Putting the Mystery . . . in a Mystery

Now and again, I receive the privilege of editing the odd mystery, my favorite genre (just ask the private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency).  Having touched upon the various types several months back, I thought I’d post about what makes a good mystery . . . a good mystery.

Like other genres, it contains a few necessary [vital] components:

♠  characters/protagonist(s)  ♠  setting/locale  ♠  plot/storyline  ♠  conflict(s)/friction/tension/problem(s)  ♠  solution/ending.

In terms of mysteries …you want a main character (detective, amateur sleuth, cop, grandmother, biker, you pick it) who is strong and/or likeable and is up to the task of solving the crime.  It should be a person that readers can identify or sympathize with.  Someone who is wishy-washy, weak, whiney, probably won’t cut it.  But never say never.

Given there will be a villain—the perpetrator(s) of the crime(s)—make sure you detail him/her thoroughly.  You likely won’t want to let readers know who the perp is until the end, so watch how much you reveal.  Readers can encounter the villain early in the story . . . amid a number of other potential suspects.  You’re providing a puzzle for readers to piece together, so make it both complex and entertaining.

If, however, you do wish to reveal the perp early on, you may want to let us know what makes him/her tick: why did/does he/she do what he/she did?  <LOL>  An FYI: I won’t continue reading a book if I know who the culprit is by page 50, but others may.  Personally, I want the challenge of determining who did it!

Exotic settings, like a velvety white-sand beach in the south of France, are always lovely and appealing, but a small town in Midwest USA can hold equal appeal.  Small towns are often picturesque and . . . rather soothing . . . until a murder occurs, of course.  You can even set your mystery in a fictional city or village.  Or, if you’re aiming for a mystery taking place in the future, make it another planet or galaxy.  Just ensure you provide enough details to make the setting/locale come alive (let readers envision it, smell it, hear it, feel it).

Consider where the crime took place and where [other/potential] suspicious actions occur.  Big cities have long, dim and dank alleys.  But a nightclub, with strobe lighting, can make for an equally daunting place, depending on how you “paint” it.  Weave from one place to the next; variety is the spice of life.  Small towns and rural settings have dark, deserted barns, winding dirt roads lined by tall leafy trees.  But they may also have a diner run by a neurotic cook and weird waitress.  The sky is the limit.  Paint, paint, weave, weave.

Your plot can be complicated—twists and turns work well in a mystery—but do ensure events and actions make sense and that any loose ends are tied up at the end.  And who says a mystery has to revolve around a murder or two?  They do make for more “fun”, but your story can just as easily incorporate a robbery or kidnapping that the main character has to figure out.  Whodunit!?

A lot of mystery lovers enjoy being yanked right into the crime/action.  I’m one of those.  But, you know, I’ve found mysteries that open with casual discussions in comfy salons with a blazing fire can work quite well, too.  It’s a matter of how you present the discussion (dialogue) and characters.  Tweak our interest.  Being yanked in is fun, but a nudge or prod can work well, too.

On the way to the solution/ending, add a red herring or two.  Mystery readers love to determine who the culprit is, so provide some misleading clues; don’t make it too easy.  And, when you’re ready to provide that solution, make certain that it makes sense.

You know, your main character may miss a clue, and that’s perfectly okay; why not allow readers to hone in on it while your protagonist does some head-scratching?  Know the ins and outs of the crime.  Before you write the mystery, determine the who, what, where, when, why and how.  And, lastly, the evidence: does it make sense?  Descriptions/details should be relatively comprehensive and plausible.

Some food for thought (a favorite expression of mine of late, maybe because food is a favorite of mine of late).  <LOL>

Happy trails . . . of breadcrumbs . . . and clues.

21 More Reasons . . . Why Not?

The gals—JJ, Rey, and Linda—from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency did a fabulous job posting about “21 Reasons”.  They inspired me to revisit the theme one last time.

