Fairy Tales & Family Beads

Christabel Savalasyes, the “Who loves ya, baby?” TV cop was a relative—is a multi-talented gal I got to know a few years back in Hawaii.  Her current project is creating tales, Beads from my Family Necklace, and I felt a need to share two stories—her personal one and one from the upcoming collection.

Let’s begin with Helena Macree Tsavalas, Christabel’s mother.  This widely published author’s career began early.  Having taken a keen interest in children’s education, she created stories and games that both entertained and broadened children’s views of the world.  Her fairy tales were particularly loved and are still in print.  The ever-gifted Helena also created dolls that represented historical events and fictional characters, which won prizes in various competitive exhibitions around the world.  Her invention of finger-puppet books became an important part of Walt Disney’s children’s publications. 

Helena’s accomplishments were not limited to dolls and stories, but are too vast to provide here (fodder for a future post).  To learn more about this vibrant woman, check out the documentary Endless Creativity: The Life of Helena Macree Tsavalas

Suffice it to [happily] say, the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Having studied—and applied—music, dancing, and acting throughout her career, equally talented Christabel possesses a fairly impressive resume: she’s an actress, producer, director, composer, and writer.  What you really have to admire, though, is her drive, that stick-to-itiveness, to see things through to fruition . . . to pursue dreams that can and do come true.

In addition to the current endeavor of adapting her mother’s fairy tales into scripts/films, she plans to see her parents’ enchanting [if not astonishing] love story grace the big screen . . . and compile the aforementioned collection. 

On that note, here’s a little taste from Beads . . . .

Great-Grandfather Lucas

In Turkey, during the middle 1800’s, lived a very wealthy Sultan.  This handsome, well-respected ruler had many staff members to help keep his grand palace in order.  One of my ancestors’ relatives, Thanassis, was his gardener, who tended his vast, beautiful WPCS1theculturetripDOTcomgarden filled with vibrant and exotic flowers.

 

One particularly warm and humid summer evening, the Sultan opened the window.  Contentedly, he gazed out onto a star-filled sky and inhaled the fragrant scents carried by gentle breezes.  Peering a few floors below, he sighted a young boy trying to teach himself to read under the shimmering light of the brilliant full moon. 

Curious, the Sultan watched for a long while.  The next morning, he inquired around the palace to see to whom this little boy belonged.  When he discovered that he was the nephew of his gardener, he summoned Thanassis to his opulent royal chambers.

“I am very impressed with your keen young nephew and his eager attempt to learn how to read.  I’d like to provide him with suitable schooling,” the Sultan informed the man with a hearty pat to the back.  “Won’t you please permit the boy to stay here with me—so I might raise and feed him, and provide the best?”

Thanassis looked thoughtful.  “You are very kind, Your Highness.  However, Lucas is not my son but my nephew. I would have to return to the small island of Chios in Greece to ask permission from his parents.” 

Nodding in understanding, the Sultan smiled warmly.  “I will arrange the trip so that you may request the necessary permission for Lucas to stay with me.”

A few weeks later, Thanassis returned from Greece with good news: the boy’s parents were honored with the request and would permit him to reside with the Sultan.

The great ruler took Lucas under his wings and made sure he received the best education.  He paid the fees for Lucas to study in Liege, Belgium.  Over time, the keen young fellow became an accomplished gold cutter. 

Great-grandfather Lucas grew to be a very wealthy man and returned to Turkey with lots of money.  In Constantinople (Istanbul), he met a strikingly good-looking woman as she descended a carriage.  She wore a long, beautiful dress that she had sewn and decorated herself. 

Eleni was her name (my great-grandmother) and she came from a very prosperous, high-class family. Talented, intelligent and highly educated, she was known to possess excellent cooking skills and creative sewing and embroidery talents.  Her dresses would sometimes would show off her ankles, something frowned upon during those times.

Lucas and Eleni married, and had three lovely daughters.  The eldest one, my maternal grandmother, Efrosini, was born in 1885.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history—at its most happiest.

. . . μέχρι την επόμενη φορά . . . 

New Look . . . New Book?

It’s been a wee bit of a wait—but we all know how very good I am at standing by—and the first cover of my first Triple Threat Investigation Agency books has received a new cover!  How exciting is that?

dance dancing GIF by The .GIFYS

I’m a little sad to see the gals go, but—per feedback—they truly did have to.  As pretty as they are, they’re too doll-like to be appealing to the potential reader. WPCaper1

And speaking of the gals . . . JJ’s fine with the new cover, though she’d liked to have seen the mansion a bit more “creepy” looking.  Linda loves it; the colors, font/title are strong and have “oomph”.  Rey’s happy as a mussel swimming in saffron-wine broth.

