Guest Post – Laura E. Koons: Strengthening Your Dialogue

Last week, I posted a blog about identifying your strengths and weaknesses as an author as a step to becoming a better writer. Since most authors tend to either start out having problems either with narrative or dialogue, I asked Laura E. Koons, author of He Said, She Said: Writing Effective Dialogue, to share a few of her tips on becoming a better dialogue writer. If you’re currently working on moving from being narrative-strong to more well rounded, here are Laura’s suggestions:


Dialogue, like any aspect of writing, can be strengthened and improved with practice. While it may seem like some writers were gifted with “an ear for dialogue” and can effortlessly put the right words into their characters’ mouths, the art of producing good dialogue can be studied, and practice and attention can help any writer appear to have the gift of that “good ear.”

Perhaps the most useful general guiding principle to keep in mind when trying to strengthen your dialogue is the concept of fiction as a balance between the realistic and the artful. Realistic dialogue mimics the way people really talk. But while it is often a writer’s goal to make her dialogue sound “real,” dialogue which mimics precisely the way most people talk may come across as boring, clunky, or repetitious. Real people often do not speak elegantly; listen to any conversation and you are likely to hear a lot of oral crutches (um, ah, er, and so on), repeated words, pauses, and sentences that don’t come out quite right. While there may occasionally be times when a scene requires that kind of realism, most of the time you will want to make your characters speak more proficiently or more efficiently than real people usually do. This is where the balance between the realistic and the artful comes in. Use your artistic license to “clean up” dialogue of the oral crutches, repetitions, and the like that pepper most real conversations in order to present dialogue that reads like the best version of the way people really talk.

In order to strike this balance between realism and the artful in your dialogue, consider the following tips.

In order to keep your dialogue realistic:

  • DO use contractions as real people of similar backgrounds to your characters might. Dialogue without contractions will sound stilted.
  • DO use widely understood (or easily deciphered) slang and/or regionalisms appropriate to your characters. This will help them sound like real people from real places.
  • DO keep the scene going during dialogue exchanges. People don’t usually drop everything and stand still to talk to one another. They keep making dinner, or fidget, or try to fix the dishwasher to avoid the conversation, or carry on working on their report. At the very least, they gesture or make facial expressions. Having your characters do something while they have a conversation will make the conversation itself seem more realistic.
  • DO NOT overuse direct address. Most people don’t refer to one another very often by name in conversation, so having your characters do so may sound inauthentic and will become tedious.

And in order to keep your dialogue artful:

  • DO avoid distracting dialogue tags. Consider using “asked” and “said” as your default dialogue tags, as these will fade into the background and allow readers to concentrate on the dialogue itself. Reserve other tags (such as lied, interrupted, shouted, whispered) for those times when it is necessary to tell the reader how the dialogue was said.
  • DO vary character gestures and use unique rather than generic gestures whenever possible during dialogue exchanges. Real people likely do a lot of generic things like smiling, frowning, nodding, and shrugging in the course of their conversations, but in a dialogue exchange on the page, these generic gestures can become tedious and—worse—make your characters seem boring or cookie-cutter. Keep generic gestures to a minimum (they are certainly necessary sometimes) and give your characters gestures, habits, and tics that are unique to them that they can engage in during dialogue exchanges.
  • DO NOT overemphasize characters’ dialects through phonetic spellings and dropped letters. If a character’s dialect is important, suggest it through the use of slang, regionalisms, and occasional nonstandard grammar rather than trying to reproduce its exact sound through nonstandard or phonetic spellings. The resultant “apostrophe jungle” on the page can be very distracting to readers.
  • DO NOT overuse clichés in dialogue. Real people use clichés frequently, but clichés are phrases that have become commonplace and as such are usually uninteresting. Err on the side of having your characters speak with original language to keep your dialogue interesting and fresh.
  • DO summarize commonplace exchanges in dialogue. Commonplace exchanges such as the pleasantries exchanged at the beginning of a phone call (“Hello?” “Hi, Jim.” “Oh, hi, Sam.”) do not need to appear in full in dialogue if nothing but that commonplace exchange occurs. This kind of over-representation of characters’ exact words can be dull. Summarize instead: Jim answered the phone. It was Sam.
  • DO NOT overuse oral crutches in dialogue. Use oral crutches only when absolutely necessary to show that a character is at a loss for words or is otherwise stumbling over his speech. Real people use oral crutches to let their brains catch-up with their mouths—generally the reader doesn’t need to see that process for fictional characters.

