Me Day, You Day, Any Day is a Good Day . . .

Like many, I often feel a need to take a me day, a vacay day, a holiday—any day reserved solely to relax—but work and life always manage to get in the way.  😉

As soon as it appears it might be doable, something comes along, such as an essential task, necessary errand, crucial project, or urgent situation.  And then there are commitments, like posting on the ol’ blog on set days.  As the saying goes, however, it’s all good.  Well, most of the time.  LOL

Given I haven’t had a me day in years (decades, as it were), I got to thinking about what the perfect me day might be.

It would entail (in no order of relevance):

    • ignoring commitments
    • forgetting about emails and messages and texts (once you get pulled into those, you’re a goner for hours—at least, I am)
    • turning off all phones (I have three too many)
    • eating fun/comfort food while sitting in front of the TV [finally] watching a show/series time hasn’t allowed for previously
    • noshing on [a big bowl of] ketchup chips
    • avoiding all forms of exercise
    • not noticing dust or lint, or crumbs, veiling the floor or rug
    • wearing a big, loose T-shirt and fluffy socks1PNGkey
    • forgoing on make-up
    • scratching a couple of scratch-and-win tickets
    • watching the birds on the balcony
    • taking a nap (what a novel concept).

The list makes for perfect me day—in my dreams. That’s okay, though.  Nothing wrong with imagining what might be.  In fact, taking the time to consider it is rather restful in itself.

If you have an opportunity for a you day, grab it, and enjoy.  And on that note, back to work for yours truly.  Let’s see, what to tackle first . . . 😉

A Great Big Thank You (!) to Jina S. Bazzar

. . . for featuring me on her awesome blog (September 23 2022).

I’m not just going to provide the link here, I’m going to cut and paste the post as well because, well, I’m tickled pink and am feeling a need to share.😊

https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2022/09/23/meet-the-author-tyler-colins/comment-page-1/#comment-8594

1jina

Thank you ever so much, Jina—you’re not just a great writer and blogger, you’re a great friend. 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022 BY JINA BAZZAR

Meet the author: Tyler Colins

Hi peeps. I’ve decided to start a segment in this blog by introducing other indie authors I know and enjoy.

I’m opening  it with a dear friend and author, Tyler Colins. We met a few years back here in the blogosphere, and have been friends ever since.

So, without any further ado, let’s start.

A brief bio:

Tyler Colins

Tyler Colins is primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. She’ll also create business plans, synopses, film promotion and sales documents.

Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (she likes playing detective and developing structure).

Her fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. Her genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction.

She aims to provide readers with smiles and chuckles like the ever-talented Janet Evanovich and the sadly passed and missed Lawrence Sanders, the “coziness” of Jessica Fletcher, and a few diversions and distractions as only long-time pros Jonathan Kellerman and Kathy Reichs can craft.

And now, the interview (read to the end for an excerpt of Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie)

Q: What inspired you to become an author?  And why Hawaii?

A: As an only child with a mother and father who didn’t really have time or support for me as parents tend to, I had to find my own source of “play”.  I started drawing and writing.  My grade 7 teacher, Mr. Kennedy, loved a short story I had written and read it to the class.  I had no idea I had any talent.  That afternoon made me look at myself as something more than a friendless, lonely kid.  Little ’ me was actually good at something.  I started writing . . . and writing . . . and writing.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

I fell in love with Hawaii the first time I stepped foot on Oahu.  It wasn’t that I saw “Paradise” there (because, off the tourist track, it has its issues as most places do), but that I felt a connection to the history and spirituality.  I felt like I belonged.  There wasn’t anywhere I wouldn’t go; I felt no fear or anxiety.  And when I began the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, which was initially intended to be a stand-alone, Hawaii seemed the perfect place to have my three private eyes move to.  Even if I can’t live there—given laws and finances and all that—Hawaii is my home . . . in heart and soul.

Q: What do you think is the most difficult part about writing, and how do you motivate yourself to continue?

A: For me, the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding the time to write.  Mom-care still takes up a few hours, most days, and the full-time job isn’t your usual eight-hour day.  Freelance editing also detracts (but I’d not give up editing for anything because I do so love it).  One day, hopefully, I’ll find a way to juggle time more constructively.

I can’t say I “motivate” myself.     I simply do.

Q: It’s a strange and tough world out there. Do you find that it hinders or improves your writing?

