Insta-Laughter?

We all have our idiosyncrasies and quirks, skills and strengths . . . failings and weaknesses.  Mine?  Technology.

I’ve come a long way, though.  I don’t cringe or sprint away when a new challenge or task comes my way.  Groaning and moaning, well, that’s another thing, er, things.

Facebook I feel fairly calm with.  Can’t tag worth <bleep>, but I can post!  Pat on back to moi.  Twitter I no longer have panic attacks about.  Can’t Tweet to save my life, however.  What am I supposed to—expected to—convey?  I’m not a poet or photographer with regular “product” to show.  I’m not a disgruntled person with a bone to pick.  LinkedIn serves its purpose without a doubt but, personally, it leaves me cold; as such, it receives a visit maybe twice a year. WPInstapngimgDOTcom

My last/latest “adventure” was with Instagram.  I signed up at the end of 2017.  Couldn’t figure out how to post anything—no laughing, please.  Didn’t return until a week ago.  Dang (as Linda would say)—double dang with an expletive (as Rey would shout)—I couldn’t remember or find my password.  Had to sign up again.  Then, of course, I found my old user name, but the new account won’t recognize the old one.  It’s a bit of a mess.  Do I erupt with tears or burst into laughter at the insanity of it all?

I always like to provide a little background re the focus of my post, so-o . . . did you know Instagram, which has been around nearly a decade, is owned by Facebook?  Among other things, “Insta” has messaging features, the ability to follow other users’ feeds, and you can add a whack of pics and vids in one post.  Kind of cool . . . if you’re into pics and vids.  One day, I suspect I might be but, at the moment, uh-uh, can’t/won’t happen.  That’s okay; everything in its time.

Project for the weekend: figure out how to get the accounts de-mucked.

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. . . I do believe I feel a few ROTFLs coming on.

Spam, Shmam . . . and Not the Ham

Okay, technically it’s canned cooked pork.  But the name Spam is a derivative of “spiced ham”, so-o . . . .  By the by, did you know it’s a Hawaiian favorite?  Indeedy-do.  So much so, there’s an annual Spam Festival (which I have had the pleasure of attending).

I digress again.

Recently, I’d planned to respond to a comment.  To the Comments page I went—and noticed [finally] that a number were in the Spam section.  OMG.  How had I never spotted that?  Not seeing for looking?

The plan: delete, delete, delete.  But as I started sifting through them, I realized half weren’t Spam (not the ham).  OMG.  I’d never replied and I should have (or, at the very least, liked).  How rude people must think me!

A few offered advice as to how I could/should improve the blog.  The suggestions were all valid—and appreciated.  Yes, one day I will apply the recommendations . . . when I can embrace Time as a close friend. WP1spamtimeAmeeHouse

Thank you everyone.  I’ll be checking out Spam more frequently in the future (maybe even with a side of eggs and rice).

Nuts about . . . Coco’s Nuts

Ta-da!  The cover of Coco’s Nuts, my third Triple Threat Investigation Agency book, has received a new cover.  I ask again: how exciting is that?  (Not quite sure what happened to the second, but I’m sure Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? is hula-ing down the design trail.)

It’s eye-catching.  Simple yet magnetizing.

How do the gals feel about this one?  JJ’s loves how the coconut resembles a bomb.  Linda’s keen on the colors and font.  Rey’s dancing with delight (though she was initially nettled that she and her colleagues’ “pretty P.I. faces” are no longer being featured).

When the last two covers arrive, that facelift for The Triple Threat Investigation Agency Facebook page (and this blog) are still on the agenda.

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Fairy Tales & Family Beads

Christabel Savalasyes, the “Who loves ya, baby?” TV cop was a relative—is a multi-talented gal I got to know a few years back in Hawaii.  Her current project is creating tales, Beads from my Family Necklace, and I felt a need to share two stories—her personal one and one from the upcoming collection.

Let’s begin with Helena Macree Tsavalas, Christabel’s mother.  This widely published author’s career began early.  Having taken a keen interest in children’s education, she created stories and games that both entertained and broadened children’s views of the world.  Her fairy tales were particularly loved and are still in print.  The ever-gifted Helena also created dolls that represented historical events and fictional characters, which won prizes in various competitive exhibitions around the world.  Her invention of finger-puppet books became an important part of Walt Disney’s children’s publications. 