When the three subsequent covers arrive, a face-lift for The Triple Threat Investigation Agency Facebook page (and this blog) won’t be far off . . . and that, my dear friends, is a promise!  So, please—hold me to it!!

WPCorpseCaper1

An Amateur Sleuth by Any Other Name . . . Wouldn’t be Nancy Drew

A wee while ago, when tra-la-la-la-ing over to Nostalgia-Land, I reviewed three Nancy Drew mysteries.  Yes, I admit I’m kinda hooked because, since then, three more have been happily perused.

Still enjoying the series—but the “classic” ones (read during youth) as opposed to the “newer” ones (revamped in the 70s).  Dear Nancy’s still an effective de-stresser.  <LOL>  And I still kind of wish I could be her.  What a blast it would be to detect and travel all the time.  And who wouldn’t love to have a father like Carson Drew, a gentle soul of gent who encourages his beloved child to do both, and then some?  Find a full-time job and settle down?  Surely you jest?

Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion (The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion)

Nancy’s father, a successful and well-respected lawyer, asks his amateur-sleuth daughter to assist proving his friend, Mr. Billington, is innocent—of sending a truck stocked with explosive oranges (!) into Cape Kennedy’s Space Center.  Off to Florida father and daughter fly—with best friends George and Bess gleefully in tow.

The old version has the gals locating a missing heiress, where they chance upon a moss-covered mansion and hear strange sounds coming from the property.  The cast of characters/suspects included gypsies, an old woman, and a withdrawn artist.  In the newer version, we have the somber moss-festooned mansion, but African animals roam the property; an unpleasant trainer keeps the poor creatures in line.  Characters/suspects this time include a surly couple that oversee the Billington estate, an array of orange growers and pickers, and a snarky realtor.

Not a bad read.  But storylines, even minor ones, that deal with caged animals I can do without.  On a brighter note, I did learn a little about oranges (who knew there were so many varieties?).  Despite the determined and dangerous endeavors by “questionable sorts” to undercut the space program, the excitement level isn’t quite there.  My rating is a generous 3 out of 5.

The Secret of the Wooden Lady

This was more the Nancy I remembered from youth.  A thrilling adventure takes place on an old, kind of creepy, clipper ship with lots of fog to provide fun/eerie spookiness.  Add hidden compartments and secret passageways, and a missing figurehead, and you’ve got an exciting YA mystery.  Ah, and let’s not forget the requisite crusty but kind-hearted captain.

Exciting exploits ensue the moment Bess’ home is burgled.  Who would break into the Marvins’ home and thrust dear cowardly Bess into a closet?  What about Captain Easterly and the spectral visits on his hope-to-buy Bonny Scot?  Mr. Drew solicits the help of Nancy, Bess and George and the trio travel to Massachusetts to stay on the ship and discover the truth.  Fire, theft, ransacking, and the aforementioned ghostly visits have the girls searching land and sea for answers to a threesome of mysteries. 

Mystery #1:  What are the motives of these uninvited, nefarious persons?  Mystery #2:  Can Nancy discover the history of the ship to ensure the captain receives a clear title?  Mystery #3:  Where is the original figurehead? Might she be the reason for the mysterious goings on?  Wooden Lady is everything a solid Nancy Drew mystery should be.  It deserves a 5.5 out of 5.

The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk

In the original, Nancy has a few mysteries to solve, including a trunk company’s substandard product.  As memory serves, this was one of my favorites back in the day and I’d read it several times.  In the 70s version, Nancy and best friends Bess and George sail to NYC from the Netherlands (those lucky gals).  A young woman, Nelda, shares their cabin.  When a strange trunk is delivered instead of Nancy’s, a number of people resolve to gain access.  The four women are drawn into a perplexing mystery that involves smuggled jewelry and stolen South African documents. 

Who had set up Nelda to take the fall for a theft?  Why are two enigmatic men using sign language to communicate?  Is a devious and determined jewelry-smuggling gang walking the decks? 

Who doesn’t enjoy a mystery set on the high seas?  It’s a [sea]worthy 4 out of 5. 

