8 Tips For Picking Meaningful Character Names

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

How important are character names? Does it really matter what we choose? Or how we go about deciding?

Should we draw names out of hat? Or should we wait until exact names are revealed to us in a dream?

I’m slightly hesitant to give advice on how to pick character names. I can’t tell you how to name your characters anymore than I can tell you how to name your real-life children. I truly believe the naming process will be unique for each of us.

But . . . I do think there are some general principles we can employ when deciding on character names. Here are eight things I keep in mind when naming my characters:

1. Develop our character before finalizing the name.

I get to know as much about my character as possible before finalizing the name. As I develop the character’s personality, ethnicity, quirks, life-experiences, etc., I’m able to narrow down names that might match that person. For example, in The Doctor’s Lady, my heroine is a well-educated, pious lady from a wealthy family. I chose the name Priscilla because it has a more refined and elegant ring than a name like Mary or Betty.

2. Find names that match our setting and fit with the plot.

Once my character is starting to come to life, I also evaluate how that character fits within the plot and setting. In Unending Devotion, which is set in the lumber communities of central Michigan, I sorted through rural names, as well as logging era names. And I tried to think which ones would fit within the tone of the plot.

3. Use time-period appropriate names.

This is especially critical for historical writers. I generally pull up the list of the most popular names for the year or decade in which my character was born. I also look at lists of names in biographies and research books for the particular time period of my book. In the 1600’s, 29% of men were named John (that’s about 1 out of 3 men!) and 15% of women were named Elizabeth. Thus, in The Preacher’s Bride I felt almost obligated to name my main characters John and Elizabeth. Not really! But you get my point.

4. Use symbolism if possible.

While we can’t always attach symbolism to names, we can look for ways to give special meaning to some of the names we choose. In my WIP, I looked at the meaning of hero names before choosing one. Whether the reader ever realizes it or not, part of my hero’s character arc is about him learning to live up to his name—which means “strong as a wolf.”

5. Avoid picking names that readers will have a difficult time saying.

I get annoyed when I read character names I can’t pronounce—oddly-spelled or too-long names. This is even more frustrating when the name belongs to the main character and I have to read the “weird” name ten times per page. I suggest avoiding names (as fun and nice as they might be) that might trip up our readers. We should also limit the number of foreign names for the same reason.

6. Avoid having names that start with the same letter or sound.

I keep a running list of every character that crops up in my book—a sheet I can easily scan. I do my best to start each name with a different letter. I don’t want to have a John, Joseph, and Jacob all in the same book. Or a Polly and Molly. When names are too similar, we have to make our readers work harder to remember our characters. And our job as writers is to make the reading experience as smooth and pleasant as possible.

7. Remember, unique doesn’t always mean better.

Sometimes when names are too unique they can distract a reader from the story. I like unique last names, especially when they’re real (like Goodenough or Covenant). But often those kinds of names have a ring of disbelief. When I get too carried away, my editors send me back to the drawing board for a simpler name. I've noticed that middle grade and YA books can push the limits. For example, I'm reading The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith with my kids. The grouchy, complaining grandfather is aptly named Grumble.

8. Make sure our minor character names don’t overshadow our main characters.

It’s fun to find especially dark and sinister names for our antagonists. In The Doctor's Lady, one of the antagonists is named the Black Squire. He's rough trapper that wears a black eye patch. In Rebellious Heart, the bad guy is Lieutenant Wolfe. Yes, he's predatory like a wolf. He's hunting for smugglers and enjoys it just a tad too much. As we have fun shaping our minor characters, we have to make sure their names and personalities don't become more vibrant and alive than the main characters.

What about YOU? What annoys you most about character names? Do you have any advice or method for how to come up with the perfect name?

How to Drive Yourself Crazy as a Writer

 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Here are four simple ways to drive yourself crazy (or to drive other writers & readers crazy!):

1. Think the very first book you’ve ever written is ready for publication.

This is a very hard truth for beginning writers to swallow. No one wants to believe they’ve gone to all the hard work of writing a book for nothing. But if you ask most published authors how many books it took them before they were ready for publication, likely you’d get a range from 4 to 6. Sure there are exceptions. But the large majority of authors have to write multiple books before really honing their skills.

It took me five books (not to mention a couple of books that I started but never finished). Those five books are stuck in a closet and will never see the light of day.

