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Catch the Great Dialogue of Amazon Best-Selling Author, Ann Eisenstein

“Catch the Great Dialogue of Amazon Best-Selling Author, Ann Eisenstein” by Joan Y. Edwards

1.      How did you do in English as a kid?
Way back in the days of Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot, reading and English were all grouped together into one subject area. I was pretty good in reading recognition and comprehension. I was a great speller. I was decent in most grammar. But when it came to the mechanics of diagramming sentences, my participles were often dangling! I venture to say that my editor(s) might still be looking for them!

2.      When did you decide to become an author?
I am not sure it was ever a conscious decision to become an author. I think I started writing before I could spell – or read! Writing with pictures in the backs of my father’s books. I have always had a wild imagination – complete with an imaginary friend – and I loved to make up stories, songs, and plays.

3.      What’s your favorite book? Why?
That is a most difficult question. First of all, let me narrow the field to favorite children’s book. Then there are hundreds that I love – and at one time or another probably considered them a “favorite”. But, since I have to choose just one, I would have to say that the book that has influenced me the most is The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Why? The character, Jonas, touched me with with how he dealt with the memories of his past and how he made his future decisions. It’s an intense and gripping story of our connectedness in society. Ultimately, it is a revelation of one’s boy’s destiny and how he must change it – for himself, Gabriel, and the whole community.

4.      Are your characters based on real people?
I think that the safe answer to that question, when one writes fiction, should always be “No.” Yet, my characters – their names, their expressions and their personalities – stem from people who I have known in my life. The good and the bad, the trials and triumphs, all have a basis in my reality.

5.      Did you outline and plan your books before you wrote them or did their stories flow on its own?
I am both plotter and pantser. First, I have an idea fueled by inspiration and imagination. I create/write that basic story in my head. Then I will write down snippets and phrases – on pieces of paper, napkins, my hand, my iPad, and record them on my iPhone. Eventually those find their way to index cards, which I magnetize and place on a large magnetic storyboard in my office. That is the transition from pants to plot. I derive my plot outline from those scene possibilities. The ebb and flow of the story – the hiccups and blocked thought processes – all can be easily rearranged on the big board.
I believe that the character, Sean, truly grabbed the first nugget that I had for Hiding Carly and wrote his own story. He just brought me along for the typing and the research! It was a fun ride!

6.      How much research did you have to do for writing Hiding Carly and Fallen Prey?
I am a consummate researcher! I think I enjoy that phase at least as much as the actual writing. People will ask me, “Are you writing the book yet?”
I tell them that the story is working itself out in my head and that I will finish it when the research is over! I am never really satisfied that I know everything I need to know for accuracy. The Sean Gray Junior Special Agent series is realistic contemporary fiction. So, the research for Hiding Carly was heavily weighted in learning all about the FBI and the Junior Special Agent Program. I was fortunate because I was able to interview an FBI Special Agent for the first book. Also, I learned a lot about kidnapped and missing children. Many aspects of character development and the situations in which Sean and Carly and their families found themselves, required investigation.

For Fallen Prey, I was already an alumna of the FBI Citizens Academy Program and had learned a lot more about the inner workings of the agency. During the final weeks, I became a member of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Citizen’s Academy, so I added the knowledge I gained there to the story.
My research for book two also focused on the terrain of the river – driving and walking along the shore to pinpoint the precise location of the opening of the book. And I learned a whole lot more about the internet and ALL the resources that are available there. In addition, I interviewed agents who dealt with entrapped, trafficked and exploited kids. I researched and studied the woods and the little tiny “houses” that people rarely notice that dot the landscape. I also spent a great deal of time with my nose in medical books! And luckily I had studied some law, but had to research international trials and the basics of the federal court system.
All in all, my research is always the most time-consuming activity. But I love it!

7.      Did you cry while writing one of your books?
I don’t think that I ever cried while writing – at least not because of the story content. There are sad moments for sure. But because I know how this all ends, I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness. I cried when I wrote the dedications, though.

