The Boss’ Blog Tour

Hey, it’s Rey.  (I am so lovin’ writing these posts.  What happened?!  LMAO)

The Boss is doing a blog tour re our second adventure—Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie?—which has been organized by Jina S. Bazzar.  A huge thank you to Jina!  (There’ll be more about Jina, her blog, and writing in a future post.)

Here’s a rundown on what the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—JJ, Linda, and yours truly—experienced during the Hula adventure, as detailed by The Boss.

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Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie, the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, finds the three amateur sleuths—Jill (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 evolves into 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?  JJ, Rey and Linda determine to find out. 

In their quest for answers, the women encounter a plethora of suspects.  It appears there is no lack of people who have a dislike for, or hold a grudge against, Carmelita Sangita Howell.

Their P.I. travels lead them along a few side roads and 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.  Bullets soon silence those boastful lips.  Dealer Cash Layton Jones is as galling as he is attractive, and his habit of entering Jill’s condo uninvited results in a few heated encounters.  He also has JJ wondering if there’s more to the enigmatic man than a penchant for loud Aloha shirts and a proclivity for being “conveniently” close by.

Carmie’s intriguing if not odd, ‘tini friends serve as pieces to an expanding puzzle.  A few have reasons to want her dead.  Jon Jonson, a currently down-and-out musician, has been blackballed by Carmie from playing the local music circuit.  He is definitely no fan of hers.  Stacy Kapu, Carmie’s trainer and former lover, may not have cared to be unceremoniously dumped.  Restaurant co-manager, Benoit Paillisson, has always had a hate-hate relationship with the rich young woman; he has had no qualms about telling people how happy he would be if she fell off the panoramic Pali Lookout.

And there is no love lost when it comes to hubby WP Howell.  What had Carmie “known” that could have proven detrimental?  Was it damaging enough to prompt the man to kill?  Salv Smith, a young Trango gang member, and his affiliation with Carmie is not immediately evident.  Because she sports the same black widow tattoo as her stepson, it appears Lee Smith has a connection to the gang as well . . . and it could be more ominous than anything Salv may be caught up in.

Gino Carpella, Carmie’s twin brother, has been rumored to associate with “questionable sorts”.  It has even been suggested that he had had his sister’s fiancé executed.  Is the rift in the twins’ once caring, close-knit relationship to blame for Carmie’s death?  If so, how?  Or has one of Gino’s enemies retaliated by striking out at his closest family member?

As the women detect, they find relations between people and happenings as clear as the contaminated waters of the Ala Wai Canal.  Fortunately, in addition to perseverance, they receive assistance now and again.  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.  He also provides JJ with unpleasant news regarding a personal matter.  Their bond will transcend many cases to come.

As the body count increases and the suspect list decreases, the women confirm the murderer’s identity, but proving it will not be easy.  Resolve and help from pretty pink Tasers bring the evasive murderer, and cohort, to their knees.  Literally. 

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

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So there you have it, the Boss’ take on the case.  Not bad.  A bit wordy for my liking (too bad she wouldn’t let me tackle it, LOL).

Again, a big thank-you to Jina.  Please check out her site and work at: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com.

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Sleuths United – Three for Three

Hey-ho, it’s Rey.  The last favorite-detective post is mine.  Like JJ, I had two, but flipped a coin.  The original Magnum—not the latest, sorry—was up there.  A hunky private eye, he had an easy-going, laid-back attitude that made him really likable (never mind the great legs).  But I had to go with . . . Charlie Chan.  (Yeah, Linda was stunned, too.)

When I was a B-actress, I hung around with a clique (a different one from Linda’s) that was seriously into classic flicks, particularly B&W mysteries.  Fair-weather friends Flynn and Lynne loved Charlie Chan and got me hooked.  Chubby Charlie was calm and clever, and very wise, and had so many super cool sayings.  Fun/funny sons (like Keye Luke and Sen Yung) helped out now and again.

Yeah, there was some majorly politically incorrect stuff in those films; they were products of the times.  A number of writers/critics have blasted the Charlie Chan character for a variety of reasons I’m not going to get into.  I totally get where they’re coming from, to be sure, but I’ll leave it to others to blog about.

