Grace & Gratitude

This past Sunday, James J Cudney IV (Jay) reviewed Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie, the second in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency mystery series.

As writers/bloggers, there are times when we wonder whether we should continue writing; it can prove a thankless (sale-less) profession, one gratifying only to ourselves.  So when someone writes a wonderful review of your book, the feeling is amaz-zing.  Yes, indeedy-do, it is all worth it.

I’ve been a follower of Jay’s for over a year now.  He’s a prolific and gifted blogger, author, and reviewer, and . . . I’ll state this again (and again) . . . a kind and encouraging person.

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Please visit his awesome site to see what he’s up to.  You may also be interested in reading his entertaining Braxton Campus mystery series or other fiction works.

https://thisismytruthnow.com/

Thanks again Jay!

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Book Review: Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie by Tyler Colins

POSTED ON FEBRUARY 23, 2019

Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie? by Tyler Colins

Last year, I read the first book, The Connecticut Corpse Caper, in the Triple Threat Mystery series by Tyler Colins. Her second book, Can You Hula Luke Hilo Hattie?, is even better. Colins is one talented author who can weave a complex plot and help readers fully visualize a setting.

In this caper, our three heroines have formed a private eye agency in Hawaii. They’d solved the murders in the first book as regular citizens, so why not make it a full-time job? It was too much work in California or Connecticut to get their licenses, so Hawaii became the new home. Great idea! Fun backdrop. Hilarious characters. First, they need to bring home a runaway, hooked-on-ice teen. Second, they need to prove a man’s wife is cheating. Unfortunately, it isn’t your typical case, and when the wife turns up dead, the mystery is gonna be way more complex than our heroines thought.

Colins has created a bevy of intense and charming characters. I love ‘Cash’ who seems like a very cool dreamboat. Each time I got to know a new character, they end up getting killed off! Maybe it won’t happen this time…. but like in her first book, the body count keeps rising. It’s a fun way to keep readers on our toes. My favorite aspect of the author’s writing style is her descriptions, whether of people or settings. It’s way more than you’d normally see in a book, but it fits very well. I have a beautifully clear picture of who’s talking or moving about the book. I find myself drawn to the action, too, but it’s a very complex plot to keep focused on.

I also see strength in transitions between scenes. It’s rarely over-simplified or brash. It ends in the right place, and I roll into the next scene without worrying what happened in between. I also find the dialog to be rather strong… quick puns, not wordy, direct but full of imagery and thought. I can’t wait to see what third adventure the ladies find themselves embroiled in… no matter what the plot is, I’m sure it will create loads of fun and memories. Great job, Ms. Colins!

 

Motivational Mottos

Posting about logos not long ago got me to thinking about something similar: mottos.

A short sentence or phrase that encapsulates the belief(s) or ideal(s) that guide a person, family, or an institution.

You may want to consider creating a slogan or catchword that identifies your business or yourself.

On a business/professional level, a motto or slogan distinguishes what you do and/or offer.  Like a logo, it’s something you want people (potential clients and consumers) to remember you by.  It should be simple and relatively short.  Above all, it should be memorable, catchy . . . evoke an image, be positive.  You want to grab people’s attention and retain it.

On a personal level, you might want a motto that serves as positive reinforcement, or reflects an objective or desire.  Or it may “nudge” you re overcoming a fear or unhealthy tendency.  A personal motto could prove inspiring, uplifting, or strengthening.  I’ve had a personal motto—a mantra if you like—for a long time, one I adopted to overcome a persistent sense of non-confidence: conviction of self.

conviction  =  belief  =  faith  = confidence

Believe in yourself =  I believe in me

To be frank, I’m still lacking in the confidence department.  Nevertheless, I hold firm in my motto . . . and, one day, I will wholeheartedly believe.

If it’s personal, place that motto—that rallying cry—on your desk, wall, mirror, body (mine’s on my shoulder).  When readily visible, it serves as a boost and a constant reminder; it becomes a part of who you are (or strive to be).  Maybe it would even work well on your blog or site or “About Me” page . . . ?

See what’s out there in the vast world of mottos.  Perhaps you’ll find one that speaks to you.  Work with it.  Make it your own. WPmottoPixabay

Happy motto-ing.

