First Lines


Grabbing your readers attention in a world where they are bombarded 24/7 is one of the most important lessons a writer must learn. That first sentence can make the difference between success and mediocrity. The gatekeepers in the publishing industry have told us repeatedly, “the first page will make you or break you when you try to sell your book.”

The key to setting your writing apart from the competition is to do something new when you start with the action in your story. Obviously stay away from the old clichés. When I teach a writing class, we discuss great opening lines from literature. My favorite examples of what not to use include weather, the protagonist’s reflection in a mirror, and the character’s startled awakening from a deep sleep. How many stories have started with “it was a dark and stormy night?” If you’re like me and a Peanuts cartoon fan, then you get an image of Snoopy sitting on his doghouse with his typewriter when you read any facsimile of the line. However, that isn’t where the phrase actually originated. The infamous phrase comes from the beginning of Paul Clifford, an 1830’s novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

One of my favorite first lines is from James Clavell’s, Shogun, “The gale tore at him and he felt its bite deep within and he knew that if they did not make landfall in three days they would all be dead.” The reader has to find out what happens. Start with the action and pull your reader in. Make them empathize with your main character quickly. Hook your reader in the beginning and then keep them turning pages.

Writing A Book Review

When you purchase a book from Amazon or Barnes & Nobel online have you ever noticed that there is a place for you to write a short review? also provides a place for reviews. Most readers don’t leave one because it intimidates them. People think that there are certain requirements you must have to be a book reviewer. Not true anymore. In most cases, even if you didn’t purchase the book online, you can still go on the website, log on, and enter a review.

Amazon has changed some of the rules and you need to be careful about saying things like “buy this book” or “if you liked James Patterson, then you’ll love this.” However, there are still many things that can be put in your comments that don’t cross the lines and you can really help your fellow or favorite authors by leaving a review.

Let me help you out with some suggestions:

  • The theme represents …
  • I enjoyed the story because …
  • The relationships between characters demonstrated …
  • It is well written …
  • My favorite character …
  • The story is well researched …
  • Read some of the reviews posted for examples and write one in your own words.
  • A review does not have to be only positive statements but can include points that you feel are negative. Just be sure that you stick to the subject and the writing, do not get personal about the author.
  • If the writing is not professional, then it is alright to say that.
  • If the research in a historical novel is obviously well done, then mention it.
  • It can be a great story that isn’t told very well.
  • Tell whether you like the book or not.
  • Would you recommend it to others?
  • Don’t just give the book five stars because you liked the story. Not every good story deserves five stars.
  • Be honest.
  • If you read a book and don’t feel like you can give the book three stars or more and are not comfortable doing a review, then tell the author that you’d rather not do a review. Be tactful, but don’t lie. You’re not doing us a favor when you give us a review we don’t deserve and the reader feels cheated and won’t read our next book. Personally, I’d rather you tell me it needs more work and isn’t as professional as it could be. Believe me, it wouldn’t be the first time I heard a rejection that said I needed to work on my book to prepare it better for public consumption. Hopefully, my book is still in a place where I can pull it and make corrections before the general public sees it.

I hope this helps take some of the anxiety out of writing a review.


What’s In The Future


For the past few years, I’ve had a second website with an extensive list of resources for writers. It was originally intended to grow into a much larger resource, gathering place for writers, and a teaching platform for myself and others. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, my original plans have not been able to come about. After much consideration, I’ve decided that over the next few weeks I will consolidate both sites into this website,, which was my original website when I first started out. I’ll close down the Hybrid Author site. Certain things in my personal life are changing and I am no longer writing full-time. While I plan to continue writing part-time, I could never totally give it up – it is too dear to my heart and too much a part of who I am, more of my focus needs to be on family and elsewhere.

A Long Dry Spell

book - pencil writing

Life happens and sometimes blogs and writing are sidelined for awhile. Without getting into details, I’ve spent the past several months readjusting to a new season in life that interfered with my writing process. Things went on hold. Some writers push through and write anyway. Others of us, not so much. However, if you love books and love writing, the call of the unwritten stories never completely leaves.

I hope you’ve read wonderful and memorable books while I’ve been away. I’ve read a few myself including The Nightingale, A Gentleman in Moscow, and Max Perkins: Editor of Genius.

It’s good to be back with my fellow writers and readers again.

Free Kindle today and tomorrow

FREE on Kindle today and tomorrow! Rebekah Redeemed, by Dianne G. Sagan

PhototasticCollage-2016-01-30-10-44-28Rebekah Redeemed Rereleased by the author with a new cover, this is the story of a shepherd’s daughter who is orphaned and forced to endure a life of servitude. Find out how her life changes after she meets the extraordinary young rabbi from Galilee.

Dianne G. Sagan has been on the Amazon Bestsellers list 45 times for Rebekah Redeemed and The Fisherman’s Wife from her Women of the Bible series.

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“Beautiful and touching …” Kim Black, Pres. Panhandle Professional Writers

“The insight shown in this book amazed me …” Review by J.M. Perhach

“Engaging, authentic, I loved this book …” Review by Katrinka Mayus

The Hybrid Author: A Guide to Publishing 99¢ #Kindle sale

Saturday and Sunday, January 16 – 17, The Hybrid Author: A Guide to Publishing, 2nd Edition is on sale for $.99 on Kindle as part of a countdown sale that ends January 22nd, 2016.

This new guide to the evolving publishing industry is written with candor, insight and Ms. Sagan’s personal experience as a seasoned hybrid author.alternate Hybrid cover (3)

In this second edition Mrs. Sagan answers every request from readers of the first edition. You’ll immediately find:

  • Active resource links for all your writing needs
  • Discoverability tips to reach current and evolving markets
  • Advice for the Author/Entrepreneur that you can put to work today

Happy New Year

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope you enjoyed a joyful Christmas with family and friends. A new year always excites me with possibilities. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I’m a list person. Over the years, my lists haven’t become shorter but I have learned to prioritize and accomplish my goals one bite at a time. I still have a tendency towards long lists. I’m just learning to spread them over a longer period of time and experience more success. Of course, one of those lists is books I want to read.

5159MHuBr2L._AA160_Like many of you, I keep a stack of books by my bed and another by my favorite chair. When I’m not writing, I love to read. I’m currently reading The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House, by Kate Andersen Brower, a former White House press correspondent. She interviewed some of the staff members who keep the White House and the President’s family residence running. Rather than an expose, it is a delightful book about people who serve and take great pride in their jobs.  It has me laughing, smiling, and remembering. It’s a look at real life behind the scenes of government and diplomacy.