Did you want ME to interview YOU? Let’s get started!

Me! Me! Me!
Me! Me! Me!

If you want to do an author interview or author profile where I ask you questions and you answer them, it’s EASY!

(Authors interviews will be with people who have books for sale, but profiles can be of anyone, published or not, and other than that they’re about the same. So bloggers and newbie authors, you aren’t being left behind.)

 

A brief explanation of what’s involved is HERE

First, pick 10-20 questions from the list below that you like and want you to answer, plus one or two bonus questions, along with a few of your own that you want readers to know but I didn’t ask. Skim over the list, we’ll be adding to it all the time.

 

Send the questions with your witty, interesting answers to me at my email address or use the CONTACT ME button

 

Then I’ll go over them and ask my follow ups, or we can use it as is! I like getting on Facebook chat and being silly, so we may do some of that.

 

Include your website, blog links, Amazon link, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter handle, etc, a picture or two of you, one of the book, or anything else you think is relevant. Not your cat. No cats. You in a hammock, fine. You with the cat, NOT FINE! What part of “no cats” don’t you get??? Bikini pics optional, especially if you’re a big hairy dude. I’m not saying no, but use restraint. If you’re a paddleboarder and you wanna show that side of you, which we’ve done, it’s relevant. Throw it in. Too many pics = use separate emails to send them. Or direct me to your Facebook site and we’ll pick a few together. I won’t sandbag you with embarrassing personal pics. Probably.

 

Maybe not that relaxed.
Maybe not that relaxed.

Be yourself in your answers; be relaxed, be funny or be serious, but have fun with it. It’s for entertainment purposes. Let readers inside the real you a little. Search “interview” on my blog for some of the silly examples of fun interviews we’ve already done.

 

Then, on the release day of the interview, post and re-blog and ask your friends to reblog and tweet the link and post it on Facebook – so the whole world sees you being YOU!

 

HERE’S THE LIST

  1. What is the working title of your next book?
  1. Where did the idea come from for the book?
  1. Which is the more important of these two: write drunk, edit sober?
  1. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
  1. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
  1. Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

    Ooh, there are drinks?
    Ooh, there are drinks?
  1. What makes you so damn interesting anyway?
  1. What is the best part about being an indie (or traditional) author for you?
  1. What’s something most readers would never guess about you?
  1. Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?
  1. Why do some authors sell well and others don’t? (Indie or otherwise, but indie if possible)
  1. What’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea? Describe in detail. Inquiring minds want to know!
  1. What’s the oddest or most awkward or embarrassing research you’ve had to do?
Hello!
Hello!
  1. How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
  1. Can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you even turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer?
  1. What “person” do you like to write in? First Person, Third Person, etc. – and why?
  1. I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
  1. If you have a blog, how did that start?
  1. How do you decide on a title for your book?
  1. What do you d of or cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist (you can name names if you liked them), or purchase premade?
  1. How has you experience with editors been (you can name names if you liked you editor)?
  1. What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
  1. Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position!

    Outline??? Where's the creativity?
    Outline??? Where’s the creativity?
  1. What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?
  1. What was your road to publication like?
  1. What advice can you give new authors?
  1. Who or what helped you the most getting started?
  1. What’s a good writing secret or time management secret?
  1. Where in the process do you create the story’s title? Do start with it? Do you know it before you begin? Before you end? Elsewhere?
  1. What inspires you?
  1. What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?
  1. Coffee addict? Name your poison.

    I must have structure!
    I must have structure!
  1. What’s your favorite food?
  1. Have you ever been recognized by a fan in public for your writing, or when was the first time a fan came up to you in public (not an author event or signing)?
  1. What’s your favorite social media?
  1. Which project took you farthest out of your comfort zone?
  1. What’s one thing that send you completely off the rails when you’re writing?
  1. How do you develop characters?
  1. Do you have author friends (in person or online you confide in and share ideas with? Feel free to name names.
  1. How much structure is in your story before you start writing it?

    I wing a lot of it!
    I wing a lot of it!
  1. How many story ideas are in your “good ideas” file? What are some of them?
  1. What is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?
  1. If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?
  1. Best book to movie you’ve seen?
  1. What are you three favorite books by other authors?
  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
  1. Do you hate cats?
  1. In a story we are often asked to create images for the reader that we may not have experienced ourselves. When have you had to do that?

