You Say Ego, I Say Ergo

You know that “C” word that makes us cringe?  Yeah, that’s the one: criticism.  <shudder> We writers don’t do well with it; it’s a smack to the ego and, therefore, it hurts.

Some take it in stride, others puff up and get their noses out of joint (and refuse to listen).  We simply don’t want to have our work—our babies, imagination, creativity—commented upon.

As a writer, I can wholeheartedly attest to this, having been there many a time.  When I first started submitting to agents and publishers many years ago, rejection after rejection flowed in.  The odd unfeeling person offered harsh, unpleasant criticism … and it hurt [big-time] … and I didn’t believe it.  How could someone criticize my work (talent)?

<ROTFL>  A few were harsh, yes, but others were constructive.  And you know?  They were also right.  When I un-dusted those bottom-of-the-drawer manuscripts years later, I so understood what my “criticizers” were referring to.  At the time, nope, I was right; they were wrong and how dare they!  Truly, if I’d listened then, I’d have improved much sooner.  That’s okay though.  Lesson(s) most definitely learned.

The truth is, when we start writing, we do have much to learn.  We have to develop, and this only happens with time.  Reality check: talent/skill isn’t there the moment we first pick up a pen, er, hit the keyboard.  We can delude ourselves into believing we’re the next Hemingway, King, or Tolstoy and that’s fine for confidence boosting, not so fine for professional development.

Now, there’s bad criticism, someone blowing off steam or being cruel for the sake of it, and there’s good [constructive/helpful] criticism—someone serving to enlighten and “improve”.

If you want to be a serious long-term writer, seek criticism: join a writing community, take a workshop or seminar or three, belong to reading groups.  You need to hear it and, more importantly, you need to get used to it.  It will help you progress.

Recognize that views vary, particularly from your own.  With time, like ducks, we can let criticism roll off our backs like water.  It’s not as difficult to receive (though it may still make us cringe a little) and we begin to understand which comments we can use to our advantage.

As an FYI, when you receive a critique you disapprove of (hate, dispute), don’t argue or respond in the negative.  If you have a hankering to reply, walk away, return, and then simply thank the person for his/her input or review.

Yes, the ego can be a fragile thing.  But if you’re going to put your work out there, you have to cope with the “c” word.  So ….

♥  Take a few deep breaths and turn away.  Have a cappuccino, glass of wine, croissant, whatever brings you joy (solace).  Go back later—with an open mind. WPcritLongfordpcDOTcom

♥  Determine if there’s some truth there.  Take it with a grain of salt … and have at it.

♥  Remember that writing is subjective.  What you love, a person may hate.  Everyone has an opinion; none are the same.  So when you receive a negative feedback, acknowledge it.  Different strokes for different folks: a valid cliché.

If you’ve been crushed by criticism, realize it’s merely that: a person’s subjective analysis.  Take from it what you can, and move on.  Understand that it doesn’t make you a bad writer—you truly do have marvelous tales to tell and share—you simply need to improve here and there.  If we didn’t continually develop, we’d stagnate, never learn or grow.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing, do you?

Could You Repeat that, Please?

Well, maybe not.  There’s good repetition in fiction writing (which, as a literary device, can prove quite powerful) and there’s not-so-good repetition in fiction writing (which can prove boring and drive readers nuts).  This post will focus on the latter of repetition in fiction writing that’s not-so-good.  (Hmm, did that sound familiar?)

Private eye Gerald Macklin grabbed the Luger from the desk and hurried into the dim corridor.  He hurried in the darkness, trying to keep the weapon firmly grasped in his sweaty right hand.  A thud resounded on the first floor.  He hurried down the stairs and down a rear corridor, keeping a firm grip on the gun as he peered around the corner.  Seeing two shadows by the wall, he raised his sweaty right hand and aimed the Luger.

Not-so-good repetition is when a writer uses the same descriptive words in the same sentence or paragraph (or page) several times—without substance or structure.  This lends itself to redundancy, otherwise known as, yeah, repetition.

