become embroiled in one of their most puzzling cases yet. WPpromo3

On a different note, I want to extend heartfelt gratitude to those who’ve provided me with much needed [I’m so lost] and much appreciated [I’d be lost without you] support and advice.  Jay, Jina, and Sean—thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

Forever … Floundering?

As you know, when it comes to self-promotion, I suck.  Big time.  As I’ve mentioned more than once, time just ain’t my friend.  <LOL>

That said, Next Chapter (formerly Creativia) has me scheduled for a promotion (.99 for Forever Poi on Amazon) starting September 5th.  That’s so exciting!

Consequently, I’m keeping this week’s Wednesday post short so I can scramble to learn/do as much as possible … which will be quite comical to see (of this I have no doubt).

Before I dash, I want to extend a huge thank you to Jina S. Bazzar, fellow blogger and author of Heir of Ashes (and other great books).  She’s always so very helpful and supportive. WPFPoi3 

 

Thank you, Jina!  And thank you, Next Chapter!

(I’ll get my act together, of this you can be sure.  It may not be tomorrow, but it will happen.)

WPFPoi2

Could You Repeat that, Please?

Well, maybe not.  There’s good repetition in fiction writing (which, as a literary device, can prove quite powerful) and there’s not-so-good repetition in fiction writing (which can prove boring and drive readers nuts).  This post will focus on the latter of repetition in fiction writing that’s not-so-good.  (Hmm, did that sound familiar?)

Private eye Gerald Macklin grabbed the Luger from the desk and hurried into the dim corridor.  He hurried in the darkness, trying to keep the weapon firmly grasped in his sweaty right hand.  A thud resounded on the first floor.  He hurried down the stairs and down a rear corridor, keeping a firm grip on the gun as he peered around the corner.  Seeing two shadows by the wall, he raised his sweaty right hand and aimed the Luger.

Not-so-good repetition is when a writer uses the same descriptive words in the same sentence or paragraph (or page) several times—without substance or structure.  This lends itself to redundancy, otherwise known as, yeah, repetition.

We want to create excitement, tension, emotion, conflict in our tales.  (Using the same words can do that, but this has to be done [effectively] well; we’ll touch upon this in another post.)  Overused words and phrases, however, weaken writing.  They tend to “weigh down” the story and contribute to the yawn factor.

Whenever possible, utilize descriptive words (verbs, nouns), but ensure they lend themselves to the intended mood.  Think: visuals, tone, ambiance.

Repetition equals flatness—so does “uneventful” text.  Not that you should attempt to modify or galvanize every word or expression, but give thought to being fresh and innovative.

Instead of:   said

Consider:   yelled, cried, declared, stated, uttered

Instead of:   laughed

Consider:   chortled, snickered, tittered, howled, giggled

Instead of:   white flowers

Consider:   snow-white roses, ivory tulips . . . or be very specific . . . Ox Eye Daisy, Black-Eyed Susan

Instead of:   Lawrence fumed angrily and walked into his boss’ office.

Consider:   Fuming, Lawrence stomped into his boss’ cramped office.   /   Lawrence stomped into his boss’ office and punched the desk.

Instead of:   The sound almost made him jump out of his skin.

Consider:   The shrill sound prompted him to jump.   /   A strident boom to the rear sent him racing into the darkness.

And back to our private eye example way above, let’s make it less repetitious and more interesting:

Private eye Gerald Macklin grabbed the Luger from the corner of his battered desk and hastened into the dim corridor.  Advancing quickly yet cautiously, he grasped the weapon firmly in his sweaty hand.  A loud thud resounded on the first floor.  A body?  Someone breaking in?  Or maybe out?  At the bottom of the winding stairwell, he dashed down another corridor and stopped breathless before Lincoln Ralston’s office.  Around the corner, by the far wall, stood two tall boxy shadows.  He aimed the Luger.  “Hold it right there!”

Besides using the same words/phrases repeatedly, avoid—dare I say it?—repeating details and/or history.  If you’ve provided information related to a locale or setting, don’t state it again a few paragraphs or pages later.  We had a good idea of what it looked like the first time.  The same holds true for characters.  If we know they’re chums as well as colleagues, have been partners for years, suffered a loss, or were born in another country, there’s little reason to state it a second (or fifth/sixth/seventh) time.  Establish the main [important] facts and embellish, as necessary, but don’t repeat them . . . and repeat them.