A: It is indeed.  The state of affairs around the world can be daunting and/or depressing.  Some days, it can weigh heavily; you wonder (worry) that those state of affairs will never improve but, then, bursts of hope and faith—like a double Hawaiian rainbow—take over.  And you think, believe, hey, maybe things will turn out all right after all.  I wouldn’t say exterior forces hinder my writing, nor improve it.  But they may provide ideas for scenes or twists in plots.

Q: What is your favorite way to relax?

A: LOL – I haven’t found one yet.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  When I get to Hawaii, that’s where I find ways to relax . . . strolling along a beach, splashing in the ocean, finding a fun farmer’s market, or enjoying shave ice while sitting on a rock by the water’s edge.

Q: Do you read your own books after they’re published? If not, why not?

A: I haven’t read my books after they’ve been published per se.  But when I require an excerpt for a post, then I will scan one or two of them to find the perfect one.  I think the reason I’m not inclined to read them from front to end is that I might discover typos or something that didn’t gel.  Then I’d spend the week or month kicking myself repeatedly.

I believe one of my favorite excerpts is from Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? when JJ and Cash’s budding “relationship” starts to take off . . . or not . . .

Q: If you were to become the mc of the last book you read, who would you be and where?

A: I edit a lot of books, but I don’t read a lot of books . . . save for, believe it or not, the odd Nancy Drew book.  I pick one from the pile in the closet if I’m going to ride the stationary bike in the fitness room.  It’s an easy read and it takes me back to simpler times—when I was kid living in (escaping to) my little world.  I always wanted to be Bess or George, never Nancy.  She always seemed so perfect and privileged, and for a little kid being caught up in a not so perfect or privileged world, I couldn’t relate to it.  But I’d love to be involved in one of their mysteries.  My favorites were The Haunted Showboat and The Secret of the Wooden Lady, so the setting of either one would be very “Keene”.  LOL

111hula1Excerpt for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie

“No stitches required, fortunately.”

Linda propped Cash’s head on a fit thigh and continued to dab a tiny sponge on an open cut above the right eyebrow. “But he’s going to have one big headache, a knob on his temple, and probably a scar. Perfect timing, me stopping by. If Makjo hadn’t taken the afternoon off, you’d be the one administering medical aid.”

He stirred twice, but was having difficulty opening his eyes.

“Fortunately, you’re here,” I smiled wryly, “and you have first aid certification.”

“So will you and Rey after next month.”

Linda had taken first aid and CPR training last summer while still in California. Rey and I had discussed doing something similar upon arrival on Oahu. As professional private investigators, first aid was at the top of the list, but other courses like investigative techniques and interviewing methods were also on the agenda.

“Who is this guy? I don’t think you’ve mentioned knowing someone this hunky.” Digging through a kit, she located antiseptic cream and a large bandage.

“He has different names. Cash. Richie J. Richard. He’s a drug dealer.”

Linda stopped and searched his face. “Really?”

“He doesn’t look like one?” I asked drolly.

“I’ve never met one before.”

“Damn.” He winced, and brought a hand to his forehead. “What happened?”

“You got beaned by our favorite beaner,” Linda explained merrily, gently applying cream to the wound before applying the bandage. “She can pack a mighty wallop.”

He squinted upward. “Who are you?”

“Linda Royale.” She peered so closely, they were nearly nose to nose. “I hear you’re a drug dealer.”

A flummoxed gaze shifted from her face to mine. I was standing behind Linda, looking down, hoping the damage was minor enough not to do any serious or permanent damage, but major enough to make him think twice about entering the condo uninvited again. “Did I deserve that? Bitch.”

If looks could kill. “Watch the name calling,” I trilled, getting a glass of water and passing it to Doctor Linda.

She supported his head and got him to drink a third of the glass. “Do you deal locally or on the Mainland, as well? Do you hobnob with guys who have the status of the once-super-rich-and successful ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross and Amado ‘Lord of the Skies’ Fuentes?”

He eyed her as if she were as demented as Norman Bates’ mother.

“Oh, sorry. You probably don’t want to share your criminal life with us. That’s okay.” Linda smiled and he closed his eyes in a give-me-strength cast. “Let’s get you upright.” She assisted him into a more vertical position.

He noticed her dressing. “Did she bean you, too?”

