Who’s Laughing Now?

Not us gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—we’re embarking on our next big case: HA-HA-HA-HA.

Now, it may take some time to solve (given The Boss has those time constraints), but we’re keeping the faith it’ll get done sooner than later.

It’s Rey by the way.  Hope you’re all doing well.  We certainly are.  In fact, JJ and Linda and me are super stoked—and, as that once popular saying used to go, we’re are so-o ready to rock’n’roll!

Here’s how it all begins . . .

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“What an f’g jackass.”  Shoving her thumbs in her ears, melodramatic Cousin Reynalda thrust out her tongue and wiggled long, slender fingers.

Standing alongside a looming, leafy shrub that served as target practice for strident feathery friends gliding and bounding nearby, Detective Sammie Sallo chose to turn just then.

Out came the thumbs and in went the tongue.  With a Hollywood [dazzling] smile, Rey waved with both hands, then tucked them into the pockets of daisy-imprinted cut-off shorts.

“Next time, sister, that tongue better mean business.”  With a buffalo snort, he pulled out a mouth-to-lung e-cigarette bundle.  Sallo resembled Stacy Keach’s Mike Hammer, right down to the mustache and fedora, an odd hat to be wearing on Oahu.  It arrived with him when he moved here two months ago from NYC to replace Devoy Hunt, a detective we’d just gotten to know.  He’d opted to move to “quieter, calmer” Kauai, the Garden Isle.

“Jackass,” she muttered, turning sideways.  “Why’d he have to choose the same time as us to come and check out the murder scene?”

“Timing’s everything,” Linda said gaily, giving him the finger when he turned back to view the canal.

The three of us—private eyes from The Triple Threat Investigation Agency (Rey’s choice of name)—hadn’t been officially hired for any particular case.  We had, however, received an odd email at 8:30 p.m. two nights ago that read: The game’s started, ladies.  Check out the area on Laau around the Ala Wai Canal.  I suggest you head there now.  HA-HA-HA-HA  Your loving GrimReaperPeeper.

Tourists, joggers, and strollers with frolicsome dogs utilized the sidewalk on the maiki (south) side of the canal.  On the mauka (mountain) side was a golf course, community garden and park, and boating facilities, among other things.  Sadly, people didn’t—couldn’t—swim in the Ala Wai anymore.  To do so could prove hazardous, because the 1.5-mile-long canal was a breeding channel for bacteria, heavy metals, and pesticides—never mind garbage.  Kayakers and canoe paddlers, however, seemed fearless, overlooking the fact that getting canal water on your skin or in your mouth could result in rashes and gastro-intestinal issues.  Hazards aside, it was a lovely stretch . . . although we might never quite few it the same way again.

GrimReaperPeeper had sent a message at the completion of our last major case, the third in the agency’s short history that involved bad-ass murderers.  Curious, we drove to Laau Street and checked cautiously around.  Given the vague directions, there’d been considerable ground to cover and as we were about to give up, Linda had stumbled upon four bodies stretched out before the canal by the Fisheries Management area—four bedraggled, bruised, blotched bodies with loose puckered skin as white as the underbelly of a perch and as translucent as a jellyfish. 

Forty-eight hours in the canal, which served as both drainage ditch and tidal estuary, would have contributed to multi-hued patterns on regions still resembling human parts after aquatic inhabitants had feasted.  Would have, but didn’t.  These four souls had taken their initial swim elsewhere, before necrophagous insects came to feast and spawn.

The two couples had been missing since March twenty-fourth and had been dead since March twenty-sixth, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianoaole Day.  That had been the initial determination and it hadn’t, yet, changed.

Detective Sammie Sallo drew on an e-cig and exhaled at length.  Fumes twirled upward like coolant smoke flowing from a tailpipe.  Strolling back to join us, he eyed Rey’s face with obvious interest.  “Looked kinda like beached whales, didn’t they?”

An image of the humpback whales that migrated to Hawaii this time of year came to mind.  The migration was comparable to an Oregon cattle drive of yesteryear, a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, or even a run of the grunion, marine fish related to the mullet that spawned from March to August on the first four nights after the highest tide of each full or new moon.  They were so predictable the California State Fisheries Laboratory published a timetable indicating when they’d appear.

Well, these four grunion had made it to shore all right, but they’d not completed their quest.  There’d been no dissolved oxygen to fan their blood, no sand to begin the regeneration process from, no purpose or hope to keep them alive.  And this ending was far from predictable . . .  although there had been a full moon that night.  Given that unusual things were reported to occur during one, was that significant? 