WPNancyUse1

Summarizing the Summation of the Synopsis

Rey provided that title as an FYI.  <LMAO>

This is the last synopsis-related post for a while.  No more pointers, no more checklists.  The world—the Internet—is your oyster.  Find your pearl(s) of wisdom.

Recently, I had an overwhelming desire to revisit The Secret.  I didn’t really want to re-read it, not at the moment anyway, but I want an overview, a summation—yes, a synopsis.  My travels took me to a cool site, Four Minute Books.  Here, I found exactly what I wanted and then some.

Niklas Goeke believes “that everyone should be able to learn from the world’s best books for free”.  Gotta love that (as Rey would say).  Nik condenses books in four minutes or less.  Per his site, in 2016 alone, he’d written 365 book summaries.  How amazing is that?

His summaries are worth checking out, not just because they encapsulate books so well but, when it comes to nonfiction, they prove informative, too.  Key points are at your fingertips.  Recommendation: read a few to get a feel for summation (synopsis writing).

FourMinuteBooksDOTcomhttps://fourminutebooks.com

Quick comment: Nik also touts Blinkist.  It’s a “professional book summary service that allows you to understand the key insights into the world’s best non-fiction books in 15 minutes or less”.  Sounds perfect for people struggling to find time to open a book, much less read it (may I see a show of hands, please?).  Visit the site to see what’s what.

With that, I leave you with the synopsis for the last Triple Threat Investigation Agency book, Forever PoiWPsynpoi1

Forever Poi, the fourth mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, has private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda out to solve a double-arson and murder.  Who torched two Chinatown art galleries and left two charred bodies in the rubble?

Are the arsonist and killer the same individual?  The trio believes so.  JJ (Jill Jocasta Fonne), her melodramatic cousin Rey (Reynalda Fonne-Werde), and her best friend, Linda Royale, encounter a plethora of possible culprits.  The day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the arson victims, had an “ugly 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 murdered her?  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 characters again materializes. 

Mary-Louise had changed her name (again) and become an artist manager.  Her new life appeared on the up-and-up, but a promising new client, Bizz Waxx, ends up murdered.  Had he discovered something that necessitated his permanent silence?  Beautiful and mysterious Cholla Poniard, James-Henri’s half-sister, also has ties to the art world.  Two of her celebrity divorces have ended with ugly consequences for the exes—and both will affirm that multi-talented Cholla is a dangerous woman who has her way, at any cost. 

Determined detecting reveals that a stumbled-upon key opens the door to an upscale condo shared by Mary-Louise and Bizz Waxx.  Following up on found bank cards, they learn the former queenpin had regularly deposited substantial sums of money.  Courtesy of blackmail payments?  If so, who was she blackmailing and why?

On a planned visit to her mother and nephew in North Carolina, JJ stops off in Chicago to follow up on a lead related to a double agent, Colt Coltrane, who she had inadvertently killed during a previous case.  While she is on the Mainland, Rey and Linda continue investigating on Oaha and find themselves in hot water when they are caught doing what Rey does best: B&Eing.

Cliff, a former partner of James-Henri, also died during a gallery fire.  His friend and roommate, Randy, tells the threesome that Cliff had wanted to sell his share just prior to the fatal fire.  He has a box of Cliff’s documents, which might provide useful if not damaging information.  Xavier and the private eyes scour journals and ledgers, and find references to a French art-gallery linked to James-Henri and insurance policies listing Cholla as beneficiary to deceased artists. 

Charming Bayat Alexandre is one of Cholla’s beaus.  It turns out that he—as well as she—are excellent markspersons.  Had one of them shot a man that could have provided vital information to the private eyes?  A midnight swim to Bayat’s boat has the trio searching for an AR-15 and locating it . . . just as he locates them.  Before he can shoot, however, the gun explodes. 

When the P.I.s confront James-Henri, he claims innocence and ignorance, and suggests they visit a cottage on the North Shore where his sister sometimes stays.  The trip proves successful . . . and night of harrowing flight and fight ensues.

The following day, a van runs down James-Henri, with fatal consequences.  With some ingenuity, the women discover the van belongs to a saimin company and off they go.  Franklen Haloa, an executive at the company, is missing.  Was he murdered? 

Perhaps not.  Another one of Cholla’s “useful” beaus, he assists her in JJ’s kidnapping.  A skirmish ensues with JJ ending up in the hospital.  Cholla, ever relentless, confronts JJ and a fight to the finish transpires.

