So You Want to Write Romance: Hybrid authors will share their publishing journeys

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
HeraHubLogoHera Hub, a spa-inspired coworking space for entrepreneurial women, will host an Authors’ Salon featuring two Southern California romance writers discussing their paths to publishing. Through eFrog Press I have had the opportunity to meet many authors and helped select the speakers and will lead the panel discussion on writing process, publishing, and marketing.  Details: Tuesday, October 20, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Carlsbad. Register online at Can’t attend? A follow-up blog will share their wisdom.


There are so many ways to get published in 2015. Jan Moran and Judith Lown have published  traditionally as well as indie. Both also write romance but Moran writes historical and contemporary fiction and Lown focuses on the Regency Period. Both know how to write a compelling tale that keeps their readers turning the pages. They will be featured speakers at the October Authors’ Salon on writing and publishing romance (see details above).

SCENT OF TRIUMPH by Jan Moran_medMoran will talk about her historical novel, Scent of Triumph (St. Martin’s Press). A very long plane trip to Paris seemed much shorter as I read the ebook edition. I began to understand so much more about the perfume industry that, of course, I had to purchase a very special new scent. I was in Paris after all! As Moran said:

“I write stylish books for smart women. My characters are often running a business, and juggling their love life and family responsibilities. Like real people, they make mistakes, but they always save themselves in a creative manner. In both my contemporary and historical novels, I write for the modern woman who wants to enjoy all life has to offer.”

Much like her characters, Moran draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway) and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). I enjoyed Moran’s presentation at the SDSU Writers’ Conference in San Diego and invited her to be part of the Authors’ Salon. She also presented at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) earlier this year.

Judith Lown began reading historical Regency romance during a stressful time in her life when she was a social worker helping disintegrating families. She needed to escape during her free time, and began reading historical Regencies. Lown said:

“This genre was created by Georgette Heyer and her Regencies were marked by heroines of taste and courage and heroes who could more than hold their own with ladies who knew their own minds. Heyer despised sentimentality, cowardice, and both mindless conformity on one hand, and self-indulgent non-conformity on the other.”

BostonTanglefinal10.11.2015_medIn her newest title, Boston Tangle: Regency Comes to America, Lown transports three of her English characters from previous books to Boston where they interact with the upper class and, of course, there is a love story—a tangled tale. Lown’s heroine Drusilla Fortesque is a lady who knows her own mind and Lown laces her writing with wry wit and avoids sappiness. Heyer would be proud.

Judith Lown has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and her understanding of family systems theory helps her develop rich, character-driven plots. She is a dog lover and an active volunteer for the Greyhound Adoption Center which has inspired her to include a canine character in each of her novels.

During the panel discussion, authors will share their writing process (very different), their publishing paths, and advice to aspiring authors. If you do not live in San Diego County and cannot attend this stimulating evening (did I mention wine and dessert?), watch for a follow-up blog where I will share all their practical advice!

Of Dinosaurs and Desperadoes—Writing “The Bone Feud”

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Author Photo ColorWynne McLaughlin is a video game designer, screenwriter, and television writer. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, west and the International Game Developers Association. His first novel, “The Bone Feud,” an action-packed true story of dinosaur bone hunters in the Wild West, will be available as a free download from on Tuesday, November 18th and Thursday, November 20th .


Of Dinosaurs and Desperadoes—Writing “The Bone Feud”

“An action adventure novel about dinosaur bone hunters in the Wild West? How did you come up with an idea like that?” Great question.  For me, the journey that eventually led me to write The Bone Feud began when I was just five years old.

Today, the North Shore Shopping Center in Peabody, Massachusetts, is a huge, multilevel mall, but in the mid-1960s, it was an open-air shopping center with a small selection of kiddie rides at one end. The year I entered kindergarten the shopping center sponsored a dinosaur exhibit. They brought in a number of life-sized fiberglass models of dinosaurs on wheeled trailers and parked them beside the amusements for the kids to gawk at. There was a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Stegosaurus, a Triceratops, and an enormous green Brontosaurus (which today we know to be an Apatosaurus) that looked very much to me like Dino, the family pet from one of my favorite cartoon shows, The Flintstones. I’ve no idea how accurate these representations were, only that, in the wide eyes of a five year old, they were magnificent. It was right then and there that my lifelong fascination with dinosaurs began.

I immediately proclaimed that when I grew up I wanted to be an “archaeologist” and dig up dinosaur bones, but my mother patiently explained to me that archaeologists don’t dig up dinosaur bones, and that what I actually wanted to be was a paleontologist.

