Friday, June 29, 2012

Helen Ginger Reveals Organized Chaos In the Making of The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories

CONTINUING SERIES - 18 Stories! 15 Authors! Talk About A Project!

The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is riding high in sales, after a spectacular performance at its first freebie weekend on June 9 and June 10, 2012.

The book is ready, but the work's not over. Dani Greer, owner of The Blood-Red Pencil, along with Morgan Mandel, Helen Ginger, Maryann Miller, Shonell Bacon, and Audrey Lintner, all contributors to the collection and members of The Blood-Red Pencil, are sharing our ongoing experiences with you about the project in this series. Perhaps, what we've discovered will aid you in your own endeavors.

Helen Ginger
Today is Helen Ginger's turn to share. She's a busy gal, being one of the collection's editors, plus a two-story contributor to The Corner Cafe. Helen's "One Last Run" depicts a skiing couple on a black diamond run in a blizzard. Her "Gila Monster" reveals an unexpected possibility concerning a beat-up truck.

Helen also juggled the debut of her full length novel, Angel Sometimes, at the same time as The Corner Cafe made its appearance. For more about Helen and her book, click here for her Amazon Author Page.

Here's what Helen divulges about her part in the project:

1) What surprised you about this endeavor?
One thing I learned and was surprised about is that chaos can be organized. Fifteen authors, two editors, one instructor, one artist doing the cover, rewrites, bios for each story, technical details from beginning to end, a huge month-long blog tour, and somehow it all came together.

2) What seemed the most difficult?
From my viewpoint, the promoting of The Corner Café is the most difficult. Getting the word out about how great the stories and authors are is a new area for me. On the other hand, it's a learning experience and, in the end, is worth it all since proceeds from sales go to charity.

3) What proved the most satisfying?
I have four published books, not counting The Corner Café. The short story anthology was my first experience in this kind of a group project. At times it was a bit chaotic, but we all worked together, both on getting the book ready and on promoting it.

4) What did you learn?
I learned that this kind of project is not easy, but it is doable. A lot of work, but doable.

5) Would you do it again?
Yes, I would do it again. I think no matter how many group books I participated in, I would learn something new and valuable in the process.

Please welcome Helen by leaving a comment about her answer(s) or her new book.
Click Here To Order The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories
Interviewer: Morgan Mandel, Contributor to

The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories

Look for "What Nice Blessings" and "The Closing of the Corner Cafe" by Morgan Mandel in The Corner Cafe:A Tasty Collection of Short Stories.

Find Morgan's Full Length Books at
Amazon Author Page:

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

DRM - Is Digital Rights Management Right For You?

In the case of e-books, Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a type of technology, also known as a digital lock, employed by publishers to control how an e-book is used after it has been purchased. But digital copy protection has been around in software and gaming circles for much longer than in the publishing industry, and it is from these sectors that the greatest criticisms, and lessons learnt, can be found.

Firstly, the point of DRM (and the benefits of using it) is to protect your e-book from unauthorised sharing, copying, or resale – in other words, it protects your copyright. Or does it?

According to critics who have been through the same issue in the gaming and other software industries, DRM is ridiculously easy to crack (i.e. hacking for negative purposes), and is also a target for crackers who enjoy the (albeit apparently slight) challenge of disabling a digital lock. The worse news, however, is that once the digital lock on your book has been cracked the file is usually made available outside of legitimate sales platforms, where downloads don’t count towards any bestseller lists or your bank account. It’s actually more effective to include a simple line of text in your book to encourage readers to ensure they have downloaded a legitimate copy.

Digital Rights Management also inconveniences many of your legitimate readers. It often restricts the device on which the book can be read, although it appears that this complaint has been heard, if not properly addressed yet. DRM activation sometimes affects whether the purchaser is legally entitled to create back up copies of an e-book or software. Some software users have discovered that they are required to re-purchase a licence to use the same software if they have a hard drive failure or buy a new computer, while others tell horror stories of DRM websites going offline, without warning and indefinitely, leaving customers unable to access software or other digital products they have purchased. Could what happened to Borders happen to Amazon or Barnes and Noble? Or Smashwords?

