Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Counting Down with Kathryn Craft

Kathryn Craft contributed over a hundred posts to the Blood-Red Pencil between 2010 and 2014, including her excellent monthly series detailing her journey to publication, and her "Busted!" series exploring effective writing techniques found in print.

Kathryn's books

Twelve tense hours, three women, and the suicide standoff that turns one family's little piece of heaven into a scene from hell. Based on a real event from Kathryn's life.

All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair. After a traumatic fall that she is lucky to have survived, Penny must confront her past and use her love of movement to rebuild her shattered life.

Kathryn's top posts on the Blood-Red Pencil

Start here for Kathryn's Countdown to a Book series and follow the links for the next post at the end of each:

Countdown to a Book 1: Joining Hands

Or pick and choose from all her countdown posts here.

Of Kathryn's Busted! series, her most popular post is Busted!—Stephenie Meyer Caught Doing Something Right

Kathryn's two most popular posts are Storyphobia and Grateful for My Dream Clients

Find Kathryn at her websites, KathrynCraft.com and Writing-Partner.com, where she offers an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service, or at Writer Unboxed. Connect with Kathryn at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Raising a glass to Dr. John Yeoman

We are going down memory lane here at the Blood Red Pencil during the month of December, recalling and honoring BRP regulars and guest contributors. Today, we raise a glass (of eggnog, perhaps, because it is the season) in memory of Dr. John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing. Prior to receiving his doctorate degree, Dr. Yeoman spent 40 years as a commercial author and chairman of a major PR company. He wrote children's books and historical mysteries for adults and ran the Writers' Village story competition. Dr. Yeoman died unexpectedly in 2016, but his words and his works live on.

Dr. Yeoman's Hippo Yeoman series of instructional novels (unobtrusive tips explain the writing techniques used to craft the stories) are still available from Amazon Kindle, and are well worth working through:


His many insightful posts at the Blood Red Pencil include:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Feeling Sheepish with Elspeth Futcher

Elspeth Futcher was a member of the Blood-Red Pencil from 2010 to 2018. She is a playwright and a bestselling author of murder mystery games. Elspeth's humorous 'Writing Sheep' posts were a favorite here as well as appearing in the European writers' magazine Elias.

Elspeth's latest releases

Tension is high inside the big white tent because it’s time for this year’s bakers to face judgment and elimination. But wait! Stop those timers! Our esteemed judge, Shaw G. Bottom has just been discovered dead in the judge’s tent. The bread round just turned into the dead round.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…but no! Humpty didn’t fall. He was pushed!

Which of these familiar fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters is the perpetrator? Can you solve this scrambled case?

Every member of Griffin Patrol was having a good time on their current camping trip … until Peg Puller didn’t show up when the dinner gong sounded. She was discovered in her tent … dead! Who killed Peg Puller?

Which Guide lied?

Elspeth's Writing Sheep

Elspeth's Writing Sheep
October's Visit to the Writing Sheep
The Lighter Side of Editing
Shear Your Darlings
Pay Attention!
Shakespearean Writing Encouragement
Your Writing Style: Are You a Lion or a Lamb?
Writers Write
Dialogue Tips from the Writing Sheep

Elspeth's top three posts at the Blood-Red Pencil

6 Questions NOT to ask a Writer
On My Mind...Avoiding Distractions
10 Lies You Might Tell Yourself While Editing

Connect with Elspeth on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Best of Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel was a member of the Blood-Red Pencil from 2008 until 2016. She writes in the romantic comedy and mystery/suspense genres.

Morgan's latest releases

After suffering the devastating loss of her parents, Rina returns home to confront the man who’d broken her heart. Danger awaits her when she plots revenge. She has no idea the man she defies is not the person she once loved.

Laugh and cry with Morgan Mandel as she shares the antics and trials she and her husband experience through adopting dogs.

Bursting with anticipation, Hailey awaits the arrival of her first child. She has no idea her world will soon be shattered. In the midst of pain, an unexpected offer arises. If it doesn’t pan out, she’s in for further heartbreak. Should she take the chance?

Morgan's top articles at the Blood-Red Pencil

Kindle and Smashwords Quirks
Twitter Don'ts
Secrets of Genre Strategy
Morgan Mandel Interviews Popular Male Romance Cover Model, Jason Aaron Baca
The Heat is on to Finish My Book!
Do You Feel Sorry for the Bad Guy?
A Protagonist Doesn't Have to be Perfect
Amazon Self-Publishing on a Budget - Dos and Don'ts
How to Get Readers Hooked

Find Morgan at her websites, Morgan Mandel.Com and Morgan Does Chick Lit.Com Connect with her on Twitter

Monday, December 23, 2019

Writing in Style with Audrey Lintner

CMOS expert Audrey Lintner joined the Blood-Red Pencil in 2012 and lends her breezy sense of humor to the Style Maven column. Multi-talented Audrey brings the attention to detail and precision of a spinner and knitter to her editing work.