In order to fine tune your ear for realistic dialogue, listen carefully to conversations going on around you. Make note of interesting turns of phrase, regionalisms, and the cadences of real speech. You might even record (with permission) some real conversations so you can study at your leisure the way real people’s speech sounds.

To ensure that your dialogue comes off as artful as well, make it a habit to read your dialogue out loud to yourself. Note any places where you trip over the words, where you hear repetitions, or where the exchange becomes dull. Ask yourself what you might remove or change (even if you think doing so will tip your dialogue away from strict realism) to make it read more smoothly.

Following these tips should help you develop your own “ear for dialogue.”

Happy writing!


Find more dialogue writing tips and full exercises in Laura’s book, He Said, She Said: Writing Effective Dialogue, available exclusively on Amazon.


Guest Post: Tracy Lawson

Today’s post comes to us from the lovely Tracy Lawson, author of CounterAct, out August 6, 2014. Find out more about Tracy below, at her website, on Facebook, or Twitter


Last month, when my publisher told me the manuscript for Counteract was headed for the printer, my first instinct was to ask for it back. What if I needed to make some changes? How could I be sure it was ready?

I imagine plenty of first-time authors contend with either impatience or perfectionism at some point in the writing / publishing process. Some rush to submit a manuscript that’s not been developed to its full potential, or that hasn’t been properly edited. Others hang back, fearing rejection, caught in the backspin of obsessive editing and tweaking.

I fell victim to both as I went through the process with Counteract. Jessica Dall, my lovely host, is the author of Write. Edit. Publish, a great step-by-step primer on how to navigate the publishing process. I wish I could say I followed all her advice and avoided the common pitfalls, but alas, that was not the case. I wish I’d read her book before I began!

Here’s some of the stuff I learned the hard way:

1. Go through several drafts and revisions to assure the story is developed, polished, and ready.

I was so pumped when I finished the first draft, and couldn’t wait to find a publisher. I rationalized that I didn’t really need to go through several revisions, because that would take forever! Off it went, but the industry professionals to which I submitted the manuscript knew it wasn’t ready yet. In fact, it probably took longer to find a publisher because I’d wasted so much time sending it out prematurely.

2. Seek input only from impartial, professional third parties.

I’d been shot down a few times, and I needed some reassurance, so I asked friends and family what they thought of the story. Trouble was, I didn’t want to take their advice. One friend suggested that what Counteract was lacking was a character based on her!

3. Hire an editor.

Most editors will do a free sample edit. I took advantage of several before I found the editor that was right for me. I trust her implicitly, and working with her has made me a better writer, hands down. Susan did a super job of cleaning the manuscript, but I sensed the first chapter still wasn’t drawing readers in like it should. So I went one step further and sought the advice of a writer acquaintance. Her critique of the first chapter was insightful and spot on. In the final round of submissions, I had six different publishers interested in the manuscript.

4. Get out of your rut.

It’s easy to see why some writers prefer to obsessively edit rather than submit their manuscripts and risk rejection. It’s safer to keep editing, rather than risk having a substandard product go out into the world. But obsessive editing is procrastination, especially when you edit a half-finished draft. But I couldn’t help it. Sometimes I needed to stay in a certain section of the manuscript and reboot my courage before I reached out into the next scene.

Once I’d signed the contract with Buddhapuss Ink, LLC, my project went into the queue, and it was several months before the publisher would be working on it in earnest. When she told me I should look it over, tweak it, and get it exactly the way I wanted, I was so relieved! I took advantage of that time, and I probably could’ve tweaked it a little more, but then I would’ve delayed realizing a lifelong goal—to see my first novel in print.


author picTracy Lawson knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she could read. While working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Communication at Ohio University, she studied creative writing with Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. After short stints as a media buyer and an investigative analyst, she settled into a 20-year career in the performing arts, teaching tap in Columbus, Ohio, and choreographing musicals. Though her creative energies were focused on dance, she never lost her desire to write, and has two non-fiction books to her credit: Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More, winner of the 2012 Ohio Professional Writers Association’s Best Non-fiction History Award (McDonald & Woodward), and  Given Moments (Fathers Press).

