Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 21782
date submitted 19.02.2009
date updated 20.03.2010
genres: Fiction
classification: universal

Turning Red

Heidi Mannan

They think she's one of them. She's too afraid to tell the truth. When they discover her true identity, she must make an impossible choice.


Their ancient doctrine isn't the only thing that binds The Keepers of Light, a secret society descended from a lost civilization. They share a specific gene mutation, the MC1R, or redhead gene.

Betty Brown is oblivious to The Keepers of Light when she dyes her hair red and moves to the rural mountains of North Idaho in search of her missing uncle. Oblivious, that is, until the society mistakes her for a lost member, and thus a fulfillment of ancient prophecy. She wants to come clean, but fears the consequences of knowing too much. When they discover her true identity, she has to choose either to uphold her most revered beliefs or to live.

Manuscript is complete: 89,500 words.

rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login



color therapy, fast-paced, humor, mystery/suspense, quirky, redheads, secret societies

on 101 watchlists



To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
Lynne Ellison wrote 1153 days ago

remarkable piece of fiction

Lynne Ellison

The Green Bronze Mirror

Eunice Attwood wrote 1302 days ago

Well done on attaining a gold star. This is a fantastic piece of work and deserves to be published. Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

Burgio wrote 1375 days ago

I was browsing through past gold star winners (the forum says books used to be better here than they are now) and stopped to read Turning Red. It’s a scary story. Betty Brown (like her name; how common can you get?) is likable because she’s taken this new and strange job. Sheila is a real puzzle; at times very helpful; at other times obviously not someone with Betty’s best welfare in mind. The red hair is a good twist (my mother always warned me not to date red-haired girls). All together, this is a good read. I’ll add it to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Melcom wrote 1476 days ago

Wow, As I'm getting close to the desk, I thought I'd have a peek at the one's who have already achieved their gold stars.

This is wonderful writing, very accomplished and a joy to read. There's not a lot else to say that hasn't already been said before.

Happily shelved and inspirational.
Hope it gets published soon.


lizjrnm wrote 1482 days ago

This is a wonderful piece of fiction writing and no wonder it has done so well. BACKED with pleasure.

The Cheech Room

Famlavan wrote 1517 days ago

So now I know what a gold star is [young (not personally) and a little naive about this whole process]. Think I need to look at my own writing this is very, (once more) very good.

Famlavan – Museum of Old Beliefs

lionel25 wrote 1518 days ago

Heidi, I loved your first chapter. Great narrative and dialogue. Your work deserved that gold star.

I'll back this out of respect.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

AJK wrote 1529 days ago

Well, I can see why this earned a star. A really great opening and totally intriguing! Betty has a warmth about her and we know she is going to get into trouble in this town! Im backing anyway although you have topped the charts/

Jason Rice wrote 1553 days ago

Cool pitch and premise. I don't read this kind of book normally, and with nearly 500 comments I don't think you'll need mine. This is interesting.

mscitizen wrote 1652 days ago

just backed you by the way. if you get a chance please check out my book Citizens of Earth. Thanks!

mscitizen wrote 1652 days ago

love, love, love what I've read so far. Betty Brown (great name by the way lol) is so relateable and just a fun charcter to get inside the head of. Is the bok for sale yet anywhere? I will definitely buy a copy i it is!

RonParker wrote 1690 days ago

Hi Heidi,

I've only had time to read the first chapter so far, but I like what I've read. It's my kind of story and if the book continues in the same style and with the same element of humour as in this first chapter, I'm sure it will be successful. Well done.


Ancient Reader wrote 1723 days ago


Congratulations on a review from HC that gives kudos as well as suggestions that you can work with!

Glad you got one of the editors who has read and thought about all you had up and can put her/his ideas into acceptable form for the writer. That doesn't seem to always happen at HC. But this one is a useful one.

I'm so pleased for you that the promise of your idea is lauded, but I think you must decide how you feel about the editor's suggestion for making your book into a series of shorter stories or novellas. Do you think this is valid?