In the years that followed I fell in love with all things science. My father took me to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see real dinosaur skeletons. I began to collect rocks and a few small fossils. I became enraptured by the Apollo space programs and watched in the grainy footage of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon in awe, on a tiny, flickering black and white television. I owned a chemistry set, a telescope, a microscope, and a working scale-model German steam engine that I’d won in a contest, for building a whacky Rube Goldberg machine that ate spaghetti. I was determined to become a scientist of some kind.


Science is Hard

My disillusionment came in junior high school when I discovered that a large part of any science degree involved advanced mathematics, something for which I had no natural talent. I was “numerically challenged,” but I loved to read, and for me, reading science fiction was the next best thing to studying science. I was such a voracious reader that eventually becoming a writer was inevitable.

I began to write screenplays and eventually moved to Los Angeles. I was in my early 20s, waiting tables and tending bar to pay my bills while I wrote. Eventually I got my break and ended up spending the better part of ten years writing for film and television. Today I make my living writing and designing video games.


The Bones of Contention

Before I left the film industry, around 2000-2001, I stumbled upon a nonfiction book by author and newspaper journalist Mark Jaffe. Entitled The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science, it detailed the history of the events known variously as “The Bone Wars” and the “Great Dinosaur Rush.” These events came about when two paleontologists made a remarkable series of discoveries, unearthing the remains of some of the greatest of the Jurassic dinosaur species we know today.

A straightforward re-telling of their story would have been somewhat dry, and ultimately quite depressing. These two men, Professor Edward Drinker Cope and Professor O.C. Marsh, were compulsive, jealous, driven men, and their bitter feud ultimately destroyed them both. But the events surrounding the story captured my imagination. This happened in the late 1870s at the height of the American Wild West. In the course of their travels, Cope and Marsh crossed paths with an amazing array of colorful characters who have been heavily romanticized in Western fiction over the years: Wild Bill Hickok, P.T. Barnum, the great Sioux leader Red Cloud, and many others. As I read their stories I began to see within them the bones of a fantastic adventure tale. I saw wonder and magic in these events, and I became determined to take their story and make it my own.


“The Truth Is Bound To Be Somewhere In Between.”

I made notes on all of the most interesting characters and events and wrote them on a series of index cards, posting them on a giant corkboard. I moved them around, combined some events, and altered others. I compressed timelines and took liberties with historical fact. In the end, I was satisfied with the structure of the story I’d created, but there was something missing. I needed a lens to view the story through. In short, I needed a storyteller.

At about this same time I read the fabulous revisionist western Little Big Man, by Thomas Berger. I’d become aware of the novel after seeing the Dustin Hoffman film of the same name. Both the novel and the film used a framing sequence—“bookended” scenes—that had Jack Crabb, the 121 year old main character, recounting his story in flashback to a curious historian.

I’d learned, from Mark Jaffe’s book, of a newspaperman who had published a number of stories about Cope and Marsh’s feud in the New York Herald. I made William H. Ballou my stand-in for the historian. But who would be telling him the story? I didn’t want to use Cope or Marsh, or any of their known associates. I wanted an outside perspective; someone peripherally involved with the story, but not a scientist. I wanted someone the reader would immediately identify with. An everyman.

Garvey the catAs I was sitting at my computer thinking about this, our cat leaped up onto my lap. He was an older cat, an orange tabby that had been with my wife for over a decade before I met her. He was the star of a hundred stories my wife had told me over the years. Garvey had the most adventuresome spirit of any animal I’d ever met. If only he could talk.

And just like that, my fictional hero James Garvey was born.


Breaking All The Rules

I finished the screenplay for The Bone Feud a few months later and was convinced that it was the best thing I’d ever written. I had my agent send it out, and I had some initial interest, but ultimately nothing came of it. It broke all the rules. It was a big budget period piece. It had an ensemble cast rather than one or two starring roles. And it was a Western. Westerns have been a hard sell since their golden age in the 50s and 60s. So, I put it on a shelf, but I never forgot about it. I’d fallen in love with this story and these characters. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just couldn’t give it up.

The Bone FeudA few years ago I dusted it off and began to turn it into a novel. I knew, as written, it would be a short novel, and I briefly considered padding it out. I could add more descriptive text, additional scenes, or more back story to make it a more marketable length, but when it came right down to it, I didn’t want to do that. This was exactly the story I wanted to tell, and the way I wanted to tell it.


