No Friday Flash Fiction challenge this week, but a few things are coming that you’ll wanna know about. 

dan
your humble host

Flash Fiction Friday is going to return, with shorter challenges and fun authorey ideas you’ll wanna take part in. It probably needs a better name than Flash Fiction Friday, though, I think, but you’re gonna love the new format.


BTW, send me your ideas for a better name than Friday Flash Fiction challenge!

NEXT, Don’t forget we’re going to have a new Word Weaver Writing Contest in July. That’s just a few days away! Are you ready? 


The first Word Weaver Writing Contest was a HUGE hit, generating our biggest month of blog traffic in more than a year

– so I guess the Word Weaver Writing Contest is here to stay!

We have amazing prizes lined up, too, plus feedback on YOUR story by ME, and some special stuff just for entering!


What else?

Oh yeah! Check this out.


Starting Wednesday we will have a new feature:


“Ask Dan Anything!”

On Wednesdays, for a limited time, we will have an “Ask Dan Anything” section. The first five (possibly the first ten) people who ask questions as soon as the post appears, I will get their authorey question answered!
I have lots of great topics we’ve discussed but things change and I can’t think of everything you guys are having trouble with. Sometimes maybe what you’re having trouble with is unique just to you – but I bet somebody else is struggling with it, too.
Anyway, on Wednesdays it’ll post and the first five (maybe ten) questions YOU ask, I will get in-depth answers for.
Could be anything.
That’s why it’s called “Ask Dan Anything.”


Now, to make it fair

Most of my blog posts appear at 5 AM Eastern time. That means it’s 3 AM in Colorado or 2 AM in California, but it’s 10 AM in great Britain and I don’t know what time it is in Australia but those guys usually reply first.
For this feature, I’m not telling you what time the blog post is going to come out but it’s not going to come out before noon Eastern time on Wednesday. And you won’t be able to reply to it before it posts. So it’ll appear sometime after 12 noon which means it’s at least 9 AM in California and 5 PM in the UK. I guess Australian friends get screwed on this one, but this was the best I could think of and you still see everything else first unless somebody in the U. S. has insomnia.
And by ask me anything, I mean you can pretty much ask me anything. So you can ask me about any aspect of writing you are struggling with or any topic you’re curious about, whatever you want.
You can also suggest topics you’d like to see me cover for you. I’m not sure how well this is going to work but I think it will be a lot of fun to see what’s on your mind and see how I can answer it for you.
Most importantly, don’t forget that we have a new, exciting Word Weaver Writing Contest coming up in July – and I haven’t quite decided if we’re going to have a theme or not, so if you have theme ideas let me know!

 And lots of people have asked, so YES, I am still in the process of forming my PRIVATE CRITIQUE GROUP. 

The small group of members using it right now are extremely satisfied, so we’re going to open it to a few more of you. (Gotta maintain quality, you know? Baby steps.)

More on that in July
.
Anyway, have a great weekend! I’m going to try to finish the Angel edits, so now Caractucus Potts heads back into the barn/workshop.


Give me your thoughts on these ideas!

What Do YOU Think?

I’m interested in getting your thoughts about stuff I see and hear, quotes I read, stuff that passes as knowledge – and starting an authorey conversation.

01 postcards (1) k

Brilliant, a thousand times over.  I want this on a t-shirt. Goes along with throwing rocks at your characters.

Brilliant. Brilliant! BRILLIANT!

Understanding this, using this, will make your stories better in ways you cannot even imagine. Possibly the best thought about writing, ever.

What are YOUR thoughts on this idea?

Professor Potts is about to disappear into the barn/laboratory again

That’s a reference to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, when the dad goes into his barn workshop and stays there building the magical car. 

  

Because: Angel gets its final edits this week, plus its cover. 


  
But don’t wander too far. I might ask for input here and there – but mostly I’ll probably be quiet this week. 

  

Quiet for me, anyway. 

  
That said, get ready for July’s Word Weaver writing contest – brought to you in part by An Angel On Her Shoulder. I’m thinking the month of July for preorders and an August 1 release date. 

  
And I’ll need a LOT of you helping push this one. 

  

Details to come. 

Author Profile: 20 Questions (more or less) With Sally Cronin

danOccasionally on the blog we will talk with one of our author friends, gaining valuable insights into their behind-the-scenes world.

