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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Author Interview with Melissa Foster

Today, I have the pleasure of having Melissa Foster here for a Q&A. I'm so happy she agreed to share some of her time with me and my readers. Melissa, since she isn't going to brag herself, is the award winning and bestselling author of CHASING AMANDA, MEGAN'S WAY, and COME BACK TO ME. One lucky poster will win a copy of CHASING AMANDA.

 Just in case you're curious, I met Melissa via her World Literary Cafe. I followed her on Twitter, and it didn't take me long to realize that she was not only a great author, but a very kind lady as well. The WLC is a wonderful site for both readers and writers. I highly recommend joining. Links to the site are below our interview.

 Be sure to check my other blog, for my review of CHASING AMANDA this week!

Where are you from?

I grew up in the wild metropolis of Rockville, Maryland, where huskies and tigers abound.

Do you have a specific writing style?

This is a great question, because there are so many interpretations for answers. I’d say I’m a very emotional writer, and I dig deep for my readers. I want them to become introspective and think about if they could or would do what my main character’s do.

 What book are you reading now?

I am lucky to be an advanced reader for Kathleen Shoop’s After The Fog.  

What are your current projects?

Oh gosh, I think I always have about ten projects going at one. I’ll pick three to share Work-wise we’re doing a complete overhaul of the World Literary CafĂ© (WLC), and adding a fully integrated social side to the site to make cross-promotions and connections with readers even easier and more fulfilling. I’m launching a new business in a few weeks called Fostering Success, which is really an arm of WLC that will offer training for authors on all levels of self-publishing and marketing. On the writing front, I’m diving into two new manuscripts—one deals with past life regression and the other deals with a decision no mother should ever have to make.

 Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely, and I know how lucky I am to have a career that I love and crave.

Tell us your latest news?

I’ve just wrapped up my fourth manuscript, titled Traces of Kara, a psychological thriller, and I hope my readers enjoy the genre. Event-wise, I’m heading to the Gaithersburg, MD Book Festival in May 19 as a featured speaker, and to Books Without Borders in Yonkers, June 9th, where I am also a featured speaker. I hope many readers and writers will come out and say hello

.Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

 I will tell you and you will think I’m nutty. I put my now twenty-one-year old son down for a nap when he was about a year and half old, and I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to write. I can’t explain it, but it nagged at me until I grabbed my IBM Thinkpad (remember those!?), a yellow legal pad and pen, and began writing.

 Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I find many areas of writing challenging. The desire to show and not tell, the threading of themes through the book, coming up with relatable characters that are real and fleshed out, it’s all challenging, but in a good way. I love the way I have to test myself and my skills on a daily basis.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. I think my readers are saddened by the ending of Come Back to Me, but they also recognize that the ending was true to the story.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

This is a very difficult question for me. I don’t have favorite authors, just favorite books. For example, A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of my favorite books because the descriptions are so vibrant, the nature of trouble the characters face is very real, and in general, I think Khalid Hosseini went to a very difficult place with that story, and I was thrilled with the outcome.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I’m not a big traveler, so no, I don’t have to do much traveling, but I do have to do extensive research with people both native and visiting the locations that I write about.  

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes! Write! Don’t worry about how the story will come out or who will read it. Write your best story, then don’t rush to publish it. Take your time, put it down for a week or two and return to it for a fresh read of a hard copy. Have your work professionally edited and covered. Never short change the reader, even if you choose to make your book free, readers deserve well-written, polished work.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I have so much gratitude for my readers that it’s hard to put it into words. I’m overwhelmed by the positive response to my books, and thankful that many readers reach out directly to me. I’m always delighted to talk, Skype, or email with readers. Social media has opened a whole new world of connections with readers, and to someone like me, who truly loves chatting with just about everyone, it’s a dream come true.  

Anything missing from your life?

I am so blessed with a loving, supportive family, wonderful friends, and the ability to write full-time, that I never feel like anything is missing. I’m a big believer in creating your life, not waiting for it to happen, and I’ve always worked toward my personal and familial goals. While there’s nothing missing, I hope to continue sharing what I’ve learned with aspiring and established authors. I want to help others find their paths to fulfill their writing dreams—continuing to pay-it-forward makes it all worthwhile.

 Thanks so much for joining me today, Melissa. It's been an enjoyable chat!