Lookin’ for a Laugh

Who couldn’t use a good laugh or chuckle?  I know I’ve been way too dry in the mirth department for way too long.  Maybe you have, too?  When life gets [way too] serious, embracing some humor and merriment is a very good thing. 

As such, I thought I’d deviate a bit today and post jokes related to writing and writers.  I’d love to claim them as my own, but sadly, I have no affinity for puns and gags.  In fact, the only one I can recall is:

Bon:  Did you hear about the peanut walking along the sidewalk?     Mot:  No.  What happened?     Bon:  He was assaulted!

Ha-ha, get it <nudge, nudge>?  He was . . . a salted.  Yeah, like I said, no affinity.  But I’m good at researching and searching, so here are a few jokes (posted on a number of sites) that just might bring a smile to that writer/blogger face. WPlaughAmyotto1

How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?  Two.  One to screw the bulb almost all the way in and one to give it a surprising twist.

How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?  . . . Ten!

1st draft: Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft: Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft: Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft: Lose the light bulb. 
5th draft: Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft: Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero’s mentor.
7th draft: Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft: Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft: Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn’t change it.
10th draft: Hero changes light bulb.

Three guys are sitting at a bar.
#Guy1: “. . . Yeah, I make $75,000 a year after taxes.”
#Guy2: “What do you do for a living?”
#Guy1: “I’m a stockbroker.  How much do you make?
#Guy2: “I should clear $60,000 this year.”
#Guy1: “Awesome.  What do you do?”
#Guy2: “I’m an architect.”
The third guy has been sitting there quietly, staring into his beer, when the others turn to him.
#Guy2: “Hey, how much do you make per year?”
#Guy3: “I guess around $13,000.”
#Guy1: “Really?  What kind of stories do you write?”

A writer walks into a bar.  The bartender says, “Have you written 1000 words today?  You told me to not sell you a drink until you hit your word count goal for the day.”  . . . A writer walks out of a bar.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange you supposed to be finishing your current draft instead of reading jokes for writers?

WPlaughAmyotto1Then there are those witty comments/statements by authors and celebs that do wonders for prompting smiles and chuckles.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
♦  Stephen King

If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.
♦   Doug Larson

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
♦   Robert Benchley

Here’s one that comes under “funny food for thought”:

If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers.
♦   Irvin Cobb

Here’s to a brighter day . . . smile, my friends, smile.

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Writers Be Wary

Although I’ve posted on doing due diligence, I felt a need to do a little something re “Writer Beware”.

. . . Which is also the name of a website dedicated to, yes, writers being wary.  There’s a wealth of information re deceptive publishers, agents, presses, and scams.  Also provided: legal recourse suggestions and resources.

A few years ago I signed up with an agent who I—foolish me—did not thoroughly investigate.  I’d always done my due diligence.  Maybe I’d been too eager re actually having one that I forgot to take it further and explore her accomplishments and standing.  Or maybe I’d been so excited (she’d sounded so professionally sincere), I’d simply chosen to close my eyes.

Very long story short, an overwhelming “gut instinct” finally [thankfully] kicked in and propelled me into action.  I contacted Victoria Strauss, co-founder of Writer Beware (she’s also a prolific author by the way).  Pleasant and patient, she provided background on the agent; it wasn’t favorable.  Too bad I’d not immediately clued in when Ms. Agent congratulated me on making a deal with a publisher I’d never heard of (and soon learned was of questionable repute).

But this post isn’t about me; it’s about us, writers looking for decent deals, be it via a publisher or an agent—how to recognize (ascertain) it’s the real deal.

Just Publishing Advice is worth a gander.  Read Derek Haines’ recent article entitled “Publishing Companies to Avoid and Nasty New Author Scams”.

“Because Indie authors are active on social media, it is easy for a predatory publisher to get your contact details.  Then come the offers for their publishing services.”  (That explains the regular email queries in my Inbox.)  He also states, “When publishing businesses make you an offer that includes the word free, it is a signal that you should be very suspicious.”  (Simple, significant advice.)

Besides browsing websites and articles, do as marketing guru Marcia Yudkin suggests on her site (www.yudkin.com):

“It’s easy to get fast feedback on questionable literary outfits.  Post a notice asking about the specific agent or publisher you’re investigating on message boards or discussion lists frequented by writers.”

