Sprees

. . . not of the shopping sort—though I love those—but the crime sort.  Hey, it’s Rey here.  With Linda.  The Boss is getting over a nasty cold and asked one of us to pen the post.  JJ’s off for the weekend on some sort of business course, so the two of us are partnering up and shooting the sh—

Linda:  Breeze!

Rey:  Whatever.  I’ve got some emails and texts here with the snail mail.  A few folks have asked about our last four cases—okay three, ‘cause The Connecticut Corpse Caper wasn’t really a case, but our first non-pro detecting venture.  They were multiple-murder-spree cases, ones where the killers were either uber-focused on not being caught or making serious money the easy way.  If someone got in their way or proved of some financial advantage, they got offed.

Linda:  You may also want to mention that they favored “crazy”, too. 

Rey:  Crazy?  They were out-and-out nutbars!  Remember the Gruesome Twosome in Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie?

 Linda:  Or the other equally Gruesome Twosome in Coco’s Nuts! 

Rey:  We’ve met a few Gruesome Twosomes in our private eye adventures, haven’t we?

Linda:  That we have.  They were certainly challenging if not creepy.

Rey:  And fascinating.

Linda:  People do tend to have a fascination for bizarre or eerie killers.

Rey:  Like serial killers.

Linda:  Which, technically, we haven’t really dealt with.

Rey:  Sure we have.

Linda:  But that didn’t really come out until after the fact.

Rey:  True enough, but I think we’re divesting.

Linda:  You mean digressing?

Rey:  Whatever.  Do we want to talk about our cases?

Linda:  Serial killers make a good topic, given it’s Halloween next week.  You know, how we have a fascination with them, how they—and we, in turn—lean toward the macabre and the morbid and the scaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Rey:  Ha-ha, ha-ha.

Linda:  That’s the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s next case.

Rey:  One I’m looking forward to.  But back to serial killers, why do you think we like them so much?

Linda:  Curiosity to start; they’re intriguing.  We wonder how they’ve been able to get away with multiple murders for so long, what motivates them to do such dastardly deeds, why they choose certain victims over others.  They’re so extreme in what they do, we can’t help but be drawn.  Constant news coverage—which is often provocative if not enticing—becomes riveting.

Rey:  The strange thing is, some of them seemed—and seem—so normal.

Linda:  Another reason we’re captivated . . . in that aforementioned macabre, morbid way.

Rey:  I’m not sure I’d like to meet a real one. 

Linda:  And I’m not so sure they’re all that different from the killers we’ve met solving cases.

Rey:  Or the suspects we’ve encountered, come to think about it.  Some have been real—as Great-Cousin Clara might have said—wing-dings.

Linda:  Like the person we’re pursuing in HA-HA-HA-HA.

Rey:  Yikes.  Can you spell s-p-o-o-k-y?

Linda:  Many ways.  But before we prattle on forever—

Rey:  Prattle!?  We’re posting!

Linda:  You say poh-tay-tow, I say poe-taw-toh—

Rey:  Yeah, yeah.  . . . Hey, lookie here!  Gail’s email says Nordstrum’s having a sale!  Catcha later!

Linda:  Uh . . . well, it appears my BFF has caught the $ale$ bug.  So much for posting.  Have a great weekend everyone and to quote Rey: catcha later.

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The Quintessential Query

Ever think about trying the traditional publisher route?  I did, many years ago, before e-books became popular.  It was hard to break into the publishing world back then, given the limited number of books that were printed, never mind nowadays.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

I’m thinking of giving it another try; hence, this post.  If you’re considering it, go for it, and don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed if there are no responses or—drat it all—rejection letters arrive.  They’re a blow to the ego, to say the least.  But take solace in the fact that this has happened to the best.  Many of the greats received rejections: DH Lawrence, Herman Melville, Stephen King, Tim Burton, Ayn Rand, to name but a few.  So, again, don’t be discouraged.  Make Perseverance and Patience your middle names.

A polished, winning query letter takes time and effort: think of it as a sales pitch or a promotional tool.  You’re selling you.  Entice the publisher—to want to read the entire letter and the manuscript.