It had been two days since the discovery of the bodies.  We’d returned this breezy afternoon to take daytime photos, poke around, and get a feel for what might have happened; Sallo, unfortunately, had had similar thoughts. 

The fifty-year-old believed that the four had partied hardy, so he’d stated a few times that night.  Given his next words, he was still of the same mind.  “There was probably a group of them.  They got caught up in too much booze, maybe drugs too, and started playing weird cult games.  Maybe they were paying homage to the great god of Ecstasy and/or praying to Mr. Full Moon.  I’ve seen shit like this before.  Booze and drugs make people do bizarre things.”  He picked up a large coffee perched alongside a small plumeria tree, noisily gulped back what was left, and belched. 

When it came to class, Sallo had as much elegance as Archie Bunker, a character that retro television wouldn’t let anyone forget.  Rey, Linda and I had met him three times in the last few weeks and while Detective Ald Ives (or “Hives” as Rey mockingly called him) seemed to get along well enough with his colleague, we found Sallo as abrasive as steel wool.

Linda smirked, tossing raspberry-red, shoulder-length waves.  “You really think a group of them got into ‘cult games’?”

“It sure looks that way, Royale.  Remember the marks on their chests?  In their fucked-up states, they’d probably thought it was a fun, freaky thing to do.  Matches the tatts on their arms and probably other body parts we’ve yet to see.”  He eyed her with dark amusement, like a deranged despot might his lackey. 

“So friends just left them there after moon-and-drug worshipping, and what?  Went home to sleep it off?”

“Why not?  Come the morning, they realized how carried away they’d gotten.  They’re either now having issues coming to terms with it or they don’t give a rat’s ass.” 

They’d been found facing the canal with arms folded neatly over chests.  Four black fabric roses, glossy and delicate, had been pinned to tops and shirts and all four had had floral designs incised into chests, possibly with a roulette—not the gambling game, but a small toothed disk of tempered steel attached to a hilt and used to make a series or rows of dots, slits, or perforations.

I kicked pebbles as I eyed the crime scene ahead, thinking it was time to visit an upset-irate client whose wayward hubby we’d finally caught being wayward—with her sister.  We’d promised to arrive around 4:15 to provide background, a report and invoice, but given Mrs. Starzeneiss’ “high strung” personality, we’d probably have to stick around to soothe ruffled feathers.

“Isn’t it possible they were murdered by a sadistic killer?”

He scowled, threw the coffee cup onto the concrete pathway, and popped a Tic-Tac. 

With a sigh, I swallowed a rebuke.  Pulling a warm bottle of water from a Hawaiian print backpack, I took a long swallow and eyed fluttering, ripped police tape wrapped around several trees and shrubs.  A yellow ribbon tied around an old oak tree it wasn’t.  What it was, was jarring.  A reminder that something terrible had occurred.

There were often obvious if not improbable gaps in Sallo’s hypotheses, but he wasn’t the sort you could argue with—not without wanting to bang your head against a wall or three.

I nodded to my Jeep parked several yards down, under a bright lemon-colored sun.  Thankfully, the sunroof and windows were open (I didn’t much care for A/C).

“Catch ya later, Detective S,” Rey purred.

“Whatever.”

She blew a raspberry and the three of us moseyed to the car.

“Can you spell jerk?” Linda asked, pulling an apple banana from a large crocheted tote.

“Yeah.  S-a-l-l-o,” I replied wryly, opening the passenger door.

“What’s up, buttercup?” a baritone voice boomed from behind.

Rey spun, ready to pounce. 

Linda and I exchanged amused glances. 

“You always pop out from behind parked SUVs like that?” I asked.

Jimmy Carcanetta, a freelance writer and blogger Linda had gotten to know in the last couple months, grinned like a toddler who’d just be given a huge slice of cake.  His pumpkin-shaped head bobbled like a fishing bobber.  “Nothing like the element of surprise.”

“What brings you here?” 

“The same thing that brought you guys here: a need to piece things together and get a feel for what happened.”

“Your article on the murders was good.”

“For a food and wine reviewer,” he chuckled, pulling a new Canon camera from a faux-leather bag.  “Thought I’d take a few more pics, for context.”

“Any new findings or thoughts?” Linda asked, leaning into the passenger door and taking a chomp from the apple banana.

