Being Prepared is Everything

The Boss is caught up in a project and Linda and JJ are in court today to serve as witnesses for a former client.  So today, you’ve got me—Rey—on post patrol.

I thought I’d do something a little different—nothing to do with writing or editing, because that’s not my thing.  Something tweaked my interest more than usual this week: hurricanes.  There’s a nasty one brewing in the Atlantic and one dancing in the nearby distance.

The only hurricanes I’ve experienced are ones on screen and those that were backdrop in two films I appeared in.  They’re as awesome as they’re frightening and dangerous.  The first time I heard we might be hit here on Oahu, I got super stoked.  I’d always wanted to experience one.  Linda thinks I’m nuts and JJ just gives me “looks” (a few years back, her sister got swept out to sea by one).

Being curious (and a damn good P.I.), I put my researcher cap on.  It turns out that it’s pretty rare to get a Category 5 hurricane here, though they do tend to be rare, period.  That said, given the Hawaiian Islands are pretty small . . . teeny targets sitting on this ginormous ocean . . . they’re easy to miss or swing by.  Apparently, a solid sub-tropical high-pressure system in the north also helps push storms elsewhere.

In case you’re not sure what the difference is (I wasn’t): a hurricane watch means there are 48 hours to get ready (as in p-r-e-p-a-r-e) while a hurricane warning means the weather’s likely to become dangerous within 36 hours.

Some basic FYIs . . .

If you’re visiting these amazing Islands and staying in a hotel, there’ll be a hurricane/storm plan in place.  Learn what’s expected.  If one happens along while you’re here, call the airlines before heading to the airport: you don’t want to be stuck there hours on end.  And don’t go into the water (!) even if you see surfers having the time of their lives.  They’re a passionate (if not obsessed) bunch; they love those high, swelling waves. WPsurfersinhawaii

If you live on the Islands, stay informed.  If you’re on a coastline, near a stream/river, or on a flood plain, it’s best to leave.  If you’re in a solid house/building that’s not situated near a coastline or rainfall flooding, you can give thought to staying.  Here’s a good question to ask yourself, though: if you stay, could you do so safely?

To prepare, make sure you (among other things):

  • secure heavy outdoor objects (like lawn tables and chairs, pots, bins and cans)
  • see that your vehicle has a full tank of fuel (and set extra fuel aside)
  • have items (like boards, lumber, and shutters) on hand to board windows and doors
  • make sure there’s lots of food and water on hand (it’s suggested two weeks of water or 14 gallons per person)
  • invest in a small cooler—with cooling packs—to house refrigerated items
  • have lots of batteries on the ready (for flashlights, radios, Coleman stoves, cell-phone charger, lanterns)
  • make certain to have a full/proper first-aid kit and an emergency survival kit on hand
  • consider keeping cash handy (credit and bank cards won’t be of much use if there’s a blackout / electrical outage). WPHurricanestuff

Things to do when a hurricane is near:

  • Listen to Civil Defense.  Leave if instructed to.
  • Make sure to board up those windows and doors (and batten down anything outside that might be blown or swept away).
  • Stay clear of areas where storm-surge flooding can occur.
  • Evacuate sooner than later, if that’s on the agenda.  Note that shelters don’t take pets, so leave lots of food and water.  (I can’t imagine leaving Bonzo behind, but do what you have to, I guess.)
  • Share plans with someone “just in case”.

When it arrives:

  • Stay clear of windows and doors (and keep them closed, blocked and braced).
  • Tuck yourself in a small room or closet.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or a mattress.

If the eye of a hurricane is passing over and it’s calm for a spell, stay inside (it’s temporary, so don’t be fooled).  And be aware that it could take several hours for the storm to pass.

You truly do learn something new every day, like being prepared is everything.  On that note . . . I’m off to Walmart to stock up on supplies (coz ya just never know).

Stay safe! WPstormafterRey

 

3Ps . . . from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency Trio

Hey-ho, it’s Rey.  The Boss is being pulled in 10 different directions these days, so we told her we’d be happy to take over for a wee bit.  We put our heads together and came up with a plan to write three posts re three events in three periods from three [pretty] gals: past, present, and prospect, as in future (got that one from Lindy-Loo).

We’re daring to share three major [and private] past events—ones we can’t forget ‘cause they were emotional, moving, or plain out and out embarrassing.