    Is this the best interview or what?
    Is this the best interview or what?
  1. Tell us about yourself. Who IS the real (your name)? And not typical the boring bio stuff. The dirt. Like, when was the last time you did laundry?
  1. What’s a favorite quote of anyone besides you, and one from you?
  2. Most writers are a bit shy. Is that how your friends would describe you (shy), or do you have your readers fooled?
  3. Did you ever have a job where they were strict about shined shoes and stuff?
  4. Is tea a big deal over in England like they make it seem in Downton Abbey? (My wife watches, not me.)
  5. How playful are you? Is your REAL Facebook page much more revealing about sides of you that people won’t know from your blog posts or books? Is there a double life thing going on?
  6. (If you are a traditionally published author) Was it a big exciting thing to get signed by your publisher? How did you celebrate?
  7. (If you are an indie author) How hard was it to hit that “Publish” button the first time and send your book into the world? Looking back, what can you tell new authors about that experience?
  8. Have you ever spent time with anyone famous? Was there any ransom involved?
  9. What was the most fun interview you’ve done and why?

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Remember, the more unique and personal the answers, the more interesting to readers, usually. If you’re all into quilting, maybe keep that to yourself, but that time in college you got drunk and skydived naked into a volcano? They’ll wanna hear about that. But naked skydiving or not, readers wanna know what makes you YOU, and that’s usually pretty interesting!

If you have a question you’d like an author to answer and you don’t see it here, ADD IT  in the comments section!

I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours: An Exercise in Show Versus Tell

We are not above immature ploys!
We are not above immature ploys!

I know, that title is childish – but it got your attention, didn’t it? That’s a lesson re-reminded to me from the “Blogger’s Butt” post we ran yesterday. A good, catchy title brings readers to your post. Remember that. Sometimes I forget.

You guys often get all excited when I explain a particular aspect of storytelling, and I like to make you happy (even if other people think it’s dull) so here’s an example of a critique I did recently. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (maybe), but this is a really interesting story that I’ve taken a sample of to show you my critique process and a few points on SHOWING VERSUS TELLING.

Trust me, it's not that bad.
Trust me, it’s not that bad.

If you join a critique group, keep in mind that each reader brings their own likes and dislikes to your story, and not everyone will get it – same as with readers when they go to buy your finished book, with some differences. What appeals to a custom cabinet maker in California may not be what appeals to a retired chemistry teach in Michigan, but they both might read your story. Your blurb and cover design will help rope the right audience, but some things appeals to everyone.

(We recently discussed blurbs HERE – they are super important!)

Show Versus Tell – NOT what you did in kindergarten.

Let the reader see the scene. Describe it. When you show what’s happening, you are putting us there in the moment as readers, using our senses; we get a better feel for the story and characters. We are part of the scene as it is happening, and we immerse ourselves more in your story – making it more interesting and harder to put down.

An example is when Chekhov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Yeah, do that.

The internet can occasionally be helpful!
The internet can occasionally be helpful!

If your search for the term “show versus tell in storytelling,” you’ll get a lot of articles that explain this in a lot of detail and that give examples. Read some of them, but develop your style for it. Watch for how your favorite authors do it. Now that you’re aware, you’ll see it – or not see it, I guess, if it’s done well.

Okay, here’s the story and the critique notes in bold. I try to be friendly, light, and informative, but just as often I’ll ask questions I’m thinking at that moment like a reader might be thinking in their mind, and I’ll make comments a reader might be thinking, too. This is helpful as play-by-play feedback, letting the author know you are getting the material or not. I am also very lax in capital letters, punctuation and spelling in critiques, cos I’m lazy.

This is a long post, but it’s worth it to see how things unfold.

Well, maybe that last one...
Critique-ers can be nice, friendly, helpful folks!

REMEMBER: each critique will bring a different perspective. By receiving several as you’re writing, you can appeal to a wider range of reader or hone in on a specific type. You’ll get differing opinions on how to address a problem so you can make a choice that feels best to you. My suggestions are just my ideas. Somebody else might have a better one. Use it!

Here’s the story:

.

Simone was sitting at the table in the small kitchen of the flat. She had a glass of wine in front of her and a cup of what we called coffee but was really a blend of chicory and acorns taking alternate sips of each.

“That’s an interesting breakfast.” I straightened the skirt of my uniform waiting for her to acknowledge my presence.

She shrugged and took another sip from her wineglass. We had been living on a small inheritance from our mother but it was hardly an inexhaustible source of income. I was focused on my work, but Simone had been distant and unmotivated since her last love affair had come to an end even though there was a long line of replacement suitors. We shared a phone in the hallway with six other tenants and were most unpopular as the majority of calls were for Simone. She went out most nights but came back at varying hours of the morning saying little to nothing to me about her personal life. Simone was much more French than I was.

 

Isn’t wine glass two words?

