Do Better, Be Better . . . than Better

We’re almost one-quarter of the way through the year.  Time doesn’t just fly, it soars like a rocket-powered aircraft—a North American X-15.

The gals and I were chatting the other day about what’s been accomplished so far this year.  Like, have we stuck to resolutions?  Did we realize an achievement?  Did something profound or life-changing occur?  What about 2019 going forward?

In terms of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio, they’ve had a number of small [successful] cases.  Nothing out of the norm, per se, but every one has proven challenging one way or another.  And they’ve just started on a major one that’s promising to become quite involved—it appears there’s another serial killer on the loose.

Rey’s not quite sure why “nutcases” are attracted to them like magnetite, but isn’t complaining; she loves being a private eye, even if it sometimes gets very hairy.  To deal with loonies, JJ’s thinking psychology courses might be worth pursuing while Linda’s all for taking more intensive defense training.  They knew becoming professional P.I.s would involve danger and that’s fine.  They’ll keep going with the flow.

In terms of myself, I’m doing much the same: going with the flow as best as possible, given those curveballs Life occasionally throws at you.  Other than recently signing up with Creativia, life is streaming along like a calm, countryside brook.  The current is barely visible, but it is moving.  And it’s all good.

What would I like to have happen over the next three-quarters of 2019?  Besides making mega bucks or winning the lottery so I can leave the 9-5?  <LOL>

♦   Have less stress.  For sure, a lot of it I place on myself (I’ve always been a stresser and worrier).  So I need to crush it.  Not an impossible task.  It merely takes faith and application.

♦   Continue writing/blogging and embrace more followers.  Work with and support fellow writers/bloggers.  Not just dip my toes into that lovely, warm burbling brook, but truly immerse myself.

♦   Be more optimistic.  The aforementioned stress can dim mood and outlook.  I’d like to view life, and the world, through rose-tinted glasses . . . for a while, at least.  Reality has its merit, but idealism never hurts, either.

WPbetterUSE2   The plan, then: to do better and be better than better.

Making Choices / Feeling Good

Last weekend I posted about contracting with a publisher.  As with most things in life, I’m always a tad nervous about taking on something new (okay, a lot nervous).  Not sure why.  Just am.  Silly me, I know.

In any event, as posted, I took the plunge and signed on with Creativia.  So far, so good.  In point of fact, pretty gosh-darn good!

After joining the Creativia Facebook team, I received numerous greetings from fellow authors.  It was heartwarming to be welcomed in such a, well, welcoming manner.  <LOL>

Who knows where this [new] publishing road will lead?  All I know is that I’m pleased to be on it.  Perhaps I won’t make much money, if any (I’m a realist), but I’m definitely looking forward to this new adventure and learning all I can along the journey.  WPgoodclipartquery

Yes, having to make choices can be [very] scary—but there’s nothing better than feeling good about actually making them.

Ready to rock’n’roll with Forever Poi

Like, how many months have I been trying to get “Forever Poi” packaged/done?   Seems like many.  But it’s all good now—Creativia, “a community-driven, next-generation hybrid publisher”, has accepted me to their author roster.  There’s a lot to organize and do, but it’s all good.  One task at a time.

The front and back covers you see above will likely not be the ones used by Creativia; they’re ones my long-time designer and formatter created.  They’re much in keeping with the previous covers, though the trio do look a bit different.  Cosmetic surgery perhaps?  <LOL>

In the event you’re looking for a publisher, here are some facts about Creativia (pulled from their site):

♦   Besides their partner network, they use marketing channels: Amazon Marketing Services, Bookbub Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Ads.

♦   They cover: proofreading, cover design, eBook and paperbook layout design, worldwide publishing, marketing, sales and royalty payment.

♦   Achievements include: #1 bestsellers in major Amazon categories, book translations into nine languages, and features in high-profile newsletters.

As a fellow Creativia author advised, it’s all about what you’re willing to put into it.  As an writer, you must invest time and effort/energy.  More simply said: reap and ye shall sow.  Given my due diligence and the feedback I’ve received, I’m happy [and excited] to have signed on.

Yes, I’m feeling good about this new phase of my writing life.  As Rey’d say: keep ya posted! thumbs up

Still Lovin’ Nancy

Not long ago, I reviewed three Nancy Drew mysteries as part of a stopover in Nostalgia-Land.  Another visit—er, post—seemed in order, given I’d read three more of the YA mysteries.

