Staying Scissorsously Sane

Hey, it’s Rey, ever happy to post on behalf of our boss.  Linda’s too busy trying new iced-tea concoctions and baking cupcakes (her new thing) while JJ’s decided to try her hand at painting, watercolors primarily.  She’s not a bad sketcher, so let’s see how she does with brushes and colors.  The kitchen and lanai are off limits for me today.  So, here I am, tap-tap-tapping the laptop . . . and the table top . . . as I think of ideas.

To be honest, I’ve been blanking out re what I’d post about.  The Boss is the writer and editor, so she can focus on the dos and don’ts of authoring when she returns from another meltdown (just a minor one this time).  Linda’s all about wine and food, but she’s too busy deciding if thyme and cilantro work with white chocolate.  JJ’s not up for sharing P.I. stories or painting tips today.  So-o what’s a gal to do . . . but tap-tap-tap?

I could share the hair-dye episode.  You know how during lockdown they’ve been saying don’t buy box-color to touch up your roots if you’ve been having your hair done at a salon?  Well, the three of us were getting antsy about our expanding roots and decided we would prove the “advisers” wrong.  Linda volunteered to be the first, so JJ and I found color that looked like her raspberry-red shade.  Uh, it turned out a more a damson-plum purple—at least on the roots.  The formerly raspberry-red locks ended up a unique blend of grape and barberry.

It’s okay, though.  Linda’s no longer sobbing or ranting, and my cousin and I managed to seize the scissors before she cut too much hair off . . . or came after us.

So, back to the post.  How about keeping it simple?  I’ll share what songs are inspiring the three of us right now—as we lounge on the lanai and organize the ohana, or chat online with colleagues and chums

JJ:

She still loves (never tires of) Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World”.  Hawaiian-born IZ, as he’s better known, left us much too young, but his fantastic music lives on forever.  His songs, and amazing ukulele playing, made—still make—this a wonderful world!

Linda:

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, a former British-American rock band, makes her smile and dance, like everywhere, including on the lawn!  It’s a feel-good song that makes you know that all will [eventually] be okay.  Yeah, it does date back to ’85, but it still sounds fresh and fun.

Me (Rey):

“Ave Maria” by Il Volo.  You laugh?  (Yeah, so did JJ and Linda.)  I know, I know, it’s not my type of song of music—not even my century!—but when I first heard it a month ago, it really touched me.  I listen to it every morning now when I get up.  It’s so beautiful.  And I won’t share this with everyone, but it makes me feel, well, real humble.  (And, you know, those Il Volo guys are not bad on the eyes, either.  Be still, my beating heart.)

Take care, friends and followers.  Listen to [sensible/rational] advice out there, and follow it as you will.  Most importantly, be safe and well!

More Me, Me, Me . . . Can You Stand it?

He-he.  As an FYI, as part of the REV7 marketing platform, Next Chapter has opened their own Pinterest boards for showcasing Next Chapter books and authors . . . such as yours truly.

New content is added weekly and all Next Chapter books will be included on their boards as soon as possible.

Next Chapter’s Pinterest boards have grown rapidly and reach thousands of viewers every month.  Thousands?  The private eyes at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency and I think that would be super awesome. WPPin5

Now, if only we could figure out Pinterest; it’s about as clear as Instagram.  (Can you spell m-u-d?)

Take care everyone!

Mi-Mi-Mi . . . Me-Me-Me

This is one of those shameless self-promotion posts about . . . me, me, me.

WPNextChapter1My author page is now live on Next Chapter’s new website:

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/tyler-colins

Feel free to explore the Triple Threat Investigation Agency mystery series directly on the book pages, which include free previews of all the books (The Connecticut Corpse Caper, Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie, Coco’s Nuts, and Forever Poi.)

A new feature: there’s direct commenting on the author and book pages.  I can communicate directly with readers.  As Rey might say: gotta love that.

If you have a minute or two, perhaps you’d like to take a quick look-see?

Take care everyone—please continue to stay safe and be well!

What’s in a Whisper?

A lot.

For some time, I’ve been wanting to read and review Owen Clough’s first book, Whispers of the Past.  Finally, thankfully, the opportunity presented itself.  And what a treat.  Like the title, the turned pages whispered a fascinating tale.