Life has proven beyond trying the last few years, the stress and depression so overwhelming at times, I considered the “s” word once or thrice.  But as I reflect on [ultimately] having a life of my own, I’ve decided to once again grasp hope (which tends to flow through my fingers like foamy soap).

Here are 21 reasons why I should continue to hold hope—because I would [still] like to:

    1. take control of my life
    2. assist others with their writing
    3. edit (help make good stories better)
    4. give a cat and/or dog a forever home
    5. take real vacation days
    6. return to Hawaii at least once
    7. read books I’ve not been able to the last decade or two
    8. watch programs/movies I’ve not been able to the last decade or two
    9. walk for miles a day, whenever and wherever
    10. drive with no purpose or destination in mind
    11. eat ethnic/international foods again (nummmm!)
    12. volunteer again
    13. have friends again
    14. learn to forgive and forget (again)
    15. embrace life [at long last]
    16. fix—“pretty up”—my blog (!!!!!)
    17. get a website
    18. see the world (I’d settle for Australia, Japan, and/or Spain)
    19. learn the ins and outs of social media and apply, as necessary
    20. take part-time/on-line courses, and
    21. learn to fly a helicopter.

1abcI suppose you could also call it a bucket list.  Either way, these seem like 21 pretty darn good reasons for sticking around.  Here’s hoping reality complies.

21 Reasons for . . . Being Me?

Hey, it’s Rey!  Man, did I have a hard time figuring out what my reasons would be related to—and if they’d be good/positive ones or be excuses for something.  Like, should I post about me being happy to be me?  My life as an actress?  Being asked to do something I don’t want to?

You should see my notes.  If you could read—what Lindy-Loo sneeringly calls “akin to chicken scratches”—you’d find five pages of points.  A “mish-mash” Cousin Jilly calls them.  And a pffllllllllllt to you both, ladies.

So-o, I opted for 21 reasons why I like being a P.I. and having founded the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  Okay, okay—having co-founded the agency.

    1. I like the excitement and thrills that come with solving a case.
    2. Putting together the pieces of a puzzle—that case—gets the ol’ gray matter movin’.
    3. We’re good at what we do, so we can take pride in that, and that makes for a bleepin’ solid reason for being a P.I.
    4. And speaking of pride, I’m proud of the reputation we’re building as a bona fide, budding agency.
    5. It’s great to help people.
    6. It’s even grander to assist in easing a person’s burdens (yeah, Linda helped me reword the original one: “it’s cool to end people’s problems”).
    7. I like the “power”.
    8. I like the variety; no case is ever the same.
    9. It’s a blast trying to outmaneuver a bad guy/gal.
    10. The networking part is fun; building relationships is super cool.
    11. It’s fantastic to make new friends.
    12. Meeting people in different professions is awesome.
    13. Learning new things related to those different professions is also awesome.
    14. Growing as a P.I. and person is worth a few pats on the back.
    15. B&Eing is something I’m good at and I enjoy (it’s fun, even if my cousin and BFF would disagree, big time).
    16. My mom can’t criticize me—too much—for not having a “real” job.
    17. It’s cool (and self-satisfying) to tell people—especially those family folks who always looked down their nose at me for being a B-actress—that I’m a successful private investigator.
    18. Even if salary is based on the completion of a case, I (we) earn pretty decent money . . . which helps with those sales I do so love (can’t resist those bags, shoes, and earrings).
    19. I love the flexibility; it’s not working 9-to-5 in an office environment (I’d so not do well at that).
    20. While we do “report” to our client, there’s no boss.
    21. I like the unpredictability; it’s exciting and keeps me on my toes.

Yeah, life as a P.I. is really good.

Here’s to a great weekend.  Enjoy!

21 Reasons . . . for Anything

You’ve got JJ today.  The theme continues with 21 reasons . . . but, given I don’t mind posting (long as I have some sort of idea what to write about) . . . I opted for 21 reasons for doing anything someone might request of us—long as it’s decent, legal, and something within our capacity/capability of doing (and, if it’s not, we find or suggest an option).

