Literary Links

November/December 2005


Good News and Announcements

Good News--Vicki Bylin is pleased to announce that William and Kathleen from Of Men and Angels will have their own story in the 2006 Harlequin Christmas anthology.  Check her web site for details.

Coming Soon!--Midnight Marriage  is a new Harlequin Historical by Vicki Bylin.  Look for it in stores in January 2006. 

Available Now!--Look for author Ann Macela's debut paranormal romance, The Oldest Kind of Magic, available in book stores now!  Also available, a new writing guide for authors.  Michelle Prima has gathered years of experience in research and writing, and written a 14-page booklet for authors, 101 Organizing Tips for WritersClick here for more information on how you can become more organized and more productive.

Services Available--Need to get your home office or house organized? How about research for your new book?  Michelle Prima, President of Literary Liaisons, is now offering organizing, research and errand services through her company, Prima By Design, Inc., a Professional Organizing business for residential customers. She currently works in the Chicago area only, but will provide research services on-line for others.  Contact Michelle for more information.


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.






101 Organizing Tips for Writers




Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt

Dialogue by Gloria Kempton

The Dictionary of Disagreeable English by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Private Lives, Public Spirit: Britain 1870-1914 by Jose Harris

The Victorians by A.N. Wilson


Used Books:


More than a dozen new fiction and non-fiction titles added, including a biography on Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, classics such as Adam Bede and The Mayor of Casterbridge, as well as romances from your favorite authors, such as Jo Beverley, Julia Quinn and Lois Greiman.  Click here to see more!


Feature Title:


Dialogue by Gloria Kempton


The Video Library


The Lost Prince


Researching the Romance


Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt

Dialogue by Gloria Kempton

The Dictionary of Disagreeable English by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Private Lives, Public Spirit: Britain 1870-1914 by Jose Harris

The Victorians by A.N. Wilson


Writers' Resources Online


English Christmas Traditions and Customs

The History of Thanksgiving

Union Jack

Victorian England, An Introduction

Victorian Timeline in Fashion and Events


Feature Article 

Writing Basics: Part Two--Dynamic Dialogue

by Michelle J. Prima


We all do it--listen in on other people's conversations. The one-sided cell phone call on the train, the young couple arguing in the electronics store, the booth full of teenagers behind you in the restaurant.  We can't help it.  And honestly, sometimes we don't want to.  Why not?  Because it is one of the best ways to learn how to write effective dialogue.

Dialogue is an integral part of your story.  It is used to reveal characters, advance the plot, and create suspense.  Let's look at characterization first.  You've already learned how to create unforgettable characters in the first part of this "Writing Basics" series.  Let's elaborate on characterization more by talking about dialogue.  Dialogue between characters can reveal much about them--where they're from. their personality, what motivates them, etc.  By 'listening' to what they have to say, we can learn a lot about them. 

For instance, dialect can reveal a person's geographic background.  Certain words and phrases are associated with certain parts of the country.  In an American setting, does your character say 'soda' or 'pop?'  Does he say 'hot dog' or 'frankfurter?'  His choice of words is a clue to his home town.  Words can also reveal what country your character is from.  Consider 'bairn' vs. 'child.'  Or 'Lass' vs. 'girl.'  Some words and phrases can make you identify immediately with a character's place of origin. 

Diction and vocabulary can further define your characters.  Do they speak in long, complex sentences, which suggest an educated background?  Or do they speak in half-sentences and use slang in every conversation, which suggests a lower-class upbringing?  Does one simple conversation include several multi-syllable, uncommon words?  Or does the speaker sound like he is addressing a two-year old with a second-grade reader's vocabulary?  Be careful using diction and true to life dialects, however.  Phonetically spelling out a character's entire speech to make it sound authentic can become laborious and confusing to the reader. Sprinkling the conversation with a few select words will be enough to create the correct image.

Dialogue can also reveal a character's personality.  Does one character constantly interrupt another while he is speaking?  Does your character give only two or three word responses to questions? Does your character run off at the mouth and hardly pauses to let others contribute to the conversation?  All of these examples tell you something about the characters.  The first one is impatient, and either rude or uneducated in speaking/listening skills.  The second is either shy or upset, not wanting to reveal too much about himself.  The third character is self-centered and doesn't want to let anyone else take the spotlight. Use this technique to show your readers what your characters are like.