Do that due diligence.  Determine which publishers you want to approach.  Make certain they represent the genre you’re writing.  Also confirm that they’re bona-fide publishers.  You shouldn’t be paying them to get published, right?  Right.

Grab the publisher’s attention immediately.  Ensure the salutation incorporates his/her name.  If you’ve published before, state this right away.  If not, then—if doable—mention that you’ve met him/her before or that someone’s referred you.  And, if neither of these are possible, then pitch your pitch.  Always include the genre, word count, and target audience. WPbutton2

When pitching your pitch, describe what makes your book unique.  Remember: there are hundreds of writers out there sending similar queries, so you need to stand out.

Give a quick rundown re the plot, main characters, and conflict/tension.  Provide a super-condensed summary (as in one paragraph).  Have a more detailed synopsis on hand, too; you may need it later.

Do you have writing credentials, awards, or reviews?  Provide them.  Or maybe you’re a blogger?  Note this.  What about a huge social media base?  By all means, mention it.

Some quick general tips re your letter:

  • personalize (it shouldn’t sound like a form letter)
  • keep it fairly short, maybe 400 words or so (four to five paragraphs)
  • make sure it adheres to the publisher’s submission guidelines (some may also request a promo plan or an in-depth synopsis)
  • ensure the letter looks neat (the font isn’t fancy or overly small, the wording isn’t excessive/redundant, and there’s ample white-space).

Lastly, proofread and revise as necessary.

Always bear in mind, there’s tons of information on the Internet; use it to your advantage.

As an FYI, here’s a query letter for “Caper”, written before I went for another major rewrite or decided to try e-booking (hey, a new verb).  Is it the quintessential query letter?  Probably not, but as Rey might say: it ain’t bad.

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Dear XXXXXX,

 Welcome to a Wacky Week at the Mysterious Moone Mansion

A reputedly haunted mansion in Connecticut marks the setting for a week-long collect-your-inheritance gathering of weird and wired guests.  The events, comic and dark, are told through the eyes of Jill Jocasta Fonne, a Wilmington-based weather announcer.

“The Connecticut Corpse Caper”, approximately 84,500 words, is an ode to the B&W mysteries of the 30s and 40s.  Murder and mayhem and madcap moments reign as seven people of different backgrounds spend a week in the Moone mansion to receive a share of the inheritance per eccentric Mathilda Moone’s will stipulation.  Two-hundred thousand dollars will be awarded to each person.  If someone leaves, for whatever reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.

Curious, out-of-the-norm characters in “Caper” contribute to the humor and absurdity.  It also has an ending that could lend itself to a sequel (and does—I’m in the midst of outlining one).

The audience?  Readers who enjoy the antics of Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Malone, those who like fun protagonists and a bit of dark or campy humor.

In terms of my background, I work as a freelance editor and writer.  In addition to writing weekly posts for my blog (www.XXXXXX) I have started working on a script version of “The Connecticut Corpse Caper”.  As an FYI, in addition to a varied and extensive writing-editing background, I also spent several years as a technical-writing trainer in the aerospace realm.

Recognizing how many queries you receive daily, Mr./Ms. XXXXXX, I’d like to thank you for your time and consideration.  Per your guidelines, attached are the first three chapters and a one-page synopsis.

Sincerely yours,

XXXXXXX

How it All [Kinda] Began

Forever Poi, the fourth in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, has taken much [much!] longer than anticipated.  But there were extenuating circumstances truly not in my control, so I’ll just count my blessings and offer gratitude to the Great Power that is that it’s nearly there.  Hurrah!!!!!

FPWed1

I went for another final edit (#23), but glad I did—found a couple of “flaws”.  You read and review, scrutinize and consider, yet you still don’t necessarily always catch those wily little buggers  As writers, we often see what we think is there and sometimes what’s not there.  This is a good reason to have someone else take a gander—new [fresh] eyes, that sort of thing.

I thought I’d go back and share when JJ, Rey and Linda seriously [or not] discussed the possibility of becoming Hawaiian private eyes.