Helena’s accomplishments were not limited to dolls and stories, but are too vast to provide here (fodder for a future post).  To learn more about this vibrant woman, check out the documentary Endless Creativity: The Life of Helena Macree Tsavalas

Suffice it to [happily] say, the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Having studied—and applied—music, dancing, and acting throughout her career, equally talented Christabel possesses a fairly impressive resume: she’s an actress, producer, director, composer, and writer.  What you really have to admire, though, is her drive, that stick-to-itiveness, to see things through to fruition . . . to pursue dreams that can and do come true.

In addition to the current endeavor of adapting her mother’s fairy tales into scripts/films, she plans to see her parents’ enchanting [if not astonishing] love story grace the big screen . . . and compile the aforementioned collection. 

On that note, here’s a little taste from Beads . . . .

Great-Grandfather Lucas

In Turkey, during the middle 1800’s, lived a very wealthy Sultan.  This handsome, well-respected ruler had many staff members to help keep his grand palace in order.  One of my ancestors’ relatives, Thanassis, was his gardener, who tended his vast, beautiful WPCS1theculturetripDOTcomgarden filled with vibrant and exotic flowers.

 

One particularly warm and humid summer evening, the Sultan opened the window.  Contentedly, he gazed out onto a star-filled sky and inhaled the fragrant scents carried by gentle breezes.  Peering a few floors below, he sighted a young boy trying to teach himself to read under the shimmering light of the brilliant full moon. 

Curious, the Sultan watched for a long while.  The next morning, he inquired around the palace to see to whom this little boy belonged.  When he discovered that he was the nephew of his gardener, he summoned Thanassis to his opulent royal chambers.

“I am very impressed with your keen young nephew and his eager attempt to learn how to read.  I’d like to provide him with suitable schooling,” the Sultan informed the man with a hearty pat to the back.  “Won’t you please permit the boy to stay here with me—so I might raise and feed him, and provide the best?”

Thanassis looked thoughtful.  “You are very kind, Your Highness.  However, Lucas is not my son but my nephew. I would have to return to the small island of Chios in Greece to ask permission from his parents.” 

Nodding in understanding, the Sultan smiled warmly.  “I will arrange the trip so that you may request the necessary permission for Lucas to stay with me.”

A few weeks later, Thanassis returned from Greece with good news: the boy’s parents were honored with the request and would permit him to reside with the Sultan.

The great ruler took Lucas under his wings and made sure he received the best education.  He paid the fees for Lucas to study in Liege, Belgium.  Over time, the keen young fellow became an accomplished gold cutter. 

Great-grandfather Lucas grew to be a very wealthy man and returned to Turkey with lots of money.  In Constantinople (Istanbul), he met a strikingly good-looking woman as she descended a carriage.  She wore a long, beautiful dress that she had sewn and decorated herself. 

Eleni was her name (my great-grandmother) and she came from a very prosperous, high-class family. Talented, intelligent and highly educated, she was known to possess excellent cooking skills and creative sewing and embroidery talents.  Her dresses would sometimes would show off her ankles, something frowned upon during those times.

Lucas and Eleni married, and had three lovely daughters.  The eldest one, my maternal grandmother, Efrosini, was born in 1885.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history—at its most happiest.

. . . μέχρι την επόμενη φορά . . . 

New Look . . . New Book?

It’s been a wee bit of a wait—but we all know how very good I am at standing by—and the first cover of my first Triple Threat Investigation Agency books has received a new cover!  How exciting is that?

dance dancing GIF by The .GIFYS

I’m a little sad to see the gals go, but—per feedback—they truly did have to.  As pretty as they are, they’re too doll-like to be appealing to the potential reader. WPCaper1

And speaking of the gals . . . JJ’s fine with the new cover, though she’d liked to have seen the mansion a bit more “creepy” looking.  Linda loves it; the colors, font/title are strong and have “oomph”.  Rey’s happy as a mussel swimming in saffron-wine broth.

When the three subsequent covers arrive, a face-lift for The Triple Threat Investigation Agency Facebook page (and this blog) won’t be far off . . . and that, my dear friends, is a promise!  So, please—hold me to it!!

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An Amateur Sleuth by Any Other Name . . . Wouldn’t be Nancy Drew

A wee while ago, when tra-la-la-la-ing over to Nostalgia-Land, I reviewed three Nancy Drew mysteries.  Yes, I admit I’m kinda hooked because, since then, three more have been happily perused.