We want to create excitement, tension, emotion, conflict in our tales.  (Using the same words can do that, but this has to be done [effectively] well; we’ll touch upon this in another post.)  Overused words and phrases, however, weaken writing.  They tend to “weigh down” the story and contribute to the yawn factor.

Whenever possible, utilize descriptive words (verbs, nouns), but ensure they lend themselves to the intended mood.  Think: visuals, tone, ambiance.

Repetition equals flatness—so does “uneventful” text.  Not that you should attempt to modify or galvanize every word or expression, but give thought to being fresh and innovative.

Instead of:   said

Consider:   yelled, cried, declared, stated, uttered

Instead of:   laughed

Consider:   chortled, snickered, tittered, howled, giggled

Instead of:   white flowers

Consider:   snow-white roses, ivory tulips . . . or be very specific . . . Ox Eye Daisy, Black-Eyed Susan

Instead of:   Lawrence fumed angrily and walked into his boss’ office.

Consider:   Fuming, Lawrence stomped into his boss’ cramped office.   /   Lawrence stomped into his boss’ office and punched the desk.

Instead of:   The sound almost made him jump out of his skin.

Consider:   The shrill sound prompted him to jump.   /   A strident boom to the rear sent him racing into the darkness.

And back to our private eye example way above, let’s make it less repetitious and more interesting:

Private eye Gerald Macklin grabbed the Luger from the corner of his battered desk and hastened into the dim corridor.  Advancing quickly yet cautiously, he grasped the weapon firmly in his sweaty hand.  A loud thud resounded on the first floor.  A body?  Someone breaking in?  Or maybe out?  At the bottom of the winding stairwell, he dashed down another corridor and stopped breathless before Lincoln Ralston’s office.  Around the corner, by the far wall, stood two tall boxy shadows.  He aimed the Luger.  “Hold it right there!”

Besides using the same words/phrases repeatedly, avoid—dare I say it?—repeating details and/or history.  If you’ve provided information related to a locale or setting, don’t state it again a few paragraphs or pages later.  We had a good idea of what it looked like the first time.  The same holds true for characters.  If we know they’re chums as well as colleagues, have been partners for years, suffered a loss, or were born in another country, there’s little reason to state it a second (or fifth/sixth/seventh) time.  Establish the main [important] facts and embellish, as necessary, but don’t repeat them . . . and repeat them.

One last note, steer clear of clichés, which fall under the category of repetition.  Why?  Because they’re overused, trite.  We’ve seen/heard them <groan> repeatedly.  If a character uses them because they’re part of his/her persona, that’s one thing.  If the narrator/protagonist employs them—unless he’s Sam Spade, or being sarcastic or cute—you may want to avoid them.

See ya next week . . . when I post another weekly Wednesday post next week . . . uh . . . see ya.

WPrepeatclipartportalDOTcom 1

A-Tisket, A-Tasket . . . A Brisket, A Bracket

I rather like brisket (sorry, my vegan friends), and I’m keen on brackets, too. They’re practical punctuation marks, writing devices—when used appropriately.

What purpose(s) do they serve?  Basically, they allow you to include important information that’s not necessarily relevant or essential to the main fact or point.  Fitting that information into a sentence, however, isn’t always simple.  That’s where handy-dandy brackets play a part.

Let’s take a gander at four types and the main functions they serve.

Curved or Round Brackets or Parentheses (…)

These are the most commonly used, found in formal and informal documents.

♦  Brunwyn (a former athlete) took on the role of president for the newly formed team.

♦  Most people love technology (Larry can take it or leave it).

♦  Please leave your bag(s) on the table.

Square Brackets […]

Usually, these are used to include additional information from an outside source—someone other than you, the writer. [I like these, and use them with the purpose of adding a character’s comment, an “aside”.]

♦  The robber stated: “She [the officer] didn’t read me my rights.”

♦  The two countries at the summit were from Europe [Germany and Austria].

♦  The protagonist, John Smith, is well-developed [in my opinion].

You can use different brackets (such as square ones [like these] within parentheses).