Fortunately, all the work isn’t for nothing. In fact, those first unpublishable books are incredibly important. Without mine, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. The practice books—combined with studying fiction techniques—are the building blocks for a successful career.

We’ll only drive ourselves crazy with potential rejections, poor sales, and crushing feedback if we attempt to put our books out there too soon.

2. Think you don’t need time to grow.

I save my kids’ writing assignments. They date the papers and put them in their writing folders. Every year when they add new paragraphs, essays, and stories, they invariably go back and read what they’ve written in previous years. Now in fifth grade, my daughter giggles over what she wrote in second grade.

But, boy, in second grade she thought those stories were wonderful. And they were—for a second grader. However, the time, distance, and growth has helped her to look back and see how much deeper, richer, and more complex they’ve become. She can objectively see just how shallow and simplistic her earlier writing was.

Even though there’s no set number of years someone needs to write before being ready for publication, there’s something to be said for giving ourselves plenty of growing room. If we’re studying hard, over time we’ll begin to see improvements in our writing skill. And someday we’ll even look back at our earliest attempts and giggle (at least I do!).

3. Think you can catch all your own mistakes.

No one can edit his or her own manuscript perfectly. That’s a little bit like trying to give yourself counseling. Usually we can’t see our own issues and faults (or we’re prideful or in denial!). We need friends, family, and therapists to help us see the issues.

And the same is true in our writing. No matter how many times we read our manuscript, we can’t view it as objectively as someone who is reading with a fresh perspective.

Even with twenty plus years of writing experience, I still can’t catch all my own mistakes. I absolutely need editors who can give me their honest, careful, and detailed critiques (of both big and small problems).

4. Think you can make a go of the writing journey alone.

In this modern age, it’s pretty tough to go solo. Although writing a first draft of a book is a solitary endeavor, the road beyond that is not.

The longer I’m in the industry, the more I’ve come to realize just what a team effort the process of publication is—everything from the editing to the marketing. Yes, it takes a team effort to take a book in its somewhat rough state and to polish it up so that it can really resonate and shine.

But then once we have it sparkling, it also takes a team to help us market our books. With over one million other books vying for the reader’s attention, we have so much more of a chance of getting our books to stand out when our friends and online connections help us spread the word.

Plus, we need writing friends to help us through the difficult times. Yes, our non-writing friends and family can support us too. But other writers can get it in a way that others often can’t.

We can drive ourselves crazy, sometimes even to the point of wanting to quit when we fall prey to any of the above.

How about you? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Are there exceptions to the above that you’ve seen?

How to Learn Fiction-Writing Techniques With Less Pain & Frustration

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough then you know I feel very strongly that writers need to grow in their writing ability by reading fiction how-to books.

Back in the days when I was first writing seriously (about twenty years ago), I devoured every how-to book I could get my hands on. I filled notecards with all of the things I was learning. And as I wrote, I’d flip through my notecards to help me remember everything.

Incidentally, I still have that stack of notecards and occasionally still read them. And I still regularly read writing craft books (usually when I’m between projects so that I can refresh myself and find new inspiration).

Now I realize not everyone agrees that writing craft books are helpful. Some people become overwhelmed by all of the information. Others feel stifled. Some even get discouraged to the point of quitting because they can’t seem to do things “by the book.”

Then there are those writers who don’t want anyone else telling them what to do. They feel that writing is an individualistic, subjective expression of our creativity (just like all of the other art forms).

Some may even say they can learn all they need by reading well-written novels, and that the rhythm of story and structure is picked up through saturating themselves with a variety of genres and stories (including the classics). Such writers might say things like, “Story trumps technique.”

The fact is, writers can come up with any number of excuses for why they don’t want to learn the basics of fiction-writing. And sometimes those excuses may even be valid, because after all, most excuses usually have a hint of truth to them, don’t they?

The truth is yes, sometimes we can try too hard to follow the rules and in the process get discouraged or end up with sterile writing. Sometimes we’re at risk of losing our individuality and creativity when we try to make ourselves fit into a prescribed structure. And yes, those of us who are avid readers may have a leg-up on how to tell a good story. Indeed, the story itself is critically important.

But the other truth is this—very few people are born as writing geniuses. I certainly wasn’t. Most of us have to learn how to write fiction similar to any other subject like typing, reading or algebra. And while there are many ways to learn how to write, one of the best ways to learn anything is to STUDY and then PRACTICE.