Still enjoying the series—but the “classic” ones (read during youth) as opposed to the “newer” ones (revamped in the 70s).  Dear Nancy’s still an effective de-stresser.  <LOL>  And I still kind of wish I could be her.  What a blast it would be to detect and travel all the time.  And who wouldn’t love to have a father like Carson Drew, a gentle soul of gent who encourages his beloved child to do both, and then some?  Find a full-time job and settle down?  Surely you jest?

Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion (The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion)

Nancy’s father, a successful and well-respected lawyer, asks his amateur-sleuth daughter to assist proving his friend, Mr. Billington, is innocent—of sending a truck stocked with explosive oranges (!) into Cape Kennedy’s Space Center.  Off to Florida father and daughter fly—with best friends George and Bess gleefully in tow.

The old version has the gals locating a missing heiress, where they chance upon a moss-covered mansion and hear strange sounds coming from the property.  The cast of characters/suspects included gypsies, an old woman, and a withdrawn artist.  In the newer version, we have the somber moss-festooned mansion, but African animals roam the property; an unpleasant trainer keeps the poor creatures in line.  Characters/suspects this time include a surly couple that oversee the Billington estate, an array of orange growers and pickers, and a snarky realtor.

Not a bad read.  But storylines, even minor ones, that deal with caged animals I can do without.  On a brighter note, I did learn a little about oranges (who knew there were so many varieties?).  Despite the determined and dangerous endeavors by “questionable sorts” to undercut the space program, the excitement level isn’t quite there.  My rating is a generous 3 out of 5.

The Secret of the Wooden Lady

This was more the Nancy I remembered from youth.  A thrilling adventure takes place on an old, kind of creepy, clipper ship with lots of fog to provide fun/eerie spookiness.  Add hidden compartments and secret passageways, and a missing figurehead, and you’ve got an exciting YA mystery.  Ah, and let’s not forget the requisite crusty but kind-hearted captain.

Exciting exploits ensue the moment Bess’ home is burgled.  Who would break into the Marvins’ home and thrust dear cowardly Bess into a closet?  What about Captain Easterly and the spectral visits on his hope-to-buy Bonny Scot?  Mr. Drew solicits the help of Nancy, Bess and George and the trio travel to Massachusetts to stay on the ship and discover the truth.  Fire, theft, ransacking, and the aforementioned ghostly visits have the girls searching land and sea for answers to a threesome of mysteries. 

Mystery #1:  What are the motives of these uninvited, nefarious persons?  Mystery #2:  Can Nancy discover the history of the ship to ensure the captain receives a clear title?  Mystery #3:  Where is the original figurehead? Might she be the reason for the mysterious goings on?  Wooden Lady is everything a solid Nancy Drew mystery should be.  It deserves a 5.5 out of 5.

The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk

In the original, Nancy has a few mysteries to solve, including a trunk company’s substandard product.  As memory serves, this was one of my favorites back in the day and I’d read it several times.  In the 70s version, Nancy and best friends Bess and George sail to NYC from the Netherlands (those lucky gals).  A young woman, Nelda, shares their cabin.  When a strange trunk is delivered instead of Nancy’s, a number of people resolve to gain access.  The four women are drawn into a perplexing mystery that involves smuggled jewelry and stolen South African documents. 

Who had set up Nelda to take the fall for a theft?  Why are two enigmatic men using sign language to communicate?  Is a devious and determined jewelry-smuggling gang walking the decks? 

Who doesn’t enjoy a mystery set on the high seas?  It’s a [sea]worthy 4 out of 5. 

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A Synopsis by Any Other Name

Thought I’d stick with the topic of synopses, given I intend to post the four revised ones for the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  Considering that the last post provided synopsis-writing pointers, there’s no need to repeat . . . at least not so soon.

So, playing around a bit, I came up with this:

S = Summarize

Y = Your

N = Notable

O = Outline

P = Plausibly

S = So

I = It

S = Sells

<LOL>  Some days, you just have to go with the flow . . . even if the river is running motionless. WPHulaSyn

Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie, the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, finds the three amateur sleuths—Jill Jocasta (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 becomes 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?

In the quest for answers, JJ, Rey and Linda encounter a plethora of suspects.  It appears many people had a dislike for, or held a grudge against the wealthy woman.