 Thank you so much, Hope! I’ve really enjoyed our chat, and I appreciate you having me on your blog today :)  

You can reach Melissa at the following sites: Melissa's Books On Amazon
Melissa's Website Follow her on: Facebook,
Facebook Fanpage
Chat with her on The Women's Nest
 The World Literary Cafe, Where readers and authors unite!


Friday, April 6, 2012



Be sure to click the above link--there are over 200 authors participating in this Blog Hop. Each and every one is giving away prizes for you to win!

This BLOG HOP is going to last through Sunday. During those three days, I'm going to be giving away lots of books.

Each day, FIVE winners will be chosen to receive their choice of any of my titles.

LINKED (Prophecy Book One)
FORBIDDEN & ONCE BITTEN (Much spicier book--warning 18+)

Each day, THREE winner will also be chosen to receive TWO of my books. And, on Sunday, Happy Easter, TWO WINNERS will receive all 3 of my books.

Each person that leaves a comment is automatically entered--but you must come back to see who the winner is. The winner needs to contact me to pick up their prize! (If you leave an email address, it's a lot easier!

There will be one GRAND PRIZE WINNER chosen at 11:59 p.m. Sunday Night. That is when the entries close. One person who comments will receive a $10.00 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The Grand Prize winner will also get copies of my e-books. The GRAND PRIZE WINNER must do all 4 steps below (very easy steps, honest!)

So, how do you enter? It's very easy. Each step below gets you more entries to win~ The WINNER of the GRAND PRIZE must do ALL of these to be entered for the Gift Card.

First: Comment on this blog
Second: For more chances to win--comment each day.
Third: For extra chances, FOLLOW THIS BLOG and FOLLOW ME on Twitter @hopewelsh. Send me a message that you're following me :) I always follow back.
Fourth: Tweet the following: I entered the Blog Hop Contest-- Enter for your chance to win @hopewelsh books.

Pretty easy, right? If you don't have TWITTER, you can post instead on my Facebook page:

Bonus entries for telling me the following in your comments.

1. Who is the hero in LINKED
2. Who is the heroine in LINKED
3. Why do you read paranormal romances? (If you read them!)

Just for fun, below are a few Easter Eggs. Just click the Eggs for excerpts of Linked, The Storm Within, and a teaser for UNLINKED (Prophecy Book Two)


1. Who is being held prisoner for 2000 years?
2. What is the first line of the Prophecy?

1. What is Kari doing?
2. What happens?

1. Who is thinking?
2. What is he doing? All Winners will be chosen at Good Luck-- and have a safe and Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Formatting Your Book

So, your book is all edited. It's ready to go! Yea, you!

What now?

You can go with Smashwords and have their program get your book in various formats. But--didn't you know there would be a but--there are some important things to consider when formatting for an e-book.

WORD (Microsoft Word) makes it relatively easy to prepare your book for e-book versions, both mobi (Kindle) and e-pub (Nook).

Some basics.

1. Get rid of TABS. Go under Format-Paragraph-Indention Here, you want to click the box and check "first line"--I always use .3 as my indention. This makes your first line of each paragraph with that nice indention that makes it easy to read. It's best to format you book at the beginning with this method. Tabs are not your friend, for those of you that remember Typing 101 in school.

2. When you hit the end of a chapter, hit enter one time. Now, go to INSERT and click "page break" for mobi format. (For Nook (e-pub) you will need to use "Next Page" instead)

3. If using a table of contents (which I recommend)use "INSERT-REFERENCE-INDEX and TABLE" from there, choose the single heading style, uncheck the page number box. E-books don't use page numbers.

4. Don't use Headers and Footers in e-book files.

5. For the copyright page--be sure to give credit to the proper people. If you're using iStock, for instance, credit the artist whose picture you used. If you have someone else design your cover, give them the appropriate credit. The copyright page should be formatted single spaced. If you're using 1 1/2 spacing in the book, highlight the copyright page and left justify it--with single space. Put your ISBN number here as well. Remember, an ISBN is different for an e-book version and a print version. (Amazon and Barnes & Noble don't require an ISBN. I recommend one. Smashwords will provide one free)

6. Insert the cover image on page 1--and don't forget to use page break (for mobi) so the copyright page is on the next click of pages when read. KDP allows you to tell the program to use the image inside the book--or to use one you upload to their site)

7. Fancy fonts aren't your friend. It's fine to do the first word in a chapter with a slightly larger or bold font--but don't use fancy fonts that aren't compatible. Also be sure to include the links to your cover, table of contents and the beginning of your book for Kindle. It's easy to do. Click the cover and then use "Insert Bookmark" and type in 'Cover" for Table of contents, same steps, using "TOC" and for the Beginning, use "Start"

8. You can also save your WORD document as an unfiltered web page. For Amazon, this seems to work best--though the WORD doc will work if formatted properly.