8.      Do you have trouble saying goodbye to your characters when the book is finished?
So far, I haven’t had to say goodbye. At least not with the Sean Gray series. There has been only one death in book one. (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the story). Maybe after the next book, I might be sad to say goodbye to Sean and his friends. I don’t know. I am already working on several other books, so I guess that will make it easier.

9.      What’s your favorite book you’ve written?
I wrote a book of poetry years ago. It has never been published – but I still love it. In all honesty, I would have to say Hiding Carly is my favorite. It was such a surprise – a true gift from God. Sean is a really cool kid. I would be proud to have him for my own son. Everybody should know a Sean Gray.

10.  What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you related to your writing?
The funniest thing that has happened to me related to writing is finally deciding to put one of those imaginative and inspired stories to paper. I started out writing the “great American novel.” It was an adult novel. I started typing away. Then it struck me that I had no idea what I was doing.
So, I got the bright idea that I would start out my writing career with a children’s book. After all, writing a children’s book had to be easier. It was for kids!
What a delusional moment that was. Bring in the PTO/PTA/ALA, etc. I was a teacher, but had to really study all the rules and regulations of writing for children. Word choices, reading levels – I knew them – but from a teacher’s point of view. Now I had to figure out how to write the right words for my audience. The guidelines for writing for children are much tighter. It’s a chuckle!

11.  Ann, you are well-known for your ability to write great dialogue.
Thank you, Joan.
Would you please tell us the main purposes of dialogue and hints to lead readers to write better dialogue?
Three of the main purposes of dialogue are:

  • Dialogue brings a novel to life. It is the heartbeat of the emotion and the conflict.
  • Dialogue gives necessary information. Rather than long narratives of backstory, characters can reveal information through their conversations.
  • Dialogue reveals character. It can show how someone feels and it can also show how characters feel about one another.

Three tips for writing more effective dialog are:

  • Listen to people – especially to the people of the age(s) for whom you are writing. Eavesdrop on their conversations. Observe speech patterns, and rhythm and pacing.
  • Ground dialogue in the scene – conversation should advance the plot of each scene. It should take place somewhere – on the telephone, at the park, etc. The dialogue of your characters should be purposeful in the context of the action of the scene.
  • Give Your Characters distinct speech patterns – your characters are of a different age, sex, etc. therefore they don’t sound the same. They have different personalities. Consider their age, gender, social and economic background, education, etc. Write their dialogue accordingly.

12.  Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer?
My mom always was one of my biggest fans. She truly believed that I would write a great novel. I was fortunate that she read Hiding Carly before she died.
My best friend, Susan Waites, is my biggest supporter, my beta reader, my hand holder, and my headache therapist!
Then there is you and the Savvy Wordsmiths critique group. You all are wonderful friends and energetic supporters.
I know you asked for one – but my family and my friends lift me up and push me forward all of the time.
Most of all, I have to thank God for giving me life and the gifts that have enabled me to write, to teach, to speak, to counsel. I am blessed indeed.

13.  What are you writing now?
I am working on several projects. Ranging from a Picture Book to Middle Grade to Young Adult and Adult, fiction and some nonfiction. I also am working on my autobiography. (A true fictitious tale focusing on growing up in small town Ohio in the 60’s!) And a devotional – a promise I made when I first began. One I will keep.
At the top of my list, however, is the third and final book in the Sean Gray series. As I said above, I know the ending. And the journey from Fallen Prey to the series end is rife with turmoil, trauma, and tragic circumstance. The many plotlines have all but short-circuited in my brain!