Now it depends on how you are feeling since reaching this peak in your writing life here on Authonomy. What will be your next step? Maybe you need to consider where you want to go with this book and the rest of your writing life.

You are so talented and have such a lovely grasp of hauntingly lovely word-combinations, and a true gift of showing the reader a whole person in a strange and mystifying situation! Keep writing, my dear!

Ancient Reader

Mayli wrote 1734 days ago

Please go on! I must know what happens next!

Robert Tyler wrote 1744 days ago

Turning Red invites; it roils in a premise following something many of us have suspected---that redheads are other-earthly, and in some sense that would become mundane if it were explained. Tom Robbins, in Still Live for Woodpecker, describes this wonderful confusion over the redhead, the magical attributes of the Titian of our kind. But I couldn't in three chapters yet get behind Betty Brown. I understand that I'm not yet supposed to, and that she is so vanilla for reasons beyond her imposterous hair color. I even expect a transformation. Or maybe she'll just carry forth and die in Chapter Five. I guess I was trying to evaluate my investment in her. I think if she could have just plucked a ladybug from her salad and crunched it down or something I'd anticipate a transformation. But among other strong and well developed characters, she's the weakest (at least through three chapters). I really like so much of the start; can we just have her eat a ladybug, please?

Neek1981 wrote 1745 days ago

I've only been an authonomist for about two weeks, but I have to say that so far, this is my favorite thing I've read on here so far. I like the title, the cover and your long pitch. They all made me want to read the book. I've only read the first two chapters so far, so I can only comment on those.
I think Betty Brown is a likeable character and I love that she's not beautiful and she doesn't seem to have any special talents. Her internal dialogue as she speaks with Sheila during the interview was interesting. She reminds me of myself, someone who is shy and self conscious, but who realizes her flaws and wants to project herself in a confident manner. I think she's a very real character.
There were several descriptions that stood out to me as I was reading. I especially like how you described Ilka's eyes and also the contrast between Sheila's perfect clothing and the candy bar wrappers in her office. For me, small details like that really brought me in to this story.
There was one line that stood out as awkward to me "My hand, without my consent, went to my face, cradling my cheek, pinky pressed over dry lips." I think you mean, 'cradled my cheek, pressed my pinky over dry lips...' or something along those lines, but maybe I'm just reading the whole thing wrong.
Shelved. Best of luck at the ED. Let me know how it goes. :)

wjhoward wrote 1749 days ago

Hi Heidi! I’ve gotten myself far behind on critiques, so I’m going to give you feedback on chapter 1 for now.

I feel your first chapter really grabs the readers attention. You add intrigue right off the bat by sending in your main character to hire a PI, but then she gets hired. It’s like starting two mysteries in one. Very different and I like where you’re heading!

You are an excellent writer! I appreciate the flow and description of your writing. Shelved for continued reading.

LeeHodges wrote 1750 days ago

Hello Heidi!

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post this comment; it’s probably worthless now that you’ve made “the desk” but I’ll give you my thoughts on chapter one (sorry I can’t read more as I usually do, but I’m just so bogged down at the moment and am struggling).
I like the opening of this chapter; I am really in the reception with Betty, feeling her discomfort and awkwardness before all the others in the room – well described! The narrative is professionally written, the descriptions colourful, the internal and external dialogue well conceived and there are some great lines that make me smile (and cringe a little!). I particularly enjoyed the frustration that Betty has regarding her lie about her hair – I think we’ve all been there, where you want to change an answer to something but the longer you think about doing it, the harder (and the worse) the reversal becomes.

“Sheila looked thoughtful FOR A MOMENT...” closely followed by: “Sheila sat FOR A MOMENT...” this repetitiveness jumped out at me.

Aside from the above, I just can’t find anything that needs reconsideration. This is a great opening chapter and if I wasn’t so pressed for time, I would certainly be reading on. I wish you all the best with your HC critique, Heidi!



papaford wrote 1750 days ago

Chapter 2 continues a witty, well-written mystery. Lots of great humor and the situation is very original.


aross wrote 1753 days ago

Hello Heidi,
I've just browsed throught the first four chapters and this seems to be the work of a vey accomplished writer. The narrative is well balanced, with wonderful observation and a racy pace, it really is a page turner. The actual story appears to be a little quirky, perhaps even a little too light for you, but it certainly draws the reader on. Maybe you will tackle something a little more heavyweight in your next book - you certainly have the ability to do so. I wish you the best of luck with this.

