Sleuths United

Because The Boss wants to take off a few days from posting, she asked us if we’d each post about our favorite detective—be he or she from books, TV, or films.  (Writing about Nancy Drew got her to thinking about sleuths and private investigators.)

Rey, JJ and I took turns playing rock-paper-scissors to see who’d post first, second and third.  I won—“I” being Linda, of course.  For me, it has to be the ever-brilliant “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Although I enjoyed reading classic literature in my teens, I was never into mysteries or detectives, but once I began working as a screenwriting assistant, I hung around with film people who were into classic films.  Through them, I was introduced to a wonderful world of B&W movies . . . and Basil Rathbone.

A bit of trivia: Rathbone, along with Nigel Bruce as sidekick Dr. Watson, played in 14 films between 1939 and 1946.  The first, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was my favorite.  Rathbone’s exploits, coupled with Bruce’s wit, prompted me to pick up the stories with—yes—The Hound being the first.  I was hooked immediately.  For a short spell, I was even a bit of a Sherlockian.  There’s a cool site, by the by, called Sherlockian.net (“The Portal About the Great Detective”).

I took a quick gander and based on a 2009 CNN Entertainment piece, Sherlock “The Game is Afoot” Holmes has been played by 75 actors in 211 films.  Wikipedia claims 254 times as at 2012.  That’s pretty damn impressive. WPshusetoo

The quintessential Sherlock Holmes for yours truly, however, was Jeremy Brett, who played him in 41 episodes from 1984 through 1994 (when Brett passed from heart failure).  I thought the series seemed like the real deal in terms of how I imagined 221B Baker Street and Victorian England to look and feel.  Others did as well apparently; praise was provided in spades re adhering to original concepts and Brett received accolades for his portrayal.

As an FYI, Brett once stated that “Holmes is the hardest part I have ever played—harder than Hamlet or Macbeth”.  Additional minutiae: Brett was the only actor who played both Holmes and Watson.  <LOL>  Rey’s usually the film enthusiast.  Hmm, speaking of, I wonder who she’ll pick as her favorite.  She wouldn’t tell us and simply said we’d have to read her post.

With that, I leave you with one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes (from The Man with the Twisted Lip): “I confess that I have been blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.”  Linda1

Forever Poi, Forever Hopeful

It’s Linda on post patrol today.  The Boss is still under the weather, but then the weather in her neck of the woods is under-whelming.  <LSMH>  (Winter’s on its way and she’s not overly excited about it.)

Given I’m a food and wine blogger when I’m not a P.I., I thought I’d post about poi—firstly, by explaining the significance of “Forever Poi”, the fourth Triple Threat Investigation Agency case and, secondly, providing a little background about poi (with recipes).

The Boss explained it quite nicely, succinctly, in her new Smashwords interview: “In terms of me: it’s an homage to Hawaii.  Poi is a Hawaiian staple, a delicious food made from taro.  Hawaii [a hope, a dream] is in my heart and soul and always will be; hence, forever poi.”

In terms of the case, there’s mention of “Forever Poi” as associated with a comment from an intriguing [if not dangerous] individual who shall remain nameless.  (Alternatively said: please read our new adventure.)

The three of us enjoy poi different ways.  I love poi as “cereal”, sprinkled with raw sugar and cinnamon.  Rey prefers taro in the form of chips.  And JJ likes it in the form of soft-serve ice-cream or mooncakes.

For those not in the know about poi, it’s an essential Hawaiian staple, made from the underground plant stem of a root vegetable known as taro.  There’s a lot of fascinating information re its origins and where and how it’s used, but I’ll leave that for another time.  Feel free, however, to go Googling.

A quick note, though: traditional poi is made by mashing the cooked corm (plant stem) of the taro.  The time-honored method is performed on a wooden board with a pestle (pounding implement) while the modern method involves a food processor (I’ll opt for traditional anytime, thank you).  You can enjoy it fresh or allow it to ferment.

There’s an intriguing way of measuring consistency: “one finger”, “two finger”, and “three finger” poi relates to how many fingers are necessary to scoop a mouthful of the delicious mashed product.  The thicker the poi, the fewer the fingers.  Thickness or runniness is a purely personal preference.