Dialogue can also advance the plot.  By having two characters interact, the reader can learn the character's goals, as well as the motivating factors for achieving those goals.  Consider the following:

"I have to find that necklace," Sylvia said as she rummaged through the top drawer of her sister's bureau. 

Anthony placed his hand on her arm.  "It will show up.  Don't fret overmuch about it."

"You don't understand," Sylvia said, pulling away.  "If that necklace isn't back in father's safe before the ball tonight, he will think I stole it."

"But you didn't take it.  Stephanie did." 

"Which is all the more reason for me to find it.  I have to protect my sister."

What does the above conversation tell you?  First, we know Sylvia needs to find the necklace.  We wonder why.  We also learn that Sylvia didn't misplace the necklace.  Her sister did.  A sister she is trying to protect.  The reader will immediately want to know why Stephanie took the necklace, what the importance of the necklace is, why Sylvia is trying to protect her younger sister, and what will happen if Sylvia doesn't find the necklace.  All these questions are raised by one simple conversation.  Character's goals and motivations are hinted at, but not revealed, which makes the reader turn pages. 


That brings us to the third reason for dialogue--creating suspense.  What if the conversation had gone this way?

"Now where is that necklace?" Sylvia said as she rummaged through the top drawer of the bureau. 

Anthony shrugged.  "It will show up.  Don't fret about it."

"But I have to find it," Sylvia said.

"You aren't the one who misplaced it."

"It doesn't matter.  I still have to find it."

In the second example, we know Sylvia wants to find the necklace, but we don't learn why.  There isn't the aura of suspense in the second example, because as far as the reader knows, there are no consequences to Sylvia NOT locating the necklace.  The reader won't care, and this becomes nothing more than wasted dialogue.  Make your dialogue matter. 


Also, balance your dialogue with narrative to create the correct pacing for the story you are writing.  More dialogue and less narrative speeds up the story, which is good for a suspense novel.  Long, narrative paragraphs interspersed with less dialogue will give your reader a more relaxed, easy read.  If you are writing a sweet romance, or sweeping epic, that is the balance you want to achieve.


Decorating you dialogue with descriptions and actions can speed up or slow down a story also.  It can help move the story along, such as above.  In the first example, we know Sylvia is rummaging through her sister's bureau.  The second example doesn't clarify that fact.  That makes a big difference to the story.  Why would Sylvia be in her sister's bureau?  Also, when Anthony places his arm on Sylvia's in the first example, we see his compassion.  When he shrugs in the second example, we feel he doesn't care.  That gives an entirely different impression of him. 


But just as description can help, it can also hurt.  Too many tags can slow down the reader.  Too few tags can confuse the reader.  Strike the correct balance.  True-to-life dialogue can slow down the story as well.  Do you really want to listen to two characters discuss their trip to the mall, or what they made for dinner?  Not really.


How do you know what the correct balance is?  You can have others critique your writing for clarity.  And you can read your dialogue aloud to see how it sounds.  Once the words start flowing, you may find yourself tripping over certain areas, or confused by others.  Using these techniques and keeping the above in mine will help you create dynamic dialogue in your story. 




Dialogue by Gloria Kempton, Writer's Digest Books, 2004.

The Dialects of England by Peter Trudgill, Blackwell Publishers, 1999.


For more information on these books, visit our Features Page.

For more sources like these, visit our Reference Books Page



Editor's Note

The seasons are changing, but life goes on day after day.  We seem to fall into the same routine.  We follow the same route to work, eat lunch with the same people, pick up dinner from the same fast-food restaurants on our way home, watch the same TV shows every week.  Despite nature's ever-changing facade, we are creatures of habit.  Nobody understands this more than romance readers and writers.  We all want to escape the mundane and read about other people's lives and adventures.  And loves--those guaranteed happy endings.  For those of us who write them, we know how much work goes into creating a romance novel.  It doesn't come naturally for all of us.  There are months and years of learning, experimenting, trials and triumphs before the written word is seen by millions in print.  To help you toward that end, we began a series of "Writing Basics" articles. Our September 2005 issue premiered with "Creating Characters." This month's feature article is "Dynamic Dialogue."  Watch future issues for more on basic writing skills.  Also, because we are quickly approaching the holidays, we've added some links to holiday sites (see above).  Enjoy browsing, and see you next year!  Happy holidays!