Curly Brackets or Braces {…}

These are utilized in prose to designate a list of equal choices (can’t say I’ve used these even once).  When used in printing and music, they connect two or more lines, words, or staves of music. They’re also found in physics and math, and programming (C, Java, PHP, and so forth).

♦  Determine where you want to go for your vacation {Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin} and we’ll book the trip.

♦  {2,4,6,8,10}

♦  {x} = [x]

Angle Brackets or Chevrons <…>

These enclose codes and illustrate highlighted information.  They can also indicate an internal thought.  More often, you’ll find them in math and physics, and not in everyday writing.

♦  I held the wine goblet to my nose and inhaled gently.  “It’s quite lovely.”  <If you like mold.>

And, of course, you can use different brackets when providing several facts:

♦  There were dozens (of the sizable [glass {but not etched}]) antique goblets in the shop.

When it comes to writing, like anything, use brackets in moderation.

(Hope [sincerely] this post proved of value.)

I like You . . . You Like Me?

Let’s look at the basics—how to get more likes on social media.  More likes means more followers and traffic.  Gotta like that.  <LOL> WPlike1

♥  Share photos/images that grab a viewer’s attention.  Get to understand which ones get more likes; create/offer similar ones. 

♥  Use hashtags and calls to action.  If you want likes, request them.  Add something as simple as “Please like my post”.  Easy-peasy.

♥  Reshare/retweet.  If you’re on other social networks, re-share.  Nothing wrong with that.  Communicate with—attract—everyone and anyone.

♥  Like other people’s posts.  But don’t do it merely for the sake of it . . . and don’t like something because everyone else seems to.  Be selective; be sincere.

♥  Like company/business posts.  As appropriate, of course.  This shows others (those followers we all want) what we’re into.

♥  Run a contest.  If it’s doable, have a like and tag contest.  You don’t simply ask people to like your post, you request that they tag someone they know in the post/comments.

Time plays a part when it comes to likes—there’s more interchange with posts published between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. (evidently, less folks are on-line).  Give it a try; see what works.

Hope you liked the basics of liking.  Feel free to like me . . . as I like you.

WPlikeReactionGIFs.gif

 

 

Tags & Hash

I confess—readily—that I don’t know the first thing about tagging or hashtags.  Blame it on my “sheltered” time-constrained life.  <LOL>

It’s okay.  My lack of knowledge is our gain.  It got me to research the basics of tagging and hashtagging, and this I happily share.

A tag, for the record, is a word/phrase that is preceded by a hash mark (#), and is used in a message or post to locate a keyword or topic of interest, and then expedite a search for it.  When you add a # to your message or post, social media/networking sites will index it; it then becomes searchable (“findable”) by others.  In simple terms, hashtags categorize content.

I’m a Facebooker, so let’s look take a look-see at FB—where you can tag a person, someone in a pic, and somebody in a post.

To tag a person (by name), start a post or comment on another post, pic, or vid.  Type the person’s name anywhere in that post or comment (FB offers suggestions when you’re typing, by the way).  Another option: type @ before you enter the name.  This informs FB that you intend to tag someone in your post or comment.  Select the name you want to tag when it appears and then select “Post”.  Ta-da.  Your post/comment will be posted and the “tagee” will be notified he/she has been tagged.

To tag someone or a page in a pic, click it to expand it.  Hover over the photo and type the person’s name.  Use the full name of the person or page you want to tag when it appears.  Click “Done Tagging”.  Be aware: when you tag a pic that wasn’t uploaded by a Friend, the person who uploaded it must approve the tag.

To tag somebody in a post, begin a fresh post by going into the box where your personal pic/icon is—where you see “What’s on your mind?” in faint gray font.  If you look beneath the post box, beside “Photo/Video”, you’ll find “Tag People”.  Next, you’ll see “Who are you with?”.  Type the name of someone (add more if you wish).  Write something and hit “Post”.  The person you tagged will be notified that you tagged him/her in a post.

What about hashtagsYou can make anything into a hashtag by adding # in front of a word or phrase.  (Seen it, not done it.)  Add the # and then start typing—you’ll see the #xxx highlighted in pale blue.  Once completed, post. The now bold tag will be in your status update; click on the status bar to have that hashtag automatically added to an update.  Sweet.