In the e-book world, DRM, in effect, means that someone purchases a licence to read your book; they don’t actually own the file that they save to their device or computer the way they would own a copy of a printed book. Licences can be revoked for whatever reason, or the platform or device the licence is tied to could become obsolete and readers could find their files corrupted or deleted without notice. Imagine building up an e-book library and then discovering that digital moths have eaten your books.

As with most things in life, the more complex you try to make something the more can go wrong. Ultimately authors (and publishers) will need to weigh up whether activating DRM is the right option for them, or whether they want to keep things simple and avoid DRM dramas.

What experiences have you had with DRM, as an author or as a reader? Tell us about it in the comments!

Elsa Neal
Elle Carter Neal is the author of Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin, a science-fantasy novel for teens and tweens. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at or

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Embracing Technology – Coping Mechanisms for the Non-Techie

Fact: The publishing industry has charged into the technology arena—full speed ahead.

Fact: If writers don’t jump on that technology bandwagon, they may end up eating its dust.

Fact: Not all writers are tech-savvy, and some still reside in the medieval world of manual typewriters.

Fact: Some of us believe that “Twitter” is short for “twitterpated” (think Bambi), only birds “tweet,” Facebook must have something to do with a book cover, “Fan Pages” are just for movie stars, “WordPress” is a new publishing house, and “Pinterest” is a misspelled word.

In other words, the world of technology is overwhelming with a capital “O.” Since eating the dust of that technology bandwagon doesn’t help us market our books, we need to be creative in our thinking.

Option 1: We can forge ahead, plunging into all the above with great zeal and educating ourselves to get up to speed on the latest and the greatest.

Option 2: We can take a course—or a number of courses—at a local college to catch up on all that’s new in publishing’s technical arena.

Option 3: We can join an organization, such as Author U in Aurora, Colorado, (no doubt other such publishing groups exist across the nation) and learn from techie members who hold mini classes on all of the above.

Option 4: We can network with pros-in-the-know, the ones who seem to have been born with computer chips in their brains and who soak up this stuff like big sponges.

Option 5: We can create a team of “specialists” who each bring a different component to the table. Whatever our expertise may be, it will likely offer value of its own to others in the group.

Option 6: We can hire someone to handle the tech stuff.

Whatever option we choose, we need to move ahead with the industry if we don’t want to get left in that dust. Are you a techie? If not, how do you keep up with the ongoing changes in the publishing world?


Linda Lane and her team of editors promote excellence in writing through their mentoring programs. Learn more about these at

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Author Visits by Skype

Can we writers stay abreast of technology? Not alone, we can’t. We’re too busy keeping up with that other huge demand on our time. What was it? Oh yeah—our writing. But if we each learn a little something, then network, we can help each other along.

In that spirit of sharing, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry (The WolfmanPatient ZeroRot & Ruin) gave me permission to post a fun application of technology I picked up from him at his monthly Writers Coffeehouse held near Philadelphia, PA: author talks by Skype.

Used for almost a decade by geographically challenged families as a work-around for long distance charges, this video conferencing application is now inspiring authors (among more than 660 million other registered users) to explore its uses. Last year I participated in an author reading in Connecticut alongside the real-time visages of Skyped authors reading from Israel, India, and California. I recently learned of another cool application for this free software: author visits.

With book tours rarely funded by publishers, gas prices prohibitive, and a new era of online self-promotion well underway, Skype allows authors to use the primary tool of their trade—their personal computer—to interact with fans around the globe.

Jonathan, who has books out in many genres (paranormal suspense, thriller, YA, and comic books) has used Skype to meet with community and school groups while taking only a half-hour break from his writing. The software can be a tad finicky, though. These are some of Jonathan’s tips for success.

Strengthen the signal. Anything from solar flares to lightning storms to a sudden hatching of butterflies can interrupt the signal, so make sure it’s as strong as possible. To facilitate this:
  • Physically connect your computer to the router—do not rely upon a wireless connection.
  • Make sure you have no other programs running. 
  • If other people share your network, make sure none of them are online, stealing precious band-width. 

Run a test connection. No more than a half hour before your visit is scheduled, arrange to connect with the event host to make sure all is well. That will give you some time to troubleshoot any time-specific issues. If you have problems, try rebooting your computer and restarting Skype.

