The Long and Short of It – The Short Story

The gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency were chatting the other day over chai lattes and Rey thought she’d like to try penning a short story.  That gave Linda—also a blogger—an idea.  Why not provide tips on how to get started, seeing as she gave some to Rey?  (JJ thought she’d sit this one out, but might jump in later.)

So, this is a two-parter post.  The first part provides advice and the second will feature Rey’s short.  She’s thinking hers might revolve around an actress turned private eye.  Hmm.  Sounds vaguely familiar.  <LOL>

Over to you, Linda . . .

Hello all.   I’ve written a number of short stories over the years—a few were published, too—so I feel I’m qualified to provide guidelines (in case you were wondering).

If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, but haven’t yet written anything, a short story is a great place to start. 

Like a full-length book, you should present a conflict or complication, a quest or mission, create tension and interest.  Your aim: inspire the reader to read

Where will you get your idea (storyline)?  From the media, an author, a real-life situation, a recollection of something or someone—the channels, options, are numerous.  You don’t want to copy (steal) the idea outright, but you can certainly make it your own by adding the right twists and turns . . . and your personal touch of creativity and imagination. 

The length is up to you, but traditional short stories are 1500 to 5000 words in length (that’s 250 words to a double-spaced page, by the way).

Whether you’re writing short fiction or long, make sure you know it well—learn all you can about the genre by reading it.  Many, many times.  One can only become an expert through concentrated effort and application.

Start by jotting down ideas, characters, thoughts, actions—whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation.  Just get it on the page or screen.  Let it out.  Purge.

Throw your protagonist (main character) under the bus right away.  Figuratively speaking.  A short story is just that: short.  You have little time (or space) to get too flowery or descriptive.  Yank that reader in right away!  This is contingent on what you’re writing, of course, but whatever the genre, you want to intrigue your readers from the get-go

If you’re writing a romance, perhaps the hero isn’t interested in the heroine, or vice versa.  Maybe the hero’s lover is unfaithful (or so it appears).  Is the protagonist torn between love or comfort (l’amour or moolah)?  In a mystery, has the protagonist stumbled upon a body . . . and is accused of the heinous crime?  Or has he/she witnessed the murder, but no one believes his/her?  In a western, a nefarious thieving gang is on its way to pillage the town—and most of the frightened townspeople, as well as the deputies, have fled.  Rustlers are rumored to be in the vicinity of the Dalton farmstead.  How will the family deal with them?  In a mainstream story, perhaps the heroine strives to go to see the world before she succumbs to her illness, but there’s no money—or hope—to be had.  The possibilities for any genre are endless.  Let that imagination, truly, run wild. 

Short stories that work are those that appeal to readers through emotions, feelings, principles, values (romance/love, vengeance, justice, escape, and so forth).  Enter enough emotion to sadden, delight, frighten, worry, [verb-of-choice] readers.  Entice readers to pursue your protagonist throughout the dilemma or adventure.  How will the perplexing issue be resolved?  Is the ending a happy one or heartbreaking?  Has the protagonist learned a lesson or acquired new insight? 

That ending, like the beginning, has to happen 1-2-3.  Make certain you bring adequate [quick] closure to provide the reader with a sense of satisfaction.  An “it was a dark and stormy night” opening should have a “the sun appeared on the horizon” ending.  That’s not to say that the end is a happy one, just that something promises to transpire (and it could be equally grim, but that’s your choice).

I believe I’ve given you enough food for thought.  Let’s see if my BFF, Rey, applies my suggestions to her short story.  Hmm.  Curiosity’s got the better of me. I think I’ll take a peek . . .

HA-HA-HA-HA—Nothing to Laugh About

Hey, it’s Rey today.  Just thought I’d update you on our latest case.  We’re calling it HA-HA-HA-HA because that’s how the killer likes to sign his “farewell” notes.  But these serial killings are nothing to laugh about.

We’re close to tying up the case.  Real close.  Dangerously close.  GrimReaperPeeper—GRP for short—is clever and cunning.  He constantly outsmarts the police.  Finding clues as to his whereabouts has been a major challenge.  This guy’s good.  Unfortunately.