Once the post is up, you can click on your new tag to see who’s using that same phrase and what they’re saying.

The thing about a hashtag is to create one that serves a purpose—one that will be of use several times over.  As an FYI, you can learn which hashtags are trending (check out Hashtagify, RiteTag, and # hashtags.org, among others).  It’s advised, depending on the site, to avoid using several in one message or post.  Keep them simple and don’t use too many words.

Let’s end with a bit of trivia.  Did you know the first hashtag used in social media is credited to Chris Messina (a former Google employee)?  It happened in a Tweet—in 2007.  The word “hashtag” wasn’t added to the dictionary (Oxford, to be precise) until 2010. WPTagHash123RFDOTcom

. . . #happytagging.

Back to the Beginning

. . . re starting a blog when you’re in a fog . . . about what to do.

<LMAO>  I’d actually thought of a cute little poem while lying in bed last night and—dang!—gone it was come the morning.  Goes to prove, when an idea pops into your head, write it down or lose it.

I digress [again].  Anyway, someone who readily admits to being non-blog-savvy, had asked me to check out an old blog, provide opinions and tweak, if necessary.  . . . Realization upon doing so: creating a new one would be the better option.

WPblogconfusedAre you in the same boat, non-blog-savvy, but considering becoming a blogger?  Quash the anxiety, my friend.  Move beyond the how-do-I-do-this daze.  You can and will be a boffo blogger.  Just believe and do.

You’re thinking: yeah, I could wrap my head around getting a blog going and belonging to the ever-increasing, ever-exciting blogging community.  But what do I blog about?!

Easy-peasy.  Blog about what: ♥   you know       ♥   floats your boat—your passion.

Maybe you want to make extra money via a blog?  Totally doable.  Go for it; the WWW world is your oyster.  But let’s focus on the elementary steps: the beginning of the beginning blog.   Something like that.

Concentrate on creating a blog that features you—your writing, recipes, photos, travels, family adventures, whatever it is you want to share.  Utilize an approach that’s “you”.  Look at other bloggers to get a taste of what’s visually appealing and well presented.  But remember: your blog should incorporate your unique voice (style, slant).  Sing out loud, sing out strong.

You’ll want to think of a blog name—something catchy, memorable.  Google.  See what others with your interest have named their blogs.  Look at items, people and/or products related to your interest; maybe they’ll inspire you.

Ensure that whatever the blog focus is, it’s incorporated into the name.  If the blog is about you, use your name or a version thereof.  Once you’ve selected the perfect blog name, see if it’s available.  (If it already exists, you can vary it or use a different extension—like .net instead of .com.)

Once the aforementioned is all set, get that blog going.  Pick a platform and webhost—software and services used to publish your blog content on the Internet (I’m partial to WordPress, of course, but there are many others to choose from).  Register it.

Just for the record, to be clear, a domain name is your website address that people would type into the URL bar of a browser when they’re looking to visit your blog.  A webhost serves as your file storage/service location.  When folks enter your domain name into a browser, that name is converted into the IP address of your webhost.  (Oof.  Anything technical and I feel a headache coming on.  <LOL>) WPblogLeftHook

A webhost is pretty much a must, or you really won’t have much of a blog.  Yes, you can go for self-hosting, but there are limitations, such as not having your own domain name, not being able to access free themes or upload an abundance of vids/pics and the like.  Nothing wrong with that, though.  It depends on what you’re looking to do.  Investigate the pros and cons of self-hosting, and determine what’s best for you.

Use a template (theme) for the blog design/layout that speaks to you and tailor it accordingly.  Remember: you don’t have to stick with it forever.  The beauty of having a blog is that you can change the look anytime you like.

Once it’s designed and up and running, go for it—write that first post.  How exciting is that!?

Happy blogging!  . . . And, on that note, I’d better take a gander at that blog to be.

 

 

Pal, Buddy, Chum . . . Life-Long Friend . . . Confirmed?

150+ friend requests—in one day?!  <ROTFL>  T’is [astonishingly] true.