It’s something that:

    1. is kind to do
    2. we do from the heart
    3. makes us happy
    4. makes us a better person
    5. we don’t intentionally seek gratitude for
    6. results in the requesting person smile
    7. lessens the requesting person’s load (and that’s a great thing)
    8. is supportive / helpful / enlightening
    9. provides purpose
    10. offers a sense of satisfaction
    11. isn’t a big deal, so we do it with a smile
    12. makes us feel good / accomplished
    13. we learn from
    14. could inspire others
    15. enhances our self-confidence or self-respect
    16. may help us meet new people / make new friends
    17. prompts us to do/give your best
    18. may alleviate our own sense of apprehension / stress / sadness by focusing on the task (in other words, it distracts)
    19. sets a good example / inspires others (to be equally giving)
    20. may result in us getting assistance when we require it
    21. good = good (there’s that cosmos / kismet belief that if you do good, you receive good).

So, there you have it—my contribution to 21 reasons.  Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering.  Just some food for thought.

I’m curious as to what Cousin Reynalda will come up with for Saturday’s post.  Linda and I saw her frantically jotting notes this morning as she gulped back a mega-sized mug of coffee (her fourth).  Linda’s thinking “scary”, I’m thinking “melodramatic” (he-he).

21 More Reasons for Not Posting?  But I Like to Post!

It’s Linda today.  The Boss recently provided 21 reasons [excuses, grumbles] about not posting, not having the motivation or focus.  So, the Triple Threat Investigation Agency ensemble—Rey, JJ, and I—decided we’d take turns with the same theme.

The thing is, I don’t mind posting, but then I do blog regularly.  Usually, I can think of some matter to write about.  Today, the theme’s slightly different; here are things 21 things I like doing personally and professionally (in no specific order).  This, of course, garnered me a roll of the eyes, a “like really, Lindy-Loo?”, and one of those water-buffalo snorts from Rey.  She’s okay with it now, though, since I reminded her she’d be submitting a list next week and we’d see how well she’ll do.

    1. blogging (doing wine and food reviews in particular)
    2. surfing (a fairly recent new love)
    3. walking and playing with Piggaletto
    4. volunteering at the homeless shelter
    5. jogging / running / trekking
    6. being a P.I. (except when having a gun jammed in my face)
    7. friends and, in particular, my BFF Rey
    8. niggling my BFF Rey (he-he)
    9. lounging in the yard by our not-yet-up-and-running pool and reading a good book
    10. boating / sailing
    11. trying new dishes (getting to really enjoy cooking)
    12. learning new things
    13. outings and luaus
    14. having me time / being alone
    15. meditating / reflecting
    16. discovering new local music / artists
    17. singing in the shower
    18. enjoying that first steaming, fragrant cup of coffee in the morning (so-o goo-ood)
    19. embracing good health
    20. having a nothing-to-complain about life
    21. taking on challenges.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Postponing Posts . . . or . . . 21 Excuses for Not Posting

This year, I’ve posted a few times about how to find motivation or stay on schedule re blogging and writing.  There are numerous ways of doing this, and we only need Google to find them.  Whether they work, well, that’s entirely on us. 

I’ve probably shared once too often (ad nauseum, yawn) how my 10-12-hour-a-day job and mom-care responsibilities are limiting, not only re time but “focus”.  Finding something to write about can prove a struggle.  Majorly.

So, as I once again tossed and turned last night and ideas flowed through my scrambled, er, scrambling gray matter, I thought about providing [my] reasons for not [wanting to] post.  And, goll-lly (as Gomer Pyle might have once said with that goofy but endearing smile), I thought of something.  Why not list those reasons? 

Why not indeed?

I [bloody well] don’t feel like it. 

I can’t think of anything!!!!!!!!!!!!

I need a brain-cation.

Does anyone need more editing advice?