Contentiousness aside—yes Linda, I know a big word or two (okay, I confess, I heard it on CNN the other day)—the films were entertaining for various reasons.  Besides Charlie C solving cases through keen observation and topnotch investigative talent, the settings and clothes were awesome.  Even though most were filmed on movie sets, you could imagine the high-vaulted ceilings and plush decor belonging to stylish hotels and chic homes.  And those slinky silks and padded shoulders, tailored suits, and veils and hats—gorgeous!

Linda would want me to provide background, so here you go.  Charlie Chan was created by Earl Derr Biggers, who loosely based the Honolulu detective on Chang Apana, a Chinese-Hawaiian member of HPD.  More than four dozen films were made, with the first being a silent in 1926.  There were nine actors who portrayed the likable detective with the kind heart, with the first Charlie Chans portrayed by Asian actors.  In 1931 a Swedish dude named Warner Oland was selected for the role.  Sidney Toler took over when Oland died in 1938.  And Roland Winters claimed the role when Toler passed in 1948.

Flynn and Lynne used to have loud, heated debates as to who was the best Chan of the three.  I thought both Oland and Toler were solid actors, and did the role proud.  Winters was so-so, and that’s strictly a personal preference thingy.

In my research travels, I found reference to Chan radio broadcasts, comics, and cartoons from the 70s (who knew!?).  There’s a really cool site called The Charlie Chan Family Home that even has Monday night chats.  I spent a good hour there the other day.

Chan had a few fantastic food-for-thought expressions and I thought I’d leave you with three plum ones with a similar theme:

♦   To speak without thinking is to shoot without aiming.  ♦   Easy to criticize, more difficult to be correct.  ♦   Best to slip with foot, than with tongue.

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Sleuths United – Two / Too

Linda’s choice of favorite detective—Sherlock Holmes—was surprising.  I’d never have guessed she actually liked mysteries.  Yes, we’re private investigators, but that’s our job, our profession.  Simply because we solve cases doesn’t mean we have to read about them or experience them vicariously.

It’s JJ and it’s my turn to post about my preferred detective.  There are two vying for the favorite spot and they date back to the 60s and 70s, courtesy of Aunt Sue Lou and her love of retro TV.  When my sister Reena Jean (God rest her soul) and I were young, we spent a lot of time with aunts and cousins (like Rey) at various campsites, cottages and winter chalets.  Aunt Sue Lou loved her detective shows, all the more if the guys were cute.  She saw nothing wrong with the kids watching clean-fun crime shows before bedtime.

Of the many series we were exposed to back then, Columbo (Peter Falk) and Mannix (Mike Connors) were my favorites.  Still are.  While they took place in different decades, they didn’t seem dated.  It was more a view into another era; neither came across as stilted or contrived, like some others.  These days, I don’t get to watch either very often, but from time to time, I manage to put on an episode or two.  WPWedUse1

Columbo was a classic show, a non-whodunit—everyone knew who did it from the get-go.  It was hard not to like the perceptive LAPD Homicide cop with the rumpled and crumpled [ugly] raincoat, cheap stogie, and just-got-out-of-bed look.  Appearance-wise, he was a bit of a mess (you had to wonder why Wifey didn’t put her foot down about that).  His detecting manner leaned toward clumsy—he was forever misplacing a pencil or notebook, determining where to place ashes, or forgetting a question—but he was far from inept.  And he always got his man or woman, often with shows of respect from both parties when all was said and done.

Joe Mannix, on the other hand, was a ruggedly handsome and well-put-together Los Angeles private eye who was honorable and conscientious, as well as suave and kind of sexy.  During the eight years the show graced the TV screen, he suffered a slew of punches, a stabbing and shooting or two, and 55+ knock-outs.  Pretty and amiable Peggy Fair, his secretary (played by Gail Fisher) was the perfect complement.  The various LAPD cop friends he had always seemed more like buddies than antagonists (as often portrayed in other shows) and that was an appealing component.

Both shows were innocuous and entertaining.  Still are.  It’s particularly fun to watch them now because you’ll discover big-named actors—some already popular then and some just starting out.

Linda ended with a favorite quote from Sherlock and that got me to thinking of ones for my two detectives.  Unfortunately, neither had any, save for Columbo’s frequent, famous “Ah, one more thing” line.

So, I’ll leave you with my two favorite episodes.

Columbo: “Murder by the Book” (with Jack Cassidy and Martin Milner). A mystery writing duo go splitsville when one murders the other.  Directed by Steven Spielberg, it was classic Columbo and is [still] thoroughly entertaining.

