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.


Lookin’ Good with a Logo

?  Logo = Branding  ?

Basically, a logo is a visual (pictorial, illustrative) symbol or representation that identifies you—as an individual, company, or business.  Some might refer to it as a trademark or identity design.  Branding is distinctive name or trademark identifying a product or service, company or business.

Are they the same?  Not really.  But they work hand in hand.  Branding encompasses different components: market/marketing, voice, promotion and positioning, to name but a few.  Brand identity is a broader but more defined approach; it embraces the logo.  It’s said that if brand identity is successful, a person can recognize the brand even if he or she can’t view the logo.

So, let’s touch upon that magical symbol.  I have a new one, er, rather the private-eye gals at The Triple Threat Investigation Agency have one.  It’s simple.  It conveys what the “product” is via the words: Triple Threat Investigation Agency Series.  The magnifying glass and high heel present concepts: sleuth/detective and female.  I like it, but this doesn’t mean others will, of course.  For those following this blog, I’d be happy to receive your valuable input.

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So, what makes a good logo?  Visual appeal, unquestionably.  It should:

  • be crisp, clean, and uncluttered
  • define you, your product or service, company or business
  • be unforgettable.

Because your logo’s going to be around for a while, ensure it’s strong and definitive.

Whether you’re designing your own, or having someone do it for you, go with the one that grabs you: it has to feel as right as it looks.  Make sure to receive feedback, too.  Ask friends and family, coworkers, clients.  Is the message clear?  Does it set you apart from others (specifically, your competitors)?  If your “reviewers” aren’t getting it, your [future] audience likely won’t.  Consider going back to the drawing table.

An appealing, memorable  logo will enable you to connect with your audience . . . and have it remember you.

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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.


Who Wants a Review or Two? I Do, I Do (Yes-sir-ree-Dooooo)!

No question.  This is the era of reviews.  We need them and we certainly want them.  (Because this blog revolves around writing/blogging, that’ll be the focus but, truly, the basics here could hold true for any business.)

I’ve had a couple of good ones for the first Triple Investigation Agency ebook, The Connecticut Corpse Caper.  My goal was to get several for it, as well as the subsequent mis-adventures of my P.I. trio.  Shame on me.  I’ve not actively/avidly pursued this (due to circumstances not quite in my control), but I will—that, my friends, is a wholehearted, determined, steadfast, unwavering promise.

I touched upon Google Reviews several days ago, but there are numerous online review websites—some are free, some not (know what you’re getting into before you commit).  Strive for independent reviews; they tend to be truthful.

Feel free to ask followers for reviews and check to see if it’s okay to post them online.  Also, take a look at blogs and sites that offer free ones.  Be aware, though, many reviewers (if not most) are inundated with requests.  It could prove tricky getting someone to agree to provide one, but persistence and perseverance do bring rewards.

Don’t pay for reviews, tempting as it may be (in earlier days, when none the wiser, I certainly considered it).  Many would view this as unethical . . . and really . . . how much faith could you put into something you shelled out money (or bartered) for?

Never generate fake reviews.  You don’t want to sully your reputation.  As an FYI: they’re also illegal and [often] pretty easy to recognize by readers; a great one amid oodles of so-so ones is going to stand out like the idiomatic sore thumb.  If most folks are anything like me—doing that due-diligence thang—they’ll scrutinize a number of reviews to get the broader picture.

Recognize (accept) that you might receive negative reviews.  People have different tastes and what one person may have found “amazing”, another may find “mediocre”.  Hopefully, those that aren’t as keen, will state so in a professional manner.


Less positive reviews needn’t be a bad thing, though.  Use the assessment to your advantage.  What’s being said?  How can you use that information to boost or better your writing or blog, service or product?

And if a review does lean toward the negative, don’t be contentious and write a seething response; respect the reviewer’s right to state how he/she feels.  If an erroneous statement or interpretation has been made, provide an [impartial] explanation or clarification.  Above all, if the review isn’t what you were expecting, don’t let it upset you.  Learn from it and move on.

Don’t hesitate to respond to reviews.  Reviewers will appreciate that (we all like to be acknowledged).  And who knows how the “relationship” will play out over time (I’ve made a few wonderful blogging buddies over the last year)?

To get you started—and to circle back to the first post re reviews—check out this YouTube vid re Google Reviews.

Here’s to an abundance of encouraging ones.

The Baring of a Blogger’s Soul (Sorta). . . or . . . A Blogger’s Lament


Feeling a need to share and not impart info so much.

It’s been almost a year since this blog was born.  The dreams, the plans—my goodness.  They’re still dreams and plans!  <LOL>  In all fairness, though, kudos to me for being able to post regularly, not just on A Writer’s Grab-Bag, but on the Triple Threat Investigation Agency Facebook page.  It’s a commitment that I’m, well, committed to.

