Ta-Da – the Long-Awaited Short Story by Reynalda Fonne-Werde

Last time, I provided some simple guidelines for writing a short story (it’s Linda again, in case you missed the previous post).  Today, you have the first short—maybe only (he,he)—story by my best friend and fellow private eye, Rey.  Initially, JJ had wanted to sit it out, but has now decided she’ll jump on board by editing Rey’s short story in the next post—what works, what doesn’t, and why.  My BFF’s not looking forward to that, as an FYI, which may result in a follow-up post about how to edit from a writer’s perspective.  <LMAO>

So, here you have it, Rey’s short, entitled Full Moon over Plymouth.

Gisele Cooper stood ramrod straight as she steadily held the Luger and tracked Marshall Willis, the serial killer who had terrorized the New England coast for eight months now.

It was a cool early November evening and the pretty private eye was pumped.  She’d catch “Wicked Willis” if it was the last thing she’d do.  He’d dodged the cops, media, fellow private investigators, and her.  Enough was enough.

Willis, an average-looking guy of average height and average build, had bayoneted twelve men—that they knew of.  And they’d not have know it was Willis if there hadn’t been a witness. 

Amos, a frisky Staffordshire Bull Terrier, had been at the last killing and had managed to take a bite out of the murderer’s arm as he plunged the knife, which was fitted into the end of an old musket.  Lucky Amos got away fast—with the weapon, no less!  Amos’ owner called the police and the rest, as the saying went, was history.

At thirty-four, Gisele didn’t have many years of experience.  Just four.  But she had instinct and chutzpah and knew how to swing a mean left hook and wield a weapon. 

She’d gotten involved with this case—if she could call it that—when Harvey, a detective she sometimes dated, was assigned as the lead investigator.  After dinner and drinks, and nookie, he’d share updates, knowing she’d not divulge anything she’d heard.

So, here she was, trailing a nutbar after following a tip that Willis was living in a two-room shack somewhere along the Eel River.  She’d missed him by seconds.  The hot coffee mug and bitten egg sandwich told her that.  And the partially open rear door said he’d left that way.  So did the footprints in the soft drizzle-dense soil, visible courtesy of the camping lamp on a cheap plastic stand alongside the door.

“You’re not escaping me, my not-so-dear friend,” she murmured into the breezeless night.

There was a mini flashlight in her leather bomber jacket pocket, but she had no intention of letting him, or anyone else, view her from afar.

Willis hadn’t been on anyone’s radar.  The average man of twenty-four had been an average student and held an average job since finishing high school.  Nothing in his past screamed “serial-killer material”.  But once Amos had provided “evidence” and they’d narrowed down the possibilities, they’d zeroed in on Marshall Willis.

Gisele tossed her long blonde waves and surveyed the length of the sparkling river.  The stars and a full moon danced upon it.  Pretty, she thought, worth visiting one day under different circumstances.  Maybe with Harvey?

She stopped.  Had she noticed movement among the dense foliage?  No, it was a feral cat, that was all.  She laughed anxiously as she watched it scamper from view.

That cost her.  Almost.  A swisssshhhhhhh from behind prompted her to duck and whirl.  The bayonet sliced the air instead of her.

“Damn, I missed.  Too bad,” Willis chortled.  “But I won’t this time.”

Without thought, Gisele swung up and out, and caught him under the chin with the Luger.  The she swung again and caught him on the temple.  Before he could react or retreat, she had him on his belly and handcuffed.

“Gotcha.”

As if conveying approval, mockingbirds sang in unison.  Gisele bowed in acknowledgement and hauled Willis to his average-sized feet.

I was kind of surprised.  I didn’t think Rey had that much imagination in her, but then, she was—still is, sometimes—a B-movie actress.  I give her an A+ for effort.  Let’s see what JJ says when she pulls on her editor’s cap.