Does anyone need more motivational suggestions?

I’m having a pity party or three, and blowing out the candles is exhausting.

I’d rather nap.

A long walk, followed by a cup of tea or glass of wine, would be rather pleasant.

The cupboards are in desperate need of cleaning.

Darn, those ten pairs of socks could use some serious darning.

The cardinals living adjacent to the building need feeding.

No one will notice if a post isn’t delivered on the promised day[s].

Coffee’s calling . . . repeatedly.

Maybe Mom wants to go get another manicure.

Those French fries stuck to the bottom of the oven should [finally] be removed.

Baseboard-cleaning might not be a bad idea.

Watching a couple of [free] motivational vids sounds like a worthwhile endeavor.

I hear the vacuum-cleaner calling.

I haven’t read The Odyssey yet; maybe it’s time to blow off the dust and open it.

I haven’t had a long hot, bubbly bath in years; maybe it’s time to indulge.

This seems like a good time to take up jogging.

For the next post, perhaps I’ll think of 21 more.  Or maybe I’ll have one of the Triple Threat Investigation Ageny P.I.s list hers.  <LOL>

Enjoy your Wednesday.

Axed by ACX

Next Chapter (https://www.nextchapter.pub) informed its authors that ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) has closed NC’s account—with no warning. 

Moments later, ACX advised the publisher that there’d been a copyright infringement of one of their titles, yet provided no proof of said infringement.  Moreover, outstanding royalties won’t be paid; as Next Chapter authors, we’re now cut off from our books while ACX continues to make money from us.

ACX, for those not in the know, is a publishing platform, that allows professionals to connect and create audiobooks; there are thousands of titles in a sundry of genres (https://www.audible.com/ep/ACX).

NC will be investigating legal options.  Hopefully, all will work out in everyone’s favor.

Day Two, Bargain for You

It’s the second day of the Forever Poi promo.  Hi there.  It’s Linda today.

I’m going to keep it short and sweet, and provide an excerpt which I hope piques your interest.

For 99 cents, you can get a copy of our third case as private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  Someone torched two art galleries and left two bodies in the ashes.  It proves complex with many twists and turns, and suspects . . . and bodies.  Just when we’re sure we have it figured out, something unexpected happens!

“Why do you suppose he’s not returned calls?” Rey asked as we followed the Jag along Kapiolani, five cars behind. “Guilt? Sadness? A combination of?”

“Only he can answer that.”

“Who’s the woman looking very Audrey Hepburn?”

“The same one I’ve seen twice already.”

“But who is she?”

“Your guess is—”

“As good as mine, yeah.”

“Xavier mentioned a half sister. Maybe that’s her.”

“From what little I’ve seen, there’s absolutely no resemblance. James-Henri has a dumpling nose and a donut-round face.”

“And he has hazel eyes while hers are powder-blue,” I added. “I did say ‘maybe’.”

“She’s certainly very attractive. And that designer red lipstick is awesome.”

The sporty car pulled into one of three empty spaces before a row of unexceptional townhouse-condos near Ward and Prospect. Most had once been dusty pink and were now just plain dusty. I maneuvered into a parking spot on the street.

Rey scanned stores and checked her cell. “That’s Carlos’ place.”

“Really?” I looked at her, surprised. “How do you know?”

“Gail emailed just before you picked me up. She told me she’d be researching the two as soon as she got home, but had done some preliminary stuff and came across this address. Given his background and everything, she found it weird.” She appeared perturbed. “Not what you’d expect a successful gallery owner-slash-consultant to live in, is it?”

“He did have financial issues according to Ald.”

She gestured the duo. “They don’t appear to want to do much but yak and watch.”

“Maybe they know we’re back here.”

“Then why stop?”

“You got me,” I replied with a fleeting smile, keeping a vigilant eye on the two lest they shot off again.

“He must have a key.”

I concurred.