Tracy’s love for writing new adult fiction is sparked by all wonderful teens in her life, including her daughter Keri, a college freshman. Counteract is Tracy’s first novel.



Coming 8.6.14

Two strangers—their destinies entwined—must work together to thwart a terrorist the
country never suspected. The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has
guarded the public against the rampant threat of terrorism for the last fifteen years with the
full backing of the US government. Their carefully crafted list of Civilian Restrictions means no concerts or sporting events, no travel, no social media, no cash transactions, and no driver’s licenses for eighteen-year-olds Tommy and Careen. The OCSD has even outlawed grocery stores, all in the name of safety.

Now, there’s a new threat-airborne chemical weapons that could be activated at any time. But the OCSD has an antidote: Just three drops a day is all it takes to stay safe. It’s a small price to pay for safety. Or is it…

Guest Post – Danielle E. Shipley: When Classic Tales are Your Inspiration

Today’s post comes from author Danielle E. Shipley, author of several novels–including new release Inspired. Find out more about Danielle below (or pop over to her site today to see my post about going from NaNoWriMo project to published novel).



When Classic Tales are Your Inspiration
by Danielle E. Shipley

A writer’s inspiration can come from many places. One of my own oft-used sources – and that of artists everywhere, in mediums across the board – is the good old-fashioned fairytale. A lot of us grow up surrounded by such tales, stories seen over and again in picture books and movies, stage shows and novels. Clearly, there are any number of ways to take a source tale and make it different. But how to make it uniquely yours?

…Oh, dear. You’re asking me, aren’t you? As if I ever consciously know what I’m doing. Like I didn’t just write and write my whole life long until I one day glanced up from my laptop and realized, what do you know, I’m a writer. I’m still trying to figure out how I got here; trying to retrace my steps to see what tricks I picked up simply by fooling around with imaginary people on the stage of the blank page. Now people are starting to look at me like I’m some kind of authority (I guess a few published books can give that impression), and I’m over here wondering if there’s any method to my madness I can share with inquiring minds.

I think there may be. After much introspection, I think I may know my unwittingly followed core piece of advice for reworking an old story into a brand new, “so you” one. And that advice is: Find what it is about the original story that inspires you.

What element of the story appeals to you? Excites you? Makes you wish, at the end, that the story had been even more about that? Locate, expand upon, and build around that, and your end result just may be a story you always wished you could have read.

In my own case, apart from the magical trimmings and trappings that make up the atmosphere of a classic fairytale world – you know, inconvenient enchantments and talking creatures/objects and other such shiny impossibilities – what I’ve always loved most is… well, love! Love at first sight, true love and its spell-breaking kiss, the love that drives the heroes and heroines to brave whatever it takes to ensure their happy ever after with the ones their hearts have chosen.

So when I set out to weave a collection of fairytales into my series of Wilderhark Tales novellas, that was my primary focus: The hearts of the characters. Turning them from the mere archetypes seen in the fairytales’ originals into individual people whose hearts beat with their own loves and hates and fears and desires and selves is what sets them and their stories apart from any other’s. It’s what makes the stories theirs, and what makes the stories mine.

I applied the same principle when tackling my take on the tales of Robin Hood. Sure, I love the thrill of fictional thievery, but at the core of it, I’m not in the stories for the outlaws’ adventures; I’m in it for their camaraderie. Their relationships, friendship, brotherhood within the band – that’s what makes me want to spend time in the Merry Men’s midst. So that became the heart of my developing Outlaws of Avalon trilogy.

Classic tales are a gold mine of inspiration. Find the nuggets that gleam brightest to you, and create away!



For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.


