Monday, July 16, 2018

Back again in red ink

Editing is very much like cutting the claws of your dragon. 

You, the editor, are trimming the unnecessary words, descriptions, information an author is certain makes their work 'majestic'. ALL writers become blind to their novels. They have been so immersed in quieting the voices of their characters that, sometimes, they ignore all the other common sense rules of writing. 

Don't hobble your editor. It is their job to ensure what you have written is awe-inspiring. After all...
the more you get paid, the more they get paid.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

Every year we all go through the same ritual. We decide those issues we wish to change about our lives and resolve to change them in the forthcoming year. Some succeed. For most of us, it's just another year of empty promises. Well... the Mistress of the Red Ink Pen is slamming down the gauntlet to all you writers out there.

In my fifteen years of editing, I've seen the good, the mediocre, and the what-the-hell-were-you-thinking. There is NO EXCUSE for today's novelists, or any writers for that matter, not to present writing that is error free. The internet is available over the world and access is better than ever. 

RESOLVE to use the internet if you can't find a dictionary or thesaurus--most programs have them automatically installed.

RESOLVE to learn the correct tenses of verbs. This is another case of using the internet, public or personal library to verify the correct word/s. Don't make your editor crazy.

RESOLVE to perform at least ONE edit/read through before sending off your manuscript to the publishing house. Yes, editors are supposed to find the little glitches in the manuscript and note them to you so you can correct them. How lovely would it be if your editor emailed you there were none?

RESOLVE to be the best writer you can be.

Don't make me break out my red pen. Have a great new year and create some magic.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas

The Mistress has set the red pen on the desk and is contemplating the state of the world. I think we all need to take one or two days, shut off all of the annoying outside distractions and savor what we have. So many have far less.

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One more time...


A pretty talented young writer named Stephen King wrote a story entitled IT. This has nothing to do with that story.

This has to do with the overuse of the word it. The word is small, only two letters, yet the impact made by these two letters can drive some people to contemplate -- literacide. 

I'm not suggesting elimination. I'd be at an utter loss with the use of it, however, after you've written your preliminary draft, edit your work, putting in the time to search for alternatives.

When you spot the little devil, ask yourself what is the it? Are you referring to a person? Item? By putting in a specific descriptive word, will you be creating a redundancy of phrases? If so, then you need to work a bit harder to be clear. 

Writing for others to read requires the author to be knowledgeable about the language while still entertaining. Do the work. Your good novel will become a great novel.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three little letters

It's so simple. Just three little letters that seem to confuse the heck out of writers, professional and otherwise. Let's break it down...

It's - is a contraction of two words: it is. Put them together and you have it's.

its - a possessive pronoun, for example: The shield is its protection against fire. 

Read the context of your sentence. Are you trying to shorten it is, or are you describing a possession of some thing?

Now do it right.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What's in a name?

Names. They are necessary for characterization when writing. I have a 'naming' book I use if my stories are short and punchy. The book provides simple meanings for basic names of most nationalities. I also have reference books for the specific cultures I might feature.

If I wish to portray a female character who'll be a strong warrior and lead a clan into battle, I'll go to my reference material and search for a name that provides those characteristics. Aife is a Celtic name of a great warrior woman of myth.

When you are choosing names for your characters, be cautious not to make them sound alike if possible. You don't want your readers paging backward to remember if it was Bill or Phil who is the bad guy. They'll do it once. Then the book goes in the trash and you lose a reader.

If you decide on a name and something nags at you that the name is familiar, check it. While names can't be copyrighted, they can be so heavily identified with a character, you'll appear to be plagiarizing someone else's work. Not a prospect I want to consider.

There is a world of names out there and some have unique meanings. Spend time to give your characters an identity from the start. After all, most of us know who Albus Dumbledore is, don't we?

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Welcome to Genie Gabriel

From the Mistress:

I'm taking time to quit kvetching and share with you the writings of an amazing talent. Please take a look and keep in mind the author will be giving away a digital copy of 'More than Just a Dog' to one randomly selected visitor. So please stop and leave a comment for your opportunity to win a copy of this novel.

Here's a taste:

Three generations of independent women, driven in different directions by one man’s anger. Until his death reconnects them with their mystical Irish ancestors and wonders beyond this limited human existence.

Trained in the shamanic arts by her Irish grandmother, Chessie Durand travels to alternate worlds to rescue animals in danger. Aided by her Chosen One, an angel dog and a mysterious merkaba necklace, she discovers powers unknown to most humans.