Linda instinctively touched the binding on her head. “This is courtesy of a creep I had the displeasure of not meeting last night.”

“She got dinged by a psycho,” I said simply.

His expression suggested he wasn’t buying it.

Get a copy! https://www.nextchapter.pub/books/can-you-hula-like-hilo-hattie

Connect with Tyler Colins here:

https://www.audible.ca/author/Tyler-Colins/B01KHOZAL2

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14150735.Tyler_Colins

https://twitter.com/usbound3/

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Tyler%20Colins

https://ca.linkedin.com/in/tyler-colins-24833326

The Art of Perfectin’ . . . or Playin’ the Blues with Soul

The title popped into my head as I was watching Joe Bonamassa a few nights ago.  Joe, for those not in the know, is a blues rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.  His career’s pretty impressive; starting at age twelve, he opened for the awesome B.B. King.  Anyway, the post’s not about Joe—maybe another time 😉—but about artists perfecting their trade.

How does one segue from playing the blues to improving a craft?  It’s not that far a stretch.  I was considering how well he played, which made me ponder how musicians constantly aim to entertain and please audiences.  They strive to do/offer their best.  Over time, they refine.  They perfect . . . or play the blues with soul and conviction . . . a metaphor, of sorts.

All passionate artists aim to be the best they can be.  As a writer, I revise constantly to improve my work.  As an editor, I amend to help make other works as good as they can be.  Poets, painters, puppeteers, and performers [love alliteration] . . . those that truly care . . . polish words and riffs and moves.

It’s a labor of love, this repetition that aims for perfection.  Nothing is “great” the first time.  All projects and persons are works [of art] in motion.  So, it’s imperative to keep striving . . . and keep playin’ the blues with soul.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.    Colin Powell

The List: Every Writer’s Friend

You’re writing a book.  You’re loving it.  It’s great.  Hemingway would pat you on the back.  Christie would applaud your twists and turns.  . . . Your readers are scratching their heads.  When/how did Monty’s wife, Judith, become Barbara?  Cara was living in a flat in Chelsea.  How’d she end up in Greenwich?

Accuracy and consistency are important.  Both lend themselves to professionalism, something every writer—aspiring or published—should embrace.  There’s nothing more off-putting than reading something and finding it filled with irregularities . . . also known as glaring mistakes.

You want people to remember you and your work—for the right reasons.

I believe in lists and summaries.  But that’s so much more work!  I hear the groans.  Yes, it is, yet not really.  If you set up a chart, you only need add a few words here and there.  In that chart, you list points, ideas, descriptions.

1clipartlibrary (1)Having a list for characters—in my humble opinion—is necessary.  Note each one’s name (!), appearance, traits, idiosyncrasies, and significant events that made them what they are.  A quick example:

 JOHN SMITH

    • pale blue eyes, wavey blond hair below the ears, chubby at 5’7”
    • 38 years old; born in London; parents dead (mother hit by car when he was 10; father died from colon cancer)
    • likes dogs, hates cats (with a passion)
    • is a teacher by day, killer by night . . .

You get the idea.  The same holds true for a summary.  Have a list that breaks down chapters into scenes and note what happens.  It will help not have David finding Jessie’s body in a well in Chapter 3 and then finding Jessie’s body in a cellar in Chapter 10.  😉

Again, the summary / chapter list can be quite simple, a few words here and there.  Something like this works:

CHAPTER 4, SCENE 3    October, Thursday 10:30 a.m. – breezy and cloudy / Jeremy meets with Lester at a beachside bar; they theorize about the murder (how did the body end up in the cave / what is the significance of the star etched into the victim’s forehead / why can’t they determine the identity of the victim).

A summary / chapter list will help you see how your plot and book have progressed.  It will be simpler to determine if something is missing or seems incomplete.

Holes in a garment can be fixed; holes in a published book not so much.  A list for a writer can prove your best friend.  It won’t let you down.  😊

What’s in a Name?

Not much if—as writers—we use it so frequently that it detracts from the storyline.  It’s like overusing the comma, dash, hyphen, or “he said” and “she said”.  Overuse of anything lends itself to tedium.

There are many great storylines out there, but they get lost through repetition.  If readers find a multitude of references to good ol’ Roger on one page, they may not be tempted to read through to the end.  That’s not only a loss for the writer, it’s a downright shame.