Some requestors had a mutual friend, others had six, and a few had none.  I’d mentioned this to an acquaintance and she said it could be a scam.  In what way could friending be “a scam”?  I lean toward naïve and prefer to believe the better of people, so when there’s a request to friend someone, I’m thinking it’s okay.

In retrospect, however, I do recall a couple of Twitter episodes—two guys instantly proclaimed their love for me.  Uh-huh.  I’m a decent/nice gal, but I’m not that lovable.  <LOL>

Perpetually curious, I Googled about friending.  Research netted similar advice—do not friend:

♦   friends of friends that you don’t know (rather like selecting strangers, wouldn’t you say?)     ♦   someone you’re not comfortable with (he/she doesn’t transmit “good vibes”)     ♦   individuals who may not be interested in, or at ease with, your content.

Liveabout.com advises there are four types of people you should never friend:

♦   exes (perish the thought)    ♦   bosses, coworkers, clients (oh-oh)    ♦   strangers (makes sense—and obviously I have none)    ♦   acquaintances.

Incidentally, LiveAbout is a rather cool site.  The folks there believe that “free time matters”.  In fact, their site features “a lovable jumble of urban legends, sports history, and esoteric trivia that you can lose yourself in for hours” . . . with writers who are “experts and professionals in their fields”.

I digress.  Back to friending and following.  There is a difference by the by.  When you add someone as a friend, you automatically follow him/her (as he/she does you).  You’ll see each other’s posts.  When you follow someone you’re not friends with, you’ll see their public posts.

I still have 100+ potential friends to confirm (more arrive every day).  Before I do so, however, I’m going to do that due diligence I’ve often recommended.  If you’re in a similar situation, do the same. WPfriendsusebox1

When you receive a request, verify the mutual friend(s) by selecting the view [“see what you have in common with XYZ’s friends] button.  Check out the requestor’s profile.  If anything looks sketchy, do not confirm that friend request.

If you’ve hastily friended someone (like yours truly) and determine you’d rather not continue the “relationship” (like yours truly), you can unfollow the individual, as opposed to unfriending him/her.

And if you’re thinking of submitting a friend request, it wouldn’t hurt to send the person a quick message before you do.  Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t respond to your request.  He/she undoubtedly has a valid reason for doing so, such as wanting to keep the friend list small/manageable.

Given I enjoy researching and always learn a few new things, there’ll likely be friend/FB etiquette “reminder” post in the next wee while.

WPfriends1useUntil the next time . . . my friends.

Summarizing the Summation of the Synopsis

Rey provided that title as an FYI.  <LMAO>

This is the last synopsis-related post for a while.  No more pointers, no more checklists.  The world—the Internet—is your oyster.  Find your pearl(s) of wisdom.

Recently, I had an overwhelming desire to revisit The Secret.  I didn’t really want to re-read it, not at the moment anyway, but I want an overview, a summation—yes, a synopsis.  My travels took me to a cool site, Four Minute Books.  Here, I found exactly what I wanted and then some.

Niklas Goeke believes “that everyone should be able to learn from the world’s best books for free”.  Gotta love that (as Rey would say).  Nik condenses books in four minutes or less.  Per his site, in 2016 alone, he’d written 365 book summaries.  How amazing is that?

His summaries are worth checking out, not just because they encapsulate books so well but, when it comes to nonfiction, they prove informative, too.  Key points are at your fingertips.  Recommendation: read a few to get a feel for summation (synopsis writing).

FourMinuteBooksDOTcomhttps://fourminutebooks.com

Quick comment: Nik also touts Blinkist.  It’s a “professional book summary service that allows you to understand the key insights into the world’s best non-fiction books in 15 minutes or less”.  Sounds perfect for people struggling to find time to open a book, much less read it (may I see a show of hands, please?).  Visit the site to see what’s what.

With that, I leave you with the synopsis for the last Triple Threat Investigation Agency book, Forever PoiWPsynpoi1

Forever Poi, the fourth mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, has private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda out to solve a double-arson and murder.  Who torched two Chinatown art galleries and left two charred bodies in the rubble?