Suppress distractions. Turn off your cell and landline ringers, and any noise-making alarms on your computer or in the house. Unless they are an integral part of your book's message, shut the dog and cat and kids far away from your computer’s microphone pick-up.

Assess the delay. There will be a delay between what you say and what your audience hears. During your test run, make note of the delay so you know how to compensate for it. You can do this by saying “1-2-3-4” after asking your host to wave when she hears “1.”

Adjust lighting. Watch for backlighting that might create a halo or other disturbing aura around your head. Check that your face is well lit, and bring in additional lights if need be.

Make the best use of this great opportunity. Try these ideas:
  • Well ahead of time, send your host a packet of signed bookmarks or bookplates he can hand out near the end of your Skype chat (if possible, get an advance list of attendees and personalize them).
  • Be prepared for silences. There’s nothing worse than that long, painful silence after the facilitator asks, “Does anyone have a question for our guest?” It can be even worse over an online connection. Have a few questions ready to prime the pump, if need be, such as, “Often I’m asked if my characters are based on anyone I know”—then launch into the answer as if someone else had asked it. Here’s your chance to ask your audience questions, too, such as, “What are you all reading, and what gets you excited about it?” Not only will researching your own fans help target your writing, but once they’re talking about the books they love, the questions will start to flow.

Consider other visuals that might make a surprise entrance. You need not be the only visual on your end. Since Jonathan writes zombie tales, he keeps a fake brain just outside the frame to retrieve and nibble from when things get quiet, to the glee of the kids on the other end. Have copies of your books to hold up.

Besides the short commute, the second-best part about using Skype for your author talks: it’s free. Want to give it a try? Go to the Skype site and download your copy now!

Have any of you used Skype for author talks or readings? Please share your experience!

Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Her women's fiction and memoir are represented by Katie Shea at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. The first chapter of her memoir, Standoff at Ronnie's Place, modified as a stand-alone essay, was published online by Mason's Road, the online journal of Fairfield University's MFA program. She blogs about Healing through Writing.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Audio Books - Another View

Unlike Kathleen, who posted last week about audio books, I have never embraced that technology. Maybe, like she said, it's because I don't process well audibly. Even when I was in critique groups where we read aloud for comments, I would have a hard time focusing if the reading went beyond seven to ten pages.

I have tried to listen to audio books when my husband and I traveled. He seems to be able to focus better and always enjoyed the books. I would find myself glancing out the window at the passing scenery and my mind would go somewhere else. Then I'd realize I missed a whole section of the story. My husband would have to catch me up when we stopped for lunch.

So it was a huge surprise when we decided to listen to the audio version of my book, One Small Victory when we took a recent trip, and I was able to stay with it the whole time. That may be due in part to the fact that I was driving and couldn't gaze out at the scenery and start thinking of some other story.

However, the real reason, I suspect, is because I was listening to my story, my words, and marveling at how hearing them read with the dramatic interpretation was so different from reading words on a page. It was the same thrill I experienced the first time one of my plays was performed on stage.

Talk about a story coming alive.

As I listened to my book, I caught small scenes I'd forgotten about, so that was like listening to something brand new. In other places there was a clever description or a terrific few lines of dialogue, and I'm thinking, "Wow, did I write that?"

At one point I turned to my husband and asked, "Is it okay to say, 'gosh this is good?'"

He laughed and patted my knee. "Yes. You can say that."

Thinking about that experience as I started to prepare this blog post, I realized how important it is for us writers to read our work aloud, or listen to someone else read it. This is done for screenplays and stage plays all the time, and it is amazing how helpful that is in catching the awkward phrasing and awkward dialogue.

In those critique groups I belonged to, we read our own work, but I think I would love to have a group where we read each others work aloud.

Last week Kim Pearson had a post about using Adobe to have your work read aloud.  It is not the same as a dramatic reading, but still a good resource.

Do you read your work aloud? Would you join a critique group where you read each others work?

  Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her latest release is Open Season as an e-book for all devices. To check out her editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. 