Mannix: “Out of the Night” (with Joyce Van Patten and James A Watson Jr).  I liked this one because it gave Peggy a chance to shine and play something other than a calm, dependable, and perky secretary.  To assist in breaking up a narcotics ring, she goes undercover as a prostitute, exhibiting spunk and pluck.

If you haven’t watched either—or it’s been some time since you have—take another gander.  Both shows are a pleasant diversion—but no less engaging—from the gritty and excessively violent ones we have today.

Sleuths United

Because The Boss wants to take off a few days from posting, she asked us if we’d each post about our favorite detective—be he or she from books, TV, or films.  (Writing about Nancy Drew got her to thinking about sleuths and private investigators.)

Rey, JJ and I took turns playing rock-paper-scissors to see who’d post first, second and third.  I won—“I” being Linda, of course.  For me, it has to be the ever-brilliant “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Although I enjoyed reading classic literature in my teens, I was never into mysteries or detectives, but once I began working as a screenwriting assistant, I hung around with film people who were into classic films.  Through them, I was introduced to a wonderful world of B&W movies . . . and Basil Rathbone.

A bit of trivia: Rathbone, along with Nigel Bruce as sidekick Dr. Watson, played in 14 films between 1939 and 1946.  The first, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was my favorite.  Rathbone’s exploits, coupled with Bruce’s wit, prompted me to pick up the stories with—yes—The Hound being the first.  I was hooked immediately.  For a short spell, I was even a bit of a Sherlockian.  There’s a cool site, by the by, called Sherlockian.net (“The Portal About the Great Detective”).

I took a quick gander and based on a 2009 CNN Entertainment piece, Sherlock “The Game is Afoot” Holmes has been played by 75 actors in 211 films.  Wikipedia claims 254 times as at 2012.  That’s pretty damn impressive. WPshusetoo

The quintessential Sherlock Holmes for yours truly, however, was Jeremy Brett, who played him in 41 episodes from 1984 through 1994 (when Brett passed from heart failure).  I thought the series seemed like the real deal in terms of how I imagined 221B Baker Street and Victorian England to look and feel.  Others did as well apparently; praise was provided in spades re adhering to original concepts and Brett received accolades for his portrayal.

As an FYI, Brett once stated that “Holmes is the hardest part I have ever played—harder than Hamlet or Macbeth”.  Additional minutiae: Brett was the only actor who played both Holmes and Watson.  <LOL>  Rey’s usually the film enthusiast.  Hmm, speaking of, I wonder who she’ll pick as her favorite.  She wouldn’t tell us and simply said we’d have to read her post.

With that, I leave you with one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes (from The Man with the Twisted Lip): “I confess that I have been blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.”  Linda1

Who Doesn’t Like a Little Inspiration?

A wee while back I posted about Nancy Drew, the amateur sleuth who inspired me to write mysteries.

Feeling nostalgic, I ordered a few of the many I’d read as a kid (gotta love Amazon).  Written in the 50s and 60s by Carolyn Keene, a pseudonym of the various authors that wrote both Nancy Drew mysteries and The Dana Girls mysteries, they were “frolicsome” adventures for the young [aspiring] Sherlock within.

Having read three so far, the ones I recall having been my favorites back then, I thought I’d provide then-and-now reviews.

The Haunted Showboat

The first Nancy Drew read by yours truly had me so riveted, I spent the entire weekend in my bedroom with it.  It took me to New Orleans, which sounded so exotic to a kid living in cold, gray Toronto.  It provided action and excitement, a world where a “girl” could lead an exciting adventurous life, have (and easily make) friends.  She was pretty, smart, and oh so [enviably] likable; with two affable sidekicks, Bess and George, a darling dad and kind housekeeper, life seemed more than perfect.  While solving the mystery with them, I learned a few facts, too.  It was a 5/5.

I have to admit—YA writing style aside—it was still an enjoyable read, save for some politically incorrect words/terms/portrayals.  During the period, using them in books or on TV seemed the norm; today, whoa, not at all acceptable.  Ignorance of the times?  A topic for another post.  A 3/5 (for taking me back to the bayou).

