Standing Strong

It’s JJ, posting for the three of us, er, four of us (sorry Boss).  Today, we thought we’d simply display the hope-oriented quotes we’ve been posting the last few days on our Triple Threat Investigation Agency FB page.

These times are trying, unexpected and unusual to say the least, but we will get through them.  It may not seem as simple as stated, but we’re a resilient lot.  We have the faith (be it religious, spiritual, emotional, or cerebral), the stamina, and the determination.  We . . . shall . . . overcome.

In all things it is better to hope than to despair.  ♥ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and statesman

 Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.  ♥ Vincent McNabb, Irish scholar and priest

Where there is no hope, it is incumbent on us to invent it.  ♥ Albert Camus, French Algerian philosopher, author, and journalist

Out of difficulties grow miracles.  ♥ Jean de la Bruyère, French philosopher and moralist

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.  ♥ Desmond Tutu, South African Leader

Hope is a passion for the possible.  ♥ Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author 

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  ♥ Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, founder of the Plum Village Tradition

We liked this one so much, we posted it twice.

Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.  ♥ Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, essayist and poet

WPhopeNever let go of hope.

H   hold

O   optimism  (and)

P   positiveness

E   evermore

(That was Rey’s contribution.  Who’d have thought she had it in her, God bless her.)

Stay safe!

The Naught for Nothing Post

This week I was inspired by, well, nothing.  I guess my mind is as blank as the page of The Nothing Book (Wanna Make Something of it?).  Remember that, by Bruce Harris?  Many of you won’t of course, given it came out in the 70s.  But it was huge back then.  A book filled with blank pages.  What a concept.  Make a mint by putting a title on a notebook or diary.  Bravo!

So why a naught for nothing post?  Because there are so many thoughts and notions in my head they seem to blend into a big bunch of nothingness.  Because there is so much to post about right now, and yet nothing to say that hasn’t already been said.  Because so much is happening . . . and yet nothing appears to be moving/improving . . .  as we wait (and worry) about what will transpire.

But nothing in and of itself has its merit.  There’s nothing wrong with sitting back and attempting to relax, or gather momentum, or pray / hope / wish for better and safer days.  Embracing nothingness lends itself to a sense of relief, if only temporarily.

I rather like the thought of nothing as “something that does not exist”—like this catastrophic period in history or the dire daily news.  Or “nonexistence”—like this devastating illness.  Ah, to wave a magic wand and have it all go away, to fade into . . . nothingness.  To be able to do much ado about nothing, because that nothing is nothing more than something trivial, like too much cream in coffee.

So, today I’m posting about nothing—for the reason that there would be nothing better than to have nothing to worry about.

Stay safe my dear friends.

The Mystery of the Latter Years

Hey-ho, it’s Rey.  The Boss is working on an editing assignment today.  Linda and Cousin Jilly are a bit miffed that I got post patrol today, but I didn’t exactly hear them eagerly volunteer.  I’m so enjoying this now, I can’t help but jump at the chance to blog.

Our boss likes those Nancy Drew mysteries so much (says they help “calm” her during major bouts of stress), I got motivated and borrowed a few.  I really got to like them; small wonder, seeing as I’m a private eye.  He-he. 

Seems, though, that the young amateur sleuths are like forever 18.  That gave me an awesome, fun idea!  Why not feature the young detective and her best chums, Bess Marvin and George Fayne—years later

What would they be doing at the age of 30?  Still traveling around the world solving mysteries, enjoying those not-too-shabby allowances?  Linda and JJ liked the idea, so they’re not miffed anymore.  Here’s our take, starting with my BFF.

Linda:

WPNancyUseNancy decided to go to law school in her early 20s and then partnered with her father for a couple of years.  At 30, Nancy opted for criminal law, and recently set her sights on becoming a DA.  Ned Nickerson stopped pining for her after graduating from university (when she turned down his marriage proposal not once but thrice).  Multi-skilled and never shying from challenges, she’s also working on a part-time medical degree.