Mom-care is becoming increasingly more challenging and leaving less time for me to do much for myself.  So when Mom is taking a nap, Nancy proves the perfect quick and easy read.  I’m transported back to a quiet childhood time when life was perhaps no less stressful but, somehow, simpler.

The first two are originals from the 60s while the third features a new 70s cover and is “modernized”.  For example, in the old books, Nancy’s titian-haired (brownish-orange) while in the newer ones, she’s reddish-blond.  Male cops no longer rule supreme.  And lo and behold, instead of frequently wearing dresses/frocks, the girls regularly sport jeans.

The Clue of the Dancing Puppet

A mysterious dancing puppet haunts the grounds of an old mansion, where the Footlighters’ playhouse is also located.  Amateur sleuths Nancy, Bess, and George are enlisted to help solve the case and this time we’re whisked away to the world of community theater.  The dancing-puppet mystery has added dimensions: an erratic self-absorbed leading lady and an overly charming (if not cheesy) Shakespearean actor.  Along with Nancy’s searches for clues, two jewel thieves show up on the scene.   Not a bad read; not a great read.  The keep-your-constant-interest component isn’t quite there.  A 3.5 out of 5.

The Clue of the Broken Locket

Interestingly enough, this was first written in 1934.  When I looked at the copyright page, I saw the very early date and had to check it out.  The premise back then: when adopted parents can’t take care of baby twins, Nancy goes searching for the legal birth mother with the help of a broken locket.

The newer version has two lookalike cousins (who, of course, don’t know about each other initially).  There’s a ghostly launch—love those spooky apparitions!—and a mysterious mansion that goes by the great name of Pudding Stone Lodge.  We have some sinister persons who make mystery-solving difficult for Nancy, Bess and George, and there’s record pirating to boot.  The trio certainly have their sleuthing skills put to the test.  Luckily, they have some assistance from their favorite beaus: Ned, Dave, and Burt.  I liked this one a lot.  A definite 4.5 out of 5.

The Clue in the Crumbling Wall

Our young enthusiastic sleuths—Nancy, Bess and George—have a twofold mission this time.  Not only must they endeavor to locate an inheritance concealed in the walls of dilapidated Heath Castle, they have to track down the beneficiary of a will before the proviso expires.  The grounds of the estate have a maze, a multitude of crumbling walls, and a couple of watchdogs (real ones, as well as human ones).  A 4 out of 5.  (In terms of Nancy, I suppose I’m a traditionalist: I prefer the “originals”.  It’s all about revisiting fond memories in Nostalgia-Land.) WPNDuse1

. . . Yeah, still lovin’ [needin’] the escape.

Tea & Crumpets with Personality

Recently, the trio from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency posted about three writers they’d like to sit down to dinner with.  That provided something to ponder: who would I like to dine with?

Having imparted favorite authors in previous posts, I opted for five people of days gone by that would make the love-to-meet list . . . and it would be over high tea with sweet scones and flavorsome finger sandwiches.

The selection comprises champions and rogues, the wholesome and the unsavory.

Jesus

He was/is, after all, “The Man”, a person in power, a great influence and influencer, the Son of God.  How humbling—and overwhelming—it would be to be in his presence.  I’m a believer.  Others aren’t and that’s fine: to each his or her own.  For me, though, it’s a tad disquieting to read about scholars and the like who argue whether the Jesus found in the Bible is an accurate reflection of the Jesus born just prior to the first century.  . . . But then, it’s all about faith, isn’t it?  And, while I readily admit mine can be tested and tried (frequently in fact), I’ll cling to it like a life preserver.

Marie-Antoinette

The last Queen of France was born Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna von Österreich-Lothringen (as Rey might say, gotta love a name like that).  Claimed to be a pawn, this fascinating woman was a mere 14 when married to Louis XVI (reputedly a cowardly man and unmindful husband).  There’s something about the pomp and pageant of that time, the French Revolution, the clandestine undertakings, the elaborate fashions and hairstyles that intrigue me.  Marie-Antoinette possessed notable shrewdness and strength, and amazing courage during her trial and execution.  Unquestionably, a force in her own right.