14.  What do you do for relaxation?

  • I play with my wonderful baby, Jesse (he’s a Maine Coon rescue cat).
  • I work out – I love Les Mills Body Combat (mixed martial arts) and Body Flow (Tai Chi, Pilates & Yoga).
  • I listen to Beethoven, and sometimes I play the piano or saxophone.
  • I love to draw (pen, ink & charcoal) and paint (watercolor)
  • I love the ocean. It is my favorite place to breathe.
  • My favorite cities are Kihei (Maui), New York, Rome, and Paris.
  • My favorite food is pizza – New York Style.
  • My favorite dessert is Italian Ice from Brooklyn.
  • My favorite alcoholic beverage is Cabernet Sauvignon. Otherwise – water will do just fine.
  • My favorite color is black.
  • My favorite song is “Desperado” by The Eagles.
  • My favorite movie is The Notebook.

15.  It is great that Amazon gave Hiding Carly a Best Sellers Rank of #1. Tell us about that.

Congratulations, Ann.
Thank you for being a guest on my blog. I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. I wish you success in every writing adventure you take.

Purchase Hiding Carly:
Purchase Fallen Prey:
Soon to be available at all major bookstores and online at:


Ann Eisenstein’s Website
YouTube Video Hiding Carly:


Giveaway finished December 16, 2013. 

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story

“Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story” by Joan Y. Edwards

Editors ask: What is the universal theme of your story? information book? article? poem?

What do you answer? Are you clueless? Perhaps I can help.

I went to the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop in Oceanside, Oregon from July 12-16, 2010. I was sharing a poem I wrote. The editor wanted to know what was my poem’s universal theme. What I had thought was a universal theme was really not universal. It was regional or subjective. Therefore, I did research to find out more about the subject of universal theme.

But first you have to know what your conflict is. To gain more readership, make your conflict one of the universal conflicts listed below.
What does the main character want that he cannot get or have?
Conflict adds excitement and suspense to the story.
What disturbed him beyond belief? What is the cause of distress for the main character?
What disrupts the business as usual of the main character?
What happens that the main character may try to ignore but cannot? He has to deal with this problem, internally and externally.

The internal conflict comes when the main character has to choose between two solutions to the problem: one moral, one immoral; one against his family rules; one against club’s rules; one that might hurt his friend, one that might hurt himself; one that might win the trust of his friends, one that would make him untrustworthy, one that makes him a liar, one that makes him tell the truth; mixed emotions add the tension to the story and make people want to read it to find out what the main character decided to do and what the consequences were for his actions….did it bring him closer to the goal, or bring him to his last breath.

Universal Conflicts
In a story you have one of the following universal conflicts played out:
Man against Man
Man against Self
Man against Nature
Man against Society
Man against Family
Man against the Universe
Man against Machines
Man against Institutions
Man against God
Man against Time
Man against Destiny

Never fear: Your story will probably fit into one of the universal conflicts listed above.

Goals Main Characters Struggle for, Search for, Need, Want
Acceptance, Admiration, Ambition, Approval, Attention, Authority, Awareness, Beauty. Belief, Belonging, Choices, Commitment, Community, Compassion, Cooperation, Courage, Dedication, Dream, Education, Equality, Experience, Faith, Family, Friendship, Godly love, Good, Gratitude, Heroes /Heroic Figures and Actions, Honesty, Honor, Hope, Human Relationships, Humor, Identity, Independence, Individuality, Innocence, Justice, Laughter, Law and Order, Live forever, Love, Loyalty, Marriage, Money, Morality,
Nature, Nonviolence, Passion, Peace, Perseverance, Possibilities, Power, Principles, Rebirth, Redemption, Religion, Respect, Responsibility, Romance, Sex, Spiritual enlightenment, Success, Taxes, Time, Trust, Truth, Understanding.

