3 Tips For Staying Motivated (Because You Think You Suck And Are Worthless As A Writer, a.k.a You Are A Writer)

Your humble host.
your humble host

A friend of mine recently wrote a post about staying motivated. She is what she referred to as an “aspiring” author. Personally, I consider her very good author; she’s just not published yet.

Quitting: The Lesson of Murden’s Lawn

When my wife and I first got married, to save up money for a house we tried to find odd jobs. We both had full time jobs but we wanted to make more money faster for a deposit.

(Learn about writing better action scenes HERE)

The business I was in at the time allowed me to be in many, many people’s homes during the week, and one nice house I was in belonged to a firefighter. I asked him,

“Not to be rude, but how does a firefighter have a house like this?”

Me and the Mrs., then we changed clothes and mowed a lawn.
Me and the Mrs., then we changed clothes and mowed a lawn.

He explained that he had a lawn mowing business on the side. Because of their work schedule, firefighters have lots of free hours, and he said in Florida there’s no shortage of people wanting somebody else to mow the lawn.

He and I chatted for a bit and I said, “You know, you’re in New Port Ritchie; I’m in Tampa. I don’t think I’d be a competitor to you if I started mowing lawns.” His reply was generous as well as inspiring.

“There is so much business out there, there’s plenty for ALL of us.

I never forgot that.

A couple of days later I made up some flyers and I was out canvassing small neighborhoods – to mow lawns. Any lawn, $10.

(I did say they were small neighborhoods, meaning the houses were really close together and they had tiny little yards. $10 was not a great price to charge but it was a great price to be charged, and before we knew it, we had lots of customers.

In fact, before I even had a lawnmower I had my first customer. I scheduled the lawn for Saturday morning and on Friday night I went out and bought a lawnmower – on credit, from a department store.

Amazon top reviewer Grady Harp gave Poggibonsi 5 STARS! Grab your copy HERE

Well, my wife and I spent the summer happily mowing lawns, and at some point she decided “This is not how I want to make my money.” The Florida sun is very hard on the skin, and she didn’t want to look like she was 60 when she was only 25. Fair enough.

Right around that same time, we got a referral who said,

“My friend has a very large lawn that is completely overgrown; will you do the job?

You don’t have to charge $10.”

Being a man of principle, I insisted: my rate is $10 – for anyone.

(The idea was, once we get out there and showed you how good we were for 10 bucks, we would negotiate a fair price to continue to mow the lawn every week. For the little tiny postage stamps lawns, 10 bucks was fine. For other ones, we’d charge more. Before we knew it, we had so many customers we could raise our prices to whatever we wanted. As we added a customer at $35, we dropped a $10 customer on the other end, so our hours didn’t change but our revenues increased dramatically. That really doesn’t have anything to do the story, it’s just something to explain I wasn’t completely insane; there was a method to the madness.)

So, this guy Murden had a huge lawn. Maybe, I don’t know; half an acre or an acre – it was big. It had a nice house on it and he was a manager in a technology company, so he had money but he didn’t want to mow his lawn.

It was big. It was overgrown. The grass was literally two feet tall in some spots. And it had very few trees.

I had a tiny push mower…

Well, I launched into that thing with vigor. Me and my little mower. And it was insane. Every step was a battle.

Every. Single. One.

After a few hours, it was hard to tell that I had mowed anything.

Annette Rochel Aben says, “READ IT AGAIN BECAUSE YOU LIKE TO SMILE” – get your copy HERE

I was dying.

My wife was there, and she said, “You know what, we don’t have to do this. Nobody will be upset if you quit. This was too big of a task for us to take on.”

And I wanted to quit. I really did.

Right up until the time when she said I could.

Once she gave me permission to quit, there was no way in hell I could NOT finish.

If a reasonable, rationale person would stop, then I would be a borderline superhero if I in fact finished the task – and the prospect of being a superhero, the prospect of being above and beyond ordinary, appealed to me.

Over the next few hours I finished mowing that guy’s lawn.

And a week or two later we quit mowing lawns altogether because we achieved our goal for the deposit for our house. But it was one of those odd things: by being given permission to quit, I found it within myself not to quit. That is a backwards type of motivation, but

understanding failure enabled me to surpass it.

Failure now had a face – and it wasn’t gonna be my face.

My friend's husband on a rock. Quote by me. Cos I can.
My friend’s husband on a rock. Quote by me. Cos I can.

TIP 1: assign a face to failure, or at least define failure – and avoid it.

When I sit down and have a big task, I remember. As soon as somebody tells me something is overwhelming, then I realize I have taken on a superhuman feat and it’s no longer Dan against the challenge; it’s No One Else Can Do This Except Me And I Will Be Godlike For Accomplishing This Task (and even if I don’t beat the task, by God at least I tried something big.)

How many people can say that?

And so it is with writing.

When I get up at four in the morning to write, that is not the super human task.

TIP 2: do the stuff others won’t. Telling people I get up at four in the morning and watching their jaw drop as they ask “How can you possibly manage that?”

Well, I wasn’t up till 12:30 watching Jimmy Fallon.

You will find within you your own motivation – or you won’t. You may have to go look for it.

“The mountain top is only reached by the ones who don’t quit.”