This paragraph is a bit tell-y. I’d give one or two details here, but more casual and save the rest for later

for example:


We had been living on a small inheritance from our mother but it was hardly an inexhaustible source of income.
Why’s that important to know now? Lingering resentment that you work and’s doing whatever? dig in a bit, Maybe with some conversation.

as you get ready: “Mom’s inheritance isn’t going to last forever.”
“Hah. That pittance.”

established the inheritance (obviously from a deceased mother), that it’s not a lot, and that they disagree about how to live using it, or whatever else you want to imply. You can also say it was a stale conversation you’d gone over a thousand times before

and this:
“Are you still upset about Harry? It’s been three months. And from the number of phone calls you get, there is no shortage of replacement suitors, princess.”
“Oh, everyone knows all about my social life, don’t they? Maybe if we didn’t share a hallway phone with have six other tenants…”

Then the comment about most nights

This folds it in and makes it seem less like a big gulp of information, much more digestible, to my eye

I sat down and poured myself a cup of the same liquid. I looked at my sister over the rim, noticing her smudged mascara, the slight paleness of her lips and red tinge under her nose as if she had been crying, although I discarded that thought immediately for Simone rarely wept. Even after suffering the dissipations of the morning after a late night she was still strikingly beautiful and I had to stifle the usual streak of jealousy I felt in my stomach. She acted her usual aloof self and didn’t meet my eyes once. Was she coming down with a cold?

 

This is good, but imply the jealousy, don’t tell it straight out

Sisters will have ideas about each other. you can show her semi-jealousy without stating it. Assume your reader is smart, and if there’s jealousy it’ll come cross in the tone they take with each other.

However,
Even after suffering the dissipations of the morning after a late night she was still strikingly beautiful (damn her)

She acted her usual aloof self and didn’t meet my eyes once.
that statement implies jealousy.

Also, you can google jealousy or signs of jealousy, and have our characters do those things. Readers will pick up on it.

too pretty/always trying to look good
too many phone calls
active social life

I think they’ll get it.

 

“Well, see you tonight then.” I stood up.

She looked up and her eyes focused on me for the first time. “Oh, good bye Sylvie.”

I turned back after opening the door but she just gave me a dismissive wave of her hand. I didn’t bother with my coat but put up my umbrella for it had started to rain early in the morning, although it was a light shower. There was the usual Friday traffic. The footpath was filled with people as I turned from White Hart Lane to the much more crowded Whitehall where I worked. There were men and women in uniform as well as mothers pushing prams, older couples on their way to the shops, young girls traveling to school, and other assorted people going about their lives as best they could considering the perilous times.

this definitely reads as icy, but when you say “dismissive wave of her hand,” imagine you doing that, or somebody doing it to you. Think about what you see and describe that. Maybe they hold the newspaper up in front if their eyes, don’t look at you, wave their hand – THAT SHOWS the dismissiveness without TELLING it, and brings your reader in much more.

I started my routine typing after reaching my office, noting that my boss Colonel Hastings, was not in as yet, a common occurrence of late where previously he had been implicitly punctual. There was an air of something different over the past few months with him, for Colonel Hastings, always friendly and jovial, had become positively secretive. He had taken to staring at me when he thought I wasn’t looking and his expression was pensive as if he wanted to tell me something but was holding back. I took it personally thinking he was dissatisfied with my work and I was about to be transferred, although it had always been satisfactory.

it is said we don’t start to do things, we just do them. So maybe she assembles some paper and whatever. I can go either way on it

I started my routine typing after reaching my office, noting that my boss Colonel Hastings, was not in as yet, a common occurrence of late where previously he had been implicitly punctual.

maybe try:

I started my routine typing after reaching my office. Colonel Hastings, was not in as yet.

That’s becoming more and more common.

occurrence of late where previously he had been implicitly punctual.(implied)

Later she can refer to him as boss, but I think him being a Colonel it’ll be assumed if she is readying herself for typing. See? In my mind, the officer doesn’t type, the underling does – saying it without saying it again

He entered the office. We dispensed with saluting, an understanding we had between ourselves unless joined by a superior. He appeared tense as he bid me good morning, the furrow I had come to recognize between his eyebrows. His blue eyes were bloodshot and rimmed with black circles in contrast to his pale complexion. I was alarmed. Was everything was all right with his family?

We dispensed with saluting, an understanding we had between ourselves unless joined by a superior.
and this cements the work chain of command

He appeared tense
what does that look like? Darting eyes, sweaty upper lip, fidgeting with papers, tugging at his collar or necktie?