One last note, steer clear of clichés, which fall under the category of repetition.  Why?  Because they’re overused, trite.  We’ve seen/heard them <groan> repeatedly.  If a character uses them because they’re part of his/her persona, that’s one thing.  If the narrator/protagonist employs them—unless he’s Sam Spade, or being sarcastic or cute—you may want to avoid them.

See ya next week . . . when I post another weekly Wednesday post next week . . . uh . . . see ya.

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A-Tisket, A-Tasket . . . A Brisket, A Bracket

I rather like brisket (sorry, my vegan friends), and I’m keen on brackets, too. They’re practical punctuation marks, writing devices—when used appropriately.

What purpose(s) do they serve?  Basically, they allow you to include important information that’s not necessarily relevant or essential to the main fact or point.  Fitting that information into a sentence, however, isn’t always simple.  That’s where handy-dandy brackets play a part.

Let’s take a gander at four types and the main functions they serve.

Curved or Round Brackets or Parentheses (…)

These are the most commonly used, found in formal and informal documents.

♦  Brunwyn (a former athlete) took on the role of president for the newly formed team.

♦  Most people love technology (Larry can take it or leave it).

♦  Please leave your bag(s) on the table.

Square Brackets […]

Usually, these are used to include additional information from an outside source—someone other than you, the writer. [I like these, and use them with the purpose of adding a character’s comment, an “aside”.]

♦  The robber stated: “She [the officer] didn’t read me my rights.”

♦  The two countries at the summit were from Europe [Germany and Austria].

♦  The protagonist, John Smith, is well-developed [in my opinion].

You can use different brackets (such as square ones [like these] within parentheses).

Curly Brackets or Braces {…}

These are utilized in prose to designate a list of equal choices (can’t say I’ve used these even once).  When used in printing and music, they connect two or more lines, words, or staves of music. They’re also found in physics and math, and programming (C, Java, PHP, and so forth).

♦  Determine where you want to go for your vacation {Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin} and we’ll book the trip.

♦  {2,4,6,8,10}

♦  {x} = [x]

Angle Brackets or Chevrons <…>

These enclose codes and illustrate highlighted information.  They can also indicate an internal thought.  More often, you’ll find them in math and physics, and not in everyday writing.

♦  I held the wine goblet to my nose and inhaled gently.  “It’s quite lovely.”  <If you like mold.>

And, of course, you can use different brackets when providing several facts:

♦  There were dozens (of the sizable [glass {but not etched}]) antique goblets in the shop.

When it comes to writing, like anything, use brackets in moderation.

(Hope [sincerely] this post proved of value.)

A Trifle or Piffle – The Insignificant So

So-o, let’s take a look at insignificant words and phrases in fiction writing.  Maybe you know them [too well]—“so”, “well”, “oh”, “hmm”, “uh”, “uh-huh”, and “you know”, to name a few.

While insignificant words can be found in narrative, descriptions, and details, they’re particularly evident [I find] in dialogue.  Writers seem to want to represent everyday speech, to strive for authenticity.  I get that.  Readers, however, are a different breed.  They don’t want to be bogged down with extraneous, no-value-add wording.  They want their books to pack punch—to be interesting and/or exciting, to keep them wanting to read on.

When everyday speech is mimicked in fiction dialogue, it actually sounds rather stilted.  Odd, but true.

No:  “Well, you know, I think John mentioned that the other day.  So, yes, of course, I understand.”

Yes:  “John mentioned that the other day.  I understand.”

No:  Sheila eyed him intently.  “Hmm.  That’s not what Jerry told me, you know, so maybe I’d better go and check with him first.”

Yes:  Sheila eyed him intently.  “That’s not what Jerry told me.  I’d better check with him.”

There’s also that repetition factor.  This can be quite effective when used appropriately; when not, it proves annoying.  Repeated words or information are the same as insignificant words or information.  So-o, avoid them.

Read your dialogue aloud.  Okay, you’ve thrown in “so” and “well” and other common expressions.  Yes, we utilize those words every day—so much so, we likely aren’t aware of it—and that’s fine for our real world.  It’s disastrous for our written one.  Remove those trifling, irrelevant, yawn-prompting words.