Ever practical, her mother provides a sanctuary for these alien and exotic species stall-beside-stall with barnyard creatures. And when their paradise is threatened by ignorance and poachers and unknown dangers beyond the stargates, Marlise loads her shotgun and joins the fight.

Oh, alright. Here's more of the story.

With only a fleeting second thought, Peter entered the coordinates in the computer implanted in his wrist to transport to the cave on Chessie’s farm. His mentor had warned him of disturbances in the stargate that caused several “incidents” and had resulted in the decision to seal it off. However, Peter hoped opening the surface entrance had corrected those disturbances.

This was the most direct route to see Chessie and, after weeks of waiting, he wanted more than to just court her in dreams. He wanted to touch her. Smell the scent of flowers in her hair. Convince her they could build a relationship in the real world.

But which real world? His dimension or hers? Or perhaps somewhere totally different.

One step at a time, Peter reminded himself. After his abrupt departure the last time he had seen her, Chessie might not exactly fall eagerly into his arms. Best he establish a cover story before he contacted her. Thanks to a disagreement between the ruling governments of his dimension, he had some time off between assignments of retrieving endangered species during which he could pursue his Chosen One.

He stepped through the stargate in his dimension, anticipating the look of pleasure on Chessie’s face when she saw him.

”Danger. Danger. Coordinates cannot be guaranteed.” His computer implant transmitted the message to Peter’s brain as his body was sucked into a spinning vortex, faster and faster, buffeted on all sides by angry voices and recriminations until he blacked out.

~ * ~

The rock formations fascinated Chessie as she descended into the cave. However, the hot springs drew her most strongly. She loved to slip into the heated water and feel all her tensions wash away, as she was doing today. She thought about posting a notice at the entrance of the cave informing her family of her private hours in the hot springs so she could soak in the nude. But so far, she limited herself to wearing a modest one-piece bathing suit while in the springs.

Her body floated slightly as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back on a rubber pillow she brought with her. “Ahhh…”

She wondered if Peter would enjoy the hot springs as much as she did. Where was he? Were her dreams of Peter and the cave simply her overactive imagination?

Intuitively, she knew more than fantasies were involved. She hoped by returning to the cave, she could solve this mystery.

With her eyes closed, her mind and body relaxed even more. The water rippled against her skin, soothing and calming. A small wave splashed against her chin and Chessie shifted her body. Opening her eyes, she noticed tiny, choppy waves across the pool’s surface that hadn’t been active when she first stepped into the pool.

Sitting up straight now, she touched the merkaba around her neck and wondered if some of its magic was at work.

The ground began rumbling.

Get out of the pool. Chap’s image appeared in her mind.

She didn’t need to be told twice. She shoved her feet back in her tennis shoes and pulled the terry cloth robe around her body.

Frozen with fascination, she stared toward the rock wall where the cave ended—that her grandmother insisted wasn’t the same as when the cave had been closed up.

The rock wall was now splitting apart like giant elevator doors, revealing the dark night sky filled with billions of stars and a spinning vortex that grew larger and larger as it moved toward her.
Use the merkaba, Chap stated. Do not give in to fear. Simply know the merkaba will protect you.
Chessie braced her feet at shoulder width apart and placed a hand over the merkaba. Protect all that is pure. Surround us with love and keep us safe.

She didn’t know where the words came from, but Chessie repeated them over and over as the vortex engulfed her, echoing with her grandfather’s angry voice. “You will never practice your witch’s spells again! You will be obedient! You will do as I tell you!”

Images of her grandfather as he had been when alive swirled within the vortex. Chessie held fast to the merkaba and called upon the spirit of her grandfather. Help us! By all that is loving and pure, keep us safe!

As Chessie repeated these words, a body fell at her feet as the vortex faded and drifted away like mist dispersing under the morning sun.

About Genie...

Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. So began my journey of being more in tune with animals than with people.

I went through the expected motions of marriage, kids, divorce, and career, but usually out of step with most of the human population. This proved to be an advantage in developing an independence and a curiosity about things most people don’t even consider.

A minor health issue led to energy healing and becoming a master level Reiki practitioner. Working at the local animal shelter flipped on the switch to communicating with animals. Each dog I adopted showed miraculous changes most people couldn’t believe.

As a writer, I explored the mysteries of why people behave as they do, and also became fascinated by science, especially quantum physics. But perhaps my favorite way of writing stories is to ask the question, “What if?” and dive into those imagined worlds—surrounded by my beloved furbabies, of course!

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