Their P.I. travels lead them along a few 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.  Dealer Cash Layton Jones is as galling as he is attractive, and his habit of entering JJ’s condo uninvited results in a few heated encounters.  Carmie’s intriguing, if not odd, ‘tini friends serve as pieces to an expanding puzzle.  Jon Jonson, a currently down-and-out musician, has been blackballed by Carmie from playing the local music circuit.  Being unceremoniously dumped could serve as a motive for murder for Stacy Kapu, Carmie’s trainer and former lover.  Restaurant co-manager, Benoit Paillisson, had always had a hate-hate relationship with the rich young woman.

And there is certainly no love lost when it comes to hubby WP Howell.  What had Carmie known that might have proven detrimental?  Was it so damaging that it prompted the man to kill?  Young Salv Smith, a Trango gang member, had some sort of affiliation with Carmie, but what?  His mother, Lee, sports the same black widow tattoo—a gang badge—as her stepson.  How does she fit in? 

Gino Carpella, Carmie’s twin brother, is known to associate with questionable sorts.  It was even suggested that he had had his sister’s fiancé executed.  Has the rift in the twins’ once close-knit relationship played a part in Carmie’s death?  Or has one of Gino’s enemies retaliated by striking out at his closest family member?

While sleuthing, the women find the relations between people and happenings as clear as the contaminated waters of the Ala Wai Canal.  Fortunately, they possess perseverance—and receive occasional assistance.  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. 

As the body count increases and the suspect list decreases, the women determine the murderer’s identity, but need to prove it.  Resolve and help from pretty pink Tasers bring the evasive culprit, and cohort, to their knees.  Literally. 

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

Catch ya next week!

Pat on the Back or Kick in the Butt ?

It’s been two years since the debut of The Writer’s Grab-Bag.  As such, I felt a need to acknowledge its “anniversary”.  The hopes/dreams/objectives I’d had at the onset—and planned to implement after a few months—haven’t [yet] been realized.  That said, though, I have managed to write two weekly posts, review the odd book, and help with the occasional (behind-the-scenes) proofing.

I haven’t accomplished all I’d intended to—like get a “new look”, establish revenue-generating ads, and include affiliate links—but I’ve been consistent and as committed as I can be, given current circumstances.  Do I pat myself on the back?  Or kick myself in the butt?  <LOL>  Maybe both.  WPpat1

It’s all good.  Sometimes, life throws a few curveballs and plans/intentions simply cannot come to fruition.  Does that mean we give up?  Curse the poor wee laptop?  Whine and/or complain to the Big Guy?  Say “<bleep> that’s life <bleep>?  Sometimes ya win, sometimes ya lose.

But do we really lose?  Are we truly defeated or beaten?  Isn’t not winning part of the process, the evolution of life and living?  Isn’t it all about learning?  Growing?  Aspiring?  As the incredibly impatient person I am—who sometimes feels like plowing her head into a nearby wall (feels like, I emphasize)—I will be the first to scream/shout/yell “waiting sucks—big time!” . . . because it can and does.

But waiting also provides an opportunity to gather data, insight and support, and boost perception, comprehension and appreciation.  The process of waiting can be construed from two opposing viewpoints: as an annoying delay or the anticipation of something exciting to come.

Waiting is a temporary postponement, not a permanent pause or ending.  It’s all how you view life and goals—the proverbial half glass empty versus the half glass full.  So I’m not yet where I’d hoped or planned to be.  The optimum word is yet . . . thus far, until now, hitherto.

Here’s looking to a future that may prove totally amazing . . . before long, shortly, soon, forthwith.

Don’t you love surprises?

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Dream On

OMG.   <ROTFL>   On the weekend, I’d posted “Dreaming the Impossible Dream”.  Given that this blog is dedicated to writing/editing and my own fiction endeavors—like The Triple Threat Investigation Agency series—I’d meant to tie it in with writing . . . how we, as writers, have dreams, be it to become a household name, make money, experience fame, or entertain readers.

I got sidetracked but, as an author, I go where the keyboard and/or pen takes me.