Now that I’ve condensed a plethora of info into a pint-sized post, let me share some easy-peasy recipes: Simple Poi (a fav of mine), Simple Poi Mochi (a fav of JJ’s), and Simple Poi-Nut Bread (a fav of Rey’s).  . . . Can you tell the three of us really like “simple”?  <LOL>

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Simple Poi

♥ 4 lbs taro root 2 ½ tbsp coconut oil   ♥ 2 ½ tbsp butter   ♥ 2 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt   ♥ 6-8 tbsp celery or asparagus juice   ♥ water

⇒ Preheat the oven to 300°F.     ⇒ Wash the taro root and pierce consistently all over.     ⇒ Bake for about 2 hours (until soft all the way through).     ⇒ Cut open the taro root and spoon out the taro into a large bowl. Throw away the skin.     ⇒ Add the salt and juice.     ⇒ Mix well.     ⇒ Cover with a cloth and leave to ferment for a minimum of 24 hours.     ⇒ Once fermented, melt the butter in a saucepan.     ⇒ If you’re going traditional and mashing the taro with a wooden board and pestle, do so, and then add to a bowl.  If you’re going modern, add the taro to a food processor and “mash”.     ⇒ Add the oil and butter.     ⇒ Add the water and blend to the desired consistency.

(You can add various “flavors” or serve it as is.  As mentioned, I like sugar and cinnamon, but anything’s doable.  Feel free to experiment.)

Simple Poi Mochi

♥   1 lb poi, ready-made/bought or homemade (see “Simple Poi” recipe above)   ♥ 2 cups water, give or take   ♥ 2 10-ounce packages Asian sweet rice flour   ♥ 1 ½ cups sugar   ♥ 1 quart canola oil for deep frying

⇒ Combine everything except the oil.     ⇒ Add water slowly (you want a thick batter).      ⇒ Drop by the teaspoon into the heated oil and deep fry until slightly crisp.     ⇒ Drain.     ⇒ Makes about three dozen pieces.     ⇒ Feel free to dust with sugar or a sugar-spice combination.

(You can add various “flavors” to the mixture before frying.  JJ likes red-bean paste.)

Simple Poi Nut Bread

♥ 1 lb poi, ready-made/bought or homemade (see “Simple Poi” recipe above)   ♥ ¾ cup water   ♥ 2 cups flour   ♥ ¾ cups brown sugar   ♥ 1 tsp cinnamon   ♥ 1 tsp nutmeg   ♥ 2 tsp baking powder   ♥ 1 tsp sea salt   ♥ 3 eggs, beaten   ♥ 1 cup oil   ♥ 2 tsp vanilla   ♥ 1 ½ cups macadamia nuts (or substitute your favorite nut, or a combination thereof)   ♥ ½ cup currants (or dried fruit of preference)

⇒ Mix the poi and water together.  Let stand in a bowl.     ⇒ In a second bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.     ⇒ Combine both mixtures.     ⇒ Add the remaining ingredients.     ⇒ Add to an oiled/buttered pan and bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes.

Hope you enjoyed the post about poi.  It’s a bit of a departure from the usual, but what’s wrong with digressing now and again?

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Happy Halloween from Honolulu Hawaii

The Boss would have been real proud to come up with that heading—she’s into illiteration.  . . . Huh?  Oh.  JJ says it’s “alliteration”.  <LMAO>

Anyway, the three of us are here to share what we’re planning for Halloween, which is always a majorly fun to-do time on Oahu.  There’s a costume party with a bunch of HPD pals, so we’ll pop over around midnight, but during the day and evening, we’re gonna explore what Oahu has to offer, something we’ve talked about in past, but never much done.  Each of us has come up with a Halloweeny event to pursue, so Linda, you start.  What have you got planned for us?

Ever since I watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as a kid, I’ve wanted to visit a pumpkin patch.  So I’m driving us to Waimanalo Country Farms where they’ve got pumpkin picking, hayrides, and a country market, among other things.  The little girl in me can’t wait!  It’ll be a hoot, I’m sure.  What about you, JJ?

I’m sorry to say I got the dates mixed up re the annual Chinatown “Hallowbaloo”—a costume street festival with music/entertainment, art and food—so it’s at the top of the list for next year.  We’re heading over to Haunted Plantation, reputed to be the “scariest haunted attraction”.  Sixty-plus actors haunt a village with what sounds like—ahem—ghoulishly frightening results.  <LOL>  Linda, your face is paler than that of a cartoon ghost!

Yeah, it looks like it did last night, when we did the “Zombie Apocalypse” at Coral Crater.  What a blast!  For those who haven’t experienced it, you gear up and wipe out zombies overrunning a village.  Then, you zip-line to safety.  Like, how cool is that?