Here are few suggestions that might make the process of learning about writing fiction less painful and frustrating:

1. Wait to read a how-to book until after completing a first manuscript. Often we don’t know what we need to work on until after we’ve had some firsthand experience. Besides, there’s something about giving ourselves freedom with the first book to explore, be creative, and to nurture our imagination.

2. Check out several fiction how-to books from the library. When I’m able to browse through a book first, I’m able to see whether it contains information that will help me. Different books will speak to us more or less depending upon where we’re at in our writing journey. If we’re not selective, we might give up on how-to books too easily instead of continuing to search until we find one that meets our needs.

3. When reading, take notes on specific things to work on in the next novel. I usually read a how-to book when I’m in the pre-writing plotting phase, which helps inspire ideas and reminds me of what I need to incorporate.

4. Don’t try to work on everything all at once. That’s a bit like having too many cooks in the kitchen—a recipe for disaster (or at the very least discouragement). Trying to do everything perfectly or too much to soon can zap the joy out of writing and lead to writer’s block.

5. Look at writing techniques as guidelines not rules. I examine the “why” behind particular guidelines. What is the point of a technique? For example, plenty of books advocate against using adverbs. Why? Because the modern reader doesn’t want to be slowed down by wordiness. They want a succinct, tight read. But does that mean we can’t use any adverbs? No, if I’m doing my job at keeping the story moving, then if I drop in an adverb here and there, it won’t bother the reader or slow my story.

6. Find a balance. We shouldn't focus too much on technique at the expense of the story or it will end up lifeless. But we can't ignore the building blocks of good fiction because we think we have an awesome best-selling story. We might shoot our chance with an agent, publisher, or reader simply because they can't see past our mediocre or even poor writing techniques.

How about you? Are you taking enough time to work on your fiction techniques? What writing book has helped you the most from a practical standpoint?

How to Balance Showing Versus Telling

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

One thing I’ve noticed through critiquing and judging contests (and from personal experience), is that writers have a difficult time finding balance when it comes to showing versus telling. In fact, I’ve noticed two phases: over-telling and under-telling.

1. The over-telling phase:

In our first books, we usually over-explain just about everything in the story. We take an entire paragraph to describe our main character’s physical description in precise detail. We spend a page telling about her past and the events leading up to the current problem. We toss in lots of flowers and birds and rainbows and sunsets.

We think we’re eloquent and that our prose is other-worldly. We believe we’re creating complex characters and well-plotted novels with all the explaining we’re doing.

But then (either through feedback or personal growth) we realize how wordy we are.

Eventually, as we brush up on our writing skills, we begin to learn how to write by scenes. Thanks to television and movies, readers prefer to see a story as a series of immediate scenes. They no longer have a tolerance for the exhausting pages of description and explanation that characterizes so many books of the past.

So we as writers try to imitate what’s done on the big screen. In fact, many of us may even read screen-writing books (like Save the Cat) to help us tighten and hone our writing skills, until we trim and eliminate every unnecessary word possible. Eventually, we learn to show not tell.

And that’s when some writers enter the next phase:

2. The under-telling phase:

In our passion to avoid excess, we end up going to the opposite extreme with our stories, putting them under the microscope and eliminating every extra jot and tiddle.

Everyone seems to be instructing us to cut out or go lean on things like:

NARRATIVE SUMMARY: The narrator (usually the POV character) tells or summarizes events, the passing of time, or the getting from one setting to another.

EXPOSITION: Information that helps explain something about the plot, a character, or the story. This includes:

*Backstory: All of the story that happened prior to the opening of the book

*Background: The technical details that are important to the story

*Physical descriptions: Of characters, setting, emotions, and sensory details

INTERNAL MONOLOGUE: Going inside a character’s head and getting a glimpse of their thoughts and feelings.

EXTRA WORDAGE: Passive tense verbs, adverbs, “as” and “-ing” constructions, exclamation points, italics, etc.

Yes, we’re encouraged practically everywhere to ruthlessly delete the excess.

But in the process of eliminating we’re left with a dry, often emotionless story that is unable to engage the senses and emotions of the reader.

Renni Browne and Dave King in Self-Editing For Fiction Writers said this: "We have noticed since the first edition of this book came out that a lot of writers have taken our advice about showing and telling too much to heart. The result has sometimes been sterile writing, consisting mostly of bare-bones descriptions and dialogue.” (p. 133 Emphasis mine)

Essentially we under-tell (and mostly show) our stories. We’ve cut too much. We’ve made them too much like a television show.