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Friday, June 22, 2012

3 Vital Tips For E-Book Conversion

Susan Malone is our guest today sharing some great tips for converting books for reading on electronic devices.

So this month we’re talking about technology, and everyone who knows me would hoot about me writing on the topic.  Being your basic neo-Luddite, I’m lucky to get my Word program going without glitches!  But one of the wonderful things about being in this business so long, is knowing exactly who to call in for help.

Doris Booth, CEO of Authorlink, constantly stays on the cutting edge of technology, specifically technology that applies to books of all sorts. While we were both speaking at the Harriett Austin Writer’s Conference at the University of Georgia last year, I had the pleasure of attending her session on e-book conversions.  Most of it of course was like Russian to me, but a few points really caught my attention.  So I contacted her again to get the scoop of what writers truly need to know before diving into that vast sea. 

First off, do be ready for a ton of work.  “E-book publishing is a highly complex process,” Ms. Booth said, “so when you go in, be patient.  There’s a lot of proofing at every step—including the actual conversion itself.  The flow isn’t stable, the process itself isn’t stable.” 

Yikes, I thought.  I’d run up against this issue years ago, with a traditional publisher that actually scanned a manuscript to its printer.  Boy, was that a nightmare of catching “be” that should have been “he,” etc.  Apparently, this process is worse when doing e-book conversions.

“For example,” Ms. Booth continued, “hyphens can appear in the middle of a sentence because of the flow.  You just have to proof and proof and proof some more.”

Okay, so you have this part done.  Then comes the issue of metadata, which is the longer description of the book.  “Again, getting this right is extremely complex and critical—it will determine whether your book is ever seen,” Ms Booth said.  “If it’s not done correctly, your book will have less visibility.” 

Personally, I don’t even want to know what metadata is (even if I could comprehend it!).  Those kinds of terms give me the hives.  But back to issues number one and two.

“To get the conversion done correctly and the metadata targeted specifically to your book, truly does take a professional conversion company—not one of the do-it-yourself conversion tools, which usually don’t work.” 

My only experience with this is through many of my writers, who have self-published via e-book, and the nightmares they’ve faced.  Of course, since they, too, are speaking Russian (and not the Dostoyevsky kind, which I actually love), I cannot convey exactly what those nightmares were. But I do know the results—books drowning in that vast sea of 211,000 e-books published just last year! 

“Finally,” Ms Booth said, “you can have parts one and two, and your book still not go anywhere without good marketing. You need to have your marketing going six months to one year before you publish.” 

Some things about this business never change, even as the technology does.  Writing a good book in the first place (my bailiwick ), and fashioning a marketing plan—the backbone of success before tackling the technological age.

Award-winning author and editor Susan Mary Malone has four traditionally published books to her credit (fiction and nonfiction) and many published short stories. A freelance editor, forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers. You can see more about her, and what authors say about working with her, at:

Posted by Maryann Miller, who is thankful for geeks out there who can do these conversions. She does not even know what metadata is.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Technology Old and New

I’m old enough that when I took typing in high school, we had only one electric typewriter for the whole class. We had to take turns practicing on it. I was thrilled—I could type seventy words a minute! And when I typed up the school newspaper to copy on the mimeograph machine, I “justified” by typing slashes at the end of each line, then retyped everything with extra spaces in each sentence.

When I graduated from college and went to work for a newspaper, we still used manual typewriters. We literally “cut” with a pair of scissors and “pasted” with glue when we needed to revise a story. I remember coming back from an evening meeting I had covered, and as I typed a few paragraphs, the copy editor would come to my desk and rip the page out of my typewriter to take it to the “backshop” to get it set so they could meet the deadline.

After a few years, the newspaper went “high-tech.” The company purchased a few computers, which resided on wheeled carts. Since there were not enough for each reporter, we had to take turns. If you were frantically writing to meet a deadline, you’d better not get up to use the bathroom or you very well could come back to find that someone had “stolen” your computer.

After the steep “learning curve,” I grew accustomed to being able to “cut and paste” and change words as I went. So much easier than the old way.

Then I left my job at the newspaper and decided to write freelance. Oh my! I had to go back to the old manual typewriter! I hadn’t realized how hard those keys were to punch. How much time it took to cut and paste with scissors and glue. And, of course, this was before e-mail, so everything had to be sent out with SASEs by snail mail.