Are the arsonist and killer the same individual?  The trio believes so.  JJ (Jill Jocasta Fonne), her melodramatic cousin Rey (Reynalda Fonne-Werde), and her best friend, Linda Royale, encounter a plethora of possible culprits.  The day before the fire, Carlos Kawena, one of the arson victims, had an “ugly break-up” with his partner, James-Henri Ossature.  There were financial issues, too.  Could James-Henri have done the dastardly deed to collect insurance and be rid of his lover?  What about the second victim, Mary-Louise Crabtree, a former queenpin?  Given her sketchy past, might a former foe have murdered her?  If so, was Carlos merely collateral damage?

When the trio is hired by insurance adjuster Xavier Shillingford to assist in the investigation, it soon becomes evident that professional arsonists did not set the fires.  As they immerse themselves in the challenging case, a host of curious characters again materializes. 

Mary-Louise had changed her name (again) and become an artist manager.  Her new life appeared on the up-and-up, but a promising new client, Bizz Waxx, ends up murdered.  Had he discovered something that necessitated his permanent silence?  Beautiful and mysterious Cholla Poniard, James-Henri’s half-sister, also has ties to the art world.  Two of her celebrity divorces have ended with ugly consequences for the exes—and both will affirm that multi-talented Cholla is a dangerous woman who has her way, at any cost. 

Determined detecting reveals that a stumbled-upon key opens the door to an upscale condo shared by Mary-Louise and Bizz Waxx.  Following up on found bank cards, they learn the former queenpin had regularly deposited substantial sums of money.  Courtesy of blackmail payments?  If so, who was she blackmailing and why?

On a planned visit to her mother and nephew in North Carolina, JJ stops off in Chicago to follow up on a lead related to a double agent, Colt Coltrane, who she had inadvertently killed during a previous case.  While she is on the Mainland, Rey and Linda continue investigating on Oaha and find themselves in hot water when they are caught doing what Rey does best: B&Eing.

Cliff, a former partner of James-Henri, also died during a gallery fire.  His friend and roommate, Randy, tells the threesome that Cliff had wanted to sell his share just prior to the fatal fire.  He has a box of Cliff’s documents, which might provide useful if not damaging information.  Xavier and the private eyes scour journals and ledgers, and find references to a French art-gallery linked to James-Henri and insurance policies listing Cholla as beneficiary to deceased artists. 

Charming Bayat Alexandre is one of Cholla’s beaus.  It turns out that he—as well as she—are excellent markspersons.  Had one of them shot a man that could have provided vital information to the private eyes?  A midnight swim to Bayat’s boat has the trio searching for an AR-15 and locating it . . . just as he locates them.  Before he can shoot, however, the gun explodes. 

When the P.I.s confront James-Henri, he claims innocence and ignorance, and suggests they visit a cottage on the North Shore where his sister sometimes stays.  The trip proves successful . . . and night of harrowing flight and fight ensues.

The following day, a van runs down James-Henri, with fatal consequences.  With some ingenuity, the women discover the van belongs to a saimin company and off they go.  Franklen Haloa, an executive at the company, is missing.  Was he murdered? 

Perhaps not.  Another one of Cholla’s “useful” beaus, he assists her in JJ’s kidnapping.  A skirmish ensues with JJ ending up in the hospital.  Cholla, ever relentless, confronts JJ and a fight to the finish transpires.

While Xavier, Rey and Linda visit an associate, Gail takes JJ for a drive around Oahu.  After stopping at a food truck for lunch, JJ receives a mysterious text from someone named GrimReaperPeeper.  He—or she—is looking forward to getting together in the near future.

Checking the Checks

Checklist that is . . . not those awesome paper/virtual payments we so love to receive.

Post #3 continues with the synopsis (and, yes, there’ll be Post #4 because I have four Triple Threat Investigation Agency synopses in total).  Pointers are good, but a checklist might also prove of value-add.

After you’ve outlined or drafted your first synopsis, consider the following—have you:

◊  specified the genre?

◊  incorporated a theme?