Yes, editors help—it depends on the type of editing as much as it does on the editor.  He/she may comment on the redundancy, but not change it or offer examples of how to approach the story with a fresh(er)/crisp(er) slant.

“Hi there,” Ron said with a smile and placed down the coffee cup onto the table in front of the window by the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing. She simply turned to Ron and stared into Ron’s grass-green eyes.

Ron noticed rue of some kind in Julie’s baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” Ron asked, his voice filled with genuine concern. Ron walked across the room to stand before Julie’s chair and hold her hand, but Julie yanked back her hand.

Mistrust was now reflected in Julie’s eyes. Julie stood up and walked to the far corner of the small room, away from the window. Ron smiled dissarmingly, hoping Julie would feel less threatened.

Julie sat down in the other chair in the corner of the small room and Ron walked over to sit on the rug before Julie.

Rather long, given the action, and repetitive.  If we had a dollar for each time we read Ron or Julie’s name, we’d have a nice fat wallet.  Maybe something exciting, frightening, or romantic is about to occur.  But given the repetition, are we that eager to find out?  If there are 20+ mentions of Ron and 24+ references to Julie on one page, would you be tempted to read on for very much longer?  It suggests lack of professionalism and/or care on the writer’s part.

Maybe we can shorten it and make it less tiresome to get through?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled, placing the coffee cup on the table by the window near the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him and stared into his grass-green eyes.

He noticed rue in those baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he walked over to her chair, his voice filled with genuine concern.

When he took her hand, she yanked it back.

Mistrust clouded Julie’s eyes and she stood up and walked to the far corner, taking a seat on the only other chair.

Ron smiled disarmingly, and walked over to sit on the rug before her.

A little better, but still needs work.  How about we rearrange a bit more and add the odd adjective or adverb to give it more pizzazz?  And what genre might this be, so we rearrange/add accordingly?  Suspense perhaps?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled blithely as he entered the small dimly-lit room, placing the porcelain coffee cup on the table by the narrow window.  Seeing a large hairy spider scurrying across the top, he slammed his palm on it.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him, her face expressionless, and stared into his grass-green eyes.  

Rue was reflected in those lovely baby-blue orbs. “What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly as he walked over, his voice filled with concern.  Crouching, he took her slim hand in his.

Feeling the remnants of the crushed spider, Julie yanked hers back, mistrust clouding her eyes. She lurched to her feet and stomped to the far corner and sat in the only other chair.

Ron sighed softly, wondering how he might win over this troubled young woman who’d murdered easily and often.  Smiling disarmingly, and donning an expression of humility, he walked over and sat on the threadbare rug before her.

Writing takes practice.  So does proofreading and editing.  And there’s nothing wrong with writing a story or book without looking back while doing so.  But do make sure to revisit it—with a critical eye, not a writer’s ego.

There’s no quality in quantity when the same names (words and phrases) are used in [over]abundance.  But there is quality in quantity when a number of revisions are made—to make a story the best that it can be.

The Facts, and Nothing but the Facts

. . . Or “ma’am, just the facts” as Sergeant Joe Friday [actually] said in the 1950s TV show, Dragnet. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction: know your facts.  Accuracy is a must.

Devices and gadgets, events and activities, fashion and customs, music and art, phrases and expressions (among others) must be correct for the time/period being written in.  Stories are made to entertain.  Facts are meant to inform.  Exactitude is vital . . . so is [a writer’s] credibility.

If you’re writing a western or historical novel that takes place in the middle of the 18th century, it’s likely people didn’t have tissues or ballpoint pens.  Women wouldn’t have worn brassieres and men wouldn’t have known about boxer shorts.  One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, it’s improbable that a person would have said, “that’s so cool” except maybe if referring to the weather.  They’d not have said “sweet” unless commenting about a dessert or fruit.  Become familiar with the period of time being written in.

If you’re writing a story that takes place present day and are using real places, ensure the details are accurate/correct.  Don’t mention that John went to a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto and have it located on the other side of town.  A real place should be in its actual location.  If your story is set in a city or country you’ve never been to, acquaint yourself with it.  Anything related to the here and now—and the story—should be properly (accurately) detailed.  Quoting someone?  Sure, have at it, but ensure the quote is correct.

