Pinterest for Writers


I am a visual person. To write something well, I have to visit as many places in my books as possible. I spend hours scouring archives–in person and online–to find photographs of my subjects, their settings, their muses. Before I write I “cast” my books with living actors. Even when I read, I underline, scribble notes, highlight, draw pictures. I have to be able to see what it is I’m trying to capture with words.

Even if you are a writer who does not need much visual stimulation, you might consider your reader. Pinterest can be a powerful tool for helping her to see your characters, your settings, and your time period. It can supplement a work in a powerful way that continues the conversation even after the last pages are turned. Whether viewed before reading or after, your pin boards can enrich the entire story experience.

Here is a screenshot of my Pinterest page:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 8.11.48 AM

You’ll find images associated with each of my books, day trips to my book settings, tidbits for readers, casting for movies (HELLO GEORGE CLOONEY WITH A MUSTACHE AS HEMINGWAY!) Lower down the page are boards for my own interests–house projects, decor, etc. Make sure the boards you want to share with the public are featured first.

Starting a Pinterest page is simple, and once you have an account set up, the red Pinterest icon will appear on the upper right side of your browser menu:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 8.16.50 AMTo add photos from pages you search to your boards, simple click the icon at any website you visit. It will arrange a screen of images that may be pinned. Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 8.19.57 AM

Click on the image you want to pin, and a menu will pop up asking which Pinterest board you’d like to add it to, or you may create a new board. Add a description, hit enter, and voila!

Warning: Pinterest is addictive. You will find friends there. They will have great boards. Three hours will pass and you will find yourself scouring hundreds of images for brunch recipes, book recommendations, window treatment options, fantasy vacations, and cutest cat breeds–and you might not even like cats! Consider setting a timer to pull yourself out of the vortex of distraction.

Finally, consider sharing your boards. Post a couple times a month on your blogs and social media accounts with boards that have to do with your books. This will give you a chance to engage your readers and continue bringing your work to life.

Some excellent author Pinterest pages:

Tatiana de Rosnay

Karen White

Ariel Lawhon

Marianne O’Hara

Beth Hoffman

David Abrams

Who are your favorite authors on Pinterest? Are you on Pinterest? Do you have any helpful tips for making Pinterest meaningful to your readers? Happy Pinning!

FALLEN BEAUTY Trailer and Giveaway

Fallen Beauty cover final

I am thrilled that there is only one month until the publication of my novel, FALLEN BEAUTY. My publisher has put together a trailer/interview about the novel, to let readers know more about the subject of the book, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Her writing and her life are fascinating, and I found her a captivating and challenging voice to capture.

I am excited to get the word out about FALLEN BEAUTY, and I  have 2 advanced reader copies to give away. If you would like to enter for a chance to win (US residents only), please share this post on social media by Thursday, February 6th at 9 PM EST, and comment on your favorite Millay poem, or if you would simply like to know more about her. (Brace yourself: she is a wild one!)

Without further ado, let me tell you more about FALLEN BEAUTY…

Book Trailers and Updates


When Penguin asked if I’d like to film a book trailer for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, I eagerly accepted; first, because I’d have to go to Key West to film it, and second, because in our media-rich environment of social networking, I could see how a visual share could help promote a book.

Every aspect of that experience was a treat, so I was thrilled when Penguin offered to produce another book trailer for my forthcoming novel, CALL ME ZELDA. I again had the pleasure of working with the talented husband and wife team, David and Kathryn Seay, of David Seay Productions.

I am so pleased with the trailer, and I am delighted to present it to you. Please let me know what you think.

Author Photo Outtakes

Earlier this week at the fabulous Debutante Ball Blog, Erika Marks ruminated on the dreaded author photo–that terrifying and stressful bit of awkwardness that has to go on the published book. In a very unscientific poll, I found out that nine out of ten authors would rather write a synopsis than take an author photo. But there are so many bad author photos out there, how bad can yours actually be? If you simply select one of the categories of author photo cliches, at least you’ll know you’re not alone. For your amusement (and because Erika Marks double-dog-dared me) I’ve dedicated this post to author photo cliches and outtakes. I hope you enjoy it.

When I self-published my first novel, I scoured book jackets and author websites to see how writers posed. I found that the overwhelming majority of them stood by trees with their arms crossed, so that’s what I did.

What you don’t see in this picture are my three boys running around the yard like savages while I swat them away between takes. This picture worked well enough for my indie endeavor, but for my new novel (HEMINGWAY’S GIRL) with a traditional publisher, I wanted a new picture. The only thing I was sure about was that I didn’t want my face on my hand, because if an author isn’t standing next to a tree with her arms crossed, it’s likely that she’ll have her face on her hand.

I considered reaching back a bit in time to when my hair didn’t need chemical assistance to lighten it, and my skin glowed without make up. I worried, however, that people would be disappointed if they showed up for a signing and I didn’t look like this anymore.

Then I considered the on location, research with Hemingway shot, but truth be told, Hemingway looked a little creepy in this picture.

Then I thought about going for something a little more edgy. After all, writers from the past often posed with cigarettes. For obvious reasons, however, I vetoed these.