Audrey's top articles on the Blood-Red Pencil

Style Maven: That Which Confuses Us
Style Maven: Pucker Up Your Ellipses!
Hot Under the Collar about Cold, Hard Cash
To My Valentine, the Deadline
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Mailbox...
Not-so-fancy Dress

Find out more about Audrey's editing services at ALTO Editing on Facebook.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Weaving it all together with Pat Smith

Patricia B. Smith joined the Blood-Red Pencil in 2018. Pat is a journalist and experienced professional developmental editor, working both for a publishing company and for private clients, as well as running her own publishing company.

Pat's latest releases

A practical, real world look at the process of buying, renovating, and reselling houses, presenting the risks and rewards of flipping real estate. This book will help readers determine if they have the necessary time and cash, and guide them through the process.

Romantic short stories by 12 different authors, edited by Pat and published as an anthology by her company, Welkin Press.

Spine-tingling short stories by 12 award-winning authors, edited by Pat.

Pat's top articles on the Blood-Red Pencil

Cats and Cozy Mysteries Go Together Like Scones and Clotted Cream
How to Tell Good Editing from Bad Editing
Is Editing a Dying Art?
Killer Companions
How NOT to Sell a Book

Connect with Pat on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Mining the Past with Ann Parker

Historical mystery author Ann Parker joined the Blood-Red Pencil in 2018. Ann is a science writer and editor, and marketing communications specialist in her day job.

Ann's latest releases

Set in 1881. Inez Stannert, co-owner of Leadville, Colorado's Silver Queen saloon, has turned her business talents to managing a music store. But when the body of a young musician washes up on the banks of a canal, the investigation into his death threatens to expose Inez's notorious past.

When Leadville soothsayer Drina Gizzi is murdered it is Inez Stannert, Reverend Sands, and Drina's young daughter, Antonia, who find her body. The mystery surrounding Drina's death deepens when her body vanishes without a trace.

Inez Stannert travels to the fashionable summer retreat of Manitou. But when fellow stagecoach passenger Edward Pace dies unexpectedly, his widow rejects a weak heart theory and begs Inez to investigate.

Ann's top posts at the Blood-Red Pencil 

Fictional Frenemies: Partners? Maybe.
These Women Mean Business: 19th Century Women Entrepreneurs
Tackling Historical Slang
Oh My! Misplaced Modifiers
Tootling My Own Horn
Whisky or Whiskey? I Need a Drink!

Connect with Ann Parker on Facebook and visit her website at AnnParker.net

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Mixing Genres with Polly Iyer

Polly Iyer began blogging with the Blood Red Pencil in 2013, which makes her one of the newest members of the group. She’s a cross-genre writer, switching from thrillers, suspense, mystery, a bit of romance and a touch of paranormal, sometimes all in the same book.

Polly's Latest Releases

Two unrelated cases keep Diana and Lucier busy. Their search for the missing mother of a street boy they've taken under their wing exposes the crime and corruption among some of the city's most upstanding citizens.

An eccentric socialite pressures Diana to rid her mansion of her twin sister's ghost in the second case. With no clues to go on, Diana and Lucier must first prove the missing sister is dead, and a ghost is helping her find the truth. Book 4 of the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series.

When psychic Diana Racine’s old friend is murdered in New Orleans, her love, Lieutenant Ernie Lucier, brings her in to consult on the case. What Diana “sees” draws them both into a web of murders that stretches far into the past. The deeper they dig, the more it appears the deaths are the work of vigilantes on a moral crusade―vigilantes wearing the blue of the NOPD who won’t let anything or anyone stand in their way. Book 3 of the series.

Romance author Zoe Swan’s hot affair with an art history professor initiates a series of events she couldn’t have imagined. When he’s murdered, Zoe learns the professor is a well-known art thief, and not only is she accused of his murder, she’s charged with the theft of a famous painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Before long, she’s on the run from the FBI with her estranged husband and his jewel thief brother, intent on proving their innocence. Indiscretion is a Kindle Scout winner.

