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. 

Starting Off a New Year Just Right

JJ and Linda haven’t returned from their holiday trips and festivities, so I’m taking over the 1st official post of the year.  The topic was super simple to figure out—how to start off a new year just right.  How, you ask?  Not with those New Year’s resolutions that never last long, but with a goal (or two) and commitment.

As an FYI, I hear that of the folks who make resolutions, not even half manage to keep them until mid-February.  That’s depressing.  But having made them—a lot!—over the years, I can confirm that.  It’s tough keeping promises, but not impossible.  For example, as someone who wanted to be an actress from the age of seven on, I can attest to the fact that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen—through commitment and perseverance.

Decide on what you’d like to accomplish this year.  Make it a significant and/or life-changing goal.  Avoid having too many goals (or “resolutions”), because too many equals non-success.  Remember this my friends: to attain something means you have to give up or change something, which isn’t easy.  This is where commitment comes in.

Take your goal and break it into manageable bits.  Draw up a plan.  It doesn’t have to be extensive.  Keep it simple.  For instance, when I decided I was going to become an actress, I didn’t hop on the first bus to Hollywood.  I jotted down actions needed to make it happen.  I started reading up on the performing arts and film folks, and learned (devoured) all I could.  I took acting lessons, tried out for community stage productions, and volunteered in the theater world.  Some things worked out brilliantly; some not so much.  That’s okay.  It’s all part of the process.

Consider all the things you can do to make your goal reality.  Know that there’ll be setbacks, that you may receive criticism, warranted or otherwise (some folks can be just plain nasty).  Play duck: let the negative stuff flow off your back like water droplets.

Share your goal with others.  I told my mother (mistake, but live and learn), friends and cousins I trusted, and a couple of teachers.  I felt that by stating my intention—my quest, if you like—I had to, and would, stick to it.

Motivation: be your own driving force.  You can do it if it’s in your heart to do.  I know, because I’ve been there.  Sure, there’ll be off days.  The odd one may even knock the winds out of your sails.  And no, it won’t be simple, but think of it this way: if it were super easy, that awesome (!) sense of accomplishment—joy, triumph—wouldn’t happen.  Let me tell you, there’s no better feeling than experiencing a sense of success that comes from knowing you—yes, you—did it.

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I’ll leave you with some quotes that have kept—and still keep—me from straying off the path (too often):

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” – Sammy Davis, Junior (actor, comedian, dancer and singer)

“Life is a challenge, meet it!  Life is a dream, realize it!  Life is a game, play it!  Life is love, enjoy it!” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Indian guru and philanthropist)

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti (racing-car driver)

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews (actor, singer, and author)

Here’s to 2018 being your year.

Aloha.

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Voice 101 or Sing Out Loud, Sing Out Strong

Hey, it’s Rey again.  The Boss overindulged in the sugar/carbs department these last few days.  She’s groanin’ and moanin’, the poor thing.

Linda and JJ are both off enjoying holiday fun and family, so that leaves me.  But seeing as I’m doing two performances daily as an elf at a kids’ theater thru Sunday, I’ll have to make this a quick post.

Given I’m a part-time actress and not a writer—though I’m getting pretty good at it, considering all the posting I’ve been doing lately—a lot of writing and blogging rules are alien to me.  . . . Hmm, I think Linda would have called that a run-on sentence.  Whatever.

Here’s the “topic” for today: voice.  For example, an actor’s voice can make or break him or her.  You have a Minnie Mouse voice and you may be limited in the roles department.  The good thing is, like any skill or talent, you can work at it.  For an actor, a voice coach can be a godsend.

A writer/blogger needs a voice, too.  When you start out, you develop a blog concept and design that’s uniquely you.  That’s very cool.  Now you need to make sure that uniqueness is reflected in what you’re blogging about—and “be projected” in how you write.  That’s also known as—you got it—“voice”.

If you’re super smart and posting about things a lot of us wouldn’t understand, you’d probably write like one of those academic sorts.  Someone who’d be more inclined to post about shopping, fashion, and entertainment could use a more happy-go-lucky tone—one like mine.

Whatever you’re writing, that voice should totally reflect you—it has to sound like you . . . and be you.  Grammar and spelling are easily fixable (there are enough sites/programs), so don’t let them intimidate you like they do me.  Go with the flow and fix the little things later.

Write (speak) from your heart.  Let that unique voice flow.  Chances are, the longer you post, the more your voice will develop because you’ll become increasingly more comfortable and less self-conscious—like me.  You’ll become/feel more natural with how you express ideas and opinions.

If it helps, do what I do when I’m playing a role: I deliver to one person, the guy or gal who’s on the receiving end of a comment or reaction.  I don’t think about the audience, director or producer, or anyone else.  I focus on my delivery, my intent . . . and express it with purpose.  I take pride, kinda like an opera singer belting out an aria.