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Now read the dialogue aloud again.  Doesn’t it sound better, crisper?  Deliver a realistic sense of everyday conversation by providing only a hint of it—less is more.  The best way to accomplish this is to edit.  Rework dialogue until it cuts to the chase, telling the reader what he/she needs to know.  Add some tension or friction, excitement, emotion.  A teeny bit of chatter is totally doable, but ensure it fits the scene and action.

If it’s necessary to impart a multitude of details (such as the history of an event or locale), give thought as to how you’ll deliver it.  If dialogue/conversation is your preferred choice, complement it with an action or two:

“Let me sum it up this way, folks.”  Morris wagged a playful finger.  “That estate …”

“That’s not all.”  Solemnly, she peered from face to face.  “I learned that …”

“Chesterton provided the files,” Larry advised, slapping the desk.  “What I suspected is true!  The murderer is …”

You get the idea.  Create [strong] visuals and promote feeling—anger, sympathy, frustration, joy—to elevate the dialogue.  And, please, don’t “chunk” descriptive dialogue into one massively long paragraph.

In the same vein, avoid having characters actually discuss something insignificant.

Pasco said, “Isn’t the sun bright today?”

Larry agreed.  “Maybe it’s because we’ve had nothing but rain for the last week.”

“I know, it’s been so bleak,” Pasco nodded.  “So, you know, we should make the most of it and head to the beach.”

If characters are discussing the weather, or burnt toast, or shirt colors, there should be a valid reason for doing so.  Don’t throw in dialogue (or narrative) if there’s no value-add.  Dialogue and the words employed within serve a purpose: to move the story forward.

Spoo-ooky!

The latest Braxton Campus Mystery Haunted House Ghost by James J. Cudney IV—Jay—is the best yet.  Okay, I’m [particularly] partial to haunted houses—not those with grotesque demons or hideous monsters, but ones with ghosts (real or otherwise).  It’s fun to follow a detective, professional or non, as he or she solves mysterious ghastly goings-on.  And all the better if a creepy cemetery, bumps [or howls] in the night, and a skeleton or two enter the picture, uh, plot.

Jay has always proven to be a solid writer with interesting tales to tell.  There’s also a definite evolution in talent/skill.  Intense depth and details twine through Haunted House Ghost, painting superbly vivid pictures and characters.  You see and experience all that Kellan, the protagonist, does: shivers upon sensing “something” in an old house, pride and protectiveness as only a father can possess, and frustration that uncooperative (if not downright loopy) people may encourage.

What a great time to release the book—a few weeks from Hallowe’en.  If this book doesn’t get you into the mood for ghouls and goblins, pumpkin pie and candy corn, nothing will.

This isn’t an official review, but two thumb’s up to Jay—he’s penned a tight, fun, and entertaining mystery.  If you relish stories featuring amateur sleuths, Haunted House Ghost is a must for you.

Have a spookingly enjoyable read!

And please check out Jay at these sites . . .

https://jamesjcudney.com      https://thisismytruthnow.com

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Feeling Hawaiian Blue

The gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are still solving their latest case (Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha).  It’s a challenge, but who doesn’t love one or three of those?  As they run around Oahu, searching for clues and tailing villainous sorts, I’m realizing how much I miss Hawaii . . . and am feeling blue.

While I can live vicariously through P.I.s JJ, Rey and Linda, it’s not the same as strolling along the Canal where pretty plumeria are found in abundance … ambling in Ala Moana Park with its awesome banyan trees and vibrant rainbow shower tress … sitting on a sandy beach sucking shave ice … sauntering in non-tourist neighborhoods, admiring the serenity and everyday familial life. WPhawaiiWestHawaiiToday

I’m pining for loco moco and Spam musubi, taro chips and poi, poke and mocha, and anything haupia.

I long for the sounds of the squawking seagulls, the early morning keek-keek-keek of the mynahs, spraying waves, breeze-blown foliage, beachside cheer, and food-truck chatter.