Today we meet with Sally Cronin, a brilliant writer and friend of the blog.

Be ready for a few surprises!

After working in a number of industries for over 25 years, Sally decided that she wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that she had always been fascinated with. “I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition. I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released nine others as part of our own self-publishing company. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories and you can find me daily on my blog Smorgasbord Invitation.”

See? I told you there’d be surprises. And there are more.

Here’s Sally

.

sally wedding day 1980
author Sally Cronin

Sally: Thank you so much Dan for inviting me over.

Dan: Sure. Let’s get right to the important stuff. What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

That would be crispy duck and pancakes, and I have indulged in this starter all around the world, and rarely been disappointed. If I was off to a desert Island with just three dishes this would be number one… If you are interested, that would be followed by Beef Wellington and then Baked Alaska. If I am off to a desert Island on my own you can forget healthy eating!

 

I do love me some beef Wellington. Which is the more important of these two: write drunk, edit sober? 

Definitely edit sober… Preferably with an automatic translator from drivel to English!  However, writing drunk has its merits although it can result in some emotional outbursts.

 

Why do some authors sell well and others don’t? (Indie or otherwise, but indie if possible)

There are a number of key elements involved when it comes to selling well as an Indie author in my view, and I am still working on getting it right myself.

  • Quality of the writing,
  • Well formatted and easy to read.
  • Strong storyline or subject matter.
  • Popular Genre or wide based subject matter.
  • Opinions of satisfied customers.

Which mean very little without the following elements.

Online presence People do buy people first, and if they cannot find out about you they are less likely to buy your book. In this day and age not having some form of platform as an author will not help with sales.

Marketing – the common approach seems to be a book tour launch over a couple of weeks with exactly the same format. This is a shotgun approach especially as most of the blogs hosting the tour are within the same community. Readers after seeing the first post, are not going to respond to any that follow.

A different approach, which I have found more productive, is to

set up a series of interviews spread over 8 to 10 weeks split between those contacts you regularly communicate with, and blogs that are outside the community.

Also, as interviews tend to have different questions each is unique, and you can introduce individual key elements each time about your book.

Also – for both non-fiction books and fiction genres there are groups online to market specifically. For example…. If you have written a book ‘How to self-publish your Novel’, the first thing you should do is create a list of all the writing groups that have an online presence, and drop them a line with the book blurb, your latest review and a link to buy. Your market is not all the authors who already follow you on your blog and social media, but all the aspiring authors out there who are terrified of the process!

Writing books in a series is also key. I have a number of authors on my shelves today that I continue to buy and read year after year. One of the key links between them is that they write series of books. Wilbur Smith (I bought his first book 53 years ago and every one since), Bernard Cornwell, Jean M Auel, Lee Child and a newer author Gregg Hurwitz, to name just a few. Not only is the writing wonderful, but I am invested in their various lead characters and automatically want to find out what happens to them.

As Indies we need to emulate these successful and best-selling authors, and whilst we might not have multi-million pound advertising budgets, we do have access to the worldwide web to market ourselves. It takes time, sometimes years, but readers are not lining up outside our doors to buy our books. They are sitting in front of a virtual bookstore with millions of titles looking for one that stands out from the masses.

sgc-book-covers-10x1

I could not agree more. Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I am into the 3Ms… Music, Movies and Martinis… Sorry but 2Ms did not sound right!

Music has been a food group for me since I was a child, and had dreams of being in the next 1950s musical with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Mitzi Gaynor; little realising that it was already the 1960s and the era of the Hollywood musical was coming to an end. But then I embraced the rock ‘n’ roll era with a vengeance, and even today I cannot spend time on my treadmill without Status Quo, The Boss and The Rolling Stones.  Over the years I have found other styles that I enjoy including Country but admit to not particularly getting on with Rap which mystifies me… I sing along a great deal and have been known to perform certain party pieces in public.

 

Which leads me onto – If you could only listen to one type of music, what would you choose?

If I was back on that desert Island with my crispy duck and only had one style of music that I could listen to…

It would have to be rock ‘n’ roll

because country music can have some awfully depressing lyrics.

 

Which brings me to – What’s the best movie you have ever seen?

This was a tough one as I have so many favourite movies from the last 50 years. South Pacific, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Saving Private Ryan… But if I were to only have one movie on that desert island, I would have to go with The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis.  It helped that the screenplay was adapted from such a wonderful book by James Fenimore Cooper. The opening scene still makes me catch my breath, and in fact I have used part of the music score from that scene on my radio shows as an intro to one of the segments. I have watched the film at least ten times and I have a digital copy in my files just a click away.