It was his custom to greet me, perhaps exchange a few words, and then continue into his office. Instead he paused, moved aside the files I was working on and actually sat down on my desk, a completely unprecedented event.

some of this reads as very formal. not good or bad, just an interesting style thing. if the author’s tone is more formal when the character is at work and less so at home, that’s a neat technique

“Sylvie, in a few moments I’m expecting a young man. When he comes in I want to speak to you both.” He blinked three times in quick succession, a thing he only did when he was concentrating or annoyed. I wasn’t sure which it was.

three is a but technical. it may or may not work. Why not say several times and keep the explanation. It’s something she’d know about her boss, but three reads as too exact to my eye

 

“Yes, sir. May I ask his name, sir?”

“His name?”

“Yes, the name of the young man.”

“Oh of course, forgive me. His name is Andrew. Andrew Le Claire.”

I was confused. “But Colonel Hastings, that’s my surname. Is he related to me?”

that’s my surname.
he would know this, readers will quickly get it

 

“No, Sylvie, but he will be.”

With that mysterious comment he left me, open mouthed, his last sentence resounding in my ears like an echo. It was impossible to just carry on with my typing but I made an attempt. After three errors in the first paragraph alone, I paused trying to calm myself. What could Colonel Hastings possibly mean by those cryptic comments about the man named Andrew?

good question

As if in answer to my query the door opened. He was indeed a young man, older than myself but not by many years, likely twenty-seven or eight to my twenty-five. He was dressed somewhat formally in the clothes of a businessman, although he could never be mistaken for one. The knot of the tie was crooked, and all the buttons of his jacket and coat were open in a carelessness that implied he was dressed like that by necessity, not choice. He had fine features, a wide, easy smile, full lips for a man, and a lock of dark hair that fell across the left side of his forehead. He was carrying the newspaper opened to the crossword that was half solved. He had a way of holding himself that was not military at all, an aura I found refreshing and confusing at the same time.

this description is good. unlike the earlier one, which seemed info-dumpy, we’d expect her to spend some time taking in this stranger under these circumstances.

“Hello.” His voice was quite lovely, somewhere between tenor and baritone. “I’m Andrew.”

lovely tends to be a British term

I stood up, the top of my head came to about his cheekbones. “Sylvie Le Claire.” I extended my hand but instead of the shake I was expecting, I got a formal bow that contrasted ridiculously with his demeanor. He took my proffered hand so I wouldn’t look like a complete fool and pressed it into both of his own. He continued in a polite string of perfect French to which I answered him in the same language.

now, if she thinks he’s good looking, she can say she came up to his impossibly handsome cheekbones, although if you said that I’d probably get on you about it, but you take my point

show us a few French words. it adds to the ambiance and shows us she knows French without having to tell us

“Bienvenidio, madame.”
“Merci”
“Aah, cest speak francias?”
“Oui, messieur.”
“Blah biddy blah blah about the recent weather”
“Reply in French about I prefer it warmer”
smiles
the colonel interrupts

Colonel Hastings interrupted by opening his door. “Well I see that you have met each other then. Splendid. Please come in, both of you.”

don’t tell us he interrupts. we see it. another possibility:

He took my hand. “Bonjour, mademoiselle.”
“Merci.”
He smiled. “Oh, vous parlez français?”
“Je suis du Québec.”
“La météo est toujours cette agréable?”
“This cool weather is unusual for us. I prefer it warmer.”
The colonel cleared his throat. “Well, I see…

See? (French words and odd markings compliments of Google translate)

 

Andrew stood aside to allow me to precede him. We sat opposite Colonel Hastings who pursed his lips and didn’t look directly at either of us. Andrew leaned back in his chair, the puzzle open on his lap while I sat straight without moving. I clasped my palms together surprised that they were moist.

“Forgive me for all the cloak-and-dagger Sylvie, but what I’m about to explain to you is in the highest confidence.”

“Of course, sir,” I crossed my legs. Most of our work was classified.

period after sir

 

“Let me start by asking you how long it’s been since you have seen your father?”

That was probably the last question I was prepared to be asked but I decided to answer without inquiring the reasons. “About ten years, although my sister visits every year or so, at least she did until the occupation.”

I’d break this up.
That was probably the last question I was prepared to be asked. I decided to answer without inquiring the reasons.

it gives us readers a pause at the period, making it feel like she’s contemplating her answer.

 

“I see. And your step mother?”

“My step mother? You mean Colette?”

He nodded. I didn’t speak out of bewilderment so he leaned a little forward. “Go on, Sylvie.”

“The same amount of time I suppose. They only married recently after the death of my mother but have known each other many years.”

“Did you know she had a son that lives here in England?”

Aha! I knew it. The England part, not the son.

see, and that is an example of showing not telling. We pick that up contextually and confirm it like this.

 

I was starting to have an inkling what the conversation was possibly about, but instead of looking at Andrew, I kept my eyes on my boss. “Yes although I don’t really remember him. I believe Simone, my sister, is acquainted with him but I’m afraid my father and I are somewhat estranged, so I’ve lost track of the family.”