The Clue in the Old Stagecoach

Nancy, Bess and George attend Camp Merriweather where the trio attempt to locate—yup—a clue in an old stagecoach.  In fact, finding it might just help save a town.  They detect while pursuing camp fun and encountering requisite villains—which is somewhat reminiscent of those 60s beach flicks with cute crooning Frankie and perfectly-coiffed Annette.  Must be nice to have moneyed parents that can send you to fun/faraway places.  <LOL>  The trio—with the assistance of their ever-faithful beaus—solve the case with stellar results, natch.  I’d probably have given it a 4/5 back then.

Stagecoach wasn’t quite what I remembered.  Flat and not overly eventful (with some annoying characters), a 1/5 would be about the best I could offer today.

The Moonstone Castle Mystery

This one accompanied me to Germany when my mother and I flew over to attend her mom’s funeral.  It had the same drawing power as Haunted Showboat and I was captivated as the three young women traveled to Deep River to locate a girl missing since childhood.  Yes, there was a moonstone (a gift sent to Nancy by someone unknown) and a mysterious, rundown castle reputed to be haunted.  A sundry of exciting events occurred, including the stealing of our titian-haired detective’s car, a chase or two, and some questionable characters.  Oh, of course, the aforementioned beaus made an appearance again—for that “romantic” component I suppose (but, quite frankly, unnecessary).  It was a 5/5 then and is a 4/5 now.

As an only child with few friends and parents who didn’t much know what to do with a child they’d not planned for (a fact and not stated with malice or regret) the stories provided pure escapism—distant and intriguing places, and opportunities to allow [a burgeoning] imagination to develop.

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What a pleasant diversion these last two weeks have been, an entertaining [if not enlightening] jaunt back in time.  There are a few additional Nancy Drew mysteries to read.  As time permits.  Perhaps there’ll be more reviews, too.  <LOL>

For those penning and/or reading mysteries, happy sleuthing.

Forever Poi, Forever Hopeful

It’s Linda on post patrol today.  The Boss is still under the weather, but then the weather in her neck of the woods is under-whelming.  <LSMH>  (Winter’s on its way and she’s not overly excited about it.)

Given I’m a food and wine blogger when I’m not a P.I., I thought I’d post about poi—firstly, by explaining the significance of “Forever Poi”, the fourth Triple Threat Investigation Agency case and, secondly, providing a little background about poi (with recipes).

The Boss explained it quite nicely, succinctly, in her new Smashwords interview: “In terms of me: it’s an homage to Hawaii.  Poi is a Hawaiian staple, a delicious food made from taro.  Hawaii [a hope, a dream] is in my heart and soul and always will be; hence, forever poi.”

In terms of the case, there’s mention of “Forever Poi” as associated with a comment from an intriguing [if not dangerous] individual who shall remain nameless.  (Alternatively said: please read our new adventure.)

The three of us enjoy poi different ways.  I love poi as “cereal”, sprinkled with raw sugar and cinnamon.  Rey prefers taro in the form of chips.  And JJ likes it in the form of soft-serve ice-cream or mooncakes.

For those not in the know about poi, it’s an essential Hawaiian staple, made from the underground plant stem of a root vegetable known as taro.  There’s a lot of fascinating information re its origins and where and how it’s used, but I’ll leave that for another time.  Feel free, however, to go Googling.

A quick note, though: traditional poi is made by mashing the cooked corm (plant stem) of the taro.  The time-honored method is performed on a wooden board with a pestle (pounding implement) while the modern method involves a food processor (I’ll opt for traditional anytime, thank you).  You can enjoy it fresh or allow it to ferment.

There’s an intriguing way of measuring consistency: “one finger”, “two finger”, and “three finger” poi relates to how many fingers are necessary to scoop a mouthful of the delicious mashed product.  The thicker the poi, the fewer the fingers.  Thickness or runniness is a purely personal preference.