◊  captured the protagonist properly—his/her personality, goals, motivation(s), and quest (mission)?

◊  provided pivotal, relevant scenes and conflicts/issues (how they relate to the protagonist’s quest and growth?

◊  noted crucial tension/friction, important plot twists, and how they progress the storyline?

◊  included the climax (resolution)?

◊  ensured the voice is active (present tense, third person) and that there is no extraneous wording (short truly is sweet)?

◊  checked that the details/action are in chronological order?

◊  reviewed what has been written and made certain it “captures” the reader (the agent and/or publisher)?

Remember, a synopsis is a [very] “compact” version of your book.  Because it has to be well-paced and attention-grabbing, every word has to count.

. . . Here’s the synopsis for “Coco’s Nuts!”, the third book in the Triple Threat WPCocoSynInvestigation Agency series.  Does it encompass the above?  Feel free to pass judgment.

Coco’s Nuts, the third mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, finds the three rookie private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—entrenched in their second professional assignment: proving socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo. 

Despite what police believe and evidence suggests, JJ, Rey and Linda are convinced that Buddy has been set up.  In their quest for answers, JJ, Rey and Linda contend with a slew of suspects.  Several persons hated Picolo enough to kill him, but locating the one who pulled the trigger proves challenging.  As the rookie P.I.s strive to uncover a killer amid yet another cast of curious and unconventional characters, they meet up with old acquaintances who may or may not have their best interests at heart. 

 Their detecting travels lead them along a few detours—like the world of gambling and “limb-breakers”.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars to “collectors” in Vegas and Oahu.  Might this have served as motivation to kill her father, so that she could collect a sizeable inheritance?  What about Picolo’s son?  Might Jimmy Junior have been eager to take over his father’s multiple businesses?  What of nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee who has been MIA since the murders occurred?  A driver for Picolo, the odd little fellow (pest, some call him) has been missing since his boss’ murder.  He certainly appears to be a central piece in this perplexing puzzler. 

Why was Eb Stretta, Buddy’s best friend, gunned down a few days after Picolo?  For that matter, why did someone pump five bullets into Mr. Razor, Picolo’s assistant?  Exploding bombs suggest the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio have ruffled feathers by asking too many questions.  Hopefully, they will obtain legitimate answers before something significant blows up—like the private eyes.

The women discover “remnants” of Coco—his tattoo and jewelry—in Picolo’s million-dollar Haleiwa retreat.  It appears Coco is another casualty, but finding the rest of him is as difficult as proving Buddy innocent.  Fortunately, drop-dead-gorgeous Kent Winche, another Picolo employee, steps in to assist.

To complicate matters, the ever-enigmatic Cash Layton reenters JJ’s life.  Solving the current case is challenging enough, never mind having to figure out what the undercover cop – drug dealer is all about.  And why is it he always seems to know where to find her and what she is up to?

In the midst of the chaos, Cash kidnaps JJ for an all-day outing on a boat belonging to Richie J (his alter ego in the drug world).  A fun-filled afternoon—where a few loose ends from Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? are tied up—transcends into an intimate evening.  All goes relatively smoothly . . . until Cash’s colleague and double agent, Colt, arrives.  His intention to kill them proves unsuccessful.

JJ returns to Wilmington to spend time with her mother and nephew.  Upon return to Oahu, she joins her two friends and colleagues at the new Chinatown office to begin their third major assignment: Forever Poi.

Happy synopsis-ing.

Summing Up the Synopsis

Exciting times.  Or taxing?  <LOL>  Because of the move to New Chapter, Creativia requested its authors submit new synopses for their books.  The result: a community chat about the appropriate length and requirements of a synopsis.  Ta-da!  Topic for today: synopsis refresher pointers.

What do you add?  What do you remove when all the adding’s been done?  Is the synopsis dynamic?  Does it capture all the important components?

You’ve completed your manuscript; now you have to sum up the story.  Ugh.  No fun, you’re thinking.  It’s not that bad, really.  Just commit some time, roll up those sleeves, and grab a cup (or three) of joe.