I even wondered if I should go for the truly authentic author photo–the one that captures the day-to-day life of the writer in the reading chair, with the dog, in PJs.

But, no. Just no.

Ultimately, I went to my hometown of Annapolis, Maryland with my friend and photographer Catherine Pelura. We walked the streets, chatted, and snapped photos as we went. Some of my favorite shots were the intense, thinking, gazing off into the distance photos.

I also liked the super-approachable, relaxed garden shot.

I sent several pictures to my publisher and told them to choose. And after all of that, guess which one they picked–the hand on the face shot.

I’m already thinking ahead to my next novel’s author photo. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are characters, and Zelda was known for jumping in fountains, so maybe I’ll use something like this:

Or we’ll walk the streets of Baltimore, where the book is mostly set, and snap pictures at the old Fitzgerald haunts around town. I’ve already prepared myself that of the fifty photos Catherine will take, I’ll end up picking the one of my hand holding up my head.

Now that I’ve humiliated myself with some of these pictures, I dare YOU (writer, yes you) to blog on some of your author photo ideas and outtakes.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Case for Twitter

Some recent excellent articles and blog posts about Twitter have inspired me to give my own plug for the social networking site. I’m going to tell you a little about why I think writers, specifically, should be on it, and then give you some easy, general pointers, mingled with a helping of my own personal biases.


Twitter is a running status update in which you only have 140 characters to express yourself. It encourages brief, meaningful communication and an unbelievable opportunity to network with like-minded people and professionals. You follow people who interest you. Others follow you. Think of it as an after-work happy hour, twenty-four hours a day.


How many times have you heard that writing is isolating? Well, guess what? It is.

Now, I live in a house with a husband, three boys under the age of eight, one dog, and six frogs. I have a large, local, extended family. My kids’ school, sports, and church community is warm, diverse, and nurturing.  I am tremendously blessed and never lonely.

I don’t, however, interact with a lot of people in my day to day life with a passion for books and writing. There are rarely opportunities to have conversations about plot development, character inspiration, meaningful themes, and satisfying denouements.  There are even fewer discussions about query letters, ebooks vs. paper books, and the perfect pitch. And I never get the opportunity to discuss that all important writer hang-up: favorite font.

I write all this not to illustrate what a HUGE nerd I am, but to tell you that I chat on Twitter about these very subjects every day with others who actually enjoy these topics. It’s a win-win situation because I don’t have to bore my “real life” friends, but I get the stimulation I need by addressing it online.

Whether you are a quilter, fisherman, poet, tattoo artist, therapist, personal trainer, or musician you will find people who share your passions and are eager to engage. And not only that, but you’ll be able to network and grow professionally if you wish.

It’s also worth mentioning some of the priceless professional opportunities I’ve had as a direct result of Twitter, including but not limited to: guest blogging at Writer Unboxed and Jane Friedman’s blog, There Are No Rules, an introduction to my editor, and a scholarship to Donald Maass’ Breakout Novel Intensive Workshop.


It’s easy to set up a profile at, though somewhat trickier to upload a picture that actually shows who you are. I personally feel you should use your first and last name, and a photograph of your face to identify yourself. Ambiguous names and non-human photos might put off followers and make it difficult to converse in that “happy hour” atmosphere.  (Some of my Twitter BFFs have dog pictures or logos, however, and I still love them.)

In your profile and description, be sure to link up your website and/or blog if you have them, and provide a brief, catchy description of who you are. I rarely follow people without some sort of description or website because I assume (rightfully so or not) that they’re creepy.

Once you have a profile, start searching for people to follow. Many of your favorite blogs and websites will have Twitter links, so click those to find people, and search lists of those you follow to see who they follow. Once you’re comfortable start reading updates, following links, tweeting your own links, and joining the conversation.


Do NOT arrive on the Twitter scene by announcing your website, three self-published ebooks, and Facebook page. Do NOT post links to your book on Amazon every day with quotes from your favorite pages. All of that can come up later, infrequently, and when it feels natural.


You will work very hard for your first 50-75 followers (unless you’re Charlie Sheen.) It will seem like no one cares about you in the beginning. Push through. Once you get a couple of regular Twitter “friendships” and conversation circles you’ll pick up followers. Then, once you have a nice base, followers will start finding you first and frequently.

Be forewarned, however, that Twitter is addictive and can impede productivity.

Or, so I hear…


Once you become savvy, you’ll learn how to utilize lists, hashtags (#), and various social media browsers (Tweetdeck, HootSuite, etc.) There are ways of linking your blogs and Facebook status updates to Twitter if you wish. All of that can be overwhelming at first, however, so keep it simple to start.


Here are some articles and blog posts on how to use Twitter. Please include your own links and thoughts in the comments, and if you have any questions, feel free to post or email me directly.

A Writer’s Guide to Twitter         @InkyElbows

What Your Profile Picture Really Says About You      @BTMargins

Twitter Tips   @Nina Badzin

What are YOUR Twitter Do’s and Don’ts?      @aswinn

Strategic Tweeting for Authors        Alan Rinzler