Now that I’ve condensed a plethora of info into a pint-sized post, let me share some easy-peasy recipes: Simple Poi (a fav of mine), Simple Poi Mochi (a fav of JJ’s), and Simple Poi-Nut Bread (a fav of Rey’s).  . . . Can you tell the three of us really like “simple”?  <LOL>

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Simple Poi

♥ 4 lbs taro root 2 ½ tbsp coconut oil   ♥ 2 ½ tbsp butter   ♥ 2 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt   ♥ 6-8 tbsp celery or asparagus juice   ♥ water

⇒ Preheat the oven to 300°F.     ⇒ Wash the taro root and pierce consistently all over.     ⇒ Bake for about 2 hours (until soft all the way through).     ⇒ Cut open the taro root and spoon out the taro into a large bowl. Throw away the skin.     ⇒ Add the salt and juice.     ⇒ Mix well.     ⇒ Cover with a cloth and leave to ferment for a minimum of 24 hours.     ⇒ Once fermented, melt the butter in a saucepan.     ⇒ If you’re going traditional and mashing the taro with a wooden board and pestle, do so, and then add to a bowl.  If you’re going modern, add the taro to a food processor and “mash”.     ⇒ Add the oil and butter.     ⇒ Add the water and blend to the desired consistency.

(You can add various “flavors” or serve it as is.  As mentioned, I like sugar and cinnamon, but anything’s doable.  Feel free to experiment.)

Simple Poi Mochi

♥   1 lb poi, ready-made/bought or homemade (see “Simple Poi” recipe above)   ♥ 2 cups water, give or take   ♥ 2 10-ounce packages Asian sweet rice flour   ♥ 1 ½ cups sugar   ♥ 1 quart canola oil for deep frying

⇒ Combine everything except the oil.     ⇒ Add water slowly (you want a thick batter).      ⇒ Drop by the teaspoon into the heated oil and deep fry until slightly crisp.     ⇒ Drain.     ⇒ Makes about three dozen pieces.     ⇒ Feel free to dust with sugar or a sugar-spice combination.

(You can add various “flavors” to the mixture before frying.  JJ likes red-bean paste.)

Simple Poi Nut Bread

♥ 1 lb poi, ready-made/bought or homemade (see “Simple Poi” recipe above)   ♥ ¾ cup water   ♥ 2 cups flour   ♥ ¾ cups brown sugar   ♥ 1 tsp cinnamon   ♥ 1 tsp nutmeg   ♥ 2 tsp baking powder   ♥ 1 tsp sea salt   ♥ 3 eggs, beaten   ♥ 1 cup oil   ♥ 2 tsp vanilla   ♥ 1 ½ cups macadamia nuts (or substitute your favorite nut, or a combination thereof)   ♥ ½ cup currants (or dried fruit of preference)

⇒ Mix the poi and water together.  Let stand in a bowl.     ⇒ In a second bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.     ⇒ Combine both mixtures.     ⇒ Add the remaining ingredients.     ⇒ Add to an oiled/buttered pan and bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes.

Hope you enjoyed the post about poi.  It’s a bit of a departure from the usual, but what’s wrong with digressing now and again?

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Happy Halloween from Honolulu Hawaii

The Boss would have been real proud to come up with that heading—she’s into illiteration.  . . . Huh?  Oh.  JJ says it’s “alliteration”.  <LMAO>

Anyway, the three of us are here to share what we’re planning for Halloween, which is always a majorly fun to-do time on Oahu.  There’s a costume party with a bunch of HPD pals, so we’ll pop over around midnight, but during the day and evening, we’re gonna explore what Oahu has to offer, something we’ve talked about in past, but never much done.  Each of us has come up with a Halloweeny event to pursue, so Linda, you start.  What have you got planned for us?

Ever since I watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as a kid, I’ve wanted to visit a pumpkin patch.  So I’m driving us to Waimanalo Country Farms where they’ve got pumpkin picking, hayrides, and a country market, among other things.  The little girl in me can’t wait!  It’ll be a hoot, I’m sure.  What about you, JJ?

I’m sorry to say I got the dates mixed up re the annual Chinatown “Hallowbaloo”—a costume street festival with music/entertainment, art and food—so it’s at the top of the list for next year.  We’re heading over to Haunted Plantation, reputed to be the “scariest haunted attraction”.  Sixty-plus actors haunt a village with what sounds like—ahem—ghoulishly frightening results.  <LOL>  Linda, your face is paler than that of a cartoon ghost!

Yeah, it looks like it did last night, when we did the “Zombie Apocalypse” at Coral Crater.  What a blast!  For those who haven’t experienced it, you gear up and wipe out zombies overrunning a village.  Then, you zip-line to safety.  Like, how cool is that?

I’m just not as huge a fan of zombies and zip-lining as you, Rey.  But once my heart stopped thumping like a snare drum being struck by an eager marching band drummer, I have to admit, I did enjoy the adrenalin rush.  . . . So, are you finally going to tell us what you have planned?