Technology is changing the world so fast these days, I feel like I’m getting whiplash just watching the changes whiz by. But there is no way I’d ever go back to writing longhand or punching the manual, cutting and pasting the old-fashioned way.

How much have we grown to rely on technology? Just have the electricity go out some evening. What do I do now? I can’t read, I can’t use the computer, I can’t even cook!

Well, thank goodness for my iPhone.

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Embracing Technology - Audio Books

Today we have a guest post from Kathleen Hagen, who is blind, and has been her entire life. When I asked her to write about her experience with audio books for our technology themed posts this month, I  did not know she was blind. I just saw her comment in a reader forum about needing to buy stock in and figured she could address audio books in a way that I cannot, since I don't often listen to audio books.

I have used Braille since I was five years old, so I read it at a fast rate, but putting books in Braille is a very voluminous process, (the Bible, for example, is 16 large volumes). Starting in the 1930s, the Library of Congress hired actors to read books that would be available only to the blind. These were called Talking Books, and I still read some of them. However, the commercial audio market has provided a much wider market for me.

I should own stock in I’ve bought many hundreds of books since 2005, and I read constantly - in bed, while I’m doing things around the house, in waiting rooms, anywhere at all. I read approximately 20 books a month - mysteries, general fiction, biographies and memoirs, and history.  Since 2005 I have made a journal entry for each book that I have read, and in 2007 I started posting my book entries on Goodreads.

Some people question whether listening to a book is the same as reading a book. I consider listening to be a form of reading. People who don’t agree with that would say I’m illiterate because I don’t read print, and that makes absolutely no sense to me. There’s no downside to reading audio books unless you are a person who can’t process material as well when you receive it orally.  

I have enjoyed some books in audio and some in Braille. For example, I tried to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night as an audio book and it made no sense to me. I could never keep track of what chapter we were in and the numbers didn’t seem to follow each other, so I gave up. When I read it in Braille, I realized that chapters were named in prime numbers instead of in our usual sequence.

On the other hand, I just finished Rob Lowe’s book: Stories I Only Tell my Friends: An Autobiography and I think that book is much more entertaining as an audio book than if I read it in Braille. Rob Lowe narrates the book himself, and it’s like listening to a comedy monologue. Jane Fonda also narrates her books, and they are also much better read as an audio book because it’s like listening to Jane herself talking to you.  

The author is not always the best narrator for his/her book. Elizabeth Edwards narrated her books, and they were so emotionally charged that, at times, she was almost whispering. That made it hard to understand what she was saying. Some men have a hard time showing feelings when they read their own books, and it makes the book sound as if the author had no feelings about it, which is absolutely not true. I was disappointed when I listened to Anderson Cooper read his book. Although he is a wonderfully versatile broadcaster and talk show host, that did not come across as he read his book.

The main advantage to an audio book is that most often they are read by an actor, and audio publishers are careful about who they choose to narrate a book. In the case of a series, readers/listeners will be upset if the narrator changes in the middle of the series. I can’t listen to anyone but Will Patton doing James Lee Burke books. George Guidall has to read books by Craig Johnson and Tony Hillerman for me to enjoy them. I actually do sometimes choose not to read an audio book if I can’t stand the narrator. On the other hand, a good narrator can make even a dull book entertaining.

There are some good audio book list serves as well as a magazine, AudioFile, which reviews audio books. The Audio Publishers Association has its own audio award categories each year. GoodReads has an audio books group where people talk about audio books they’ve read. I enjoy very much being a part of the audio book world.

Kathleen Hagen is a retired staff attorney for Minneapolis Legal Aid, where she worked for 17 years.

Posted by Maryann Miller who read her fist audio book just recently and will post about that next week. Maryann  is a novelist, editor and sometimes actress. To check out her editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. She also likes to read the funny papers. That's much more fun than reading the hard news.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Embracing Technology - Word Is Not Your Enemy

Please welcome Terry Odell, our regular 3rd. Tuesday guest blogger. She has some good tips about using the Find/Replace function in Word. Thanks Terry.