In this day and age, it’s far from difficult to “get the goods” on people and businesses.  It’s merely a question of applying yourself . . . not getting caught up in the excitement of the moment (note to self) . . . and using logic.  Think before acting.  Take heed.  Know what you’re getting into; it will save heartache and potential loss of [lots of] money. box123A

Sign on the dotted line?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  . . . Writers, be wary.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

When Gomer Pyle uttered those words—with a toothy (goofy) smile—it always meant something good.  From his perspective.  From his sergeant’s, maybe not so much. (With fondness, Mom has taken to re-watching Gomer Pyle; as such, I get to view the 60s show, too.  You know, it does have its moments.)

Recently, I decided I’d send out a few queries to traditional publishers and posted about that.  I also provided a link to Emily Harstone’s list of publishers accepting manuscripts sans agent.  Only four were relevant to me.  Haven’t yet heard back from the other two and that’s fine.  Though some may disagree, I can be very patient.

But, lo and behold, I found 19 more publishers, courtesy of a link sent by the same author/blogger/friend who’d sent the first one.  This second list by Ms. Harstone provides publishers specifically interested in mysteries.  Woo-bleeping-hoo!  How lucky can a mystery writer be?

If you’ve finished your own magnum opus and have decided to try the traditional publishing route, do some due diligence before submitting.  Don’t simply check out publishers on their site to see what submission guidelines are: find out if they have a decent reputation.

As an FYI, per Wikipedia:  “Due diligence is the investigation or exercise of care that a reasonable business or person is expected to take before entering into an agreement or contract with another party, or an act with a certain standard of care.  It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations.”

It’s all good when the surprise is a welcome one, but so not good when it’s an unwelcome one—like signing up with a publisher who’s not on the up-and-up.  Research thoroughly, my friends.  (More on “writer beware” in another post.)  WPsurprise1A

https://www.authorspublish.com/19-mystery-publishers-open-to-submissions/

 

Living in Limbo Land

When in limbo, do the lindy hop!  Trip the light fantastic!  Clog dance!  . . . Do something!

Love my title?  Hey-ho, it’s Rey, taking over for The Boss today.  The poor thing’s super stressed these days.  Ya gotta feel for her.  (To be honest, I’m kinda surprised she isn’t chomping countless chunks of chocolate or sucking sweet sherry or something.)

She’s in limbo, trying to find a cover designer that isn’t going to add to the debt pile.  Sure, if she wins the lottery, the sky’s the limit, but at the moment she’s earning a skimpy salary that doesn’t allow for over-the-top expenses.  Lucking in with a formatter ain’t happening, either.

On a positive note, “HA-HA-HA-HA” is moving along—at a snail’s pace, yeah, but the point is, it’s moving.  And she’s sent out some queries.  That’s nothing to sneeze at.  . . . Hold on a sec; Linda’s wanting my attention.

. . . My BFF—soon-to-be former—says I’m “hackneyed expession heavy”.  Like really?  Ex-cuse moi.

Anyway, from my perspective, The Boss isn’t really in limbo.  She’s just taking baby steps.  Nothing wrong with that.

The point of this post is that when you’re in limbo—experiencing writer’s block, struggling with overwhelming responsibilities, or are just feeling “ech”—go with it.  It’s a phase, sort of like a cocooning.  And we know when something’s cocooned, it does eventually open and something amazing emerges!

In the interim, while that limbo thingy lingers, here are my suggestions:

♦  Do something.  Waiting, groaning and/or moaning don’t do much (the woe-is-me gets pretty tiresome pretty fast).  Dance, sing, watch a movie, take a walk, call a friend, call an enemy.  Just . . . do . . . something.

♦  Don’t chastise yourself.  We all have bad/sad moments and that’s okay.  They pass.  Really, they do.

♦  Write, read, draw or doodle.  Focus on something other than yourself.  See what your favorite hero/heroine are up to.  Sketch the view from the front window.

♦  Get something interesting for take-out.  Have a nice glass of wine with it.

♦  Take on an “assignment” like cleaning the closet, getting rid of the dust cows (mine are bigger than bunnies, I tell ya), painting a wall or room.

♦  Watch a good movie—like one of mine.

♦  Listen to music (that’s always uplifting).