--Michelle Prima

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q:  Dear Sir:  Am looking for date that subject publisher produced "Little Pinafore's Scrap Book".  Book is dedicated to, by special permission to: H.R.H. The Duchess of Teck. This is a children's paint book.  approximately 9" by 11". Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Mary Ruth C.


A: "Little Pinafore's Scrap Book" by Eliza Manning was first published in 1883 by Bernhard Ollendorff of London.  An 1885 edition, with a dedication to HRH The Duchess of Teck, was published in 1885.  Used copies are available through

Michelle Prima

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.


Historical Calendar of Events



T.E. Lawrence--British author

Katherine Mansfield--New Zealand-born British author

Maurice Chevalier--French revue star

Irving Berlin--American composer

Jim Thorpe--American athlete



Matthew Arnold--English author

Theodor Storm--German novelist

William I--German Emperor

Frederick III--German Emperor (successor to William I)



Britain established a protectorate over Sarawak March 17 and over North Borneo May 12.

October 30--The Matebele king Lobengula accepted a British protectorate and signed a treaty giving the Cecil Rhodes interests exclusive mining rights in Matabeleland and Mashonaland.

William II (The Kaiser) succeeded his father, Frederick III upon Frederick's death.

October 29--The Suez Canal convention was held in Constantinople, declaring the canal to be free and open to merchant ships and warships in war and peace.

Benjamin Harrison was elected President of the United States.

May 13--Brazil's slaves went free under terms of a law put through by a Liberal ministry under Pedro II.
Congress created a U.S. Department of Labor, restructuring the old Bureau of Labor.
October 1--A new Chinese Exclusion Act voted by Congress  forbade Chinese workers who left the United States to return.

Anti-Chinese riots broke out in Seattle.
France relieved General Boulanger of his command after he came twice to Paris without leave.
Tobacco-chewer Thomas Edison refused to hire cigarette smokers.

The Arts

"The Entrance of Christ into Brussels" by James Ensor

"The Yellow Chair" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Sunflowers" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Arena at Arles" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Night Cafe" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Place Clichy" by Toulouse-Lautrec

"The Vision of the Sermon" by Paul Gauguin

"Still Life with Fruit a mon ami Laval" by Paul Guaguin

"Models" by Georges Seurat

"Circus Side Show" by Georges Seurat

"The Thinker" by Auguste Rodin


Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling

La Terre by Emile Zola

Amour by Verlaine

The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde

Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant

The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night by Richard Burton


The American Commonwealth by James Bryce

The Study of Religion by James Martineau

Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles Montagu Doughty


"Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Operas and Operettas:

"The Yeomen of the Guard" by Gilbert & Sullivan


"Sweet Lavender" by Arthur Wing Pinero debuted at Terry's Theatre, London.


Daily Life

"Jack the Ripper" murdered six women in London.

The Financial Times was first published in London.

Printer's Ink began publication under the direction of advertising agent George P. Rowell. The trade magazine campaigned for honest advertising.
The National Geographic began publication in October at Washington, D.C.
After the 1886-1887 drought on the western plains, U.S. cattlemen went bankrupt and foreign investors liquidated their American holdings following a drastic decline in cattle herds.
January 10--The Ponce de Leon Hotel opened at St. Augustine, Fla. Standard Oil magnate H. M. Flagler built the hotel after taking over the Florida East Coast Railway and extending it south. Each room had electric lights and $1,000 worth of furnishings.
The Banff Springs Hotel opened in the Canadian Banff National Park set aside in 1885.
The Hotel del Coronado opened in San Diego, California, with 399 rooms around a central court in a five-story structure, 75 baths and a main dining room.
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its first addition.
Irish inventor John Robert Gregg of Liverpool introduced a new shorthand system he called "Light Line Phonography."
New York's R. H. Macy & Co. took in as partners German-American merchants Isidor  and Nathan Straus, who would become owner of the store in 1896.
May Company merchant David May bought a bankrupt Denver store for $31,000, hired a brass band to attract crowds, and within a week sold out the store's old stock at bargain prices, remodeled the store, and restocked it to open the May Shoe & Clothing Co.
Philadelphia Smelting and Refining was organized by Meyer Guggenheim, who took a venture in copper stock and did so well that he gave up his lace business.
Cecil Rhodes amalgamated the Kimberley diamond companies.

