Monday, December 9, 2013


Dialogue tags specify which character is talking. While tags can detract from dialogue if overused, they are necessary. The most common tag is said.

“I can no longer help you,” said Frank.


This allows the reader to keep up with who is speaking without having to go back to figure it out.           

According to the article Another take on Dialogue Tags, from The Editor’s Blog, (“Some action words are given leeway as dialogue tags in a number of genres---typically whisper and murmur, and others such as mutter, yell, holler, and cry. Romance also allows for words such as groan and moan, although those are also action words.”


“Don’t forget to bring pop to the party. Otherwise, they’ll send you out to the store,” Debbie warned.

            “I can’t because I’m already making the casserole, cake and the dip,” Alice declared.


Variations of tags have a nicer flow and are acceptable.

            “I think we should leave now,” Peter pointed to the clock.

            Frank nodded, “Okay, I’m ready.”


Action beats are another way to communicate who is speaking. They are intended to break up a long stretch of dialogue.

            “Let’s go out for pizza,” said Larry.

            “That’s fine with me, but I need a babysitter.”

            “You can bring little Jimmy, he has all his teeth right?”

            “Yes, but I’m not up for keeping an eye on him. The last restaurant we went to he caused quite a commotion.”

            Larry stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. “That’s fine. I have just enough money to treat us to pizza, not cover broken items.”

How do you use tags with your dialogue?








Monday, December 2, 2013


We’ve all experienced it—books with scenes so sensuous they practically melt the pages.

Sitting down to pen a love scene is no more convoluted than writing an action scene. Or is it? What if you are writing for young adults or Christians?

Here’s how to create tamed love scenes and still entertain your readers:


1.      Decide what you are comfortable writing.

2.      Make dialogue realistic and avoid being syrupy to replace the actual act.

3.      Create tension by the missteps of your characters.

4.      Start out with sexual desire.

5.      Find alternative ways to describe the act of love-making.


Monday, November 25, 2013


When creating a story, there are many factors a writer takes into consideration such as adding description without bogging down the reader, or simplifying a character’s part. Equally important is staying true to the lingo of a particular era. Here are examples of slang words and phrases from the 80s.



A flighty person; a dim-wit.


Excited or pumped up.


A man’s description of a woman’s attractive body.

Bomb/the bomb

Something enjoyable or exciting.


Laid back, relaxed, or to calm down when angry.

Couch potato

Someone who watches a lot of TV.


A smart preppy person.


A nerd.

Gang banging

A gang of guys having sex with one girl.

Get Real

Disbelief in facts or irritation with someone.


Uncool or stupid.


A word used to start off a sentence.


Something cool or extreme.


A derivative of awesome.

Valley Girl

A dippy Californian girl who lives in San Fernando Valley.


Relaxing, taking it easy.


How do you convey a specific vernacular in your book?


Monday, November 18, 2013



Standing poised with a welcoming smile, Author Linda Stallworth enlightens onlookers' intrigued with the details of her book collection. She is one of 300 local and national authors featured at the 2013 Decatur Book Festival in downtown Decatur, Georgia. This is just one of many venues the author has been showcased in, from book signings to radio spots.

Originally a native of Texas, the Georgian resident and mother of two, began seriously writing long after the conceptualized seed sprouted back in high school. Her first book, Betray Me Not Part I, was published in 2003, by Hope of Vision Publishing Company, and since then, she’s continued with sequels II, III and IV.

Stallworth’s style of writing is contemporary with relatable characters we may know personally or have heard of; sly, love-struck, contemptuous, self-serving, bamboozled individuals that Stallworth transitions effortlessly with each sentence to the next, drawing the story to its surprising conclusion.


Q. Who inspired you to become a writer?


A. It was never preplanned. I was inspired by a dream I had in the middle of the night. Once I began writing the story on my first novel, I realized it was a book that was desperately needed for young women.  Because of our need to feel love, desired, and wanted- sometimes we put on blinders in order to mask what we really don’t want to see.


Q. What do you find most challenging when writing a manuscript?


A. Timing! The writing part was easy. The challenge was picking up where I left off and finding my voice in the story.


Q. What are your views toward today's market?


A. Today’s market is a tough one due to the current economy, and the lack of motivation on behalf of readership. But the market is still at a steady pace for romance writers, which is the genre I can personally relate to.