The Long and Short of It – The Short Story

The gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency were chatting the other day over chai lattes and Rey thought she’d like to try penning a short story.  That gave Linda—also a blogger—an idea.  Why not provide tips on how to get started, seeing as she gave some to Rey?  (JJ thought she’d sit this one out, but might jump in later.)

So, this is a two-parter post.  The first part provides advice and the second will feature Rey’s short.  She’s thinking hers might revolve around an actress turned private eye.  Hmm.  Sounds vaguely familiar.  <LOL>

Over to you, Linda . . .

Hello all.   I’ve written a number of short stories over the years—a few were published, too—so I feel I’m qualified to provide guidelines (in case you were wondering).

If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, but haven’t yet written anything, a short story is a great place to start. 

Like a full-length book, you should present a conflict or complication, a quest or mission, create tension and interest.  Your aim: inspire the reader to read

Where will you get your idea (storyline)?  From the media, an author, a real-life situation, a recollection of something or someone—the channels, options, are numerous.  You don’t want to copy (steal) the idea outright, but you can certainly make it your own by adding the right twists and turns . . . and your personal touch of creativity and imagination. 

The length is up to you, but traditional short stories are 1500 to 5000 words in length (that’s 250 words to a double-spaced page, by the way).

Whether you’re writing short fiction or long, make sure you know it well—learn all you can about the genre by reading it.  Many, many times.  One can only become an expert through concentrated effort and application.

Start by jotting down ideas, characters, thoughts, actions—whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation.  Just get it on the page or screen.  Let it out.  Purge.

Throw your protagonist (main character) under the bus right away.  Figuratively speaking.  A short story is just that: short.  You have little time (or space) to get too flowery or descriptive.  Yank that reader in right away!  This is contingent on what you’re writing, of course, but whatever the genre, you want to intrigue your readers from the get-go

If you’re writing a romance, perhaps the hero isn’t interested in the heroine, or vice versa.  Maybe the hero’s lover is unfaithful (or so it appears).  Is the protagonist torn between love or comfort (l’amour or moolah)?  In a mystery, has the protagonist stumbled upon a body . . . and is accused of the heinous crime?  Or has he/she witnessed the murder, but no one believes his/her?  In a western, a nefarious thieving gang is on its way to pillage the town—and most of the frightened townspeople, as well as the deputies, have fled.  Rustlers are rumored to be in the vicinity of the Dalton farmstead.  How will the family deal with them?  In a mainstream story, perhaps the heroine strives to go to see the world before she succumbs to her illness, but there’s no money—or hope—to be had.  The possibilities for any genre are endless.  Let that imagination, truly, run wild. 

Short stories that work are those that appeal to readers through emotions, feelings, principles, values (romance/love, vengeance, justice, escape, and so forth).  Enter enough emotion to sadden, delight, frighten, worry, [verb-of-choice] readers.  Entice readers to pursue your protagonist throughout the dilemma or adventure.  How will the perplexing issue be resolved?  Is the ending a happy one or heartbreaking?  Has the protagonist learned a lesson or acquired new insight? 

That ending, like the beginning, has to happen 1-2-3.  Make certain you bring adequate [quick] closure to provide the reader with a sense of satisfaction.  An “it was a dark and stormy night” opening should have a “the sun appeared on the horizon” ending.  That’s not to say that the end is a happy one, just that something promises to transpire (and it could be equally grim, but that’s your choice).

I believe I’ve given you enough food for thought.  Let’s see if my BFF, Rey, applies my suggestions to her short story.  Hmm.  Curiosity’s got the better of me. I think I’ll take a peek . . .

When the 9-5 Becomes 5-9

Trying times bring taxing challenges.  Many, sadly, have no jobs right now and others, who are fortunate enough to have one and are working from home, may be bearing an incredible workload.  The 9-5 has evolved into the 5-9 (and we’re not talking about 9 a.m.).

For a number of us, all those extra hours can now equal less than minimum wage, but it’s not about the income, it’s about the volume.  Still, we’re working and that’s a blessing.  It’s a challenge, though, when other obligations—parental care, at-home children, school and courses, blogs and writing, and/or projects—also abound.

