PublishHER Podcast Episode 116: Writing Tip: Showing vs. Telling with Sara Letourneau

PublishHER Podcast Episode 116: Writing Tip: Showing vs. Telling with Sara Letourneau

Alexa Bigwarfe interviews Sara Letourneau of Heart of the Story on this episode of the PublishHer Podcast, where they discuss a key writing tip; showing vs. telling in your writing and when it's appropriate to use one over the other.

Sara Letourneau is the book editor, writing coach, and workshop instructor at Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services. She works with authors and writers to help them develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need so they can finish their manuscripts, polish them for publication, and stay focused and motivated as they reach for their writing goals and embrace their creativity. Sara is also an award-winning poet and the cofounder of the Pour Me a Poem open mic in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Her debut poetry collection, Wild Gardens, will be published by Kelsay Books in 2024.

Showing is all about description. It's a way of writing that allows the reader to experience what is happening in the story and to help them feel immersed in the scene. – Sara Letourneau

In this episode, we discuss:

    • Sara's upcoming poetry collection Wild Gardens, which is coming out through Kelsay Books in 2024
    • Sara's take on a key writing tip: “show, don’t tell”. She shares why it's important to use both showing vs. telling in your writing and when it's appropriate to use one over the other.
    • Her work as a book coach and editor
    • Get her special offer for our Women in Publishing Summit Community

The Art of Showing vs. Telling

Join writing coach Sara Letourneau as she guides writers through the art of showing vs. telling, weaving sensory details and immersive action to balance pacing and engage readers in this compelling exploration of storytelling techniques and valuable writing tip.

Key Takeaways

  • Writing Tip: Showing vs. Telling to Elevate Your Writing Craft
  • Achieve Balance and Depth in Your Writing Through Skillful Showing and Telling
  • Immerse Readers with Vivid Sensory Details for Enhanced Storytelling
  • Maintain Engaging Pacing in Your Narratives by Using Showing and Telling
  • Hone Your Storytelling Skills with Expert Tips on Showing and Telling Incorporation

Memorable Moments:

00:04:49 – Writing Tip; Showing vs. Telling in Writing
Sara explains the concept of showing versus telling in writing, emphasizing the importance of description, sensory details, and character dialogue. She provides examples of how to incorporate showing in different settings and character interactions.

00:10:07 – Challenges of Showing in Writing
Alexa discusses her struggles with transitioning from nonfiction writing to fiction writing and the difficulty of incorporating emotions and details into scenes. Sara offers tips for identifying and addressing the challenges of showing in writing.

00:14:58 – Emotions and Actions in Writing
Sara highlights the importance of portraying characters' emotions through their actions and dialogue. She emphasizes the impact of characters' feelings on their observations and interactions in different settings.

00:16:35 – The importance of showing versus telling in storytelling
Sara discusses the significance of incorporating actions and emotions to bring characters to life, emphasizing the need to practice showing rather than telling in writing.

00:18:21 – Balancing showing and telling in the writing process
Sara advises not to worry about balancing showing and telling during the first draft, but rather focus on identifying areas for improvement during the revision process using specific exercises.

00:19:35 – Instances when telling is the best option in writing
Sara explains that telling is suitable for sharing background information, events happening off the page, and when excessive detail affects pacing and reader engagement in the story.

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PublishHER Podcast Episode 115: Create-A-Way Design & Publishing with Wendy Fedan

PublishHER Podcast Episode 115: Create-A-Way Design & Publishing with Wendy Fedan

Wendy Fedan is the founder of Create-A-Way Design & Publishing and is also a freelance illustrator. We talk about finding and working with illustrators, children's books in general, and marketing when you write in multiple genres.

Wendy Fedan is a full-time freelance illustrator/designer, living in Amherst, Ohio. She graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art where she also teaches Continuing Education courses for teens and adults. Wendy launched her own design for publishing biz in 2021 named Create-a-Way Design & Publishing to act as a book shepherd, helping other authors through the self-publishing process. She has 14 indie-published books under her belt so far, mostly picture books which she's also illustrated, but she also has her own novel series called Somewhere In-Between to explore her personal interest in the paranormal.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket, especially when it comes to traditional publishing. Even with children's book publishing, you don't have to think that there's only one way to do it. – Wendy Fedan

In this episode, we discuss:

    • Wendy's writing journey & how she found her way into children's books
    • challenges of finding an illustrator for children's books
    • how Wendy started illustrating
    • how and when she created Create-a-Way Design and Publishing, offering services from illustration to book design and publishing guidance.
    • as the author of children's books AND paranormal fiction, Wendy discusses the challenges of marketing diverse genres, and building audiences for each.
    • Wendy shares her experiences participating in events, festivals, and author alley events at bookstores as part of her marketing strategy
    • We delivered into tips on Bookstore and local Events


Create-A-Way Design and Publishing

Through Create-A-Way Design and Publishing services, Wendy seamlessly integrates her talents as an illustrator with her fervor for storytelling, offering a unique platform for authors to bring their literary visions to life. Wendy's narrative serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of a creator driven by an unrelenting passion to share her stories with the world.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Wendy Fedan's illuminating self-publishing journey, revealing the essential steps for success.
  • Unlock the potential of Create-A-Way Design and Publishing services to elevate your book to new heights.
  • Master tailored marketing strategies for different genres, maximizing your book's visibility and impact.
  • Cultivate fruitful relationships with bookstores, unlocking valuable opportunities for book promotion and sales.
  • Diversify your income by creating additional revenue streams in the self-publishing landscape.