“Not yet.  Just mulling over facts.  They’d been missing two days and died on the twenty-sixth, or thereabouts.  They’d been meticulously mutilated—and please don’t attribute it to cult games or weird rites.  I heard that from the ass back there the other day.”  With a glower, he jerked a thumb rearward.  “What crap.  . . . Any thoughts about the fact they’d been so neatly arranged, with roses yet?  That seems very specific, as if the killer were leaving a calling card.” 

“Maybe it’s the creep’s way of saying goodbye, a ceremonial or funereal kind of thing,” Rey offered. 

“Who says the roses came from the killer?” Linda added.  “They might have been a club or party signature thing.  The four may have been wearing them before they were done in.”

“Yeah, but the incisions resembled flowery embroidery.”  He scanned the end of the street.  “I’m thinking there was a connection between the two, even if Sallo won’t admit it.  Why though?”

“Why won’t he admit it?  Or what’s the connection?”  I smiled drily.  “I have a feeling the detective’s going to prove a thorn in many people’s sides.”

“Thorn?” Rey asked sarcastically.  “How about spike?”

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Review & Interview: James J. Cudney and Academic Curveball

Academic Curveball: A Braxton Campus Mystery is the first cozy from James J. Cudney IV (Jay) . . . a big winding curve from suspenseful family dramas Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure.  While Glass and Father lean toward the poignant and WPJayUseAenthralling, and occasionally dark, Academic successfully captures the feel of a cozy— with subtle humor and the requisite amateur sleuth, quaint settings, curious characters, clues and red herrings.

Jay’s graphic descriptions of Wharton County and Braxton pull us into various locales; we can clearly envision the picturesque campus and dwellings, feel the chilly November air dance across our skin, and experience the ouch-y smack upon accidentally hitting our head on a wooden bedroom beam.  This author has a gift for creating vivid images.

Thirty-something protagonist/narrator Kellan Ayrwick returns to Pennsylvania from California for his crusty father’s retirement from Braxton College.  Leaving his five-year-old daughter Emma with in-laws, he demonstrates the care and concerns of a loving single parent.  It’s easy to like calm and affable Kellan and want to follow his “inadvertent adventures” when a murder occurs.  When his boss requests he remain and cover the dastardly deed for their TV show, he soon discovers that anyone—family and friends included—is a viable suspect.

Before we know it, we’re eagerly ambling along the sleuthing trail with Kellan, attempting to figure out “whodunit” . . . and hoping the one person who didn’t “dunit” is Nana, his wonderfully [hysterically] eccentric grandmother.  This woman is a dynamo, reminiscent of Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur.  (I could see this quirky gal carrying her own cozy series.)

The book leaves a few openings and storyline possibilities for future Braxton mysteries, which we know are [happily] coming.  I’m looking forward to pursuing Kellan’s next “case”.

   Rating: save save save save save

Intrigued by our author’s prolific blogging and writing projects, I felt compelled to conduct a mini—most interesting—interview.

What served as the inspiration for Academic Curveball?

I love cozy mysteries and book series. I’ve been reading them for ~25 years now and find myself always looking for the latest edition or drama in recurring characters’ lives. I think it’s because I am an only child that I love seeing the continuous bond within families and friends in small towns. I’ve always wanted to be a professor, but I waited too long to go to graduate school. I don’t have the energy or time to go back for advanced degrees now, so I wanted a way to feel like I was back on campus. When I combined all of this together, I thought… maybe that should be my new book series! The first plot evolved out of another dream where I pictured the killer and his/her reason for committing murder, then I built an entire story around it.

Did you envision yourself as Kellan during the writing of Academic Curveball—i.e. are you the protagonist putting the pieces of a puzzle together or are you the creator/author providing twists and turns for your main character? 

It’s a combination of both. There are tons of things about Kellan that are 100% me, both in how I speak, my level of sarcasm, and how I analyze situations. I’m not nosy by nature, so I had to push those elements. Someone could say “I think X is so angry with Y, they’ll kill her.” I’d ignore it and not want to get involved in someone else’s drama. Kellan is different. He’d have 100 questions and never stop trying to guess what could happen. Since I draft an outline with scenes described chapter by chapter before I begin writing, I’m definitely creating the twists/turns, but Kellan’s voice surprises me. Sometimes he says things which make me as the author realize I have to alter a scene because he’s smarter than me.

Do characters/characterization come naturally (instinctively) as you write, or do you spend time developing and crafting them?