Henry VIII

I believe I always possessed a fascination for this intriguing royal figure—ever since watching Keith Michell in the spectacular series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  At 17, he became king and presided during “creepily fascinating” periods in history: the English Renaissance and English Reformation.  The six marriages aside (which make for great soap-opera storylines), he accomplished much in terms of military campaigns, politics and religion . . . and even penned a song and wrote a book.  Definitely someone who’d provide enthralling historical accounts and gripping narratives.

Mata Hari

Another great name: Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” MacLeod.  But the stage name of Mata Hari is so much better.  Strong-willed and determined, she realized at a young age that sexuality would get her places.  A Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan/mistress, and infamous “spy”, this attractive woman was convicted of being a double agent for Germany during WWI and executed by a firing squad.  Films like “Mata Hari”, starring the equally enigmatic Greta Garbo, fed the mystery and controversy that still surround her life.  Maybe she’d be willing to share a few intrigue-packed moments over a cup of Lapsang Souchong?

Calamity Jane

There are numerous famous (infamous) western desperados and gunslingers, and all are fairly fascinating, thanks greatly to Hollywood.  It’s hard not to feel a touch of envy re those romanticized villains, outlaws, and baddies—the thrill of riding the range, being unrestricted, having no ties.  A wild-west life would have been uncontrolled and sometimes calamitous, which makes Martha Jane Cannary, better known as Calamity Jane, the fifth companion choice for tea sipping and scone nibbling.  Losing her parents at the age of 12 compelled her to make her own way through that oh-so-wild west.  Another resilient woman, she’d have fine tales to share about her hard-drinking, rabble-rousing years . . . and those benevolent ones where she played nurse to smallpox sufferers.

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Blog Juggling

For some bloggers, posting weekly is as simple and fast as boiling eggs.  1-2-3 and—hurrah!—done.  For a few, it’s a bit of a challenge to come up with fresh/unique ideas.  And for others, like a stumped IT specialist, it’s scratch-the-ol’-noggin’ time. WPgifWritingscratchingheadGifer

The first idea that came to this mind: continue with the theme of who to invite to dinner.  Hmm.  Maybe next time.  The second: what makes for a good writer.  Given I’m suffering from a bit of an irresolute mindset these days, that seemed a better option (and it never hurts to refresh/remind oneself in the process).  The third: have one of the gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency take over again.  Alas, they’re at a spa on Maui, having way too much fun.  The fourth: do an update re current writing projects,  but this seemed a bit of a snooze-fest and sailed out a window like a hastily pitched Frisbee. WPfrisbeeclipartimageDOTcom

A flip of the coin.  Ta-da!  What makes for a good writer it is.  The following comprises some key [reminder] points, with food-for-thought author quotes.  The first two I love—because they smack of truth.  While the first is fabulous, the second is cynical (if not a little frightening), but I get it.  <LOL>

“There are three rules for writing a novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”  – W. Somerset Maugham

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”  – George Orwell

First things first.  Is talent a must to be a [successful] writer?  It doesn’t hurt, but it can be developed (I will swear to that).  You just have to make the commitment and . . . yes . . . do work hard.

“A writer never finds the time to write.  A writer makes it.  If you don’t have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren’t going to finish a book.”  – Nora Roberts

Make an effort to read, read, read . . . anything and everything.  You learn from others—their triumphs and their mistakes.  Open your mind.  Apply what you learn.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time—or the tools—to write.  Simple as that.”  – Stephen King

Write as often as you can, whatever you can.  Let those fingers frolic on the keyboard or across the page (nothing wrong with the old-school approach).

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  – Ernest Hemingway

Edit what you write.  If you’re new to editing, check out—and employ—editing and proofing guidelines and tips.

“A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.”  – Mark Twain

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh

Jot down concepts for stories and scenes in a journal.  They may not prove suitable for a current project, but they certainly could for another.

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry.  Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” – Jane Yolen

Set a writing schedule—even if it’s only one hour every Saturday and Sunday, and ten minutes every morning while chugging caffeine.  It’s a start . . . and demonstrates the aforementioned commitment.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” – E.B. White

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”  – Stephen Covey

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

Stay focused.  Having Brucey the Birman on your lap is great for relieving stress and scratch-the-ears damn-you’re-cute moments, but maybe not so much when you’re attempting to focus/compose.