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde (poet and playwright)

I’ve had many dreams over the decades, but there’s only one that’s followed me throughout—to be a writer.  I’ll admit I’ve always wanted to make money as one, not by the truckload, but enough to be able to write full-time, live in a decent condo, pay bills, and retire without worry.  And I’ll also acknowledge that it’s still a dream today—an aspiration. WPdreamusealso

As an FYI, a dream is something you wish were true or something you want, yearn for.  An aspiration, like a goal is something you’re determined to undertake, tackle, attain.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
– C.S. Lewis (writer and lay theologian)

How does one make a dream come true?  Having one to strive for helps.  Decide what yours is.  Really focus; ensure it’s well-defined and doable (sure, becoming a billionaire may happen, bu-ut).  Believe in it; there’s no waffling; no doubt.  Trust it’s yours to be had, that it’s achievable.

“The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.”
– Tom Bradley (American politician and former police officer)

The “Law of Attraction”, creative visualization techniques, and umpteen sites will advise something to the effect of:

 Ask.  Believe.   Achieve.  

Sold!  Who can argue with simple easy-to-follow logic like that?  When it came out, I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  Fabulous food for thought and practice.  Basically, whatever you think and feel will affect what you attract into your life—so maintain positive thoughts and feelings, and you’ll receive positive things.

<ROTFL again>  I digress.  Again.  Back to being a writer with a dream.  Once you’ve defined it, believe in it.  Release fear and worry, and determine (record/list) how you can make it happen.  Look at others who have attained what you’d like to; see how they accomplished it and decide what similar action(s) you can undertake.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
– Harriet Tubman (abolitionist and political activist)

Understand that it will, with effort and action, take time for the dream to become reality.  Recognize that you may err or experience a setback.  That’s okay.  It’s not a true setback; it’s a lesson learned.

Learning is a very good thing.

 “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
– Anatole France (poet, journalist, novelist)

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Dreaming the Impossible Dream

Thinking a lot about life lately . . . things that were, things that are, things that may/could be . . . like dreams.

We’ve all had dreams.  Still do.  Some were envisioned during childhood and youth, others during our 20s and 30s, and a few came later.  Some were realized, others changed.  Some we [now] laugh at, others we [still] wish for.

My mom’s a fan of Gomer Pyle: USMC, as once mentioned, so I bought the DVDs (yeah, I’m old-school, what can I say, LMAO).  Knew he could sing, but never knew he could sing until I watched the show.  One episode in particular—“The Show Must Go On”—has Gomer (Jim Nabors) singing “The Impossible Dream”.  OMG.  What a voice.  It makes me want to belt out the lyrics (fortunate are those not within listening range, LOL).

Especially spirited [moving] are these words:

That one man, scorned and covered with scars  /  Still strove with his last ounce of courage  /  To reach the unreachable star  /  To reach the unreachable start  /  For you know it’s impossibly high

A little history.  “The Impossible Dream (the Quest)”—a popular song from the 1965 Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha—was scored by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics by Joe Darion.  The song was first sung by Don Quixote (a character from 17th-century novelist Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote) when he was asked what he meant about following the quest.  Quixote, by the by, had difficulty accepting the realities [struggles] of life and slipped into a fantasy world where windmills were monsters and he an honorable knight from a bygone era.

And a little trivia.  In 1968, Senator George McGovern introduced Robert F. Kennedy, campaigning to be president, by quoting the song.  It wasn’t that he thought Kennedy’s chance to become president was impossible, simply that he wanted “the audience to understand it’s worth making the effort, whether you win or lose”.  What awesome advice.  Endeavor, do your utmost, regardless of the outcome.  Strive for that impossible dream.

Dozens of singers have covered the song and everyone has his/her favorite rendition, mine being you-know-who.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide the lyrics and the wonderful YouTube vid showing Jim Nabors as Gomer singing the song.  It was a toss-up whether to present the long or short version.  The long has an “intro” as to how Gomer regains the voice he’s lost to stage-fright prior to a big Navy relief benefit show.  The short is simply the song.  . . . Flip of the coin.  Ta-da!  You get the long version.  Enjoy!

When days seem bleak and nothing good/positive happens, “The Impossible Dream” instills hope and restores faith.  Suddenly, nothing is impossible and that dream is within grasp. WPdream1

This is my quest  /  To follow that star  /  No matter how hopeless  /  No matter how far

Amen.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

To reach the unreachable star
For you know it’s impossibly high
To live with your heart’s driving upward
To reach the unreachable star

Songwriters: Mitch Leigh / Joe Darion

The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company, Andrew Scott Music, Vmg Golden Records Copyrights, Helena Music Corp., SCOTT ANDREW MUSIC