Happy Canada Day, Eh

This week marks two holidays—Canada Day (July 1st) and Independence Day (July 4th)—times to reflect on the great countries we live in (and have fun while doing so).

Given tomorrow is July 1st, we (JJ, Rey and Linda)—the private eyes at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—have opted to provide a simple but sincere post for our Canadian friends . . . Happy Canada Day!

When the Mood’s Not There

The Boss blanked out re today’s post.  So did JJ, Linda and me.  He-he.  It happens, right?  We all suffer from writer’s/blogger’s block . . . sometimes, more often than we’d like to admit.

The Boss will readily admit that she has blanked out on a number of occasions of late.  It’s all good.  Oh, by the way, it’s Rey today, hey!

I can think of some things to post about, none really related to the theme of this blog.  And that might be okay, but I think I’ll save those for another time.  So, I’m just gonna shift into auto-pilot a bit.

The Boss has been wanting to re-invent/redesign this blog for a short eternity, which she’s shared.  Poor thing’s stuck with both feet in boggy terrain at the moment, so that ain’t happening any time soon (unless Fate changes her mind, decides to be kind, and grants her some good luck for a change).

But if she can’t redesign the blog or offer new services (like editing and proofing), she can always take a half hour here and there and update previous posts.  So can you.  Instead of scrambling for new ideas, take old ones . . . and add some freshness. 

Update photos and graphics.  Change font colors and headings, add new data or remove what no longer seems of value … “renovate” those posts however you deem best.  Add links.  Maybe you write them from a different perspective.  The three of us—JJ, Linda, and me—are as dissimilar as jelly beans and ice-cream.  Some may not like what I have to say, or how I say it, and that holds true for my fellow private eyes.  But we all have a distinct voice and that is a very good thing.

So, if you’re not in the mood to write/blog, or can’t think of anything new, go with the old.  And add a twist or two.  Remember: everything old is new again—at some point.  He-he.

And you know what I am in the mood for?  Shave ice!  Catch ya later!

Historical, Hysterical

When writing a historical novel—fiction, romance, biography—ensure your names, events, and facts are accurate when you referring to real-life people and occurrences.  Otherwise, for those in the know, you may evoke some [hysterical] laughter.

Determine the period and consider the POV you’re going to use.  What’s your starting point? Will the main characters be fictional ones or real people?  Perhaps a combination?  What about the plot?  Will it revolve around real events or be fictitious ones (with real ones, possibly, as the backdrop)?

Make certain towns and cities, and the like, are spelled correctly.  Dates, if used in conjunction with actual events, should be accurate.  Ensure you depict details precisely in and around the storyline and characters. 

Become familiar with the various components of the time:

** incidents (wars, inventions, discoveries, explorations) ** fashion/clothing (for the rich and poor) ** customs/etiquette (for the rich and poor) ** social norms ** technology/art/culture ** expressions and vocabulary (in the 17th century, people would not say things like “that’s so cool” or “butt out” or “text me”) ** beliefs and principles.

You may not necessarily use all the information, but be familiar with it; it will help you paint a more vivid picture. And the more vibrant, the more exciting . . . because that’s what you want . . . to excite your readers and have them return for more.

Happy penning!

The Grand Opening . . .

. . . of a book should reel the reader right in!   You/we don’t want the “it was a dark and stormy night” start, so it’s been often stated.  And correctly so.

That said, though, dark and stormy nights do have the ability to provide a few frissons, if depicted with the right details . . .

It was a darkly ominous night, filled with strident thunderclaps and blinding lightning, as Edoardo rode along the overflowing stream.  His quest was simple: kill the escaped convicts who’d burned down his farmstead and slew Olivia.

The example above gives the reader a pretty good indication of what the plot’s about and what will [likely] transpire.  The mood is menacing: a potentially dangerous storm, purposely (spitefully) destroyed farm, murdered woman (wife/lover), evil fugitives, and vengeful man.  Perhaps he’s the protagonist—hero—perhaps not.  The reader has to continue to discover who he is.

A powerful plot requires a powerful opening, and winning storyline.  Make sure that happens from the get-go.

