My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Less Than 72 Hours...

...I will have my laptop back! My poor electronic device is still broken. They determined it is a software issue, and my warranty only covers hardware and memory issues, which a blue screen is usually an indicator of. Just my luck! Once I get my laptop back, I'll have to make a systen recovery disk and go from there. I really don't care if I have to go as far as wiping it clean, all my important stuff is on my flash drive and external hard drice anyway.

On a good note, they replaced my increasingly-sticking keyboard. That was covered by the warranty.

On another good note, I have come to appreciate my tablet a lot more. It is a pain to type on, and I certainly can't do my editing work on it (no Word=no TrackChanges), but it is very convenient for reading and checking my emails on. I have never really gotten into using it for eBooks, but I might now.

Or maybe once I get my new phone for Christmas that doesn't shut off when I try to use apps or hold a call for more than 5 minutes (thank goodness for upgrade discounts) that might change again. Who knows?

All I know right now is that it will be nice to have a physical keyboard again. This post has taken me three times longer to write than if I was on a computer. Yikes! Just goes to prove how much I miss blogging!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Upcoming Absence

My newish laptop (it's less than 2 years old) has been acting up lately. Actually, it's been acting up for over a month now. When I'm on the Internet for any length of time, it likes to shut down, including the infamous blue screen. Luckily, I bought the extended warranty when I bought the computer, so I am still covered.

When I called the manufacturer about fixing it, they said I had two options. One, I could ship it to their service center, which costs $50 just to mail it. Or, two, I could take it to the nearest authorized repair center, which is about an hour or so away from me. Since I am going that direction anyway today for another errand, I am taking it to the repair center.

The only issue is that I won't be able to get back down that way during the shop's open hours until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. I already have my tweets scheduled, but I won't be able to make any blog posts (unless I can somehow jump on someone else's computer between now and then!). I also probably won't be able to respond to any emails, direct messages on Twitter, or Facebook notifications.

In short, I won't be online for about two weeks. Don't give up, though, I will be back!

Since I won't be around to say it then, I wish you all a very wonderful Thanksgiving! See you soon.

-Rebecca and her Red Pen

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Blog - Achieving Financial Success

My friend Ron Gavalik, author of Grit City, mastermind behind Grit City Publications, and the writer of Financial Success for Creative Professionals, has offered to share his thoughts today on how to achieve financial stability in the creative world.

Propel Your Creativity Forward and Achieve Financial Success
Ron Gavalik

As a publisher and marketing professional, I’ve always found it vitally important to ensure creative professionals possess the correct tools to market their work to the right kinds of audiences. I’ve enjoyed a long and fruitful career ensuring the success of businesses, but also multiple fields in the arts. I take a lot of pride in sharing that learned experience with others.

Unfortunately, I’ve met so many creative people who honestly believe they’ll never make a secure living by pouring passion into their work. That kind of cynicism is sad and frustrating, especially when I know for a fact that it’s not true. We all require housing and plumbing to sustain life, but it’s creativity that gives our lives purpose…and talented creators perform a necessary function in our society. It’s my job to make sure they earn a high middle-class income.

That’s why our team assembled Financial Success for Creative Professionals, the first of its kind marketing plan that’s guaranteed to drive your long-term success.

In the modern era, writers, artists, performers, models, photographers, musicians, and crafters face two real challenges when it comes to selling their creative products and performances. The first is contending with an oversaturation in the market, where so many indie creators are now selling their work to the masses. The second and more important challenge is gaining the marketing knowledge to break through the chaos and build a significant fan base that leads to achieving a secure revenue stream.

Because of the oversaturation, consumers are only willing to invest about 5 to 10 seconds viewing a creative product or performance on a website or at a tradeshow. If they’re intrigued, they’ll stay longer to absorb more of the experience and begin to build what’s referred to as an emotional investment. That happens when something about the product or performance you created pleases the sensory pathways of the brain and a person is compelled to become part of the experience, such as making a purchase.

On the other hand, if the consumer doesn’t emotionally identify with your work in a few heartbeats, they’ll navigate away from your website or walk away from your booth. Their psychology will register your product or performance as a negative experience and you’ll never see them again.

In that brief 5 to 10 second moment, the potential fan stands on the shore of a river while your work sits on the other side. You must persuade the consumer into building a bridge (emotional investment) to cross the river and then obtain your creation. That’s no easy feat, but when we understand how to brand a creation and then present it properly to potential fans, it’s easy to achieve the needed connections with hundreds of thousands of consumers.