While Xavier, Rey and Linda visit an associate, Gail takes JJ for a drive around Oahu.  After stopping at a food truck for lunch, JJ receives a mysterious text from someone named GrimReaperPeeper.  He—or she—is looking forward to getting together in the near future.

Checking the Checks

Checklist that is . . . not those awesome paper/virtual payments we so love to receive.

Post #3 continues with the synopsis (and, yes, there’ll be Post #4 because I have four Triple Threat Investigation Agency synopses in total).  Pointers are good, but a checklist might also prove of value-add.

After you’ve outlined or drafted your first synopsis, consider the following—have you:

◊  specified the genre?

◊  incorporated a theme?

◊  captured the protagonist properly—his/her personality, goals, motivation(s), and quest (mission)?

◊  provided pivotal, relevant scenes and conflicts/issues (how they relate to the protagonist’s quest and growth?

◊  noted crucial tension/friction, important plot twists, and how they progress the storyline?

◊  included the climax (resolution)?

◊  ensured the voice is active (present tense, third person) and that there is no extraneous wording (short truly is sweet)?

◊  checked that the details/action are in chronological order?

◊  reviewed what has been written and made certain it “captures” the reader (the agent and/or publisher)?

Remember, a synopsis is a [very] “compact” version of your book.  Because it has to be well-paced and attention-grabbing, every word has to count.

. . . Here’s the synopsis for “Coco’s Nuts!”, the third book in the Triple Threat WPCocoSynInvestigation Agency series.  Does it encompass the above?  Feel free to pass judgment.

Coco’s Nuts, the third mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, finds the three rookie private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—entrenched in their second professional assignment: proving socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo. 

Despite what police believe and evidence suggests, JJ, Rey and Linda are convinced 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.  As the rookie P.I.s strive to uncover a killer amid yet another cast of curious and unconventional characters, they meet up with old acquaintances who may or may not have their best interests at heart. 

 Their detecting travels lead them along a few detours—like the world of gambling and “limb-breakers”.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars to “collectors” in Vegas and Oahu.  Might this have served as motivation to kill her father, so that she could collect a sizeable inheritance?  What about Picolo’s son?  Might Jimmy Junior have been eager to take over his father’s multiple businesses?  What of nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee who has been MIA since the murders occurred?  A driver for Picolo, the odd little fellow (pest, some call him) has been missing since his boss’ murder.  He certainly appears to be a central piece in this perplexing puzzler. 

Why was Eb Stretta, Buddy’s best friend, gunned down a few days after Picolo?  For that matter, why did someone pump five bullets into Mr. Razor, Picolo’s assistant?  Exploding bombs suggest the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio have ruffled feathers by asking too many questions.  Hopefully, they will obtain legitimate answers before something significant blows up—like the private eyes.

The women discover “remnants” of Coco—his tattoo and jewelry—in Picolo’s million-dollar Haleiwa retreat.  It appears Coco is another casualty, but finding the rest of him is as difficult as proving Buddy innocent.  Fortunately, drop-dead-gorgeous Kent Winche, another Picolo employee, steps in to assist.

To complicate matters, the ever-enigmatic Cash Layton reenters JJ’s life.  Solving the current case is challenging enough, never mind having to figure out what the undercover cop – drug dealer is all about.  And why is it he always seems to know where to find her and what she is up to?

In the midst of the chaos, Cash kidnaps JJ for an all-day outing on a boat belonging to Richie J (his alter ego in the drug world).  A fun-filled afternoon—where a few loose ends from Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? are tied up—transcends into an intimate evening.  All goes relatively smoothly . . . until Cash’s colleague and double agent, Colt, arrives.  His intention to kill them proves unsuccessful.

JJ returns to Wilmington to spend time with her mother and nephew.  Upon return to Oahu, she joins her two friends and colleagues at the new Chinatown office to begin their third major assignment: Forever Poi.

Happy synopsis-ing.

A Synopsis by Any Other Name

Thought I’d stick with the topic of synopses, given I intend to post the four revised ones for the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  Considering that the last post provided synopsis-writing pointers, there’s no need to repeat . . . at least not so soon.