Details and descriptions should be . . . detailed and descriptive.   Consider the examples below, A versus B.

A   The gang rode quickly across the corn field, toward the hills.

B   The dogged gang, anxious to lose the persistent posse, drove their weary horses across the withered corn field, toward the tree-lined hills.

Characters should be distinct; they have habits, traits, favorite expressions, accents perhaps.  They don’t all sport blond hair or blue eyes.  Characters are different sizes and shapes . . . have varying purposes/pursuits . . . come from diverse backgrounds.  Just like in real life.

John’s blue eyes looked into her gray ones.  “How’s it goin’?”

“It’s goin’ great,” she said, looking into his eyes.

Uh . . . yawn.  Not everyone speaks the same.  How about:

John’s sapphire-blue eyes peered searchingly into her ash-gray ones.  “How are you doing today, my pet?”

“I’m doin’ pretty good,” she replied, not quite meeting his gaze.

But I digress . . . a little.  These suggestions are something to bear in mind when penning that opening.  You don’t want it to be flat, but stirring.  Remember: reel . . . in . . . the . . . reader . . . right . . . away.

That first sentence/paragraph should not only introduce the plot and character(s), and establish a mood, but also present you—the writer, and your style.  Determine your voice and maintain it.  Readers will often read the first page to determine if they will purchase the book; ensure they do by offering the best [most dynamic] writing you can.

How often can I stress the importance of that opening sentence/paragraph?  Not enough.   And one last thing I’m also going to stress—make certain that dynamic opening carries throughout the book.

Pique the reader’s interest and keep it.

The Nothing Post

Rather like Bruce Harris’ The Nothing Book: Wanna Make Something of It?.  A huge hit in the 70s, it was just that: a book about nothing.  You made something of it by [creatively] utilizing the blank pages.

But we can’t have a blank post, can we now?  So, JJ, Rey and I (Linda) put our heads together and . . . came up with . . . nothing.  <LOL>  We truly pulled blanks.

So, when wisps of nothingness flow through one’s noddle, aim for something frivolous yet fundamental.  And that something we have in common: Hawaii.  As such, we thought we’d simply let you come to the Islands and relax a wee bit.

Enjoy!

Day Five, Time Flies

. . . and another one of those five-day book-discount promos ends.  Hey, it’s Rey, and it’s the last day (for a wee while), to get Coco’s Nuts for 99 cents.

For those not familiar with us—JJ, Linda, and me are private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  Coco’s Nuts, our second professional case, has us trying to prove our client, Buddy Feuer, is innocent of two murders.

We do pretty good, despite the cast of curious (often crazy) characters, (additional) bodies and bombs, ongoing threats and hostilities.  It’s dangerous and thrilling, and we get to hone our “newbie” P.I. skills.  Sure, we make some gaffes—who doesn’t when they’re first starting out?  The thing is, we learn from them!

If you’d like to learn how we do butting heads with some seriously nefarious (Linda’s word, not mine) individuals, please check us out at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Day Four, Only Two More . . .

. . . days to get Coco’s Nuts, the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s private eyes’ second case (and third mystery), for 99 cents.

Coco’s Nuts finds the three rookie private eyes entrenched in their second major assignment: proving socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo.  Perplexingly, her best friend, Eb Stretta, is found dead a few days later in a nearby alley.  And not long after that, Razor, Picolo’s assistant, takes five fatal bullets.  The police are adamant Buddy is guilty and all evidence certainly points to her.

In the quest for answers—to prove Buddy has been set up—JJ, Rey and Linda contend with a slew of suspects.  Several persons hated Picolo enough to kill him, but locating the one who actually pulled the trigger proves challenging.

The trio’s detecting travels lead them along a few detours—like the world of gambling and the “limb-breaker collectors” that reside within it.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars to them in Vegas and and on Oahu.  Might this have served as motivation to kill her father, so that she could collect a sizable inheritance?  Or might Picolo’s son, Jimmy Junior, have aspired to take charge of his father’s multiple and highly successful businesses?  Could it be that Jimmy’s brother, Ric, wanted to take over his entrepreneurial successes?