I’m just not as huge a fan of zombies and zip-lining as you, Rey.  But once my heart stopped thumping like a snare drum being struck by an eager marching band drummer, I have to admit, I did enjoy the adrenalin rush.  . . . So, are you finally going to tell us what you have planned?

I am indeedy-do, Lindy-Loo.  Given I’m an actress when I’m not P.I.ing, I had to go for something “theatrical”.  I got tickets for—ooh, this is so-o much fun!—a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show hosted by Tita Titsling, who’s touted as the “Premiere Moustache Queen of Chinatown, Honolulu”.  How exciting is that, I ask?  . . . And on that note, everyone, the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency wish you an absolootely hairy-scary Halloween! WPUSEtoo

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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Who’s Laughing Now?

Not us gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—we’re embarking on our next big case: HA-HA-HA-HA.

Now, it may take some time to solve (given The Boss has those time constraints), but we’re keeping the faith it’ll get done sooner than later.

It’s Rey by the way.  Hope you’re all doing well.  We certainly are.  In fact, JJ and Linda and me are super stoked—and, as that once popular saying used to go, we’re are so-o ready to rock’n’roll!

Here’s how it all begins . . .

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“What an f’g jackass.”  Shoving her thumbs in her ears, melodramatic Cousin Reynalda thrust out her tongue and wiggled long, slender fingers.

Standing alongside a looming, leafy shrub that served as target practice for strident feathery friends gliding and bounding nearby, Detective Sammie Sallo chose to turn just then.

Out came the thumbs and in went the tongue.  With a Hollywood [dazzling] smile, Rey waved with both hands, then tucked them into the pockets of daisy-imprinted cut-off shorts.

“Next time, sister, that tongue better mean business.”  With a buffalo snort, he pulled out a mouth-to-lung e-cigarette bundle.  Sallo resembled Stacy Keach’s Mike Hammer, right down to the mustache and fedora, an odd hat to be wearing on Oahu.  It arrived with him when he moved here two months ago from NYC to replace Devoy Hunt, a detective we’d just gotten to know.  He’d opted to move to “quieter, calmer” Kauai, the Garden Isle.

“Jackass,” she muttered, turning sideways.  “Why’d he have to choose the same time as us to come and check out the murder scene?”

“Timing’s everything,” Linda said gaily, giving him the finger when he turned back to view the canal.

The three of us—private eyes from The Triple Threat Investigation Agency (Rey’s choice of name)—hadn’t been officially hired for any particular case.  We had, however, received an odd email at 8:30 p.m. two nights ago that read: The game’s started, ladies.  Check out the area on Laau around the Ala Wai Canal.  I suggest you head there now.  HA-HA-HA-HA  Your loving GrimReaperPeeper.

Tourists, joggers, and strollers with frolicsome dogs utilized the sidewalk on the maiki (south) side of the canal.  On the mauka (mountain) side was a golf course, community garden and park, and boating facilities, among other things.  Sadly, people didn’t—couldn’t—swim in the Ala Wai anymore.  To do so could prove hazardous, because the 1.5-mile-long canal was a breeding channel for bacteria, heavy metals, and pesticides—never mind garbage.  Kayakers and canoe paddlers, however, seemed fearless, overlooking the fact that getting canal water on your skin or in your mouth could result in rashes and gastro-intestinal issues.  Hazards aside, it was a lovely stretch . . . although we might never quite few it the same way again.

GrimReaperPeeper had sent a message at the completion of our last major case, the third in the agency’s short history that involved bad-ass murderers.  Curious, we drove to Laau Street and checked cautiously around.  Given the vague directions, there’d been considerable ground to cover and as we were about to give up, Linda had stumbled upon four bodies stretched out before the canal by the Fisheries Management area—four bedraggled, bruised, blotched bodies with loose puckered skin as white as the underbelly of a perch and as translucent as a jellyfish. 

Forty-eight hours in the canal, which served as both drainage ditch and tidal estuary, would have contributed to multi-hued patterns on regions still resembling human parts after aquatic inhabitants had feasted.  Would have, but didn’t.  These four souls had taken their initial swim elsewhere, before necrophagous insects came to feast and spawn.

The two couples had been missing since March twenty-fourth and had been dead since March twenty-sixth, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianoaole Day.  That had been the initial determination and it hadn’t, yet, changed.

Detective Sammie Sallo drew on an e-cig and exhaled at length.  Fumes twirled upward like coolant smoke flowing from a tailpipe.  Strolling back to join us, he eyed Rey’s face with obvious interest.  “Looked kinda like beached whales, didn’t they?”