The Parts That People Skip

One of my writing heroes, the great Elmore Leonard, said, “When you write, try to leave out all the parts that readers tend to skip.” That was his style. He left out big descriptive paragraphs, kept things as lean and as fast-moving as possible, and revealed character through dialog. That’s what I tried to do. In the end, I wanted to create a novel that filled the reader’s head with images, and kept them compulsively turning pages.

My favorite early review said that one of the things they most enjoyed about The Bone Feud was that “It was almost like watching a movie in my head.” That was entirely my intention. I hope the rest of my readers feel the same way.


FREE Download!

You can download The Bone Feud for free today, Tuesday, Nov. 18th, or on Thursday, Nov. 20th, at If you enjoy it, and you’re willing to post a review of the book on Amazon, I’ll be forever grateful.


Your First Book Signing: What every new author needs to know

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

L.C. Scott is the founder of eFrog Press and an author. Her many years of teaching at the high school and university level and her freelance writing career have prepared her to lead a team of experts to guide both fledgling and experienced authors through the maze of indie publishing. Today on Take the Leap she advises new authors on preparations for their first book-signing event. Previous post shares how to give a two-minute book talk.

Do you have a favorite pen for book signings? If you are new to this author thing, believe it or not most seasoned authors do!

What Pen to Wield?

Paper SonIt’s not a status thing; it’s a practical thing! If you choose the wrong pen, the ink will bleed through the page (horrors!).  Depending on the type of paper, some pens will not write on the page. How embarrassing to go to a book signing and not have a pen that can write on your own book!

When I asked Virginia Shin-Mui Loh,co-author of Paper Son and The Jade Dragon, if she had a favorite, she laughed and pulled her special signing pen from her bag—it’s a Bic Mark-It fine point in black. She loves the way it glides when she autographs stacks of books.

Recently I attended a workshop by Harry Paul on his newest business book, Who Stole Excellence? He is best known as the co-author of Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, which sold in the millions! Millions! So Harry Paul has signed thousands of books and does not take his book signing instrument lightly. He had finished signing when I approached to request an autograph and he graciously sat down and pulled out an elegant case with his official book-signing pen!

That’s how it’s done. Find the perfect pen with the right feel, the right flow, the right color ink, and keep it ready.


Autographing Your Books

But what do you sign? Of course, you sign your name but give this some thought. Prolific children’s author Edith Hope Fine has some practical advice for first-time authors in her new book, Jump, Froggies! Writing Children’s Books: 89+ Tips for Beginners.

Writing Children's BooksThink ahead. How will you sign your book? You can just sign your name and the year. Or you can add a message. If you opt for the latter, make your words fit the project and make what you say meaningful.

After illustrator Kim Doner and I spoke at an International Reading Association (IRA) conference, she drew Alphy with colored pens as we signed books and added a speech bubble for me to write in! When autographing Under the Lemon Moon, I draw a moon and stars and write “May you read by the light of a lemon moon.” I now know that that’s a lot of words, especially if there’s a line waiting, so with Water, Weed, and Wait, I write, “Water, weed, and READ!” Much shorter. Cryptomania! gets “[Name,] logophile and bibliophile. Carpe curiosity!” I write with a silver or gold pen in Sleepytime Me so it shows on the deep blue of the night sky on the glossy end papers. With Armando and the Blue Tarp School, Judith and I write, “YOU can make a difference.”

I love artists who illustrate their autographs. Author/illustrator Salina Yoon draws a curvy snake and writes “Happy Reading!” when signing her lift-the-flap book, Opposnakes. Can you doodle? Get creative.


Interacting With Your Readers

When you get to the event, be memorable and don’t rush your readers. I will never forget driving my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to a bookstore to hear Ann M. Martin speak about the books they were obsessed with—The Baby-sitters Club Series. Most had never met an author before, and this was an author they loved! After the talk they patiently stood in line forever to have their books signed. Martin was so patient and attentive to each one despite the fact that it was long past time to close the store. She gained many more readers that day.

So remember, too, that you have an opportunity to connect with real readers—or their parents or grandparents—when you are signing your book. Take your time, look into their eyes, listen, and then move on.

TIP: Bring Post-its and ask those in line to print the name they want you to sign the book to and attach it to your book.  When it is their turn you will know exactly how to spell the name. Do you know how many ways there are to spell Sherry? Let’s see. Sherri, Sheri, Sherrie, Cherie, Cheri, well, you get the idea.