Bess married Dave Evans, her sweetheart, and had three children.  They moved to a small town in Iowa, where he currently serves as a high-school football coach.  She remains a stay-at-home mom, designing and sewing clothes for the family when she’s not preparing meals based on famous chefs’ recipes (she has a cookbook collection that, at last count, stood at 589).

George studied Sports Management and opened a small sports marketing firm.  She did so well, she moved to NYC at the age of 27 to open an agency.  She just married a well-known sports announcer, who shall remain nameless for the time being (the wedding was made known to a select few, given a very messy divorce).  George and hubby have just adopted two Shelties—Moon and Stone—and a cross-eyed tabby named Larkspur.

JJ:

Nancy had no desire to marry Ned Nickerson, despite his persistent proposals.  She actually ended up marrying Detective Bridge Blackwood, who she met when solving a mystery that involved her housekeeper’s kidnapping.  When Blackwood didn’t agree with her decision to pursue a career as a police officer, she divorced him and has had no regrets.  She’s currently—and most happily—a Maine Police Trooper.

WPBessUseBess threw off that towel of timidity and opted for pursuing a business career.  She moved to Los Angeles at the age of 20, where she attended culinary school.  Proving a talented cook, she opened a small diner—with much success.  She’s now a well-known Food Network star with a weekly half-hour show called “Bess in Show”.

George moved to Paris to study art.  She’d always been a decent sketcher, but had never had the time—or the inclination—to do anything with that talent until she met an aspiring watercolor painter at a family picnic.  Jean-Pierre swept George off her feet and she followed him to France.  One thing led to another and both are doing exceptionally well, thanks to the three-story gallery they opened last year.

Me (Rey):

Nancy opened a professional P.I. agency when her dad agreed to finance it.  It proved successful.  How could it not, considering she’d made a name for herself, not just locally, but around the world?  The agency did so well in fact that two years ago she opened an office in Seattle and there’ll be one in Los Angeles soon.  She married Ned a few months after he graduated university, but the marriage only lasted a year.  They’re still friends, though.  Sorta.

Bess became a plus-figure model at the age of 20 when a famous fashion photographer bumped into her—literally—as she was leaving an ice-cream shop.  Her triple-scoop cone ended up on his Prada shoes.  They both found it funny and Fate (Cupid) stepped in.  She’s still modeling and has just opened a boutique in Boston, where she moved with the photographer after they got married last year.

WPGeorgeUseGeorge is still living in River Heights and enjoying her job as a phys-ed teacher.  She married Burt Eddleton, who owns his own electronics shop.  This “unadventurous” life suits her just fine.  She stays in touch with Nancy and Bess, and the three are planning on taking a ten-day Caribbean cruise.

Yeah, 18 is fun . . . but not forever.  

Another Wonderful-Me Wednesday!

A bit big-headed, isn’t it?  Well, it’s all about shameless self-promotion . . . that I don’t partake of too often.

But today, I feel a need to bolster this flagging, ill body and soul <sniffle, snort, snuffle>.  This week, I received a five-star review on Goodreads for Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie?

And I’m feeling a need to share.

Hilo Hattie is the 2nd book in the series but the first case for the The Triple Threat Investigation Agency.

I listened to the audiobook of The Connecticut Corpse Caper, the first book in the series (my review is posted), and I really enjoyed getting acquainted with the three leading ladies. Each one has a different personality that becomes highlighted when they work together. I also appreciated the writing style of the author – witty banter along with vivid descriptions of settings and actions. All in all, an enjoyable “read”.

This second book is no exception. I love reading about strong, independent, smart women who also, importantly, possess a sense of humour. It is easy to get caught up with these three ladies and their investigations. The dialogue is fast paced and witty. I found myself laughing out loud several times and rereading certain passages just for the appreciation of the writing style.

I also love reading about Hawaii. I have always wanted to go, but the length and cost of the trip always deters me from booking a flight. However, the description of the various locales, the food and drink, and the way of life brings the islands to life for me.

I have ordered the third book in the series, Coco’s Nuts, and am looking forward to reading more about JJ, Rey, Linda, and, of course, Cash.

This truly made my day, week, month.  <LOL>

Thank you “timc” for an awesome review!