“Yes, well her son was at Oxford some years ago reading mathematics but never finished his studies. He was recruited to a special branch when war broke out. I’m not at liberty to discuss it more than that.”

“That’s all very interesting sir, but I don’t see—“

“Andrew is Colette’s son and for our purposes, your brother.”

“Andrew is Colette’s son – and for our purposes, your brother.”

(more dramatic)

Dun, dun, dunnn!

 

I turned toward Andrew and saw him in a new light. Of course, I now remembered his name was Andre. There was a resemblance to my step mother around the eyes, but not in the color for Andrew’s were greenish while his mother’s were dark brown, it was more to do with the shape. I thought he might lean forward and kiss me on both cheeks, but he sufficed with winking, a gesture I thought odd for a man I had just met. “Enchante.” The newspaper rustled on his lap.

I had the feeling the two of them were in a conspiracy about something, as if I had walked into a room and everyone had stopped talking. Colonel Hastings cleared his throat. “Let me explain from the beginning what the proposal is.”

“Proposal?” My oblivion was embarrassing.

He went on to say how for the past few months he had been working on a special project and was currently recruiting suitable people to infiltrate occupied France and become operatives of an organization of which I had never heard called the Special Operations Executive. He thought of me because of my familiarity with the language and the fact that I would be able to blend in without arousing suspicion.

“We want you to return to Sainte Victoire where you will be reunited with your father at his café. Andrew will be at the farm his mother owns and you will both be couriers among other things.”

I was too shocked to ask him to elaborate.

“I know it’s a lot to take on board. You would be doing a great service to your country, both of you. We have intelligence that a certain officer whose father is a high ranking Nazi frequents Sainte Victoire, it being his assigned territory if you will. The man is known to be careless and might be persuaded to let certain important information slip if properly handled.”

You know, I rarely read author notes because they can give stuff away, but this had a definite WWII feel to it, probably from the formality of speech and things like a typewriter, the hall phone, etc. Good job of getting me there.

 

I had to laugh at that. If Colonel Hastings was looking for a femme fatale he had the wrong person in me. “My abilities at that type of thing are sorely lacking, sir.”

“I think you underestimate yourself Sylvie, but we have another role in mind for you. We were considering someone else for the part of…of becoming friendly with the enemy.”

A sudden pain hit my temples as the realization struck me. “Simone.” My voice was almost a whisper.

good job with this!

Okay, and although you can’t really end here (it was too soon in the story), you can see how ending here would be an amazing page turner/cliff hanger, right?

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END OF SAMPLE AND COMMENTARY

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See? Critiques aren’t so scary!

Okay, you saw mine; now show me yours! What ideas would you bring to this story, or what thoughts of mine did you find helpful? All opinions count equally!

.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

Beware of Blogger’s Butt!

How can I NOT re-blog something called “Beware of Blogger’s Butt”?

Well, I couldn’t. And although it’s a serous topic, I knew it was perfect for your Tuesdaymorning. You’re welcome. The title alone is a smile, isn’t it? Hey, you get writing tips here and this is a good one – gotta stay healthy or the writing will be short lived.

Anyway, I’ll be going on a FIELD TRIP with the new Kindergarteners today. Wish me luck, and enjoy Kelly’s blog.

Is Twitter effective for selling books? Social Media Explained.

or is ANY social media effective?
or is ANY social media effective?

Occasionally I see an author struggling with social media (aren’t we all) and it seems like we all have some of the same questions. Here’s a sample I saw on a friend’s blog recently.

Is Twitter effective at all as far as selling books? The fleeting posts are quickly buried within a matter of seconds. I can see only two ways it might help: possibly developing friendships with the exchange of RT’s, and using a hashtag that might get you noticed by the right people. However, regarding networking, Facebook seems like a far more effective tool. At least, that’s been my experience, though I could be wrong!

.

The answers to how effective any form of social media is, as always, is: it depends.

What do I want?
What do I want?

What do you want from it, and what is it designed for? In other words, don’t drive your car into a lake and hope it will function well as a boat.

Here’s what I do; your experience may be different.

I have a handful of people I email with. I have less than a dozen I spend “quality time” with on Facebook (chatting or whatever, as opposed to going through and reading and liking my friends posts). I have over 12,000 followers on Twitter but I chat with very few each day. It’s just not possible for me to chat with 12,000 people in any meaningful way. I think most follow because they enjoy the content I put out, and if they say something witty, I try to reply in kind, but realistically with 12,000 I probably won’t even see it. If I follow Stephen King, it’s just to see what he talks about on occasion; if I follow Jenny, it’s to interact and be supportive.