And what of nutty Coco Peterson?  A driver for Picolo, the odd little fellow (pest, some might call him) has been missing since the murder of his boss.

If you’d like to see how JJ, Rey, and Linda solve this challenging and complex case, please check them out here . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Day Three, Close to Free

Today, for 99 cents, you can pick up a copy of Coco’s Nuts, the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s private eyes’ second case.

JJ, Rey, and Linda have to prove that their client, Buddy Feuer, a former socialite turned trucker, didn’t shoot her employer, Jimmy Picolo, and her best friend, fellow trucker, Eb Stretta.

All evidence points directly at Buddy.  A set-up?  The trio believes so, but how to prove it?  They start following various trails; some [eventually] lead to answers, others [frequently] to hazards.  Potential perps include “debt collectors”, bomb-makers, go-getter employees, and ambitious family members.  One person of interest is the nutty Coco Peterson, who is MIA.  If anyone could provide a resolution to this perplexing puzzler, he could . . . but why is he in hiding?  Fear?  Guilt?

If you’d like to see how JJ, Rey, and Linda solve their second exciting (if not dangerous) case, you can find them at . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Forever Poi, The Real McCoy

A real deal—you can get Forever Poi, the Triple Threat Investigation Agency private investigators’ third case, for 99 cents.

In that proverbial nutshell, JJ, Rey and Linda have to determine who torched two upscale art galleries—and left two bodies in the rubble.

Ald marched into the main office with Linda immediately behind, a thin layer of sweat veiling his handsome, peevish face and flecking a cream-colored polo shirt.

“Welcome.” With a scornful smile, I brandished an arm like a gentleman usher might someone of lesser rank.

Glowering, he cast an eye over the room. “I don’t see you on the phone.”

“We decided to wait until you officially brought those flat feet inside, Detective Hives—er—Ives,” Rey purred, getting up and grabbing the mobile phone from a custom-made black sideboard.

He flipped her the bird and eyed a stylish, contemporary black desk, one of two my friends had finally agreed upon, after a small [over-the-top] free-for-all at a furniture shop. Sitting on a corner, he murmured, “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

“We like it,” I said as Linda dropped onto the sofa beside me. We’d taken possession of the Chinatown office last November, just before completing our second key case: The Coco’s Nuts Affair. The first one had been named The Gruesome Twosome Case, thanks to the two central (f’g demented) players. There’d also been a bad guy nicknamed Mr. Gruesome, due to an ugly visage only a mother could love, but we’d opted to keep it at Twosome.

The Coco’s Nuts Affair had involved multiple murders, all tied to the death of Jimmy Silone Picolo III, a diversified local entrepreneur also allegedly into racketeering and loansharking. This time, there’d been three killers, two in cahoots, and one we’d not in a million years have believed capable of serving as assassin. It went to show that you truly couldn’t judge a book by its cover.

“Xavier’s on speaker,” Rey announced, smacking Ald’s shoulder as she slipped past and dropped onto a second, smaller sofa.

“Hey A,” Ald said.

“A?” Rey mouthed.

My response was a you-got-me shrug.

“Have you heard the news?” the detective asked.

“I’ve been on the road with meetings and missions since noon. I just finished up in Mililani. What’s shaking?” Traffic hummed in the background as Xavier’s baritone voice boomed over the speaker.

Ald adjusted the volume. “Two galleries are pretty close to being cinders, specifically the ones belonging to Carlos Kawena and James-Henri Ossature. Weren’t you supposed to be here for Carlos’ 6-tu-8 do?”

“I had to be somewhere. But I had drinks with Carlos last night to celebrate his forty-sixth and he provided a sneak-peak of the exhibit.” Xavier’s voice had taken on a serious, business-like tone. “What happened? Is he okay?”

“We found a body that wasn’t recognizable. All I know at this stage is that it’s pretty certain the fire was no accident. The only thing I can confirm is the little intimate soirée ended at eight on the nose. He’d planned to leave the gallery no later than 8:20 to be at a snooty function at nine. The fire was called in at 8:35 p.m.”