9. After uploading your file to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, review the file! Look at every paragraph. (Amazon does automatic word wrapping--and justification) Are the paragraphs indented at the first word? Are any scene symbols centered?

10. Set your prices and rights, etc. This is an easy process, but still requires some thought. By now, your book should have gone out to reviewers--but if it hasn't, consider this a 'soft release' and make sure your reviewers have the link to the Amazon or B&N site to leave reviews. Personally, I used KDP Select for one of my books--because I wanted to have those 5 free days to use. I make more on Amazon Prime LOANS than I do for sales at my price point. Worth it for me, without a doubt.

11. If using Smashwords, be sure to opt out of Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribution--it's just as easy to do it yourself and save those few cents on commission.

If you don't want to do formatting yourself, there are a multitude of sites that will handle this for you. Prices range from $50-$100 for a book. Well worth the cost if your version just doesn't look right. First impressions mean everything. It must look good when a reader downloads the sample or uses the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon.

So, there you go. Formatting is a snap--if you remember to keep things simple. Be sure to include an author bio with links to all your websites.

One last thing to remember--if you're also doing a print version, I highly recommend you use the template from Create Space to do so. But, and this is an important but..don't use this version for your e-book. Too many things are different.

Be sure to check back tomorrow. I'm going to be having a contest for a Blog Tour I'm participating in. Lots of prizes :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Self-Publishing Your Fiction

Your book is ready. You've read it. Your best friend says it's awesome. Your neighbor did a pretty cover. It's ready to go to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Use KDP and Pub-it and put it out there today!

WAIT--what? Really? No, of course not. Unfortunately, though this is exactly what we're seeing.

Writing the book is only step one in the process of publishing your book. Admittedly, the longest as far as time consumption. Still, it's only the first step.

For most, a first draft should be a write where we don't stop and edit. We just create. We remember the old sage advice: Show Don't Tell

And, it's good advice. We've avoided those 'ly' words. We've learned how to do dialogue.(You can see my post HERE for dialogue tips.

So, what do we need to do next?

Send your book to a critique partner. Even a group of critique partners. If you don't have a live one in your area, consider starting one of your own. You can also find critique partners on writing sites such as World Literary Cafe. This is one site that every writer should join. The forums are filled with folks just like you looking for that critique partner.

Why do we need a critique partner?

The answer to this is simple. We're too close to our story. We can visualize what is happening. After all, we created the story. What isn't on the pages is likely in our mind. In essence, the critique partner is a new set of eyes. They should be objective. They must be objective. Will they always be right? Of course not, but generally, if you're seeing the same type of comments from more than one person, there is likely an issue you're just too close to the work to see.

What next?

Edit. Go through your work after it's back from the critique partners and incorporate the suggestions. At this point, we are still in self-editing stage. We don't need to pay for an editor yet. Trust the judgment of your critique partners--especially if they are all saying the same things.

I've edited. Now what?

Send it to the group again for another read through. Perhaps even to a beta-reader. Beta readers will find things that you and your critique partners might have missed. I try to use beta-readers that read in my genre--and readers that don't.

Back from beta readers. Now what?

Do a last round of edits on your own. Read the book out loud. I know, this sounds very time consuming. You'll find, though, that things read fine and sound bad. Look for those pesky mistakes. Did you use 'its' when it should have been 'it's'? Did you use 'affect' when you meant 'effect'? Remember, the grammar feature of Microsoft Word is not a substitution for a real person!

After reading it out loud-start reading it from the end. Read every line and every word. You'll be surprised at how many mistakes you find.

And now what? I've edited it. It's ready, right?

Not quite. Now, you need to find a professional editor. Check the editor out. Ask for a sample of their work. Find out what their credentials are. Sites like World Literary Cafe above do have a place to find editors. Talk to other writers and see who they've used. A poorly edited book says nothing good about your story. And, trust me on this, readers will find every error--especially if you're self-publishing your book. You will discover you're held to a higher standard. Fair? Maybe not--but it's fact.