An image of the humpback whales that migrated to Hawaii this time of year came to mind.  The migration was comparable to an Oregon cattle drive of yesteryear, a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, or even a run of the grunion, marine fish related to the mullet that spawned from March to August on the first four nights after the highest tide of each full or new moon.  They were so predictable the California State Fisheries Laboratory published a timetable indicating when they’d appear.

Well, these four grunion had made it to shore all right, but they’d not completed their quest.  There’d been no dissolved oxygen to fan their blood, no sand to begin the regeneration process from, no purpose or hope to keep them alive.  And this ending was far from predictable . . .  although there had been a full moon that night.  Given that unusual things were reported to occur during one, was that significant? 

It had been two days since the discovery of the bodies.  We’d returned this breezy afternoon to take daytime photos, poke around, and get a feel for what might have happened; Sallo, unfortunately, had had similar thoughts. 

The fifty-year-old believed that the four had partied hardy, so he’d stated a few times that night.  Given his next words, he was still of the same mind.  “There was probably a group of them.  They got caught up in too much booze, maybe drugs too, and started playing weird cult games.  Maybe they were paying homage to the great god of Ecstasy and/or praying to Mr. Full Moon.  I’ve seen shit like this before.  Booze and drugs make people do bizarre things.”  He picked up a large coffee perched alongside a small plumeria tree, noisily gulped back what was left, and belched. 

When it came to class, Sallo had as much elegance as Archie Bunker, a character that retro television wouldn’t let anyone forget.  Rey, Linda and I had met him three times in the last few weeks and while Detective Ald Ives (or “Hives” as Rey mockingly called him) seemed to get along well enough with his colleague, we found Sallo as abrasive as steel wool.

Linda smirked, tossing raspberry-red, shoulder-length waves.  “You really think a group of them got into ‘cult games’?”

“It sure looks that way, Royale.  Remember the marks on their chests?  In their fucked-up states, they’d probably thought it was a fun, freaky thing to do.  Matches the tatts on their arms and probably other body parts we’ve yet to see.”  He eyed her with dark amusement, like a deranged despot might his lackey. 

“So friends just left them there after moon-and-drug worshipping, and what?  Went home to sleep it off?”

“Why not?  Come the morning, they realized how carried away they’d gotten.  They’re either now having issues coming to terms with it or they don’t give a rat’s ass.” 

They’d been found facing the canal with arms folded neatly over chests.  Four black fabric roses, glossy and delicate, had been pinned to tops and shirts and all four had had floral designs incised into chests, possibly with a roulette—not the gambling game, but a small toothed disk of tempered steel attached to a hilt and used to make a series or rows of dots, slits, or perforations.

I kicked pebbles as I eyed the crime scene ahead, thinking it was time to visit an upset-irate client whose wayward hubby we’d finally caught being wayward—with her sister.  We’d promised to arrive around 4:15 to provide background, a report and invoice, but given Mrs. Starzeneiss’ “high strung” personality, we’d probably have to stick around to soothe ruffled feathers.

“Isn’t it possible they were murdered by a sadistic killer?”

He scowled, threw the coffee cup onto the concrete pathway, and popped a Tic-Tac. 

With a sigh, I swallowed a rebuke.  Pulling a warm bottle of water from a Hawaiian print backpack, I took a long swallow and eyed fluttering, ripped police tape wrapped around several trees and shrubs.  A yellow ribbon tied around an old oak tree it wasn’t.  What it was, was jarring.  A reminder that something terrible had occurred.

There were often obvious if not improbable gaps in Sallo’s hypotheses, but he wasn’t the sort you could argue with—not without wanting to bang your head against a wall or three.

I nodded to my Jeep parked several yards down, under a bright lemon-colored sun.  Thankfully, the sunroof and windows were open (I didn’t much care for A/C).

“Catch ya later, Detective S,” Rey purred.

“Whatever.”

She blew a raspberry and the three of us moseyed to the car.

“Can you spell jerk?” Linda asked, pulling an apple banana from a large crocheted tote.

“Yeah.  S-a-l-l-o,” I replied wryly, opening the passenger door.

“What’s up, buttercup?” a baritone voice boomed from behind.

Rey spun, ready to pounce. 

Linda and I exchanged amused glances. 

“You always pop out from behind parked SUVs like that?” I asked.

Jimmy Carcanetta, a freelance writer and blogger Linda had gotten to know in the last couple months, grinned like a toddler who’d just be given a huge slice of cake.  His pumpkin-shaped head bobbled like a fishing bobber.  “Nothing like the element of surprise.”