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The kids are waiting.  I better run because I still need to pick up my elf costume (I kinda spilled hot cocoa on it).

I hope my last post of this year on A Writer’s Grab-Bag proves of some value . . . and I sure hope I’ll have a chance to write a few more in 2018 (I’m really getting to like this).

Aloha.

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Happenin’ Holidays

The Boss is MIA.  Too much happening re that full-time job and Mom caregiving.  So it’s Rey to the rescue again . . . one day early.

Seeing as the holidays are nearly here again—like where’d the year go!?—I thought I’d post about what the three of us Triple Threat Investigation Agency P.I.s have planned.

JJ’s off for a week to North Carolina to visit her mother and nephew.  Apparently, her ex-boyfriend Adwin will drop by her mom’s B&B.  They were an odd match back when and he was kind of weird.  I hope they don’t get back together.  I’d rather see her with Cash/Richie J, that self-absorbed undercover-agent-playing-drug-dealer.  Or maybe not.  They’re an even odder match (but, damn, is he hunky).

Linda’s getting together with Loretta and Lido, her sister and brother.  They’ve never been close—at all—but have done some bonding since our move to Hawaii.  The two of them are kind of flaky, but that’s okay.  Family should stick together.  Life’s too short for resentment, hostility, or indifference.

As for yours truly, I’m playing an elf for 10 days at a local kids’ theater.  It’s something new for me, so I’m both excited and nervous . . . which is kind of funny, coz normally I’m pretty calm about acting gigs.  My mom called about flying over for five days, but she’s struggling to organize family get-togethers.  If she leaves it much longer, she probably won’t swing a flight.

Between you and me—and I know what I just wrote about family—we’re not very close.  Never have been.  Linda thinks I should suck it up and let bygones be bygones.  We’ll see.

As a gung-ho shopper, I got shopping (and shipping) done early.  Woo-hoo.  Feels great.  Under the trees we haven’t yet put up <sigh> JJ’ll find a Giani Bernini bag (a gal can never have enough) and Linda an awesome Free People sweater (bought three for myself).

If I’m not posting again in the next wee while, have an amazing holiday season everyone!

Here’s to 2018 being the best year yet!

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Sharing Aloha

It’s Rey.  The Boss asked me to do another post coz that full-time job of hers is taking up way too much of her time.  Actually, she asked JJ first, but JJ’s off to the dentist.  She should just have come to me; I’m getting good at this.  <LMAO>

The Boss had mentioned using audio and video in A Writer’s Grab-Bag to bring some life and animation (“one day”).  I think that’s a fantastic idea, so much so, I thought I’d post about it.  Hawaii’s our home, life, and soul.  Yeah, I may have been Cali-bound back when—where else would (should) an actress be?—but now that we’re living in the land of aloha, I feel like I’ve always belonged.

Take our awesome musicians.  We’ve got Bruno Mars (what a hottie), Iz (a talented singer who died waaaay too young), Don Ho (of course!), and Anuhea Jenkins (what a sweet voice) to name a few.  All four would definitely make for an awesome Triple Threat Investigation Agency playlist.

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I’m thinking it would be cool to have some audio and videos of fun island places—for tourists and locals.  They’d have to be short and sweet, though; we wouldn’t want viewers and followers taking snoozes.

And we can’t not feature some traditional hula dancing—the swaying and songs are so-o beautiful and soothing.

Now, if smell-o-rama were possible, we’d feature fragrant flowers like Kahili Ginger and Plumeria, local foods like laulau or poke or malasadas, and island scents like the briny ocean or produce-bursting farmers’ markets.

Man, I’m stoked.  A hundred ideas are whirling around my head.  Call me Gal on a Mission!  Back soon.  Alo-hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhha!

 

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Huh? Can’t Hear Ya

Okay, audio probably isn’t that important when it comes to a blog post—but then it depends on what your blog’s about, doesn’t it?

I got so stoked about succeeding with video embedding last time, I felt a need to attempt the audio counterpart . . . and now sweat beads are beginning to trickle.

One day, when The Triple Threat Investigation Agency series becomes a full-time blogging-writing-promoting venture, the plan is to utilize auditory effects.  The crucial phrase: one day.  <LOL>  Everything in its time.

The reasoning behind the plan to use audio: to make my private-eye gals come alive . . . share Hawaiian sounds (coz JJ, Rey and Linda would love for you to hear “aloha” as much as see it) . . . for me to talk to you as a blogger/writer.  Maybe I’ll even include a P.I. playlist.  The sky’s the limit.  It’s easy to envision; it’s merely a question of finding the time.  That crucial phrase again: one day.