The theme this month here at the Blood Red Pencil is technology. Anyone trying to become a writer these days has to accept that learning to use a computer is part of the deal. Whether or not you prefer to write your manuscript longhand on legal tablets, eventually, you're going to have to get all those words entered into some word processing program.

I'm hardly a technology wizard. I can remember our first computer (An Apple II) and breaking out into a sweat any time I had to do anything other than type words. I knew I'd hit a wrong key and either lose everything or blow up the computer.

But as the industry standards change, we have to be willing to change with them. And once you're committed to using a word processor, you find that it does all sorts of nifty tricks. In fact, I have trouble writing with a pen these days. Where's cut/paste? (I literally used to cut and tape my term papers together, stretching them all over my college apartment.)

One very simple task your word processor can do for you is find all those repeated words, but have you ever looked at the entire menu? I know I was slow on the uptake.
I've had people tell me they did a find/replace when they changed a character name, not stopping to think that the character's name could also be part of other words. Frank, for example, can be a name or an adjective. Or, it's part of another word, such as frankly.

The solution? There are a number of nifty check boxes in find/replace. The first one is "match case" so if you're replacing Frank with Francis, you won't accidentally have a character speaking francisly.

The other is "find whole words only". When you check this box, it's only going to find the word Frank.

Another handy tool is the "find all word forms" check box. Let's say you use the word look too often. If you check this box, you'll also get looked, looking, and any other form of the word.

There's also the "format" option. If you click the drop down menu, you'll get options to change the font—which also gives you the option to change the text color. So, if you want to have all those "look" forms jump out at you, enter look in the find field. In the replace field, type look again, but now click the format box and click font. Then change the color to red. Hit replace all, and look out! You can use the highlight feature instead, and that will highlight all those instances. The best part is that when you're done, you can simply undo everything, unlike working on paper, where those highlights are there for good.

Or, let's say you've used a foreign word in your manuscript. You realize you haven't italicized it per your editor's requirement. You can follow the above steps, but in the replace field, you'll choose italics from the font menu under format.

But what if you've italicized things you don't want italicized, but you're not sure which words. How do you find them? Use the "special" menu (next to format) and in the find field, use the symbol for "any character" and in the format field, choose italics. Then, when you click find next, you'll be taken to any character in italics, and you can fix it from there.

Note: I use Word 2003, but I checked in Word 2007 and the screen looks about the same, so it should work in either program.

Hope this helped a little. Just don't ask me to use my smart phone!

Terry's short romances are published by The Wild Rose Press. You can find more about them HERE. She's also written two short mysteries, one of which is published by Highland Press in DECEPTION. You can find her at her Web site. If you've followed her blog (or want to start!), note that it's moved and is now HERE   You can follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

Posted by Maryann Miller who appreciates the tutorial on Find and Replace.
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Listen to the PDF Lady

Editors are often advised to read manuscripts aloud, as you will catch mistakes that you might not when reading silently. Last summer I got an excellent editing tip from the reader comments on this very blog that takes this advice one step further. I’ve been using it ever since. (This is another tip – read the comments on the Blood-Red Pencil as well as the posts! They often contain juicy nuggets of wisdom from other writers and editors.)

Convert the manuscript into a PDF file, then on the View menu click the Read Aloud function. Adobe will read aloud to you. It’s true, the voice (mine is female, but some may be male) reads in a mechanical monotone, but this is a plus. You will hear each individual word that way. The first time I tried this, I was amazed at how much easier, faster, and more efficient this was. If you’re editing your own, or someone else’s work, I urge you to try this.

Of course, it’s not perfect. Adobe has some strange ideas about pronunciation. The manuscript I first edited this way was about succeeding in small business, and it included the word “referral” (and its variations) often. The PDF lady thinks this word is pronounced “reFAYrul.” I can’t imagine why, but that’s what she thinks.

She also does not recognize the name “Jan.” The book mentioned someone named “Jan Smith” but the PDF lady read this as “January Smith.” There was a “Cal Jones” in the manuscript, and the PDF lady read this as “calendar Jones.” And if you end a sentence with the word “is,” be prepared for the PDF lady to read this as “island.”