Buy now in Paperback or ebook from: Amazon             Barnes and Noble           Kobo Books


DanielleAbout the Author: Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who homeschooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it.

Valentine’s Day Interview

Happy Valentine’s Day one and all. Today I’m celebrating with an author interview over on The Page Walker (do I know romance or what?) Check it out here.


Hello, Jessica, and welcome to The Page Walker!

First, tell us something about yourself.
The Page Walker: Most writers are readers too.  Which writers inspire you?

Jessica Dall: Between writing my own things and editing as a freelancer, I actually have very little time for outside reading, sadly (the irony of reading all the time and not at the same time). I have really enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s books, though, and I did recently go back and reread Liz Berry’s The China Garden simply because it was my favorite book back when I was fifteen. Honestly, I’m inspired by everything and anything, so just about anything I read becomes inspiration to me. Perhaps I’m lucky that way.

TPW: Is there a special spot when you’re writing?

JD: I tend to be one of those lucky writers who are able to write anywhere. I always have a notebook with me and have a MacBook Air which is small enough to carry around in my purse if I like, so whenever I have a moment, I’m generally writing. I just have to be careful that… Read More

Professional Writing from A to Z

Today’s post comes to us from Nikolas Baron, part of the Grammarly marketing team. Find more about him on Facebook or Twitter or Check out Grammarly (billed as “an automated proofreader and your personal grammar coach”)


There are some practices that not all professionals share. Some writers have the luxury of working at home. If so, they might spend the day in pajamas. Why get dressed if no one is going to see? What about the days that they have a conference call with an editor? They might keep on the pajama bottoms, simply putting on a nice shirt for the camera. Anyone who would criticize this practice is probably jealous. Professional attire is not as important for telecommuters as it is for other professionals. Nonetheless, there are some things telecommuters can learn from their colleagues in other industries. Let us examine a few to see what we can apply to the writing field.

  • Astronauts

Years before a mission, astronauts begin preparations. They learn special procedures to perform important tasks in space.  Because of the lack of gravity, they learn to swallow special toothpaste instead of spitting it out. They practice what to do in case of an emergency. They rehearse hundreds of times before a launch. To produce a high-quality product, writers also prepare. They take writing classes to learn procedures that will aid them in the writing process. They learn to use computers. They might perform hundreds of writing exercises before they ever begin a novel, but this time is not lost. Practice does make perfect.

  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)

EMTs have one of the most challenging professions of all because life and death depends on whether they perform well under pressure. Timing is essential. Writers often have deadlines, but focusing on them can cause writer’s block. Rather than panic, writers can draw from emergency response advice: Decide what needs to be done, and then do it! Try not to obsess over deadlines. Grab a drink, find a comfortable place, and write. Once you relax, the words will begin to flow.

  •  Jockeys

Jockeys are great at staying on a moving horse. You, too, can ride your work to victory again and again. Many writers do not realize that they can resell their articles. Imagine you wrote a short story and sold it to the imaginary Amazing Tales magazine. You could develop the same characters and themes into a novel. Or vice versa; you could use one of your novels as the basis for a series of short stories. What happened to your characters before or after the novel? Think of these stories as deleted scenes from a movie. Many of your fans would love to read something like that. It is also a great idea for a blog! Other journals, such as Reader’s Digest, welcome reprints. Remember, though, that you must own the rights to any article that you sell.

  • Zoo Keepers

Zoo keepers have fun, dangerous work. These professional caretakers must learn the habits of the animals that they keep; otherwise, they could get hurt. Writers hurt themselves if they fail to use the tools of the trade. If they do not take advantage of free proofreading online, they could lose time and money. If they do not attend writer’s groups, they miss out on encouraging association and valuable feedback. There’s no need to spend a fortune on education. Local colleges often offer writing and computer classes to the community. Learn what is out there and take advantage of it.

Lemonade stand workers set a great example. Their business may consist of only a sign, a table, and a pitcher of lemonade. The venture may be small, but the young entrepreneurs create a great product. They offer it to the community in attractive packaging. Simple though their business may be, they know the importance of creating a great product and treating customers well. Whether you identify with jockeys, jewelers, or janitors, you will be successful if you take a look at other professionals. No matter what kind of professional you look at, there is always a lesson to be learned.


