Allison 2 will keep you guessing at every turn

I’m sure you’ve all heard how important reviews are for authors.

Reviews help spread the word about a great book. Reviews are also difficult to come by for even bestselling authors. Fact: before a big book launch, large publishers distribute thousands of free copies to those willing to review so that they have a few hundred reviews in place when the book is published. Less than 1% of people who read books leave reviews.

Today only, one of my bestselling novels, The Navigators, a science fiction adventure, is being offered for free.

My goal is to get 100 reviews. If you are willing, please download The Navigators on May 24th, read it, and leave an honest review. 

And if you are one of the zillions who have read the book and not left a review, please consider doing so now. Click HERE

Thank you for your support, and enjoy The Navigators!



Revising and Layering: The (Often Very Tedious) Stuff That Makes Your Story COME ALIVE

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Nobody likes revising, okay?


Until you see how good it makes your story, and then

well, you still won’t like revising.

Because nobody does.

But if you do something enough times, it can become a habit, and that means if you torture yourself with enough revisions, you will eventually incorporate that stuff into your first draft. Or more of it, anyway, and that’s totally worth the lesson you’re about to get today.

I read the following scene in a manuscript I edited a while back.

(The names have been changed.) It’s a great story, and this is a really good scene, but you can see the places where it’s just kinda missing something.

It felt rushed, because it probably was rushed – in a good way.

The author was probably excited about the scene and was moving quick.


The reader will be moving quick, too – but only if we slow down and revise the scene so the page has everything that was in the writer’s head.

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$300 in prizes!

For more info and to sign up, click HERE

Rule 1: Get it down.

Get it out of your head and into the computer or onto paper, whichever. Capture the idea for your brilliant scene somewhere. On your voicemail if necessary.

Then write it.

Then revise it.

But while revising, there are a few things you’ll need to address.

Here is The Scene as originally written (with the character names changed)

George rushed towards them pushing John’s hands away from the ropes. With one swift move, John kicked George with his foot and he fell over hitting his head against the wall.

The smack of her grandfather’s head hitting the wall reverberated through Lori’s head. Her heart sank as she swallowed a scream. She tugged on the ropes with all her might needing to get to George, but it was no use.

“You moron!” Robert rushed to George’s side.

Intense anger filled Lori watching him lift George’s head, feel for a pulse, and examine his eyes. “He’s going to be out for a couple of hours and who knows whether or not he’ll be in any condition for writing.”


With one swift move, John kicked George with his foot and…

Cut “with his foot.” Kicks are with feet. Always.

You could show John raising a foot up and landing it in George’s knee or belly or whatever.

…and he fell over hitting his head against the wall.

New sentence, and be descriptive:

George crashed into the stone wall and slid to the floor in a heap.

Which is better? (USING ACTIONEY VERBS, #3 below)


“You moron!” Robert rushed to George’s side.

This reads like Robert is calling George a moron. He’s saying that to John.

Robert glared at John. “You moron!” He rushed to George’s side. (ORIENTATION, #2 below)

Think about all the steps involved in the scene in your head, and after you write a scene,

let it rest and then attack it again.


The Steps:

  1. Would the reader 100% understand who and what I mean?

Might have to add a line.

Usually it’s adding a few lines here and there, or a few words, that make all the difference.

2. Have I oriented the reader?

Too many he’s and we’re lost. Gotta use a name here and there, and occasionally a detail about the room, even in an action scene. But not too much

3. Have I added dramatic action verbs in my action scene?

Action = go big with action-ey verbs. Run or sprint? Threw or heaved? You get the idea.

4. Have I added enough emotion?

Stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum, even in an action scene. If Lori is seeing her grandfather attacked, she will have a visible emotional reaction to it. Write that.

Grit her teeth. Clench her fists. Add that stuff.

That might take three or four passes

– with some resting in between – but it’ll make the scene comes alive. You want that.

It’s simple, but it requires patience and time.

A is for Action 12 FINALI wrote a whole book about this stuff called A Is For Action. Oh, he’s trying to sell me something! Yeah, it’s a whole dollar, for Pete’s sake.

Buy it and get the rest of the amazingly helpful information you need to know.

Oh, and leave a nice review on Amazon, too. I’ll appreciate it.

Tips For Better Fiction Writing: SUDDENLY

Don’t write the word “suddenly.”

Write in such a way that it reads as happening suddenly.

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Don’t forget to enter our 1000 word writing contest!

$300 in prizes!

For more info and to sign up, click HERE


I’m not saying you can’t ever use that word. You can. But usually

the word “suddenly” is a signal to yourself that you want a dramatic event that surprises the reader – and you didn’t write it

You didn’t set it up, you didn’t emphasize it in punctuation and style, you didn’t add a character reaction physically and emotionally to sell it…

You just wrote “suddenly.”