YMarrsWTSMP wrote 1754 days ago

Very intriguing and bold....give us some more! Yvonne Marrs

phillberrie wrote 1757 days ago


Just finished chapter twelve. Sorry I'm late, but definitely glad you made the cut as I couldn't stop reading.

Shelving is a little silly now, but I have included a few edits, comments and suggestions for things I saw on my read through.

Hope they are useful.

Phillberrie (The Changeling Detective and Engelian Adventures: Transgressions)


Chapter 4

"it's abandonment" should be "its abandonment" Not a possessive.

Chapter 7

Why does Frank, a cop, have a blue Chevy work truck?

Chapter 8

If she's willing to drive an hour out of town to get groceries, why didn't she try further afield for the hair extensions. If she's so worried about the 'test' then doing this, or at least some phoning looking for red hair extensions seems to be an obvious thing to do that needs explaining to the reader as to why she hasn't done so.

"It was the volume of the music that drown out the sound" should be "... that drowned out the sound".

Chapter 10

"Thin clouds whisped across the sky" I believe should be "This clouds wisped ..."

"where I could shorten them, were I could make sure ..." should be "... them, where I could make sure ...".

Chapter 11

"praying I didn't loose the rest in the process." should be "praying I didn't lose the rest ..." I believe.

Chapter 12

"and staid his gaze on my face." Sorry, I don't understand this.

Justis Call wrote 1757 days ago

Familiar with Northern Idaho, I felt a kinship with your characters and was fascinated with the storyline. Excellent work; I'm anxious to read the full novel. I'll be the first to buy it off the shelf!

Justis Call

Abu El Banat wrote 1758 days ago

Heidi, thanks for your read request.

I tried to read 'Turning Red' some days ago and failed to engage with either Betty or the plot. I don't particularly enjoy SF or fantasy (thought there have been some exceptions on Auth that have surprised me pleasantly), and this felt after a couple of chapters as if it was heading off into a realm of implausibility that implied one or the other. I wish you well but can't back you.

Please, no need for a recip read. You will have enough on your plate at this stage and in any case I'm not pushing my book.

Best, Ben

aislingb wrote 1758 days ago

Hi. I just had a quick look at this as the time has nearly run out. I liked what I've read so far. Yo have a great start. I would say that O'Brian is usually spelt O'Brien but that's entirely up to you. Shelved. A

opaljune wrote 1758 days ago

Being a redhead I am really enjoying this book.

pattimari wrote 1758 days ago

What a wonderfully flowing first chapter and with good dialogue with humor in it. I really enjoyed ch 1 and plan on reading more and if the rest of the story is as interesting and well written as this first chapter, I plan on backing it.

racoon wrote 1758 days ago

This book was as relative a chronicle that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The author shows insightful knowledge of her inner self. A must read

Ian Mayfield wrote 1758 days ago

This is an intriguing thriller with a great central premise. Oodles of suspense even in these early chapters, together with dark hints of future horrors. The gatherings of the secret society are redolent with menace - in their strange names as much as their rituals - and in Ilka I can already sense a dangerous adversary for Betty.

'Turning Red' is certainly a page-turner and has much to recommend it, but to me it reads more like a second draft than the finished product.

I have three main problems with your MS at this point. The first is Betty's motivation for NOT telling Sheila 'never mind' and hot-footing it out of her office tout de suite after that highly unsettling interview. We know she's looking for her lost uncle, but at this point we don't know how close the uncle-niece relationship is, or the circumstances of his disappearance that were apparently troubling enough to make Betty up sticks and move, semi-permanently it seems, to rural Idaho to try and find him. I would consider introducing Frank's mysterious phone message earlier, possibly together with some additional background information that would make Betty's abrupt cross-country move more convincing.