So, how do we juggle without giving in to exhaustion, embitterment, or frustration?

Organization/scheduling can help.  Record what needs to get done that day—prioritize, as necessary—and ensure you include breaks for you.  Even 5 minutes will help but try for 10 or 15.  Use them to sip a calming tea, do some mindfulness (being in the present moment), visualize a happy place, or walk around the block, whatever takes you away from work for those few precious/welcome moments.

Chatting about it helps.  Don’t gossip and don’t blather about how bad the boss (or whoever or whatever you’re p’o’d at) is.  Do let it out.  There’s nothing wrong with sharing the frustration with someone (a partner, friend, parent) or a coworker who is sailing on the same boat.

Swearing may help but perhaps it’s less vulgar (and less harsh on nearby persons’ ears) to release it via a few seconds of shrieking, sharing “the grumbles” with the reflection in the mirror sporting an intensely furrowed brow, jumping up and down (calisthenics anyone?) . . .  or having a dart board with a pic of the boss/colleague (or whoever’s peeving you off) and aiming for the nose. 

Do some deep breathing.  Sit up straight or lie on a bed.  This not only helps you relax, it settles—grounds—you.  Become aware of those breaths flowing through your body like the gentle rippling waves of a burbling stream.  Consider the thoughts that are flowing with them.  If they’re hostile ones, envision a tranquil scene and keep breathing until you feel yourself calm and those thoughts melt away.  Take that calmness with you back to the “office” (be it in the bedroom or on the dining-room table) and know that all is—and will be—fine.  You’ve got thisIt does not have you

Lastly, and most importantly, remember this: tomorrow is another day and—by Jove!—that work will get done

A Ramblin’ Kinda Ga

Again, I felt bound to provide a rambling post, but given this blog is related to blogging and writing (and the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series), I thought it best to stick to the theme, at least a little.

So, poet that I’m not, photographer that I’d like to be, I offer both in their most simplistic rookie modes.

Tree 1AB

Therapeeey-Tree

I see

          A tree

With glee

          Solitary and strong

Wish it were me.

          Colors abound

All around

          No sound

Tree 3Welcome and tranquil

          As is my will.

I see

          Another tree

Still with glee

          Old yet robust

Much like me.

I know—don’t quit the day job <LOL>.

(You’ve inspired me, Neil, to go out there and snap away.)

The Stand-Alone Sequel—A Review of Hiding Cracked Glass

I’ve never been one to read a sequel without having read the prequel.  Not my preferred reading tactic.  So, when I volunteered to read/review Hiding Cracked Glass by fellow blogger and writer (and wearer of numerous hats) James J. Cudney IV, I’d decided to read both—decided, but then didn’t.  I was curious to see if a sequel could stand on its own.  You know what?  It can. 

Something I should share—I loathe tales/books that:

  • stay within a tight timeframe (an afternoon, a day)
  • provide an overabundance of different characters’ stories or perspectives.

Oddly enough, while Hiding Cracked Glass does both, I didn’t mind either, not one bit.  In fact, the way the accounts intertwine and the events flow, it worked very well.  There are a also few flashbacks that provide insight into what makes who tick: relationships (affairs, divorces, marriages), vices and illegalities.

A brief summary per our esteemed author:

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for? In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Will they indeed?  I won’t provide clues as to the outcome <he, he> but I’m sure, like me, you’ll find yourself riveted as the plot twists and turns through and around the intriguing characters.  Olivia Glass is the matriarch, a strong woman, who knows that one son, now deceased, was switched at birth.  Now, on the day of her birthday celebration, it appears someone has sent a menacing letter that speaks to revenge . . . a devastating letter that soon becomes known to all.