And there’s the difference. When I had just a few followers on Twitter, it was easy to interact.

The love will show.
The love will show.

In the end, do the social media you enjoy. Try different ones and stick with what works for you. Right now, for me, that’s my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – in that order as far as where my efforts go. As far as which I enjoy, it’s Facebook #1, then my blog, then Twitter as a very distant third, then Instagram if I think about it – and I don’t (I have a reminder in my Outlook schedule that says “do something on Instagram.”

I check FB 20x daily at least; I need a reminder to check Instagram).

I LOVE chatting with my author friends on Facebook more than almost anything else. I love my blog and its great readers. I like Twitter much less but I’m still learning what it’s capable of. I’ll focus on Instagram one of these days but not soon.

What have these various social medias done for me?

Typical Facebook post from me.
Typical Facebook post from me.

Facebook lets me laugh and joke and help and support and be supported by people who I consider friends. We share writing advice and work on marketing ideas like business partners, and we sometimes discuss problems completely unrelated to writing, like vacations or issues at school. If they come to town, we are going out for drinks. Posting on Facebook publicly helped me decide about which book cover to use, among many other things.

Twitter helps me find new friends, but mostly it helps me be a cheerleader for other authors. When I posted about beta readers, I got 20 in about 2 days (I needed maybe six). When I connect with somebody on Twitter, we eventually evolve over to email  or Facebook. To me, Twitter is a big net with a broad range and the connect ratio is therefore very small – but it exists, and a small percent of lots and lots of people is still lots and lots of people.

Hello? Sales?
Hello? Sales?

The blog is where I ask the Twitter followers to connect. I talk about the blog in my Tweets and some folks go there to see what I’m up in arms about. If they like what they see, they follow the blog and begin to comment or reblog, while I reblog and comment with them. It’s more writing oriented but we talk about anything. If I have an issue with doing laundry, I’ll post about it on the blog, but typically that’d go on Facebook.

Instagram is currently receiving the top tweet from the prior day, with an author-themed image or meme, and occasionally pictures of me and the fam on a vacation or at Busch Gardens.

In other words, I put out what I’d like to receive.

I can't be all things to all people!
I can’t be all things to all people!

I’m not an autograph hound or celebrity follower, but technology has allowed me to correspond with certain people I’d never have been able to connect with as a kid. That’s what I try to be for people. I’m not a celebrity (except to my five year old daughter, and yes I’m going to milk that as long as I can because one day Dad won’t be cool), I just play one on the interwebs, and I try to be what I’d like my “heroes” to be. Friendly, helpful, and funny. A good resource on my blog. A good friend on Facebook. A witty comment on Twitter. A real person out having fun when I appear on Instagram

I'd like to buy these, please.
I’d like to buy these, please.

Does it sell books? Sure. But if you think that’s a fast or easy process, it’s not. Ads sell books (if they’re good ads) much faster. But adds don’t tell me how I made a reader cry, or how I transported them back in time to when their adult children were magically their babies again, or how they turned pages so fast they stayed up til 4am because they had to know what happened next in a story, or how I helped talk them off the ledge when they were frustrated, or inspired them to…

Well, you get the idea.

To me, building a platform – which is what social media is for authors who want to sell – is a long term arrangement. To me, it’s that girl who wants a relationship, not a one night stand. What I want from my platform might be different from what you want, and what works for you will be different from what works for me. (Although maybe try not to be the drunk guy at the bar trying to get laid on the first date.) What your readers want from you will be different from want mine want from me – maybe.

That’s the part we all have to figure out for ourselves.

What do YOU do with social media, and how’s it working?

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or 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.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

How To Find Your Voice

scared%20momOne of the most unique things about a writer is his or her own unique way of saying the things they want said. Their voice.

We expand on aspects of this “voice” thing, HERE

And while I and everyone else will tell you to develop your own unique voice, nobody really tells you where to find it or how to develop it.

Until now.

Your voice is largely a manifestation of your personality.

When you watch a TV show, what types of jokes make you laugh?

Who was the funny parent in your household? Usually it’s the dad. What was something you could always say to your dad that would make him laugh, or what was a funny thing that happened that you did that busted dad up?

If you could watch any two or three movies in the entire world that were ever made and snap your fingers and have them be on TV right now, what movies would they be?

Who’s the better band, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

Do you care what the Kardashians are doing?

These things add up. Bear with me.

I can find it, I know I can. I wrote 35,000 words this weekend. IT'S IN THERE SOMEWHERE!
I can find it, I know I can. I wrote 35,000 words this weekend. IT’S IN THERE SOMEWHERE!

About Voice in Writing…

When you read a book are there certain phrases that jump out at you? Like when Hemingway starts The Old Man And The Sea or The Sun Also Rises, did you love the fun, rambling prose or did you find it intense and terse?

