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Turn a scene of your book into a table read/skit to perform at your book event. Record it and use it for marketing and promotional purposes. And don’t forget to post it on YouTube!

Are you bold enough to go where no author has gone before, which is a place where other authors can critique your work publicly? Well, it’s public to a degree, considering only Path To Publishing website members may comment.

You can post a book cover, book synopsis, author bio, or opening paragraph of your book. After all, this is what will either draw a reader in, or make them put the book back on the shelf.


Your fellow pathfinders would be honored to post their open, honest, constructive, and diplomatic comments concerning your post. This is to help our fellow authors only; not to harm, and definitely not to hurt anyone’s feelings.


You’ve gotta have thick skin in this book business. So, if you don’t already have it, Path Publishing’s “Critique Corner” might help thicken it up a bit.


Authors, please note: Let’s agree to disagree with any opposing opinions upfront. Therefore, refrain from participating in any negative back-and-forth activity, or you’ll have to find another corner to hang out on 😊.

“Writing the First Chapter of Your Novel”

By Dr. Maxine Thompson


Why is the first chapter so important in a novel? Because it is the gateway to your story.

Needless to say, you are competing with TV, the Internet, social media, and so many other distractions. You have to hit the ground running when you write a novel in today’s society.  First, you have to hook the reader right away.

You should write as though you were writing for a movie since many readers are visual. Whatever makes you continue to watch a movie after five minutes, you need to use those same qualities in your first chapter.


We can use urban or street fiction as an example.


For all of its flaws, many of the stories in street fiction have these following things in common:

  1. Danger—In my novel, LA Blues, the opening scene starts with the protagonist, 18-year-old Zipporah, aka Z, former foster child, being held up at gunpoint by three Latino gang members.

  2. Suspense—Using LA Blues again, the reader wonders what will happen next.

  3. Intriguing characters—Z is gutsy; an LAPD officer, then later, a Private Investigator. She is a shero.

  4. Gritty urban settings, including prisons—Both Z’s mother, Venita, and her kingpin brother, Mayhem, are just getting out of prison.

  5. Some form of death on each page—This death can be physical, psychological, spiritual or professional. In LA Blues, this plays out throughout the book. Z has many near death experiences before she goes through a professional and spiritual death.


What are some techniques to help with your first chapter?

Have a captivating opening.

  1. Start in the middle of the action (in media res.) Don’t start in Happy Land. Hint at trouble in the first line.

  2. Have a captivating opening line; one that will hook the reader in.

  3. Avoid the temptation to describe/give too much backstory.

  4. Show versus tell. Sometimes you should do both.

  5. Establish mood, tone, atmosphere (dark, comedic, satirical).

  6. Lead with characters in conflict.

  7. Show your story world (Is it Sci-fi/urban/women’s fiction/Christian/fantasy?)

  8. What is your main character’s lie to himself/herself so he/she can have a story arc? Take for example, the infamous character Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.  He thought money was all that mattered in life. After his transformation, he began to celebrate people. That was his character arc.

  9. How can you subtly establish your theme in the first chapter?

  10. What is at stake? What is at risk? What does your main character have to lose?




Writing the first chapter is important. Many readers will not read beyond the first page, let alone the first five pages, if it doesn’t immediately pull them in. We are living in a world where people are on information overload. They are impatient and you have to grab your readers by the collar. Write as though your house is on fire . . . that is, your literary house. Your literary career can depend on it!


Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. She is the author of several novels and novellas. You can visit Maxine at and find her on Twitter @MaxineE

Welcome to Path To Publishing’s "Literary Ark," where authors can connect and pair up to cross-promote with one another.

If you are interested in connecting with a fellow author to do a joint book tour, live author chats, host one another inside your private groups, create a book sample with excerpts from your books, etc., this is the place to match up.


Thanks to technology, you don’t have to pair up with an author who lives in your neck of the woods, just one whose audience is your audience, your audience is their audience, and you both bring the same value to the ark.


Share your experiences and tips from your own journey on the ark, or provide suggestions. Dos and Don’ts are always helpful.


Where two or more join forces, you’re bound to rock the boat right toward literary success. So pair up and flood the literary community with your fabulous works.


All aboard!