“What brings you here?” 

“The same thing that brought you guys here: a need to piece things together and get a feel for what happened.”

“Your article on the murders was good.”

“For a food and wine reviewer,” he chuckled, pulling a new Canon camera from a faux-leather bag.  “Thought I’d take a few more pics, for context.”

“Any new findings or thoughts?” Linda asked, leaning into the passenger door and taking a chomp from the apple banana.

“Not yet.  Just mulling over facts.  They’d been missing two days and died on the twenty-sixth, or thereabouts.  They’d been meticulously mutilated—and please don’t attribute it to cult games or weird rites.  I heard that from the ass back there the other day.”  With a glower, he jerked a thumb rearward.  “What crap.  . . . Any thoughts about the fact they’d been so neatly arranged, with roses yet?  That seems very specific, as if the killer were leaving a calling card.” 

“Maybe it’s the creep’s way of saying goodbye, a ceremonial or funereal kind of thing,” Rey offered. 

“Who says the roses came from the killer?” Linda added.  “They might have been a club or party signature thing.  The four may have been wearing them before they were done in.”

“Yeah, but the incisions resembled flowery embroidery.”  He scanned the end of the street.  “I’m thinking there was a connection between the two, even if Sallo won’t admit it.  Why though?”

“Why won’t he admit it?  Or what’s the connection?”  I smiled drily.  “I have a feeling the detective’s going to prove a thorn in many people’s sides.”

“Thorn?” Rey asked sarcastically.  “How about spike?”

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What’s in an Interview . . . except Your Soul?

Hello.  This is Detective Gerald Ives—Ald for short and Hives instead of Ives, if you’re headstrong (bolshie) Reynalda Fonne-Werde.  I’m sure I’ll hear about that one.  <LMAO>  Anyway, the gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are enjoying a spa day (another one, must be nice) and asked, begged, me—given I ask a lot of questions for a living—to conduct an interview with The Boss today.  Evidently, their big B would like some practice.  I’m happy to oblige and it will only cost the threesome a dinner at a five-star restaurant, with a great bottle of wine.

Why do you write mysteries?  Genre of preference?

Very much so.  I’ve mentioned this previously, but I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew when I was kid.  I loved solving mysteries, putting together puzzles.  Hence, the desire to write them—my genre of definite and delightful preference.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was probably six or seven.  As an only child, I had to entertain myself.  Writing and drawing were two regular means.  I loved creating stories as much as I enjoyed crayoning and painting.  When I was around twelve, the “writing bug” really grabbed hold . . . and never let go.

 What was your first book-length story and was it published?

The first manuscript was a historical romance with a western theme set in Texas.  Beautiful feisty heroine meets—clashes with—hunky aggressive hero.  It was never published, but I do believe I still have it in a storage box somewhere.  Maybe, one day, I’ll dig it out.  It would be interesting to compare my writing style back then to present day, and see how I’ve developed.

Describe your present-day writing style.

In a word: narrative.  I tell a story and provide descriptions and details that convey conflict and tension, action, humor, a beginning and an end.  Do I have a distinctive or unique voice?  I believe so, but I’d never be able to “describe” it.  It’s simply . . . me.

It’s said some writers have muses.  Do you? WPmuseA1

Wouldn’t know a muse if it bit me on the butt—but power to those that have a guiding spirit or source of inspiration.  Maybe I could borrow one for a day or two . . . ?

Do you draft a plot and outline before you write a book or let an idea take you where it may?

I always have an idea re a Triple Threat Investigation Agency case—for example, have P.I.s JJ, Rey, and Linda find a body by the canal (which is how the fifth book starts).  I’ll have determined who placed the body there, but not necessarily why.  In fact, the “reason” doesn’t usually present itself until a good 200+ pages have been written.  You could unequivocally say, I go with the flow.

What sort of research do you do for your books?

I do a lot—anything from local food to drinks, weapons to wounds.  But it’s on an on-going, what-do-I-need-to-know basis.  More than half the research isn’t used, but it’s quite helpful for painting pictures and assembling puzzle pieces, and providing a knowledge base.

As a writer, what is success to you?  How do you measure it?

One type of success is the accomplishment of having completed a project (in my case a book).  It’s an awesome feeling.  The second is the traditional type, if we could call it that, the one most people would claim is having a fruitful and/or prosperous career.  Fellow writers might say: success is having achieved substantial sales and/or become a recognizable name.  Ultimately, however, it’s being able to do what you love . . . and if it pays well, too, that’s doubly fantastic.

