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Showing posts from September, 2021

Book titles — more than just a name

How do you choose the title of your book? Do you write the story, then give it a name? Or does the title come first and the story follows its lead? Or does the name evolve out of the developing WIP? Over a period of more than twenty years, my first novel's title and cover went through a number of changes before coming to rest under its current (and final) appearance and designation. Why did I have such a difficult time settling on the right title and look? First, I was a newbie at novel writing. Second, this likely happened in part because I wasn't at peace with one of my main characters. To take credit for this realization would be neither fair nor truthful. Over a period of a few years, two special writer friends, S. K. Randolph and Maryann Miller, urged me to take another look at my protagonist. The result: Katherine Kohler loosed the shackles holding her captive and evolved into a strong, decisive, admirable woman capable of carrying the story on her shoulders. Does this ma

The Joy of Being Edited

I just spent several days analyzing editor comments and corrections on a manuscript and fixing all those things the editor found that I had overlooked in my writing, revising, and self-editing passes over many, many months. Editors deserve so much praise for their knowledge of craft and story, the mistakes writers commonly make, and grammar and punctuation. We writers study and learn, but we invariably overlook repeated words or accidentally insert extra spaces as we enter changes. There are so many ways a writer can mess up a story. I know them all. At any rate, I went through all of my editor’s notes and made the fixes, then sent the manuscript back with my fingers crossed. Hopefully, I’ll get a passing grade this time. At least until the copy editor has her chance to check those dates, commas, ellipses, and all the other things copy editors look for.  You may have guess, all this happened because I now have a contract for my second novel of frontier fiction. In Defense of Delia is

Words of Wisdom from Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith February 15, 1949 - August 23, 2021 Bellingham, Washington In addition to being part of the Blood Red Pencil Team, Patricia Burkhart Smith was a journalist and experienced professional developmental editor, working for publishing companies and private clients, as well as running her own publishing company. She described herself as, "a writer who wants to explore the creative freedom the Internet provides. I am also the proud mother of two wonderful children, but I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up, or even if I want to grow up. However, I am certainly tired of "growing out," hence, this blog." Pat always said she had more hobbies than Hobby Lobby and her interests included gardening, cooking, mineral collecting, lapidary work, jewelry making, natural health, herbs, sewing, needlework, and stained glass. Her published works included: Fifty Shades of Santa: Clean and Wholesome Romance Short Story Antholog y Christian Family

Villains Are People Too, My Friend

To borrow from a famous politician, changing one word, Villains are people too, my friend. Yes, they are, and they need to be written with the same care that you give your main characters. They need to be full-bodied, three-dimensional people with a backstory that, though you might hate them, you see why they developed as they did. We want to know what made them who they are, and if you fail to do this, you might be writing a cardboard villain. It doesn’t take much finesse to write totally evil characters, sneering and plotting the most dastardly crimes, but that doesn’t make them whole, and it doesn’t make them memorable or believable. The best villains are pitted against the noble hero/heroine: Lex Luthor vs Superman, Hannibal Lecter vs Clarice Starling. I remember reading Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs , and Lecter was the epitome of evil. A sociopath, he had no moral compass, no reason he turned out the way he does. So why is he so compelling as a character? I believe in

Saying Goodbye to One of Our Team

It was with a sad heart that I read about the recent death of author Pat Smith ( Patricia B. Smith ) . Not only was she an accomplished author, she was a valued member of the Blood-Red Pencil blogging team due to the many insightful posts she wrote, as well as her kind and generous spirit. From the time she joined as a regular blogger, she fit into our little family of friends and colleagues. Most of us have never met in person, but we’ve forged bonds through the years that are deep and strong. Such was the case with Pat.   Patricia B. Smith After she got sick and was in so much pain, she still managed to get her blog posts written almost every month. She still managed to respond to the rest of us in our times of need. And she still managed to support everyone with comments on our blog posts. I was especially touched when she shared her kind spirit with me. We both had episodes of severe pain over the past few years, and if I shared my struggles with the team she never failed to respon