I rather enjoyed following Olivia’s attempt to unravel the mystery.  Who sent the letter?  Who might have shared the information re the son’s true lineage?  What will transpire as a result?  How will the family be impacted?  I also liked the afternoon soap opera feel: every character has a story, history, a setback or dilemma.  Life is not always designer champagne and long-stemmed roses, no matter how wealthy you are.  There are cracks—imperfections—in these “Glasses”.

Jay’s come a long way.  He’s always been dedicated and diligent—this is his ninth book in three years!—but he’s also someone who absorbs and applies what he’s learned.  He’s always been a good writer, but with Cracked, he’s become a great one.

What can I say but a 5/5.  Well done, my friend!

Rating:savesavesavesavesave 

Please check out Jay at:

♦ Website:  https://jamesjcudney.com/  ♦ Blog:  https://thisismytruthnow.com  ♦ Amazon:  http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks  ♦ Next Chapter:  https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney  ♦ BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

WP1jaytourlogo. . . And a quick thank you to Shalini of digitalreadsblogtours.wordpress.com for organizing the blog-book tour.  She’s done an amazing job.

Please enter the raffle to obtain a copy of this suspenseful sequel (that can . . . stand alone):

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e5ee1a9220/?

The Rambling Post

A themed blog should stick to the, well, theme.  In this case: the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, blogging, writing, and editing.  Now and again, however, I do feel obliged to add a personal one that’s not related to the theme(s).  And yet this is related. . . and yet it isn’t.  <LOL>

Blogging: fortunately, I still manage to post twice a week on the blog that I so would love to one day update.  I have a vision.  Yes, I do!  I see, in my fog-tinged crystal ball, a blog that’s crisp and clear (easy to follow), and chockablock full of fantastic advice.

Writing: although writing hasn’t been as consistent or regular as it could and should be, I’ve managed to finish the first draft of the fifth Triple Threat Investigation Agency, “HA-HA-HA-HA”.  It needs a major edit—by yours truly—and it’ll be ready to go.  <pat on laden back>

Editing: my editing has come to a standstill, given that NC doesn’t require my services anymore.  Being the sensitive gal I can be, at first I was somewhat upset (I take everything pretty personally).  So be it.  The lack of editing assignments has allowed a few more writing moments and this is good.  One day—yes, another one—I intend to offer editing and proofreading services.

The TTIA series:  not sure I will continue it after the fifth one is completed.  I love the gals, especially Rey (but don’t tell her that or it will go to her head).  I love the characters/villains, settings, and storylines.  They’re so very real to me.  I’m thinking I’d like to start a new series, possibly still set in Hawaii (my home away from home, even if “life” hasn’t allowed me to return for a number of years now).  With the new series, though, I’ll try the agent and mainstream publisher route (a challenging one, to say the least).

Lastly, me:  I’m struggling and enduing a very challenging/trying time right now.  I’m endeavoring to find out why I can’t do something that needs to be done.  Actually, I do know the reason(s), but cannot move beyond them.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful therapist who is helping me come to terms with this and, with time, will help me take appropriate action.

There you have it.  A rambling post.  I’ve rattled on about nothing really yet, in some ways, said a lot.

I rather enjoyed that, I must say.  (Perhaps I’ll share—purge—more at a later date.)

Hou Alo-haaaaaaaaaaa

The Boss didn’t quite get it right when we asked her to post about “aloha”; she kind of gave a quick, general overview.  Nothing wrong with that, but we wanted to talk about from a more personal perspective.  So, with that in mind, we’re taking over.

Aloha to me (JJ) is about compassion and patience, goodwill toward our fellow man/woman.  Since I’ve arrived on Oahu, I’ve mellowed some—the Mainland tension has evaporated (for the most part) and I can view things, and people, with a less critical eye.

Two weeks after we’d arrived here, I’d taken The Bus to do some shopping.  A local person smiled and said, “You must have just arrived.  The Mainland stress is visible in your face.”  I’ve never forgotten that.  But you know what?  She was right.  I could feel it in my shoulders and back—that strain we carry from running around  and/or doing too much.  Things do get done without us having to propel ourselves all the time.  Once I got home, I took a few breaths, calmed myself, and started approaching life—and Aloha—with a newfound respect.