NikolasNikolas Baron discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

Author Interview – Gillian Felix

Today’s post comes to us from Gillian Felix, author of (Family Portrait) Changes, as a stop on her blog tour this month. Find out more about her on her website here, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter



What first made you want to be a writer?

I have always written. As a kid creative writing was one of my favorite subjects. I got my highest marks in that subject. Growing up I was told you have to “get a real job”. I’ve had ‘real’ jobs and it always brought me back to writing. I worked at a television studio writing Prime time news, it was fun at first but then it got depressing. I tried to put a positive spin on the stories but that’s not what ‘news’ is about.

Tell us about (Family Portrait) Changes:

Family Portrait is the series title, it seemed fitting because the series is about family and their relationships. Under all the drama and mayhem at the end of the day it’s about family. Changes (the first novel in the series) is the pilot episode of the television series which the book was originally. Changes introduces the characters and shows how they are all connected through major changes in their lives.

Adriana Banovic is a 15-year-old soap starlet and only knows that life, when she is fired, she is forced to adjust to life as a regular person.

Leighann DaCosta, also 15, achieved rock star stardom from the age of 10, after a whirl wind career she walks away in favor of a normal life leaving everyone who depends on her in turmoil.

Robin Banovic, Adriana’s dad is forced to sell his business plus he is dealing with the death of his father and the regret he feels for treating his father badly in the past.

What made you want to write this book?

These characters have played around in my mind for a long time. It was a television pilot I had written, it got interest from Hollywood but nothing came of it. So I decided why not transform all 24 plus episodes into books? Maybe it’ll find an audience.

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?

I didn’t have any expectations, it’s something I do and I love doing. I love the business aspect of it as well.

What do you think makes a good story?

In my opinion good solid characters in challenging situations makes a good story, they don’t have to be likable just entertaining, with some sort of humanness about them.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I don’t have a favorite genre. I’ll read anything that catches my attention within the first 20 pages.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Sometimes describing a place, I’d love to be able to make readers see the place as clearly as I do in my mind, that detailing I have no patience for but I am working on it. Writing emotionally is easy so I can take the audience there emotionally with the characters because I hear their voices so clearly.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in regards to publishing?

Marketing— Marketing is very tricky, I am learning and have learned a lot. It’s fun most of the time. I have a great mentor who has sold millions of books.

 What are you planning for future projects?

I am working on Book 2 (The Banovic Siblings) which combines pieces of several episodes so it will be longer than the first. I also have another script called You Sang To Me, which is a romance script that I will be transferring to a novel at some point. That too had had interest from Hollywood but again nothing came of it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you want to write then write, be true to your characters, don’t rush. If you decide to [self] publish, get a good editor it is worth it.

 Anything else to add?

It has been a pleasure and thank you for having me.


Gillian FelixGillian Felix has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She enjoys creating characters that could be your next-door neighbor, but if you would want them as your neighbor is another story.

Originally from the island of Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Felix moved to the United States in 1998. Since then she has been involved in the entertainment industry for over fifteen years. Her experience ranges from script supervisor to production manager on many independent features. She is trained in the Meisner and Stanislavski technique of acting, which she credits as an asset to her character development and writing.

You can find her on Facebook at or on Twitter @gillianfx

Guest Post – Marianne Sciucco: Book Signing 101

Today’s post comes to us from Marianne Sciucco, author of Blue Hydrangeasreleased earlier this year. Find out more about her below or follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

To see my author interview on The Kelworth Files up today click here.


Book junkies everywhere know the thrill that comes when a beloved book is signed by its author, especially when the author signs it just for them.  The only thrill sweeter is when you are the author signing the book for a grateful reader.  Even in this world of e-publishing and e-commerce, when readers and authors can develop relationships online without ever meeting, the book signing event is alive and well.  Selling books hand to hand is time-consuming and slow, admittedly, but to interact with a reader face to face is priceless.