“Did he show up at that affair?”

“He didn’t tell me much about it. And I haven’t been able to reach James-Henri.”

Rey, Linda and I gazed solemnly at one another.

“Where can I meet you?”

“I’m at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.” Ald snickered and rolled intense Maya-blue eyes. He’d always found the name of the agency comical, but hadn’t mentioned that until a few weeks ago. In truth, I’d never liked it much either, but my theatrical over-the-top cousin, also a part-time actress (commercials primarily these days), had insisted upon it. Arguing with her was rarely worth the effort, so the Triple Threat Investigation Agency it was.

If you’d like to see how they deal with a cast of curious (if not treacherous) characters, please check the P.I.s here . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Forever-Poi-Tyler-Colins/dp/1079716483

Day Two, Woo-Hoo

Coco’s Nuts is available for 99 cents over the next few days.  So, as Rey likes to say (shout) woo-hoo!

It’s the second case the Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—undertake.  The trio is out to prove that their client, pretty Buddy Feuer (a former socialite turned trucker), isn’t responsible for two murders: that of her boss, the infamous Jimmy Picolo, her best friend, fellow trucker, Eb Stretta.

The evidence suggests she’s guilty, but the private eyes are certain that Buddy has been set up.  By?  Picolo’s gambling, money-owing daughter?  His aspiring son?  How about the ambitious, equally infamous brother?  Then there’s nutty Coco Peterson, another Picolo employee.  But where is he?

There are a sundry of curious characters, any one of them the potential culprit.

The food arrived. Speaking of “fry”, Linda took a hesitant nibble and found it tasty. “Do you have any names to share?”

Razor bit into a thick club sandwich and chewed slowly, thoughtfully, as if deciding whether he wanted to divulge information. “Jeff Havlock and Lilo Dorfmeister.”

Linda jotted the names on a napkin while Rey stopped dousing her fries with catsup long enough to ask, “How long have you worked for Picolo?”

“Eight years. I started out at his ranch, shoveling manure and straw.” He appeared proud. “Mr. Picolo was in need of a new assistant in town and one of the cultivator guys, who knew me pretty good, put my name forward.”

Rey smiled. “He treated you well.”

“He gave me money to help my sister, Luisa, get off drugs. The man put food on her table, dressed the kids in decent clothes, and got them out of a fleabag apartment. He even got her a job. She’s an office manager at a real estate company now. He offered to help Mom, too, but the woman’s real proud.” A bittersweet smile pulled at his lips as he stared into the distance. “No matter what other people thought of him, to me and my family he was a good guy, and a fair and kind boss. He was a straight shooter and never lied or made promises he couldn’t keep.”

“Did you know or hear anything about your fair and kind boss taking out a contract?” Linda asked casually.

Razor’s eyes narrowed. “Contract?”

“Yeah, an agreement in writing that guarantees the rubbing out of a fellow human being,” Rey elucidated with a flat smile.

The man stuffed three fat fries past thin lips and chewed at length. “Never heard about one.”

Rey and Linda exchanged glances: the former’s suggested disbelief, the latter’s uncertainty. Neither, however, chose to push it and Rey moved on. “What about brother Ric?”

Razor drained his beer, popped three more fries into his mouth, and once again either chuckled or grunted. “That’s a guy who acts kind enough and appears easy-going, but . . .”

“But?” Rey leaned forward eagerly.

“Appearances can be deceiving. Isn’t that what they say?”

The gals murmured agreement and Rey said, “You don’t owe Buddy anything — ”

“You’re right, I don’t.” The statement was delivered with neither disdain nor displeasure.

“But you do owe Jimmy Picolo something — specifically, bringing his shooter to justice.”

A concentrated expression suggested he was deliberating. “I owe him, yeah. Look, I’m heading over to the Bishop Street office shortly to pack up my personal stuff, but I’ll go one step further and nose through files, appointment books and journals, and see what I come up with.”

Maybe you’d like to check out how the trio fares in this roller-coaster of a thrilling ride, er, case . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368