Here’s an excerpt . . .

Several seconds later, the door opened—to reveal our three colleagues standing but a few feet away, two Tasers, a flashlight, and a camera raised.  It flashed.

“Talk about perfect timing,” Jimmy C said.

“Ugh, I’m blinded,” Rey griped.  “So?  What?  You been taking pics of the place?  Hoping for a big scoop?”

The big scoop,” he grinned, lowering the camera.

“We found Gail,” I announced.  “Adwin’s escorting her to the car.”

“GRP had the room—probably the entire house—bugged.  Guess he reckoned we’d figure it out,” Rey said.  “Shit, we should have grabbed that speaker.  Oh well.  The police’ll get it.”

Linda tucked the Taser in her hoodie pocket.  “Do you think GRP’s in here somewhere?”

I shook my head.  “He’s close, but not within reach.”

“We didn’t find much, except a well hidden beneath some dense shrubbery to the far rear of the ohana,” Sach said.  “And then, just when we were going to leave, we discovered this passageway.”

“Purely by accident,” Jimmy C said with a self-conscious smile.  “I tripped into it and it opened.”

“This place has suddenly become very creepy,” Sach grimaced.

“Did you lock up the ohana?” I asked.   

Linda nodded.  “Behind us, as soon as we entered.”

“Then let’s head back this way.  Given Ald’s incommunicado, we’ll call Hammill on the way home.”

“Shouldn’t we call him now?” Jimmy C asked.  “He and his team members would probably prefer we hang around.  Maybe I can get some interesting details for my story.”

“This place could be boobytrapped and, if it is, we may find more than confetti raining down on us,” I advised.  “Let’s not take chances.”

“I’m in total agreement.”  Sach pointed forward.  “Let’s get out of here, and fast!”

So, hopefully, you’ll be able to read about this exciting [taxing] case soon! 

In the meanwhile, stay safe, play smart.  Aloha!

Day Five, Final Day

Day Five, Final Day

… to get Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? for a mere 99 cents. 

Rookie private eyes JJ, Rey, and Linda take on their first official case: to discover an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife’s secret.  Is it an affair as hubby, WP Howell, believes?  Or are more dastardly deeds in the wind?

It appears the latter because Carmie Howell is soon found in the waters off Oahu.  As the trio investigate, they stumble over a few more bodies.  Who’s responsible?  There’s a plethora of potential culprits.

Linda checked the mirrors and started the ignition. “Do you want the good news first or the bad?”

“Give me the bad.”

“It’s a two-parter.”

I couldn’t contain a Cousin Reynalda water-buffalo snort. “Of course it is.”

“Part one: Rey told me that she hasn’t been able to get any info on the Howells that we haven’t yet read or heard. But she’s expecting phone-backs from her Mainland film and theater contacts, so something of note could crop up. In terms of Salv, she didn’t come up with anything, but she did emphasize the word ‘yet’.”

“That’s partially bad news. There’s still hope,” I declared with a quick smile. “What’s part two?”

“Mr. Gruesome has no police record—”

“What!” I gazed at her in astonishment. “A guy like that has no police record?”

“That’s correct,” she affirmed with a smirk. “A couple of officers recognized him, courtesy of your drawing. Deff, Makjo’s lunch buddy, said he’s known around the station, but he’s never been caught with any fingers in a till.”

I exhaled slowly. “What’s the good news?”

“We have a name: it’s Kale Karaoke Loulu.”

“Karaoke?”

“The guy likes to sing. Apparently, he’s got a good set of pipes.”

“Who’d have thought?” I settled in and motioned ahead. “Onward, my faithful fellow private eye. Lunch beckons.”

If the Triple Threat Investigation Agency P.I.s have piqued your interest, perhaps you’d like to check them out Hula at:

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Four, Two Days More

… to get Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? for a mere 99 cents. 

Newbie private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—accept their first official assignment: to discover an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife’s secret.  Is it simply a matter of Carmie Howell having an affair, as WP believes?  Or is something more sinister afoot?

Perhaps the latter . . . because Carmie is soon found floating off the sapphire shores of Oahu.  As JJ, Rey and Linda investigate, more bodies fall.  Who’s responsible?  Druggies?  Gang members?  Mob sorts?  [Very] nervous nellies?