So, playing around a bit, I came up with this:

S = Summarize

Y = Your

N = Notable

O = Outline

P = Plausibly

S = So

I = It

S = Sells

<LOL>  Some days, you just have to go with the flow . . . even if the river is running motionless. WPHulaSyn

Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie, the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, finds the three amateur sleuths—Jill Jocasta (JJ), Rey, and Linda—serving as bona-fide detectives.  The owners of the newfound Triple Threat Investigation Agency even have a paying assignment courtesy of their first client, WP Howell: discover the secret of his young, pretty wife, Carmie.  Millions, and a much-desired divorce, rest on it.

What seems straightforward enough quickly becomes complicated when Carmie’s battered body is found in the sapphire waters of the Hawaiian Pacific.  It soon becomes evident that Carmie was not the only one with a secret, nor the only one to die an untimely death.  Who among a cast of curious, unconventional characters is tenacious (or crazy) enough to eliminate all living liabilities?

In the quest for answers, JJ, Rey and Linda encounter a plethora of suspects.  It appears many people had a dislike for, or held a grudge against the wealthy woman.

Their P.I. travels lead them along a few detours, where drug dealers and informants, treachery and blackmail, abound.  Benny Pohaku, working both sides of the drug-pushing fence, is young and brash, and his arrogance ticks off the wrong people.  Dealer Cash Layton Jones is as galling as he is attractive, and his habit of entering JJ’s condo uninvited results in a few heated encounters.  Carmie’s intriguing, if not odd, ‘tini friends serve as pieces to an expanding puzzle.  Jon Jonson, a currently down-and-out musician, has been blackballed by Carmie from playing the local music circuit.  Being unceremoniously dumped could serve as a motive for murder for Stacy Kapu, Carmie’s trainer and former lover.  Restaurant co-manager, Benoit Paillisson, had always had a hate-hate relationship with the rich young woman.

And there is certainly no love lost when it comes to hubby WP Howell.  What had Carmie known that might have proven detrimental?  Was it so damaging that it prompted the man to kill?  Young Salv Smith, a Trango gang member, had some sort of affiliation with Carmie, but what?  His mother, Lee, sports the same black widow tattoo—a gang badge—as her stepson.  How does she fit in? 

Gino Carpella, Carmie’s twin brother, is known to associate with questionable sorts.  It was even suggested that he had had his sister’s fiancé executed.  Has the rift in the twins’ once close-knit relationship played a part in Carmie’s death?  Or has one of Gino’s enemies retaliated by striking out at his closest family member?

While sleuthing, the women find the relations between people and happenings as clear as the contaminated waters of the Ala Wai Canal.  Fortunately, they possess perseverance—and receive occasional assistance.  Composed, thorough, and discerning Detective Gerald Ives works closely enough with JJ, Rey and Linda to provide guidance, but not so much as to have them tramp on his toes . . . too much.  A seasoned private investigator residing on Big Island, Petey May, serves invaluable to the women.  His P.I. experience helps in bringing new facts—and evidence—to light. 

As the body count increases and the suspect list decreases, the women determine the murderer’s identity, but need to prove it.  Resolve and help from pretty pink Tasers bring the evasive culprit, and cohort, to their knees.  Literally. 

While major incidents are explained, a few loose ends (and cannons) remain.  These are addressed, but not necessarily [yet] tied up, in the third novel, Coco’s Nuts.  JJ, Rey and Linda are budding detectives, after all, and they have lessons to learn and skills to hone.

Catch ya next week!

Summing Up the Synopsis

Exciting times.  Or taxing?  <LOL>  Because of the move to New Chapter, Creativia requested its authors submit new synopses for their books.  The result: a community chat about the appropriate length and requirements of a synopsis.  Ta-da!  Topic for today: synopsis refresher pointers.

What do you add?  What do you remove when all the adding’s been done?  Is the synopsis dynamic?  Does it capture all the important components?

You’ve completed your manuscript; now you have to sum up the story.  Ugh.  No fun, you’re thinking.  It’s not that bad, really.  Just commit some time, roll up those sleeves, and grab a cup (or three) of joe.

Start by determining the key/pivotal actions—feats, accomplishments, battles, trials—that your main protagonist embraces and endures.  You may want to write a short paragraph for each chapter.  And, yes, it’s quite all right to include the ending in a synopsis; you are, in essence, “selling” your book, be it to a publisher or agent.

Ensure that you provide enough backdrop in the beginning to paint a visual picture.  Where does the story take place?  Who is the protagonist?  What is the major trial he or she is facing?

