Red Pencil Thursday

Red Pencil Thursday

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Welcome to the first November 2012 edition of Red Pencil Thursday. The dreaded snow sticks have appeared outside our building, marking out the walkways so the snow plows won’t tear into the landscaping later. I wouldn’t mind so much, but the dang poles are 4 1/2 feet tall and they were buried by snow for months last year.

But on the plus side, crummy weather outside means great writing weather inside! Today we have Gail Chianese in the RPT hotseat. Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!


To Catch a Thief

Mia: This is a good title. Unfortunately, it’s been used. A lot. I stopped counting when I hit 20 books at Amazon. When I’m brainstorming titles, I always go out and check to see if my choices have been used before. That said, titles cannot be copyrighted so you’re free to use this. Heck, you can write another Gone with the Wind if you want. I don’t recommend it.

Gail: The title is a working title and not one I’m married to, but rather one to give me a clue. Will take your suggestion and work on it.

“Have you gotten the picture of the lying-cheatin’-rat-bastard yet?” Kat Jones asked.

Mia: If you drop the “g” on cheatin’ I’d suggest you do it on lyin,’ too.

Gail: Does dropping the “g” on lying and cheating, make the sentence sound like someone who is less educated, rather than just disdain coming out?

“No, and if you don’t shut up and stop whining, we’re going to get caught.” Lexie Smith shifted her tush to sit more firmly on the tree branch and glanced towards the neighbors on the left. The McDaniels came home early tonight and hopefully the cold temps would keep them indoors instead of enjoying their waterfront view from the comforts of their backyard living room.

Mia: I sneaked a peek at the next paragraph and Mr. McDaniels is not the LCRB in question, so there’s way too much info about this family here. If you need to plant the idea of them coming out and catching Kat and Lexie, do it after you’ve acquainted us with their true quarry.

Gail: Will work on rearranging this. Thank you.

She focused her attention on their assignment, Mr. Salvatore Figerello, the lying-cheatin’-rat-bastard, as described by his wife of thirty years when she hired LexaKat P.I. to prove his infidelity. Over the course of the last week, Mr. Figerello, the LCRB, had not cooperated in proving his wife correct, till tonight. Aw, tonight he’d upped his game and brought his lovely, young, scantily clad secretary home with him, while the wife was away visiting her sister. So cliché.

Mia: The Aw sounds like dialogue. Why don’t you experiment with letting one of the girls say some of this? That way you can get away with giving secretary THREE adjectives. (Angela James, Sr. Editor for Carina says, “Not every noun deserves an adjective.”) But if you make it dialogue:

“She’s lovely.”


“Not wearing hardly a stitch. Is that a skirt or a belt?”

You get the idea.

Gail: Great idea and I love the last sentence you came up with!

Sadly, tonight they would earn their fee and watch another marriage get dumped in the toilet. A woman could get jaded in this job. Watching three decades of a person’s life get wasted over a quick ego boost.

Mia: This paragraph could be converted to dialogue as well. Or give me some internal dialogue that will pull us into a tight POV with your character. Right now, I’m not completely sure whose head I’m in.

“Lex, move your foot, I can get a shot of the floozy from here. Now, if he’d just shut up and make his move, we could get the clincher and get out of here.” Kat scooted further out on her branch. “It’s still early and since you blew off your date with Benjamin Franklin Bacon the Fourth, we can go get dinner and catch a movie. And, seriously, how can you date a guy with the last name Bacon? I’d be hungry all the time. Now, Kevin Bacon, sure I get that-he’s hot, but BFB4 is not.”

Mia: Floozy is a very dated word. And Kevin Bacon has long since left his prime years of hotness. If this is a contemporary, make it up to the minute.

Gail: Thank you for your suggestion.

“Kat, shush, we’re here to do a job, not discuss my social life and need I remind you, your own brother has a three at the end of his name.” Lexie shot off a succession of pictures of the LCRB and floozy as they moved into a tender embrace. “Just a couple more minutes and we can wrap this case up.”

Mia: has a three stopped me for a second. I think you need to make it has a ‘the third.’

Gail: Okay, makes sense.

“Hey, girls, what’re you doing in a tree?”

Kat jumped three inches at the voice behind her barely grasping the branch, saving her from a painful fall. Lexie quietly continued to take shots of her subject before turning around to greet their visitor.

Mia: In the first sentence, you need a comma after the first her.