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Me (Rey):

1.   You may have guessed I’m flirty.  It’s fun.  Hold that thought . . . walk back.  It was fun once upon a time ago.  Nowadays, it’s just entertaining.  Like me.  Back when I had my first and only 9-5 job, I was a Production Assistant for a way-too-serious dude named Fletch.  He was a doc director, who made movies about miracles.  I used to flirt shamelessly back then (which got me oodles of attention and free drinks).  Anyway, I made the mistake of flirting with Howie, the assistant director one night while a bunch of us were at a bar.  Things went from bad to worse.  He fell in love and became my shadow.  I had to tell Fletch.  He was so not happy and ordered me to set things straight.  Howie cried foul when I told him to remove those blinding stars from his eyes.  After a major scene that would have done any soap opera proud, I got canned.  Me.  Can you imagine!?pastRey 

2.   While we’re on the topic of men, you must know I’ve been married three times.  There was Monty the gaffer, Fabio the community theater actor, and Lester the catering assistant.  I left Cecil, a video editor, at the altar.  What no one knows—not even Cousin Jilly—is that I had a pretty serious relationship with a pastor.  Just after completing that second-rate series Flings and Frolic in Fresno I was feeling kinda lost and churchy, so I joined a local religious group.  No, I didn’t get flirty with Pastor Tir, but we did connect and became coffee and movie mates.  Long story short, he thought I should put my great personality and acting to good use, and asked me to take over Sunday school classes.  I was never good relating to kids, but I gave it a shot (I’m an actress after all and can handle any role).  I really starting liking the kids (too much) and weekly “lessons”.  Because acting was my chosen profession (and I was getting too “soft”), I walked away.  Confession?  I still regret it. 

3.   This one you can never tell JJ or Linda.  They’d never let me forget.  . . . Huh?  Ugh, you’re right—I guess they’ll know now.  <LMAO>  Early in my career, I had a fringe-theater acting gig for a couple of months.  One scene had me wearing nothing more than my birthday suit.  The reviews were pretty decent, but I always wondered if I didn’t sell myself short . . . or out.

JJ:

1.   My cousin Rey and I didn’t get along much when we were younger, and when we got together—courtesy of summer family vacations—the trouble we caused, oh my.  Those holidays were filled with squabbles (and resulting black eyes or bruised lips) or embarrassing events—like the time we came across a moonshine still (turned out to be a smoker) and decided to take it for a ride, so to speak.  The lakeside community is still talking about the explosion that took out four sheds, two SUVs, a lean-to, and an outhouse.  That someone’s dog ended up hairless still haunts me. pastblogJJ

2.   I never knew my father, not even his name.  My mother has always refused to talk about him, other than that one time to tell me he’d been killed climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  I’d boasted to schoolmates that “Edmund H” Fonne was an explorer and adventurer, and his last planned exploration—before returning home to his beloved family—had been a fateful trip to Tanzania.  Lately, I’ve started thinking about him again.  As a P.I., maybe I should start P.I.’ing.  But what if I discover something that’s better left buried?  What a conundrum: to detect and expose or to neglect and forget?

3.   While we have a family that leans toward [very] eccentric, I’ve always been [fairly] level-headed.  But I’ll admit that I’ve always envied—and desired to be like—my crazy, now-deceased sister Reena Jean.  She was exciting and unpredictable, a true thrill-seeker.  She’d chain herself to trees or cars or people for causes, travel the globe on a dime and borrowed gym bag to visit obscure sites or meet up with infamous characters.  I couldn’t help but admire that courage—or recklessness as some called it.  That fateful day when she struggled onto a pier during a Category 4 hurricane and challenged Mother Nature to “bring it on” was so cool. Mother Nature complied by yanking Reena Jean into a raging ocean.  It’s hard not to admire that zest for life . . . even if it cost Reena Jean hers.

Linda:

1.   I never shared my married life with Rey and JJ.  Barely 18, I married this super talented, great-looking jazz musician named Chiffre Royale, a brilliant sax player featured on several notable artists’ albums.  The guy was twice my age, but oh-so-cool.  When we chatted at that festival, he seemed so into me.  Who knew that far-out look and attitude was due to drugs?  Not me; I was too pie-eyed and naïve.  Chiffre died in a fleabag motel of a heroin overdose one night after a gig.  The call came at 4 a.m. and at 8 a.m. I was on my way to Cali with nothing more than a duffel bag filled with clothes and a head full of memories.pastLinda1

2.   I’m not overly knowledgeable about my past.  My mother had two kids they always said, but there were three of us.  Who flunked math?  JJ never knew her father and Rey has some scattered memories regarding hers, but my parents are ghosts; even the tales told by relatives were ghost stories.  Unlike JJ, though, I have no desire to learn anything about my history.  Some things are truly better left buried.