When that editor is done, you need to work on any suggested revisions. I also recommend a proofreader. Put it away for a week or two--then read it again. Your might spot any last-minute things that need fixed.

What about the cover?

I recommend here that you find a cover artist. You want your cover to 'pop'. Some people do look at the cover and make a decision based on that. A boring cover won't sell a book. At the same time, you want your cover to fit the book. There are some great cover artists out there. Sometimes, you can do it yourself. This isn't the place to use those beautiful--but difficult to read--fonts. Make your title easy to read. Make your name easy to read. Use contrasting colors. If your book cover is mostly blue--you don't want the text blue, too. Resize the image to the smallest size seen on Amazon and B&N. Can you still read the title and your name? No? Then re-do the cover.

Sometimes simple is best. Get opinions from readers. Make more than one cover and ask your writing groups for opinions. Listen to them all and then pick the correct cover.

Now it's ready?

Now, it's time to send it off to reviewers. Do a 'soft' release. This simply means put the book up but don't promote it's 'for sale' until you've gotten the reviewers to post their reviews. It's darn difficult to sell a book with no reviews! Trust me on this. It took me a year to get reviews--despite thousands of downloads.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about formatting your book for Kindle and Nook. And, on Thursday, I'll post on some suggestions for pre-marketing your book.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tips For Getting in the Proper Categories on Amazon

Hello fellow writers and those that read us~

Today's Tip is on getting your book in the proper category on Amazon. My two books have been up quite a while and did so-so. I believe that in a large part, this was due to them not being in the proper category.

When you publish your book to KDP on Amazon, there is a large list of possible categories to list your book in. I'm sure, if you've already published, you've picked the category that you feel fits to a T. But does it?

Let's use an example from my own work. THE STORM WITHIN & TABLE FOR TWO is an anthology of romantic suspense. Its ranking has been dismal--until I fixed the category.

Here is the main thing to consider--people have to FIND your book to buy it.

As of 6 a.m. today, THE STORM WITHIN is at #6 in Romance Anthologies and #37 in Romance Anthologies overall. (The latter list includes both print and e-book)

Below is a screen shot.

My other book, LINKED, is also in a Top 100 List--and has been every day since I targeted my categories.

How did I do this? Did I write the best books in the world? Did I spend a ton of money to promote them on every website in the world? No, I didn't spend a dime. Really.

LINKED is a paranormal romance. It's Book One in the Prophecy Series I'm writing. Now, if you've looked on Amazon KDP, you'll notice that there isn't a category for Paranormal under Romance. While LINKED is available in print and e-book--I'm marketing the e-book o KDP.

What did I do? It was actually pretty easy. I simply picked the categories that best matched my books based on their content. I emailed KDP and asked them how to get in the proper categories.

Here are the steps to do:

1. Know your category! Is it romance? Is it a thriller? Mystery? Great--but what else is it? Is there a sub-genre to your work? Does it fit in any other category? Sure it does. Every book does. The trick is to get it there.
2. Go to your Amazon page (for the book) and scroll down to the bottom. See those categories there? Look at the lists. There will be several of them. See the image below:

Does one of them fit? GREAT! Now, copy the two that fit the best (remember, you want to be found under e-books) so don't pick the 'overall' category of 'books' unless yours is a print book.

In the above instance, I picked "Anthologies" and "Contemporary". Remember, narrow down your list as much as possible. "Romance" is too general. There are thousands and thousands. Unless you're selling 1k books a day--you're not going to rank high on that list.

The key is narrowing. Pick several books from the Top 100 List in your genre. See what categories are available. Pick the ones that most closely match your work.

3. Now that you know what category you want it, you need to let Amazon get you there. Copy the exact line you want, like this:

# Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Anthologies

When you contact Amazon KDP, they will put your book in whichever categories you ask. Be sure to list your book as non-classifiable under KDP. (At least I had to do that) Amazon will not create a new category--but they will add your book to any existing category.

Give it a few days and watch your books climb the charts! Remember, once you make a bestseller list--you've a best-selling author. Granted, it's best-selling in a particular genre. That's fine. It can take up to three days for it to cycle through.

It's fine to say "Amazon Top 100 bestselling romance" or "Amazon Top 100 bestselling in its genre" or even "Amazon Top 10 bestseller in its category" when it hits the Top Ten.