Both. Each character has 3 or 4 traits (physical and personality) before I write a scene. When they begin to act in the scene, their individual personalities also emerge, then I go back and update prior chapters so it’s consistent. Minor characters never have a look and feel during the outline stage unless I see them as long-term. After the first draft, I read slowly and keep a list of all things I’ve said about a character, then I apply a ratio-formula depending on their number of scenes or future longevity. I want everyone to have enough traits that readers get a good picture but have room to fill in the blanks, too.

Some authors simply go with the flow; their fingers fly furiously across a keyboard.   What’s your writing style?  Do you let the story and characters tell the tale or do you give considerable thought to scenes/scenarios and how they’ll play out?

After writing a one-page summary of the plot and characters, then I write a ~25 page overview outline. It has details about the murders, the suspects, and the cliffhangers. I also have a chapter by chapter and scene by scene bullet list of what needs to happen. Sometimes it only lists one character and then I decide who (s)he interacts with in the scene in order to build the drama or cover the cozy aspects of the town’s life. In this book, I deleted two chapters by merging their content in with others, then I also added six scenes to help with transitions between chapters. It becomes a puzzle trying to figure out what order to make things happen to keep up the mystery.

On a non-professional note, what inspires you, James J. Cudney?

Outside of reading and writing, I love genealogy, cooking, and history. I am an expert in nothing, nor a jack-of-all-trades. I know a lot about a bunch of things, but I still sometimes need the basics to round out what I am interested in. Inspiration usually comes in the form of seeing a beautiful picture, thinking about where I am and where I want to be… generally analyzing people, places, and things. I am very much in trapped my head and often forget to be a social person. Autumn is my favorite season, so I’m thrilled to enter it these days… I hope it sticks around for a few months.

For those unfamiliar with Jay, he’s an amazing—inexhaustible (!)—author and blogger residing in NYC.  The short link for Academic Curveball on Amazon is http://mybook.to/ACurveball while Goodreads’ link is https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41564460-academic-curveballWPJayUseB

The new book Broken Heart Attack will be available December 2018 and is also on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/series/242493-braxton-campus-mysteries (but the cover won’t be added for approximately four weeks).  Last but by no means least, his stand-alone novels, the aforementioned Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can also be purchased on Amazon.

Jay’s what I (and many bloggers/authors) aspire to be.  He’s also a kind and encouraging individual who selflessly offers constructive advice and [much] appreciated support.

Visit his blog (https://thisismytruthnow.com) to find—among other things—reviews and read-a-thons, and the introspective 365 Daily Challenge: “365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.”

 

 

Profane Profanity

The plan was to post the prologue to the fifth e-book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series has been slightly postponed.

As I was giving it one last quick look-see, I saw the F-word and it got me to thinking about profanity . . . and the curses, obscenities, vulgarity I  lump under that one heading.

A new character with an I’m-always-right attitude (you know the sort) tells it like it is.  Period.  He’s abrasive—like steel wool.  I tend to limit swearing and the like, partly because I don’t want to affront readers and partly because peppery language simply isn’t always necessary (funny, given the F-word flies out of my mouth more often than I’d like to admit, try as I might to control it).  When do I use it?  When I believe scenes and scenarios and situations warrant usage.  As an FYI, I have no issue with profanity and obscenities in other authors’ works, as long as they’re not bleeding across every page like

Certain characters in certain genres—such as crime stories or thrillers, as examples—would (should) be more “hard-edged”.  Would they come across as such if they said “gosh darn it” instead of spitting an expletive when confronted with a crazed killer or caught in a dire situation?  Think: mechanism versus mechanical, realism versus awkwardness.  Balance is a very good thing, so give it some serious thought.  Do you write for your readers?  Or do you write what you feel comfortable writing? WP3monkeys1

Consider this: it’s human to become angry, sad, outraged, happy, discouraged, passionate, responsive.  We demonstrate emotions and feelings through actions and words.  Sometimes, we lash out . . . and loudly.  So do fictional characters.

Time and continual story-crafting will dictate what makes you comfortable and what your readers want (and don’t want).  But don’t be afraid to challenge yourself or your readers; just be certain that whatever expressions you add to text and dialog are there for a valid reason: to emphasize a moment, an emotion, or a reaction, not to toss in vulgarity for the sake of adding it (“shock value” might have worked once upon a time ago, but nowadays it leans toward trite).

Script$ and Sale$

Thought I’d continue re the last story-to-script post and touch a wee bit on the $ component.