Latte-colored eyes gleaming, she leaned forward. “In a quest to learn more about Gino Carpella, I decided to go wayback. Carmie’s twin, as we know, is quite the entrepreneur. He made his first million courtesy of his father’s fabulous pizza pies.” She looked like the original Steve McGarrett nabbing a prime suspect: gratified.

“To make it all happen, he needed financing.” Rey smirked, sucking back a quarter of the drink. “As in a major loan.”

“A loan with nointerest,” Linda declared. “But there was a silent partnership agreement.”

“And the partner is?” Rey prompted with a Cheshire grin.

“Martino Lino Mondino,” Linda announced, not waiting for me to hazard a guess.

I looked from Linda to Rey and back again. “The Martino Lino Mondino?”

“Yup,” Rey said, her expression smug. “As in Mondino’s Supreme Sardinos—er, Sardines.”

“And Mondino’s Superlative Select Meats. And Mondino’s Classy Celebrated Cheeses,” Linda continued.

“He’s absorbed a lot of little companies and cottage industries along the East Coast. He’s also known for foodstuff first and triumphant business deals second.”

“He wins over the competition each and every time,” Rey stated.

“He wins because he eradicates them permanently,” I added.

Linda wagged a playful finger. “There is nothing to prove Mondino ‘eradicates them permanently’.”

“Then why have six competitors in the last dozen years gone the way of Jimmy Hoffa?”

Linda’s smile was dry. “Lots of digging and a couple of calls confirmed Gino’s still tight with Mondino. In fact, the fifty-five-year-old who, I understand, bears an uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story, is a co-signer on the lease for the Seventh Avenue building that accommodates Gino’s head office. Here’s another ‘in fact’: Mondino, who goes by the name of ‘Teen’ if you’re a friend, also owns a building a half-a-mile away from Gino’s—hey, what a great name for a business. Gino’s and Mondino’s.”

If the gals have piqued your interest, perhaps you’d like to check out Hula at:

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Three, Not Free . . . but Pretty Darn Close

Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? is a mere 99 cents through August 17.

Novice private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—accept their first official detecting assignment: uncover the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife.  Is it simply a matter of wifey having an affair, as hubby believes?

Not long after they embark on their first case, pretty young wife is found murdered on the shores of Oahu.  And there’s a secret all right, one of many, and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.  Who of the unconventional cast of characters is the murderer?  As Jill, Rey and Linda try to fit puzzle pieces together, they stumble across several more bodies.

A straightforward task becomes anything but.  They’ve dealt with multiple murders in past, however, thanks to a wacky week in Connecticut, and while this new set of quirky personalities proves equally taxing, they have enough faith in their [budding] talents to persevere and unscramble clues.

And, if the trio succeeds, their newly founded business, The Triple Threat Investigation Agency, will prove a viable venture.

Curious?  Please check out the rookie private eyes’ escapades at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Can-Hula-like-Hilo-Hattie/dp/1074454073

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Two, Howdy-Do

Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? is a mere 99 cents through August 17.

Newbie private eyes JJ, Rey and Linda accept their first official detecting assignment: learning the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife.  He believes she may be having an affair.  If they succeed, their newly founded business, The Triple Threat Investigation Agency, will prove a viable venture.

The twist: the wife is found murdered along the sapphire shores of Oahu. And there’s a secret all right, one of many, and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.

Perhaps you’d like a little excerpt?

We’d only had to demonstrate she was a cheating spouse who possessed a secret that could prove of value to her husband and help dissolve a four-year marriage. All that had been required: surveying the woman, taking photos as necessary, and delivering nightly reports. Easy-peasy. Not.

What we’d unearthed in the preceding days extended to the sordid world of drugs and gambling, two ugly and dangerous addictions that could drag you under and far like the Molaka’i Express, which was the crossing of the Kaiwi Channel from volcano-formed Molaka’i, Hawaii’s fifth largest island, and possessed exceptionally strong currents. If the vice didn’t batter you, the enabler—the human component—was there to ensure you remained dependent, paid up and/or stayed high, and never screwed him or her.