I recently published my first novel, Blue Hydrangeas, in paperback on September 11.  A week later, I was the featured author at a Harvest Festival at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, New York.  This venue stands on the site of the original Woodstock concert in 1969, and many consider it hallowed ground.  Thousands of people – locals, leaf peepers, and city folk – attend the Harvest Festivals.  I’d like to share with you what I learned from my first book signing ever.

How did a newbie author with few sales and little following procure such a plum selling spot?  Simple – I asked.  I knew the event, held every Sunday in September, sponsored a local author.  Weeks before, I sent an email to the organizer and told her a little about myself and the book, and next thing I knew I was on their schedule.  They provided me with a space in their craft tent where I worked elbow to elbow with jewelry makers, wood carvers, weavers, candle makers, and other artisans.  They also provided publicity about my book signing.  I saw it on their web site, in my local newspaper, and had people tell me they learned about my book on the radio and on the internet.  The advance notice went way beyond my expectations.  I had posted on my social media – facebook and Twitter – but their outreach had eclipsed mine, and brought in the crowd.  Lesson 1: Know who puts on such events in your community and ask to be included.  Many venues and events are looking for local authors.  Most will include you in their advertising.

As expected, the festival had a huge attendance and traffic in the craft tent was heavy and steady.  My husband, Lou, had accompanied me for moral support and help setting up my display table.  I had put together an assortment of items to help promote my book.  I framed an 8 x 10 photo of the book cover, bought a lovely framed print that read, “A true love story never ends,” gathered some blue hydrangeas in a Nantucket lightship basket, and, of course, placed a stack of books in the center of it all with a sign that read, “Meet the Author Today.”  I also had, on one end, information about the upcoming Alzheimer’s walk, and, on the other end, information about the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, the recipient of a portion of my book’s profits.  Scattered across the table were Hershey’s Dark Kisses, because experts say dark chocolate may ward off dementia.  It soon became apparent the table was cluttered and confusing, so we began to pare away the items that didn’t help my cause, which was to attract attention and readers for my book.  Lesson 2: Don’t try to accomplish too much.  Although my intentions were worthy, I needed to keep the focus on my book.  Once people realized I was an author with a book for sale they were able to either move on or engage with me, and not waste either of our time.  Of course, the chocolate remained.

Which brings us to Lesson 3: Engage your audience.  I know this is a hard thing for most people, especially authors who often work alone, but this is not a time to be shy.  People will not flock to your book table just because you’re there.  You need to reach out to them and entice them to come see what you have to offer.  I simply said, “Hi, I’m Marianne, the featured author today,” and those who were not readers or didn’t care for books simply smiled and walked by or ignored me.  The book people in the crowd were quick to come over, because book people love other book people and are always looking for something good to read.  This gave me the opportunity to pitch my book and draw them in.  For the first time, I had the opportunity to gauge the public’s reaction to my work.

Blue Hydrangeas is an Alzheimer’s love story, the tale of a pair of retired Cape Cod innkeepers struggling with the disease.  Alzheimer’s is a tender subject and touches so many lives.  Some people cried just talking about it, such as the woman who recounted the story of her good friend and the husband who cared for her with love and patience until the last day.  Then there was the woman who lost her dad to Alzheimer’s last year and had to walk away because the pain was still so raw she could not speak of it without choking up.  Others were curious about the book and didn’t hesitate to buy a copy, including the woman who lost her father years ago, yet still reads everything she can about Alzheimer’s to further understand what happened to him and what may happen to her and other family members she loves.  I was not sure if those who currently live with the disease would be interested in my story, but was surprised to sell a few copies to current caregivers.

The majority of my customers were middleaged women, avid readers, with a personal interest in either the disease or a good love story.  Some bought the book as a gift for someone they knew living with the disease.  I had the good fortune to sell a copy to a local newspaper columnist and his nurse wife, and an English teacher from my daughter’s high school that had lost his mother to Alzheimer’s a few years ago.  Lesson 4:  Don’t prejudge a possible book buyer.  We never know what passions or interests another person carries.  The little old lady with the tight perm might be hot for steamy romances while the jock may have a soft spot for sensitive love stories.  To prejudge is to lose a possible sale.