“It’s odd that Carlos lived here and James-Henri there. I mean, they were lovers, at least until recently. I can’t imagine one allowing the other to live in such a . . . a blah place.”

“Blah?” I grinned.

“Ugly. Cheap. It’s not in keeping with the lifestyle or persona he was projecting.”

“You mean successful gallery owner?” I asked dryly, noting that neither sportscar occupant appeared anxious or concerned.

Rey grunted into her cell when taiko drumming announced a call. “We got James-Henri and an Audrey Hepburn wannabe in sight. What’s up? You at the office?” She glanced at me and shrugged. After a few uh-huhs, she disconnected. “Lindy-Loo wants us to head home when we’re able.”

“Is she all right?”

“She’s something, that’s for sure,” my cousin replied flatly and gestured. “Our prey aren’t doing much.”

“Either are we,” I said regretfully.

“To hell with that.” With Reynalda Fonne-Werde melodramatic (reckless) flair, my cousin sprang from the Jeep and strode purposefully to the Jag.

If you’d like to learn how we [eventually] wrap up the case, please check us out at:

The Flopping Bouncing Blank-Minded Bed-Time Blogger

It’s Saturday and the post of the day just wasn’t coming; the funny thing is, it did, during the night.  Then . . . blankness.

Did yours truly get up at any time between flopping and bouncing for hours on end, to write down that notion?  Did yours truly remember in the a.m.?  Of course not.  It was . . . sheer blankness.

What I do remember:

♦ flopping from one side of the queen-size bed to the other like a water-filled balloon being propelled from one side of the room to the other

♦ flipping like a flapjack (and rather craving a plate with blueberry preserves)

♦ bouncing like a bunny from the headrest to the footboard, and

♦ contemplating worthy post ideas to, uh, post.

Could have gone with a review.  Read two great manuscripts recently, but neither are officially published, so that wouldn’t have been fair to the authors.

Might have gone with some editing/proofing tips.  Yawn.  Literally (and frequently).

Didn’t think about featuring an author . . . until now.

Didn’t want to have the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals post on my behalf—they’re busy on the Murphie the missing (birdnapped) mynah bird case.

I don’t normally leave things until the last minute (but there are circumstances that make it difficult to follow the Girl Guide motto of “be prepared” . . . especially, well in advance).

So, there you have it . . . a post about . . . producing a post . . .

Hmm.  Now I have flapjacks on the brain.  Guess I’ll just have to make some, won’t I (elsewise that craving’s going to hang around, unlike that middle-of-the-night post notion)?

Enjoy your weekend!

A September Swan Song . . . Not

While there are times I want to walk away from this blog—simply not having the time or energy to post one more <bleeping> thing—I still can’t quite bring myself to sing that final swan song.

I know, in time, I’ll be able to approach this with fresh information/ideas.  The posts will flow freely once again.  It’s just a question of time and timing.

Rey, JJ, and Linda have been an enormous help over the last while, posting on my behalf with items of interest [primarily] to them.  But without them, I’d have doffed my top hat and bowed out long ago.

200

Writing is a labor of love, that’s for sure—has been for years.  The ability to write tales, weave plots, bring characters to life, like the three private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency, is sheer joy.  Of course, it doesn’t always come easily.  In fact, at times, it’s as if I have to bang my head into a wall to make something happen . . . other than the promised headache.

Editing is something else that also brings immense pleasure.  I’m not a great editor, but I’m a pretty darn good one.  I love being able to help others, to bring some life to their stories however and wherever I can.  A thank-you is never expected (and, frequently, doesn’t come), but assisting someone in bettering themselves is gratifying.  That not everyone wants the advice—the “tips”—is fine.

The point of this post?  Nothing of major note, to be honest . . . except to say thank you for following me (and the trio from the agency) . . . to let me help where/ when I can . . . to read these posts and “like” them.  I’d like to think that over the years, I’ve triggered the odd smiles or chuckles, or provoked notions or impressions.

There’ll likely be a swan song, one day—just not today.