And somewhere along the line we have to find a middle ground.

Learn to balance showing versus telling:

One of the beauties of fiction is that it can give us more depth than a movie. We can get inside the characters’ heads to experience what they're feeling and thinking in a way that’s just not possible on the screen.

So while the modern reader doesn’t want to be bogged down with too much detail, they do want a book, not a movie. We need to find ways to seamlessly weave in all of the summaries, exposition, and internal monologue, rather than leaving them out. We need to learn the right amount of each that works for us and our stories—not over-doing it, but getting enough into our stories in all the right spots.

As we grow as writers, we begin to learn more about ourselves, and we eventually come upon our unique VOICE (the story-telling cadence, sounds, and tone) and STYLE (a writer’s particular way of putting the story together).

When we get dressed, we all put on the basics—pants, shirt, shoes, socks, etc. But it’s amazing all of the unique combinations we can make when we add our own flare—colors, cuts, jewelry, belts, purses, etc.

Our stories are the same way. We need the basic structures of story-telling (the bare-bones), but we can’t stop there. We need to learn to dress up our stories with our own unique voice and style. Maybe we’ll add a bit more description than someone else, or more transitions, or whatever it is we like most about story-telling. When we add our own personal flare to our stories, they can begin to come to life.

Summary: Find a balance. Don't fall into the mistake of over-telling. But also, don't go to the opposite extreme of under-telling. Look for ways to make your book a book (not a movie), but a book that modern readers will enjoy.

How about YOU? Have you gone through either the over-telling or under-telling phase? What are some ways you've found a balance?

Ten Techniques for Getting Tension on Every Page

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Is it possible to keep our readers interested with every page they turn? Or will there be times in our stories when their attention will naturally lag?

I got an email from a writer who was concerned about this very thing. She said: "I know I'm interested in what I'm writing, but I want to make sure the reader is too. I don't want to describe everything so much that the reader gets bored with the story. Are there any ways to keep the story flowing and keep the reader's interest leading up to the intense scenes?"

I'm not sure about you, but I'd rather not take any chances in losing my readers' attention. There are too many other things clamoring for their time and energy. We don't want to give them any excuse to put our book down and not pick it back up again.

But is it realistic to think we can rivet our readers on Every. Single. Page?

On the one hand, we probably can't have shootings and bombings and chases in each scene. And our antagonist can't show up with a knife every time our character turns around. We would tire our readers with so much drama, and our story might start to feel over-the-top.

Maybe we can't have action every single second, but it IS possible to have tension on every page.

Here are some tension techniques I employ in my books:

1. Tension through smaller scale drama. When we start writing a scene, we can ask ourselves what would make this scene more interesting or add more conflict. Maybe we won't light fireworks, but we can find the sparklers to add some pizzazz to the scene through witty dialogue, growing attraction, conflict with minor characters, etc.

2. Tension through unanswered questions. It's all too tempting to explain every action and tell our readers exactly what's going on. We can stretch tension when we strategically leave questions or backstory unanswered so that our reader is wondering what happened in the past to shape current motivations and actions.

3. Tension through contrast. We can build up happiness, love, wealth or anything positive, but hint that something terrible is about to happen. Then when we take everything away from our characters and plunge them into despair, the contrast serves to create greater tension. The greater the joy, then the greater the sorrow when the joy is finally ripped away from our characters.

4. Tension through internal conflict. Maybe we can't have our external plot thread front and center with every scene, but we can use the "slower" scenes to highlight the internal or relational conflicts our character is facing. We can have our character agonizing over a decision, making wrong choices, or fighting inner demons. The internal battles can be just as powerful as the external.

5. Tension through hints of problems that are yet to come. We can also use the less dramatic scenes to set up the conflict that is ahead for our characters. Perhaps our characters can see the trouble coming. Perhaps they can't (and only our readers are privy). Whatever the case, we can start to make our readers anticipate a bigger future conflict so that they'll want to read further to get to that big show-down.

6. Tension through raising the stakes. We should look for ways to take more away from our character, make their choices more difficult, and/or increase what's at risk for them. We can let them have encounters with others or internal realizations that keep winding the noose tighter around their necks.

7. Tension through the ticking clock. Whether it's a looming deadline, a race against time, or even an effort to survive, when we weave in the ticking clock effect, our characters always have something hanging over their heads. The longer we can keep the clock ticking, the more the reader will be invested in the story to find out what happens.