3.   This one makes me laugh, especially when I look at photos.  Rey hasn’t been the only one to dress-up in silly costumes.  I once earned money dressed as a globe-round pig with a pork-pie hat and checkered bow tie.  For six months, I stood outside a fairly successful fast-food joint as Paulina Porker, and waved and oinked at customers.  It was the only way I could make ends meet.  It was okay, though—live and learn, and all that.  Mind you, I’ve never looked at pork the same way since.  <ROTFL>

I’m sure we were all being careful about which “events” to share (‘cause if I recall a few dozen doozies, so can they).  Maybe, with time, we’ll share more.  There’s something soul-cleansing and guilt-releasing about purging.  Sometimes, though, you need to do it in dribs and drabs.

JJ’ll be here on the weekend with some present-day offerings.

Aloha all.

Forever Poi . . . Takin’ Forever ?

Hey guys, Rey here.  The Boss is under the weather and may be out for the count for a wee bit.  If so, you’ll be hearing from me a lot.  If not, it’s back to editing tidbits—snippets of advice, I believe she calls it—mid week.

I know she’s been wanting to update you re “Forever Poi”, our latest case.  Good news!  It’s almost complete.  If all goes well, it’ll be available as an e-book the first week of July.

On a personal/professional note, though, I wanted to share thoughts on “Forever Poi”, our third case at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.

Cousin Jilly (JJ), as you may know, had doubts when I first suggested becoming private eyes.  Come to that, so did my best friend, Linda.  I’m happy to say JJ’s feeling pretty good about it now; she thinks we’ve learned a lot and honed some must-have P.I. skills.  With time, she believes (hopes) we’ll develop a solid reputation.  It’ll be a stellar one, I say!

Linda’s of the mind that we’re still doing a lot (too much) by the seat of our pants.  Pfffft to that.  If you can’t trust your own judgment, whose can you trust?  Still, as long as cases come our way, she sees us doing this for the long haul.

And me?  I’ve always believed we’re awesome P.I.s.  Sure, we can be rash on occasion, but sometimes, you really do need to seize the moment.  If that means doing a little B&E or beaning a villain, so be it.

Yeah, I’d say we’re pretty pleased with our choice of profession.  Here’s to the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals always catching their culprits.

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Break Time (Sorta)

That 9-5 j-o-b has The Boss in training all week, so her time’s more limited than usual this work week.  But have no fear, Rey’s here!

She’s been posting about editing, but I’m gonna steer clear; sure, I could research a related topic, but to be honest, I’m not really into it like she is.  So what’s my post about?  Me, who else?  Okay, okay, the three of us—JJ, Linda, and me.

Update re “Forever Poi”.  The Boss is still at it.  Work/life have been getting in the way, but she’s determined it will be ready sooner than later.  Besides, she wholeheartedly believes nothing good comes from rushing.  So true, so true.  To be honest, though, the three of us would love it if we could move on to our next big case; there’s rumor of one coming soon.  Fingers crossed!

I know she wants to extend a wholehearted, heartfelt thanks to all her followers, so on behalf of the Boss: thank you!!!

Starting with me, I’ve got a three-week engagement at a community theater as Betty Rizzo in Grease.  For those not in the know, yes, I do sing.  Don’t get many opportunities anymore, except at b-day parties, but it’s all good.

 

JJ’s got an invitation from “Sometimes Boyfriend”, a cocky undercover agent who’s too way too dishy for his own good, to visit him in Miami.  Personally, I think she should ditch the dude, but she thinks she’s suffering from “bad-boy syndrome” and just can’t seem to rid herself of the symptoms.  Been there.  Poor kid.

Linda’s still doing wine and food blog reviews.  Loves it.  She’s made friends with a couple of women in the building where the agency’s located.  They’ve started going out for lunch every Thursday.  I’m glad she has new people in her life; I’m just hoping she doesn’t forget who her BFF is.