Once you have all those paragraphs written, flesh out the synopsis so it flows like a serene stream and not a torrential flood (you can delete later).  Write it in third-person present tense (regardless of how the book itself is written—such as first person, present tense).

What’s important for the reader to know?  Have you provided critical components?  What’s the plot about?  Who is the main character?  What makes him or her tick?  What event(s) play a crucial part in developing and challenging him or her?  How are major issues resolved?

Once it’s all on paper/screen, start editing.  Keep the nitty-gritty and delete the redundant.  Publishers and agents vary on the length of the synopses they want.  Have a one- or two-pager at the ready, but keep a multi-page one handy too (you truly never know).

Here’s a revamped synopsis for the first book featuring the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals, before they were official P.I.s.

The Connecticut Corpse Caper chronicles the antics of several inheritance recipients, as witnessed by weather announcer Jill Jocasta Fonne.  The madcap mystery begins when she arrives one November afternoon at her deceased aunt’s eerie (reputedly haunted) Connecticut mansion, primed for a week-long stay.  Two-hundred thousand dollars will be awarded to each person upon staying the course.  Should someone leave, regardless of reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.

Each friend and relative of the deceased and eccentric Mathilda Reine Moone (Aunt Mat) seems as odd as the next to Jill, save for her pastry-chef boyfriend, Adwin Byron Timmins, and her high-strung cousin, Reynalda (Rey) Fonne-Werde.  Simple and wholesome Linda Royale, a screenwriting assistant and B-movie actress Rey’s best friend, seems equally innocuous.

London barrister Jensen Q. Moone and Manhattan lawyer Thomas Saturne are somber middle-aged gents.  While the former resembles Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (sucking on prunes), the latter bears a resemblance to Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby.  Neither cares much for the other.  Sophisticated May-Lee Sonit is owner of an antique shop called The Pied Piper and Aunt Mat’s good friend; the two women shared a love of wine and theater, opera and classical concerts.  There is a wacky brother-sister team: Percival Sayers is a writer of obscure poetry and landscaping and gardening articles, Prunella an avid bird lover and adventurer.  Unconventional servants—a portly chef, spindly maid, and grave butler—have been part of the household for years. 

All have a secret, as the three women (Jill, Rey and Linda) discover when they step out of their everyday professions and take on roles as amateur sleuths.  Others soon join in the sleuthing and the bumbling, stumbling—and mayhem—not long after the family lawyer passes in the drawing room.  Perhaps Saturne was heavy and out-of-shape, but he never appeared that unhealthy.  

Enter Sheriff Lewis and Deputy Gwynne; exit same, with body, into a misty and frigid night.  Enter and exit Lewis and Gwynne several more times as the body count mounts . . . until there is no option but to remain.

The trio’s Internet detecting reveals much: the history of the antebellum property and previous misfortunate (cursed?) owners, a liaison between Prunella and Thomas, and a sketchy bio of Fred the Ghost (as opposed to Fred the Cat, Aunt Mat’s fat feline).

When eccentric and not-so-deceased Aunt Mat dramatically announces a return from the dead, everyone is thrown into a tizzy.  The dither intensifies when the grande dame explains that the demise had been faked in hopes of ensnaring the person(s) responsible for monetary and in-house thefts.

As an ice storm approaches, legal sorts fall mysteriously ill.  Tensions mount, fingers point accusingly, and tongues flap crossly.  The determined, investigative threesome discover that not only hidden rooms and passageways conceal deep, dark secrets. WPCaperSyn

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is the perfect escape for those who love old B&W whodunit mysteries set in creepy oversize mansions filled with quirky guests, secreted passageways, and disappearing and reappearing corpses.

More on Saturday . . . .

Making Merry, er, Merrie

Hey, it’s Rey!  The Boss is taking the weekend off, so I’m doing the post, which I’m super stoked about.  Considering I’m not a fiction writer (and let’s not talk editor), I thought I’d post about something that recently took place here on the Islands, something JJ, Linda and I finally got a chance to attend and not just for one day, but four . . .

. . . the Merrie Monarch FestivalWPhula1kahikoStarAdvertiser

It seemed fitting to share this huge, decades-old hula event, which includes the Miss Aloha Hula competition, Hula Kahiko contest, Hula ‘Auana, and awards.

History’s always a “nice to have”, so here are a few fascinating facts:

◊  Polynesians, who’d originally colonized the Hawaiian Islands, developed the hula.