♦  Clear up your Junk/Spam folder; get rid of all those “saley” emails that clog up the Inbox.  Set up new folders and reorganize.

♦  Be grateful for what you have—as in, count your blessings.  Not always easy, this I do know.  But make a list of all the good things you have going for you.  They’re there!

Now, what are you going to do when you’re living in limbo?  That’s right!  You’re gonna do something.  . . . Like kick up those heels and do the lindy hop!WPlimbo123RFcom

 

When Those Cards are Stacked Against You . . . Re-Shuffle!

Let me put my cards on the table—for me, it’s not about writer’s block (fortunately, I don’t experience it too often).  It’s quite the opposite.  Not having enough time to write or blog, both of which are near and dear to my heart, is the “block”, that blasted barrier.  The having-minimal-time factor is a valid reason, and an exasperating one.  Hence, the sense that the cards are stacked against me.

There are moments when many of us feel the cards are stacked against us.  It could be something beyond our control—an external element or force (like time)—or something we’ve brought upon ourselves, inadvertently or otherwise.

When that happens, we can let it get us down . . . drag us down . . . give up completely . . . or say [scream!] “to hell with it, enough already”.  And then do something about it.  Or, at the very least, not allow it to become a discouraging or demoralizing influence.

Maybe we can’t leave a job to pursue a dream or goal—not yet anyway.  Maybe we can’t turn a blind eye to someone who needs us.  But maybe we can declare, “This is the way it has to be right now, but this isn’t how it has to be forever.”

It’s been nearly two years since I started this blog.  The plans to develop and expand for 2018 didn’t happen.  Those same plans for 2019 may not transpire, either.  I can look at it as a glass-half-empty kind of gal (as I have been) or view it from a glass-half-full perspective.  I prefer the latter.

Yes, it’s hard to put on a new hat, but not impossible.  If you can’t afford to buy a new one, rummage through the closet.  Dollars to donuts you’ll find one there.  Put it on.  View yourself from different angles; at least one will prove fetching.

When it feels as if those cards are stacked against you, reshuffle the deck.  Play that last card.  Play a new hand.  Nothing is ever as impossible, or unattainable, as you think.  It’s always within scope . . . within grasp . . . within hand.  The winning hand.WPcards4DribbleUSE

It truly is in the cards, my friends.

Publishing with a Publisher

I’ve posted about traditional publishers the odd time—the difference between them and e-book publishers, whether to go with one, and so forth.  I’d likely mentioned that I was thinking about sending out some queries.  Confession (I’m becoming adept at these): I never did.

. . . Not until this past week.  I felt an overwhelming urge to [finally] give it ago.  See what transpires.  Maybe I’ll luck in, maybe I won’t.  What’s a rejection or three?  I’m tough.  I can handle it.   <LOL>

Of course, that meant preparing three-chapter / two-chapter attachments and penning a synopsis.  The former took less than five minutes; the latter took like four hours.  (I’d forgotten how time-consuming those could be.)

Fortunately, I had a list of publishers to begin with thanks to a fellow blogger/author/ friend who’d sent a link to an article by Emily Harstone (thank you, Jina).  “The Top 35 Publishers for New Authors” by Ms. Harstone (pen name, by the by) provides a list of publishers that have published debut books and don’t require you to have an agent.

For my genre, the list contained four publishers to approach.  SourceBooks, upon checking their site, no longer accepts unsolicited (un-agented) requests.  One down, three to go.  Fortunately, the next three were accepting submissions and off went the emails with the extra documentation, as outlined in the guidelines.

I blinked and there was my first reply.  The publisher was booked until 2022, nor did they deal with books in the middle of a series.  Fair enough.  Two down, two to go.

Sure, it’s discouraging.  Who doesn’t want a positive “let’s sign you up” response?  But it’s part of the process.  As writers, we have to sport thick skins, not let our frail egos be shattered, recognize that there may be multiple rejections.  (Just research how many big-name authors received rebuffs and snubs.)

Will I send out more queries?  You betcha.  I just need to research more publishers and off those eager inquiries will go.  And I’ll keep you posted [literally].

In case you’re looking to do the same, here’s a link to that article/list:

https://www.authorspublish.com/the-top-35-publishers-for-new-authors/

Good luck!

 

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