I’m feeling rather stagnant, however.  While excuses are never a good thing, they’re often valid: in this case, a full-time job (that frequently runs into six/seven days) and caregiving for Mom.  That leaves limited time to read or do much else.


Yes, I’ve given thought to having someone else handle (a lot of) the technical-promotional components.  That costs $$$, of which there is none to spare.  Dreams being what they are, though, there’s always hope re winning that big lottery pot.

Having done some due diligence—which I always advocate, having been burned a few times—I came across several sites/folks that appeared very promising.  Further due diligence, which included checking reviews from both personal and professional perspectives, revealed that they weren’t so promising after all.  One quick example: a woman had signed up to experience a successful book launch and ended up with a bill for several thousand dollars; needless to say, hers was not a happy ending.

I’m kind of feeling a need to scream at the top of my lungs (to let it all out) and/or smack my head into a brick wall (to knock free the frustration).

I imagine all writers and bloggers have similar moments—this quirky form of writer’s block, which I’ll call blogger’s stagnation.  We know what to do, but for one reason or another, it’s simply not doable.

It’s a question of time and timing, and keeping the faith above all.  You know, when I’m feeling a little peculiar like this, there’s no better solace than listening to an awesome, inspiring song that sounds as fresh today as it did back when . . .

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And the Winner Is . . . ?

Anyone who focuses on a goal and sets it in motion is a winner, that’s who.  The outcome doesn’t have to be successful: the important thing is that you gave it a shot.

One of my goals in the next two months is to run a contest.  The plan: give away the three books in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency in both e-version and hopefully hardcover—“hopefully” because my formatter/designer is still MIA (hmm, wonder if that’s a sign).

This got me to thinking about contests and all that’s involved—and hey, what a great topic for a post!

Why run a contest?  To attract new visitors/followers and boost traffic to your blog or site would be key reasons.  To promote your business would be another.  Whatever the reason, for the contest to be a “winner”, the prize(s) should be pertinent to your site.  You want to attract contestants—followers—that are sure to [want to] stick with you over the long haul.


Given A Writer’s Grab-Bag is about writing and blogging (and the private eyes from The Triple Threat Investigation Agency), it’s a natural to have an e-book giveaway.  For you, it could be something completely different.  In fact, there’s nothing that says you have to give away something strictly dedicated to the focus or topic of your blog, but something relevant would make sense.

If you’d like to run a contest, consider what would work best for you.  Give some thought to what you’re hoping to accomplish and set an objective.  For me, I’d like to attract more followers—I’d be [very] happy with 50 new ones.  And if I could sell a few e-books in the process, all the better.

You know, he more I think and type about it, the more I realize this might be two- or three-part post.

Running a Contest = Giving [something] Away

Running a Contest = What Type of Contest Should be Run

Running a Contest = How to Select the Winner(s)

<LOL>  Just when you think something’s fairly straightforward, it isn’t.  Good ol’ Mr. Murphy’s Law hits you smack-dab between the eyes.

Let’s look at some options as to what you might like to give away.

Books: yeah, I’ve got them on my brain, but maybe you’d like to offer books/e-books you’ve written . . . or provide ones related to your blog’s theme.

Gift Cards/Certificates: who doesn’t love them (I do, I do)?  You can also offer the electronic (e) version.

Your Skills: while I don’t generally focus on my editing experience on this blog, if I were so inclined, I could offer free editing services for a select number of contest entrants.  What might you offer?

Ca$h: who doesn’t love cash (I do, I do)?  If you can afford it—and it doesn’t have to be a lot, by any means—give some away.

Products / Services from Another Company or Blogger: contact a blog or site that’s piqued your interest and/or is in line with yours.  See if they might consider serving as a sponsor and/or providing you with a freebie to give away.  In turn, perhaps you’d post a review or run a promotion for them.

How to announce the contest?  Have a page (which is stationary) and not a post (which is always moving as a new one is posted).  That said, however, also post about the contestPlace a link in your sidebar (or header).  Share the contest—in simple, straightforward terms—on social media.

Lastly, when all is said and done, and the contest has ended, think of a way to cheer up the non-winners.  Email them singularly maybe.  Offer something to entice them to remain followers, like a guest post perhaps (imagination truly has no bounds).

Speaking of winning, I have a lottery ticket to check . . . so I’ll leave you with the notion of running a contest.  Next post: a look at different types of contest ideas.

Here’s to a winning day, my friends.