You told the reader they were supposed to be surprised at what happened, instead of doing your best to have them actually be surprised by showing them.

Be better than that.

When you write suddenly in your first draft, add it as a crutch word at the top of your manuscript and go back later and flesh out that scene.


No suddenly’s.

Don’t say something happened suddenly.

Write in such a way that it reads as happening suddenly.

(And have a character react as though they are surprised by what happened, too.)


Write so the reader is surprised – which makes it sudden to the reader. That’s what you want anyway.

I did not see that coming. Neither did she, apparently.

WRITE like the goat.

Let the READER be the young lady.

Wild Bill smiled, raking the chips across the green felt table. “Gosh, Mike, I’m not sure I wanna play poker anymore—now that I have all your money.”

Suddenly, Mike stood and punched Bill, sending him reeling. Chips flew everywhere.


Wild Bill chuckled, raking the chips across the green felt table. “Gosh, Mike, now that I have all your money, I’m not sure I wanna play poker with you any—”

Mike leaped from his chair and swung hard at Bill, landing a punch squarely on Bill’s chin and snapping his head around. Poker chips flew everywhere as the old man sailed backwards and crashed onto the floor.

You can argue that the second one isn’t really surprising, but you already knew what was coming because you read the first one. Either way, it’s more sudden and quick and unexpected to the reader than the first one.

A is for Action 12 FINALYou can do this stuff.

Wanna get personalized tips like this for your story and take it to the next level? Check out my Private Critique Group.

What’s YOUR revision process like?

And the less your reader expects it, the more surprised they’ll be – and the more sudden your scene will read. So set it up that way. Let readers think one thing and do the other without warning. Don’t announce it with “suddenly.”

Get A Is For Action today for 99 cents, part of Dan Alatorre’s Tips For Better Fiction Writing series.

ONE WEEK LEFT! HURRY! 1000 Word SPRINT Writing Contest!

Word Weaver SPRINT 1

* * * * FINAL DAYS * * * *

The Word Weaver

1000 Word SPRINT

* * * * * Writing Contest * * * * *

with over $300 in prizes!

your humble host

If you didn’t enter yet, why not? 1000 words shouldn’t take very long, and you know you need the practice.

1000 Word SPRINT?

You can do that.

What do I see holding up people’s stories? Initially, we author types take a while to get the story going, to get to the interesting part.

We have a great idea and we feel we have to bury it by adding a bunch of backstory first, for fear the idea won’t make sense if we just start.

Usually, we can start at the interesting stuff and add back the things we need from the backstory, but do them later, and in bits and pieces.

Our next full-fledged Word Weaver Writing Contest will be in July, and will have a theme of scary/eerie/macabre/dark. We’ll be kinda loose on that (I mean, “dark” covers a lot of ground) and we’ll look to create another scary-style anthology from the entries.

Burying = bad

That’s hurting you, gang.

That’s a big no-no.

GRAB your reader on page one, in the first paragraph.

In the first sentence, if possible.

Then take them for a roller coaster ride.

I’ve been reading your Word Weaver stories for a while now, and editing your books, and critiquing your essays, and working with you in my Private Critique Group – so this 1000 word challenge is designed to help you where you need it most. (TIPS for winning a writing contest HERE)


Get to the point of your story quickly.

How do we do that? Practice.

YOU will have 1000 words to create a story or story segment that involves DIALOGUE and ACTION of some sort. These are the two things you guys struggle with.

Yes, one of those was a link to my book. Calm down. It’s a dollar.

This SPRINT has a 1000 word limit.

1001 words = you are OUT.

(More after this quick ad for a book series you should totally buy)

Searching for the gold in the golden years 

jena c henry books

“As I read, I moved from wanting Charli to be my aunt, to wanting Charli to be my best friend, and finally to wanting to BE Charli. She’s delightful, warm, honest and fun.”

– Julie C. Gardner, author of Letters for Scarlet

The Golden Age of Charli series

from author Jena C. Henry

Click HERE to get your copy now.

What’s a sprint?

A very short story. For this contest, 1000 words.

It doesn’t need a tidy ending, either. Leave it as a cliffhanger. That’s okay. This is about getting up and running quickly.

1000 words, not counting your name and the story title. NO PROLOGUES, excuses or explanations!



I’ve given you some examples of how to do this.

Writing short stories helps you get up to speed quickly in your novel writing. Look at Game Of Thrones. The opening (prologue) of Book 1 reads like a short story, hinting at stuff but totally grabbing the reader.IMG_4189

Lucy’s most recent book, Sinister Dexter, does the same thing – it opens with an argument about stuff the characters aren’t supposed to know about.