How do we do this? Exposure. The marketing plan shows us how to attract the right kinds of consumers, referred to as target audiences. These targets must be exposed to a properly branded product or performance over and over again for their minds to build the bridge across the river and purchase your work.

Financial Success for Creative Professionals provides you the tools to drive hundreds of thousands of target consumers to your creations. You’ll also gain the ability to brand your work in a unique category that eliminates competition. It’s that created perception of your work that raises you above the chaos of so many indie writers, artists, musicians, and performers in the world.

The marketing plan is delivered to you in five-parts to achieve long-term success. You’re walked through expert marketing theory as it applies to the arts. You’ll construct your public marketing structure. The plan then drives your media marketing initiatives to win support of social media followers, the news media, and others. You’ll diversify income from multiple sources into your one checking account. Don’t worry; it’s not that complex. You’re given easy to follow checklists for daily, weekly, and monthly initiatives that respects your artistic time. That’s the guaranteed formula that will achieve you the true success your passion deserves.
Now that you’ve been given a glimpse of the proven marketing plan, it’s my hope that you’ll take your creative career seriously and allow your work to raise the quality of life in potential fans around the world. If you pour your passions into each project or performance, you must propel your career to the next level, realize your full potential and achieve success.

Let’s make it happen.

Good hunting.

Ron Gavalik’s Bio:

Ron Gavalik is the author of Financial Success for Creative Professionals and has over 20 years of celebrated experience in corporate and creative marketing. This former Director of Communications has assisted private, nonprofit, and artistic organizations achieve success through grassroots experience marketing initiatives. Gavalik is currently the Publisher for Grit City Publications and creator of the innovative Emotobooks fiction medium. He holds a B.S. in Marketing Communications from Point Park University and an M.A. in Writing from Seton Hill University. His work in the arts has shaped success for countless creative professionals who seek financial independence.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Character Traits

Everyone struggles with making their characters believable and realistic. Every author wants their character to resonate with their audience. Every writer want the readers to feel what the characters feel, to root for the "good guys" and hope the "bad guys" fail. But how, exactly, do you instigate this emotional connection?

One major task is to make sure that each good guy has a flaw and each bad guy has a redeeming quality. Don't make the characters flat; there is no such thing as a person who is purely good or purely evil. Well, unless your character is a saint or a devil. Even then, your saint could have an issue with losing his faith or your devil could have a soft spot for orphan children. People relate to what they recognize in themselves.

To accomplish this level of diversity, you have several different approaches available to you. You can model the characters after yourself. If you volunteer at the local soup kitchen, but pull out your credit card every time you see the word "clearance" or "sale," you can give this flaw to your character. You can also mold the characters after your close friends and family. Does your mom have a hard time with road rage, even though she works as an elementary school teacher? Take those values and traits and insert them into your characters (if you follow your friends closely, though, it might be a good idea to warn them that they star in your story!).

Stumped for ideas? Exhausted your close resources? Go sit in a public place, such as at the mall, the movie theater, or an amusement park, and people-watch. Even if you don't see enough to really know what a person's different characteristics may be, you can certainly imagine what they are like. No one cares if it is accurate, and in this case it is 100% okay to judge a book by it's cover. That girl covered in tattoos? Yep, she has an issue with insecurity but she also takes time to play with the neighborhood kids. That guy with his pants slung low? He dropped out of high school, but he also works a dead-end job to help his sick father with the bills.

Along with all this is the idea of giving your character a history. Give them family, friends, and a past to reference throughout the story. In real life, everyone is affected by their past. If you fell off the swings when you were a toddler, you might have an aversion to looking over the edge of a skyscraper. If you got sick after eating a bowl of chicken noodle, you might not be able to see the soup without feeling nauseous now. Allow your character to have these same quirks and you will give them a depth that readers can relate to.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Financial Success for Creative Professionals

If you are any type of artist (visual arts, music, writing, etc.), you need to check out this book! It will help you advance your career. This is not a scam, gimmick, or other wasting-your-time type of deal, and I wasn't hacked. I know some people who have followed this plan in it's development stages, and it really does work.