Polly's top posts on the Blood Red Pencil

Polly Iyer Interviews Polly Iyer on Genres
It's All About the Character
Humor, Satire, and Wit
Major Surgery
Villains Are People Too
How Not to Be a Failure
What You Can Learn Listening to Audio Books
So You Think You Have an Original Plot. Think again.
Why the Beginning of Your Novel Is Important
Clichés in Plots and Description

Connect with Polly: Facebook, Twitter, website

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Getting Organized with Diana Hurwitz

Diana Hurwitz is the organization queen behind the quarterly lists of writing conferences and workshops that have been published at the Blood-Red Pencil for the past few years. You can see Diana's list of Conferences for 2020 Requiring Early Registration here.

Diana has also created a wealth of writing tools in her Story Building Blocks manuals and workbooks, and has been very generous about sharing a lot of great information from her series in her posts here:

The Central Question
Shifting Point of View
Is It a Love Story?
Dressing Up Your Romance
Making a Thriller
Making a Thriller, continued
Stretching the Story Seed
Layering Conflict
External Conflict Scenes
Antagonist Conflict Scenes
Interpersonal Conflicts
Internal Conflict 

Diana also wrote a very important post that every writer should read:
In Case of Emergency

Connect with Diana on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict and website DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Self-Editing with Patricia Stoltey

Patricia Stoltey initially wrote for the Blood-Red Pencil from 2009 to 2010, before taking a break to concentrate on writing fiction. We were thrilled when Pat decided to rejoin us in 2018.

Patricia Stoltey's latest releases

In the early 1800s in a village on the Illinois frontier, young Jo Mae Proud wishes her cruel brother dead. Forced into prostitution by Caswell, Jo Mae discovers she is pregnant and vows to escape. Then Caswell is injured by a near lightning hit.

When Lynnette Foster's cop husband punches her in the face, she leaves him and boards a flight from Miami to Los Angeles. At the airport, a criminal accidentally switches Lynnette's laptop case with his own. Sammy's boss sends a hit man to recover his property. To complicate Lynnette's life, eleven-year-old Grace McCoy follows her off the plane during the Denver layover. Then Lynnette learns that her husband has been murdered.

When a body is discovered in a hotel bathtub in Nevada, guest Sylvia Thorn decides to do a little sleuthing. Accompanying her mother and her travel club friends, Sylvia is shocked when a gruesome connection is made between the dead body and their tour group. Then Sylvia’s brother, reluctant clairvoyant Willie Grisseljon, senses trouble. Unable to contact their mother by phone, Willie and their father impulsively fly to the rescue. Willie soon wishes someone would rescue him instead.

Patricia Stoltey's top articles at the Blood-Red Pencil

Pat produced an excellent series ten years ago, Self-Editing One Step at a Time, which is still just as relevant today:

1. Charting the Novel Story Arc

2. How to Identify Dragging Narrative

3. Identifying and Eliminating Your Habit Words

4. Searching for More Silly Stuff

5. Weeding Out Unnecessary Adjectives and Adverbs

6. Cleaning Up Those Dialogue Tags

7. Analyzing Sentences for Redundancy and Wordiness

8. Fine-Tuning Sentence Structure

9. Read Your Manuscript Aloud

10. One Final Self-Editing Chore

11. Critique Groups Part I

12. Critique Groups Part II

Connect with Pat on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. And pay her a visit at her website and blog.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Writing Workshops and Conferences 2020: Early Registration

Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop writing related events are a good way to commune with other writers. They are opportunities to network and get your name out there. In some instances, you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company.

Local conferences are a good place to meet potential critique groups or recruit members.

Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should choose an event that speaks to your needs and desires.

The following is a list of conferences that require early registration or application.


May 9-16, 2020 Longleaf Writers' Conference, Seaside, Florida. Application due by January 10, 2020.  www.longleafwritersconference.com

March 21-22, 2020 Chicago Writers Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois. Must register before February for housing at the hotel. https://www.chicagowrites.org/conference

April 17-19, 2020 Pikes Peak Writers Conference is at the DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Registration begins November 2019.

May 28- June 1, 2020 Bear River Writers' Conference, Boyne City, Michigan. Registration will be open for a period of 48 hours starting February 3, 2020 at 9:00 am.. Once the 48-hour window has ended, registrants will be chosen by a random lottery system and notified via email.

June 1 - July 10, 2020 Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. Early action application deadline is January 31, 2020. Regular application deadline is April 1, 2020.

June 8–14, 2020  VCFA Novel Retreat, Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vermont. Registration begins November 2019.