I am indeedy-do, Lindy-Loo.  Given I’m an actress when I’m not P.I.ing, I had to go for something “theatrical”.  I got tickets for—ooh, this is so-o much fun!—a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show hosted by Tita Titsling, who’s touted as the “Premiere Moustache Queen of Chinatown, Honolulu”.  How exciting is that, I ask?  . . . And on that note, everyone, the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency wish you an absolootely hairy-scary Halloween! WPUSEtoo

Sprees

. . . not of the shopping sort—though I love those—but the crime sort.  Hey, it’s Rey here.  With Linda.  The Boss is getting over a nasty cold and asked one of us to pen the post.  JJ’s off for the weekend on some sort of business course, so the two of us are partnering up and shooting the sh—

Linda:  Breeze!

Rey:  Whatever.  I’ve got some emails and texts here with the snail mail.  A few folks have asked about our last four cases—okay three, ‘cause The Connecticut Corpse Caper wasn’t really a case, but our first non-pro detecting venture.  They were multiple-murder-spree cases, ones where the killers were either uber-focused on not being caught or making serious money the easy way.  If someone got in their way or proved of some financial advantage, they got offed.

Linda:  You may also want to mention that they favored “crazy”, too. 

Rey:  Crazy?  They were out-and-out nutbars!  Remember the Gruesome Twosome in Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie?

 Linda:  Or the other equally Gruesome Twosome in Coco’s Nuts! 

Rey:  We’ve met a few Gruesome Twosomes in our private eye adventures, haven’t we?

Linda:  That we have.  They were certainly challenging if not creepy.

Rey:  And fascinating.

Linda:  People do tend to have a fascination for bizarre or eerie killers.

Rey:  Like serial killers.

Linda:  Which, technically, we haven’t really dealt with.

Rey:  Sure we have.

Linda:  But that didn’t really come out until after the fact.

Rey:  True enough, but I think we’re divesting.

Linda:  You mean digressing?

Rey:  Whatever.  Do we want to talk about our cases?

Linda:  Serial killers make a good topic, given it’s Halloween next week.  You know, how we have a fascination with them, how they—and we, in turn—lean toward the macabre and the morbid and the scaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Rey:  Ha-ha, ha-ha.

Linda:  That’s the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s next case.

Rey:  One I’m looking forward to.  But back to serial killers, why do you think we like them so much?

Linda:  Curiosity to start; they’re intriguing.  We wonder how they’ve been able to get away with multiple murders for so long, what motivates them to do such dastardly deeds, why they choose certain victims over others.  They’re so extreme in what they do, we can’t help but be drawn.  Constant news coverage—which is often provocative if not enticing—becomes riveting.

Rey:  The strange thing is, some of them seemed—and seem—so normal.

Linda:  Another reason we’re captivated . . . in that aforementioned macabre, morbid way.

Rey:  I’m not sure I’d like to meet a real one. 

Linda:  And I’m not so sure they’re all that different from the killers we’ve met solving cases.

Rey:  Or the suspects we’ve encountered, come to think about it.  Some have been real—as Great-Cousin Clara might have said—wing-dings.

Linda:  Like the person we’re pursuing in HA-HA-HA-HA.

Rey:  Yikes.  Can you spell s-p-o-o-k-y?

Linda:  Many ways.  But before we prattle on forever—

Rey:  Prattle!?  We’re posting!

Linda:  You say poh-tay-tow, I say poe-taw-toh—

Rey:  Yeah, yeah.  . . . Hey, lookie here!  Gail’s email says Nordstrum’s having a sale!  Catcha later!

Linda:  Uh . . . well, it appears my BFF has caught the $ale$ bug.  So much for posting.  Have a great weekend everyone and to quote Rey: catcha later.

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Trailer . . .rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs

Not the transport sort, but the ad kind.  Is it important to have a trailer when doing a book blog tour or launching a book?  Is it a viable marketing/promo tool?

Frankly, I’ve only viewed a handful.  A couple were cheesy (usually, I like cheesy), the odd one kind of cool, and some simply “uninspiring”.  They didn’t influence me enough that I’d have bought or read the book.