The second, arguably a minor niggle, is your use of the word 'erythrophobia' in chapter 1. I had to look it up, as, I suspect, would 99 out of 100 readers. Of course every reader every now and then comes across the odd word he or she doesn't know, but in this instance I think it's fatal. The very last thing you want on the FIRST PAGE of a suspense novel is to have to stop reading and reach for the dictionary. Now, it appears (I may of course be mistaken here) that Betty's numerous phobias are a crucial part of the plot, which is why you've taken care to establish them early. But I feel that because 'erythrophobia' is not a word in common usage, you're not going to get away with using it so early on without either having Betty explain directly what it means, or making it clearer from the context.

As for my third problem, being male I may be out of my area of expertise here. It's to do with another crucial plot point when Betty successfully passes herself off as a natural redhead by fooling the DNA testers. Now the cloaked society member - I do note that he, too, is male! - examines Betty's head VERY closely in preparation for taking the hair sample. I've come across some atrocious hair extension jobs in my time where you can clearly 'see the join', but even with a good one - and LaVerne, it's implied, is very good at her job - it would surely be possible to tell at close scrutiny that the hair was not natural. However, on this point I'm prepared to concede my probable ignorance and suspend disbelief.

This is a terrific idea and story with a lot of potential, but for the reasons above I don't think it's ready for the editors' desk yet, and so I must regretfully decline to back it at this point. All the same, I realize I'm in disagreement with the majority of authonomites here :-) , and I do wish you good luck with the editors and hope they provide you with some helpful commentary.

Best wishes (and sorry!),
(aka Ian Mayfield 'Team Spirit')

Mike Reilly wrote 1758 days ago

Hi Heidi,

I read Turning Red on my last stint on authonomy. I enjoyed it then and now that I am reincarnated I am happy to back it now. Good luck.


Alasdair_13 wrote 1758 days ago

This is that rare thing for me on here - something I get drawn into very quickly, wanting to read on. The writing unfolds very neatly, revelaing just enough at every cut and turn to leave you wanting just a little more. Quirky central character is very compelling, and dialogue nice and snappy. One tiny observation is perhaps some of the description is a bit OTT, but that's really a personal choice.

Great, Shelved.

JFlo wrote 1758 days ago

Very much liking what I've read so far! Interested to keep going. I'll shelve it!

sferre wrote 1758 days ago

This is the first piece on Authonomy that has compelled me to read past Chapter 1. Not really a comment on the others - I haven't been a member long. I only had a brief period of time to look at it, especially since the deadline is tonight. I like the pacing a lot, there is just enough quirkiness to keep me interested. I don't really like books that have so much suspense that they take themselves too seriously - in those, I skim a lot. I didn't find myself skimming at all here. I was drawn to the character immediately, and the writing style seemed familiar, in places as if I had written it myself, making it easy to read.

I like your descriptions generally, although there are a couple places where you could give more detail: the basement office, and the time she spent there (I think you skimmed a little), and in chapter four, while the writing was still strong, I think you could have ramped up the tension a little with more description of the action as well as her fear, not really changing the action, but using more detail of it as well as her reactions. The choreography was just a little vague. (I'm often guilty of that, too.)

I don't have time to read more, but I'll back it on what I have read up to now.

C W Bigelow wrote 1758 days ago

Heidi, Turning Red moves along quickly and you have done a great job hooking me in the first couple of chapters. Will shelve it. CW

redrocket63 wrote 1758 days ago

As a critique I leave with only this:

To build tension in a reader is talent, but to do it, and keep that tension through out is the work of an artist. Great job and great diction. I compliment your style and your indigo flow. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. Your pitch threw me off, but I'm glad I took the leap and dove into the book. Great cover too - you've done well for yourself my young pandwan learner. Great work! Game, set, match, shelved.