And speaking of time, it was hard to believe that the Connecticut Caper—as Rey laughingly called it—had happened nearly a month ago. Yet in some ways, it felt like a year. The entire episode seemed dreamlike and distant.

I dropped onto the only piece of furniture I’d purchased for the Brentwood apartment so far: a beautiful two-piece leather sleeper sectional sofa that set me back a lot more than budgeted for. But it would serve as a perfect focus piece and last for years, and I wasn’t planning on being that extravagant with anything else. It rested to the side of a large deep-set fixed window with solid panel shutters. Sitting here, I could gaze four stories below onto a lush courtyard with two burbling fountains.

Christmas was around the corner and it felt strange to not have my nephew Quincy racing around, trying new seasonal recipes, or sticking Quincy-would-like gift suggestions in obvious places. The first week of December, Mom usually had the B&B decorated with lights, holly and ivy, and a couple of tinsel-trimmed Christmas trees. A stunning silver menorah rested on the dining room sidebar for Jewish friends and guests.

I’d made a move to California. Sold all belongings, put the Wilmington condo up for sale, packed clothes, and wondered what I’d gotten myself into besides a three-day weather-forecasting job at a local community television station. I’d have to find other work, of course, if we didn’t make money serving as professional sleuths (which I had doubts about), but it was a start. Rey was planning on getting the detective agency going in the next month or so.

Yes, that was correct: detective agency. Back at the Moone manse, as the three of us were packing and making promises to stay in touch, Rey had revealed a plan that she’d been considering since May-Lee had been wheeled away: opening a private investigation agency in California. To make her happy and keep me sane for the remainder of the brief stay, I’d said I’d consider the wild notion that seemed as probable as a Minnesota drought in January. But somewhere and somehow over the weeks, I’d decided maybe it wasn’t that wild after all.

Even Linda had gotten caught up in Rey’s enthusiasm. I wasn’t quite sure how to inform them about California’s strict licensure. They’d be devastated to learn they weren’t going to be private investigators any time soon. Among other things, we’d need a combination of education in police science, criminal law or justice, experience equaling three years or 6,000 hours, and to pass a criminal history background check. Oh yes, we’d also have to receive a qualifying score on a two-hour written exam. It was surprising that Rey hadn’t yet discovered that; or maybe she had and had simply refused to accept facts. In any event, at present, in addition to scouting offices, my cousin had signed up for a business course. Kudos to eager and determined Cousin Reynalda.

The drive back from Connecticut had afforded Adwin and I time to talk about life, goals and objectives, feelings and family. By the time we’d reached Wilmington, we’d decided that moving in together was probably not a great thing. We truly weren’t that compatible or in sync, and that was fine we both acknowledged. I loved Adwin, and he loved me, but in the grand scheme of things we weren’t really a romantic couple or marriage material; we were more of a buddy-bud duo. We’d remain in touch and he’d visit California, and I’d see him—and Fred—whenever I returned to North Carolina. We’d take the odd vacation together. Pledges were made and, with a bit of luck, they’d be kept.

I stretched bare legs onto the sofa, and sipped mango nectar from a bottle via a straw. It was thick and sweet and perfect for the sunny weather outside, and seemed to work well with little, decadent mouthfuls of a Red Velvet cupcake I was enjoying. I’d been off sweets since Connecticut—hadn’t wanted to see another cookie to save my life, but this morning, after a three-mile power walk, I’d dropped by Suzee-Sooz’s Cupcake Houz and bought the sinfully delicious treat that was nearly the size of a soccer ball. (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.)

“Hey you.” The door opened with a bang.

“Hey yourself and watch it. I don’t want to buy a new door, thank you,” I groused, watching Rey all but dance into the small L-shaped living room, Linda in tow.

Both were dressed in the same Chip & Pepper jeans and similar Aloha shirts. While Linda sported colorful Converse runners, Rey wore strappy sandals. I half expected them to have the same polish on their toes and fingers. Maybe they’d both been deprived of high school friendships and were making up for missed girly-girl BFF moments.