“Man, she must have really pissed someone off.”

“Big time.” I peered across the darkening Pacific and reflected on that which had brought us to Hawaii: a desire to open our own P.I. agency. But the body sprawled across rough wave-soaked rocks begged one crucial question: what did a meteorologist, actress, and scriptwriting assistant know about detecting? So what if they’d played amateur sleuths several months ago during a murder-filled week at an eerie Connecticut mansion? That didn’t grant them the expertise or street smarts to manage a bona-fide case.

. . . But maybe the more imperative question at the moment was: how were they going to explain a simple undercover-case gone terribly wrong?

If we’ve piqued your interest, please check us out at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Can-Hula-like-Hilo-Hattie/dp/1074454073

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day One – Havin’ Fun

For five days, Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? is a mere 99 cents.

Promotion dates:  August 13 – August 17

Novice private eyes JJ, Rey and Linda accept their first official detecting assignment: learning the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife.  He believes she may be having an affair.  If they succeed, their newly founded business, The Triple Threat Investigation Agency, will prove a viable venture.

The twist: the wife is found murdered along the sapphire shores of Oahu. And there’s a secret all right, one of many, and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.

Who of the unconventional cast of characters is the murderer? As the trio try to fit puzzle pieces together, they stumble across several more bodies and what promised to be a straightforward task becomes anything but.  They’ve dealt with a sundry of murders in past, however, thanks to a wacky week in Connecticut, and while this new set of quirky personalities proves equally taxing, they have enough faith in their [budding] talents to persevere and unscramble clues.

Here’s an opportunity for the women to prove they made a wise choice in becoming bona-fide detectives. But can they do so before the murderer strikes again?

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Five, No Jive

You can still get The Connecticut Corpse Caper for F-R-E-E, but only today.

A cozy mystery with grit, Caper is set in a ghost-inhabited mansion where a lot of weird things—besides murders—occur.

Several guests—including nieces Jill Jocasta (JJ), Reynalda (Rey), and BFF Linda—must stay a week to collect a share of dotty Aunt Mat’s inheritance.  If anyone leaves early, his/her share goes to those remaining.

One invitee leaves the first night and not of his own accord.  Others soon follow.  JJ, Rey, and Linda endeavor to find out who’s behind the murders (and a couple of other curious capers)—before the killer “finds” them.

Feel free to check out how the three amateur sleuths finally solve The Connecticut Corpse Caper at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG

NOTE: FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

Day Four, No Wish to Bore

. . . but you can still get The Connecticut Corpse Caper for F-R-E-E.

If you find murder mysteries set in old, rural-set, ghost-inhabited mansions entertaining (maybe a little thrilling,) you might find Caper a fun read . . .

Eccentric (kooky) Aunt Mat has passed.  Enter several guests—including nieces Jill Jocasta (JJ), Reynalda (Rey), and BFF Linda—who must stay a week to collect a share of the inheritance.  If anyone leaves early, however, their share goes to those remaining.

The first night sees one person drop out—forever.  Others soon follow.  Who’s behind the murders?  One of the guests?  Or someone not yet seen?  JJ, Rey, and Linda endeavor to find out before they, too, suffer fatal blows at the hand of an obviously deranged killer.  But maybe murders aren’t the only dastardly deeds taking place; clues suggest there’s more afoot.

Feel free (literally) to check out how the trio got a taste to become professional private eyes . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG

NOTE: FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.

Day Three — Still FREE!

Free for another day—The Connecticut Corpse Caper.

Why will you find in Caper, the first in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series?

♠  An old haunted mansion (Fred, the ghost, roams the upper corridors).

♠  Hidden rooms and passageways, above ground and below.

♠  Carryings-on as bizarre as some of the characters.

♠  A murder or three.

♠  JJ, Rey, and Linda—three women, among the invitees—who don amateur sleuth hats to solve said murder(s).

♠  Twists and turns that take the trio beyond the murders—to other (related?) wrongdoings.

If you’d like to check out The Connecticut Corpse Caper, you can do so at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG

NOTE: FREE promotions are active in all Amazon marketplaces.