 

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

wild birdsI self-published my first book 17 years ago and received a number of comments at the time about how sad it was that mainstream publishers did not think my book was good enough. I recently mentioned to someone that my 10th book had just been published and their response was exactly the same.

Some people will never find self-published books acceptable. However, attitudes are changing, but it will only do so if books are well-written, edited and presented.

As a self-publishing service we still get manuscripts through that have not even been spell checked or edited in any way, and we send them back with a polite note to tell the author that they are not ready to be published. However, with some of the programmes available for authors to publish their work without any human intervention, this can lead to books hitting the Amazon shelves in a format that does not do them justice. This results in one star reviews and the word self-published is often mentioned in a derogatory fashion. That is not motivating to the authors either, who inevitably give up writing which is a shame.

There are some amazing indie authors on the shelves which is why I love promoting them on the blog. Misconceptions will change, but we as Indie authors have an obligation to make sure we do not give skeptics any more ammunition.

 

How much structure is in your story before you start writing it?

Most of the story is in my head before I sit down at the keyboard. I do a brain dump then go back and read the whole thing before doing a line by line rewrite. Sometimes it just does not work, so I will save to my reject directory on my computer, and then revisit down the line and break it up like a scrap car; using the parts in other stories.

 

How did you rebel as a teenager?

Bonnie and ClydeIt might be simpler to list the ways that I did not rebel. I was the third daughter born after a ten year gap. Then my mother had a son at 40 and I was more or less handed off to my two elder sisters to take care of after school. We lived abroad quite a bit and so there were plenty of adventures to be had. I played truant regularly at the age of 7 and 8 as I did not like school, but I always found something constructive to do; such as help out an old farmer and his donkey look after his prickly pears. I was earning my own money from the age of fourteen with a weekend and holiday job in a cafe along the seafront, and would regularly come home having undergone a major makeover. Including a Marilyn Munroe platinum blonde haircut which nearly caused my father to have a heart attack. I was fiercely independent and that has never changed; I have always been up for a challenge. To some that is rebellious!

 

Have you made any big mistakes?

Oh yes. And no doubt will continue to do so. Some more life changing than others, but I hope that the lessons I absorbed each time has made me more careful and resilient. Certainly my mistakes have provided a great resource for my stories, and with a touch of humour they don’t seem quite so bad at a distance.

The key to making mistakes and surviving is to make sure they do not impact others because then they are definitely life-changing.

 

Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

I am very boring and give the same answer to this every time. Wilbur Smith, who is still very much alive and who graciously responded to a note that I sent him on Facebook a month or so ago. I wrote to thank him for 50 years of reading pleasure and how much I admired him. I am about to read his latest book War Cry, and I am as excited to catch up with the Courtney family saga as I was at age 11 when I bought When the Lion Feeds and spent all night reading it under the covers with a torch.

 

What do you love most about your writing?

I first loved reading with a passion, and from the age of five or six devoured any book I was given. Then I thought I might give it a go myself, and started creating stories in my head and then down on paper in prose and verse. Then work life intruded and apart from some fictionalised budget reports the only serious writing was the 120 letters I wrote to my parents from Texas in 1985 and 1986. They are a journal of our time there and I found that my father had kept them all after he died in 1996. I still have them, and I guess that sums up what I feel about my writing. The fact that someone treasures my writing enough to keep.

I would love to make a fortune, but every time someone takes the trouble to write a review or a comment on my blog and tells me they loved something I have written, I get quite emotional.

What an amazing thing it is to be doing something that not only you love, but others do too.

 

What is your latest book about?

getPartWhat’s in a Name is a collection of twenty short stories prompted by either a female of male name beginning with the letter A through to J. Volume Two will be out later this year.

About the collection

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

 

How do you want people to remember you after you are gone?

I hope that when I am gone people will think of me and smile. Remember the jokes I told, the stories I wrote, and more than anything that they remember me as a person they enjoyed being around.

Thank you again Dan for the opportunity to talk about some things that are dear to my heart… Like crispy duck and pancakes!

Thank you for sharing your writerly insights!