So you’re feeling good about having finished “Forever Poi”?

It’s taken forever to complete, so it feels amazing that it’s finally done.  The marketing and promotional components come into play now, as do getting the front and back covers done, the e-book actually uploaded, and all those little [but numerous] “tasks” that go with the completion of a project.  This part of the project tends to lean towards stressful for me, but it’s all—ultimately—good.

If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was initially written as a one-off, and is near and dear to my heart, so I’d like to see that made into a movie.  An homage to B&W mysteries, it’s campy enough—I believe—to transcend well onto the screen.  In all honesty, though, I confess that I’d love to see the Triple Threat Investigation Agency books developed into a weekly mystery series.  <LOL>  Hey, we’re entitled to our dreams, and that’s [one of] mine.

What are your other dreams?

To move to Hawaii, of course.  To [finally] find contentment and tranquility.  To give back.  To become a better person/Christian.  To become an American, which I’ve wanted with all my heart and soul since I was five; I cry when I hear the anthem . . . cried when I heard it last night.  Allow me to share an astounding YouTube vid featuring seven-year-old Malea.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Despite what may sometimes seem like insurmountable odds, never give up, and constantly keep the faith.  It’s not always easy.  In fact, it can be incredibly [excruciatingly] difficult, but it can be done.  Just believe.

And there you have it, folks.  My first un-work-related interview with the Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes’ boss.  You know?  I could get to like this.  . . . Maybe I’ll set up a blog of my own.

Cheers.

Characters, Caricatures, Clowns

The trio from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series—JJ, Rey, and Linda—possess distinctive personalities.  They’re not caricatures nor are they clowns, though some of the situations the three gals find themselves in do lean toward the clownish . . . and Rey, hammy actress that she is, can certainly play the comic or comedian.

In a post early last year, I touched upon character sketches/summaries—i.e. recording traits, appearances, dislikes and likes, family history, and so forth.  Besides helping make characters come alive and providing depth, you’re enabling consistency (particularly if you’re doing a series). WPlogo1

There are a dozen pages for JJ, Rey and Linda, which I wouldn’t dream of cutting and pasting here (the snooze factor and all that).  Because characters can and should change over time, I’ll stick to the most current notes (for Forever Poi).  It’s just a taste—a condensation—of components you might like to include in your own character summaries.

JJ (Jill Jocasta Fonne):

Appearance

  • below shoulders, chocolate-brown hair with honey highlights
  • heart-shaped face
  • loon-black eyes
  • fit
  • average weight
  • 5’7”
  • tattoo at base of spine (turtle)

Miscellaneous details

  • has a deep, sexy voice
  • jogs along canal and boardwalk daily; does elliptical and bike
  • can’t sing to save her life; sounds like a frog that has barely been missed being run over by a truck
  • not a great swimmer
  • bitchy when sleep deprived

Likes & Dislikes

  • enjoys eating saimin
  • prefers poi as soft ice-cream or in mooncakes
  • 2 favorite colors: seashell pink and sea blue
  • loves animals, particularly tortoises

Family

  • mother: Janis Joy Fonne opened a wellness B&B in Wilmington after moving there from Dallas when JJ young
  • nephew: Quincy has lived with JJ’s mom since JJ’s sister, Reena Jean, was yanked into ocean during hurricane
  • father: JJ never knew him (mother never provided name or details)
  • aunts/uncles/cousins: (there are several and all are detailed in full notes)
  • childhood: (certain events are listed in full notes)

Expressions

  • in Caper: f’ing, damn, frig, pooh
  • in Poi: same, but dropped pooh for dang (Linda’s favorite word) . . . .

Rey (Reynalda Fonne-Werde):

Appearance

  • shoulder-length wheat-colored hair with sunshine-yellow streaks
  • once pigeon-gray eyes are now grass-green
  • Hollywood nose
  • slim; lanky
  • Clara-Bow lips
  • 5’10”
  • tattoo on lower back, over derriere (rainbow)

Miscellaneous details

  • can sing up a storm
  • can eat everything and anything without gaining a pound
  • part-time actress
  • not a great swimmer (like JJ)
  • melodramatic, high-strung; can be a diva

Likes & Dislikes

  • loves pizza
  • prefers poi as taro chips
  • likes rye and ginger
  • enjoys adventure

Family

  • mother: Rowena Jaye had prickly relationship with daughter Rey; she didn’t like having her daughter pursue acting career when young
  • father: didn’t know much about him; he was an actor who died during filming
  • aunts/uncles/cousins: (there are several and all are detailed in full notes)
  • childhood: (certain events are listed in full notes)

Expressions

  • in Caper: f**k, man, hey, Gawd
  • in Poi: f’g, dude . . . .