Finally, Lesson 5, the most uncomfortable to learn: If it’s an outdoor venue, pay attention to and heed the weather report.  This day was cold, cloudy, and blustery, just as the weatherman had predicted, but did we listen?  No, Lou and I were under dressed for the weather, and it was tough to keep smiling.  This in itself became a topic for conversation, an icebreaker of sorts that helped keep us busy talking about the book and making sales.

At the day’s end, we had sold and I had signed fourteen books.  I hear that’s a good amount, but, even if not, I consider the day a success.  I met many people.  I told them about my book.  I perfected my pitch.  I learned what to bring to a book-signing event.  I made my first sale, ever.  Best lesson: I experienced one of the perks of being an author.

Other suggestions for a successful book signing:

  • Make sure the venue offers shelter (a tent, indoors), a table and chairs.  If not, bring your own.
  • Take along a small cooler with snacks, drinks, and a meal.
  • Stay hydrated.  You will talk a lot and your throat will become dry.
  • Keep plenty of singles on hand to make change.  If possible, arrange to take credit cards.
  • If you’re outdoors in sunshine, wear a hat and use sunscreen.
  • Provide cards or bookmarks with information on how to buy your book for those who are not able to purchase that day.
  • Listen to your customers whether they buy or not.  They may remember you cared and buy the book next week.
  • Never get discouraged.  One single sale is more than you had before the event.



Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse, using her skills and experience to create stories that bear witness to the humanity in all of us.  A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Regents College, she lives, works, and writes in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Find her book, Blue Hydrangeas, here, or find out more about her at her blogs, http://www.mariannesciucco.blogspot.com, or She can be followed on Facebook at and on Twitter @MarianneSciucco.

Guest Post – Bernadette Marie: Why I Became a Publisher

Today’s post comes to us from Bernadette Marie, Romance Author and founder of 5 Prince Publishing. Learn more about her here

Regular posts will resume Monday. In the meantime, you can also read my “Author Spotlight” Interview on World Lit Cafe live today here


There are always ways to get to where you want to go. Look at an Internet map. Plug in your destination and you will get multiple routes. You chose the one best for you. Becoming a publisher was the best for me.

Let’s start with why I even bothered.

I did my foot work. I put in my time. I sent queries (and I’d done so since I was 16 years old.) I pitched, took classes, had the critique partners…and so on and so on. And like many aspiring authors I was shot down often.

I take everything as learning experience! A “no” is just a stepping stone to the next level. The hardest part knowing what you’re supposed to change to get better.

Self-promotion has always come easy for me. So I began to do so as soon as I decided I was a serious author. I was approached by a publisher who wanted me. What a thrill! Well, let me get that out of the way…publishers do not seek out authors. Authors seek out publishers. Needless to say it was a bad business move.

After years of basically having my books held hostage and no royalties paid, I had to move on. With my experience as an entrepreneur I knew I could do this myself. I was right.

The purpose of 5 Prince Publishing was to give me an actual business to publish under. Yes, in 2011, the independent publisher and author was still not a fully accepted method of publishing. Here we sit in 2013 and the format is the way to go.

What I quickly found out was authors wanted to embrace the smaller houses and have more control over their work.

I certainly wasn’t ready or thinking of publishing others. However, authors didn’t want to hear that. They liked my format for my business and they wanted me to publish them. So I began to accept other authors.

Taking my business seriously, as I was doing, to be a 5 Prince Publishing author, you had to be willing to have an understanding of how small my company was, work with me through the growing pains, and of course you had to write a good book.

I made some mistakes. I helped some friends and that didn’t go so well. Now I don’t accept the books, someone else with a fresh look at it does that. I have a great team of editors and line editors and the submissions just fly in. Our cover artist is amazing. Our authors interactive in the big picture, understanding that every little it helps when you help each other.

In January 2014 5 Prince Publishing will turn three years old and will have over 60 titles in its catalog. I can’t say I ever saw it coming. We have multiple bestselling authors and revenue grows as we continue to learn this new frontier of publishing.

5 Prince Publishing

Click to find more about 5 Prince Publishing