Q. What advice do you have for fledgling writers?


A. My advice to young and/or inexperience writers is to go where your heart leads you. Stay dedicated to your craft and you will persevere.  If you are determine, no one can stop you from making your dreams come true.

Next year, Author Stallworth plans to co-write a book with Dr. Aaron Turpeau on love and relationships.

To purchase Linda Stallworth’s book, go to:

Linda Stallworth’s book webpage:


See Linda Stallworth’s radio interview via YouTube:








Monday, November 11, 2013


Writing an autobiography can be taxing and gratifying. But just because it’s your story doesn’t mean it’s an easy one to tell. First, ask yourself why anyone would want to read it. Do you have a unique angle? Does it inspire? Then, decide your target audience.

It is important to know the appropriate format of your narrative. This can be remedied through reading other published autobiographies.

Having an outline allows the most significant details to surface; however, every minuscule description doesn’t have to be spilled out over the page.

The key to writing a great autobiography is to treat it like any other well-crafted story with flawed characters to a backdrop of conflict and heroism. Such outlining is specified in a WikiHow article: How to Write an Autobiography,

The article states the importance of revealing truths without being overly explicit. Present yourself as a whole, which means exposing the good and bad. Beware, though, to get permission from certain individuals, depending on the occurrence.

Have you written an autobiography?


Monday, November 4, 2013


If you can admit to making common grammar errors, fret not, you're not alone. In fact, you are among 95 percent of individuals who do the same, according to J/P/Schoemer Communications.


Use a hyphen when it comes before a noun, and never after an –ly word. This is known as a “compound modifier.”

That and which.

Nonessential description uses “which,” while essential information uses “that.”

Hopping from singular to plural.

Using “her or his” is the appropriate reference for a singular character, and “their” represents a plural version.

For the full outlined material, go to:


Monday, October 28, 2013


Today’s book publishing markets allow writers to take control over their work. This does not mean your novel should look inferior to those in print by publishing companies. If you decide to self-publish, follow these tips to guarantee your work is professional.

Weak Writing:

This is a sure killer when it comes to self-publishing. Savvy readers can pick up on passive writing, which may turn them away from your book altogether.

Too many adverbs:

Those pesky “ly” words can destroy a plot faster than a deformed story arc.

Texts that leads to nowhere land:

Every sentence and paragraph should be written with a plot-driven purpose. Even dialogue should have a point, opposed to meaningless chatter.

Incorrect spacing:

Not so long ago, two spaces were the norm between sentences based on the characters of a typewriter. Today, one space is adequate.

A cheesy book cover:

Seek out a quality graphic designer. Look at books in bookstores to get ideas for your own cover.


What steps did you follow with your self-published book?

Monday, October 21, 2013


Your first novel is now complete. Or is it? Sure, the words “the end” have been typed, but the work is far from finished. The challenging part is through rewrites and editing.

However, shortening your manuscript should take place after the conclusion of the first draft to avoid inhibiting the creative process. Follow these tips to help lighten the weight of your novel:

 -Cut out unnecessary words for succinct writing. This means words like, anyway, simply, somehow, just, finally, truly, somehow, about, can be deleted from your pages.

-Keep ideas concise and avoid repetition of words, thoughts and phrases.

-Use one adjective oppose to two or three. Example: “Astonished by the low flying plane, young Jeff shoved his hands in his pockets, winced and crinkled his nose, before yelling out, “Ooooohaweee.”

-Show and don’t tell. “She looked shocked.” Or, “She stumbled back, clutching her heart.”

-According to editor, and blogger, Rachelle Gardner, “If you cut 12 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already shortened it by 4,200 (unnecessary) words.”

-Do away with incessant “ly” adverbs: suddenly, truly, lovingly, surely, thoughtfully,

-Shorten Characters’ thoughts.

-Backstory that serves no purpose should be omitted.

 How do you shorten your manuscript?



Monday, October 14, 2013


Most novelists are up against many intricacies when it comes to penning arcs in their story. There is no wonder finding which arc you’re on can be a bit daunting.

An arc is the obvious path; the curvature of a story from beginning to end.

Arcs usually ensure a cohesive finish to a manuscript, which outlines what the story is about and gives your ending a dramatic finish.