July 19-August 1, 2020 Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Applications are due by March 1. 2020.

June 21-27 2020 Colgate Writers’ Conference, Hamilton, New York. Registration deadline is March 2020.

June 22-28, 2020 Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, Bemidji State University, Minnesota. Registration begins January 2020.

June 25 - 27, 2020 The 27th Jackson Hole Writers Conference, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Registration begins November 29, 2019.

June 28-July 11, 2020 Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio
Applications are due by March 1. 2020

July 6-13, 2020 Squaw Valley Writer's Conference, Squaw Valley, California. Application deadline March 2020.

July 16-18, 2020 Realm Makers Conference, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Registration begins February 2020.

July 19 - 26, 2020 Juniper Institute for Young Writers, Amherst, Massachusetts. It is for high school students finishing grades 9, 10, or 11. Registration begins October 2019.

July 30 - August 1, 2020 Mendocino Coast Publishing Boot Camp is in Mendocino, California. Registration begins March 1, 2020.

July 30 - August 2, 2020 GenCon Gaming Convention is at the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Indiana. Registration begins January 26, 2020, housing registration begins February 1, 2020.

August 10–16, 2020 Postgraduate Writers' Conference,  Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vermont. Registration Begins 1/16/2020. https://vcfa.edu/postgraduate-writers-conference/

Bread Loaf Writers' Conference is August 12 - 22, 2020 in Middlebury, Vermont. Registration begins January 1, 2020.

August 20 - 23, 2020 Killer Nashville, Franklin, Tennessee. Registration starts January 1, 2020.

October 15-18, 2020  Boucheron World Mystery Convention, Sacramento, California. Registration begins January 1, 2020.

October 23-25 2020  Surry International Writers Conference, Surry, British Columbia, Canada. Registration begins June 1, 2020.

November 13-15, 2020 Kauai Writers Conference Kauai. Registration begins January 1, 2020

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Trying New Things with Linda Lane

This week at the Blood-Red Pencil we are celebrating our longest-serving members, with a look back at a selection of their awesome posts.

Linda Lane joined the Blood-Red Pencil in 2009 and is another of our prolific bloggers, having contributed over 150 posts so far. Linda inspires the rest of us with her willingness and determination to give something new a go -- from social media and marketing, to the more advanced aspects of blogging. A well-respected editor in the industry, Linda has also recently picked up her writing pen again.

Linda's latest releases

When successful businessman Edmund Kohler is involved in a road accident, the lives of his family and business partner are forever changed. Then Edmund's vindictive brother arrives with the intent of settling an old score with Edmund's wife.

Attorneys Aidan Wolf, Jenna Jacobs, and Wilson Howell practice law in a small Colorado town tucked up against the Rocky Mountain’s front range. Although the three seldom work on the same cases, one such case turns their lives upside down and brings to a head all their collective challenges.

Linda's top posts on the Blood-Red Pencil

Powerful Verbs Bring Boldness and Vigor to Our Writing
When Your Character Doesn’t Speak English
Social Media Marketing: Here to Stay or Gone Tomorrow?
The Buck Stops Here
Are Your Protagonists Powerful or Pitiful?
It’s a Hot Time in My Office Tonight
My Rant: Is Editing Ever Elective?
Our Words, Our Babies, Our Fears
Gratitude and Writing—Is There a Connection?
On My Mind…Senior or Seasoned?

Connect with Linda at her websites: L.S. Lane Books and Denver Editor or on Facebook.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Making it Shine with Shonell Bacon

This week at the Blood-Red Pencil we are celebrating our longest-serving members, with a look back at a selection of their awesome posts.

Shonell Bacon began her journey with Blood Red Pencil in 2009. Since then, her contributions have brought clarity and insight to writers and editors alike. Particularly useful was her 8-part series that imparted vital information to writers about how to choose the right editor for their works. A portion of the first entry, "Inside the Editor's Den: the Beginning," is reprinted below. Links to the rest of the post and the series can be found at the end of the excerpt.

Welcome to the first post in our Inside the Editor’s Den series. This month, we talk to four of BRP’s bloggers – Elle Carter Neal, Maryann Miller, Linda Lane, and Shonell Bacon – on their work as editors.

Since 2008, The Blood-Red Pencil’s goal has been, as stated by founder Dani Greer, “to help writers by blogging about what we know best – editing.”

In this series, we hope to provide information to writers that might be useful when they seek an editor for their writing projects. Learning how to write well is very important for a writer. Learning what to ask your potential editor is just as important.