Yeah, I’m feeling blue, but not that of Presley’s “Blue Hawaii”.  Fortunately, Hawaiian music cures that.  For a wee while every day,  I tune out my work-heavy world and travel back to the Islands.  One special song , most of you have heard, is “Hawai’i Aloha”.  King Kamehameha IV dearly loved the Christian hymm “I Left it all with Jesus” so much, he asked if it could be rewritten.  Reverend Lorenzo Lyons obliged and wrote the lyrics, James McGranahan the music.

I’ll leave you with Israel (Izzy) Kamakawiwo’ole, a talented singer/musician who left this mortal coil much too young …..

VERSE 1: 
E Hawai’i e ku’u one hanau e 
Ku’u home kulaiwi nei 
‘Oli no au i na pono lani ou 
E Hawai’i, aloha e 

HUI: 
E hau’oli na ‘opio o Hawai’i nei 
‘Oli e! ‘Oli e! 
Mai na aheahe makani e pa mai nei 
Mau ke aloha, no Hawai’i 

VERSE 2: 
E ha’i mai kou mau kini lani e 
Kou mau kupa aloha, e Hawai’i 
Na mea ‘olino kamaha’o no luna mai 
E Hawai’i aloha e 

(repeat hui) 

VERSE 3: 
Na ke Akua e malama mai ia ‘oe 
Kou mau kualona aloha nei 
Kou mau kahawai ‘olinolino mau 
Kou mau mala pua nani e 

(repeat hui)

 

Jello, Yes – Gelatin, No

Love Jello.  It’s wiggly, it’s jiggly.  And it’s tasty, too!

Wikipedia describes gelatin as “is a translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, derived from collagen taken from animal body parts”. Sounds ucky.

But that’s exactly what many characters are: colorless/flavorless … drab, banal … predictable … and translucent.  Gelatinous characters make for boring scenes and plots.  Sometimes, they serve as a good laugh, but not necessarily of the good kind.

Breathe life into fictional people.  Provide them with distinct personalities, traits, habits, expressions.  Don’t make them cliché or wooden, or just out-and-out silly … and [please!] don’t model your characters on pre-80s films and shows.

Here are a small handful of characters that pop up more frequently than they should:

♠  females who constantly sob/weep/cry or scream     ♠  women who cower with wide-eyed fright, watching Mr. Muscular Hero thrash and bash Mr. Bad Guy or Demonic Creature #3    ♠  ladies who allow men to do everything as they wait and wonder where the villains are lurking (apparently, they have no ability to do anything but look pretty and appear vulnerable)    ♠  protagonist with good physique is gosh-darn-good and constantly apologizes while providing gosh-darn-I’m-lovable smiles, and    ♠  bad guy, built like a box with ugly scarred face and questionable IQ, quotes bad film dialogue while taunting good guy.

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“I’ll take care of this,” Rudy declared, straightening to his full six-foot-seven height and putting an arm round each of the two women. Linda hugged him, but Marsha pulled away, sobbing, her head in her hands. He tried to pull her back to him.

The brute sent Ursula into some shrubs and turned to face Leonard with a smug smile. He urged him forward. Leonard stepped forward, but before the boxy muscle-bound goon could react, Leonard sent his right foot into the man’s belly, sending him flying into the sidewalk. Before the brute could rise, Leonard then kicked him in both kneecaps. The man yelled in agony and writhed on the ground. Leonard quickly hurried to Ursula and helped her to her wobbly feet. She smiled gratefully and, placing her face on his broad chest, started to cry.  “There, there,” he said soothingly, patting her slim back.

Barry held her slim hand with his free hand and helped Renata step over a gnarled tree root growing through the pavement. She accepted the help and allowed him to lift her over a larger root that followed. His strong hands felt natural around her slender waist, and he lifted her with effortlessness. Gently, he lowered Renata before him, their bodies brushing as he did so.  She smiled gratefully and whispered her thanks.

Jasmine felt her glossy lips part in shock. A tear trickled down her flushed cheek. She closed her eyes, letting sympathy wash over her. Then, opening her eyes and taking a steadying breath, she smiled sadly. “Are you all right?” Vic asked, regarding her pretty face closely. “I shouldn’t have told you. I’m so sorry.”

Think of Jello; it comes in a variety of colors and flavors.  So do people, whether in real life or on paper or screen.  Variety is the spice of life, as it should be with characters.  They should be memorable—for the right reasons.