Evidently, adding an audio file or music to a blog post is super easy.  They’d said that about video, and they were right (relatively).  I won’t list the steps here, but there’s a quick vid at the end of the post on how to accomplish this [another pat on back to moi].

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So, that doesn’t look too appealing, does it?  Poop.   . . . Ah, okay.  Looks fine in Preview.  Whew.  Awesome!  Yeah, the sky’s the limit.  I’m loving this.

Ya know . . . maybe I’m not so technically challenged, after all.

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An Update, An Update, Who Wants an Update?

We do, we do!  <JK>

It’s Rey, taking over for the Boss again, who’s feeling a wee bit “blech” these days.

The “Forever Poi” case is slowly but surely drawing to a close.  We’re real near nabbing the murderer/arsonist.  As much as we’d love to share who it is, we can’t: there’s no proof yet, just P.I. gut instincts churning and burning to bring the culprit to justice.  You’ll have to wait a wee bit longer to learn the outcome of our sleuthing endeavors.

We’ve stumbled over a few bodies along the way, but the list of possible killers has shrunk to one or three.  Thankfully, that crazy week in Connecticut—when we solved The Connecticut Corpse Caper—helped prepare and qualify us for our current roles.

download (9)We’ve really come far since that adventure, never mind opening the Triple Threat Investigation Agency on Oahu.  Pat on back to me for suggesting it.  JJ and Linda were skeptical about moving to Hawaii—hell, they were doubtful about becoming private eyes—but they’ve since seen the light.  <LMAO>

I have a feeling we’ll have another big case soon.  It’d be cool to expand the agency to another island or two, which I may have mentioned, but Linda and JJ think it’s way too soon.  Whatever.

In the meanwhile, I’m bugging my gal-pals to invest in a house—with a pool would be awesome.  I’m keeping my eyes open.  Oh, I’ve got another commercial next week for a new healthy dog food.  I play a pirouetting poodle.

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Linda’s blogging a lot and trying to forget that jerk, Makjo, who dumped her for a wedding bride.  The good thing is she stopped making those creepy voodoo dolls.  The bad thing is she seems kinda lost, maybe a little sad and withdrawn.

JJ’s happy doing some part-time weather announcing and focusing on improving boxing and shooting skills.  Man, she sucks with a gun.  You’d think she had 20/200 vision, the way she doesn’t hit targets.

There you go—a quick update on our current adventures, or mis-adventures as JJ sometimes jokingly calls them.

I’ll post again when this case officially wraps up.  Aloha, my friends!

 

 

About Me, Us, You, Whatever – by Reynalda-Fonne Werde (Post Writer Extraordinaire)

Hey there.  I’m back for another post.  Last time, I gave some advice re professional email addresses.  JJ and Linda said I’d done a pretty decent job for someone who’s not a fan of writing.  But as I may have mentioned, I’m kinda getting to like it.  (And, between you and me, I think I’m better than “decent”.)

We’re updating The Triple Threat Investigation Agency website and blog to look and read more professional.  Linda’s gotten agency emails in motion and JJ’s revamping the “About Us” page.  It’s nice enough, but not great.  So this post’s about doing a dynamite one based on what we learned from fellow P.I.s and successful local business folks.

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Have some strategically placed photos relevant to your business; this will break up and balance the “About” page.  The word back when: eye candy.  You want that page to be visually appealing and you don’t want word overload.

Tell visitors what you do and what makes you qualified to do it.  Cite a success or two.  You don’t have to write an essay.  Be short and sweet.  A paragraph is fine.

Communicate enthusiasm for what you do and why you do it.  Ditto re the short and sweet.

Mention professional (and possibly personal, depending on what you’re “about”) successes.  Success for the Triple Threat Investigation Agency: solving a murder case and, on a more everyday note, locating a lost pooch.

Disclose what it is you want to (can) do.  For the agency: handle all types of investigations with utmost discretion.

Have a sentence or phrase or two expressing the spirit and/or purpose of your business.  Place them, like your photos, strategically on the “About Me” / “About Us” page.  Grab attention.  This one I’m just throwing out and it’s probably not too original, but given we’re a P.I. agency, we might state something like: “No Case Too Big or Too Small.”  You got the idea.

Contact info in a corner (in addition to an actual Contact Page) is something worth adding.  Make it super easy (accessible) for people to contact you.

You could also provide a personal message.  Again, keep it brief.

Feel free to include links—to articles, posts, reviews, your email address.  Determine what’s important/relevant and do it.

A couple of additional things to consider when you’re putting it together is how you’re going to write it (first person or third) and what type of tone you’ll use (humorous versus serious).  Make sure it reflects you / your business.

Hopefully, I’ve given some solid advice for that “About” page.  The Boss is back next week, as an FYI.  And I’m off to the spa now (nothing better than a facial and massage to get yourself feeling like a million dollars).

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Aloha!