Book Review: My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

9781400067695_p0_v5_s192x300Lucy Barton is lonely and ill, missing her daughters and her husband in a sterile medical world, when her mother arrives. The two women haven’t spoken in years, yet she has come to comfort her daughter. This story is about the personal growth and understanding Lucy achieves through her solitude and her illness and about the path to reconciliation with her mother and, ultimately, herself.

Strout’s narrative is an amazing blend of Lucy’s current thoughts and memories of her childhood. Lucy’s mother tells her daughter the local gossip about people Lucy remembers, and Lucy’s thoughts return to the painful experiences of her childhood and why she had wanted to escape to a better world as an adult. However, Lucy finds both comfort and clarity during the long nights of conversation and sleepless contemplation.

From a writer’s point of view I found the book a study in style. The sentence and paragraph structure was literary, which I normally equate to a hard read, but this story captured my attention right away and held it throughout. The characters of both Lucy and her mother were rich with convincing strength, believable expression and realistic, nuanced interactions. Strout wove into the main character’s experience several “ah-ha” moments that delivered powerful impact.

I thought this story well worth studying in order to use Strout’s method in my own writing. I will be adding this book to my list of books that writers should read to develop their craft.

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The Hybrid Author Publishing Guide Countdown SALE

alternate Hybrid cover (2)The Hybrid Author: A Guide to Publishing, 2nd Edition is on sale  all week at Amazon in a countdown. I hope you will take advantage of it to get your copy.

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

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
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New Membership Area

You’ll notice that The Hybrid Author website now has a Members Only area for subscribers. Parts of it are still under construction, and I appreciate your patience for the next week while I get the kinks out.

You can subscribe for free at Join Us and receive the quarterly newsletter, and you can also download a free copy of the Achieving Goals – One Bite At A Time Journal.  If you’ve subscribed and didn’t get the link in your email then I apologize for the glitch. You can get the link in the Members Only area after signing in.

Within the next 60 days you’ll have a paid Premium Membership option that will include podcasts and other resources. I’ll have more details for you later.

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The Hybrid Author Manifesto

We, the hybrid authors of the world, believe that all writers are created equal. All writers, whether traditionally published or indie published, are endowed with a natural talent and creativity for wordsmithing. We have the natural right to develop and explore our potential and exercise our right of free speech and publication as we see fit.

We have the right to choose any or all paths to publication.

We have the right to call ourselves indie published authors and enjoy the satisfaction of self-publication.

We have the right to call ourselves legitimately published traditional authors and enjoy the same recognition as other traditionally published authors.

We have the right to control as much of the publishing process as we choose.

We have the right to choose who our publishing partners are.

We have control over the copyright and ancillary rights of our works as much as we choose.

We value equal and fair relationships with publishing partners who share the same ethics, interests, and goals.

We focus on good quality writing and professionally published books for our readers, no matter what the format or publishing path.

We are professionals and encourage each other’s success.

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Manage Your Copyrights

dreamstimefree_66187Most writers think that once your book is written, published, and the copyright is established that your concerns about copyrights are done. You don’t have to worry about it. That isn’t necessarily true in the multimedia world we live in today. In this the first of several posts about copyrights, I’d like to provide a few tips to writers that will help you keep track of what’s going on with your books after they are out there in the world.

First, set up Google alerts for the title of your book and your name or the name you use as the author of the book. Do this for each of your books. Have Google alerts notify you daily. If someone publishes your book title (which by the way you cannot restrict), then you can find out if they have just used the same title or infringed on your story line. It will also reveal whether or not your book has been pirated and is being distributed without your authorization.

Second, for indie authors, be sure to file a hard copy or e-book copy with the U.S. Copyright Office of your book after you publish it. Even though your publish date establishes when you published it, if you had to go to court in a copyright dispute the date it is filed with the Federal Copyright Office is the one that the courts will refer to.

Third, be aware that even though it is common practice to send manuscripts via email attachments to agents, publishes, and editors that sometimes the document can be picked up by third parties who are professionals at hacking. They can pirate your work. Be careful.

Fourth, find an attorney in your area who knows copyright law and at least the basics of the publishing industry. You don’t have to keep him on retainer, which of course isn’t practical for most writers. However, know who he or she is. Invite her to speak to your writers’ group about copyright issues. Ask them for help when you need it.

Protect your intellectual rights.