Please Share

How do you deal with book signings? Any advice for new authors?

DIY Publishing & Marketing in San Diego

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

L.C. Scott is the founder of eFrog Press and an author. Her many years of teaching at the high school and university level and her freelance writing career have prepared her to lead a team of experts to guide both fledgling and experienced authors through the maze of indie publishing. Today on Take the Leap she announces an upcoming workshop for indie authors.


Publishing your book can be a DIY project—if you know how!  I will be sharing secrets for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand (POD) books at the September 13th hands-on workshop, How to DIY for Ebooks and Print on Demand, in Carlsbad, California.

At this workshop, I will share tips that will save you time and prevent amateur errors when you prepare to indie publish your first titles. Creating an ebook or POD book is not rocket science, but there is a learning curve. Let me help you be successful.

Learning indie publishing techniques

Writing and publishing your book is just the first half of the equation. The second half is marketing! Many creative authors are uncomfortable with the marketing process. What’s an author to do?

Attend the afternoon workshop: How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.  Presenter Penny Sansievieri is an author; CEO, Author Marketing Experts, Inc.; and adjunct instructor at NYU. At this workshop, you will learn to:

  • Optimize your Amazon page to start showing up in more searches
  • Understand ebook and print categories and their differences
  • Optimize your book title, subtitle and keywords on Amazon
  • Make your Author Central page work for you
  • Amazon hacks: Fun tricks you can to do spruce up your Amazon page
  • Amazon reviews: Simple ways to find more reviewers for your book

 Participants will receive the following books by Penny Sansievieri:  Red Hot Internet Publicity and ebook, How to Sell Books by the Truckload.

Location: Hera Hub Carlsbad, 5205 Avenida Encinas, Suite A, Carlsbad, CA 92009

Time: 10 am to 2:30 pm with lunch included.

Our last workshop, on Aug. 16, focused on writing a book: craft, character-driven plot, and organizing nonfiction.  One attendee had this to say: “The time flew by during the workshop. I felt energized, encouraged, supported and inspired by the close of the workshop. The valuable information provided was worth hundreds of dollars. Please offer more Writers’ Craft workshops as I can’t wait to learn more.”
—Catherine Mowbray-Lorenz

Still time to register at the Early Bird discount of $120 (expires September 1). For more information visit

How to give a bookstore reading in 9 easy steps

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

L. C. Scott is the founder of eFrog Press and an author. Her many years of teaching at the high school and university level and her freelance writing career have prepared her to lead a team of experts to guide both fledgling and experienced authors through the maze of indie publishing. Today on Take the Leap she reflects on what makes a great bookstore reading. 


A Fall of MarigoldsAuthors can take a page from Susan Meissner’s book when planning a book talk. Yesterday her newest book, A Fall of Marigolds, was released and she spoke at a local independent bookstore, Warwick’s in La Jolla, California.

I have heard dozens of authors speak about their books. For over a decade I worked behind the scenes on large English teacher conferences and we had many amazing speakers: Isabel Allende, Gail Tsukiyama, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Kathleen Krull, Anne Lamott, Michael Chabon, and more. I have learned from some of the best what works—and what doesn’t work—in an author’s talk.

Here is what Susan Meissner did right.

1. Be approachable

Susan was very approachable before her presentation. No diva here. She mingled, hugged, and chatted.

2. Have food

Cookies! She provided cookies from the cultures represented in her book including Polish and Italian.

3. Connect with your audience

Susan spoke informally at the beginning about other book talks she had attended and what she planned to do that evening. She introduced her high school English teacher, Frank Barone, to whom the book is dedicated [Full disclosure, many moons ago, Susan was in my English class for one semester]. She honored Frank for helping her find her voice as a writer and the audience loved it.

4. Give your audience inside information

Susan elaborated on how the book took shape and let her audience in on the back story. Her title evolved from a dark, depressing one to A Fall of Marigolds and she shared the evolution with us. You could also share your writing process.

5. Act like you want to be there

Susan appeared relaxed and delighted to be with us. Of course, the local audience was filled with friends, family, and ardent readers.

6. Choose reading passages carefully

Choose reading passages that highlight your writing style and illustrate earlier remarks. The selected readings were not long but tied in beautifully with her discussion of her book and showcased her prowess with the written word. The audience was dazzled.

7. Take time to reflect as you answer questions

Susan answered questions thoughtfully and patiently. How many books has she written? 15! What does she do when she gets writers block. She backs up a chapter and writes around the wall. If that doesn’t work, she backs up further. Then she gave an example from an earlier book. Audiences love examples.