It’s said that, generally, trailers don’t promote sales, but they can certainly put your product out there . . . create an awareness factor as it were.  This appears to hold true whether your budget is minimal or you invest serious $$$ into one featuring actors, high-end graphics, and the like.

It’s also said that videos are more memorable than text.  People will recall images more readily than words.  Food for thought.

If your budget is minimal or nonexistent like mine (LOL), you can make your own, but they can prove tricky, so technical and program savvy would be in your definite favor (alas, not in mine).  Of course, as suggested above, you can invest some bucks and pay someone—but, if you’re going to take this route, as I always state, please do your due diligence.  Learn who excels at them and who doesn’t (check out buyer-beware sites before committing to a particular one).  If you’re going to spend money (and as an FYI trailers can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, depending on whose services you go with), get the best bang for your buck.

Another alternative is to simply tape yourself and talk about your book.  We’ve seen vids of this nature and some can certainly be entertaining if not informative.  It depends on the presentation—how you portray yourself and your product.  A low-budget look may have merit, depending on the arrangement.

An alternative is a webinar—a slide show or video with audio, which is somewhat reminiscent of a workplace endeavor.  But again, if done properly, a webinar could prove a feasible endeavor.  For ideas, check out what others have done.

One thing we should NOT do when going solo: cut and paste our book cover and photo, and away we go.  When creating our own book trailers, we should apply the same rules applicable to good writing.

Be:

  • crisp and clear (with words and sound/music)
  • short and sweet (don’t yammer on incessantly).

Ensure images are first-rate and that the final product communicates what your book is all about, without giving away too much.  Remember: you want to inspire people to WANT to learn more.

One last note: be aware of copyright laws re music and graphics.

Happy trails . . . er . . . trailers. WPtrailerboxB

Book Tour Blog Travels

So you’re thinking of promoting your book by doing a book blog tour?  Awesome!  Given I’m doing one in the next while for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie?, I thought we could touch upon—review—relevant blog-tour “pointers”.

You’ve completed your first e-book.  You’ve got it properly formatted and the front and back covers look amazing!  How exciting.  Now, you’d like people to read it . . . create excitement . . . get reviewed . . . make sales.  A book blog tour is a great way to make these goals happen.

Now, if your goal is all about making sales, you’ll want to create a buzz before the book is released.  If you want pre-orders, get started a good two-three weeks before the book is released.  If you want books to be purchased upon release, then start your blog tour the day the book is out.

A tour (which can last from one week to several weeks) takes work.  It’s not simply a matter of sending out multiple copies of your e-book.  You have to plan, network, and organize.

Sure, you can pay someone to do it for you (personally, I’m not Rockefeller-rich—not yet, LOL—so I’d prefer to keep my pennies in Mr. Piggy).  If you’re going to pay someone, make sure he/she is reputable: do that due diligence and thoroughly research blog-tour sites.  Get feedback and also check out “buyer beware” sites.  Remember: you get what you paid for.

That said, there are book-tour bloggers who’ll do this for free—t’is true!  You just need to—yup—do that due diligence.  And network.  Learn who’s looking.  Get to know fellow writers/bloggers.  Read blogs regularly.  Comment and participate.  You’ll be amazed how supportive fellow bloggers/authors can be.  Within no time, you’ll have connections who will help you organize a tour . . . but you’ll still have to put in serious effort.

Whether you go solo or have someone assist, be prepared to have the following items ready:

  • review copies of the finished product
  • front cover
  • bio
  • author photo
  • excerpt(s)
  • posts (for guest spots and your own blog to promote the tour)
  • interviews (you’d want at least two, and they should be different)
  • tour banner
  • book trivia (not necessary, but nice)
  • trailer (not necessary, but nice)
  • prize/giveaway (not necessary, but it’s been known to increase traffic)
  • gratitude—be continually thankful.

Don’t forget to promote the tour on social media.  Make sure to follow-up.

There’s a lot to discover on the Internet about book tours, but don’t get overly caught up in all the details.  Become familiar with “ground rules” and plunge in (doing is the best way of learning).

. . . How do you measure your success?  Track comments and blog/media coverage if you like (not my thing, personally, but to each his or her own).  It all depends on what your initial goals were.  Maybe you’d be delighted with one awesome review or stellar guest post versus several here’s-a-new-book posts.  Maybe you’d be glad with a handful of positive comments.  Success—accomplishment—is all about what pleases you.

Happy touring!