Gang, here are Sally’s links:

Her books are all on Amazon, most in print and Ebooks.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

 

Her books are also available via her own publishing site, some at a reduced price.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

 

Social media links

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

 

Fun for Father’s Day: who are your top choices for best book or movie dad?

Here’s something fun for Father’s Day: who are your top choices for best book or movie dad?
  

I have a few…

  
Chevy Chase in the Vacation movies, because even though he’s a screwup, he’s really trying to give his kids great memories.

  
Also, Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Could be the best book/movie dad ever.

  
Don Corleone from The Godfather. Do you even have to ask?

  
Finally, the father from The Sound Of Music, captain Von Trapp. I mean, when you leave behind your fortune to take your children away from Nazi influence, you are pretty much number one across the board. I cry every time I watch that movie, because he, the stoic, strict, tough military man, playing the guitar and singing about his homeland while in his head he knows he is about to flee… and getting so choked up he can’t finish – great stuff.

  
What about you? Who would you say is a great book or movie dad?

  
And yes, you may include me, the dad from Savvy Stories, among the voting!

Hate Marketing? Be A Sponsor for the July Word Weaver Writing Contest and let me do it for you!

Marketing sucks. Be a SPONSOR of the Word Weaver Writing Contest – and I’ll do it for you!

Use the contact me button NOW to become a sponsor and get the exposure you need for you book, product or service. Let’s talk!

Word Weaver logi FINAL

On July 1, 2017, I will announce the rules for our 2nd quarterly writing contest. We plan to do a total of three this year.

YOU hate marketing, right? Of course. Everyone does.

There will be prizes, so we will need sponsors. YOU COULD BE ONE!

Right now I’m talking to people about

  • $50, $25 and $10 Amazon gift cards (I will probably provide those)
  • signed paperbacks, by me and other authors/sponsors (you could be one of those)
  • book covers from real cover designers,
  • editing services
  • on and on – PLUS a secret prize package to be announced during the contest, that may or may not be membership in my Private Critique Group!

You are people! You can be a sponsor!

Contestants will have the month of July to enter an amazing piece of their own writing to our contest. That’s a MONTH of exposure for your stuff.

DO YOU NEED PUBLICITY for your book or website? (Or product or service?)

Be a SPONSOR of the Word Weaver Writing Contest!

It’s cheap and easy!

We all hate marketing. Make it easy on yourself.

Our prior contest was probably SEEN BY A MILLION PEOPLE!

See how I did that marketing thing there? Implying it was seen by a million people when it wasn’t? That’s part of why people hate marketing. But our contest WAS seen by thousands (no sh!t) and that was just here on the blog. With Facebook, we reached thousands more. Twitter, who knows. But overall it was a lot.

I have over 2,000 blog followers, over 10,000 Twitter followers, over 1,250 Facebook Author Page Likes, and I will be advertising this contest in lots of places.

YOU will get LOTS of exposure as a sponsor – and it’s cheap inexpensive!

I have lots of friends – you, for example – that need to get publicity for a book or service. Keep it in the family, I say.

We will use paperback copies of your book to be awarded, or a session of your editing, your cover design service – anything writing related! Be a main sponsor by supplying Ammy gift cards to the top three winners. You get the idea.

Use the contact me button to become a sponsor. Let’s talk!

This is a really fun contest, and after a few more we’re gonna be swamped, so be sure to tell your friends to get in early! (You should probably reblog this right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

The more sponsors, the more prizes.

The more prizes, the more interest.

The more interest, the more exposure to your book or service – and YOU, if you help sponsor the contest!

Have a look HERE  at the rollout announcement for the first contest – and I gave my sponsors a LOT of publicity throughout the contest period and prize winning period. Early/existing sponsors are always gonna be given priority of their product or service over a new sponsor offering the same thing.

Donating 5 eBooks costs you almost nothing, but you might get a much needed review out of it. Mailing 5 copies of your signed paperback costs about $20 (here’s info on using the post office’s inexpensive media mail). WHERE CAN YOU GET AN AD FOR TWENTY BUCKS???

Well, here. In this contest. Otherwise, not a lot of places. And I’ll be telling winners to review your book.

And I’ll be advertising the contest, too, so you’ll get that added exposure.

Does this sound good?

Marketing sucks. A real writing contest with prizes is FUN.

A chance to be a sponsor and get new people aware of your book (hello, reviews) or service.

Wow.

Get ready. I think July is gonna be a blast.