Start by determining the key/pivotal actions—feats, accomplishments, battles, trials—that your main protagonist embraces and endures.  You may want to write a short paragraph for each chapter.  And, yes, it’s quite all right to include the ending in a synopsis; you are, in essence, “selling” your book, be it to a publisher or agent.

Ensure that you provide enough backdrop in the beginning to paint a visual picture.  Where does the story take place?  Who is the protagonist?  What is the major trial he or she is facing?

Once you have all those paragraphs written, flesh out the synopsis so it flows like a serene stream and not a torrential flood (you can delete later).  Write it in third-person present tense (regardless of how the book itself is written—such as first person, present tense).

What’s important for the reader to know?  Have you provided critical components?  What’s the plot about?  Who is the main character?  What makes him or her tick?  What event(s) play a crucial part in developing and challenging him or her?  How are major issues resolved?

Once it’s all on paper/screen, start editing.  Keep the nitty-gritty and delete the redundant.  Publishers and agents vary on the length of the synopses they want.  Have a one- or two-pager at the ready, but keep a multi-page one handy too (you truly never know).

Here’s a revamped synopsis for the first book featuring the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals, before they were official P.I.s.

The Connecticut Corpse Caper chronicles the antics of several inheritance recipients, as witnessed by weather announcer Jill Jocasta Fonne.  The madcap mystery begins when she arrives one November afternoon at her deceased aunt’s eerie (reputedly haunted) Connecticut mansion, primed for a week-long stay.  Two-hundred thousand dollars will be awarded to each person upon staying the course.  Should someone leave, regardless of reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.

Each friend and relative of the deceased and eccentric Mathilda Reine Moone (Aunt Mat) seems as odd as the next to Jill, save for her pastry-chef boyfriend, Adwin Byron Timmins, and her high-strung cousin, Reynalda (Rey) Fonne-Werde.  Simple and wholesome Linda Royale, a screenwriting assistant and B-movie actress Rey’s best friend, seems equally innocuous.

London barrister Jensen Q. Moone and Manhattan lawyer Thomas Saturne are somber middle-aged gents.  While the former resembles Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (sucking on prunes), the latter bears a resemblance to Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby.  Neither cares much for the other.  Sophisticated May-Lee Sonit is owner of an antique shop called The Pied Piper and Aunt Mat’s good friend; the two women shared a love of wine and theater, opera and classical concerts.  There is a wacky brother-sister team: Percival Sayers is a writer of obscure poetry and landscaping and gardening articles, Prunella an avid bird lover and adventurer.  Unconventional servants—a portly chef, spindly maid, and grave butler—have been part of the household for years. 

All have a secret, as the three women (Jill, Rey and Linda) discover when they step out of their everyday professions and take on roles as amateur sleuths.  Others soon join in the sleuthing and the bumbling, stumbling—and mayhem—not long after the family lawyer passes in the drawing room.  Perhaps Saturne was heavy and out-of-shape, but he never appeared that unhealthy.  

Enter Sheriff Lewis and Deputy Gwynne; exit same, with body, into a misty and frigid night.  Enter and exit Lewis and Gwynne several more times as the body count mounts . . . until there is no option but to remain.

The trio’s Internet detecting reveals much: the history of the antebellum property and previous misfortunate (cursed?) owners, a liaison between Prunella and Thomas, and a sketchy bio of Fred the Ghost (as opposed to Fred the Cat, Aunt Mat’s fat feline).

When eccentric and not-so-deceased Aunt Mat dramatically announces a return from the dead, everyone is thrown into a tizzy.  The dither intensifies when the grande dame explains that the demise had been faked in hopes of ensnaring the person(s) responsible for monetary and in-house thefts.

As an ice storm approaches, legal sorts fall mysteriously ill.  Tensions mount, fingers point accusingly, and tongues flap crossly.  The determined, investigative threesome discover that not only hidden rooms and passageways conceal deep, dark secrets. WPCaperSyn

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is the perfect escape for those who love old B&W whodunit mysteries set in creepy oversize mansions filled with quirky guests, secreted passageways, and disappearing and reappearing corpses.

More on Saturday . . . .