Types of arcs:




Arcs used in creative works:

Mini series



Motion Pictures

Nigel Watts, author of Writing a Novel and Getting Published, talks about the eight-point story arch in which all great novels must have:

1. Stasis

2. Trigger

3. The quest

4. Surprise

5. Critical choice

6. Climax

7. Reversal

8. Resolution

For details concerning the eight-point story arc, go to link:


Other websites on story arcs:


Sunday, October 6, 2013


Some authors are theoretically unaware their fiction novel is women’s fiction until they compose a query letter. While the general audience may be geared toward women, this doesn’t necessarily mean the book itself is women’s fiction. So, what is women’s fiction? It is the subject and situations involving female individuals and their plight, with the character’s journey at the center of the theme, and is relatable by female readers.

Some examples of women’s fiction:

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan

First Sight, by Danielle Steel


What type of women’s fiction would you like to write?

Monday, September 23, 2013


Don’t think for one moment little folks are an easier audience than adults. Young people expect superb stories that hold their interest and showcase young heroes just like them. Books that have exciting storylines and weaved-in light, moral issues, frequently win over the pickiest little critic.

1.     Create an exciting story.

2.     Moral lessons are good to incorporate.

3.     Determine the age group of your audience.

4.     The style and flow of your story should be predetermined.

5.     Use age-appropriate words, yet, allow your audience to expand their vocabulary.

6.     Stories for kids should include kids.

7.     Allow your imagination to fly.

8.     Watch how children talk and interact with one another.

9.     Put yourself in a child’s place.

10.  Embrace ordinary ideas from a unique character’s perspective.

11.  It’s a good idea to have a happy ending.

12.  Read other children’s books for ideas.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Author Donna Hill, who resides in Brooklyn, New York, started out writing short stories in 1987 then, progressed to publish works in anthologies dating back to 1994. The gifted novelist has over fifty published titles to her name such as: Rooms of the Heart, Deception, Quiet Storm, If I Were Your Woman, Heart’s Reward, Legacy of Love, For You I Will, and an upcoming release in 2014, Risky Business.

With such talent, it’s only natural that radio stations and television networks came knocking on her literary door, clamoring for interviews! As a result, three of Hill’s novels were adapted for television. In light of her efforts, she’s also been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers and has won copious achievement awards.

Hill, always striving to hear from her readers through written feedback, has a knack for developing memorable characters that oftentimes leap off the pages and snatch you right into their well-crafted scenes; themes with realism and startling plots captivate until the very last page.

For information about Donna Hill, her calendar-of-events and how to purchase her books, visit:



Monday, September 9, 2013


Because dialogue is hugely important to your story, it is in the interest of the author to limit pointless gibber among characters.  While a character’s unique, voice plays a major part in storytelling, if these elements are missing; it causes them to fall flat.

What also inhibits a character’s capabilities is the lack of movement.  Just like real people, they make hand gestures and facial expressions. They shift their weight, stomp and even flee the scene. However, creating this flow of believable dialogue, with characters moving about with ease, takes time.

Example 1:

“I can’t go to the party,” Sherry said.

“Why not? You promised me weeks ago you’d be my date?”

“I know, but something has come up.”


“I can’t say.”

“You mean something or someone?”


“What then?”

“I’ll tell .you, Ken, you smother me! I can’t breathe. You call me all times of the day – everyday.”


Example 2:

“I can’t go to the party,” Sherry said, shifting her gaze to the floor.

“Why not? You promised me weeks ago you’d be my date?”

“I know, but something has come up.”

Ken’s eyebrows drew in. “What?”

“I can’t say.” Sherry closed her locker and turned to walk away, but not before his demanding grip held her firm.

“You mean something or someone?”


“What then?”

“I’ll tell you,” Sherry said, holding out her hand and counting her fingers with the other. “You smother me! I can’t breathe. You call me all times of the day – and night.”

How do your characters move about?



Monday, September 2, 2013


When you sit down to write your first draft, your creativity should be uninhibited. Yet, applying the rules of fiction writing is vital when it comes to getting published.

Talk about places you know. Don’t attempt to elaborate on the particulars of city life if you grew up on a farm. This only works if you’ve spent much time and research on location.