There you have it folks.  The Boss’ll be back on the weekend with more editing advice.  Given the last one was about plot and subplots, I think she’s looking to post about conflict and friction (because, as I understand it, the plot contains, or should contain, a lot of both).

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A Triple Threat Sing-A-Long

Hey.  Rey here.  Got a treat today—all three of us are posting.  The Boss is in a bit of a funk this week.  She’s missing “home” (H-a-w-a-i-i) and can’t find a way of getting here any time soon.  But she’s keeping the faith.

To boost her spirits, we decided to do what she calls “an aside”—we’re sharing about our time on Oahu.  We’ve already posted about our life as P.I.s and our likes and loves about this place, but we haven’t really talked about why it’s so near and dear, how it’s shaped and influenced us.  So, here’s a sum-up from each of us, including what we consider the quintessential mele (that’s Hawaiian for song) from our favorite Hawaiian artist.  . . . Have to laugh.  Linda’s eyes bugged out when she saw me use “quintessential”.  But as I often say: I’m not just a pretty face.

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Reynalda Fonne-Werde

Life here has softened me a bit.  Yeah, my colleagues think I’m melodramatic and sometimes reckless and self-centered.  I am, I admit it.  When I want something, I go for it.  And I think this is perfectly all right when working a case—a private eye needs to go with her gut.  On the human side, I’ve learned to like animals (a lot) and have taken to saving the monk seals (a cause dear to my heart).  I tend to listen to people more and can be sympathetic and feeling.  So yeah, I’ve definitely softened.  Damn.  I hope I don’t turn into a mush-ball or anything like that.  My quintessential song is by the very talented, and greatly missed, Iz.  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

JJ Fonne

I’m loving that Rey’s become proactive in different ways.  Life here has changed her.  It’s changed us all.  We’re happily ensconced in burgeoning careers and personal crusades.  My cousin and I have bonded.  Sure, we have our tiffs and life’s not always rosy, but I can’t complain about anything.  It may be a cliché saying, but it’s true:  it’s all good.  This is going to sound cheesy, but my quintessential song is “Tiny Bubbles” by Hawaiian pop icon Don Ho.  (Even if I sound like sound like a frog that’s barely been missed being run over by pick-up truck, I have no prob singing his signature song in the shower—with absolute gusto.)

Linda Royale

Contrary to what JJ’s posted, I can’t say I’ve changed a lot since moving here, but I’m certainly grateful and count my blessings for having the opportunity to live and work here.  I have to confess, when Rey suggested becoming professional private investigators, I didn’t take her seriously.  In fact, I humored her—for weeks.  When it became obvious she was totally serious, I attempted to talk her out of it.  But she’s strong-minded, among other things, so P.I.s it was.  I don’t regret it.  At all.  As for Hawaii, the aloha spirit does exist—it’s almost tangible—and it’s infectious.  And on that note, my quintessential song is Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk/Formation”.  Talk about infectious.  It makes me want to dance every time.  . . . And maybe, just maybe, it will “up” The Boss’ “funk”.

Aloha from Rey, JJ, and Linda!

Mucho Moola

Moola, moola, moola, moola
Everything is good, and everybody
’s your friend

Jordy Birch’s song (“The Moola Song”) popped in my head and I had to run with it.  Sorta.  <LOL>

The Boss was surprised (stunned, really) when I asked to write another “making money blogging” post.  She cast a skeptical eye, not because she doesn’t think I’m a decent poster or anything like that (I think), but because she never sees me volunteering for things outside my save-the-monk-seal and acting worlds.  . . . Got her good, didn’t I?  <ROTFL>

So, let’s continue with earning income through blogging.  Selling ads and/or becoming involved with Affiliate Marketing, as stated previously, are bona fide ways of earning income.  But what if you don’t want to sell or display ads to your viewers/followers?  That’s okay.  Some folks don’t particularly care for them and will totally ignore or avoid them.

You may want to try the sponsorship route—that is, getting sponsored blog posts through companies that pay you to represent their product, service, or share your experiences with their specific brands.  Sponsored blog posts usually incorporate one or more links to promote the product/service being reviewed and a brand story.

A brand story, by the way, is more than just a “story”, a tale you tell.  It’s a combination of facts, thoughts, analyses and/or explanations.  The intention: to inform your readers, to gain their trust, to make a sale.  You want it to serve as a basis to building your platform (in terms of yourself or the company you’re representing).

