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Showing posts from February, 2018

Fictional Frenemies: Partners? Maybe.

~ We are delighted to welcome historical mystery author Ann Parker to our blogging team. ~ When it comes to partners in fiction, there are all types, including love birds, best buds, and sidekicks of all kinds (for some great advice on sidekicks and how to develop them, check out Diana’s post from Feb. 1). Another flavor of fictional partner, which could overlap with the above in certain cases, could be termed the "frenemy." According to the Oxford English Dictionary , a frenemy is: "a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry" or "a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy." I thought this was a very recent term, so imagine my surprise to find it dates from 1953 and was first coined by the newspaperman Walter Winchell in the Nevada State Journal in an article titled "Howz about calling the Russians our Frienemies?" (Oh, how I love to wallow around in the OED!) Frenemies can be fun

Collaboration - Ten Tips to Make it Work

Other than a marriage and parenting, I can’t think of anything else that is more difficult for two people to share than one writing project.  But when it’s done right, when everything works, the results are amazing. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with several people on stories for books and screenplays, and the primary benefit that I saw in doing that was the blend of artistic strengths that produced a better story. Not to mention the extra nod to discipline when having to report to another live person about your writing progress. My first partnership was with Margaret Sutton on the mystery Doubletake . When we decided to write a book together, all I could think of was “The Odd Couple.” Not that either of us matched the personality types of Felix and Oscar, but we certainly were as opposite as opposite could get. How could a humor columnist who was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano, Texas and an entrepreneur whose writing credentials included invoices, business letters,

A Surprise Partnership

I am about to finish the final proofing of a book that came my way through an illustrator I've worked with for several years. The writer, a retired investigative reporter in need of an edit, shares that occupation with the protagonist in a story I began 15 years ago.I mentioned my partially completed novel, and he wanted to read the prologue. After perusing it, he asked to be part of the project. His enthusiasm inspired me to move my story from the shelf to the top of my books-to-finish list. Partnering with another writer has crossed my mind a number of times over the years, but I never seriously pursued the idea with anyone. It has been said we should write what we know. In lieu of first-hand knowledge, however, we may want to venture into unfamiliar situations and locations requiring extensive research. Historical fiction is a good example of reaching out beyond our personal experience, and our partners become those who lived and wrote at the time our story takes place. In a

Words and Images: A Partnership Between Writer and Photographer (Part Two)

When the February theme for the Blood-Red Pencil turned out to be Partnerships, one collaborative effort popped into my brain from right here in Northern Colorado. Author, writing consultant, and publisher Kerrie Flanagan teamed up with artist and photographer Suzette McIntyre to create and publish three coffee table books. Read Part One of this article here. The three books created by Kerrie Flanagan and Suzette McIntyre are called Beauty Surrounds Us (March 1, 2016), The Paths We Take (November 10, 2016), and Reflection (March 29, 2017). Reflection is identified as their last words and images coffee table book, so I asked Suzette to describe the projects as far as difficulty of ideas and coordination of duties. “The second and third books materialized from the enthusiasm of artists," Suzette told me. "They liked the themed competitions and the idea their pieces could possibly be published. The themes of the competitions/book titles for these three books ca

Words and Images: A Partnership Between Writer and Photographer (Part One)

There are many ways a writer could collaborate with readers, other writers, illustrators, and more. Friends and fans can form a writer’s launch team for a new book. Other authors who write in the same genre can form promo teams to blog or release book sets. Those who write books for children are especially likely to team up with illustrators. When the February theme for the Blood-Red Pencil turned out to be Partnerships, however, one collaborative effort popped into my brain from right here in Northern Colorado. Author, writing consultant, and publisher Kerrie Flanagan teamed up with artist and photographer Suzette McIntyre to create and publish three coffee table books. The project seemed a huge undertaking to me, so I contacted Kerrie and Suzette to see if they would share a few of their experiences. I started with Kerrie, asking her how the idea for these projects originated. “The idea for the books grew from a class Suzette and I did together on photography and poetry,"

A Mix of Romance and Murder

Our theme for February, Partnerships, brought to mind book and TV series where the main characters are a couple who solves crimes in the manner of Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man series. Though the Hammett books were more in the true mystery genre tone, most people will remember the movies, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, which tended toward the lighter side. Smart, funny, and urbane, the movies brought more people to the books and vice versa. So what mystery books in today’s bookstore/library shelves carry on the tradition of either a married couple or a male/female partnership in a personal relationship? TV series? The most popular series that comes to mind is J.D. Robb’s futuristic Death series. Though not married when the first book debuted in 1995, New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Rourke—no first name—balance their relationship with her job as a cop. These novels are far darker than The Thin Man books

The Silent Partnership

February is "partnership" month at BRP. Significantly broadening the topic of love, this opens up an exploration of partnerships in a number of areas we may not consider when writing our stories. We know we need a team to put out a great book. We've visited the team discussion before, so no need to rehash it here. However, we do need to seriously consider another partnership we often overlook: our partnership with our reader. This was recently driven home to me when I read the latest novel by a well-known and prolific writer who has made a very good living for many years from the sales of her books and the movies based on them. She's published by a large house and undoubtedly has a huge fan base. I expected a powerful and compelling read and excellence in writing, and rightly so; I am, after all, contributing to her wealth. That makes me a partner—albeit a silent one—in her success because I purchased her story. The following is what I received. POV : The st

Developing Sidekicks

~ Our theme for February is Partnerships, and today we (ahem) kick off with a look at the fictional partnerships between main characters and their sidekicks. ~ In addition to a unique main character, many stories feature unforgettable sidekicks, such as: Sherlock Holmes 's friend and biographer Dr. Watson who provides the practicality to Holmes's genius. Batman and his protégé Robin exemplified experience versus the rashness of youth. Captain Kirk and Spock represent the perfect balance between freewheeling emotion and cautious logic. Here are a few tips for creating a memorable partner. 1. Avoid cardboard cutout props. Make your sidekick fully three dimensional. Give him goals and stakes as well as opinions. 2. Give him autonomy. Don't create a tin soldier sitting on a shelf, activated only when needed. Make sure he has momentum of his own. Give him a history that motivates and a present with complications. 3. Change it up. The sidekick doesn'