(Photo in this post: Dreamstime Photo, Agenda, Studio)

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Marketing for Writers 101

comp015 - animated computerMost people who want to be writers don’t envision ourselves becoming master marketers. We see ourselves writing the “great American Novel” or the next New York Times bestseller or even a Pulitzer Prize winning book. We dream of the day our name becomes a household word. We travel and sign our books for fans who stand in line for hours just to see us. That is the ultimate! We’re popular. Our books are loved and our fans can’t wait until the next one comes out. Then reality settles in when the first book contract is signed. You and I are responsible for 99% of the marketing of our book!

Where to start and what to do ?!?

Networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and what about the groups and hangouts where we’re supposed to develop relationships with readers. Oh, don’t forget Goodreads and Shelfari because that’s where the readers are.

Follow marketing blogs and make comments. Read marketing books and take their advice. By all means, you must have a website that is simple, clean, and easily navigated, but includes all the information your reader needs and gets them to convert from browser to buyer. Don’t get pushy, just court them into a purchase.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? We’re just getting started.

STOP! Take a deep breath and relax. The way to learn networking/marketing is one step at a time. While you’re writing your book, start reading the books on marketing during your breaks from writing. Read a few blogs when you check your email and follow the ones that are the most helpful to you. Sign up for newsletters. After a few months, keep taking the ones you find the most valuable to you. Unsubscribe from those that are not as practical and useful.

Learn one thing at a time. Focus on a few things and do them well. It’s easy to get spread too thin and join lots of groups and end up participating in none of them or rarely showing up. I’ve learned that you have to cut down to the ones you can actually participate in and let the others go. You’ll feel better about handling the networking part of marketing and the people you talk to won’t feel used. You’ll be able to start relationships with other writers and with your readers.

We’ll keep talking about marketing 101 on this blog. I hope you’ll come back often. If you have any questions or comments, please share them.

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Writing as Career vs. Hobby

Its a decision that every writer makes at some point.

I believe that storytellers are born. We are naturals and it starts with word of mouth. Every family has them. My grandpa was one. My uncle was one and I am one.  They were not writers, but I am and it started in high school, unless you count my crayon editing at five in my books as a child.

Fast forward. During the years I had small children, I wrote short stories for them and about their antics. Then, I wrote a cathartic novel about my escape from a violent marriage with three frightened children in-tow. It was so difficult to write, even in third person, that I put it on a shelf in the closet for several years until after I remarried a wonderful man who encouraged my writing. We took it out, he read it, and with a lot of hard work learning the writing craft, editing, and emotion, Shelter from the Storm, became my first published work of women’s fiction.

There is a lot more to my writing story, but it took a decision. My husband and I sat down and talked about it, and he promised to feed me and pick up the slack while I wrote. I asked myself the questions: Am I going to just play at this writing stuff or am I really going to focus on it and write books, submit them to publishers, and have the tenacity to keep going until I publish my work?  Then, can I keep doing it over and over? Do I have what it takes?

For me, the answer was a resounding, YES!

What is your answer?

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And the Winner is …

Shari since you left a comment on Friday, you are the winner of the signed copies of The Hybrid Author and Tools and Tips, 1st edition. Congratulations!

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Book Giveaway

This is the day to celebrate with all of you the successful book launch this week of The Hybrid Author!     bigstock-Cup-of-coffee-with-chocolate-c-31647959

It has been a fun week traveling from blog to blog across the country and exchanging emails with friends in the U.S., England, Europe, Australia, and India. The book is getting off to a good start as far as visibility goes. It has had some great coverage and will continue to be in newsletters and on blogs as well. A couple of little glitches, but nothing that I haven’t been able to handle and the reviews are substantial and complimentary.

I have a marketing plan strategy board up in my office so I can keep track of things. Usually I keep it in a notebook in list form, but I decided to keep it where I can easily see it and write on it as I complete things in each category. This is much easier to handle than my notebook and anyone whose ever taken a writing class from me or a conference workshop knows how much I love notebooks. (Note to self: This is a good tip to add to the coming 2nd edition of Tools and Tips.)

Most importantly, I have a signed copy of my book, The Hybrid Author and a copy of my 2010, 1st edition, of Tools and Tips ready to give away to someone who leaves a comment today. I’ll have my husband draw one of your names randomly out of my cowgirl hat to see who gets the books and announce the winner here on the blog on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Leave a comment and enter the book giveaway.

Have a great weekend, good luck in the giveaway, and thanks for sharing the book launch with me!

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The Hybrid Author Book Launch Tour

The book launch is in full swing. It started with a great guest blog yesterday at Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s blog with an excerpt from the first chapter. If you missed it, you can still go by and give it a read.

Today, I’m on Travis Erwin’s blog. If you’ve never visited his blog, he is lots of fun and is interviewed in the book.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at The Book Connection, where Cheryl  Malandrinos will do a first chapter review. I’m very excited to see it and read it right along with you all.