Give some thought to what you’re sponsoring/promoting.  Which products and services would you like to have on your blog?  Are they relevant to your blog?  Will the sponsored posts drive traffic?  If not, what do you need to do to make sure they do?

imagin1A sponsored blog post can be written as:

  • a straight-out review
  • an account of how a product or service changed or affected your life
  • a list of pros or awesome (“selling”) facts and features
  • a news-type article
  • a press release
  • a video or deck or presentation, or
  • whatever your imagination dreams up.

No matter which creative route you take for sponsored blog posts, make sure they’re sincere.  Don’t promote or offer something you don’t believe in.  Integrity is everything—you want to be remembered and in a positive way—so be totally truthful with your readers.

I did mention “moola”, so I’ll touch upon getting paid for sponsored posts.  Payment is between you and the sponsor.  Some will pay in cash, others in products or services.  How much effort and time, and extras (like photos, artwork, tutorials) are you going to put into it?  Assess and negotiate accordingly.  And do not sell yourself short.

A quick FYI: publishing sponsored posts requires meeting disclosure laws, so get to know them.

Where did the time go?  I was planning to provide at least one more method of earning money through blogging.  Ah well.  I’ll leave that for The Boss.  As a follow-up to this, though, I may suggest she post about brand stories or maybe getting paid to do reviews, which would also be a viable continuation . . . unless she’s ready to announce a Triple Threat Investigation Agency e-book contest giveaway (she’s been mulling that over and over).

Looking forward to sharing more findings soon, my friends.

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Loving—uh—Making Money

It’s lovely l’il ol’ me again—Rey.  The Boss is off on one of those tangents and asked me to do the first post on making money through blogging.  Apparently, she’d promised to do two or three so a wee while ago.

I’m not into researching or shi-uh-stuff like that, so I told her to forget it.  But she reminded me I was a P.I. and P.I.s investigate; they find things.  Who could <bleeping> argue with that?

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From what I’ve read, making mega bucks through a blog isn’t guaranteed.  It can happen, but you have to be dedicated, commit the time and make the effort.  Blog traffic is going to play a key part, too.

So let’s take a quick gander at a couple of common ways to bring in a few extra bucks (I’ll let The Boss cover others in the next post): Affiliate Marketing and Selling Ads / Google AdSense.

Affiliate marketing is said to be the easiest way of making money.  You get to promote a lot of different products.  Basically, you recommend a product (or service) to your viewers/followers with special tracking links.  You can also join affiliate programs through on-line products and services.  A seller gives you an affiliate code that you use to direct folks to the appropriate site.  In either scenario, you receive a referral fee whenever someone buys something after clicking your link or using that code.

You can also earn fees (commission) through different affiliate program payments.  Pay per sale is money earned when a purchase is completed.  Pay per click is money earned based on the number of people you send to a seller’s site.  And pay per lead is money earned when referred people provide contact info on the seller’s site.  Find out who has what.

What are some good things about affiliate marketing?  It’s cheap: no overhead or production costs to speak of.  The sky’s—er, the world’s—the limit: think “global opportunities”.  No costs; you don’t have to pay to join a program.  You don’t always have to be on-line, but make sure you have your ducks in a row.

As The Boss would say (drives me crazy, but who am I?), do your due diligence.  Get to know what’s out there.   Become skilled at promoting.  Check out Amazon, for example, to see which products you might like to sponsor/support.  Ask viewers and followers if they have an affiliate program you can sign up for.  Discover different affiliate marketing tools and apply them.  Lastly, and maybe most importantly, have a plan.

Perhaps you’re thinking that selling ads might be a bona-fide way of generating income.  It can be; just be aware that price negotiation and admin-related tasks, among other things, enter the equation.  Consider blog traffic and design/navigation, which will play crucial parts in determining how much money you’ll actually earn through ads.

money8Google AdSense is a Google product that lets you place targeted ads on your site with the objective of, yes, making money.  You get paid per click when someone clicks on, or looks at, the ad.  The advertiser will put ads on your blog, so you’re not out any cash.  You’ll also have to create an AdSense campaign, with ads relevant to your site.  Realize money earned can be inconsistent, because every ad click brings in a different amount.  You’ll also have to be approved; so, again, make sure you have those ducks in a row.  Review Google Adsense’s site to see what’s required (uh-huh, that due diligence again).