WPhappy

Due Diligence = Writer’s Wisdom

Like many authors, the inbox of yours truly sees many promotional emails.  In fact, just the other day, I received an email from a happy-go-lucky sounding woman who offered to review my books.  She seemed lighthearted and friendly, and her services so suitable for an author’s marketing and profile-raising needs.  There was a fee of course, one that seemed quite reasonable.

After many (too many, LOL) years in the writing realm, I know better than to get suckered in, but her proposal did sound appealing.  Given the price, I was intrigued enough to consider it.  Thankfully, I did my due diligence, something I’ve frequently advocated people do before signing up for anything.

When doing what I like to call validation, I Google with “reviews for [insert name]” or a variation thereof.  Then I peruse several sites to get an overall feel for what’s what.  Lo and behold (and really no small surprise), I discovered that warnings had been posted about this individual—she’d solicited in past and was once again back in full swing.

Writer Beware is an outstanding site for learning about tricksters and frauds.  It’s been around for several years, founded in 1998 by Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin.  In addition to providing details about scammers and schemers, they provide sage advice: WPbewareB

It’s debatable whether paid reviews are worth the money–even when provided by professional venues like Kirkus–let alone whether it’s worth paying a fee to some random amateur.”

Authors, don’t pay for book reviews. Even if the reviewer is competent.”

https://www.victoriastrauss.com/writer-beware

https://accrispin.blogspot.com

I also came across a wonderful, most helpful site run by Ruth Harris and Anne R. Allen, two publishing industry professionals endeavoring to assist “newer writers create their best possible work and launch it successfully into the marketplace.”

They also want to assist writers “avoid the pitfalls of this ever-more complex business, where unfortunately, a lot more people are making money from authors than for us.”

Their blog is chockablock full of valuable information, such as resources for writers.  Do check it out (and take a gander at the post on new writing scams in 2019).

https://annerallen.com

AnneRAllenblog

Due diligence truly does equal [gained] wisdom.  No matter how great something sounds, always, always, always investigate.  Know what you’re “signing up” for.

Ho-Ho-Ho—Whoa! You Mean I Gotta Write over the Holidays??

The holidays are coming fast (don’t they always?) and you’re worrying (sweating) over how to find time to write with all the demands of the encroaching festivities and gatherings, vacations and visits, traveling and TV specials, eating and eggnogging.

First, set a reasonable (achievable) goal.  Whether you write full-time (you have my full envy) or an hour a day, decide how much time you can commit to writing while Santa and helpers scamper about.  Perhaps you halve or quarter the day, or only designate 20 minutes—whatever works, given those assorted and numerous obligations.  If the time component doesn’t work for you, commit to writing a page or three a day.  Then resolve to stick to that target.

Pinning/posting your writing goals is always a good thing; do it as a “reminder”.  They’ll help you stay focused and motivated, so make sure you look at them.  Often.

If you can get up a half hour earlier or stay up a half hour later and commit those 30 minutes to writing, do it.  If you’re not alone or at Aunt Martha’s, sneak into another (empty) room, the lanai or cellar, and do your thing.  Or perhaps you slip off to Starbucks with your laptop for a wee while and drink some fine java while words dance across your screen.

Ask your friends, Facebook and flesh-and-blood, to nudge you via a message, an email or text . . . or a hot-air balloon, if that works.  A little prod goes a long way.

Commit to events that you sincerely want to partake of.  Bagel-and-lox breakies are fun, not to mention nummy, but if you could better use that time to complete a scene or blog post, consider what’s [truly] more important.  Prioritize.

Another option?  Go old school and carry a notebook.  You may not always be able to open a laptop at a function (without appearing rude or reclusive), but you can always jot a few quick notes/ideas en route to the bar or buffet.WPhol

And you know what?  If celebratory moments rule supreme (or run rampant), that’s okay too.  Don’t beat up on yourself because you didn’t write.  You will again . . . because that’s who you are.  An untiring writer with much to share.

Head’s Up

October 9th is riding in like a frenetic witch on a motorized broom—and it’s proving to be positively spoo-ooky in Wharton County, Pennsylvania.