I extend Aloha via volunteer work at the animal shelters and listening to those who have no one [else] to say it to.  I attempt not to judge, though I admit that, on occasion, I do.  One day, I plan to overcome this.  But nothing happens overnight.  So, as our Boss oft says: one baby step at a time.

Here’s one of my favorite “aloha” songs and one of my favorite singers: Iz (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole), may he rest in peace. 

Aloha to me (Linda) means being at peace with yourself and others.  Extend gratitude regularly and never take anything or anyone for granted.  It should come freely and unselfishly—like me volunteering regularly to feed the homeless or taking elderly Mr. Koa’s poodle, Mango, for a walk when the kindly old gent’s feeling poorly.  Aloha comes from Mrs. Pahanaa bringing us taro rolls and haupia pie, with a warming smile and heartfelt cheer.  It’s a wondrous thing.

Here’s my favorite “aloha” song, which features several Hawaii’s top artists and 1,000 charter-school youth.  It sends [happy] shivers up my spine whenever I hear it.

Aloha for me (Rey) is all about love—being a good friend and considerate person.  I know I have my moments (Cousin Jilly’s said I can be a real locomotive at times—running through and over things and people), but I do mean well.  Yeah, I need some work but, then, isn’t it said we’re all works in progress?  He-he.

I extend Aloha whenever I can—like providing tips and guidance to Silvie, Mr. Kalani’s fourteen-year-old daughter who lovers her theater-arts classes and wants to be an actress or volunteering to save the endangered monk seal.  I can’t save the world, but I can make a small difference. 

My favorite “aloha” song is by Tia Carrere, a fellow actress with a pleasing voice.  I like the soft, soothing sound; it’s calming.  When I’m having a rough moment, this song will relax me in no time.

You don’t have to live in Hawaii to extend “Aloha Spirit”; you just have to be it, feel it, and do it.

Aloooooooo-haaaaaaaaaaaaa

If you’ve ever come our way and partaken of a tourist venture, you’ll often engage in a robust round of “alooooooooooooooooooooo-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”.  It’s cute and kind of funny the first couple of times.  Local people, however, will advise against saying this lovely word that way.

JJ, Rey and Linda, the trio at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency, suggested I post about aloha, which can mean “hello” or “good-bye”.  Did you know that it also refers to love and regard?  And you can use it in conjunction with other words to extend different greetings.  You can’t do that with “hello” or “hi”.

Let’s break it down.

Aloha = “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life”. 

Alo = presence (front and face)

Ha = breath

When you visit the Islands, you’ll hear it repeatedly.  But it’s not just a word, it’s a way of life . . . energy, spirit.  In fact, perhaps you’ve heard “the Aloha Spirit”?

It’s about sharing and respecting, keeping faith and presenting kindness.  In fact, in the earlier Hawaiian years, it meant “God in us”.  It’s the harmonization of our hearts and minds; our thoughts and feelings/emotions must be good, positive.  You can find reference to this in Chapter 5 of Hawai’i Revised Statutes.

Maui elder/linguist Pilahi Paki claimed aloha was more than a definition, it was a legacy, and presented aloha as an acronym:

Akahai, meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness;
Lōkahi, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
ʻOluʻolu, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
Haʻahaʻa, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
Ahonui, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.”

Rather cool, to say the least and something, a code of ethics if you like, we all could—and should—embrace.

May you be blessed this week . . . and may you bless others.  Aloha, my friends.

Reveling in Reading

This blog often touches upon writing and editing, but never really upon reading. It’s about time, wouldn’t you say?

I loved reading once upon a time, everything and anything.  As a kid, every second Friday, I’d stagger home, supporting a dozen books in my arms.  Nowadays, I rarely have the opportunity (time, energy, ability) to do so unless I’m reviewing a book or editing it.  How I miss the thrill of turning pages and losing myself.