Author Danielle Smith Gets Walmart

to Sell Her Books

Danielle, thank you for agreeing to this exclusive interview for the Path To Publishing website members. Can you give us four to five sentences as an introduction of who you are, what you do, and how you do it?


Thank you for having me. My name is Danielle D. Smith, and I am a survivor of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and suicide attempts. I am an advocate through my organization, Don’t Be Quiet, for those that are dealing with abuse. Through my organization, we offer resources, support, and love to those that are in need.

Danielle, we’d love to show readers the timeline of your literary journey, so please share with us when you started simply thinking about writing a book, to the actual publication of your book?

When my daughter, who is now 15, was two years old, I began a journey of trying to figure out my past, so that I could thrive in my future. I went on a quest to find out the root of the abuse in my family. My mom and I did not have a relationship, and my mom and grandmother did not have one either. I began to realize that was a generational curse working in my family, and I had to stop it with my daughter and me. During the next six months, I began to write my thoughts and memories in a journal. One day, after writing in my journal, I was in meditation, and God told me that I needed to write a book.


When did you actually start writing the book?


I began writing my book in November of 2016.


When did you begin seeking out the resources to help with the writing/publication of the book?


I began seeking resources to help with the writing of the book in October of 2016.

We know you ultimately decided to self-publish; was that always your initial intentions, or did you consider other paths to publication?


Initially, I had this huge dream to sign with a publishing company, have a huge marketing team, and be on every best-seller list out there. But I soon learned there were many sacrifices that I would have to make to achieve that. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to even “shop” for a publishing company, and I was very nervous about sharing my story with so many people.

If you considered other paths to publication, why did you decide on self-publishing?


I decided to self-publish because I did not want the pressure of being on someone’s timetable. I had a friend that was traditionally published, and I recall the stress that was put on her to produce a book. I knew early on that this project may turn into two books, and I didn’t want that pressure. I had to take my time getting this project out. There was a lot of healing, prayer, meditation, and forgiveness that had to take place, and that took time.

In your own words, for your own personal journey, how would you describe the journey/process of self-publishing? The journey/process was very much needed for me. I had time to heal and write. And most importantly, I learned the business side of writing. My editor, Joylynn Ross, took the time to teach me how to own my rights, as well as how to turn my book into a business.


Unfortunately, quite a few self-published authors believe the only place they can sell their printed books is from the trunk of their car and on You managed to get your book sold on Can you share with readers what that entire process looked like for you? We really would appreciate any mistakes you made, any steps you missed, or things you did wrong that could have delayed the process.

The first thing I had to do was believe in myself and remove fear. I went to my local Walmart store and spoke to the store manager, asking how to get my book in their store. They instructed me to visit their website. After going to their website, I was able to sign up as a supplier. The entire process took three business days. The process should have only taken two days, but I did not upload a document correctly, and they emailed me to tell me to make the change. The other major thing that happened was I was overthinking the process. It was really simple for me, because my literary consultant (who was also Joylynn) instructed me how to not skip steps and make my book a legitimate product of a legitimate business, which meant I obtained my own ISBN (not one supplied to me by another company or POD company), barcode, registered my company, and all the other things that made me a prospective supplier in the eyes of Walmart.

We thank you so much for taking the time to answer the interview questions for the Path To Publishing community. Do you have any advice to someone who says, “I want to write and publish a book”?


The advice I would give to someone that says, “I want to write and publish a book” would be to reach out to a professional for assistance. I will always suggest reaching out to Path to Publishing. They are a one stop shop! They will provide you with all of your needs from the conception of the idea, to print, to post publication. The team is knowledgeable and great teachers. I was taught how to take my book from a thought and a dream, to now being available worldwide.


Pushing past the fear and just picking up the phone and starting a conversation is the hardest part. Push through that fear and just do it!


For me, when I made that one phone call to find out “what I needed to do to get started,” everything else began to fall in place. I went after my dream. It gets hard, and fear will try to creep in multiple times throughout the process, but when you push through and past it, you will feel amazing.


I’ve accomplished things in my life, but none like writing and publishing my first book!


Take that leap!!!

Danielle D. Smith

Author of

Yesterday’s Tomorrow