Day Three . . . with Three . . .

. . . Lovely ladies who are professional P.I.s on Oahu.  Hey, it’s Rey—welcome to Day 3 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio (that’s us, those lovely ladies, in case there was any doubt) solved our first case.

It all started off pretty simple: find out what William Pierponce Howell’s young pretty wife, Carmie, was up to.  He was thinking “affair”; we were thinking the same.  But then we found her floating along the shores of a quiet beach, and it wasn’t because she couldn’t swim.

It turned out there was something suspect in her past . . . as there was in hubby’s and a few other folks’ history.  This led us into the weird world of gangs, drug dealers, and criminal types.

If you’d like to learn how we solved this challenging—dangerous—case (and nearly ended up like poor Carmie), please check us out.

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Aloha all.

The End of the Beginning

Yee-ha!  Finished “HA-HA-HA-HA” . . . well, the first draft anyway.  For me, this has been—wow—over a year in the making.  Time to celebrate?  Maybe.  A little.

WPwineIf you’ve finished your manuscript, congrats.  Not an easy feat (not unless you’re a prolific writer who can put something together in a wink and a blink).  So, what now?  Have a celebratory glass of wine or cup of tea?  Why not?  Go for it.  Give yourself a [well-deserved] pat on the back?  For sure—you deserve it, so give yourself two.  Take a breather?  Most definitely!

“The End” truly isn’t the end, not when it’s only the first draft.  After that, you have to begin on the revamping, the refining.  You want your manuscript to be submission perfect, so make certain your “product” is good enough to send out to publishers, agents (if you’re planning on pursuing the traditional publishing route), acquisition editors, and the like.

I’ve undoubtedly touched upon the following in past, but a review is always worthwhile—for you and me.

Take the aforementioned breather—a few days isn’t enough, truly, so aim for a few weeks, even a month or, better yet, two.  I know, this seems like a forever when you’re excited about your manuscript and want to get it out there.  But you must step away to view/review your work with objectivity.  You’ve been living with the story for some time and need fresh eyes to see what’s what (what works and what doesn’t): you can only do that when you’ve stepped away for a decent period of time.

Once that breather has breathed enough, pick up that manuscript and read it all the way through before proofing/editing.  Get a feel for how it flows, what makes sense, what stands out (as in amiss or incorrect, or makes you scratch your head).  Now that you’ve got an idea of what requires doing, fix the critical items first—scenes that don’t work, plot holes, character inconsistencies.  Once you’ve got those smoothed over, begin the edit.  Take your time.

Second edit done?  Edit more—or refine, as the case may be.  Once completed, get feedback/input.  Receiving it from family and friends is okay (but how objective are they really going to be?).  Aim for writing communities and groups and beta readers.  See what others have to say but take their advice with a grain of salt; it may make [a lot of] sense, it may not.  Give the feedback serious—and non-subjective thought—and apply as you deem fit.

If you don’t yet have a social-media/on-line presence, create one.  You want people to know about your book and you, the writer.  How about a blog?  Promote your book—and yourself—there.  Spark interest.

I digressed a bit, because social media and the like is a whole other kettle of fish (and I’ve posted about this before).  Really, the whole point about “The End” is that there’s a beginning . . . which leads to it being final, faultless/flawless, and fabulous.

With that, I’m off to take a few breaths . . . hmm, just how many are there in a month?

Any Secrets to Editing a Short Story?

Not that I know of.  <LOL>  It’s JJ today.

Editing a short story is the same as editing a long one; you’re looking for, and correcting, the same issues.  And, before you ask or Rey blows me another [raucous] raspberry, yes, I have the qualifications.  As a former weather announcer who also produced community specials, I did a lot of writing which, of course, included a lot of editing.  And narrating our private-eye exploits isn’t done before thorough proofing/correcting.  (Ugh.  That just earned me another raspberry.)

So, before we visit Rey’s Full Moon over Plymouth, let’s summarize Linda’s guidelines on how to write a solid short story two posts past:

♦  make certain you know the [short story] genre; understand the perimeters

♦  present a conflict or complication, a quest or mission from the get-go; create interest immediately

♦  make sure your main character has just that: character

♦  ensure your “plot” is fresh and maintains readers’ interest; be imaginative/creative

♦  appeal to your readers’ emotions . . . and have your characters convey them, which will give them depth and make them likable (or unlikable, as the case may be)

♦  present a dynamic ending; it, like the opening, has to transpire quickly so bring adequate closure (even if you leave readers dangling).

And, with that, Editor JJ will comment on Cousin Reynalda’s short Full Moon over Plymouth paragraph by paragraph (and if she blows any more of those, I’ll have to fetch an umbrella).