Danielle_Arney wrote 1758 days ago

I love it!! It drew me in straight away. I would never have found it if it werent for the message you sent about fighting to stay in the top five. I'm certainly going ot read the rest when i get time - Shelved :-)

- Danielle

papaford wrote 1758 days ago

I've read Chapter 1 and I love it. Betty Brown is a funny, nervous ball of energy. Very well crafted. I cannot suggest anything and will check back later for more chapters.
Robert Ford

aross wrote 1758 days ago

nicely written, with a good narrative flow. Shelved.

bookgirlac wrote 1758 days ago

Wow, what a wonderful story. I've only had time to get started, but i enjoyed every minute. I'm looking forward to reading more soon. Nicely done.

Jeffrey Miller wrote 1758 days ago

Even if I do have a mutant red haired ex-wife I still have to say Turning Red deserves to be in the top 5 at the end of the month.

Congratulations for some great writing.

Jeffrey Miller
The Binding Returned

Philip Carlton wrote 1758 days ago

A good story and a well written book that deserves its position at the top of the rankings. It is on my bookshelf. Good luck Heidi. Phil.

MichelleRitz wrote 1758 days ago

Heidi you definitely belong here in the Top 5!!! This is a terrific read and i enjoyed every minute of it!! Best of Luck! On my shelf!! (of course)

Gavin Marshall wrote 1759 days ago

Turning Red is a page turning read. Backed.

(Half a Dozen of the Other)

Patricia wrote 1759 days ago

I really like this so far. I like the intense self-consciousness to the point of petrification of the main character, Betty Brown, and I like where the story seems to be going. The flow is great and I'm actually curious about what happens next.
I'm shelving this.

Thank you for the book!

Gotch wrote 1759 days ago

Heidi, I'm sorry I waited so long to begin your book, sorry because I would've had 3 or 4 more days to relish such an impressive read. I knew I was in for an exceptional experience the instant I read the sentence: "For twenty-five years I've lived as the soil that lies invisible beneath the beauty of flowers." This has to go down as one of my all-time favorite sentences. The writing flows as smoothly as any major work on the shelves of B. Dalton or Waldenbooks. You did a wonderful job of describing the fragility of the Betty Brown character with a skilled brevity that matches the delicacy of Betty herself rather than caving into the temptation of being heavy handed with adjectives, etc. I have not finished your book but I've put this on my authonomy bookshelf with every intention of completing it. I back this book!

Collin wrote 1759 days ago

*Turning Red* is very readable right from the outset. You establish your characters quickly and economically, and I love the contrast between your protagonist, who is something of a rube, at least at this point, and the mysterious others, with their ancient texts and so on. It's both intriguing and funny. How close are you to finishing? I'm suffering both flu and work overload, so I can't go farther than Chapter Four just now, but I'm putting the book on my watchlist. Cheers, Collin P.S.: I don't want my appear presumptuous in any way, but may I suggest a tighter first-chapter lead? How about this (three paragraphs): > "Yes," I said. > That simple utterance had caused me strife before. This time it almost cost me my life." > The day after I arrived in Sandpoint, Idaho, I walked into the offices of Sheila O'Brian.

lulu83 wrote 1759 days ago


I've finally had a chance to fnish reading what you have posted so far and let me tell you, i can't wait to read the rest. Its extremely well written, the characters and wonderful and the storyline keeps you hanging for more. Great effort.

J.J Ferou wrote 1760 days ago

Hi Heidi,

Definitely quirky, and original! I warmed to this very quickly - you write with great flow and feel.

There's a distinct line in reading new work - do you read and digest the material consciously, or do the words take your feet off the ground to some place else. Surely the latter here.

Happily shelved


Duane March wrote 1760 days ago

Hi Heidi!
Your book very entertaining! In the scene where Sheila interviews Betty, you can sense the amount of insight Sheila has. Nice touch where Betty's answer of "yes" when asked if red is her natural hair color is the key moment in the whole situation.
Well done!

Zeta Pi wrote 1760 days ago

Intriguing pitch and good opener here Heidi – how many of us wish we hadn’t said ‘yes’! The reader will empathise straight away. One nit, some might find the pace a little too gentle. Well edited though so shelved to keep you on the ED.