Set in New Zealand, Whispers incorporates historical fiction, time travel, a little fantasy and a lot of adventure with stupendous results.  The exciting story begins with three young mates—Bob (Brill), Shane (Grunt), and Samuel (Sam)—engaging in a “tramp” into Tongariro National Park to cull feral pigs, not the easiest [or most pleasant] of tasks.

An odd bout of weather propels the trio to the Waikato War of 1863, including the Battle of Rangiriri, a major engagement in the invasion of Waikato.  Skirmishes occur, as do trials and tribulations, which add to the action and emotion.  Along the path to finding a way back . . . without altering history . . . the threesome encounter intriguing individuals, some who turn out to be ancestors.

The narration sounds everyday, natural with local vernacular, which makes for a fairly smooth read.  The characters are strong, believable, and very likable.  Physical descriptions and historical details enhance the read even more.  Owen has a knack for providing particulars—with enthralling twists and turns—that make you want to continue flipping pages: you just have to know what happens next.  And while you’re following the exciting adventures of Brill, Grunt and Sam, you learn a few things about New Zealand and the Māori.

The New Zealand War, by the by, was a succession of armed struggles that occurred from 1845 through 1872; on one side were the Colonial government and the allied Māori, and on the other side were the Māori and Māori-allied settlers.  And for those unfamiliar with the Māori, they’re indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand who arrived from eastern Polynesia in several waves of waka (a Māori canoe made of tree trunk) voyages in the early 14th century.

Entertainment and knowledge do make for great bedfellows.

I’d love to tell you that all ends well for Brill, Grunt and Sam, that they get back to present day . . . but I can’t.  You’ll have to read this engaging book to find out.

The editor in me can only give this a 4.5 due to typos and punctuation flaws.  Without those, it’s an easy 5 out of 5.

savesavesavesavesave

And what about the author, Owen Clough?  His bio lists him as a keen genealogist, motor caravanner, and rugby fanatic with a love of history.   You can check him out at: https://www.owencloughbooks.com.

WPowen3booksHaving always wondered what it would be like to live back in the turbulent times of New Zealand’s history, Owen wrote Whispers of the Past with this in mind. The second book is Shadows of the Mind . . . the third, Clearing of the Mist.

Kia ora (be safe).

 

Inept Editing . . . Inept Writing . . . ?

You say “poh-tay-toe”, I say “paw-tah-tow”.  Something like that.

I love editing as much as writing and, admittedly, I get so enthused that sometimes I edit more than I probably should—by adding words/phrases or rewriting something that [I believe] warrants reworking.  Some writers are thankful, others get their knickers in a knot (and sound like they’d love nothing better than smack you with them).

I always feel dismayed when editors receive criticism, but I can also appreciate where the resentment stems from: it’s a blow to that fragile thing known as ego.  In my early writing days, as I’ve shared in past, I wasn’t terribly good.  And the hackles would raise when constructive criticism—“advice”—came my way.  I laugh [hysterically] now, knowing how right those individuals were!  But it took years to come to that realization . . . which was only achieved through studying, learning, and applying . . . and adopting thicker skin.

Writing is something that requires work; for the majority of people, it doesn’t come “naturally”.  It’s a craft that must be fashioned.  And it’s sad when writers won’t make an effort to improve themselves—truly, no one is perfect.  That’s a fact.

In this era of e-book publishing, anyone can be a writer.  And as I’ve previously stated, this is a good thing, because the world of traditional publishing was [is] very limited.  Many good writers could only hope/dream/pray they’d be in the right place at the right time: i.e. having a publisher actually pick up their manuscript as opposed to it landing on the slush pile (ooh, those form rejection letters, how crushing they could be).

The point of this post?  To suggest that e-book writers take feedback—“advice”—from editors with a grain of salt.  This profession, like writing, is a labor of love.  We truly do what we do to assist [and support] writers in becoming better narrators/storytellers.  Authors, aspiring or otherwise, should lay aside the egos a little and understand that while they have great tales to tell, they may not yet have achieved the talented authoring—flair—of Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, or Helen DeWitt.