You have TWO WEEKS ONLY starting now, to get your story (or story segment) written and sent in.

The contest entry period runs from from May 13, 2018 – May 27, 2018 at midnight Eastern Standard Time.

If you already wrote something, hey, you’re ahead of the game again!

I will critique every entry myself!

img_2351-11Yep, I’ll critique your 1,000 word piece, whether you win or not, just for entering.

I will give you the Dan Treatment of your 1,000 word piece, just like I do in my private critique group. Don’t worry, I’m pretty nice and very encouraging. Most people like my crits. Not all, though. Some people are just babies.


It can be shorter. If you get it in 750, you’re good to go. (This isn’t Carrot Ranch.)

Prizes will be awarded for

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place



owl and pussycat promotions

A 1-Year Platinum Author Package from

Owl and Pussycat Promotions

The winning author will receive:

  • Your own Page on our website.
  • Your own Website connected to The Owl Branch with your books,
    bio, and links. (Social & Book links)
  • Social Media Promoting on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest MeWe, Alignable and Hootsuite
  • Author Interview
  • Provide special announcements for your events, book signings etc.
  • Host an author event especially for you &
  • Provide Takeovers for your event. (two times per year)


A Blog Tour or Author Video!

Gang, this is a HUGE prize package!

“Good luck to everyone!”

Viv Drewa, Karen Vaughan, and Dellani Oakes of

Owl and Pussycat Promotions

I’ll probably only award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, and that’s probably it, but you never know. If we get five or six really good stories, I may go deeper into the place winners. I do that.






On the start date of the contest, May 13, 2018, and in all contest announcements, I will be showcasing our very generous First Prize Sponsor and all other sponsors and door prize sponsors. YOU CAN BE ONE!

Contact me and tell me you wanna be a sponsor, and YOUR BOOK (or your writing-related product or service) will be featured prominently throughout out contest.

The winners’ posts and profiles for the recent Word Weaver contest received over 1,750 views in just 8 days!

That’s a lot of eyeballs on your book, author!

Yes. yes it is.


NO LIMIT ON ENTRIES BY ANY ONE PERSON. You wanna enter 10 stories? Pay 10 fees. I’m totally okay with that.

You must enter an original piece of your own writing and pay the entry fee. Please don’t exceed 1000 words because you’ll be automatically eliminated from winning (but I’ll still critique your first 1000 words because I’m a nice guy). You can do it. Entries can be as short as you want. FEEL FREE  TO USE A SECTION OF YOUR UNRELEASED BOOK. (That’s what I’d do.)

THEME: NO real “theme” per se, but your story must incorporate DIALOGUE and ACTION of some sort. Don’t feel too limited. I’m pretty loose with this aspect.  Wanna have some insights into what I like? Check out some winning entries from prior contests (April, July and November) and not just the first place winners.

All entries must be submitted on or before midnight Eastern time on May 27, 2018. THAT’S ABOUT TWO WEEKS. It’s okay to enter early, but not late. There is NO restriction on genre. Go crazy. You can have love in your psycho thriller. You may submit a chapter or passage from your book if you so desire (I would – this is great publicity), but it should be an unpublished work.


You MUST submit your entry via the Contact Me button and pay your $10.00 entry fee in UNITED STATES CURRENCY (which means some of you will need to do a little math with the exchange rates), via PayPal.  (That’s the U. S. link; you will need to use the one that works for your country by doing a quick internet search for PayPal and creating an account. It’s free and easy, trust me.)

Please use the PayPal “friends and family” method to send your fee to

PLEASE SEND A WORD DOCUMENT (WordPress text and PDFs mess up the formatting). Simply send me a message using the Contact Me button saying you want to enter and I’ll email you back; from there you’ll be able to attach your piece. IF YOU DO NOT GET A REPLY WITHIN 24 HOURS, ASSUME AN EMAIL SCREW UP AND EMAIL ME AGAIN. (Not using Word? Attach it in whatever you used. If there’s a problem, I’ll let you know. But please try to use Word, okay?)