Can money be made selling scripts?  Of course.  Is it easy?  Depends on who you read and/or listen to.  If you can make the film yourself, awesome and all the better—but it takes bucks (as in budget) and background (as in know-how)—so if neither is an option, then start pitching.  Before that happens, however, a few “musts” enter the equation. WPUse6

The [well-written] script must be fantastic.  The concept and storyline have to stand out and the characters should prove dynamic.  As such, revise that script until it’s seamless.

Get feedback—genuine feedback.  And yes, it can come from friends and followers.  Family?  Maybe.  Accept input with a grain of salt.  It’s very nice to have Cousin Martha-May effusively state what a gifted writer you are and doesn’t the script just read peachy-keen, but it’s not going to help much in the hoping-and-planning-to-sell department.  You need critical advice.  How does the script [truly] read?  Is it logical?  Are there typos and glaring errors or inconsistencies?  Ensure that script is the best it can be.

There must be an accompanying persuasive pitch.  Keep it short and sweet, and strong.  Impress the reader (filmmaker, producer, agent, whomever) so that he/she wants to see the script.  Keep calling, emailing, contacting—and make sure you know who you’re pitching (selling) to.  Be positive and forthright, and grab attention.

Part of that persuasive pitch is having an awesome log-line (a one or two sentence summation of your script).  It must convey the premise and provide a snapshot of the overall storyline.

You must network, network, and network.  Put yourself and your work out there.  Get to know as many [influential/connected] people as possible.  Apply yourself.  Recognize that it may take time and be patient (and persevering).  Use social media to your advantage.  Join relevant communities.  Acquire contacts.  Join script-writing groups.  Dare I say it again?  You must network, network, and network.  FBSatUse2

Researching sites to locate lists of [credible] film people is a must, too, because unless Great-Uncle Waldo works for a major film studio, you’ll need leads.  Sure, they’re already receiving queries by the <bleep>-load.  Don’t let that deter you.  You never know: your script might just be THE one.

Posting about your work and projects is also a must.  If you’re a blogger, inform your followers/visitors; if you’re not a blogger, become one.  Use every possible promotional tool.

Podcasts, conferences, and classes with film and media folks are worth checking out.  They can lead to connections—can, not will—but you’ll acquire tips, learn new/interesting facts, and make acquaintances.  Don’t discount these avenues.

If the idea of scriptwriting tickles your fancy, go for it.  Simply view the making-sale$ part as another challenge—which we know we can triumph over with determination and commitment, and amazing self-promo skills (which are honed with practice and persistence).

 

Adapting/Adopting – What’s in a Word?

Ever consider adapting . . . adopting . . . a story or book and converting it into a script/screenplay?  (And just what is the difference between the two?  Nada in terms of films, but TV scripts are always called just that: scripts.)

I’ve written a few scripts over the years.  It’s a challenge having to take a story and condense it into a few pages, but it’s also a lot of fun.  It’s like breathing life into your story and characters; they become more visual . . . realistic . . . vibrant.  And that’s very cool.

Recently, an acquaintance requested I adapt/adopt a story and while I haven’t committed—yet—I’m giving it [serious] thought.  This would entail taking a two-sentence premise and writing a script from scratch.  (A two-hour feature film, as an FYI, equals a 120-page script.)

Which one’s harder: beginning with a thought or molding a predetermined, written, story?  I believe both provide the same challenges . . . in different respects.  If you take a thought, you literally lay the foundation and construct from the beginning, the base, and add everything and anything that comes to creative mind.  If you take a completed story or book, you keep some (or a lot) of the foundation, but assemble—and refurbish—as you deem fit.

If you’re starting with nothing more than a premise, you’ll have to determine the genre.  If you’re hoping to sell the script (maybe we’ll touch upon sales in Post #2), aim for a popular genre.  The ones that “sell” best, in no given order: crime, detective, action, comedy, horror, fantasy, love/romance, sci-fi, and thriller.  (There’s no reason you can’t meld two or three, but if you’re going to do this, make sure one stands out above the others, and that they gel well.) WPuse1

Once you’ve determined the genre or you’ve got a story/book ready to adapt, give thought to what the script will entail.  Questions to consider:

♦  What’s the plot?  What notable / life-changing events take place?

♦  Who’s the protagonist?  What’s he/she all about?  What’s his/her goal or calling and why?

♦  Who’s the villain (and it could be a “what” as opposed to a “who”)?  What’s the conflict?

♦  Who are the other characters?  What makes them tick?

♦  Which series of [significant] incidents occur?  What are the twists and turns?

