The rolling hills of Tuscany
The rolling hills of Tuscany

I went to Italy in March for a vacation in Tuscany and I just knew there’d be a story waiting there for me.

Recently we talked about writing better stories HERE

I wasn’t wrong, but…

I was supposed to be finishing the edits on another book and promoting yet another book. So the vacation, while much fun, fell at a bad time. But let’s face it, there’s never a good time to put your writing on hold and there’s never a bad time to go to Italy. I’m not complaining.

The food was awesome.

The wine was even awesomer. (And really inexpensive. And really good.)

The people are friendly and nice, and they speak English really well.

Then scenery is amazing. Tuscany is even pettier than you see it in pictures.

Gelato is better than pizza.

Cobblestones get old really fast.

There is a church every ten feet.

Did I mention how good the wine is?

There are a million stories if you look.

Actually, that last one… there are a million stories even if you don’t look. (SEE: “Do you write while doing the dishes?” HERE) There are stories everywhere, at home or anywhere else, if you are a writer and you have your eyes open.

Learn other cool stuff about writing better stories HERE

Good morning, neighbor who mows the lawn an 7am on Sunday morning. C'mon dude!
Good morning, neighbor who mows the lawn an 7am on Sunday morning. C’mon dude!

The neighbor taking out loads of trash bags may have killed his wife and dissected her. The creepy house at the end of the block may contain ghosts or at least a Boo Radley-ish scary guy. The homely librarian is actually a sex freak who dances at clubs at night.

Okay, that last one may just be a personal fantasy…

Anyway, I went to Italy, shopped in Venice and Milan, checked out the leaning tower of Pisa, Rome and the coliseum, saw 2000 year old castles all over Tuscany, ate too much, drank too much, and spent too – well, we didn’t spend that much.

I have a head and photo file full of great memories now.

insert shameless plug here
insert shameless plug here for upcoming novel

And some stories.

There were quite a few amazing things in Italy that inspired me to write a story containing them, and on the plane ride back to Florida by way of New York and Atlanta, I started writing them. I had 75% of the outline and three pages of story written before our wheels touched down in the good old US&A in mid-March.

Are you an outliner like me or pantser like my friend Allison?

Last night I wrote THE END.

That’s about 4 months to write 106,000 words (slow for me), and in between I wrote half of another book (How To Write Better Stories) and several dozen blog posts, and got started on my next illustrated children’s book.

And I also BS’ed with friends on Facebook chat, went to a writer’s conference, went to the beach, swam a lot with our daughter in our pool, saw her cute little dance recital – I mean, you have to live life, people!

Learn about writing better dialog HERE

As satisfying as it is to write THE END, it’s a little sad, too. There are some great characters in this story! (You guys are gonna love Sam – she’s a scream. And the beautiful assistant in Italy is one of the most memorable female characters you’ll read. SO MANY scenes will have you laughing out loud!)

Illustrations for upcoming children's book. Cool, huh?
Illustrations for upcoming children’s book. Cool, huh?

I hate to see them go. Maybe that’s why people polish their books forever. I can see that now.

Maybe that’s why they do sequels… Readers are going to want to see Sam again.

It it’s the same feeling every time I finish a book, and as much as I hate to leave my babies, there are new stories to be written. So, off they go!

Because THE END is really just THE BEGINNING.

It’s the beginning of my next book, and that one’s going to be even better, but it’s also the start of the next stage of this book.

insert shameless plug here
Another shameless plug. Hey, you’d do it.

After typing THE END on “Poggibonsi: An Italian Misadventure,” we start sending it to critique partners and beta readers, and we fold in their suggestions. It gets edited and we make those changes. It gets a book cover or three and we decide which is best. It gets sent out to be reviewed and it gets prepped to become an eBook, a paperback, and an audiobook, so there’s eBook formatting, paperback formatting (which is a little different) and picking an audiobook sample for narrators to read to you. (Do you require a southern accent? Female? Male? Young? Old? An announcer? Somebody who understands humor?) There’s foreign language distribution, audiobook auditions (that’s really fun but so time consuming) and audiobook chapters to listen to – that’s HOURs of listening folks, to find for a single word not being said right. Then there’s marketing and promotion and book signings and book fairs and radio interviews and guest blogs and – well, you get the idea. There’s a lot of stuff.

25 Tips you wish COVERMost of it I love and some of it I hate, but all of it is necessary.

Learn about what all is necessary HERE

A lot of it will be shared here and all of it will be in the upcoming book “Write Better Stories.” But if you subscribe to this blog, you won’t probably need to buy that, okay? I’m helpful that way. I’ll be walking you through the process here as we do it, and answering whatever questions you have, but if you need the info right away, I have a Marketing series that’ll get you there, too. It starts with “25 Great eBook Marketing Tips You Need To Know!” and goes on to “35 MORE Great eBook Marketing Tips You Need To Know!” Between those two and the “Write Better Stories” book about what makes your story un-put-downable, you’ll have what you need. Again, if you subscribe to this blog, you won’t probably need to buy those.

So there’s a lot to do, and right about now some of you are asking gee, how do I do all that? How do I find beta readers and a critique group and an editor and a cover design artist and…

Relax. Baby steps.

I feel like he's hinting at something.
I feel like he’s hinting at something.

It’s an insurmountable mountain when you are looking up at it, but once you’ve done it, it gets a lot easier. Take a few deep breaths. Subscribe to this blog, for starters. That’s what I’m here for, to walk you through it all and help you avoid costly mistakes. You have questions – ask them. If I don’t have the answer, I usually know somebody who does. And the Marketing books and How To books will be here for you soon, don’t worry. That’s what I do.

Time to get started.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Send it as a comment to any post or hit the Contact Me button and, you know, contact me. I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends, too.)

FOLLOW ME! I’m this helpful and funny all the time. Probably. Don’t miss another valuable bauble that falls from my fingertips. You read this far; you may actually need this stuff. SUBSCRIBE/FOLLOW TODAY (click the follow “Follow” button, above) and if you send me your email through the Contact Me button I’ll send you a free copy of my amazingly cute book “The Short Years” plus we’ll probably become friends and start hanging out and stuff.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi” – yeah, we know. We’re trying to convince him to change that title – check out his other works here and check back often for interesting stuff.

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