8. Give something away

Susan held a drawing. As she spoke she passed around a bowl of paper slips and we wrote our names, folded them, and passed the bowl along. No fuss, no muss. At the very end, she drew names. The prizes included marigold earrings, a $25 gift certificate to the bookstore, and a free copy of her new book if you bought one at the bookstore. She explained that she valued independent bookstores and didn’t want to undermine them in any way so it was BOGO!

9. Engage readers during book signing

Full disclosure, it was late and I did not join the long line, but Gail Tsukiyama epitomizes what an author should do. After meeting with a very long line of readers, she still smiled, looked directly at the reader, paused before signing, and engaged in brief conversation. Everyone in her very long line went home feeling special. She gained readers for life. As an author you have been writing to get readers, so when you have the opportunity to meet them, make the most of it. What’s your hurry?


Why authors should read Mitch Joel’s Ctrl Alt Delete and Reboot Their Lives

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

L. C. Scott is the founder of eFrog Press and an author. Her many years of teaching at the high school and university level and her freelance writing career have prepared her to lead a team of experts to guide both fledgling and experienced authors through the maze of indie publishing. Today on Take the Leap she reflects on a book she can’t stop thinking about—the very best kind!


Reboot your business and your lifeI don’t usually reread books, unlike my daughter who has read Harry Potter countless times, but for Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It, I made an exception. I found it as I scoped out the techy section at my local library. Great title—had to pick it up. As I began reading, it became obvious that this book was not just for businesses—it was for new authors, especially indie authors. Of course, that makes sense because successful indie authors view their writing as a business and understand that writing a great book is just the first half of the process—marketing is the second half.

Because sales and marketing do not come naturally to many authors, I knew Mitch Joel’s advice would be enlightening. As president of Twist Image (an innovative digital marketing company) and author of Six Pixels of Separation, he has much to reveal about the present and future of business and especially marketing. As I read through the print copy of his book, I inwardly lamented that I did not have a digital version so I could highlight important sections (Do you do that? More on sharing ebook comments in a future post!). As it was a library book, I could not use a highlighter to flag quotes I wanted to read again, and I was too caught up in reevaluating my business and marketing my book in new ways to stop and type up these gems. Then as I began the last section of the book, I realized I had to own it. I had to buy the ebook. I needed to reread this book and digest Joel’s predictions and revelations. Renewing the library book just did not give me enough time.

I also knew I had to blog about it so authors struggling with the marketing part could share these insights into the changing marketplace and ignore the time and money intensive approaches that used to work (or did they?).

Blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking, Oh My!

Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking and more take time away from your writing so you need to think carefully about which channels to use and how to use them. Read our social media marketing posts here on Take the Leap to find some great how-to posts on different channels but remember less is more. Where do your readers hang out online? That’s where you want to be. Joel says:

The true opportunity going forward is for your business to develop a direct relationship with our consumers.

Read that statement again and substitute “you” for “your business” and “readers” for “consumers.” Got it? As Joel goes on to emphasize, it is not about how many followers you have but about relationships. How do you develop quality relationships? Joel advises:

Find and nurture your true fans. Your heavy users.  As that relationship delivers, they will become evangelists for you and you will begin to experience the network effect.

Evangelists–got to love it! Let your true fans, your passionate readers spread the word for you. Think about how to nurture a direct relationship with readers and never again will you tweet “Buy my book.”

An Indie Author Learns to Tweet

sllipsonLast week I spoke with an indie author just dipping her toe into social media. I read through her recent Tweets and was amazed by the back and forth with several of her followers. She was genuine, friendly, and enthusiastic as she connected with her new followers and began relationships with an agent and a well-established author. She was concerned that she did not have many followers yet, but I was dazzled by the quality of the relationships she was developing just by being herself in this new-to-her environment. Since mid-September she has over 800 tweets and 203 followers, but I expect her follower count to grow exponentially as people discover a writing teacher and indie author with something to say and a willingness to share. Curious? Check out @SLLipson on Twitter.

So follow Mitch Joel’s advice for this year and ask, “What does your reboot look like?” Not sure? Read the book and get inspired.

Please Share

How have you nurtured relationships with readers and potential readers?