Linda Royale (born Smith):

Appearance

  • shoulder-length, layered raspberry-red hair
  • latte-colored eyes; almond-shaped
  • narrow forehead
  • slightly exotic cast
  • unusual button-shaped lips
  • 5’5”
  • tattoo on left hip (butterfly)

Miscellaneous details

  • writes food and wine articles for website/blog
  • has become more health-conscious since Caper
  • runs and lifts weights regularly
  • studies part-time now and again; explores new things

Likes & Dislikes

  • loves poi
  • likes learning
  • enjoys writing and cooking
  • likes local music

Family

  • mother: Theresa Smith died during squally weather when Linda very young
  • father: didn’t know anything about him
  • sister and brother: Linda didn’t spend much time with her estranged siblings in past

Expressions

  • in Caper: dang, crap, hey
  • in Poi: same . . . .

There you have it—brief examples of what makes each of the TTIA characters unique.

Other components worth including are significant life- or personality- changing events, pets, lovers/partners, habits, eccentricities . . . everything and anything.  

Happy developing.

WPgalsuse

The Journey . . . Back

Hey there.  Okay, so I’m finally getting there re “Forever Poi”, which got me to thinking about my next post.  Should it be on marketing?  Promo plans?  Hopes and dreams re the fourth Triple Threat Investigation Agency book and the series?

All sound fine, and I can certainly put pen to paper—er, fingers to keyboard—for any one of them.  The question is: can I [truly] do any marketing or promotion, given what’s happening in my life right now?  Maybe.  If I could survive on two hours of sleep a day.  <LOL>

So, that got me to thinking some more (yeah, it did prove a little taxing on the ol’ gray matter) and that took me back to where it all began—i.e. what got me started loving and writing mysteries.  Nancy Drew.

Remember her?  She was a young detective who resided in River Heights.  Well-to-do, she had a supportive father, who was also a lawyer, and a kindly housekeeper who provided motherly support.  Nancy solved mysteries around the globe with best friends, Bess and George.  The two were cousins, but polar opposites.  While Bess was timid and leaned toward pudgy (the way I remember), George was athletic and, as her name suggested, a tomboy.  Nancy’s beau was Ned Nickerson.  Let’s see if memory prevails.  Dave was Bess’ boyfriend and . . . right, Burt was George’s.

My first Nancy Drew mystery, which will always hold a very fond place in my heart was The Haunted Showboat.  I can still visualize the murky, marshy bayou, hear the birds in the twisting branches and creatures clambering in the foliage, and smell the molding wood and dense vegetation.  . . . What an awesome journey back in time this is turning out to be. NancyDrewuse1

I just took a gander re Showboat and learned it was the 35th book in the series.  Spunky Nancy first appeared in 1930 (who’d have guessed she dated back that far?).  As a bit of FYI trivia, publisher Edward Stratemeyer featured her in a series as a “counterpart” to the Hardy Boys (which I also read, but with less zeal).

Carolyn Keene wrote all the books, but the name was actually a pseudonym for several authors.  “She”, by the by, also penned the Dana Girls mystery series.  Oddly, I never really got into them, though I did regularly play the Dana Girls board game with a friend.  OMG—recall/flashback!  I’d forgotten all about those days.

Thank you, Nancy, for setting me on the path to writing mysteries.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  . . . And thank you, followers, for allowing me to travel back and share a period of my life that was genuinely enjoyable.

nancydrewusetoo

Blurb Burble

Nothing like a good, attention-grabbing blurb . . . excited/exciting words . . . a wooing pitch.

I’ve touched upon writing both blurbs and pitches in past, but given the last edit for “Forever Poi” is [finally] almost completed, it’s time to write a winning blurb.

Cartwheel

Before I share mine, let’s not forget that a [selling/successful] blurb is what convinces someone to buy your book.  Simply put, it’s a sales pitch—yours.

Here are some things to consider re writing one.

Now, just for the record, there are a couple of types—the one you use for the back cover of your magnum opus and the one you use as a review.  Given I’m writing the former, let’s stick to that.

If you’ve never written one, Google some.  Get a feel for what works . . . and what doesn’t.  Review how they’re written and arranged.  Take notice of that first sentence; it should be dynamic and have us wanting to read more.  Consider the words that pull you in.  Note the voice, too; it should sound similar to the book.