“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support.”  – Sabrina Bryan

“Where focus goes, energy flows.”  – Tony Robbins

Utilize powerful verbs and strong adjectives/descriptions.  When writing fiction, aim to stay informal or conversational, as opposed to overly technical or formal.  Write with heart and soul.

“Strong words outlast the paper they are written upon.”  – Joseph Bruchac

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”  – Ayn Rand

“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

Make sure to get input/feedback.  You need to know—and adjust—your weaknesses.  Take pride in your strengths.

“Learners need endless feedback more than they need endless teaching.” – Grant Wiggins

Lastly, here’s a great one from the amazing, witty Dorothy Parker . . .

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style.  The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

 

 

 

 

Rewriting Dinner

Rey likes to post when The Boss isn’t available, but she’s [happily] on volunteer duty this weekend.  Linda’s flying to the Mainland for three days “just because” (she’s been wanting a break for a while now, so let her have some fun).  As such, you’ve got me: JJ.

Rey’s right.  It’s not always that easy coming up with an idea for a post.  I really had to wrack my brain and then—hurrah!—it came.

If we—Rey, Linda, and myself—could invite three authors to dinner, who would we invite?  Here you have it, beginning with campy Cousin Reynalda.  1WPauthorsAffinityMagazineDOTUS

Rey:  I’m not much of a reader, as you may know, but of the few books I’ve read, these three authors would be very welcome at my dinner table:

Nora Roberts:  Who doesn’t enjoy a good romance?  I like how she began—homebound with the kids during a blizzard.  She just started writing a story and, yup, a star was born—well, not right away.  There were rejections.  I applaud the perseverance.  As a former (now occasional) actress, I know all about rejection.  It’s tough.  But it makes you strong.  And determined.

Danielle Steele:  Her characters are memorable; you get pulled into the storylines, struggles and traumas.  She’s sold 650 million books worldwide, which is impressive, but I really admire that she founded, and governs, two worthy foundations.  The Nick Traina Foundation (in honor of her son) funds organizations involved in mental illness, child abuse, and suicide prevention.  A second foundation, helps the homeless.  How awesome is that?

Janet Evanovich:  She’s what I’d love to be if I were an author: talented, creative, and productive.  Not only does she write various mystery series—regularly—she pens romances, too (in fact, that’s where she originally started).  The actress in me would love to get firsthand advice on character and story development.

Linda While I enjoy contemporary fiction, I tend to lean more toward the classics.  

Jules Gabriel Verne:  Multi-talented as a novelist, poet and playwright, Verne was also one of the first sci-fi writers . . . as well as the father of steampunk.  His personal life was equally fascinating (do check him out).  My favorite book would have to be The Mysterious Island.  I saw the movie a few times when I was a kid and it captivated my interest and imagination.  No question, Verne would be a intriguing gent to break bread with.

Jane Austen:  She seemed an iron-willed, dynamic woman, one not opposed to speaking her mind re British aristocracy—or, perhaps I should say, remarking upon it through compelling characters.  It’s unfortunate there’s so little information about her and that only a few of her letters still exist (I understand she had quite the “acid” tongue).

Agatha Christie:  Who doesn’t love a good mystery?  And this woman penned some of the best!  I’m not sure who I liked more: Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.  Who wouldn’t want to share a sherry over syllabub with the “Queen of Crime”?

JJ:  Like Linda, I’m more inclined to stick to the classics or “masters”.

Wm Shakespeare:  The Bard caught my attention in high school, when we had to memorize soliloquies from Hamlet.  I’ve been hooked since and every now and again, I make sure to pick up some sonnets or a play, or whatever tickles my “Shakespearean” fancy.  His life and that period in history are enthralling; I have no doubt he’d be a captivating individual to chat with over ale and mutton.

Ernest Hemingway:  His life, travels, journalism, and Red Cross adventures make for riveting tales.  Although his writing leans toward sparse, it’s as descriptive as it can get—when you read a Hemingway book, you’re effectively transported in time and place. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald:  I suppose I’m drawn to globetrotting Fitzgerald because of the years during which he wrote—the earlier 20th-century, the Jazz Age.  Romantic times.  Scary times.  . . . Tragic times.  And here’s a bit of trivia I only recently learned: he was named after another famous American, a distant cousin who wrote The Star-Spangled Banner.

