Here Are Your Winners! Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest (July 2018)

Here Are Your Winners!

It seems like the wait gets longer each time, doesn’t it?

Why is that?

Because I need a lot of time to read and critique the amazing stories you send, that’s why!

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

I KNOW you want to get right to the winners

and believe me, so do I.

These are really good stories and they’ll be getting invited to take part in our horror anthology that will be published in October! That’s kind of a big deal.

I read and critiqued ALL the entries, then selected the finalists.

Then I reread the stories.

And read them again…

ANYWAY, the wait is over and the winners are HERE.

  • TOMORROW, the first place winning story will appear here on the blog.

  • Tuesday it’ll be the first place winning story’s author profile.

  • Wednesday we’ll feature the second place story, Thursday will be the 2nd place profile, and so on through next week!

TODAY, I announce the winners!

How difficult is it to look at tons of stories and figure out which one is THE BEST?

your humble host

Hmm… I spend hours and hours looking over the stories, critiquing them, seeing which ones stuck out from the crowd… I award a preliminary #1 to a good story that I think could win – until a better one comes along. I’m constantly re-ordering them as I read. And I’m critiquing them as I go, to help you guys get to the next level.

Cool stuff about our Word Weaver Writing Contests

  • Winners in the prior contests have published their books!

  • So have a few other top-placing contestants!

  • Some contestants were invited to be in our next anthology, whether they placed in the contest or not!

  • We build GREAT relationships!

Yep, we are living the dream on this blog – ALL of us. And  LOT of people who got critiques replied to tell me how helpful the information was. Love that. You guys write good stuff, and it’s time somebody told you so.


If you don’t enter the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, you are missing out.

Can you afford to miss out? I don’t think so. Lesson learned, you non-enterers.

And now…



Two great stories that each deserved to be recognized.



by Sharon Cathcart



by Dabney Farmer

These are reeeeeeally good stories that you are going to love.

Our 4th place winners will receive:

  • PUBLICATION of their story on this blog

  • An author profile, also on the blog




* * * Special Honorable Mention * * *

Occasionally we have a story that does something special but doesn’t neatly fit into a category, so we award a Special Honorable Mention. 

Don’t think somebody gets a Special Honorable Mention as a sympathy vote. They don’t. It’s my way of saying, out of the all the entries, yours was unique and deserving of recognition.

The Special Honorable Mention goes to:

Our Last day

by Deborah Bowman

This unique piece will tug at your heart strings because it’s a true story, but it received a Special Honorable Mention because it demonstrated elements of storytelling worthy of emulation. You’ll see what I mean when the story runs in a few days.


In 3rd place, A THREE-WAY TIE!

No kidding. That’s how difficult it was to pick a winner this time – and how GOOD each of these stories is!


Ice Cream

by Geoff Lepard


Spirit Lake

by Sharon K. Connell


Cabin 5

by Heather Kindt

A couple of terrific stories you’re gonna love. They’re awesome.

The THIRD PLACE Winners will ALL receive THIS prize package:

square Total stickcast logo

AUDIO INTERVIEW on The Total Stickcast show!

These guys are great. Each week Paul Johnson (writer, author, vlogger) and Shane Hoopfer (former athlete, parent) get together to discuss what’s new in the world and their own lives, all while working to create an animated webseries called The Total Stick Show.

This will be an opportunity to sit and share your book, your process and anything else you wish, with their audience, all in a relaxed and casual format. I have been interviewewed by these guys, and they are terrific.

The 3rd place winners will also receive:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website

  • A guest blog post or author profile to appear on this site


  • also bragging rights. Bragging rights are big.



2In 2nd place,

and as always, if the first place winner is unable to carry out the duties, the second place winner will step in and assume the role…

Where The Back Trees Grow

by MD Walker

This terrific story is one you will love.

The SECOND PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package:


2 Months admission to my Private Critique Group

If you entered the Word Weaver Writing Contests, you got a sample of my process. In the PCG, you get two months worth of support and my direct input on your stories!

(Check out the cool testimonials HERE. You know you want to.)

In my Private Critique Group, I will guide you towards achieving the dream of publishing your story.

You can submit approximately 3000 words, twice a month, for me to critique. Additionally, we can have one-on-one Messenger conversations or YouTube Live video chats as needed. We will discuss your plans for the story, plus keep you focused and motivated to achieve your goals.

The 2nd place winner will also receive:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website

  • A guest blog post or author profile to appear on this site


  • slightly less massive bragging rights than first place (because that’s only fair, really)

  • FRIENDSHIP WITH ME, PROBABLY, because I wanna keep good writers close.

  • They also get to refer to themselves as an AWARD-WINNING author, too. Second place is totally an award.


And now,

the moment we’ve all been waiting for, our

Grand Prize Winner


 Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest


1st Place

Devil’s Hollow Holy Water

by Adele Marie Park


I loved, loved, LOVED this story. Tomorrow, you’ll see why.

Adele created a terrific story that you are really going to enjoy.


Adele will receive THIS valuable prize package

Darkwater 1

The publishing company with a defense contractor’s name, Darkwater Syndicate is a full-service publisher founded in 2008 and headquartered in Miami Lakes, Florida.