As an author--we need to make every effort to get our books in the hands of readers. Many readers buy their books based on those lists. The best day LINKED had last month was the day it first made an Amazon Bestselling Top 100 list.

Readers read because writers write. But first, they have to know you're out there.

Here's to seeing your book on that Top 100 List. Maybe even #1~

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sample Sunday and Post One of WRITING TIPS for AUTHORS

Hello Guys!

Today is Sample Sunday on my blog. I put up a short excerpt from one of my books for your reading enjoyment But the rest of this week is going to be a little different. This week is dedicated to writers. Tips for writers Tips on formatting your book. Tips on promoting your book. Wednesday, there will be an interview with Amazon bestselling author, Melissa Foster. The weekend is going to be a blog hop with about 200 other authors.

Happy April Fools Day!

This excerpt is from The Storm Within - my romantic suspense, which is part of the anthology available on Amazon

She was going to die.Kari Davis knew it as well as she knew her name.

Less than an hour ago, she’d been terrified that she would be killed—now, it appeared Mother Nature was calling dibs. What did it matter? Dead was dead. At least the storm wouldn’t go out if its way to make sure her death was as painful as possible.
A light snow had turned into a whiteout. Visibility was nearly non-existent. She couldn’t tell for sure that she was even on the road. Her hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles were cramping.

“Calm down,” she muttered. The last twenty-four hours had been a living nightmare—she hadn’t thought things could get any worse, but of course, they had. The snow had begun slowly, and then built gradually. The radio was warning motorists to stay off the roads.
If only she could. Pulling over wasn’t an option. Not if she wanted to live. She tried to relax her death grip on the steering wheel.

Before she could take her next breath, the car started careening out of control. Immediately she took her foot off the gas pedal, instinctively remembering her driver’s education course from years before.

She felt herself spinning and released an involuntary scream. She couldn’t see anything but white. She didn’t know how to drive in this kind of weather. All she could do is hold on. Was she supposed to put on the brakes? Straighten the wheel? God, help me, she thought wildly. She just couldn’t remember.

As if in answer to her prayer, the car began to slow, then finally came to a halt. Her hands were shaking badly as she relaxed her grip on the wheel. What was she supposed to do now? She didn’t know if she was headed in the same direction or not. For that matter, she didn’t even know if she was still on the road or if she’d ended up on the side of the road.

It wasn’t until then that she realized the car had died. She turned the key in the ignition, but it wouldn’t start. She pumped the gas and tried again. Nothing. “Damn it!”

Here she sat, in the middle of nowhere with a dead car and the blizzard from hell blowing outside. There was no one to call; by now, Derrick would have convinced everyone that she was crazy—or worse, a murderer. She had no idea who she could trust, so had just run into the worst storm in Oklahoma history, apparently.

Her eyes burned as she considered her situation. Dead car. Middle of the night. Storm of the century. With a muttered curse, she tried once more to start the car. Still nothing. There was nothing she could do.

Her eye caught on the book lying on the seat next to her. With an almost hysterical laugh, she picked it up. At least I won’t be bored, she thought wildly, and tossed the book aside.

Kari considered getting out of the car and trying to walk—but didn’t—at least not yet. She’d read somewhere that you were supposed to stay with a stranded vehicle. Right now, though, she wanted away.

Would she rather freeze in a car or let Derrick and his henchmen find her? What did it matter? she thought yet again. At least with the cold, she’d just fall asleep. She had little doubt that if Derrick got a hold of her that her death would be far different. She shivered, both from cold and from reaction. There was nothing she could do. If a car didn’t come along soon—she’d freeze before Derrick had a chance to find her.

She didn’t have any clue at all where she was. Somewhere between Oklahoma City and Shawnee. Now, though, she didn’t even know which direction was which.

Cautiously, she opened the door and stepped out of the car. It was too dark to see anything much, but at least it looked like the car was on the edge of the road. At least some poor soul wouldn’t plow into her car. Freezing, she climbed back into the car. Damn it! Just a little luck would be nice. Someone will stop. Someone safe.

She wanted to live! Not that it mattered one iota what she wanted.

She’d run from Derrick as fast and as far as she could—only to put herself more at risk.
It wasn’t supposed to snow like this here! She was sitting on some road in the middle of central Oklahoma. She cursed her own stupidity for getting off the freeway. At least there, someone would have spotted her—even just a cop doing patrols.