The Football League was founded.

The Lawn Tennis Association was founded.

Ernest Renshaw won in men's singles at Wimbledon.

Lottie Dod won in women's singles at Wimbledon.

Henry Slocum won in men's U.S. singles.

Bertha Townsend won in women's U.S. singles.

Fridtjof Nansen led an exploring party across Greenland on snowshoes.
The first-ever beauty pageant was held in Spa, Belgium.
Vienna replaced the Burgtheater of 1776 with a larger Burgtheater opera house and concert hall.
"Kaiserwalzer" by Johann Strauss restored the composer to favor with the emperor Franz Josef who stripped the waltz king of his honors 5 years previous for divorcing his second wife and marrying a young Jewish widow.
Woodbine's cigarettes were introduced in London.
Washington B. Duke produced 744 million cigarettes at his Durham, North Carolina factory and his factory on Rivington Street in New York.
The Canadian Pacific Railway received a British government mail subsidy to Asia and began to acquire ships for a Pacific mail route.
Benz motor carriages were advertised for the first time at Mannheim by Karl-Friedrich Benz.


Nikola Tesla developed an electric motor.

George Eastman perfected the "Kodak" box camera.

J.B. Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire.

Heinrich Hertz and Oliver Lodge independently identified radio waves as belonging to the same family as light waves.

Chicago's Tacoma building, with a steel skeleton that employed load-bearing metal throughout its structure, represented the first basic advance in building construction since the medieval Gothic arch and flying buttress.
The Washington Monument that would remain the world's tallest masonry structure at 555 feet, was completed at Washington, D.C., after 40 years of construction.
The world's first revolving door-always open, always closed-was installed in a Philadelphia office lobby by local inventor Theophilus Van Kannel.
Parker Pen Co., founded at Janesville, Wis., by George Safford Parker, would become the world's largest producer of fountain pens.
The first typewriter stencil was introduced at London by immigrant Hungarian inventor David Gestetner.

The Burroughs adding machine patented by St. Louis inventor William Seward Burroughs was the first successful key-set recording and adding machine.
C. M. Hall's Pittsburgh Reduction Co. produced the world's first commercial aluminum.
A new salt field was discovered in central Kansas by prospectors boring for natural gas.
The Institut Pasteur was founded at Paris with private subscriptions.
The Kodak camera ("You Press the Button, We Do the Rest") introduced by George Eastman revolutionized photography by making it possible for any amateur to take satisfactory snapshots. The small, light, $25 camera came loaded with a roll of stripping paper long enough for 100 exposures. The entire camera was sent to Rochester, New York, when the film has been entirely exposed. The exposed strip was developed and printed at Rochester, a new strip is inserted for $10, and the camera  returned to its owner with the finished prints.
February 2--The first successful electric trolley cars went into service at Richmond, Virginia, where engineer-inventor Frank Julian Sprague has laid 12 miles of track between Church Hill and New Reservoir Park.
A new Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line linked Los Angeles to San Diego.
The Santa Fe built a second line into Los Angeles from San Bernardino through Riverside and Orange counties.
The Santa Fe gained access to Chicago's Dearborn Station through acquisitions and new rail lines to give it routes from Chicago to points west.
The Florida Special left Jersey City in January on H. M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway. Flagler had contracted with George M. Pullman to build the fully vestibuled, electrically lighted train, and its 70 passengers included Pullman himself.
The first Chinese railway opened between Tangshan and Tianjin
August 12--A railroad line between Budapest and Constantinople opened.
October 31--The first patent for a pneumatic bicycle tire was awarded  to Scottish veterinary surgeon John Boyd Dunlop at Belfast, Ireland.


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