And who might you invite . . . ?

The Chockablock Bucket

Given the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio recently provided items on their bucket list I thought, why not do the same?  I’ve never typed one, so this seemed the perfect opportunity.  . . . The title was going to be “Kicking the Bucket” as in knocking it over and spilling the contents for all to view.   <LOL>  Took a couple of re-reads to realize that maybe that wouldn’t work quite as intended.

In no specific order, here are fifteen of 15 things to accomplish/achieve before closing these eyes in eternal sleep:

  1. Learn to swim (up and beyond doing a mean dogpaddle).
  2. Visit Japan and Korea (to eat authentic sushi and hear K-pop firsthand).
  3. Get a face-lift (only Shar-Peis should have multiple crinkles and wrinkles).
  4. Partake in a physical training regime (to have form where it should be).
  5. Experience a hurricane (they absolutely fascinate me, unlike tornadoes, which scare the <bleep> out of me).
  6. Learn to meditate (this cluttered mind is too easily distracted).
  7. Release a floating lantern . . . anywhere.
  8. Fly first class (what’s wrong with a little pampering?).
  9. Stay in an ice hotel for a weekend (sounds brrrrrr-racingly cool).
  10. Glide along a Venetian canal in a gondola (with a Bellini in hand, of course).
  11. Hover in a helicopter (no better way to cure a fear of heights).
  12. Kiss the 9-5 goodbye (knowing/trusting I could make it financially on my own).
  13. See The Triple Threat Investigation Agency books made into a TV series (as a proud “mother”, I want to see my “offspring” do well).
  14. Become business-savvy (I can barely differentiate between stocks and bonds).
  15. Teach/mentor (I always enjoyed tutoring and instructing).

If I aim for one or two a year, the list might just prove manageable.  The big question, however: which one do I do first? WPmybucketuse2

The Overflowing Bucket

Hey-ho, it’s Rey, leading off the weekend post.  The Boss asked if I’d take over.  Sure!  Love to!  . . . Thinking of a topic, though, hasn’t been easy.  I’m not up for providing writing or editing advice (and Linda’d be the first to claim I suck at that).

The other day I thought of something to add to my bucket list.  That got me to thinking—hey!—why not share what’s on mine?  I mentioned my great idea to Linda and she suggested I feature hers and JJ’s, too.  Sure!  Sounds like a perfect plan and post.

So, here you have it, the experiences and accomplishments the three of us at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency hope to realize before we shake this mortal coil.  Given we had enough items to fill three posts (not kidding), they’ve been limited to 10 each, in no particular order. WPbuckettrio

Me—Rey:

  1. Appear (as a main character) in a Broadway play.
  2. Record an album.
  3. Spend a week in Paris (and buy at least two designer outfits).
  4. Buy designer wear when it’s not on sale.
  5. Experience Mardi Gras (by taking part on a parade float).
  6. Be rid of debt.
  7. Learn to hula.
  8. Learn to cook fancy food.
  9. Do a cleanse.
  10. Eat healthy for a month.

Linda:

  1. Parasail.
  2. Swim with dolphins.
  3. Hike all the trails on all the Hawaiian Islands.
  4. Run in a marathon . . . and then do a triathlon.
  5. Write a thriller.
  6. Visit Iceland and spend time at a wellness center.
  7. Spear a fish and prepare it.
  8. Try unusual foods—in the country of origin.
  9. Count my blessings every day.
  10. Have high tea with royalty.

JJ:

  1. Experience a hurricane first-hand (in honor of my sister).
  2. Learn to scuba dive (not because I love the water, but to master my fear/dislike of it).
  3. Ride a horse on Kauai.
  4. Take art classes.
  5. Spend a summer driving around Europe, going wherever the wind blows.
  6. Spend a week with an Amish or Mennonite family.
  7. Earn a black belt.
  8. Have a weekly community show (I miss being on-air).
  9. Learn to barbecue (so I don’t burn off anymore eyebrows).
  10. Have a vegetable and herb garden.

There you have it.  They sound doable, but I’m not so sure about the 200 other items we have on the ol’ list—that’s 200 each, by the by.  <LMAO>