But after you get used to these peculiarities, it’s a fine way to edit. I recommend it.
Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Dani Greer Spills About The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories

FIRST OF A CONTINUING SERIES - 18 Stories! 15 Authors! Talk About A Project!

The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is riding high in sales, after a spectacular performance at its first freebie weekend on June 9 and June 10, 2012.

The book is ready, but the work's not over. Dani Greer, owner of The Blood-Red Pencil, along with Morgan Mandel, Helen Ginger, Maryann Miller, Shonell Bacon, and Audrey Lintner, all contributors to the collection and members of The Blood-Red Pencil, are sharing our ongoing experiences with you about the project in this series. Perhaps, what we've discovered will aid you in your own endeavors.

Dani Greer
Dani Greer, owner of The Blood-Red Pencil blog, is the originator of the The Corner Cafe project. She's also provided the valuable services of editor, formatter, marketing leader, and contributor of three stories: "Home Away From Home" about a frequent visitor to a cafe who receives a surprise visit from the police, "Saturday Night Special," about a jaded codger who learns a lesson about relationships, and "A New Job," about an applicant who discovers damning evidence about a cafe manager.
Find Dani Greer on Amazon Here.

Here's what she has to say:

What surprised you about this endeavor?
What surprised me most, despite the fact that I was getting manuscripts from 14 different computers, was how relatively easy it was to publish a book on KDP.

What seemed the most difficult?
Most difficult was trying to get all the authors on the BBT Cafe group involved and helping with promotion.

What proved the most satisfying?
I discovered that Amazon is surprisingly efficient, responsive, and easy to work with. That was a huge surprise.

What did you learn?
I've also discovered the power of an intense group effort and plan to change how the BBT Cafe group works. Authors who are not involved will free up their seats for authors who are interested in joining our concentrated group efforts to promote each other.

Would you do it again?
I'm already in the process of doing it again with another title!

Thanks, Dani, for sharing with us.
Please leave a comment about Dani's answers and, if you wish, thank Dani for all her efforts.
Morgan Mandel

Click Here To Order The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories

Interviewer: Morgan Mandel, Contributor to
The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories

Look for "What Nice Blessings" and "The Closing of the Corner Cafe" by Morgan Mandel in The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories.

Find Morgan's Full Length Books at
Amazon Author Page:

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Resolution of the Major Thread

 Last month on The Blood-Red Pencil, I talked about taking control of your work. Even when the characters are in your head, talking and telling you their story, you have to know where the story is heading so you don't write a hundred thousand words and realize there's no end in sight.

The same is true when you edit the book. You have to know the one major theme that drives the story in order to know what can be cut or used to move the story forward in order to tighten the story up.

Keep in mind, though, that most books have multiple threads. There may be one overall thread or storyline, but the protagonist is not following one straight line to get to the end. She or he has other things going on in their lives that affect how they move forward. But in the end, it has to come down to that main task or desire or action that is the center of the story.

The smaller threads of the book can be resolved as the book progresses. One or two may not ever reach absolute resolution, whether this is a solo book or one in a series. But the one big thread needs resolution. That's what the book's climax is for. It's that culmination, absolution, voila, the butler did it moment or chapter.
 In last month's post I gave you the teaser for my new book, Angel Sometimes:
Angel had a plan: Go home to Oklahoma and ask her mother why she loved her one day, then threw her out like garbage the next. Since her mother was never going to come looking for her, she'd go to her mother. She'd made it as far as Austin. Before finishing the trek home to confront her parents, she needed three things: a high school diploma, a car, and a gun. 
 That teaser tells you what the main thread is. There are other sub-threads going on that move the story, but that big main thread must be tied up. She must pack her G.E.D., put her gun in her purse and get in her car and go confront her parents.

Your readers won't like it if you've teased them the whole way and don't provide the pay-off.

 Have you ever read a book that didn't give resolution? Does your work in progress have one major thread that will have to be resolved?
 Helen Ginger is the author of Angel Sometimes, as well as 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series. You can find two of her short stories in the just released anthology, The Corner Café. Her free ezine, Doing It Write, now in its thirteenth year of publication, goes out to subscribers around the globe. You can follow Helen on her blog, Straight From Hel, on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. She is also Partner and Webmistress for Legends In Our Own Minds® and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network’s Editorial Services.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

12 Lessons I've Learned (So Far)

12. Without even trying, I can write really, really poorly.

11. Liquids and computer keyboards do not mix.

10. For every five minutes I spend tapping away on the keyboard, I'll have spent an equal amount of time staring at the screen.