#1 . . . One . . . Won

#1 = single = first/firstly = one = sole = singular

The title, oddly, came in a dream.  What does/did it mean?  No idea!  But I felt a need to play with it.  Given this blog is related to writing/blogging and the gals (JJ, Rey and Linda) at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency, I’m simply going to type whatever pops into the ol’ noggin’.  Why not do one post without a pre-set plan in mind?

The first action I’m taking this (very early) morning is penning this post.  The second-first is taking a breather while enjoying a hot coffee (it’s really cold here right now) and a few cookies (orange-cranberry, in case you’re curious).

My single thought/objective re A Writer’s Grab-Bag: learn how to make and get the most out of it.  Utilize all the bells and whistles.  Make it happen.  That’s the #1 intention for the year.

My sole aim re the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series: get ”Forever Poi” completed and ready for Amazon, etc.  My one dream re the TTA P.I.s?  <LMAO>  Get a film/TV deal.

Maybe you’re new to this blog or blogs in general, or are thinking of starting your own.  That’s awesome!  You’ve got your #1 on the list nailed.

The #1 question on some folks’ minds perhaps: why create a blog?  We-ell, besides the fact it’s fun, blogging’s become a prevalent means of communication.  It’s an excellent way to share information.  Did you know money could be made at blogging?  T’is true.   It takes time, however, and commitment . . . and, as the saying goes, don’t quit your day job (at least not right away).

So, first and foremost, determine your niche/focus.  Who will you blog for?  Make it a sole priority to become familiar with “Blogging 101”.  Don’t be daunted by the plethora of information out there; embrace it.


It’s been on your mind, on your tongue, and in your heart—so, commit to it.  And Day One: set up that blog (it’s neither difficult nor time-consuming).  It’s Establish goals.  Get a domain name and blog host, install a free blogging platform, add an opt-in form to collect subscribers/followers, start posting (take a look at last year’s posts).  And after you’ve got that marvelous eye-catching blog up and running, one thing you’ll want to do: keep it interesting, keep it fresh/current.

We all have it within us to do well.  You (and I) can be top bloggers—#1s!  It’s merely a matter of applying ourselves and managing each objective as if it were the first and foremost one.

We’ve won when even one (no matter how small the goal is) is done, because—kudos to us—we made a decision and saw it through to fruition.

Ones have run into some, but they’re still single units in the grand scheme of it all.  And now, the single thing I’m going to do is give thought to the weekend post while munching more of the aforementioned cookies.  Nummmmm.

Have one heckuva day, my friends!



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!



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

Happy New Year’s Cheers

Hey there.  Today, all three of us are posting from different parts of the U.S.—me (Rey) first, Linda second, and JJ third.

** from Hawaii:  Hauʻoli makahiki hou!  It’s been an awesome year for the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  There were a lot of small cases.  Some were challenging and some were fun, and all were put to bed in a pretty timely manner.  The big one—“Forever Poi”—should be completed soon.  In terms of me, I did some fun ads . . . and as an FYI, the money’s going toward a house.  I’m so stoked.  Have an awesome year, everyone.  Here’s to 2018 being a fantastic year!

** from the Mainland:  Cheers!  I’m meeting up with my sister and brother for a few days here in L.A.  Then we’re driving through three or four states for the fun of it.  We’re doing our best to stick to a recently made promise: to communicate regularly and meet at least once a year.  So far, so good.  May your New Year be the best one yet!

** from North Carolina:  Happy 2018!  I’m visiting with Mom and my nephew, Quincy.  He’s growing so fast.  Have been getting together with some old friends and coworkers.  Loving it.  May even meet up with an old beau, Adwin (we parted ways after The Connecticut Corpse Caper, but have kept in [sporadic] touch).  Wishing you all good health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year!

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♥Aloha from the gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency♥

Happy Ho-ho-holidays from TTIA

The three of us are heading our separate ways, but wanted to post a little poem—a [major] reworking of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic “Twas the Night before Christmas”.

Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the Triple Threat Investigation Agency

The excited P.I. gals considered pressies and holiday places.

Keenly and happily they put to bed all current cases.

JJ was flying to North Carolina to be with family,

While Linda intended to learn more about the Nativity.

Rey was ecstatic about being a comical elf,

A far cry from playing her usual self.

Though not together this holiday season,

The Triple Threat trio was happy, with reason.

They’d soon be together, and cheerfully breezin’.

Again enjoying Hawaii’s splendid warm weather

While accepting thrilling new clients and projects

And perhaps even paid with [welcome] big checks.

But before they parted, they merrily chanted for everyone to hear,

Happy Holidays to all . . . and to all an awesome New Year!

(Hey, we never claimed to be poets.  <LOL>)

*** Thanks ever so much for your support and “followship”! ***