Inept = incompetent. 

But incompetence can evolve into competence. 

It’s all a question of acceptance, attitude, and application . . . and adopting that aforementioned thicker skin.  We’re in this together; let’s make it work together.

And What’s with the Comma?

Doing a lot of editing these days and coming across “and” followed or preceded by a comma . . . also a lot.  <LOL>  As such, it prompted me to revisit using this lovely little punctuation mark with “and”.

Given this post is grammar oriented (yes, I sense those eyes glazing over already), let’s take a quick gander at “and”.  A conjunction is a word often used to connect words, phrases, and clauses/sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause.  But it can also be used to add (three and five equals seven, er, eight) or demonstrate a result (Read the manual thoroughly, and you’ll be able to build that generator, no prob).  “And” can also serve as a noun (I told you to do that—no ifs, ands, or buts).

Let’s see.  Ah yes.  A coordinating conjunction can also refer to: in addition to (men and women); as a consequence (Gerald raced after the malevolent monster and tumbled off the cliff), and; subsequently or then (Joan texted Rodney her plans and drove over to his place).  You can check the internet for more in-depth details if you’re so inclined.  <wink, wink>

Be watchful of how you use commas after “and”.  Use it as a linking device:

♦  Larry had a mug of coffee and tuna sandwich.      ♦  She wrote a book about an angel and a saint.

But if you’re linking more than two phrases, put “and” in front of the last one.

♦  Larry had coffee, a tuna sandwich, and a chocolate-almond tart for lunch.      ♦  She wrote a book about an angel, demon, and deity.

When linking adjectives, the comma is optional.  Many people like to put a comma before “and” in a list.

♦  They felt weary, sweaty, and dirty.  /  They felt weary, sweaty and dirty.      ♦  Henry the hamster is cute, well behaved, and energetic.  /  Henry the hamster is cute, well behaved and energetic.

Be wary of using a comma before “and” when there are only two actions/details.

♦  Correct:  Martha and Jake like to jog and stretch.      ♦  Incorrect:  Marth and Jake like to jog, and stretch.

Here are two independent clauses; as such, add the comma before “and”.  An independent clause, by the by, is a sentence that could stand on its own.  But you already knew that.

♦  In May they’ll visit Japan, and in June they’ll travel to Australia.

Don’t use a comma before “and” when an independent clause is connected to a dependent clause (a phrase that can’t stand on its own).

♦  Taylor pulled the roast out of the oven, and watched Lee slice it.

The first clause, an independent one, can stand alone (as a sentence), but the second clause can’t.  It’s “dependent” on the first.

♦  Correct:  Taylor pulled the roast out of the oven and watched Lee slice it.

Eyes drooping?  A yawn pulling at those down-turned lips?  Okay, okay.  I’ll stop.  Just give thought to that comma.  It’s a wonderful, practical punctuation mark . . . useful for keeping information clear and enabling ease of reading.  However, used in overabundance (like anything), it can prove quite annoying [if not unprofessional].

Decide what your approach/style re the comma is and be consistent.

Here’s to the comma, and not making sentence structure errors.  <LOL>

WPcommaGIFImgur

A Simple Wednesday Morning Shameless Self-Promotion

The Boss has a lot on her plate re the 9-to-5 and mom-care right now, so the three of us engaged in “rock paper scissors” to see who’d post today.  Linda won, but managed to bang up her finger (and her temperament).  Rey’s feeling fairly fatigued so, you have me, JJ, today. 

The post isn’t about me or the agency, but about our boss.  Her building has a monthly newsletter and they featured a brief, informative interview written by the lovely fellow dweller, Judith Michael.  It certainly helped rally her flagging spirits. So, I thought I’d share it here . . . because I’m all for some simple shameless self-promotion (even if it’s for someone else).

The WestClair’s Writer:  Tyler Colins

Look no further than The WestClair to find Tyler Colins, our resident writer.  While Tyler has written both fiction and non-fiction, her focus is on writing mysteries.  She has completed four books in the Triple Threat Mysteries and is well into writing the fifth.