Preparing for your first school visit

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Authors pose with poster of Berend's cover. Great prop!

eFrog Press supports authors as they promote their ebooks (and print titles, too). Recently we connected two first-time, young adult authors with a local high school. The pairing was ideal as both authors were excellent writers and had created high-interest titles for teens. Even better, one of the books had natural appeal for boys (often reluctant readers) and the other appealed especially to girls. But best of all, each title had strong characters and enthusiastic readers of both sexes. On the right authors Janet Eoff Berend and Lindsay Woolman pose with poster of Berend’s cover. Great prop!


vertical._cropVertical by Janet Eoff Berend is a coming-of-age tale about a high school guy obsessed with skateboarding who struggles with friendship, bullying, and ethical decisions. eFrog Press encouraged Berend to create a book trailer with us because her potential readers included young skateboarders who typically inhabit YouTube. Berend enlisted 15-year-old pro skateboarder Mitchie Brusco to narrate and star in the video. High school student Zane Timpson, a seasoned skateboarder and aspiring filmmaker with many skate videos online, filmed and edited the trailer. (Look for more about this amazing project in a later blog post.) Berend shared Vertical The Book Trailer Starring Mitchie Brusco at her May 17 school visit—coincidentally, the very day Mitchie Brusco competed in the Barcelona X Games and won a silver in Big Air to go with his bronze for Vert.

We opened the presentation by showing the book trailer on a big screen with great sound!

Tip: Always confirm beforehand with the school if you have any technical needs. A simple request a month ahead can be easily fulfilled, but may be impossible to grant if you wait until the day of your visit to ask.

The Perfect Pull

perfectpull_cropAfter showing the book trailer to great applause, students heard an engaging excerpt from The Perfect Pull. Lindsay Woolman’s novel focuses on a young teen girl’s struggles with trichotillomania (a disorder that includes hair pulling). She lives with her surgery-obsessed, Barbie-look-alike mother who enlists her daughter in a reality show. Want to know more? Read Woolman’s blog post From Idea to Publishing My First Book.



Berend listens to a student.

Berend listens to a student.

The authors met twice with eFrog Press to plan for the big day. We created a panel presentation for the school’s small theater and a writing workshop for a classroom session. To ensure that both authors’ voices were heard and to give the students different views on writing and publishing, we developed a list of five questions to ask each author and rotated their responses.

Panel Presentation Questions

1. What is your writing process?

2. How did you get the idea for your book?

3. Tell us about your publishing journey.

4. What’s next? What are you working on now?

5. What do you like most about your book? OR What scene was hard for you to write?


Berend speaks to students about writing dialogue.

Panel Presentation

The panel format exceeded our expectations! For example, when asked about her writing process, Berend explained that she always writes her ending first. She has to have that final scene nailed down and to fully understand the character arc before she writes the early chapters. It was great fun to hear Woolman’s contrasting response. She gets to know her characters first and then just starts writing. She never knows how her book will end. In fact, writing endings is something she struggles with and she revised her final chapter of The Perfect Pull many times to get it just right.

There were some probing follow-up questions from the audience that caused the authors to pause and really think. For example, who are your literary influences? These teens were impressive!


Advice for Author Visit Preparation

Lindsay Woolman shares her writing process.

Woolman shares her writing process.

Preparing for your first author visit or want to revise your presentation to be more educational and also more fun? Here is some advice:

  • Read Alexis O’Neill’s article “The Truth about School Visits: How teachers judge author presentations” in the SCBWI Bulletin, May/June 2013 issue. Not a Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) member? If you are writing for children or teens, consider joining!
  • Visit Alexis O’Neill’s for detailed advice from a former teacher and seasoned author whose school presentations are loved by kids, teachers, and librarians!  I had the good fortune to attend a workshop on author visits by O’Neill at a writing retreat. She knows what she is talking about and generously shares advice and even forms you might need on her website.
  • Plan, plan, plan! Do NOT wing it!
  • Be sure any handouts or slides include your author website address. Don’t have an author website? Read Roxyanne Young’s blog post The Author’s Dilemma: Website or Blog
  • ALWAYS find a way to read from your book. They invited you because you are an author so take the time to share your writing.
  • Consider creating low-cost bookmarks to share with audience. Bookmarks featuring your cover will help teachers and students remember to look for your book! Modern Postcard is one option for well-priced bookmarks.
  • Be sure to connect with the school librarian and donate or sell autographed copies of your book.
  • Give teachers and students evaluation forms so you can discover what is working and do it again and discover what is not working and fix it.

What advice do you have for successful author visits?

We would love to hear about your school visit experiences. What have you done that really worked? What will you never do again?