Financial Success for Creative Professionals

*I will be writing a full-length blog post about this later*

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Time for a Change

I created this blog back in January, when I was still a newcomer to the blogging world. I had no idea what to call it, so I chose the first thing that came to mind, Drop in the Ocean. Newly graduated from college, it described how I felt: like one tiny drop in this much larger world. I felt lost.

Now, 10 months later, I am much more confident in my editing abilities and feel like I have earned my (albeit preliminary) stripes. I know what I want to do with this blog, I know what direction I want my career to go in, and I feel like I know a lot more about my profession. I have been editing with Grit City Fiction for as long as I have had this blog, and I have been blessed to work with many talented authors, illustrators, and the publisher himself. They have been very patient and have helped guide me along the way, so I have developed my abilities and have a great deal more in-the-field knowledge about editing than I did before.

Since I have developed so much as a professional, I feel it is about time my blog developed as well. I have updated the design and color scheme. It is easier to read and navigate and looks more professional. I have also changed the name to "Rebecca's Red Pen." I feel this pen more accurately reflects my outlook now, as I am growing into an editor that can stand on her own merit.

Overall, I am glad to be able to grow this blog alongside my own personal and professional growth. I hope that we both can continue this journey as I learn even more about editing and publishing in the coming years. Here's to change and improvement!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Improve Your Writing with Romance

When surfing through my email this evening, hunting for interesting blog articles and writing world news, I came across a blog post from the Smashwords blog posted on Friday, August 3rd (I get over 50 blog posts in my email every day, so I read my subscription emails by random chance). The author of the post, Mark Coker, writes about attending the 2012 Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference. Check it out at

What I found most interesting, however, is that he gave this little tidbit of advice: "Even if you write thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy or even horror, your books will probably get better if you study romance. Romance writers are among some of the finest storytellers of interpersonal relationships. If you want your readers to care what happens next to your characters, study the masters."

This thought had never crossed my mind before, but suddenly, I was wondering why it hadn't! He hits the nail on the head, romance writers have the most experience in trying to convey human nature. They have to make their readers feel the sparks in new relationships, connect with the hearts and minds of their main characters, and genuinely care about every happening in the character's lives. The biggest success for any romance writer is to have their audience walk away feeling that they have lived another person's life.

For many writers of different genres, the characters can be the hardest part. Not only do the descriptions have to be just right, but how in the world do you make them seem real? How do you give them depth without having to divulge every thought and every emotion they feel? How do you focus on their inner workings while advancing the plot and keeping the reader entertained?

Well, writers, Mark has given some great advice. Romance authors have a huge fan base, with many readers consuming books faster than any other genre. They are obviously doing something right, and it has to be with their characters and those characters' relationships. So next time you are feeling stumped about how to show sadness, excitement, or anger, take a few minutes to sit down and read a romance novel. I'm sure you will find inspiration and a bit of wisdom in between the lines.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Hard Sell

I will be the first to admit that, when it comes to selling books and ebooks online, I am a hard sell. In a good deal of author interview blog posts, I start to nod off. Reading a description of an author's new book can make my attention slip away. On the rare chance that you do happen to catch my attention, you still have to get me interested enough to go beyond reading the synopsis and actually click "buy." You have to be original, unique, and different. You have to find a way to show me why your book stands out from the millions of others out there that I could find by using the same keywords. If it's a thriller, you have to convince me how I can find something in your writing that I can't find in any other thriller. Not only does your book have to keep me on the edge of my seat, but your promotional efforts have to do the same thing. One lapse into boredom and that door is indefinitely shut.

Today, I found an interview pitch for a book that actually succeeded in making me want to click further. ( The author starts off by tackling the question of why I should care. She questions her own sanity and shows us that she has done her research. She proves that her book is different. She pushes us to realize that her novel is exciting, especially compared to to the hum-drum alternatives out there. She shows us that there was a definite void that she is here to fill for us. Then, she dives into her topic and makes it pop. I suddenly realize that I want to learn more about verbs. I want to gain a deeper understand of my own language and my own profession, writing. I want to become better at writing and, especially for the author, that means it is essential that I gain a greater knowledge about a key element of the English sentence. And if her pitch is this good, I begin to wonder about how great the book will be. I'm already drawn in, and I've only read a few short paragraphs!

Anyway, the point is, you have to be aware of your tough-to-attract audience and find a way to sway them to your side. The author above found a great way to do that, so I recommend you click the link so you can see what she did right and find a way to do the same thing for your own writing.