Speaking of Dialogue: A How-To Book For Writers
by Sammie L. Justesen

Norlights Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-935-25400-3.
Reviewed by Sharon Lippincott
Posted on 06/18/2010

Nonfiction: Creative Life

Before ordering, I read a review advising "If you only read one book on this topic, make it this one." Thus I had high hopes for this book when I ordered it and was not disappointed, at least not with the content. Sammie Justesen has done her homework. She leaves no stone unturned in her examination of dialogue and how it strengthens stories. Her examples are drawn from dozens of sources and magnificently illustrate both the good and bad. She includes suggested exercises at the end of each chapter, which is a real plus.

Her book is positioned for fiction writers, but everything she says is applicable to memoir. In preparation for teaching this subject to memoir students, I read a few other volumes, and I recommend Speaking of Dialogue as the best.

In spite of the solid and easy-to-understand content, I can't give this book a rating of 5 stars, due to significant layout and cover weaknesses and numerous typos. Although this book is published by a small commercial press, I'll list these flaws in hopes that others will benefit from the critique as they lay out self-published and small press projects.

Vertical spacing is inconsistent and confusing. The book is formatted with three or four points of extra space between paragraphs (a standard imposed by Microsoft Word, not the publishing industry). Some paragraphs have more spacing after them than others, but not enough more to clearly indicate a section break. Sometimes bold sentences indicate a new thought, other times not. On the other hand, when she uses headers the style is consistent, the type is well-chosen, and the line-spacing is perfect for easy reading within paragraphs.

When I look for this slender volume, I have to scan for the only blank spine on the shelf. The lack of a spine title is baffling—it is wide enough to hold one. That minor oversight will keep it off most library shelves!

In conclusion, the contents of this book make it well worth overlooking the layout flaws.

Sammie Justesen is a literary agent and publisher with 25 years of experience in the publishing industry. As president of Northern Lights Literary Services she sells books to major publishers around the world.

Sammie also helps authors find an audience through a new publishing company, NorLightsPress, founded in 2009 with Dee Justesen and Nadene Carter. This non-subsidy small press offers an eclectic mix of books and welcomes new authors.

Speaking of Dialogue is Sammie's gift to other writers. A Smart Patient's Guide to Surgery is her reference guide to dozens of surgical procedures. Sammie writes fiction under the name Elizabeth Lee, and her books include Kentucky Moon and Common Threads. Kentucky Moon is based on her life in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, where she worked as a home care nurse. For more information, visit the book website.

(taken from the author page on Amazon)

Authors/Publicists: For promotion purposes, you may quote excerpts of up to 200 words from our reviews, with a link to the page on which the review is posted. ©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page). If you wish to reprint the full review, you may do so ONLY with her written permission, and with a link to http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org. Contact our Book Review Editor (bookreviews at storycirclebookreviews.org) with your request and she will forward it to the appropriate person.

StoryCircleBookReviews provides a review venue for women self-published authors and for women's books published by independent and university presses.

Email me with news about your book reviews

Sarton Women's Book Award

Your ad could be here.
Advertise with us!


Visit us on Facebook and Twitter and goodreads.

Buy books online through amazon.com by simply clicking on the book cover or title. Your purchase will support our work of encouraging all women to tell their stories.
This title is currently available ONLY as an e-book