In The News

Happy Mother’s Day to the 1st Writing Instructor

For Mom, my first reading and writing instructor. Who was yours?

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5 Ways Authors Can Pump Up the Volume

Neighborhood "libraries:" another way to meet readers

Neighborhood “libraries:” another way to meet readers

The lure of social media is powerful, particularly for artists, authors and other creative types who’d rather produce than promote.

Technology has made it possible to talk, influence, monitor and interact without leaving the comfort (and security) of your cozy home office. How efficient.

Here’s what’s missing: eye contact, handshakes (including an occasional high five or fist bump), body language, plus the opportunity to explain your work face to face, with the genuine passion that forges bonds far stronger than those generated by a like on Facebook or a follow on Twitter.


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Free Webinar 10/1: Character Above All

Uncover your characters' secrets

Uncover your characters’ secrets

Novelists know that our characters begin much like the little wooden boy began. They sit one-dimensional, quiet and unmoving unless – or until – we pull the strings. Only then do they start to move, talk, lie and grow big noses. But a funny thing happens the deeper you get into your story. Call it growth. As your characters develop and mature, they come alive. Your work at the keyboard is like the blue dust that turned the wooden boy into Pinocchio. Once this transformation takes place, your characters become more like sentient beings, full of the same needs and emotions that drive the rest of us. Those of you with children will recognize this as a significant moment – the day when the kids begin expressing their own point of view, and when your words are no longer accepted as gospel simply because you are the parent. Yes, you can subdue or quiet your characters in a way that will not work with your children, but that is the wrong strategy, in my view. For if you look at the writing of a novel as a journey through uncharted territory – and with you as the leader – your characters, if you let them, if you talk to them, ask questions and listen to what they have to say … will steer you to fascinating and secret places that do not exist on any map. And that is where your stories will take off. I hope you’ll join this discussion in a free webinar Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.



Pinteresting Recipe: Travel, Photos and Books

Bootlicker in good hands

Bootlicker in good hands

If 80 percent of Pinterest users are women and women buy most of the books, authors need to be on Pinterest.

Problem is, authors traffic in words and Pinterest is all about photos.

Here’s one way to create a compelling board:

When you, a friend, or a relative are headed abroad, take or send your novel. You’d be amazed at the opportunities that come up to snag a photo of your book beside a famous landmark or in the hands of a colorful local citizen.

During a recent trip to Thailand, we visited a museum where two women in gleaming gold traditional outfits were posted outside. I asked one to pose with the book and she gladly complied. Could she read it? Does it matter?

Authors these days need to make a smooth transition from creative writing to creative marketing. Send your book on a trip and capture some photos you can use to reach prospective readers on Pinterest.

You might make some international friends in the process. Oh, and here’s the actual board: Travels with Bella and Bootlicker.



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Family Circle: Accident or Design?

Piacentes & Bellomos at Danielle Piacente’s wedding

Some version of this story occurs in all families, yet it is fascinating that seemingly random events occur and take root, drawing a rough outline of what will become the future. I think many of us wonder at some level if is indeed random or part of something bigger. The story of a week at the beach with my extended family.







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Trayvon Verdict, Obama Remarks Stir Echoes

The Trayvon Martin verdict and President Obama’s remarks about race in America took me back to my early reporting days in Central Florida, and some stories chessabout the difficulty of change in towns where the old ways die hard.  Please check out the post and weigh in with any thoughts or questions.

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Podcast Explores Choices We Make in the Dark

Author Steve Piacente

Choices in the Dark: A Podcast

A woman nicks a car with her shopping cart. No one sees. A ninth-grader struggling with an algebra exam glances up and sees another kid’s answers. The teacher isn’t paying attention. A commanding officer witnesses a friendly fire death in the chaos of battle. There are three witnesses who will do as he says.

The choices we make in such situations say a lot about our moral compass. Truth is, there’s always someone watching.

More in my new JenningsWire Podcast: Choices in the Dark.


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For Mom, the First Writing Instructor

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.


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Is All Fiction Inspired by Fact?

Reporter taking notes

Covering Strom Thurmond at the Capitol, circa 1995

In 1992, there was an election that gave South Carolina its first black congressman since the Civil War.

That’s where fact stops and fiction begins in Bootlicker, my account of a historic election imperiled by a dark secret. This week I was honored to talk about fact-inspired fiction and a number of other topics with Pattie Welek Hall, host of JOYradio. The interview follows. If there are any follow-up questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!

Listen to internet radio with JOYRadio with PattieWelekHall on Blog Talk Radio

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Spinning the Cruise that was No Carnival

cruise ship

Imagine trying to put some spic-and-span on all you’ve heard about the ill-fated Carnival cruise that wound up adrift off the Yucatan Peninsula.

A dirty job, to be sure, yet someone had to do it. Here’s a look at how Carnival’s CEO handled what could have been a much worse PR disaster.



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