Memorable Moments:

00:05:36 – Offering Services to Other Authors
Wendy discusses how she started offering illustration and book design services to other authors. She explains her role as a “book shepherd” and how she helps authors through the self-publishing process.

00:11:34 – Writing Middle Grade and YA Books
Wendy talks about her middle grade book series “Wearing My Weird” and her young adult (YA) novel series “Summer in between.” She shares her inspiration and the audience she targets with her books.

00:16:44 – Book Promotion and Events
Wendy talks about her participation in book festivals and author events, sharing her insights on the value of such opportunities for self-published authors. She emphasizes the importance of getting out there and engaging with potential readers.

00:17:55 – Finding Profitable Events
Wendy discusses the importance of considering the cost of participating in events and how it impacts her profits. She shares her preferred price range for event participation and emphasizes the significance of events in book sales.

00:19:30 – Building Relationships with Bookstores
Wendy shares her experience of participating in an author event at a bookstore and highlights the value of building relationships with local bookstores. She also discusses the success of selling her illustrated bags through these connections.

00:22:18 – Diversifying Income Streams
Wendy talks about the importance of having additional streams of revenue as an author, such as her illustration work. She emphasizes the benefits of offering other products besides books at events to attract more attention to her table.

00:25:40 – Tips for New Authors
Wendy offers advice to new authors, emphasizing the importance of exploring various publishing options and not letting minor obstacles hinder the publishing process. She encourages authors to seek alternative ways to collaborate with illustrators and navigate self-publishing challenges.

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PublishHER Podcast Episode 114: Writing Through Grief and Trauma

PublishHER Podcast Episode 114: Writing Through Grief and Trauma

Alexa Bigwarfe shares some tools for writing through grief and trauma, different tools you can use, and how to get your creative mojo back when you're feeling down.

In addition to hosting the Women in Publishing Summit and hosting the PublishHer podcast, Alexa Bigwarfe is an author, author coach, speaker, publishing consultant, and community builder. Her writing career began after her infant daughter passed away at 2 days old and she turned to writing for healing. Her first book, Sunshine After the Storm, A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, has helped thousands of grieving mothers. Since then, she has continued to help others use writing as a tool to heal, in addition to all of her courses, events, and resources to help aspiring authors write, publish, and sell their books. Her most recent tool for grieving mothers, Sisterhood of the Healing Hearts: Permission to Thrive. A 6-Month Guided Journal for Grieving Mothers is now available everywhere books are sold. Access her free Writing to Heal Challenge at

I realized how important writing and words are, not only for ourselves, but for connecting with other people. – Alexa Bigwarfe

In this episode, we discuss:


Power of Writing as a Path to Healing

In the wake of unimaginable loss, Alexa Bigwarfe turned to writing as a lifeline, pouring her heart out in a blog that unexpectedly touched the lives of others. As her words resonated with those grappling their own hardships, Alexa discovered the profound power of writing as a path to healing and connection. This transformative journey ultimately led her to pen a book, Sunshine after the Storm, serving as a guide for mothers navigating grief.

Key Takeaways

  • Utilize Writing as a Therapeutic Tool for Emotional Healing
  • Harness Fiction Writing to Foster Emotional Recovery
  • Explore the Cathartic Power of Personal Experience Writing
  • Embrace Various Forms of Writing Therapy for Healing

Memorable Moments:

00:05:08 – Using Writing to Heal
Alexa shares various tools for using writing through grief and trauma. She emphasizes using writing as a means of healing, including journaling, writing letters, and writing for social media.

00:12:42 – Creating Guided Journals
Alexa discusses the process of creating guided journals, highlighting the design and printing considerations. She emphasizes the value of journals in complementing memoirs and fiction books with healing elements.

00:16:28 – Fiction as Healing
Alexa shares her personal experience of writing a romantic comedy book, “Four Days in Paris,” during a difficult time, showing how fiction can help process unresolved emotions and provide closure.

00:19:45 – Writing Through Pain
Writing fiction can be healing, as shown by another mother who processed her loss by writing a fiction book about characters experiencing similar heartbreak, providing healing for both the author and readers.

00:22:59 – Using Writing as a Tool
Alexa encourages using writing through grief as a tool to process and move forward, whether through journaling, blogging, or writing fiction, emphasizing its ability to help individuals heal and assist others in the process.