Gisele Cooper stood ramrod straight as she steadily held the Luger and tracked Marshall Willis, the serial killer who had terrorized the New England coast for eight months now.  To the point and sets the mood.  Could have used a bit more description.  Something like: “Pretty P.I. Gisele Cooper, stood ramrod straight as she eyed the rural Massachusetts darkness . . .”

It was a cool early November evening and the pretty private eye was pumped.  She’d catch “Wicked Willis” if it was the last thing she’d do.  He’d dodged the cops, media, fellow private investigators, and her.  Enough was enough.  Not bad.  Gives readers a sense of time as well as purpose.

Willis, an average-looking guy of average height and average build, had bayoneted twelve men—that they knew of.  And they’d not have know it was Willis if there hadn’t been a witness.  Typo.  Slap on hand (playfully, of course) to Rey.  That is exactly why we proof/edit. 

Amos, a frisky Staffordshire Bull Terrier, had been at the last killing and had managed to take a bite out of the murderer’s arm as he plunged the knife, which was fitted into the end of an old musket.  Lucky Amos got away fast—with the weapon, no less!  Amos’ owner called the police and the rest, as the saying went, was history.  A little awkward sounding.  Might have approached it differently.  But the action/excitement is there.

At thirty-four, Gisele didn’t have many years of experience.  Just four.  But she had instinct and chutzpah and knew how to swing a mean left hook and wield a weapon.  Good.  A little insight into our heroine.  Might have moved this closer to the opening, though.

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

So, here she was, trailing a nutbar after following a tip that Willis was living in a two-room shack somewhere along the Eel River.  She’d missed him by seconds.  The hot coffee mug and bitten egg sandwich told her that.  And the partially open rear door said he’d left that way.  So did the footprints in the soft drizzle-dense soil, visible courtesy of the camping lamp on a cheap plastic stand alongside the door.  I’d like a little more detail to give it more depth, excitement.  Something like . . . “She’d missed him by seconds—verified by the chipped hot coffee mug featuring a pirate’s visage and half-eaten egg sandwich that oozed ketchup like a gunned down doe.”

“You’re not escaping me, my friend,” she murmured into the breezeless night.  Wouldn’t she be more determined, more angry?  How about “she hissed”?

There was a mini flashlight in her leather bomber jacket pocket, but she had no intention of letting him, or anyone else, view her from afar.  Not sure if this is worth mentioning.

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

Gisele tossed her long blonde waves and surveyed the length of the sparkling river.  The stars and a full moon danced upon it.  Pretty, she thought, worth visiting one day under different circumstances.  Maybe with Harvey?  I’d add something like . . . “Maybe with Harvey?  She smirked and shook her head.  Focus, girl, focus.”

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

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

“Damn, I missed.  Too bad,” Willis chortled.  “But I won’t this time.”  A little more dialogue and drama would be good.

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

“Gotcha.”  Necessary?

As if conveying approval, mockingbirds sang in unison.  Gisele bowed in acknowledgement and hauled Willis to his average-sized feet.  Nice touch with the mockingbirds.  I might have added a few other animals or sounds.

All in all, I agree with Linda’s A+ for effort.  As a short, it has its moments—a bit of tension, history, a dramatic opening (a dangerous mission) and an equally dramatic ending with an outcome.

Oh-oh.  That expression tells me my cousin’s not amused.  Better get that umbrella; I sense a glut of those contemptuous sounds coming my way.

When the 9-5 Becomes 5-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Ramblin’ Kinda Ga

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

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

Tree 1AB

Therapeeey-Tree

I see

          A tree

With glee

          Solitary and strong

Wish it were me.

          Colors abound

All around

          No sound

Tree 3Welcome and tranquil

          As is my will.

I see

          Another tree

Still with glee

          Old yet robust

Much like me.

I know—don’t quit the day job <LOL>.

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

The Rambling Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hou Alo-haaaaaaaaaaa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloooooooo-haaaaaaaaaaaaa

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

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

Let’s break it down.

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

Alo = presence (front and face)

Ha = breath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reveling in Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Wanna !!!

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

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

Let’s start off with yours truly . . .

I want to:

♥  blog and write and edit full-time

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

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

♥  spend [a lot of] time at a spa

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

♥  have friends (caregiving can prove quite solitary)

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

♥  have a life.

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

JJ:

♥  travel around the South Pacific for a few months

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

♥  take courses (learn everything and anything).

Linda:

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

♥  become a rad surfer

♥ love life.

Rey:

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

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

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

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

Keep wanna-ing . . . and believing.