♦  What ultimately and really matters (i.e. what’s going to resonate with the audience, draw in viewers)?

Points/factors to ponder for yours truly . . . should I accept this new mission.  Keep you posted.

The Aww-Do-I-Have-to!? Synopsis (Writing a Book Rundown)

Just the thought of writing a book synopsis—rundown, summary, précis, abstract—can seem daunting.  Consider it a challenge.  Sure, it will take time and commitment, like most things in life.  But it gets the gray matter churning and toiling, and that’s a good thing.

Is a synopsis necessary?  Yes, if the plan is to:

  • submit the book to an agent or traditional publisher
  • do a promo tour (some bloggers and reviewers will request one)
  • do interviews (a synopsis provides a sound overview of how to [succinctly] describe/deliver the book).

It’s said there should be two versions: a long one comprising three to four pages and a short one that’s one to two pages.  If you’re submitting to an agent or publisher, check and adhere to submission guidelines.

Before sitting down to write one, ensure the book is publication-ready (or close to).  Review the book and determine key components—such as opening chapters (that establish conflict, motivation, and quest/mission), main characters, pivotal actions, and that wondrous ending. WPstudious1

The first paragraph—like the opening of the book—should be a “grabber”.  Yes, it’s a summation that conveys basic information about the main characters and how the story unfolds, but has to be interesting if not intriguing.  Think of that “wow” factor: what makes this story worth reading?

Make sure the synopsis is short and sweet, crisp and clear (avoid excessive or redundant wording).  As an example, here’s the opening to the synopsis for The Connecticut Corpse Caper:

“The Connecticut Corpse Caper” chronicles the antics of seven inheritance recipients, as witnessed by weather announcer Jill Jocasta Fonne.  The madcap mystery (approximately 89,000 words in length) begins when she arrives one November afternoon at an eerie (reputedly haunted) Connecticut mansion, primed for a week-long stay.  Two-hundred thousand dollars will be awarded to each person.  Should someone leave, for whatever reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.

Ensure the synopsis:

  • begins strongly—state what the novel entails ASAP (describe the conflict and protagonist)
  • makes sense—note relevant events in logical progression
  • encapsulates characters (be concise, not excessive, and don’t describe every last one)
  • captures important twists and turns
  • ties up loose ends.

It seems a lot to jam and cram into one to four pages.  But it’s entirely doable.  If you’re new to writing them, go on-line for examples and get a feel for the flow.  It will come.  As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

. . . On that note, I’d better get practicing as I have to perfect one for “Forever Poi”.

Vent for the Day

Don’t you hate it when Facebook develops a mind of its own . . . and try as you might, that <bleeping> Write a Post box refuses to cooperate?

Can you spell a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g?

Fortunately, past FB “tantrums” have never lasted more than a day.

. . . Hmm . . . why not post the daily FB Triple Threat Investigation Agency post here?  What a brilliant idea (I do get those once in a blue moon).

 We didn’t find anything suspicious in the lot last night . . . that we entered thanks to Cousin Rey’s “infamous” B&E kit.  Not that we expected to, but as always, HOPED to.  We’re going to keep our eyes on them for a while; see if anything illicit is going on after hours.  Meanwhile, we have a few more garages and auto-part shops to check out.  Someone, somewhere, has to know something.  So far, no one’s talking.  . . . Not that we expected them to do that, either.   

 

See you Saturday with a new post . . . hopefully, not foaming at the mouth.  <LOL>

FBIssue

 

What’s in an Interview . . . except Your Soul?

Hello.  This is Detective Gerald Ives—Ald for short and Hives instead of Ives, if you’re headstrong (bolshie) Reynalda Fonne-Werde.  I’m sure I’ll hear about that one.  <LMAO>  Anyway, the gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are enjoying a spa day (another one, must be nice) and asked, begged, me—given I ask a lot of questions for a living—to conduct an interview with The Boss today.  Evidently, their big B would like some practice.  I’m happy to oblige and it will only cost the threesome a dinner at a five-star restaurant, with a great bottle of wine.

Why do you write mysteries?  Genre of preference?

Very much so.  I’ve mentioned this previously, but I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew when I was kid.  I loved solving mysteries, putting together puzzles.  Hence, the desire to write them—my genre of definite and delightful preference.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was probably six or seven.  As an only child, I had to entertain myself.  Writing and drawing were two regular means.  I loved creating stories as much as I enjoyed crayoning and painting.  When I was around twelve, the “writing bug” really grabbed hold . . . and never let go.