Your character's determination should be built on problems. Based on your protagonist’s temperament, a number of outcomes are possible. Readers love seeing individuals in books come full-circle and overcome obstacles.

Multidimensional characters resonate with readers. It’s okay to pattern them after people you know, or have observed from a distance. Your pages should include what characters look like, their dialect, what they are thinking.

Avoid generalizations when you can be specific. If there is a meeting place at noon, don’t write about, or near. When it comes to using name brands, be careful; this could date your book.

Show more than tell. This is achieved through reactions, emotions and actions. Example: Sherry looked surprised. Better: Sherry’s eyebrows lifted when she heard about the layoff.

Sidestep the use of parenthesis. Avoid using them at all cost.  Don’t include anything in your manuscript that tempts the reader to bypass.

What writing rules do you follow?

Monday, August 26, 2013


There is nothing worse than a missed opportunity. You’ve vowed to capture the nuances of a special event for your book, only to realize “later” is too late. The impermanent idea has vanished. To counter losing those golden, fleeting thoughts, keep a small notebook handy at all times.

 1.     Daily thoughts or ideas often lead to major stories.

2.     Believable scenes can be captured whether you’re at the movies or the grocery store. There are many narratives in our day-to-day that might fit into a storyline.

3.     Getting the names correct from individuals who’ve rendered service is imperative, especially if their contribution is referenced in your book.

4.     Dialect in the raw can be logged when you over-hear an interesting or peculiar speech pattern. Authors’ thirst for unique characters.

5.     Mind maps are useful when developing characters, plots and so-on.

6.     Once in a lifetime, on-the-spur interviews can transpire if you are prepared.

7.     Noting triggers from places or even smells, may afford you the perfect theme for the inception of a new book.

8.     Jot down the names of shops, parks and streets for later use.

9.     Dreams often generate pathways to our creative genius.

10.  Putting a spin on an existing idea is what writers do. Find a way to reinterpret the concept and make it your own.

Other articles on the topic:

What brilliance have you captured by keeping a notebook handy?

Monday, August 19, 2013


These days, writers absorb almost everything they can to hone their skills. Talent, coupled with perseverance plays a significant part, as does being resourceful!

Elizabeth Bowen, noted for saying, “Bring all your intelligence to bear on your beginning,” points out an important fact: all writers start a project in the same manner, from scratch.

Check out the following websites to get you on your way!


This is a virtual writing group with members from all over the world.

References, forums, writers’ groups are all at your fingertips.


Responses to questions you have to know the answer to.


Instantly edits your manuscript with nothing to download.

The Oxford Dictionary Online

Helpful resource for better writing and concepts.

Publishes Christian books.



There is a load of information involving the use of various languages.








Monday, August 12, 2013


At this stage in the game, most authors are cognizant they must wear alternate hats, from writer, to marketer, in order to ensure a successful book launch.

Your book signing doesn’t necessarily have to be at a library or bookstore; in many instances, your home will do just fine. It’s all about being creative and making the event engaging for attendees.

Invitations should be simplistic in wording. Outline the event, date, time and location and activities. But who comes to a book signing? And who should you invite?

1)     College friends/professors

2)     Your child’s teachers.

3)     Parents of your child’s classmates.

4)     Church members.

5)     Close friends/acquaintances.

6)     Family.

7)     Coworkers.

8)     Social media contacts.

9)     Organization affiliates.

10) Neighbors.

11) Friends of friends.

What is your method for sending out book signing invitations?



Monday, August 5, 2013



Anyone who says writing a book is easy doesn’t know much about the industry. The process of writing, with all the hours invested in typing, research, rewrites, and revisions, not to mention the daunting task of the markets and rejections; it’s enough to send you down quits Ville.

Landing a solid reading audience is what every writer desires. To have life breathed into the pages you’ve labored over is, let’s face it, the ultimate goal. But remaining encouraged in the face of disappointment is tiring.

It is up to you to define your talent and worth.  Don’t leave it in the hands of someone who refuses to see your journey. Sidestep situations that pull you away from your love of writing.

Learn to Relax. You chose this profession for the love of writing.  Keep that in mind. Avoid pressuring yourself to produce the next bestseller. Write what you feel.

Step away for a break. Know when to back away, especially when a phrase isn’t quite working.  Take a deep breath and walk to a calm place.  Thoughts generally come to an unobstructed mind.