I looked back at the shirts. Hawaiian wasn’t Rey or Linda’s usual taste. Oh-oh.

“What’s up ladies?” I asked suspiciously, putting my drink aside but keeping the cupcake on my lap. I suspected I’d be needing sugar-enhanced comfort momentarily.

Linda closed the door and followed Rey. They leaned into the kitchen counter comprised of pretty pale blue and dusty rose ceramic tiles. I liked the cozy, bright kitchen, but why did I suddenly suspect I’d not be enjoying it for long?

Rey moved into melodramatic mode. “The licensing requirements to become private eyes in California are tough.”

“We’d don’t have the qualifications or background,” Linda affirmed.

Oddly, neither looked deflated or upset. I smiled dryly and said nothing.

“I know, you’re thinking that our detecting days are over before they’ve even begun.”

Not really, but I eyed Rey expectantly.

“They’re not!” she announced gleefully, hanging an arm around her friend’s shoulders. “Guess what?”

“I couldn’t even begin to,” I responded wryly, gazing from one to the other.

Rey grinned. “We’re going to become…”

“Hawaiian P.I.s!” Linda finished with a jubilant grin.

“Pack your bags, Jilly!”

The Red Velvet cupcake caught Rey in the middle of the forehead.

An index finger sporting neon blue polish removed some of the frosting clinging to her brow. She licked it and smiled. “Delicious. Mahalo.”

Should all go well, Forever Poi will be available around the beginning of August.

Aloha, my friends.

 

Thank You, Jay!

I’d like to once again thank author (Watching Glass Shatter, Father Figure) and blogger James J. Cudney—Jay—for the review of The Connecticut Corpse Caper.  The first in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, it was originally written as a stand-alone cozy.  But the gals—JJ, Rey, and Linda—decided they wanted P.I. careers (in Hawaii, no less) and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Please check out This is My Truth Now, his awesome blog.  You’ll find insightful posts, book reviews, personal adventures and bucket lists, among other things.  And if you’re looking for some good reads, I wholeheartedly suggest Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure.  You won’t be disappointed.

As stated in my FB post, he’s personable and sweet, and incredibly approachable.  I’m very thankful our paths crossed.

https://thisismytruthnow.com/2018/06/16/book-review-the-connecticut-corpse-caper-by-tyler-colins/#like-29614

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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.

pirpoodle

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!

 

 

The Connecticut Corpse Caper: A Precursor to the Triple Threat Investigation Agency

For those not familiar with the antics, uh, cases of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio, The Connecticut Corpse Caper won’t provide any.  What Caper will do is enlighten you re the gals’ pre-detective adventures.

It all begins when seven inheritance recipients gather for a week-long stay at the vast, creepy Connecticut mansion of Mathilda Moone.  As is befitting Aunt Mat’s “unique” (some claim dotty) character, her will stipulates that if one recipient leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.  As it happens, one does depart—not by choice.

Every character has a secret, as Jill Jocasta (JJ) and her two associates, Reynalda (Rey) and Linda, discover when they slip on amateur P.I. shoes.  Others soon join in the sleuthing, and the bumbling and stumbling—murder and mayhem—begin.

Enter dead bodies and legal sorts.  Enter Fred, the resident ghost, singing a favorite song.  Enter potential inheritance recipients through hidden passageways and corridors.  . . . Enter not-so-dead Aunt Mat.

Fingers point and tongues wag.  It appears any one of the visitors could be a diabolical murderer.  Even those six fatal Moone accidents that occurred during the last decade suddenly seem as if they may not have happened by chance.

Through trial and error, and just good old plain luck, the three women discover who is responsible for the killings.  Questions are asked and answered until a partner arrives on the scene and silences the killer’s voice.

Excitement reigns.  Paramedics and officers dash into the chaos.  Soon, all is explained and there are no loose ends.  . . . Well, maybe not quite.  Those Moone accidents?  They truly weren’t by chance.