 What was your first book-length story and was it published?

The first manuscript was a historical romance with a western theme set in Texas.  Beautiful feisty heroine meets—clashes with—hunky aggressive hero.  It was never published, but I do believe I still have it in a storage box somewhere.  Maybe, one day, I’ll dig it out.  It would be interesting to compare my writing style back then to present day, and see how I’ve developed.

Describe your present-day writing style.

In a word: narrative.  I tell a story and provide descriptions and details that convey conflict and tension, action, humor, a beginning and an end.  Do I have a distinctive or unique voice?  I believe so, but I’d never be able to “describe” it.  It’s simply . . . me.

It’s said some writers have muses.  Do you? WPmuseA1

Wouldn’t know a muse if it bit me on the butt—but power to those that have a guiding spirit or source of inspiration.  Maybe I could borrow one for a day or two . . . ?

Do you draft a plot and outline before you write a book or let an idea take you where it may?

I always have an idea re a Triple Threat Investigation Agency case—for example, have P.I.s JJ, Rey, and Linda find a body by the canal (which is how the fifth book starts).  I’ll have determined who placed the body there, but not necessarily why.  In fact, the “reason” doesn’t usually present itself until a good 200+ pages have been written.  You could unequivocally say, I go with the flow.

What sort of research do you do for your books?

I do a lot—anything from local food to drinks, weapons to wounds.  But it’s on an on-going, what-do-I-need-to-know basis.  More than half the research isn’t used, but it’s quite helpful for painting pictures and assembling puzzle pieces, and providing a knowledge base.

As a writer, what is success to you?  How do you measure it?

One type of success is the accomplishment of having completed a project (in my case a book).  It’s an awesome feeling.  The second is the traditional type, if we could call it that, the one most people would claim is having a fruitful and/or prosperous career.  Fellow writers might say: success is having achieved substantial sales and/or become a recognizable name.  Ultimately, however, it’s being able to do what you love . . . and if it pays well, too, that’s doubly fantastic.

So you’re feeling good about having finished “Forever Poi”?

It’s taken forever to complete, so it feels amazing that it’s finally done.  The marketing and promotional components come into play now, as do getting the front and back covers done, the e-book actually uploaded, and all those little [but numerous] “tasks” that go with the completion of a project.  This part of the project tends to lean towards stressful for me, but it’s all—ultimately—good.

If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was initially written as a one-off, and is near and dear to my heart, so I’d like to see that made into a movie.  An homage to B&W mysteries, it’s campy enough—I believe—to transcend well onto the screen.  In all honesty, though, I confess that I’d love to see the Triple Threat Investigation Agency books developed into a weekly mystery series.  <LOL>  Hey, we’re entitled to our dreams, and that’s [one of] mine.

What are your other dreams?

To move to Hawaii, of course.  To [finally] find contentment and tranquility.  To give back.  To become a better person/Christian.  To become an American, which I’ve wanted with all my heart and soul since I was five; I cry when I hear the anthem . . . cried when I heard it last night.  Allow me to share an astounding YouTube vid featuring seven-year-old Malea.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Despite what may sometimes seem like insurmountable odds, never give up, and constantly keep the faith.  It’s not always easy.  In fact, it can be incredibly [excruciatingly] difficult, but it can be done.  Just believe.

And there you have it, folks.  My first un-work-related interview with the Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes’ boss.  You know?  I could get to like this.  . . . Maybe I’ll set up a blog of my own.

Cheers.

Making for another Ideal Interview: Yours

While on the subject of interviews, I thought a quick post on writing our own personal ones might prove of benefit.  As mentioned, I’m working on my Smashwords interview, but I’m hoping to do a blog tour once “Forever Poi” is completed, so I’ll need at least one [different one] for that.

It’s rather fun putting one together, though it can be a bit challenging, because you have to think of some good, attention-grabbing questions (and answers).  You want to:

  • prompt people to read the interview
  • garner interest in the book / the author (you)
  • generate sales. WPdollarsign1

Basic areas to cover: the book, plot, characters . . . you.  When you’re conducting author interviews, you’re selling them, making them come across as distinctive/outstanding writers.  You want to accomplish the same re yourself, but you might want to appear more humble if you’re posting on your own site and distribution platform(s).  Avoid coming across as arrogant or big-headed.  Do sound excited (attract interest), proud of your accomplishment (modestly so), and detailed enough to evoke curiosity (have the reader/listener want to learn more).