“Hey, Vinnie.” She took in his white polyester suit with the wide lapels, black silk shirt, high-polished dress shoes and slicked back hair. Vinnie was channeling John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever tonight. “Going dancing again, I see. You know, Vinnie, that look went out a couple of decades ago.” She turned back to her subjects snapping more pics, trying not to lose her lunch as the LCRB stripped to his skivvies.

Mia: Ok, I expected it was the McDaniels. And it’s been longer than a couple decades for Saturday Night Fever.

Gail: Yes, but Vinnie died at the height of SNF so that’s the era he channels/lives in. He wouldn’t quite be Vinnie if he dressed in today’s fashion or channeled the Situation. :0)

Vinnie took up residence on the skinny branch at her side. “Like it matters what I wear. The only ones whos can see me are yous two. Sometimes, being dead sucks.”

Mia: Whoa! Did not see that coming. However, you don’t really want to whack your readers up side the head with this. Give us a hint somewhere that there are paranormal elements in your story. A change of title might help with that.

Thanks for letting me take a peek at your work.

Gail: Mia, thank you so much for giving us this opportunity and your wonderful feedback. It is very much appreciated. Looking forward to seeing what your readers think and suggest.

Bio: Gail Chianese writes romantic suspense where she tries to balance out the dark and dangerous with light and laughter. When not losing herself in a fantasy world she’s running non-stop with her three fantastic kids ages 10, 13, and 21 and keeping the fires glowing with her wonderful husband.


Now it’s your turn to offer suggestions and encouragement to Gail. What say you?

9 thoughts on “Red Pencil Thursday

  1. Jamie Pope says:

    Hi Gail! I agree about keeping the Kevin Bacon reference. Yes, he was creepy in the River Wild ( Footloose!Come on!) but the name of the blown off date is too good to let go of.
    I agree about giving us a tiny hint that this is a paranormal. Otherwise I think the concept is really great and I would read on.

    1. Gail Chianese says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for your feedback. I really liked the play of the name too. Not many people can pull off cool with the last name of “Bacon” (although it is an prominent NE family name).

      Will think about what hint I can give you on the ghost, but he’s not the main character or hero, just an important secondary character. The actual story is much more suspense than it is paranormal. Will have to give this part some serious thought.

      Thanks again for stopping by and weighing in on the submission. Much appreciated!

  2. Jennifer Fusco says:

    I say Kevin Bacon is still hot. I don’t care how old (or young) you are!!

    1. Gail Chianese says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. I happen to agree. I mean the guy can act, he can sing and well we know he can move on the dance floor. And he fully supports his wife in her career…come on that is hot in itself! :0)

      1. Mia Marlowe says:

        Supporting his wife’s career does move him up on my scale of hotness. If I could just forget THE RIVER WILD…

        1. Gail Chianese says:

          I don’t remember him in that movie. Will have to check it out again sometime. His other roles like Apollo 13, A Few Good Men and Crazy, Stupid Love are the ones that stand out to me.

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      Sorry, Jenn. Ever since I saw him as the villain in THE RIVER WILD, Kevin Bacon has pegged out my “creep-o-meter.” I know I shouldn’t associate him with just one role, but he really played the bad guy well.

  3. Gail Chianese says:

    Barbara, thank you for taking the time to read my submission and provide such wonderful (and encouraging) feedback.

    My Vinnie is actually a combination of Vinnie Barbarino, Tony Manero (SNF) and a couple of Bronx wiseguys rolled into one. Always been a Travolta fan.

    Yes, Mia’s suggestion about the secretary was dead-on. I’m always afraid that I have too much dialogue. However, I’m working on changing that paragraph now. It read so much better and was more fun with the dialogue. Again, thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Gail,

    You have an interesting opening with intriguing action.
    At times, I wasn’t sure which of the PI’s was talking. The third paragraph should start with Kat instead of she so we aren’t confused. Kat and Lexie are both fun characters.
    Vinnie being a ghost kind of threw me. I did wonder how anyone could climb a tree with dress shoes. Like Mia said, you need to drop a hint at his ghostliness and that he is stuck in the 70’s. In a bit of trivia, John Travolta played Vinnie Barbarino in the sitcom Welcome Back Kotter.
    I also liked Mia’s comment about the dialogue describing the secretary. I am a sucker for snappy dialogue and moving the dialogue closer to the opening will help hook readers.
    What an enticing opening you have. Nice job.

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