There’s also the option of selling (“renting”) banner ad space on your blog, which offers some earning wiggle room.  To be successful at this, though, your blog’s traffic has to have wide reach; if it doesn’t, advertisers aren’t going to be overly keen on placing ads on your site.

Look at blogs similar to yours to see what they’re up to.  Maybe they’ll inspire you.  Consult fellow bloggers; they may be willing to share thoughts and processes.

Whatever hat I’m wearing (private eye or actress), I always try to do—and give—my best.  As a blogger, you should too.  If you’re going to become involved in affiliate marketing and/or selling ads, make sure it reflects your blog and you.  That, my friends, is called integrity.

 

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L’amour du Fromage or The Love of Cheese . . . y

Love cheese.  It’s nummy, as P.I. Rey would say, and full of calcium and protein, which is a good thing (we’ll overlook the cholesterol component).

Love cheesiness.  Not in a vulgar or crummy way, but as in silly and fun.

This blog certainly leans toward cheesy.  Many of the photos are stock and are “manipulated” by yours truly.  I’ll readily admit that they lean toward amateurish, which is fairly evident, but I’m okay with that . . .  ‘cause I love cheese-y.

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Sure, I’d like this blog to look professional, but that would require paid-for services, which equals $$$, which I simply don’t possess [at this time].

But what’s wrong with a blog looking homemade?  Muffins and cookies prepared by a loving hand are 10X better than store-made bought.

I’m off on a bit of a tangent today and, therefore, not offering any bona fide advice, observations, or findings.  Merely having a bit of fun, doffing my layperson hat, and patting myself on the back for having gotten this far.

As I grow and develop, gain knowledge from other blogs, and learn through [a lot of] trial and error, A Writer’s Grab-Bag will undergo some tweaking.

In the meanwhile, I’ll stick with cheesy, because as a lover of le fromage, I’m fine with that.

Don’t take life [and blogging] too seriously.  Our time on this planet is incredibly short, my friends.  Have / poke some fun now and again, in an entertaining harmless way of course.  What’s meant to be, will happen . . . in its sweet, blessed time.

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Coming Soon . . . We’re Hopin’

That’s hopin’ and not hoppin’, as in frogs and toads.  But, in truth, we’ve been doing a lot of that throughout the “Forever Poi” case.  Er, I should say, oodles of suspects have kept us hoppin’.  And all over the map!

Rey here.  The Boss requested a break.  Given Linda’s surfing on the North Shore and JJ’s volunteering at the animal shelter, that leaves l’il ol’ me to post.  That’s okay.  Between you and me, I’m really starting to enjoy it.

Instead of providing snippets of potentially useful info, I decided to share one of our more hairy “Forever Poi” moments.  Just to give you some quick background, the case starts with a double homicide that occurs when two Chinatown art galleries are torched.  The two murders lead to a few more . . . with a whack of wacky persons and incidents along the way.

I don’t have JJ’s voice, but here’s my account of an excitement-filled evening when a possible witness bites the dust, uh, table . . . .

♦   ♦

 

Dim Donald’s was a long, narrow bar on a side street not far from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  We’d only gone there once, when we first settled in the office but, as Linda had said, it wasn’t our cup of tea.  The inside was dark and drab, the drink selection limited, and the evening crowd looked like a perfect fit for the biker-like place

It was just after midnight and the bar—or watering hole, as I called it on the walk over—held two dozen heavy-duty bikers, uh, drinkers.  Seated on cheap ladder-back chairs at a window table, we ordered a round of beers for ourselves and glass of red wine for Timmy-Tom.

“You hungry?” I asked, unable to stop staring at Timmy-Tom’s milk-pod fuzzy eyebrows.

Cousin Jilly, or JJ as you know her, kicked me under the table.

He waved to a scruffy-looking middle-aged couple wearing jeans and jean jackets over black Ts with flaming skulls.  “I could go for a basket of wings and fries.  They’re pretty good here.”

I got the attention of the only waitperson, an old dude named Ched, who looked like a grinning leprechaun.

“What can I do for you?” Timmy-Tom asked.  He sampled the wine and nodded, and leaned back with a loud sigh.

“Where you around when the fire broke out?” JJ asked and took a sip of watery beer.  The weird expression on her face suggested it tasted about as good as it looked.

“I was at the rear of the first gallery, eating dinner, when the trucks arrived.”

“Was that long after the fire broke out?”