◊  Missionaries phased out this beautiful dance back when, but—fortunately—it was revived decades later, during the reign of King David La’amea Kalākaua.  He once claimed that “hula is the heartbeat of the Hawaiian”.  A patron of the arts, the king was showy and extravagant, as well as playful.  Small wonder he was known as the “Merrie Monarch”—and that’s why the Festival is called what it is.  Love it! WP1kingdavidsoravijDOTcom

◊  In Hawaii of old, written language didn’t exist, so hula and associated chants enabled Hawaiians to connect to the land and gods.  In Hawaii of today, hula is not only still a way to connect, it’s a way of life.

◊  Hula kahiko is traditional hula, complemented with a double-gourd drum or pahu drum, and chants.  Hula ‘auana is modern hula, developed with Mainland/western interaction.

◊  During the early 60s, Big Island was looking for a way to boost the economy.  After exploring ideas/options, a committee came up with the first Merrie Monarch Festival.  In the early 70s, it changed objectives and focus to what, basically, it evolved into today: hula dancing, Hawaiian artistry, and embracing Hawaiian culture and its people.  It grew in popularity (majorly) and in 2013 the Festival celebrated 50 years of success.

“The Merrie Monarch Festival is a non-profit organization that honors the legacy of King David Kalākaua, who inspired the perpetuation of our traditions, native language and arts.  . . . Our week-long festival features an internationally acclaimed hula competition, an invitational Hawaiian arts fair, hula shows, and a grand parade through Hilo town.” 

I thought the Merrie Monarch site summed it up nicely.  (Hilo’s on Big Island, by the way.  I think I’ll post about it next time around.  I’m happy and excited—and pretty proud—to share my thoughts about Hawaii.  It’s an awesome place to live.)

<LOL>  I wasn’t planning on providing so much background (Linda would be proud).

The Miss Aloha Hula competition was amazing.  We were riveted.  All 13 competitors were beautiful and talented (I have to confess, I was a bit envious).  Taizha Keakealani Hughes-Kaluhiokalani took the title . . . and then also won the Hawaii language award.  How awesome is that? WPauna1BigIslandNow2

The hula Kahiko and hula ‘Auana contests were both a pleasure to watch—the dancing was divine and the costumes were stunning.  The wahini (women) were lovely and the kāne (men) drop-dead-whew! gorgeous.

Even got in some shopping—T-shirts, sweatshirts, and bags.  Those four days were totally nui.  If you get a chance to attend the Festival, please do . . . and make merrie!

Pat on the Back or Kick in the Butt ?

It’s been two years since the debut of The Writer’s Grab-Bag.  As such, I felt a need to acknowledge its “anniversary”.  The hopes/dreams/objectives I’d had at the onset—and planned to implement after a few months—haven’t [yet] been realized.  That said, though, I have managed to write two weekly posts, review the odd book, and help with the occasional (behind-the-scenes) proofing.

I haven’t accomplished all I’d intended to—like get a “new look”, establish revenue-generating ads, and include affiliate links—but I’ve been consistent and as committed as I can be, given current circumstances.  Do I pat myself on the back?  Or kick myself in the butt?  <LOL>  Maybe both.  WPpat1

It’s all good.  Sometimes, life throws a few curveballs and plans/intentions simply cannot come to fruition.  Does that mean we give up?  Curse the poor wee laptop?  Whine and/or complain to the Big Guy?  Say “<bleep> that’s life <bleep>?  Sometimes ya win, sometimes ya lose.

But do we really lose?  Are we truly defeated or beaten?  Isn’t not winning part of the process, the evolution of life and living?  Isn’t it all about learning?  Growing?  Aspiring?  As the incredibly impatient person I am—who sometimes feels like plowing her head into a nearby wall (feels like, I emphasize)—I will be the first to scream/shout/yell “waiting sucks—big time!” . . . because it can and does.

But waiting also provides an opportunity to gather data, insight and support, and boost perception, comprehension and appreciation.  The process of waiting can be construed from two opposing viewpoints: as an annoying delay or the anticipation of something exciting to come.

Waiting is a temporary postponement, not a permanent pause or ending.  It’s all how you view life and goals—the proverbial half glass empty versus the half glass full.  So I’m not yet where I’d hoped or planned to be.  The optimum word is yet . . . thus far, until now, hitherto.

Here’s looking to a future that may prove totally amazing . . . before long, shortly, soon, forthwith.

Don’t you love surprises?

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