Definitely focus on the book, but offer additional insight.  Maybe you have a humorous or life-changing anecdote to share?  Perhaps you can provide networking/outreach input?  Give thought to what might make your personal interview stand out from others.

An interview can be a powerful tool; it provides exposure.  Use it to your advantage.  In addition to posting it on your site and distribution platform(s), why not ask fellow bloggers or writers if they might be interested in putting your interview on their sites?  Maybe you can exchange interviews and/or promotional posts?  Writing communities tend to be quite supportive, so don’t be shy.

WPfunandfresh2If you’ve never done a blog tour for your book and are planning one, you’ll likely be asked to write your own interview.  Make sure it differs from the one you have on your site and platform(s).  Don’t rehash: be fresh and fun.  Fuel fascination by providing the “ideal” interview.

 

Making for an Ideal Interview

Putting together my own personal Smashwords interview, so it seemed a perfect post subject.

Maybe you’ve been giving thought to conducting author interviews, but have never done one and are wondering what’s what, where to start?

Why not begin with interviewing new authors?  Of course there’s nothing to stop you from approaching known names.  Be aware, though: with an established writer you’ll likely have to go through a publicist, publisher, or agent.  As the saying goes, though, the world is your/our oyster, so have at it: approach whomever you’re feeling passionate about.

How you conduct an interview is entirely up to you—do a standard blog or website interview, go for a podcast, or create an audio interview.  Work with the medium that [best] speaks to you.

Don’t send requests willy-nilly.  Become familiar with the author’s work.  Research.  Check out his/her blog and website.  Follow.  Know what’s happening by doing that due diligence.  Show the author you know your stuff.

Once you’ve connected, always be professional.  Include a list of questions when you submit a request for an interview.  As in anything, it’s nice to be prepared—for those on both sides of the fence.  Try to think of fresh/fun questions, ones that haven’t been asked 105 times.  Yes, you’d definitely want to inquire about their book, but see if you can do so from new angles.  If you’re stumped for questions, Google; there are hundreds of interview questions out there.  Play around with them.  Put a spin on them: yours.

How many questions should you ask?  It’s said seven to ten is a good number, with three intensive ones related specifically to the book.  Prompt detailed answers.

Once an author has agreed to an interview, ask him/her when it’s best to post it.  Maybe he/she has a time frame in mind re a book launch or promotion.  Announce on your blog/website and social media when that interview will be posted (and thank the author again, of course).

Speaking of the author’s featured book, it’s a good thing to have read it before the interview.  Sometimes, however, time is not our friend, so soak up everything you can about it on-line, including the press release if there happens to be one.

Don’t forget to include a photo of the author.  A tour banner and book cover are also good.  Take a gander at book-tour blogs to get an idea of how you might like your own to look.  Get creative/artsy, but not crazy (your site and interview should be attractive and readable).

Remembering that interviews—in a nutshell—are about sharing authors’ experiences and advice, current and/or future projects, and tours, ensure questions are relevant (though there’s no reason to ask the odd unrelated question).  On that note, here are 25 [thought-provoking] questions; do with them what you will.  WP2nd

⇒ What are common traps for aspiring writers?

⇒ How do other authors help you improve your craft?

⇒ Do you belong to any writers’ communities or groups?

⇒ When was the first time you realized you were destined to be a writer?

⇒ How did your first book transform your writing process?

⇒ It’s said writers have muses: tell us about yours.

⇒ Describe your writing style.

⇒ What’s the easiest part of writing?

⇒ Do you outline a plot beforehand or do you just “go with the flow” and let the idea take you where it may?

⇒ What sort of research and prep work do you do for your books?

⇒ What do you believe it takes to become a bestselling author?

⇒ What do you consider quintessential literary success?  Are you pleased with your success?

⇒ What are the best marketing / promotional practices for a book?

⇒ What did you edit from this current novel?

⇒ Which scene proved the most challenging to write?

⇒ Which characters did you like and hate the most?

⇒ Do you choose character names randomly?  Or do you select each carefully and, if so, how?  What’s your process?

⇒ If you weren’t a writer, what would you be and why?

⇒ How long, on average, does it take you to complete a novel—from first draft to final edit?

⇒ Have you ever thrown out any manuscripts?

⇒ If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

⇒ Which book of yours might you be tempted to rewrite?

⇒ What genres to you like reading?  Why?

⇒ If you were to opt for a new genre, which one would you go for?

⇒ What’s your next project and when might we see it?