“Not long, no.”  He scanned the bar and shrugged.  “I hung around for a while, thinking they’d get it under control, but they didn’t seem to be having much luck that night.”

Linda sniffed her beer and scrunched up her nose.

“Do you know Carlos or James-Henri, the gallery owners?” I asked on a whim.

“By sight.”

“I’m guessing you didn’t see much that night, if you were at the back,” Gail stated, studying him closely.

“I walked around some after dinner.”  He eyed her curiously, as if he might know her, chewed his bottom lip, and finally continued.  “I saw people go in and out of the galleries.  Some were really pie-eyed leaving.  Must have been a helluva party.”

JJ pulled out her cell phone and showed him a photo of Lolita/Mary-Louise.  “Ever seen her?”

He studied it for almost a minute.  “Yeah.  A couple of times.  The first time was maybe a week before the fire.  The lady all but bolted from the back of the gallery, looking fit to be tied.  The second was the night of the fire.  She looked different—all fancy, with her hair in an updo.”

“Tell us about that night.  What did you see?” she asked, leaning forward eagerly.

He smiled sheepishly.  “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but to get to the side street, I needed to walk past her and the person she was with.  I didn’t want to scare them or anything, so I waited in the shadows, figuring they wouldn’t stick around long.”

“Person she was with?” I asked, getting excited re a possible lead.

“She was chatting with someone—actually, they were talking under their breaths, like they didn’t want to be heard.  But there was this urgency about the way they talked and moved their hands and arms.”

“As if they were angry?” Linda asked.

“Angry or worried, or maybe both.”  He nodded to Ched when he placed cheap cutlery and paper napkins on the scarred table.  “How’s the family, my friend?”

“Awesome.  Always good to see you, Timmy-Tom.”  With a wink, Ched saluted and hurried off.

“Can you tell us who she was—”

I never got to finish the question.  Like a melon thrown from an overpass, Timmy-Tom’s smashed-mashed head dropped to the table with a clunk-thump.

JJ and I gazed from the awful mess to each other and back again, looking like we got hit with a stun gun.

Gail, on the other hand, dashed out the door after Tommy-Tom’s killer.

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I’m Ba-ack . . . with Back Covers

The last four-five weeks have been crazy-bad ones . . . but in a good way.  Sometimes you have to undergo a breath-sucking plummet—like shooting down Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Full Throttle loop-de-loop rollercoaster—to ascend again.  And this time, you’re totally revitalized, very optimistic, and ready to take on the world.

Angst now [blessedly] cast aside, I’m ready to rock ‘n’ roll.  “Forever Poi” is almost done.  One final edit and all that’s required is formatting, a front and back cover . . . and to find my MIA formatter-designer.  <LOL>

Front covers, as we know, must be appealing, period (I’ve posted about them in past).  Back covers are equally important, but I don’t believe we often give them as much thought or weight.  We should, because as soon as a potential buyer has eyed the engaging front cover, he/she will check out the back.  It had better be equally engaging.

The words on the back cover—about 150, give or take—serve as your selling tool.  They must entice.

In present tense, summarize your novel in one or two paragraphs; ensure to include a couple of key plot hooks.  Such as . . . ?  Your protagonist’s predicament or quest would be ideal.  Add an appealing question perhaps; it often works well in snagging that potential buyer’s interest.

As an example, the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals’ latest case involves arson and homicides.  I’m apt to add something like this to my back cover: Who in the close-knit local art world is desperate enough to set a gallery ablaze in a drastic attempt to conceal two brutal murders?  Yeah, needs a little refining, but you get the idea.

If you’re doing this for the first time, take a look at several in your genre.  Get a feel for what works (and what doesn’t).  Most fiction back covers follow a formula.  They’ll begin with a situation, present a problem or conundrum, provide a kink or two, and then end with a sentence that prompts the reader’s curiosity, be it via aforementioned question or cliffhanging scenario.

Make sure that first sentence is a killer (mystery writer talking).  If it’s not, it won’t encourage your potential purchaser to carry on, much less buy.  Play around.  Use words appropriate to your genre.  Invest serious time in getting that back cover—blurb, selling tool—to prove effective, because you want to attain your ultimate goal: sales.  If you’re able to get an endorsement or two from writers recognized in your sphere, go for it: nothing adds credibility like testimonials.

You’ve got what it takes: have at it, my friends!

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⇒ A big thanks Rey for holding the fort these last couple of weeks.