That day, I’m quite pleased, if not tickled pink, to feature one of my favorite amateur sleuths: Kellan Michael Ayrwick.  In addition to detecting part-time, he’s an accomplished Braxton College professor who has worked extensively in TV—surely you’ve seen the popular show Dark Reality?  Most importantly perhaps, Kellan is the loving single father of Emma, a clever and most charming girl of six going on sixteen, as he likes to teasingly state.

Please drop by for an enlightening and entertaining interview … discover fascinating family facts and learn which “case”, to date, has proven the most challenging for our budding sleuth.

WPJayClipartWikiDOTcom

Feeling Hawaiian Blue

The gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are still solving their latest case (Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha).  It’s a challenge, but who doesn’t love one or three of those?  As they run around Oahu, searching for clues and tailing villainous sorts, I’m realizing how much I miss Hawaii . . . and am feeling blue.

While I can live vicariously through P.I.s JJ, Rey and Linda, it’s not the same as strolling along the Canal where pretty plumeria are found in abundance … ambling in Ala Moana Park with its awesome banyan trees and vibrant rainbow shower tress … sitting on a sandy beach sucking shave ice … sauntering in non-tourist neighborhoods, admiring the serenity and everyday familial life. WPhawaiiWestHawaiiToday

I’m pining for loco moco and Spam musubi, taro chips and poi, poke and mocha, and anything haupia.

I long for the sounds of the squawking seagulls, the early morning keek-keek-keek of the mynahs, spraying waves, breeze-blown foliage, beachside cheer, and food-truck chatter.

Yeah, I’m feeling blue, but not that of Presley’s “Blue Hawaii”.  Fortunately, Hawaiian music cures that.  For a wee while every day,  I tune out my work-heavy world and travel back to the Islands.  One special song , most of you have heard, is “Hawai’i Aloha”.  King Kamehameha IV dearly loved the Christian hymm “I Left it all with Jesus” so much, he asked if it could be rewritten.  Reverend Lorenzo Lyons obliged and wrote the lyrics, James McGranahan the music.

I’ll leave you with Israel (Izzy) Kamakawiwo’ole, a talented singer/musician who left this mortal coil much too young …..

VERSE 1: 
E Hawai’i e ku’u one hanau e 
Ku’u home kulaiwi nei 
‘Oli no au i na pono lani ou 
E Hawai’i, aloha e 

HUI: 
E hau’oli na ‘opio o Hawai’i nei 
‘Oli e! ‘Oli e! 
Mai na aheahe makani e pa mai nei 
Mau ke aloha, no Hawai’i 

VERSE 2: 
E ha’i mai kou mau kini lani e 
Kou mau kupa aloha, e Hawai’i 
Na mea ‘olino kamaha’o no luna mai 
E Hawai’i aloha e 

(repeat hui) 

VERSE 3: 
Na ke Akua e malama mai ia ‘oe 
Kou mau kualona aloha nei 
Kou mau kahawai ‘olinolino mau 
Kou mau mala pua nani e 

(repeat hui)

 

What’s in a Name?

Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion; what’s in a name?

Too much sometimes.  As in eye-squinching, brow-furrowing overkill.  Some writers feel a need to ensure readers know who’s speaking, or being spoken to, frequently—as in all the time frequently.

Jeff jumped and almost dropped the phone when he saw the number on call display.  He stared at the phone for a couple of seconds in disbelief and then hit the answer button.  There was silence on the other end.  “Hello, who is this?” Jeff asked anxiously.

“Jeffrey, is that you Jeffrey?” a female voice on the other end asked.

Jeff hadn’t expected a female voice.  The number on call display belonged to Marcus Smith, who was only to call if urgent.

“Jeffrey, is that you Jeffrey?” the female voice at the other end asked again.

“That depends on who’s asking,” Jeff said angrily.

“Jeffrey, its Jane Holloway.  Marcus Smith gave me this number.  He’s been shot and told me to call you.  Marcus said he needs to see you, Jeffrey, as soon as possible. Please come, Jeffrey!”