Still, it’s important.  Reading is a great escape to other places, times, situations and scenarios, which can help us feel better by lessening depression, stress, anxiety.  It’s also been said to help reduce chances of developing Alzheimer’s (something that frightens me vastly, I freely confess, but maybe that’s for another post).  To put it simply, reading is brain food.  It feeds the brain, stimulates it . . . causes the cogs to twirl and whirl.

As you read, perhaps you identify with a character or relate to his/her situation.  What transpires may help define things for you, maybe even offer a solution.  Or possibly that character, the locale, action, simply transport you to another country or county, planet or dimension.  And all is good because for a wee while, everyday life is, well, not everyday.

Reading can prove an effort with all the distractions and demands we experience these days but doing so is a great way to [learn to] focus, thus not being distracted or prone to give in to another demand.  The best way to enjoy a book and not be sidetracked: find a comfortable place that’s free of computers, TVs, and phones.  In fact, if they are nearby, turn them off!  Settle in and give that book the attention it deserves.

To engage in a book is entertaining and/or engaging.  If it’s nonfiction, you’re acquiring knowledge; maybe you’ll use it, maybe you won’t.  Reading allows you to learn, even if it’s fiction and even if it’s a minor detail, something trifling.  Nothing wrong with adding a bit of trivia to the encyclopedia tucked in our head … and nothing wrong with augmenting our vocabulary, either.

For us bloggers and authors, reading enables us to get a feel for other writers’ styles, to discover what works and why, and to ultimately improve our own blogging and writing.  We can even read about how to do that, if we’re so inclined.  The book world is our oyster.

And, if you’re anything like me, someone who has trouble sleeping, it’s said that reading at bedtime actually enables you to sleep better if you make it part of your nighttime routine.

And what about reading print versus digital?  It’s said we should engage in both, although print has more benefits (particularly at bedtime, as just mentioned).

There are studies, too, that suggest people who read regularly live longer.  Can’t say I really care one way or the other, but interesting nevertheless.

My posts are never meant to be overly detailed (I like to avoid the snoozzzzzzze factor), but are intended to tickle your curiosity and, hopefully, inspire you to find out more.  So I leave you with this.  Revel in a good read—often.  You define “good”.  Read what you like, floats your boat, intrigues and entertains you, and let it take you as far as you want to go.

I Wanna !!!

Rey provided a great idea for a post today when she started hopping up and down, blustering how “I wanna catch the sales at the Center!” (she does so love those shoes and bags).

Instead of always saying what we don’t wanna—uh, want to—do, which is totally negative (never mind a colossal waste of effort and time), how about focusing on what we want to do?

Let’s start off with yours truly . . .

I want to:

♥  blog and write and edit full-time

♥  be mom-care free (after 20+ years, I now readily and openly confess this)

♥  live in Hawaii (at least a few months a year)

♥  spend [a lot of] time at a spa

♥  take daily walks (for miles and miles, with nothing necessitating me to race home and complete another errand or task)

♥  have friends (caregiving can prove quite solitary)

♥  find tranquility and find myself (I’ve lost “me”)

♥  have a life.

Curious about the Triple Threat Investigation private eyes, I asked them to provide three of their “wannas” . . .

JJ:

♥  travel around the South Pacific for a few months

♥  spend time getting to re-know my mother and nephew

♥  take courses (learn everything and anything).

Linda:

♥  get a degree in law and/or journalism (just for the fun of it)

♥  become a rad surfer

♥ love life.

Rey:

♥  expand the agency (I’d like to see us on Maui and Big Island)

♥  get involved more community theater and TV (I love doing commercials)

♥  see our new house and pool are totally renovated—with an agency office.

Fascinating, isn’t it, how we all have such vast desires and fancies?  They may—or may not—change with time.  But the important thing?  To have them.

Keep wanna-ing . . . and believing.