Void where prohibited. ALL entries will be subscribed to my email list. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you. (I don’t know how.) A lot of the entries’ email addresses don’t get on the list because it’s work and I’m lazy. Maybe you should save me the trouble and just sign up yourself, okay? Winners will be notified here on the blog in a big announcement, and they will be contacted by email, either by me or by the sponsor donating the prize, to make arrangements to get their prize – that might include a mailing address to deliver a paperback to. Winners who live outside of the country of the sponsor whose prize they won may be limited to a prize that can be emailed or sent electronically, like an eBook, audio book, PDF, or Amazon gift card. You still get your work published here, and the profile, etc., if you win those things, but sorry; mailing a paperback from here to Canada and other places is super expensive, so we’re letting you guys into the contest but we have to limit the costs that way. I’m sure you understand. NO LIMIT ON ENTRIES BY ANY ONE PERSON until our preset number is reached. You wanna enter 10 stories? Pay 10 fees. By entering you agree to all this stuff and that I pretty much get free reign in selecting the winners and everything else but it’s probably gonna be stuff that appealed to me. Typos matter but content matters more. The door prize winners will mostly be by random drawing and I’m not above awarding stuff to a really great fourth place entry. Or not.


unless I get an overwhelming amount of entries, and then I’ll delay that part but trust me you’ll know way in advance because I’ll be whining about it here on the blog.

You are probably a better writer than you think. Time to launch your rocket!

Tic, toc. May 27, 2018 will be here before you know it.


Like, share, reblog!

img_2351-2Your friends need to know about this contest, too.

See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazing paranormal thriller “An Angel On Her Shoulder.”  Click HERE to get your copy of Angel – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

 Available in paperback format, too!




Why YOU Should Attend A Writers’ Conference

your humble host

About two years ago, my on-line writer friends and I decided to move from critiquing each others works online and create an internet show about author topics.

Shortly thereafter, we decided to attend a writing conference together in Florida

Because it was in Florida. Where the hell else would we go?

We ultimately ALL THREE became presenters at that very same conference a year later – but the value of attending that first one wasn’t lost on me or my friends.

They both wrote about it:

And they both said something that struck me.

I was expecting them to say the FWA conference was more geared towards newer writers. It is. That’s why, as experienced writers, we applied to and became presenters the following year. (Not just because anybody can, but because we had learned things over our writing years to share to newer writers.) I will be presenting again this year.

The big take away that I didn’t expect and that I totally benefited from was…

…well, I’ll let them tell you.

Writers need to interact with their tribe.

We writers tend to be solitary creatures, and most of us are happy to stay that way. But in the interest of developing our craft and moving forward in our chosen careers, we have to get out there and talk to other writers. Network. Find out what works for them. Doing so can bring focus to your own goals – so know what those are going in! It can be figuring out what publication path to take, how to find an editor, how to develop a story, or how to increase sales, among a myriad of other possibilities.

The bottom line is this: even if all of the workshops were boring or beneath you or spoken in a foreign language, there is value in connecting with others. We don’t work in a central place like other professions. This is a chance to do that. Connect and learn from each other.

Allison Maruska (emphasis mine)


By the time the end of the weekend rolled around, I found that I benefited greatly from the very act of immersing myself in author culture. As writers, we are responsible for plugging our own work. At first, we’re the only person who CAN. It’s hard in the beginning. But, when you surround yourself with like-minded authory individuals . . . it gets easier. Because of the conference, I was able to identify a weakness–talking about Old Souls–and overcome it. I learned the importance of talking about my book with finesse…

Looking back,  I don’t think attending a writers conference is crucial to authorly growth. But, talking to other writers is 100%, absolutely essential. It’s important to surround yourself with people who have attained the kind of career you want. So, find a place where you can submerge yourself in a pool of writerly kinship.

J. A. Allen (again, emphasis mine)

There’s a HUGE benefit from immersing yourself in the writing culture with other people who are also trying to achieve writing goals.

I can’t emphasize it enough.

This past week or two, after presenting at a FWA “Focus Day,” I’ve gotten several requests for additional information from people I met there. About six now, I think.

I’m happy to help.

And one of the biggest things I can tell you is: you need to attend one of these.

Here’s the one in October, which I’ll be presenting at again this year, but if you can’t come to Florida (and really, if you can’t, you need to rethink your priorities) then find one in New Orleans or California Wine Country. Get to one that’s a Focus Day or even an online webinar.

Jenny, Allison – let’s find another one to go to! Anne Marie, what’s happening in ‘Nawlins soon?

They all help, so find one and go to it.

Write a post about what you learned and we’ll run it here.

And seriously: writing doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Use the tools that are available to you and learn all the things faster.

Word Weaver SPRINT 1

Don’t forget to enter our 1000 word writing contest!

$300 in prizes!

For more info and to sign up, click HERE

Friday FUN Time!

FB engagement meme (12)

This should be good.

I worked with an older guy who once clipped his fingernails after lunch. We shared a work space, like a table, so nail fragments were going everywhere. I told him to stop or do it in the restroom or something but not on our work space. He was surprised. I swear he was gonna take his shoes and socks off next and start in on his toes.


Post your answer in the comments section below – and have fun this weekend!

Word Weaver SPRINT 1

Don’t forget to enter our 1000 word writing contest!

$300 in prizes!

For more info and to sign up, click HERE