Darkwater Syndicate is seeking to publish titles in the genre of fantasy, comedy, horror (novels and short stories for this one particularly), sci-fi, and thrillers.

That’s perfect for us, gang.

    • This insanely great package includes

      • A publishing option, whereby my friends at Darkwater Syndicate will consider a novel or short story by the winner for publication.

      • Prioritize the winning story so it gets bumped up to the top of an editor’s reading list.

      • If Darkwater Syndicate does sign the author on, they’ll give the work their full treatment of:

      • EDITING

      • COVER ART



      • PLUS, Darkwater Syndicate pays sales royalties better than prevailing rates.

The winner ALSO receives:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website

  • AUTOMATIC ENTRY into our next published horror anthology, expected to be released in October 2018.

  • A GUEST BLOG POST or AUTHOR PROFILE to appear on this site (that’s almost priceless, really)


  • You’ll get to refer to yourself as an award-winning author. Because you ARE one.

The winning short story (or chapter from the winner’s bigger piece/book) gets featured here on the blog AND will be invited to join the next scary anthology, AND it can go to Darkwater, OR Darkwater will look at the winner’s whole book or a different book.


and there’s MORE great news!


We plan to publish Book 2 in our horror anthology series in October 2018, combining bestselling authors and established writers with first timers again. (Our October 2017 “scary anthology” called The Box Under The Bed, topped the charts at #1.)

EVERYONE who entered the contest will be considered for this anthology.


My edit and critique process, collaboration with other published authors in a private Facebook group created for the anthology, showing the creative process behind designing a winning book cover, getting beta readers, and marketing strategies discussed with other bestselling authors.

Many people have been asked to join this anthology, including some contest entries that did not win a prize today, entries from prior contests, contributing authors from our last anthology, friends whose blogs I’ve read horror stories on, etc. IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE CONSIDERED OR HAVE A FRIEND WHO WOULD, CONTACT ME ASAP. I’ll look at stories for the next few days, then we gotta make the push to publish, but this is your chance!

That’s why I say THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE!


DOOR PRIZES just for entering!

Contestants not winning as listed above will be put into a drawing for door prizes!

  • eBook copies of the #1 bestseller that started it all, The Box Under The Bed(The eBooks are not autographed, but some of the other prizes are.)

  • An audio book prize from an Amazon Bestselling author. (Audio books are not autographed either, you know. Just sayin’.

HERE are some of the AMAZING AUTHORS whose books you could win!

allisons books

Your choice of a signed paperback from bestselling author Allison Maruska

Allison’s runaway bestseller, The Fourth Descendant, sold more than 20,000 copies in its first 12 twelve months and has garnered 600 reviews on Amazon.  Her Project Renovatio series and the postapocalyptic Drake and the Fliers are amazing stories readers everywhere enjoy, and The Seventh Seed, the brilliant follow up to Descendant, is a gripping, fast-paced adventure. Winner will receive a signed copy of a book if they live in the U. S.; otherwise, an eBook will be substituted as per our contest rules.


PorterGirl – First Lady Of The Keys is Lucy Brazier’s hilarious glimpse into a world usually reserved for the upper echelons of society. The newly-hired Deputy Head Porter struggles with the eccentricities of staid and stoic Old College, far removed from her everyday life. She finds herself chasing after naked students, drinking copious amounts of tea – and getting embroiled in quaint, polite murders.

Lucy’s PorterGirl has gone on to become a well-loved series. Her third PorterGirl book, Sinister Dexter, was recently released to critical acclaim, and the second in the series, The Vanishing Lord, is a personal favorite of mine.



Fledgling nurse Sorcha Alden knew she had the skills to save lives, but she never dreamed that her own life would be the one in danger.

Anne Marie Andrus brings Monsters & Angels, a dark tale from New Orleans where vampire roam a cutthroat underworld of devilry and decadence. Complicated politics, bitter rivals and jealous ancestors clash a realm where the boundary between good and evil is as murky as the Mississippi River and immortal does not mean invincible.

heather hackett

Heather Hackett’s brilliant book Restless is a bestselling travel memoir of a young woman traveling with just a backpack and without the convenience of modern technology, who sets out to learn how the rest of the world lives – and along the way gets groped on an Indian train, fights off wild beasts while trying to use “bathroom facilities” in Goa, trekked the Everest trails while pregnant, unwittingly participated in a people smuggling operation, and was mobbed by fans of a lookalike Indian movie star.


Okay, so there’s a lot happening. Here’s what you need to remember:

  1. The winning stories will run on the blog starting TOMORROW

  2. The profiles of the winners will run the day after their story

  3. The anthology will be getting put together – you’re gonna want to get that – it’ll publish in October 2018

  4. AND we’ll be working on preparing our NEXT CONTEST soon: “Space Island” (more on Space Island later)

Right now, join me in congratulating our winners!




What about this? (And don’t be sexist or politically correct just be HONEST)

your humble host

The other day, we were asking you to choose between two blurbs and two tag lines.

Then I got this message.

