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Showing posts from January, 2019

Seven Proven Strategies for Editing and Proofreading Your Own Writing

1) After you finish writing it, put your document away for a while. Hours, days, weeks or even months. You want to look at it with "fresh eyes." Instead of seeing what you meant to write, you want to see what you actually did write. 2) Use the spelling and grammar features in your word processor. They aren't perfect - ask anybody - but if you know the rules, you can decide which suggestions to accept and which to ignore. 3) Know your weaknesses. Keep a list of errors you tend to make often, and use your word processor's search feature to help you find them. 4) Print your manuscript and edit it on paper. Away from the computer. You'll see more. I mark the printout with a pen, then go back to the computer to tinker, then print and repeat as needed. Different fonts, too, for the change of perspective. 5) Use a straightedge. If you're reading on paper, it can be a ruler. If you're reading on the computer screen, situate the document so the line you&#

2018 Accomplishments

The main accomplishment with any year is surviving it. 2018 was no different. A new health issue gets tossed my way every year. Fate and I have such a contentious relationship, we can barely muster the energy so say "FU" as we pass each other in the hallways of life. That said, I still managed a few things. From 2008 to 2014, I created the Story Building Blocks series. I later added a Build A Cast Workbook. In late 2017 into early 2018, I created fourteen genre Build A Plot Workbooks, one for each genre based on the conflict layering process I developed for  Story Building Blocks I: The Four Layers of Conflict. I also added a Build A World Workbook. My web host went out of business, forcing me to quickly find another home for my website. So, I updated my website to accommodate the new books and added free forms and tools. I posted tips from those books on my weekly blog. I failed in my goal to learn more about marketing, but it is still on the list of goals for 2019. I

No Bragging Rights

Our theme this month is to brag about what we’ve accomplished in 2018. This is a hard one for me, because I don’t think I’ve accomplished much at all, at least in my writing. I started two books and finished neither. I've talked to fellow writers, listened to what they’re saying on social media, and find that many of us are in the same position. Sales have tanked for all but the star authors whose followers will buy their new books, no matter what. The main branch of my city’s public library had a few special evenings with some of those star writers. Writers with top agents and big publishers who will kick in the necessary funds to send these bestselling authors on tours to different cities to plug their newest book. In all three cases, the publishers donated a hardcover or paperback to the attendees. Sandra Brown, a charming raconteur and top-selling romantic suspense author, kept us entertained for at least ninety minutes and generously signed books to the long line waiting.

2018 – A Year of Scaling Back and Chilling Out My year didn’t start out too well. I had just lost my mom two days after Christmas 2017, and early in 2018, I also lost my dear aunt from my dad’s side of the family (she was like a sister), and an uncle from my mom’s side. It was a sad time, and I almost bailed out of my registration for Left Coast Crime scheduled for the end of March. It might have been better if I’d stayed home, but I’d already decided it might be my last out of town convention or conference ever, so I attended and made sure I went to every single event and panel and performance, and whatever that I could fit into the schedule. I also roomed with my wonderful Five Star editor who lives far, far away from Colorado, so we had the extra fun of getting caught up on all things. LCC2018 in Reno was a great mystery fan convention, as always, and I did have a good time, but I overdid it and came home with a terrible cough that turned into a sinus in

Do You Know Where Your New Year's Resolutions Are?

Writers are no different from most people in that we, too, make New Year's Resolutions, oftentimes lots of them. However, instead of pledging to lose weight, stop spending so much online, or cut down on the buttered popcorn, etc., like normal people, we generally resolve to write more. Sometimes the resolution is specific. We pledge to finally finish that novel, poem, screenplay, biography, etc. Or we might vow to write 500 words a day seven days a week no matter what, even if that much-heralded zombie apocalypse finally arrives. Other writers' resolutions are more general...we promise ourselves we will write more words, more often. We staunchly swear to avoid temptation in the form of chocolate or its near relative, romance. We're not going to watch television or movies and plan to totally ignore the publication of new books by favorite authors. We'll overlook family craziness in general, particularly that created by our children. We're so sure we're g

Tootling My Own Horn

Now, when I was growing up, I was admonished by my parents, "Don't toot your own horn," "Let your work speak for itself," and so on and so forth. In this day and age, however, if you don't pick up that horn and BLOW, no one is going to have any idea that you've got something to celebrate. Get out there and blow your horn! (Adriaen van Ostade [CC0]. The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1951) Since Blood Red Pencil has designated January as the month to reflect on the past year, here are some 2018 writing-related triumphs I feel pretty darn good about. A Dying Note , the sixth in my Silver Rush historical mystery series, was published by Poisoned Pen Press in April 2018. Whew! Seeing a book in print is ALWAYS something to celebrate. The fact that it garnered positive reviews in Publishers Weekly , Booklist , and Kirkus just enhanced the glow. Just about the time that the book came out in audio (which pleased me grea

It Doesn't Matter Where You Start. Just START!

I do not miss 2018. Yes, we're only eight days into the new year, but as time ticked us toward 2019, I was so ready to give 2018 the boot. Looking back, I want to say that everything that could go wrong, DID go wrong--personally, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially ... even literarily. Here at The Blood-Red Pencil, we have articles on writer's block and how to jumpstart your creativity and find inspiration . I've even written a few of them. Yet even having this place of wonderful information didn't keep me from plunging into the darkness of the Creative Void. I started and stopped more projects than I can count. I prayed for inklings of inspiration to initiate writing. I, in a lackluster fashion, played with my photography and doodling and writing dreams in the hopes of lighting a fire under me. I questioned whether creativity still dwelled within me. And then ... two amazing things happened toward the end of 2018 that would lead me to a bright

2018 — A Year of Adjustments

At the end of 2018, I entered the eighth decade of my life. Physically, it was just another day. Emotionally, it was a milestone, as well as a reminder of the things I still really wanted to do. Production-wise, the year had its ups and downs. Editing jobs were fewer and farther between, and I didn't have the energy to pursue new ones. The reissuing of my updated first two novels continued to be plagued with the ramifications of two major computer crashes and resulting file losses. (It didn't help that the company that had created my backup software went out of business, and I was unable to get the necessary tech support to access the files saved on my external hard drive.) The goal to get at least one new novel out the door got pushed into 2019 so I could update the two that required extensive polish. Where does all this leave 2018 in the grand scheme of things? Adjustments were obviously the name of the game, but upon review I discovered some surprising positives.