Choose the right environment to write. If you can pump out several pages at Kopplin’s Coffee, opposed to writing off the shores of the Lanikai Beach, then by all means, honor your preference. Some authors play music according to the theme or time period of their work. Do what’s right for you.

Lighten the mood. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, running on the same level of robustness. Sometimes embracing laughter frees your mind and negates unwanted energy.


Talk with fellow authors. Your problems are monumental when you feel no one else understands what you’re going through. A chat with other authors can be enlightening. You may find they’ve undergone similar circumstances.


Focus on your writing goals. Countering the negative opinions of others is crucial in this business. Stay on track by honing your craft and all that comes with it. Nothing else is needed.


Keep your fingers moving. No matter what problems crop up, keep writing. Life happens. Don’t allow it to stifle your career.


Fear listening to fear. Too many hours have gone into your work to start backing down because of anxiety.  At your own pace, continue moving forward.


How do you beat the writing blues?






Monday, July 29, 2013


My daughter Faith presents me with many opportunities to write about her, like going to the local library, which became a Saturday ritual for us.  We’d eagerly race to the nearest round table in the children’s section.  The table reached my kneecaps as I sat hunched over in the small chair looking at the books she’d selected. One particular Saturday, Faith picked out a book about boats. 

            “Look, Mommy, this is a bi-i-i-i-g boat!”  Her eyes widened to match the exaggeration.

            “Yes, it is big,” I stated.  “It’s called a ship.  Mommy and Daddy took a trip on a similar ship when we went to the Bahamas.”

            “Where was I when you went?”

            Oh, boy.  I walked into that one, I thought to myself. 

            “Well . . . you weren’t born yet,” I told her. 

            “Oh, this was before you and daddy got me.”

            “Yes,” I responded, surprised.

            My heart sank because for the longest, my husband and I weren’t sure if Faith understood she’d been adopted.  We agreed that we wouldn’t keep the adoption from her.  However, while we wanted Faith to know where she came from, we didn’t want her to feel inundated or saddened by the information.  

I watched her as she nonchalantly turned the pages to her book, making attempts to read every word.   Now five years old, and already a bundle of head-strong opinions; she warmed my heart to the point it ached.  I found myself often staring at her while she slept, still overwhelmed with joy that she is with me as it had been a long two-year journey of needles and failed fertility attempts. 

Faith approached me a few days later after talking with a friend.

            “Mommy, did it hurt your stomach when you had me?”

            I had my answer.  Adoption had merely been a word and nothing more.

            “You know you didn’t come from my stomach, right?”

            “Well, whose stomach did I come from, Grandma’s?”

            Her forehead creased with confusion, which stopped me short from laughing out loud.  I didn’t know a delicate way to put it.    When she named another grandparent, her mix-up had become too painful to witness.

            “I’m your mommy, Faith, even though you came from someone else’s stomach.”

 I wanted to cry, looking into her little innocent face.  If only she knew I lived vicariously through her.  Every time she leaped into bed with my husband and me, smiling with contentment over her face, I could only imagine her joy.    Our family nights consist of games and tea parties and listening to made up stories involving characters who were friends with a fairy princess named Faith.  Dance sessions with mommy were typical experiences she relished in, and I cherished endlessly, vowing privately to keep them in my mental Rolodex.  If only she knew that every time she gave me a bright smile or reaffirmed that she’s “my best girl,” it gave me peace even when I’d had a day filled with stress.
I decided that the subject of adoption would take care of itself and that in due time, as she matures, so would her understanding.

            A few weeks later, Faith took to cutting out pictures from magazines.  A particular one-dimensional celebrity cut-out prompted me to say, “Faith she’s adopted just like you.”

            She looked up at me with delight.  I took the opportunity to ask her again.

            “Faith do you know what being adopted means?”

            “Ummm, I’m not sure,” she said, bouncing the paper cut-out on my head.

            “Adoption is when someone picks you to live with them and become a part of their family.  That’s just how special you are.”

I felt a bit anxious because I didn’t know if she would cry or feel down.

            She smiled broadly, pleased with the explanation.  Then with much thought she said, “I’m glad you and daddy adopted me.  Of course you picked me, I’m beautiful.”


*Faith is an unwavering belief that does not require proof or evidence.