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Showing posts from October, 2022

Gifts for Readers and Writers

Jane Austen Pride and Peppermints (affiliate link) With the festive season almost upon us, we decided to put together a wishlist of some of our favourite gift ideas for writers and readers from the Unemployed Philosophers' Guild. I've never met an author who didn't appreciate a quirky writing-related trinket or two, and here you'll find a range of clever gifts to suit any budget - from small items perfect for stocking fillers or Kris Kringle presents to something a little more substantial.  These are affiliate links meaning that if you purchase something after clicking we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Funds raised will go towards supporting our blog and providing our contributors with a treat or two. (Did you know that we've been blogging about writing and editing for 14 years now? Our archives are well worth a poke around, while you're here.) Alice in Wonderland Disappearing Cheshire Cat mug 'Well, I've often seen a cat without a g

It's Never Too Late to Plan

I keep telling myself that as I frantically prepare for NaNoWriMo , which is suddenly only a week away. I am nowhere close to having a tale to tell, so any bit of help is a blessing. I'm not talking about maid service or a private chef, though both would be nice. I just need something to help me focus and simplify what seems like a huge challenge this year.   Available on Amazon To that end, I was enormously pleased to dig into a gorgeous and tightly written eBook called The 30-Day Novel by Merrie Destefano .  It's a short book, hitting all the usual highlights of planning a novel, but in a brisk and concise way. Under 100 pages, some of which are clever MidJourney AI steampunk images and pages for notes, the book covers these topics: Chapter One: Make A Commitment  Chapter Two: Make A Plan  Chapter Three: Plotting Versus Discovery  Chapter Four: Story Building  Chapter Five: Character Building.  Chapter Six: World Building  Chapter Seven: Make A Schedule A quick, conversationa

From Poetry to Prose: Invaluable Lessons from Verse

Part 1 What were your first ventures into the world of writing? Did you start out with little short stories? One-act plays with parts portrayed by siblings or friends? Or were your first efforts poetic? If so, were your own writings ever inspired by a poem you had read?  Recently, I was reviewing some of my early attempts at poetry and was struck by one's similarity to a Carl Sandburg classic that I studied in high school. Fog by Carl Sandburg The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. Obviously, the comparison of the fog to the silent stealth of the cat intrigued me to the extent that I still remember it. Below are a few lines from my poem, which was written in 1957, a year or two after I studied Sandburg's work. Because it is rather long, I will quote only the first few lines here. Night Night creeps over meadow and hill, Stealthy like a cat,  Minding no one's business but her own, Yet seeing all… This sim

Review of The Last Dreamwalker

I am so excited to announce the release of Rita Wood's new book  The Last Dreamwalker.  I was privileged to critique the early drafts and Rita's prose makes first drafts a pleasure to read. Her characters are 3D, her settings rich, and her wordcraft elevates everything she does. Not every writer has that gift. The plot of  The Last Dreamwalker  is tight and kept me turning pages until I read the whole thing in one sitting with a few breaks for sustenance. The story follows Layla, who learns at her mother's funeral that a mysterious island off the coast of South Carolina now belongs to her. Digging deeper into her mother’s past, she discovers the terrifying nightmares that have plagued her since she was a child are actually something more - the ability to enter the dreams of others, and the power to manipulate them. She is a Dreamwalker. Kept apart from her mother's family, Layla reunites with them and learns more about her heritage, the good and the bad. Her two Aunts a

Preparing for NaNoWriMo Success

I'm turning my post this month over to my good friend and fellow author, Ellis Vidler . This is the program she recently gave at the Greenville, SC, Public Library on NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's simple: write 50,000 words on a new novel during the month of November. I've never done it, but Ellis has an outline on how to accomplish such a daunting feat. Pay attention. ~ Polly Iyer PREPARATION: FIRST DRAFT IN THIRTY DAYS 1 GENRE/IDEA Decide on the type of story—crime/romance/suspense/coming of age/adventure/etc. What do you like to read? Base your story on a subject you like, know, or are interested in (something you are capable of researching). Idea sources are everywhere. • News articles • Trade or subject magazines • Movies/documentaries • Other, such as events in your life 2 CHARACTERS Character A and Character B, possibly Character C. Don’t forget the antagonist or the villain. S/h needs a personality, story, and

How to use commas correctly

There are three main types of commas that are commonly used, and frequently trip up an unwary writer: 1. In a list 2. Joining with a conjunction 3. Instead of brackets *Commas are NOT meant to be used “wherever you would pause”. Even if you’ve been told this in the past, it is not correct. There are specific rules for using commas , and they don’t include anything about pausing or taking a breath. 1. Commas in a list These are the commas we're most familiar with. Every item on the list is separated by a comma. I bought apples, oranges, grapes, and pears. 2. Commas used with a conjunction This type of comma joins two sentences together with a connecting word such as and, or, but, while, or yet. The comma is placed before the conjunction. We will go to the match, but Jack will go home early. 3. Commas used like brackets If an extra portion of a sentence could be placed in brackets it can be placed between commas instead. A way to test it is to read the sentence without the extra port

Amazon Continues to Support Kindle Vella Authors

I began my journey writing for Kindle Vella in January, and I'll write an update soon. But first let me share with you yet another #Free promotion from the Amazon powers.  From October 5-11, you can read all Kindle Vella episodes for free, up to 100 episodes per day. Go here to explore and read on your smartphone or using a Kindle app for Vella.  BSP: Click on the left sidebar book image or here to read mine!  I have been super-impressed with the bonuses and promotions that Amazon has offered to stoke the Kindle Vella fires. Even though gaining reader traction is something of a challenge given the format of the platform (episodic reads on gadgets), it's still a fun way to write and publish, and I highly recommend every author give it a go. With National Novel Writing Month  coming up, why not experiment? Have you heard of Kindle Vella? Thought about publishing with them? Already a KV author? Leave us a comment! Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil. She spen

Moving On

As we journey into my favorite time of year—fall—my thoughts turn to upcoming days of hunkering down in front of the computer during winter storms and writing, writing, writing. Or editing. Or simply reading a great book in front of my electric fireplace, a cup of steaming vegetable soup or hot carob (not chocolate) within easy reach on a nearby table. Is this year different from those of days gone by? For me, at least, it is . . . and it isn't. Friends and family are mostly the same. I am different. The seasons change on the same days this year, just as they have in the past. But the seasons themselves are different. "Hot" has taken on a new meaning. Areas that typically endured high two-digit temps with occasional short trips into the low three-digits now find those three-digit dog days are lasting longer than before. No dog I know of that once loved to bask in the sunshine has an interest in Ol' Sol's blistering rays when the temperature's three-digit numbe