Shout out to Wise Ink’s article “15 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Editor Before Hiring Them.” The idea for this series came from the great questions posed in this article.

Now, let’s step inside the editor’s den.

Today's question asked to our editors is...


Not surprisingly, writing plays a huge role in how these four editors came to editing. This makes sense. After all, editors must at least like words and the projects that are developed from them.

Shonell Bacon - I began editing back in the late 1990s. At the time, I just knew I loved to write and loved to read and read voraciously. By this time, I had a BA in communication arts and was about to start an MA in mass communication. I would do edits for free for friends who asked, and one day, a friend of mine who happened to be an author for Genesis Press told me the publisher was looking for an editor. I edited several works for them, and then with some of their authors who had moved on to other publishing houses. Within a few years, clients were sending me new clients.

Read the rest of this post here.

Click the links below to read the other posts in this series:

Inside the Editor's Den: Training and Expertise
Inside the Editor's Den: Fave Works to Edit
Inside the Editor's Den: Editorial Style
Inside the Editor's Den: Services Offered
Inside the Editor's Den: Coming to the Page
Inside the Editor's Den: Strengths and Weaknesses
Inside the Editor's Den: Being a Lifelong Learner

Shon's most popular posts

Eight Questions for Writers
Five Ways to Spring Clean Your Amazon Author Page
3 Steps to Reinvigorating Your Writing

Shon's latest releases

Fresh out of college and ready to pursue her passion for art, Roxy takes a job at a trendy Manhattan gallery. Persuaded to attend an arts event on a cruise ship, Roxy develops more than just professional appreciation when she encounters an up-and-rising artist.

A novel that intertwines the tales of three couples, brought together by friendship and love. Christopher and Tamara are in a relationship already strained by emotional baggage—will sexual indiscretions ruin them? Can Jamal help Shameika break through her past to finally reach “happily ever after”? Will Stephan help Deandra rescue her kidnapped sister?

When one of her friends bets Daphne Collins she can’t go a week without having an orgasm, she scoffs at the idea. Disillusioned by her first rejection, Daph accepts the bet. But Daph soons finds herself having to juggle all the men vying for her attention, and keep her libido cool while she pursues the one who got away. Will a week change Daph’s insatiable ways?

Connect with Shon on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Keeping It Fresh with Maryann Miller

This week at the Blood-Red Pencil we are celebrating our longest-serving members, with a look back at a selection of their awesome posts.

This gem from Maryann Miller originally posted on March 13, 2009. Titled "Keep Your Salad Fresh", its words written more than 10 years ago are just as relevant today and well worth revisiting. Maryann has been a longtime contributor to BRP, and her posts always offer a variety of literary gifts to the reader as well as to fellow editors. The links at the end of the article include an interview with a romance writer; its wisdom deserves a second look.

During the first draft of a novel, the writing can sometimes be pretty ordinary. We are intent on getting the story on paper and we write what we are familiar with. The challenge is to freshen everything up in the second draft. Here are just a few pointers that haven't been covered here in a while:

AVOID clichés and shop-worn phrases.

I recently edited a book and the author wanted to keep all the clichés, defending her stance with the fact that people use clichés all the time. She didn’t seem to understand that that is the main reason a good author avoids them. Give the reader something fresh and original. Another author tried to justify her clichés by pointing out how many books get published that have them. My response was that that doesn’t make it okay.

How many times have you read something like: Her heels clicked across the hard tile of the floor? That is okay writing, but it could be stronger.

Read the rest of this post here.

Other great posts by Maryann Miller

Remember the Reader
Little Mistakes Can Kill a Story

Money! Money! Money!
EEK! What Is the Right Word?
Getting Rich by Writing
Can We All Just Behave?
Romance Is About Feelings
Things I Learned from Listening to Audio Books

Maryann's latest releases

Jenny Jasik's life changes in an instant, when her son is killed in an automobile accident. As an undercover member of a drug task force, Jenny has to keep it together.

At just 4 years old, Evelyn Gundrum’s happy world is turned upside down when she is abandoned and shipped to an orphanage. Evelyn grows up amidst hardship and heartbreak, plagued by unresolved emotions that follow her into adulthood as she seeks answers in a sea of questions.

What on earth do a dead tomato plant and a paycheck have in common? Maryann Miller explores the fun and foibles of how to survive parenting a large family, while vainly keeping body and mind intact. From School Daze to Summertime Blues, and everything in between, the book airs the Miller laundry with all the holes and missing buttons.

Connect with Maryann on Facebook or Twitter.