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If you’re interested in reading Caper, the ebook can be found at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/555494

https://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Connecticut_Corpse_Caper

Both ebook and hardcover of Caper are also available here:

https://www.amazon.ca/the+connecticut+corpse+caper

Happy (Still Humble) Me

Here are the last details of the book tour (it’s all part of my blogging process and writing development).  I netted some awesome reviews and wanted to share . . .

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is the first book in the new Triple Threat Mystery series by Tyler Colins. It’s a good, solid start to the series.
~Valerie’s Musings

Author Tyler Colins inserts a lot of humor and more than one body into this tale, and her style of writing makes for a fast read.
~Lisa Ks Book Reviews

The opening chapter of this book proved to be quite the hook with its description of the Moone estate, it immediately pulled me in.
~I Read What You Write

For fans of mystery dinners and black and white movies about spending nights in haunted houses, this tribute to well known detective noir is a great escape read.
~Laura’s Interests

A lack of confidence is something I’ve had more years than I care to admit, but these reviews have provided a (much-needed) boost.  Thank you.

I hope I won’t disappoint as I (and the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals) continue on this exciting, fun-filled—and enlightening—quest.

A Heartfelt Thank-You for the Book Tour

What an amazing book tour for “The Connecticut Corpse Caper” and myself.  This, I owe to an amazing woman, blogger Lori Caswell (“Ecape with Dollycas into a Good Book”).  What she does to coordinate these tours and promote writers is unbelievable—it’s evident she puts heart and soul into every tour.

Writers like myself owe the following fantastic blogs and their dedicated bloggers a huge, heartfelt thank you!

Blogger Nicole Reviews – http://bloggernicole.com

StoreyBook Reviews – http://storeybookreviews.com

Books, Dreams, Life – http://booksdreamslife0829.blogspot.com

The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – http://mysteryshelf.com

Celtic Lady’s Reviews – https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com

A Blue Million Books – http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com

Valerie’s Musings- https://valeriesmusings76.wordpress.com

Lisa K’s Book Reviews – http://lisasbookthoughts.blogspot.com

I Read What You Write – https://ireadwhatyouwrite.wordpress.com

Fantastic Feathers – http://www.fantasticfeathers.in

Laura’s Interests – http://dogsmomvisits.blogspot.com

Lori’s Reading Corner – http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com

Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book – http://www.escapewithdollycas.com

Cozy up with Kathy – https://cozyupwithkathy.blogspot.com

“Cozy Up with Kathy”, A Cozy Blog

One more mystery: finding info on another blogger, namely Kathy of “Cozy Up with Kathy”.  <LOL>  Nancy Drew would not be proud.

What you’ll find on “Cozy up with Kathy” are truly cozy moments—book tours and interviews, and giveaways.

Kathy also goes by the name “Katreader” and there’s a list of her blogs with links.  A couple were ones she contributed to.  “Katreader’s Rat’s Nest” doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2016, but it’s dedicated to pets.  There are some bittersweet, touching posts.  Here’s to fellow animal lovers . . . and one kind soul who appears to give much.  Thank you Kathy-Katreader.

https://cozyupwithkathy.blogspot.com

“Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book” and Escape to an Awesome Blog

If you’ve never visited Lori Caswell’s fabulous blog, go!  It’s colorful, appealing, and chocka-block full of mystery authors and books.

Not only does this dedicated blogger provide amazing book tours (this, I can attest to personally), she offers recommendations, giveaways, and “random thoughts”.  I don’t know how she does it, but kudos to Lori for accomplishing all that she does!  (And more kudos for having such a great family and being a fellow animal lover.)

Her bio is on the blog, but it’s inspiring and worth sharing.  In 2001, Lori was involved in a serious car accident that left her disabled and unable to drive. She did get a part-time job for a few years, but it eventually became obsolete.  Few employment opportunities seemed available.  Fortunately, a friend convinced Lori to begin a blog (and even assisted with connections).  The year 2011 saw the birth of “Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book”.  When one door closes, another truly does open.

Here’s to you Lori and all the awesome things you do for us writers.

http://www.escapewithdollycas.com