Blurbs generally have a formula: they offer a situation or event, provide an issue or dilemma, and guarantee a surprise or shock.  Introduce main character(s) so readers have someone to relate to.  Provide a hint of setting (place and time).  Don’t reveal all, though—ensure you leave folks hanging, so they’ll yearn to know what happens!  Above all, keep it short and sweet in length and sentence structure.

Rewrite that blurb a few different ways.  Determine which one(s) works best, and hang on to them all.

After you’ve written one or five or ten, like your book, leave those blurb(s) for a few days so that you can review (and edit) with new eyes.  Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, and followers for input.

One last note: if you have a writing background and have received awards and/or good reviews, you may want to add this information, but only if it relates to your book.  And if you do, again, make sure to keep it—yup—short and sweet.

Here’s the initial draft of the blurb for “Forever Poi” (feel free to offer input) . . .

The ever-proud owners of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency JJ, Rey and Linda, have stumbled through three major cases with stellar results.  Now, the not-so-novice private eyes have a double-arson case to solve: who set ablaze two happening Chinatown art galleries, leaving a couple of charcoal-broiled corpses in the rubble?  Any number of persons in the local art world could be responsible.  A cast of curious suspects include a haughty gallery owner with a questionable past, an art consultant as treacherous as she is beautiful, a risk-fond photographer who lives on the edge, and an aspiring manager with a dicey history.  If the gals can determine the reason, they might just catch the culprit.  A major insurance pay-out?  An ugly relationship break-up?  Pure vengeance?  Or a cover-up for past transgressions?  Whoever claimed the insurance and art worlds were uneventful or mundane?  Certainly not our sleuthing trio.burned building 

PRESENTing the 2nd P in 3

Happy weekend.  It’s JJ, continuing with part two of three.  The last post featured three past events from the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  Today, we’re sharing present moments.

Me (JJ):

1.   I’m flying to Florida in a couple of days to spend four days with Cash / Richie J.  If I don’t, he’s promised (threatened) to come here.  Seeing as I’ve never spent time in the Sunshine State, and I don’t feel like having a head-butting contest with my “sometimes boyfriend” (as my cousin calls him), I’ve decided to suck it up and go.  But I’m not staying at his place (that could result in major property damage).

2.   Linda and I have decided to clean out and stock up the office.  It’s a little project we’ve wanted to complete for some time.  (Yeah, I didn’t feel it was that exciting to share either, but if I post about it, we’re compelled to see it through—right?)presentblogjj4

3.   Even though Eddy, our part-time assistant, has lived on Oahu for 23 years, he hasn’t seen much of Hawaii.  I’m treating him to a long weekend on Kauai.  He’s super stoked (which has me super stoked).  <LOL>

Rey:

1.   Met a guy in Macy’s.  He tripped over a three piece, hard-side luggage set and I caught him.  Had to—he fell into my arms.  Name’s Booster (never met one of those before) and he’s a CA.  Doesn’t look much like one.  He’s got a GQ face and not-too-bad bod (medium build, not toned, but not flabby).  We’re gonna have drinks at Duke’s in a couple weeks when he’s back from visiting the folks in Seattle.

2.   I’m still in Cali, hanging with friends.  Loving it, but missing home and those awesome walks along the beach.presentblogrey

3.   Auditioning for another commercial when I get back.  If I get it, I’ll look like me for a change.  No fruit or insect costumes.  Just sitting beachside, looking good, and sipping a long, tall sweet smoothie.  How sweet is that?

Linda:

1.   I’ve decided to start a new blog about Hawaii flora and fauna, which will feature recipes using both.  I’m experimenting every chance I get.  I’ve had a couple of disasters—and there was an adrenalin-pumping condo evacuation—but everything’s a learning curve, right?  presentbloglinda2

2.   My brother and sister are coming for another visit.  We may do some island-hopping as we continue to bond.  Never thought that possible.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t, either.  <LOL>

3.   I made a new friend last week when we literally bumped into each other at a coffee shop.  Eunice is a spinning instructor.  Besides being incredibly fit and attractive, she’s funny and engaging.  Rey, JJ and I have pretty much done everything together since moving here, and having someone “new” in my life is kind of weird, I have to say.

As you can see, there’s nothing earth-shattering to share currently.  It’s all good, though, because there’s nothing to complain about either, and that’s even better.

Look for Linda’s post about prospect (the f-u-t-u-r-e) mid-week.  In the meanwhile, keep going with the flow.  And if the flow gets too choppy, adjust for waves and current, and carry on.  Keep happy thoughts.

Hula for Present Blog Post