8. Tension through mystery. Even if our story isn't a mystery or suspense, we can still weave in an element of mystery. For example in the opening scene of my novel, A Noble Groom, the heroine stumbles upon her husband who has clearly been murdered. I leave clues about the murderer, but keep the reader guessing for most of the book until finally revealing the culprit at the end.

9. Tension through micro-tension. In his book, The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass describes micro-tension as the moment-by-moment tension that keeps the reader in a constant state of suspense over what will happen, not in the story but in the next few seconds. Maass explains that we can do this by infusing conflicting emotion into our dialogue, action, and exposition. It's the conflicting emotions that keep readers invested.

10. Tension through a subplot. If we have a subplot, we can use the lags in main plot to bring out the conflict that's developing within our subplot. We can alternate the problems we're highlighting so that we continually portray some kind of conflict on the stage of our story.

Do you think it's possible to put tension on every page? Has the lack of tension ever made you put down a book? 

6 Ways Authors Over-Dramatize

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

As novelists we need to dramatize our writing. Fiction is NOT the same as boring real life. Fiction is larger than life. Think about friends or family who are especially good at retelling an ordinary event. They have the ability to make us hang on to every word or make us laugh louder. Those kinds of story-tellers usually embellish their stories or make them more intense or funnier than perhaps what really happened.

But that's what good story-telling is about–taking the ordinary and making it entertaining. Fiction writers spin words to make readers laugh, cry, gasp, smile, and bite their nails.

However, as I was recently listening to a novel through Audible, I realized that sometimes authors can OVER-dramatize. To the point of distraction. To the point that the writing quality begins to suffer.

As I listened to this particular book, I wrote down some of the ways I thought this author was over-doing it (and realized that sometimes I'm guilty of using some of these techniques too!). (Sidenote: That's why we authors should read voraciously! The reading helps us grow in our own writing abilities either by helping us pick up good techniques or see issues to avoid.)

Here are six ways we writers are sometimes guilty of going overboard in our dramatization:

1. Over-doing emotional reactions:

Over-dramatizing emotions can happen on two levels. The first is on a micro-level. This happens when we are continually slipping in phrases like "my heart swelled to the point of bursting" or "her stomach fluttered like a thousand butterflies." Not only are such usages cliché, which we want to avoid, but we want express deep emotions sparingly so that they don't lose their impact.

The second way we can over-do emotional reactions is on a macro-level. We can do that when we keep bringing up an emotional reaction during a scene or across multiple scenes. For example, in the book I was listening to, the main character had just lost her parents. Yes, that's sad. But for the first few chapters, the author kept having the character crying, sobbing, and used phrases like "tears poured down her cheeks." I didn't feel more sympathetic toward the character. Instead I started to get annoyed.

2. Over-doing descriptions:

Writers can over-describe by adding in setting details that have no purpose or giving too many details that read like a catalog description.

Another way writers can over-describe is by mentioning the same description too many times, like "he had beautiful hazel eyes" and a short while later refer to his "gleaming eyes had an effect on me."

Saying something once is usually enough, especially if in short succession. There may be points later in the story where we can refresh the reader on a description. But we have to be careful about continually describing the same things.

3. Over-doing a scene:

Over-writing a scene happens when we drag a scene on for too long. Usually we only need a play-by-play of a scene when we want each detail to count for something later in the book (for example we're foreshadowing). Otherwise, if our character is saying good-bye to her friends, we don't need to drag out the scene for too long, add in every detail, and have her think numerous times how bleak her life is going to be without her friends . We have to decide what are the most important and impactful moments to include and then stop there.

4. Over-doing action beats connected to dialogue:

We have to be wary of adding in too many action beats (the small motions or actions that come before or after dialogue). It's all too easy to have our characters smiling and grinning every few lines. Or sighing. Or rolling their eyes. Or having thudding hearts.

If we're running in to the trouble of having repetitive action beats, we may need to look for more unique and varied beats. Or we may not have enough going on in the scene around them to lend to a more natural outflow of the dialogue (so that we can limit our beats).

5. Over-doing repetitive words:

We all have pet words that begin to crop up too many times in our story words like "gaze" or "smirk" or "race." While self-editing, I usually do a search for my pet words and either cut some or replace them with synonyms. A good editor can also help us spot those.