“Jane?  Jane?  Are you there?  Where’s Marcus?”  Jeff suddenly realized that Jane had ended the call.  He stared at the phone and wondered what the hell was happening.

“Jeff, who’s Jane?”  Nancy’s voice from behind Jeff demanded in a voice that was both inquisitive and peevish.

Like anything, use names in moderation. Yes, sometimes readers need to be reminded who is speaking or being referred to, particularly if there’s a lot of dialogue.  By and large, however, we’re pretty decent detectives: we can deduce the obvious.

So, how about some quick rules about names?

Once you’ve given a character a name (or maybe a pronoun to refer to him/her), keep using it.  The hero’s name is George.  Don’t call him “the man” or “the government agent”, or “my older brother”, unless perhaps someone is describing him as such.

No:  The tall man stood and looked over at Henry.  “I want to know what happened,” George said.

Yes:  George straightened to his full height and eyed Henry warily.  “I want to know what happened.”

Don’t refer to relationships repeatedly.  Neddy, for example, has a habit of referring to his sister and girlfriend as “the two women” (over and over and over again).  Once in a while, depending on the action/scene, sure, do so.  Constantly, however?  No.  Nor does Neddy need to tell us that Margaret is his sister … over and over and over again.  We understood that the first time it was mentioned.  Don’t overuse titles and personal/professional relationships; stick to names and pronouns.

Now, some characters may have several names (maybe they work undercover, lead different lives, are criminals).  If this is the case, keep those to a minimum.  Too many names for one character can lead to confusion, particularly if they thrown here, there, and everywhere.  If a lover calls his sweetie “Cutie-pie”, cool.  Make sure no one else calls her that, unless maybe in jest.  Be aware of which character(s) would know and use that other name; ensure this is evident and logical.  Use common sense and consistency—give a character multiple names only if the plot/character warrant it.

When you open your story, keep your characters—and names—to an “understandable” level.  There’s no reason to introduce all the primary characters, and secondary ones, in the prologue or first chapter.  And if you name [a lot of] characters early on, give them a purpose.  Don’t throw them in for the sake of padding the plot or because you want readers know these characters exist.  Too many characters at once is, simply, too much.  Some can appear later, as the scene and story [logically] dictate.

One major rule: do not, please, constantly call people by name in dialogue. We don’t do this in real life (listen to conversations at work, on the bus, at home).  Characters shouldn’t do this, either.  It becomes annoying, to say the least.  Use names in dialogue with a particular purpose—basically, to let us know who’s speaking to whom (when dialogue is lengthy) or inform us that someone new to the scene is speaking.

Names should enable us to follow the story easily and effortlessly—to understand what is happening to whom.   ‘Nuff said.

WPnamesClipArtMag

◊ Helen Hunt Jackson (American poet and writer; activist of Native American treatment by US government)

Jumping on the Blog Tour Bandwagon

The Writer’s Grab-Bag isn’t a stop on the book tour, and the original plan was to wait until the end  . . .  but what the heck?  Let’s aim for sooner than later.

James J. Cudney IV—Jay—has a fourth book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries called Mistaken Identity Crisis.  I had an opportunity to read it a wee while back and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I did the others.  It has all the elements of a cozy— an affable protagonist [with adorable young daughter], likable regulars, a host of suspects, and the putting-together-the-pieces-of-the-puzzle mystery. WPJay3

Kellan is a Braxton professor and amateur sleuth.  He has a supportive family, love interest, and eccentric in-your-face grandmother you gotta love. The case officially begins when a missing ruby is found near an electrified dead body during the campus cable-car redesign project.  Not only must Kellan must locate the real killer to protect his brother, he has a delicate if not dangerous personal family matter to resolve.  Add a sundry of jewel thefts to the murder, feuding mobsters, and you have a thrilling, fun whodunit.

Come visit Wharton County.  Get to know the townspeople.  Learn how Nana D does as the new mayor.  Follow Kellan as he sorts through the suspect list . . . and solves the case.

A worthwhile read, my friends.  Enjoy!

WPJaypic1

 

Learn more about Jay’s books at https://jamesjcudney.com.