The series centers around three strong female private investigators with distinct and unique personalities. According to Tyler, JJ, the narrator, is calm, mature, and thoughtful.  Her cousin Rey is brash, impetuous, melodramatic, and “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer”.  Rey’s best friend Linda, is smart and a little “nerdy”.

Tyler gravitated to the Triple Threat saying, “I liked the characters or they liked me . . . they wanted me to be their boss”. Of the three women, Tyler’s favourite is Rey because “I want to be her.”

When asked to describe “the unique voice” of her writing style, Tyler likened it to “a 1950’s lounge – easy going, beatnik, laid back, with a cool feel”.  The laid-back vibe of her writing is in contrast to the busyness of Tyler’s life. In addition to writing, she edits fiction for a company in Japan, has a full-time job in human resources, and looks after her mother.

You can find out more about Tyler’s work on her blog https://thewritersgrabbag.com/ Her books can be purchased from Amazon and some will be available from The WestClair Library when the second-floor lounge reopens. It’s best to begin with The Connecticut Corpse Caper, the first of the Triple Threat Mysteries and initially written as a stand-alone book.     as written both fiction and non-fiction, her focus is on writing mysteries.  She has completed four books in the Triple Threat Mysteries and is well into writing the fifth.

WPallselfThe series centers around three strong female private investigators with distinct and unique personalities. According to Tyler, JJ, the narrator, is calm, mature, and thoughtful.  Her cousin Rey is brash, impetuous, melodramatic, and “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer”.  Rey’s best friend Linda, is smart and a little “nerdy”.

Thanks so much, Judith!  The gals and I are very appreciative.

Continue to stay safe, everyone.

Standing Strong

It’s JJ, posting for the three of us, er, four of us (sorry Boss).  Today, we thought we’d simply display the hope-oriented quotes we’ve been posting the last few days on our Triple Threat Investigation Agency FB page.

These times are trying, unexpected and unusual to say the least, but we will get through them.  It may not seem as simple as stated, but we’re a resilient lot.  We have the faith (be it religious, spiritual, emotional, or cerebral), the stamina, and the determination.  We . . . shall . . . overcome.

In all things it is better to hope than to despair.  ♥ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and statesman

 Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.  ♥ Vincent McNabb, Irish scholar and priest

Where there is no hope, it is incumbent on us to invent it.  ♥ Albert Camus, French Algerian philosopher, author, and journalist

Out of difficulties grow miracles.  ♥ Jean de la Bruyère, French philosopher and moralist

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.  ♥ Desmond Tutu, South African Leader

Hope is a passion for the possible.  ♥ Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author 

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  ♥ Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, founder of the Plum Village Tradition

We liked this one so much, we posted it twice.

Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.  ♥ Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, essayist and poet

WPhopeNever let go of hope.

H   hold

O   optimism  (and)

P   positiveness

E   evermore

(That was Rey’s contribution.  Who’d have thought she had it in her, God bless her.)

Stay safe!

The Naught for Nothing Post

This week I was inspired by, well, nothing.  I guess my mind is as blank as the page of The Nothing Book (Wanna Make Something of it?).  Remember that, by Bruce Harris?  Many of you won’t of course, given it came out in the 70s.  But it was huge back then.  A book filled with blank pages.  What a concept.  Make a mint by putting a title on a notebook or diary.  Bravo!

So why a naught for nothing post?  Because there are so many thoughts and notions in my head they seem to blend into a big bunch of nothingness.  Because there is so much to post about right now, and yet nothing to say that hasn’t already been said.  Because so much is happening . . . and yet nothing appears to be moving/improving . . .  as we wait (and worry) about what will transpire.

But nothing in and of itself has its merit.  There’s nothing wrong with sitting back and attempting to relax, or gather momentum, or pray / hope / wish for better and safer days.  Embracing nothingness lends itself to a sense of relief, if only temporarily.

I rather like the thought of nothing as “something that does not exist”—like this catastrophic period in history or the dire daily news.  Or “nonexistence”—like this devastating illness.  Ah, to wave a magic wand and have it all go away, to fade into . . . nothingness.  To be able to do much ado about nothing, because that nothing is nothing more than something trivial, like too much cream in coffee.

So, today I’m posting about nothing—for the reason that there would be nothing better than to have nothing to worry about.

Stay safe my dear friends.