Thursday, I hope you’ll come and visit with me at the Panhandle Professional Writers blog. This organization is one of the oldest in the country and yes, it really was founded in the panhandle of Texas.

Friday, things will wind up back here at the Hybrid Author (dot) com and anyone who leaves a comment will be in a drawing for an autographed copy of The Hybrid Author and the first edition of Tools and Tips.

Feel free to share this with your friends. They might like a copy of my new book. Hope to see you.

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The Hybrid Author Book Release

The Hybrid Author book coverPre-release orders can be purchased at   Early Purchase

Be on of the first to get a copy for your writer’s reference library. Bob Rich, the author of the well-known Bobbing Around Newsletter says,

“This book is a treasure house of useful suggestions and resources for any writer, already published or still merely hopeful. While reading, I followed up some of Dianne’s recommendations, particularly in the areas of marketing and publicity, which are my weak points.

This useful information is logically organized, clearly presented, and is in a style that is a perfect compromise between being chatty and formal. My only suggestion for improvement is that each resource should have a web link accompany it.

I’ve been a hybrid writer for many years, but didn’t know it until I read Dianne’s definition. It is someone who has some books out through royalty-paying publishers, with other books, or other versions of these books, through a less conventional path such as self-publishing. She sets out the advantages and disadvantages of each of four options, and I cannot fault her reasoning. I agree with everything she has stated.

A useful feature is Chapter 8, which is a series of interviews with successful authors. I was fascinated by the commonalities and differences in these people’s opinions.

Chapter 10 is also particularly useful in a different way: it is an extensive list of questions to an intending author. Thinking about the answer to each will help you to choose the uniquely right path for you.

In short, this book is a useful resource for any writer.”

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News From the London Book Fair





The London Book Fair has been not only blessed with a huge number of indie authors participating but also the announcement of a new ebook distribution portal. It will be open not only to publishers but individual authors as well at affordable prices. Basics came out in today’s Digital Book World newsletter. I couldn’t wait to share it with you all. For more information go to: booktrade



This picture is royalty free and from the

DAFPRS website.

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Hybrid Authors Still At-Large

Last week in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jessica Dewberry wrote an article called “In the Trenches with Hybrid at AWP 2014.” Dewberry said that prior to the conference she had listed herself as a hybrid writer in her Twitter and Facebook profiles. Then unfortunately removed it after attending AWP.

Apparently, panel discussion and informal discussion ( some of which included alcohol and dancing) tried to define just what this hybrid thing is. Many looked at the aspects of cross genre writing. Others talked about people who dip into everything that the industry has to offer on both sides of the aisle – traditional and self-published. For those of you who haven’t read the article, it is well worth reading. It illustrated what’s going on in the industry when it comes to hybrids, in many cases.

Dewberry stated toward the end of her article, “But the varying definitions and perceptions of hybrid I was exposed to at AWP did not erase the doubt I went there with, the sense that the word muddies more than it clarifies.”

That muddy definition and what to do with a writing career is exactly why I decided to write, The Hybrid Author. The book comes out April 21st. That is also why I started this blog and website. I welcome  others to the discussion.

Posted in The Hybrid Author

What is a Hybrid Author?

If you read blogs and magazines in the publishing industry you’ll find different definitions for the hybrid author. We are experiencing massive changes in the industry that are almost impossible to keep up with unless we spend all of our time following the latest news releases out of New York and publishing experts. How can we cope with that?

My original plan was the traditional path and it takes years. It includes finding an agent and waiting for them to find a publisher who wants my book. Meanwhile, I’m writing and waiting. Sound familiar?

The hybrid author publishes through the traditional path but also self-publishes. A hybrid can also be defined as one who picks and chooses from a combination of traditional publishing without an agent and self-publishes using companies like Createspace. I’ve even heard hybrids referred to as those who write across genre or across fiction and nonfiction lines.

One thing I can tell you is that as a hybrid author I have control of my career far more than the authors in the industry even five years ago. However, I wear a lot of hats and it is a real juggling act. How it works and what it takes to be a hybrid author is what this website and blog is all about.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

bokeh-1033282_1280  I hope this has been a good year for everyone and I wish an even better year in 2016 for you and yours.

New things are coming here at The Hybrid Author starting with my interview in the January edition of Kirkus magazine (both print and online). The second editions of The Hybrid Author and The Hybrid Author Companion Journal  are out.

My Christmas present to fellow author and friend, Kimberly Black, is my first Christmas novel, The Christmas Coach.


Where ever you are this holiday, I hope you’re enjoying friends and family. See you in the New Year!

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