The things that you like and the choices that you make are what will create your voice when you sit down to write things – if you can relax, be yourself, and let them.

I love comedies. When I go to write a comedy, I don’t steal lines from my favorite movies, but the ones that made me laugh are certainly going to be the ones that I’m going to emulate – the same way that a baseball player might want to emulate his favorite pro player. Do you want to be like Babe Ruth or Pete Rose (without the illegal gambling thing, and the whole “banned for life” stuff)?

The idea is, your whole life you’ve been collecting things that make you unique in your personality, and you demonstrate them in lots of ways…

When you’re done chatting with somebody on Facebook for the night, how do you say goodbye? Do you use a thumbs up emoticon to say you’re done? Do you use emoticons at all? (I typically do not because I always hit the wrong one because I have clumsy thumbs and I end up flipping off somebody when I’m trying to wave at them or whatever – I don’t even know ‘cause I don’t use emoticons!)

When you put your kid to bed at night is there something you always say? Or do you always do a prayer?

Do you pray before you eat dinner when you are at a restaurant in public?

Happy birthday!
Happy birthday!

Do you sing happy birthday when everybody else is, or do you just kind of lip synch – or are you leading the pack?

Those types of things are what should manifest your voice in your stories

When you go to describe a tree, you’re going to do it the way you love reading it. So if that was Hemingway, you’re going to write it in a Hemingway-esque style.

Same with a sunset or whatever. You may decide trees and sunsets are not worth describing your story. In which case that will be your voice, the lack of descriptions.

People who read my stories typically feel a voice within the first chapter. They will say I love children, I don’t do a lot of describing of stuff, but when I do I take a picture and I put you there like I am placing a beautifully detailed postcard in front your face. As a result, the contrast tends to stick out.

What's not to love?
What’s not to love?

Because I love children, my characters’ interactions with children are unique and memorable, and mainly they’re memorable in that they’re often funny. I think kids say cute things so my characters’ conversations with children tend to emphasize and highlight the cute things kids say.

Somebody else who loves cats might really take a long time to talk about a cat. I won’t. Ever.

The easiest wait for me to tell you to see your voice would be to go into one of your chats on Facebook with one of your close friends. Could be a friend from high school, could be an author friend, it could be in emails, it could be on Twitter.

Grab one of your conversations that goes back-and-forth. If you ever talk to somebody for more than five minutes on Twitter or any other social media, more than likely you started exhibiting your personality in your words.

That is your voice.

I wonder, would that work?
I wonder, would that work?

What kinds of questions you ask them, what kind of answers you gave, the topics you chose to talk about, the time of day or night that it was, and how open and honest you wanted to be; if you were to take that section going back and forth between the two of you and copy-paste it into a MS Word document, you would see your voice.

You may not even recognize it because it’s so close to you.

On the other hand, I bet 10 of your friends would be able to read it and say that is definitely something Dan would say.

Or more likely something Dan should not be saying.

The point is, we express ourselves constantly as writers – in our voice.

How you develop it is, you practice it. Not every character can or should have your identical voice. They will all have a hint of it, because you are the author, but you can usually have one character who is the embodiment of each facet/multiple facets of your personality. The witty person is going to be the funny you. The sarcastic person is going to be sarcastic you. The thoughtful character is going to be the thoughtful you.

I despise you, character!
I despise you, character!

Then of course there will be characters you find the opposite of you, or whose characteristics you despise – that you despise, not that everyone would despise. Because it’s your decision as to what is despicable, and therefore another part of your voice.

Like some people would find the use of the phrase “as to what” despicable, and others wouldn’t use the word despicable. That’s part of my voice, using big words (appropriately).

So while they were all you, they’re also made up; you’re not going to have them embody your most embarrassing aspects, probably – although if it’s rolled into the character you have to be brave enough to do it and put it on display. People will think you made it up. They don’t need to know that you actually did slip and fall on the staircase and break your tailbone and have to walk around like a pigeon for six weeks

And, no, that did not happen to me. As far as you know.

It really didn’t.

Really.

It did not!

The more you write, the more your voice will manifest itself until one day you’ll see it in your writing as plain as the nose on your face.

If you ever have any doubts about where to find it, now you know where to look.

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or 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.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

What’s In It For YOU? (A Lot)

Not me but you get the idea.
Not me but you get the idea.

I had this idea and when I bounced it off my author friend (okay, it was Allison), she thought it was decent, and usually ANY positive affirmation is all I need to forge ahead with something – often not even that… so…

I Have A New Blog Plan TO FEATURE MORE OF YOU GUYS

Yawn.

Okay, try to stay awake. This is all about YOU. Mostly.