Join me as a sponsor. I will take any writing related product or service: your eBooks and your signed paperbacks, Amazon gift cards (any amount), cover design (that’s a biggie), editing services, formatting services, or anything else you think would make a good prize, like a Starbucks gift card. (Maybe wine, if we can think of an easy way to deliver it.)

BE A SPONSOR!

REBLOG THIS POST!

We need a LOT of publicity for this thing!!

Use the contact me button NOW to become a sponsor. Let’s talk!

Your humble host.

REBLOG me! And please SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” 

Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Also available in paperback and audio book.

Word Weaver Winner’s Profiles: 5th Place Winner Maribel C. Pagan

danThe winners of April’s Word Weaver Writing Contest share their thoughts on the contest, writing in general, and other stuff.

Today our 5th place winner, Maribel C Pagan, answers a few questions about our contest and other writerly things.

Maribel has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, Zaum, Planted Word, Persephone’s Daughters, and others. She has received the Junior Reading Giants Award, has made the President’s List in Mohawk Valley Community College, and has received 5th Place in the Word Weaver Writing Contest, among many other awards and scholarships. Additionally, she is a Prose Reader for Apprehension Magazine, and a singer and musician for The Angelic Family Choir. 

(Click HERE to read her contest entry)

  

  1. Dan: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?

 

Maribel: Actually, I had originally written this story for another contest that, coincidentally, was also on the theme of travel. It was longlisted for the award, so I decided, “I’ll wait and see where I could possibly submit this story to.” And then this contest came up!

 

  1. Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?

 

I know that everyone else uses a different writing process. My own process, when I’m writing short stories or poems, is that I write the piece all the way through. Then

perform a quick review before staying a full 24 hours away from the piece, both physically and mentally keeping my mind off it. When I return, I’ll think of things to add, take away, or edit.

Sometimes I’ll do an additional edit two weeks from the date I wrote it, just to make sure it’s perfected to the best of my ability.

When I write novels, the process is very different. I will write the novel with little to no review. However, I set up an outline so that I’ll be able to figure out where my creativity is going to get me through next. It also helps me keep track of all the creative ideas I have and where they would best fit in the story. Once I’m done, I’ll depart from it from 1-3 months before returning to review, edit, and revise it.

 

  1. Where do you do your writing?

Absolutely anywhere. I’ve written in the oddest places: In the middle of lecture in class; jotted down on a napkin while eating; typing it in my notes while walking my dog…. If I’ve got an idea, there’s absolutely no stopping me.

 

  1. Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

I would like to eventually have a full-length novel published. I already have a few written down and tucked away. I just need to finish writing the right one to publish. Eventually… *sigh*

 

  1.      What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

Finding inspiration from anywhere and anything.

I tend to explode with ideas—particularly ideas for novel-length stories

—so I enjoy drawing that inspiration from the most random places.

 

  1. What does writing success look like?

Knowing that I’m writing directly from the heart. I am absolutely passionate for writing, and I feel like that, in itself, is what writing success is all about.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on a couple of novels that I had to momentarily pause. Now I plan on definitely returning to it throughout this summer, for sure!

I’m also always working on short stories and poems. In fact, I’ve gotten quite a few short stories and poems published, so far…

 

  1. There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?

Believe it or not, the fact that it was a writing contest with a theme of travel, similar to the previous contest I tried submitting this story to. When I saw the Word Weaver Writing Contest, I was astonished that it had a similar theme and immediately submitted my piece. Glad I took the chance to submit this story. I never expected it to be among the winning pieces!

 

  1. Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

I actually have! A few times, actually. I had never won a writing contest before now—but having entered very few contests, this recent win gives me hope for future contests.

 

  1. Will we see you again in the July Word Weaver Writing Contest?

 Why not? I’d be honored!

 

  1. Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

I felt that it probably was, but I definitely did not expect it to get any winning spots. At all. I’m still shocked that it even won!

 

  1. What’s next for you?

Publishing a book. Still trying to decide, though, whether I should publish a novel first or a poetry collection first… any thoughts?

Dan: I’d say go with the novel but only because I like novels better than I like poems. Others may disagree. And if I can help in any way, let me know.

.

Thanks so much for sharing these insights, Maribel!

Gang, visit Maribel at http://therollinghills.wordpress.com/.

The next winners will be coming up on the blog soon. Stay tuned!