In addition, we have to be careful about over-using less common words. For example, if we use "amble" several times in the same chapter or even across several chapters, the repetition will be more glaring to readers than if we over-used a common word like "walk."

6. Over-doing unanswered questions:

I'm a proponent of using unanswered questions as a plot technique. I think dangling those unanswered questions in front of readers is a great way to keep them turning the pages. However, we need to be careful about leaving too many questions for too long which will only begin to irritate the reader.

In a literal sense, I find it especially annoying when the character has questions and asks the people around her and they continue to make excuses for why they can't answer the questions. Such dragging out begins to feel like author intrusion especially when there's no good reason given why the person can't answer the questions.

On a deeper story level, an author can leave out information (hence placing questions in the reader's mind about what really happened). But again an author has to begin to satisfy the reader's curiosity, perhaps in stages, without leaving too much to the end. Or again the reader may become frustrated.

Those are just a few of the ways we can over-dramatize. Are there others that I missed? In what other ways have you seen authors go over-the-top?

Why You Need a Reader-Friendly Website (And How to Get It That Way)

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Today is the release of my 10th full length novel! Whoo-hoo! Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday my debut book was releasing and now book number 10 is hitting shelves!

I'm super excited about this particular book, Luther and Katharina. I wrote the book about seven years ago (around the same time I wrote my debut book). But for many different reasons, this book languished in la-la land. All the waiting has made this release day even more special.

My author copies!
(Sidenote: A word of hope for those who are seeking tradition publication for a specific book–don't give up hope if that's your dream! It can happen, perhaps just not the way you expect or as quickly.)

Every time a book birthday draws near, I begin to strategize my marketing plan, not only with my publisher, but I also come up with a brainstormed list of things I can do as well. I try to vary what I do from book to book. Sometimes I do blog tours. Other times I do social media sharing contests. This time I'm doing daily trivia questions and giveaways over on Facebook.

While marketing plans change from book to book, there's one thing I do with every single new book–I update my website and make sure the new book page is ready for readers. And no I don't just add the book, the blurb, a few reviews, and the "buy now" tabs and call it good. I go beyond that to make sure the page is reader-friendly.

Why is it important for authors to have an up-to-date, reader-friendly website? 

There are lots of reasons, especially in today's current competitive market. One of the main reasons is that a website is an author's "home." When we have visitors into our physical home, first impressions often stick. Visitors get a glimpse of our personality and tastes by what they see. And if it's unwelcoming, our visitors will sense that too.

Likewise our online homes reflect us as authors. If our sites are disorganized, hard to navigate, and out-of-date, that will speak volumes. If our site is all about the "hard sell" with only the "buy now" buttons, chances are readers aren't going to feel all that welcome. When they leave our site, they'll have no motivation to return.

Ultimately we DO want readers to return, over and over. We want to have a welcoming atmosphere that fosters an ongoing relationship.

In other words, our website is much more than a showcase for us as authors. Yes, it's important to have our bios, pictures, etc. But it can't stop there. Our website needs to meet the needs of our readers. What can we give to them? How can we enhance their reading experience? What will help them connect more deeply with our stories?

As I prepared for the release of Luther and Katharina, here are a few simple ways I made sure the book page was ready for readers. The page includes:

Book Club Collection package. All of the items are free and easy to download: introduction letter, discussion questions, famous Luther quotes, a fun quiz to do before or after the meeting, and background information on the characters.

Playlist of songs and hymns. This particular playlist consists of hymns written by Martin Luther. I chose more contemporary renditions to reflect my tastes.

Famous Quotes download. I put together a list of famous Martin Luther quotes and also highlight some of the ones I use in the book.

Martin Luther quiz . I used for an easy format.

Pinterest Gallery. The board is full of various pictures that relate to the book.

Reader Photos slideshow. Whenever a reader takes a picture of herself or her pet with the book, I add it to the slideshow.

Reader Creation slideshow. I love when readers make graphics of quotes from my books or even just to showcase the book itself. I put those graphics into a slideshow as well.

Authorgraph widget. I make it easy for readers to have their e-books signed by including an authorgraph widget at the bottom of the page.

I invite you to stop by my Luther and Katharina page to browse around to get a better idea of all of the above. My website is always a work in progress and I welcome additional ideas of how I can make it more engaging.

What about YOU? How reader-friendly is your website? What are some other ways authors might make their websites more engaging for readers?
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