I need to help 100 of you become successful and famous so I’ll have 100 people trying to make me famous. Rich, too, if we can swing that. I need a yacht.

There are seven days in a week and I have been hogging them all.

Also not me but this is how busy I am. Probably.
Also not me but this is how busy I am. Probably.

Which is fine, frankly. It’s my damn blog. But I often talk about helping YOU guys, and although I do it a lot, I can do more.

I was thinking of continuing to post my regular, helpful, amusing as hell author-oriented posts on Sundays and Mondays. Unlike a lot of other blogs, I don’t recycle/rehash old posts very often (and maybe I should – there’s some great stuff in the archives).

My most popular posts have been “how-to” stuff, and as long as I keep reading work from new authors there will be no shortage of that for twice a week. So that is what I will focus on: Helping Writers Writer Better Written Stuff.

Not that relaxed.
Not that relaxed.

Maybe Fridays could become something relaxed, like interviews with other authors (you), highlighting their interests and things they struggled with that we all struggle with. An author profile, so to speak. We’ve done a few of those, and they’re fun. Good for a Friday. I’d send you a set of interview questions, you’d answer them, I’d ask some follow up stuff, and we’d run it with some pictures. Try to be interesting if you can. If you’ve read any interviews I’ve done, readers enjoy the humor, but they equally LOVE the parts where you tell about your struggle or ways you work through typical author problems. Just be yourself.

I read a lot of blogs
I read a lot of blogs

On Wednesdays and Saturdays I would do a selected reblog of something I read and liked during the week. Again, something helpful and authorey, from anywhere on the interwebs, but I’d love to feature stuff from any of the hundreds and hundreds of my amazing followers/subscribers’ blogs. Worst case, I take one of my old blog posts that was popular and rerun it.

If you’re scoring along at home, that leaves Tuesday and Thursday.

Drum roll, please…

We like your stuff!
We like your stuff!

I think Tuesdays and Thursdays would be great to have a GUEST BLOGGER. Again, that would be one of you, my dear readers. Not a “buy my book post,” but since a LOT of you have really great blogs and have encountered your own bits of knowledge along the way, I’d love for you to share them here. This would be a post you write specifically for my readership, so you’d send it to me first to ensure you aren’t secretly posting plans to overthrow the government or Facebook or something.

Overall we’d increase content here to seven days a week (it was, like, five before), but we’d be casting a wider net and reaching more people and talking about more topics – that helps you!

We’d be featuring you in interviews and profiles and guest blogs – that helps you!

You’d like and share and Tweet and post on Facebook and reblog, which gives your site more content and exposure – because every day, I tweet about what’s happening on my blog to over 13,000 Twitter followers – which helps you!

What do you think?

This idea is borderline brillaint, Dan!
This idea is borderline brillaint, Dan!

I think this idea rocks.

It’ll give lots of exposure to lots of people and generate more followers and fans for both of us. That helps me and you!

So? How do we join this fabulous new venture?

Glad you asked.

And yes, I mean YOU. I want ALL of you do help or this will fall flat on its face.

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Here’s the list of what we’ll be running:

  • SUNDAY – Dan will post a new, author-oriented “how to” post. Or something.
  • MONDAY – Dan will again post a new, author-oriented “how to” post.
  • TUESDAY – GUEST BLOGGER day
  • WEDNESDAY – I’ll select a reblog from the internet*
  • THURSDAY – GUEST BLOGGER day
  • FRIDAY – author interviews and profiles of YOU GUYS
  • SATURDAY – I’ll select a reblog from the internet again* or one of my old classic ones

Asterisk * that can be one from you guys, too

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CLICK HERE for the preliminary interview questions.

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Here’s how you send the content:

If you click the CONTACT ME button, it’ll come right to me. Write your information in there. If you have my email, you can email me. You can also post below and tell me what an awesome ideas this is. You should be a subscriber of this blog or it won’t be so good for your application, okay? Just saying. I’ll be helping people who play ball first.

You can also share this post with your friends who are good bloggers and authors who you think need some exposure.

So? Does this idea rock? (I have no issue opening this up to the whole wide world, but for now let’s keep it limited to my loyal subscribers. You guys are helping me; I wanna help you)

Can you think of other ways we can highlight you guys and your wonderful content here?

 

Let me know, comment below!

Self-Pub Discrimination: Deserved or Unfair?

There’s so much truth here, you need to open your eyes and soak it in. Do your best with your story and make sure you don’t accidentally relegate your work to the “bad” pile by including mistakes that are easily found by an editor – as in, somebody other than you, and hopefully a professional! And if you can’t get a professional, get a nitpicky friend who does a good job. You usually can’t edit yourself.