Forces Opposing Main Character, Keep Him from Reaching His Goal, Struggle Against, Has to Triumph Over, Doesn’t Want, Opposite of Goal, Perils of, What the Main Character Doesn’t want:
Accusation, Alienation, Ambition, Authority, Beliefs, Betrayal, Blame, Challenge, church, Coming of Age, Competition, Corruption, Country, County, Court, Crime, Death, Deception, Despair, Destruction, Disallusionment of adulthood, Disapproval, Distrust, Envy, Etiquette, Evil, Faith, Family, Fate, Fear, Forbidden, Freedom, Future, Government, Greed, Grief, Guilt, Handicap, Hatred, Hospital, Initiation, Injustice, Institutions, Jail, Jealousy, Justice, Lack of compassion, Lies, Loss, Materialism, Nation, Nature, Nature as dangerous, Oppression, Past, Power, Persecution, Poverty, Prejudice, Pride, Prison, Problems, Punishment, Rebelling, Rejection, Religion, Responsibility, Revenge, Rules, Sacrifice, Schools, Self-Doubt, Shame, Society, Taxes, Time, Town, Tragedy, Vengeance, Village, Vulnerability, War.

After you finish writing your story or when you’ve finished your outline, what has your main character learned from his conflict? What did the main character learn in his battle against one of the conflicts listed above? This is the theme. Make it a universal theme shared by all mankind, so that all of mankind will want to read your book.

The Universal Theme
The universal theme is the story’s (author’s) view about life and how people behave. It is the statement the story makes about society, human nature, or the human condition that the author wants to convey to readers. It’s an observation about life that can apply to any and everyone representing the conflicts, dreams, hopes, and fears across cultures and continents, and from generation to generation. It could be the moral to the story, a teaching, or an observation. It transcends race, gender, sexual preference, and creed. Some examples are love, peace, friendship, and other concepts about life.

Universal themes exist because people worldwide go through the common human experiences of being born, experiencing anguish and joy, and dying come from emotions and that touch and can apply to any and all cultures, genders, ages, sexual preference, creeds, geography, historical periods, and genres.

The universal theme is the story’s (author’s) view about life and how people behave in a particular situation. It is a statement the story makes about society, human nature, or the human condition through the author’s words and characters. The theme is universal when it transcends race, gender, sexual preference, creed. cultures, continents, and generations representing the conflicts, dreams, hopes, and fears such as: love, peace, friendship, and other concepts about life that can apply to any and everyone.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Conflict of Nature against death
You do not have to worry about dying and death. It’s a natural thing.

Law and Order Television Series by Dick Wolf
Conflict of Good over Evil – Dick Wolf presents both sides of the issues
Even with the latest technology and evidence, police and district attorneys do not always win their cases against evil.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Love against society, family, death
Love can be so passionate that one would prefer death to living without the loved one.

Universal Emotions

Emotions Are Universal.

Put emotions in your story. It makes your characters come alive. One way to make your story have universal appeal is to add the tension of opposing emotions. We all feel mixed emotions every day. Should we do this? We shouldn’t do that. It’s smart to do this. How could I be so stupid? How could he be so naive? What’s the wisest choice? What are my choices? Do I get a choice? When a character has two or three choices and none of them are very good, it’s tension time for reading and living, and it makes the reader want to turn the page.

All people experience emotions. Putting believable emotions into your story will help it reach more readers.

Here are Paul Ekman’s Big Six Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions Robert Plutchik used the above six emotions and added two others below:

Ekman’s Eleven Other Basic Emotions
Pride in achievement
Sensory pleasure

The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin gives nine emotions
Nine Emotions

Nine States of Emotional Empowerment

10 Emotional Triggers That Are Delaying Your True Purpose

Swati Chopra from New Delhi, India says the nine rasas are:
Distress (hunger, discomfort)


Here are websites with information about emotions:

  1. http://www.clipartguide.com/ Great! Pictures matched with emotions
  2. http://www.feelingfacescards.com/
  3. http://www.eqi.org/fw.htm
  4. http://www.eqi.org/cnfs.htm
  5. http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emotions

I hope you enjoyed my blog post. I hope I enlightened you, rather than confused you. Please let me know if I helped you make your writing appeal to more people, to make it more universally appealing. Capture this universal appeal and you’ll capture an editor’s heart!

Don’t give up on your writing. Never Give Up on winning and resolving conflicts that come your way.

You are a published author in your mind, before you get that way on paper.  You can do it. Yes, you can.

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2010-2021 Joan Y. Edwards

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