That holds true of any genre, including fantasy and sci-fi.  Granted, you may be able to stretch some truths, given these worlds don’t [yet] exist 😉 but you’ll likely be incorporating some technical or scientific details.  You may even refer to events or inventions that lead to the creation of your future/other world, so it never hurts to become familiar with technology or science.  Research is never a waste of time (at the very least, you’ve learned something new).

The example above—“ma’am, just the facts”—is how Friday said it and not the way we often use it or see it: “the facts and nothing but the facts”.  This brings us to something that you may want to do and not leave to an editor, who may not always cast that critical an eye: fact-check.  This process verifies that information is factual and ensures the story/writing is correct and concise.

You can fact-check as you go along in your writing or do it at the end of the first/last draft; determine what works best for you.  My process is that I’ll write a scene, edit it, and note what I’d like to expand on, like a setting or dwelling, clothing, whatever.  Say one of my characters is attending a luau. If I want readers to get a taste of what that entails, I’ll research luaus—preparations required, types of food and entertainment, locations (where might they take place), and so forth.  I may have read pages (!) of details but, in the end, only write a couple of paragraphs.  But that piece of writing will be descriptive . . . and accurate.  😉

Get facts straight.  For all intents and purposes, your fictional world is the real world to a reader. Don’t disappoint them by having glaring errors.  And don’t disappoint yourself by not having done [provided] the best [most accurate] work that you could have.

A Dollycas Shout-Out

For writers and readers of mysteries, one of the best sites out there is Lori Caswell’s Escape with Dollycas.  The focus is on cozies but is open to all mystery genres.  Easy to navigate and visually appealing (bright and well organized), it’s chockablock full—of author book tours, book recommendations, reading challenges, and giveaways (among other wonderful/exciting things).  You’ll also find Lori’s weekly reading itinerary and a sponsor panel . . .

1dollyalso . . . on which the Triple Threat Investigation Agency books are currently residing/viewable.  But this post is not about yours truly; it’s about the indefatigable hostess who has overcome many trials, such as a terrible car accident two-some decades ago that left her in hospital for over two months and resulted in a year of therapy.  Unable to drive or work long hours, she became involved with reading and disability groups … and 2001 marked the birth of Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.  A dozen years later, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours came onto the scene.

 This year, Lori’s site was #5 on the list of “90 Best Mystery Book Blogs and Websites” and #8 on the list of “45 Best Mystery Blogs and Websites”.  Kudos!  😊  And well deserved.

I highly recommend you check her out: https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/.

Her dynamic, highly successful, site is not the only thing Lori should be proud of.  She has an amazing, supportive [ever growing] family … and the very cute Daisy Mae.

1111Untitled

Hats off to you, Lori!

The Curious, Elusive Comma

. . . Curious because comma usage can have us scratching our heads, asking, “How do I use this particular, perplexing piece of punctuation?” . . . elusive because this symbol can prove obscure if not crafty (in its own odd, abstract way).  Some writers use them in [over] abundance, while others use them almost never.

Now and then, I like to provide posts related to editing and punctuation and the like.  So, today, let’s look at our little friend, Mr. Comma.

There are “rules” of course, but those, as we know, are often made to be broken.  It’s really a writer’s prerogative how to utilize commas/punctuation but bear one word in mind: consistency.  Develop your own approach and adhere to it.

But, speaking of rules, it never hurts to review common practices/approaches.  Accept them as you like or will.

Use a comma to:

♣  divide separate independent clauses when connected by: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet (most of the time, but I wouldn’t say always)

But, he was never to see her again.  (a definite no-o).

William thought about it, but decided not to see her again.  (possibly)

William thought about it but decided not to see her again.  (better)

Perhaps, the two knew better than I did.  (another no-o)

Perhaps Bill and Joe would eventually learn from their mistakes.  (best)

♣  separate less important information that may not be that relevant to the grand scheme of things

Mr. Ronaldson, an accountant of thirty years, flew to Mexico to start a new life.

♣  provide details after opening clauses or phrases or words that precede the main clause

Last Friday, she went to the movies with Lisbeth.

♣  separate three or more words (phrases, clauses) that denote a series

Tom ordered a plant-based hamburger, French fries, and chocolate milkshake.

♣  separate two or more adjectives before the same noun

Laura ran anxious fingers through her long, wavy hair.

He stopped in his tracks and eyed the shadowy, three-story, dilapidated house.

Obviously, there are more rules, but these are enough . . . for today’s post about the curious, elusive comma.  😉

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