9. Fear often disguises itself as writer's block.

8. If they had a third hand, many writers would use it to hold chocolate.

7. Resist the siren call emanating from the delete key. 'Cut and paste' will prove to be a far better friend.

6. Mistakes are easier to catch if I read my work out loud. Judgmental facial expressions add to the merriment.

5. I may not be as good as I'd like to be, but I'm not as bad as I could be either.

4. Don't look to the cat for approval. It will not be forthcoming.

3. I can type wearing the ugly clothes. However, it is prudent to remember to change before going out into the world.

2. As a deadline nears, my need to do housework increases.

1. It's much easier to write about writing than it is to actually write.

Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her latest mystery game,  "A Fatal Fairy Tale" was published in February. Her next game "Curiouser and Curiouser" will be published this month. All her murder mystery games and two plays are available through host-party.comShe has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine Elias. Her blog, It's A Mystery, explores the writing process with a touch of humor. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Style Maven: That Which Confuses Us

Today we welcome our newest member of the blog, Audrey Sillett Lintner. Let's give her a big welcome!

Greetings, all!  My name is Audrey, and I am your new Style Maven.  Hm?  Why am I wearing a bathrobe?  Because we’re dealing with a whole nother kind of style today, so we had better get comfy.
Today we’ll consult the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style to see what it says about the use of “that” versus “which”.  Both are relative pronouns, and their usage is often confused.  Let’s have a look at the—

Oof.  This thing is heavy.

Ah, here we are.  According to the manual, a relative pronoun is “one that introduces a dependent (or relative) clause and relates it to the independent clause.”  A literary matchmaker, if you will.  Let’s find out how to ensure that our matches are made in heaven, rather than an editor’s slush pile.

Let’s look at that.  No, not that over there.  I mean that, here on the page.  Think of the word that as a grammatical corset, narrowing and restricting a category or subject:

That is the gaudiest necklace I’ve ever seen.

Be it a person, animal, or thing, that will let your reader know about whom or what you are writing.

On the other hand, besides different fingers, we have which.  A nonrestrictive free spirit, which is used to provide extra tidbits about an animal or thing already identified:

She had a unique sense of taste, which was obvious from her possum-fur reticule.

The manual does offer a further word of caution here.  “Which should be used restrictively only when it is preceded by a preposition (the situation in which we find ourselves).  Otherwise, it is almost always preceded by a comma, a parenthesis, or a dash.”

Let’s review.  Restrictive clauses, which are vital to the structure of a sentence, are paired with that in order to make a subject clear.  Nonrestrictive clauses, which offer supplemental information, get to team up with which.

Right!  As an exercise, go to your writer’s closet and bring back two sentences that show the uses of that and which.  Be bold, be creative, and remember: A well-turned phrase is always in style.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing in 140: A Story with a View... or Two... or More

When’s the best time to shift point of view (POV) in a story? There is no hard and fast rule to this, but writers need to think about how POV shifts affect the readers’ immersion into the story and characters. Some writers think shifting POV at the beginning of chapters is the smartest move. Others are fine with shifting POV at the beginning of scenes. Some people are even OK with shifting POV at the start of a new paragraph. What about shifting POV within the same paragraph, nearly the same sentence? Do writers run the risk of jarring readers out of a story?

Although shifting POV can be a pet peeve, cause a manuscript to be rejected, and disconcert readers if handled improperly; writers still shift point of view.

What say you about when to shift point of view?


Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. Her second mystery, Into the Web, was released April 2012, and recently, she's been published in the short story collection, The Corner Cafe. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, writing, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Free Kindle Book

The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is free to download this weekend. The Blood-Red Pencil bloggers who have stories in this e-book would love it if you downloaded the book, and shared your comments at the review page on Amazon. Help us reach #1 at Amazon! Here's the link: Thank you~

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