But here, no one would find her. She hadn’t seen one car the entire time she’d been on the road—and that had been when she could see the road. Now, she had no certain idea where the road even was. With a tired sigh, she leaned back and closed her eyes. At least she had a flashlight, and wasn’t in total darkness. She guessed that was some small consolation. Part of her wanted to grab the hammer in the backseat and bash something, but of course, she didn’t do that. As it was, she was freezing. As satisfying as breaking a window might be, it would also make her freeze a lot quicker. Suddenly, she was tired. Just a little sleep. She’d been running on adrenaline for hours. It had easily been twenty-four hours since she’d slept.

She’d sleep a few hours until morning. Maybe someone would come by once the sun was out. Surely at least some road crews would be out trying to clear the major roads.

With that thought, she remembered she’d avoided the major roads. She wasn’t anywhere near a major road right now. That likely had as much to do with her not seeing another car for hours as the storm did.

Someone had to live around here somewhere—but even as she had the thought, she couldn’t stop the pessimistic thought that she wouldn’t be waking up. Even with her coat on, she was already freezing. Her hands felt like blocks of ice. The radio had said the temperature was in the single digits. She was more than sure the chill factor was much colder than that. Maybe if she layered her clothes? Would it matter? Probably not, she decided gloomily. She’d be likely frozen by morning.

Tips For Sunday

Today I'm going to be talking about writing dialogue, whether in first person or third. I've read so many books in the last few weeks with major issues within dialogue. Below are some samples from my own writing--both done correctly and incorrectly. Can you tell which is which? The answers will be at the bottom.

1. "Eat," he said gently. "You're safe here."
2. "Eat." He said gently. "You're safe here."
3. "Eat," he said gently, "you're safe here."

Which do you think are wrong in the above 3 samples? Not sure? Basic for you? Here's another.

1. After a long pause, he released her shoulders. "We’re going to my house. It’s just a few miles up the road."
2. After a long pause, he released her shoulders, "We're going to my house. It's just a few miles up the road."
3. After a long pause, he released her shoulders, "we're going to my house. It's just a few miles up the road."

How bout with internal dialogue in third person writing? Which is correct?

1. Oh God, someone has to find me.
2. Oh God, someone has to find me.
3. Oh God, someone has to find me.

In the first sample, the first and third are correct. Normally, I prefer to use the first example.

In sample two, the first is correct. With action tags, normally a period is used. Action is a way to keep the reader from becoming confused as to the speaker. Long blocks of dialogue can be confusing for readers. Also remember that when there is a long block of dialogue that takes more than one paragraph, you do not close the quotes until you are finished. Like this:

"I don't want to tell you about this. You would be in danger. He's a murderer and I don't want to be responsible.

"Last week I watched him shoot a man and he's going to kill me too."

Now, of course, this is just a small paragraph used for demonstration purposes only. By not closing the tag in the first paragraph, the reader knows it is the same speaker talking.

In the third, the first is correct.

Dialogue is a tricky thing for many writers. There are some great resources online that you can use. Remember, 'he said/she said' gets boring. Mix in some action tags, too.

One reminder dialogue punctuation. If an exclamation point is needed--by all means, use it. But don't overuse them, or they lost their impact. Never use multiple punctuation in a sentence. Same thing with question marks. I've read several recently with paragraphs like this:

"I hate you!!!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.

Give the reader some credit. The fact she's screaming at the top of her lungs and one exclamation point make the point.

Some writers think you need to use a tag with each line of dialogue. You don't. Read the following:

"I hate you!" she screamed
"Not as much as I hate you," he yelled
"I don't care!" she said.
"You will!" he said.

See how boring that is? How bout something like this:

"I hate you!" Her fists were clenched tightly as she glared at him.

"Not as much as I hate you!"

She wasn't going to let him get to her. No way, no how. The veins in his temple were throbbing. She knew that meant he was furious. Too bad. So was she. "I don't care."

"You will!" He turned on his heel and walked out the door, slamming it behind him.

So which sample is more exciting? Which one pulls you into the story? Remember the golden rule of fiction: SHOW DON'T TELL. Her clenched fists show her anger. Since we are in her point of view--she's the one that notices his throbbing veins. We can see he's angry by her view of him. Also we can tell by the slamming of the door.

Any more basic dialogue questions? Just post them below.