Dear Dan,
I would put the first names of the detectives because I think one is a woman and if I know that up front I’m more likely to buy the book.
So maybe something like this:
Facing two horrific crime scenes, Detectives Sergio Martin and Carly Sanderson are assigned to lead the investigation. 
That attracts me more because maybe as a woman I don’t want to read about two men, just a thought.
Not A Sexist Or A Politically Correct Worrywart

She has a point, and as one of my valued Critique Partners, she gets to the heart of the matter.


According to my friend Jim Patterson (James to those of you who didn’t pay a hundred bucks for his course)

women buy 80% of the books

so we need to keep the ladies in mind when we market.
(Personally, I always try to keep the ladies on my mind, but here – does it help?

Most of the readers of this blog are women. Does letting you know Detective Sanderson is a woman increase your interest level in the book at all?

If the cover has a woman on the front, that might help, but going JUST with the blurb information…


Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s the Blurb that most of you liked:

A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have been in a horror movie, Detectives Martin and Sanderson search for the crazed serial killer. When five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic, the mayor throws all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets. 92 words
We’d change that to Detectives Sergio Martin and Carly Sanderson
Detectives Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin
(Might as well put her first. She has seniority over him and being first will catch a few more eyeballs.)

Tag Line and Blurb update: Here’s how awesome you guys are!

your humble host


Earlier today I posted about wanting some help with my tag lines and blurb for an upcoming book.

You guys generously poured out to help. In my newsletter, a blog post, and my Facebook author page and personal page, I basically sent the same information out.

The reply was fast and decisive.

After just a few hours, we had a nice initial response and the voting went like this:


Tag line A: 11111 = 5
Tag Line B: 11 = 2

Blurb A: = 0
Blurb B: 111111111 = 9


Tag line A: 111111111 = 9
Tag Line B: 1111 = 4

Blurb A: 111 = 3
Blurb B: 1111111111 = 10

Facebook: 0 replies at all on personal page and author page. (Not sure what happened there, but people could click the link and go to the blog so we won’t go crazy about that right now.)

Tag line A: 14
Tag Line B: 6

Blurb A: 3
Blurb B: 19

14 to 6 is pretty decisive, but 19 to 3 is a landslide!

We have our winners.

And in my experience, these margins won’t change if we get 100 more votes or 1000. Usually, after as few a twenty votes, a clear winner is observed and that doesn’t change if we have many, many, many more votes. It’s just how it is.

But it’s cool to know, and a great lesson for you guys.

  1. ASK FOR HELP and you’ll get it.

  2. Don’t abuse the privilege. And

  3. The fans are never wrong, so give them what they want!

Special thank you to all of you who suggested changes, too. There were about six, but each has merit, and we’ll see about adding a few tweaks.



Help me with a Blurb and Tag Line for my new murder mystery novel! Vote now!

It’s almost that time again!

I have a new murder mystery coming out

and I need some help with the tag line and blurb (the book’s back cover description).


Tell me which of the following tag lines you prefer, and then which blurb. Then feel free to offer your own suggestions. 



Tag lines:

A). A deranged killer panics a city by brutally attacking seven victims in fourteen days—and then goes after the detectives hunting him. 22 words

B.) The detectives hunting the serial killer want to stop his rampage. So he sets his sights on them. 18 words



A.) A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and then brutally stabbed to death in a Tampa warehouse, creating a crime scene so bloody it looks like something from a horror movie. Detectives Martin and Sanderson begin searching for a madman with a uniquely sick style of killing, when a jogger is murdered nearby in the same gruesome manner—and the hunt is on for a crazed serial killer. Five more of the violent attacks happen within a week, launching the entire city into a panic. The mayor agrees to throw all the city’s resources into halting the bloody rampage, but things may already be spiraling out of control. Detectives Martin and Sanderson frantically work around the clock to find their murderer and stop the carnage, but they don’t know the serial killer has decided to take his game to the next level—by making them his next victims. 148 words


B.) A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have been in a horror movie, Detectives Martin and Sanderson search for the crazed serial killer. When five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic, the mayor throws all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets. 92 words


Please tell me your choices below in the comment section!


Want to be a beta reader for this thrilling murder mystery? Contact me and I’ll add you to the list.

I’ll need beta readers to read my amazing new story and point out typos or other errors like plot holes and timeline mistakes – anything a regular reader would be upset about.

Beta readers will get an advance copy of the manuscript sometime in September, will have about two weeks to read it and send back comments, and will be asked – but not required – to purchase the 99 cent anthology Death and Damages in which my book occurs, then post a review on Amazon.

There are more than 20 complete books in the Death and Damages anthology, one of which is mine, so it’s a real value, but you’ll also be helping me a ton!

Let me know if you are interested! Contact me HERE and I’ll add you to the list







You have questions. Ask away.

your humble host

This blog has long been a friendly place to come and learn, and what better way to learn than to ask?

You have questions. Writer stuff, marketing, motivation, you name it.


Your questions. Your challenges. Your issues.

If I don’t know, we’ll put it out to my vast network of author friends and get an answer. Or I’ll make something up.


Many people helped me when I was starting out because I was willing to ask what I needed to know.

That shortened my learning curve substantially.

– Dan Alatorre

So go ahead. Ask me anything.