Learn more at:

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PublishHER Podcast Episode 111: Writing About the Things That Matter: Dr. Tameka Ellington

PublishHER Podcast Episode 111: Writing About the Things That Matter: Dr. Tameka Ellington

Continuing our discussion on using books to write about the things that matter and advocate for knowledge, understanding, and change, this episode is an interview with Dr. Tameka Ellington and her decision to write the book: “Black Hair in a White World”

This episode sheds light on the importance of addressing sensitive issues that matter to you through writing. It also provides insight into the challenges of promoting books that address sensitive topics and emphasizes the significance of understanding and acceptance, making it a must-listen for writers and readers aspiring to tackle social justice issues.

Books and resources can be such an important tool in helping us create empathy, knowledge, and understanding. It's critical to humanize the experiences of others and learn from their stories. – Dr. Tamika Ellington

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Dr. Ellington's journey to write this book, despite it being outside of her normal areas of focused
  • Why she was so passionate about bringing the topic of Black hair to the forefront
  • Writing about difficult topics
  • Why writers shouldn't be afraid to bring their message to the world
  • Tips for authors who do want to advocate/ bring about activism through the books
  • Her book, Black Hair in a White World

Societal Impact and Meaningful Change That Matters

Dr. Ellington's work offers a deep dive into the significance of black hair in the societal context, shedding light on its historical, cultural, and aesthetic connotations. By unraveling this subject, she aims at encouraging a better understanding of the black community, thus bringing about meaningful societal change. The subsequent awareness can perhaps pave the way for eliminating biases, thereby fostering a more inclusive society.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the need for legislation like the Crown Act to prevent discrimination and foster inclusivity.
  • Extend the conversation on sensitive topics to various areas of society, shedding light on its significance and implications.
  • Promote empathy, understanding, and knowledgethrough your writing to inspire positive social transformation.


Memorable Moments:

00:01:31 – Dr. Tamika Ellington's Background and Inspiration
Dr. Tamika Ellington shares her journey from fashion design to academic research on black hair and body image. Her work has led to the publication of multiple books, including “Black Hair in a White World.”

00:11:31 – Advice for Addressing Social Justice Topics in Writing
Dr. Tamika advises maintaining authenticity and truth when addressing social justice issues in writing. Authenticity plays a key role in successfully navigating controversial topics and making a meaningful impact.

00:23:39 – Knowledge, Compassion, and Understanding
Tameka and Alexa emphasize the power of knowledge in fostering compassion and understanding for social justice issues. They discuss the importance of learning about and empathizing with others' experiences to create a more inclusive and equitable society.

00:29:37 – Target Audience and Community Outreach
Tameka shares her target audience, focusing on empowering black women and girls, as well as working with organizations and corporate offices with women's ERG groups. She highlights the importance of community outreach in her work.

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5 Principles of Clarity in Writing

5 Principles of Clarity in Writing

We had another great webinar this week, this time with AJ Ogilvie, of ProWritingAid. AJ and Alexa talked about creating clarity in writing and making your writing reader-centric. You can watch the replay at  Be sure to read to the bottom of this post to grab the time-sensitive discount from ProWritingAid, especially for WIP readers!

AJ Ogilvie is a professor of business communication at the University of Southern California. He has taught business communication, consulting, writing, and literature courses for over ten years, and has published research on the theories of teaching, learning and communication.


In this webinar you will learn:

  • How to craft sentences that produce clarity for readers
  • How to effectively organize information for readers
  • How to create writing that provides a fluid and low-effort reading experience for your audience
  • How to use ProWritingAid towards the goal of clarity in your writing


Consider Your WHY

What are you writing? Your genre will determine your goals and answer the WHY of your writing. If you are writing fiction and creative non-fiction, your motivation is to get your readers to FEEL something. If you are writing for business, your motivation is to persuade and inspire action of some sort.

Defining Clarity

AJ described two kinds of clarity:

  • Global
  • Local

Global clarity is the overall organization of your writing that keeps the reader on a clear path from the beginning to the end.

Local clarity is your word choice, composition, and the ability for the reader to keep pace with you as the author.

These two types of clarity work with each other to make up a coherent and easy experience for the reader.

The Five Principles of Clarity

  1. Your subjects and verbs are the big actors and actions of the text.
  2. On a sentence level, the subject and verb go at the beginning of the sentence.
  3. Keep your subject and verb close together.
  4. Keep your text reader-centric by keeping your subjects to a minimum.
  5. Sentences should be linked logically.

In the video, AJ dives deeper into these five principles of clarity in writing. This is a true masterclass in refining your writing at the sentence and word level, a skill that many writers struggle with during the editing process. He also does a live demo of how this process looks in ProWritingAid, so be sure to head over to our webinars page to view the replay.


ProWritingAid is offering a 50% discount off a ProWritingAid license. Just go to, navigate to the pricing tab and use code WPS2050. Be sure to enter the code into the coupon code box beneath the pricing tables to update the pricing shown. This coupon code is valid for 48 hours, so jump on it now.