That also means that when everybody else starts dropping out, THAT’s when you know you are getting close to the mountain top.

In writing, you won’t get beat by physical exhaustion very often. It’s not digging ditches out in the heat where your muscles can give out. It’s typing.

You won’t get beat by a faster typist. It’s not a race.

You’ll get beat by NOTHING. As in:

  • No one reads the story

  • No one writes a review

  • Nobody notices the stuff you’re putting on your blog

That’s what beats you.

You’ll die a death of anonymity. If you find some writer friends, you’ll see many of them fade away and give up.

I get it. I’ve been there. I have been beaten down physically and emotionally to the point of wanting to quit – and that’s when I just… don’t… let… myself… quit!

I’m human. I’ve languished. Then I say,

“Okay, you had your pity party. Get your ass back in gear because that book is not going to write itself.”

And then something magical happens.

I may not even feel like writing, but I write a few words. And a few words become a few sentences. And a few sentences become a few paragraphs. And then a chapter exists where one didn’t before.

And at the end of the day I’m saying “Wow, I wrote X number of words!”

And if I happen to talk to one of my writer buddies and they say

“How did you manage to get 3000 words done in two days? I can’t get that done in a month…

… but let me tell you about what was on Fallon.”

To me, it was a matter priorities. Did I want to write a book, or two, or ten, or did I want to know the latest, greatest joke on Fallon?

The answer for me was simple. I can probably get 10 minutes worth of Fallon highlights off the internet and then I don’t have to watch 60 minutes of the Fallon show live. That’s a pretty good trade. And if it’s that darn good, I’ll go watch the show. But it’s probably more important to me to finish the book.

That’s TIP 3: keep your eyes on the prize.

He really said that!
He really said that!

And as hard as it was to get that first book written, I knew what Truman Capote said – that finishing a book is like taking your child out in the backyard and shooting it.

I knew that’s why people don’t finish. They don’t want to say goodbye to those friends.

I don’t either, but it’s not the only great idea I have for a story. I have to get on to the other ones otherwise the other children don’t get born.

And by the way, you’re not shooting the kid. Those happy characters and friends are there every single time you open and turn to page 1, and that is something else I learned. Tom Sawyer is alive and well every time I open the book. Pony Boy and the other Outsiders are still getting into trouble when I open that book.

My character Sam in Poggibonsi is still a train wreck every time I open that book.

So if I don’t like saying goodbye to them, I don’t really have to.

But I do have other friends I want to go meet or create, and that doesn’t happen if I don’t start writing them. So, for me, motivation it easy. Knowing what I want and knowing that other people would have given up by now, plus realizing that it’s okay to be overwhelmed sometimes, all combine to give me the energy I need to hang in there and tough it out.

But that’s me.

What motivates YOU?


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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious new romance novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.”

Get your copy HERE.

3 Tips For A Successful Book Promotion

Your humble host.
your humble host

There is a golden rule of promoting, which I will get to in a second, but first allow me to create a simple analogy to help illustrate the later point. And there’s math, too, so stay with me.


We’ve talked about putting out a quality story as an imperative HERE; this builds on that, and about being daring in your writing – also a must – HERE.


If you tithe 10% of your money to your church (off the top, before taxes), then the Reverend is getting all those 10%’s.

Expenses aside – and they are considerable for any church – for every 10 people he gets to become members of his church, the reverend gets the equivalent of what 1 church member makes. On average…

If a reverend has twenty members averaging $50,000, he makes $100,000. A hundred members? He’d make a half a million dollars, wouldn’t he?

Now, I don’t mention this as a way of running down churches or reverends or anything else. I’m Catholic; our guys work for free, sort of. But it’s an example.

It’s this way with promotions.

When I promoted myself and my first book for a whole year, nothing much happened. Oh, I made sales and did alright with the ads I bought, but overall I got a tepid social media response.

A visual representation of my success at that time.
A visual representation of my success at that time.

I came out and said another author’s book was really good, go check out this book – the tweets and RTs and blog traffic went through the roof.

1. Follow this lesson:

saying, “I’m great!” = meh

saying, “This other person is great!” = amazing volume and replies and RTs and traffic

So I’m definitely tithing out, because I enjoy helping new authors get started and maybe avoid some of the rocks that can sink them, but I also want to get the reverend’s share coming in. Or maybe I should just stop with that analogy.

If I can get 10 people promoting me the way I promote them, if they have the same number of followers on Facebook and Twitter and whatnot, then I’m at the average of what they are. But I’d be on the receiving end.

A win-win.

Because TEAM.

And as we all know, promoting is tricky. It’s easy to alienate followers. You can’t just put out posts that say “buy my book” and be successful, and you can’t just put out posts that say “buy Jenny’s book” and expect success either.

2. If you are honest and sincere, actually like Jenny’s book (or Allison’s or Greg’s or CJ’s or Jeff’s, and genuinely think other people will like her book, that truth tends to come off in the post.

And the results will be in the numbers.


You write a blog post explaining how awesome Jenny’s book is, and why. You tweet about the blog post and mention it on Facebook. You do a few other things because you genuinely believe Jenny’s book is awesome, and people start blowing up Jenny’s Twitter account and blog and maybe also help her sell a few books.

Then, one day down the road, your new book comes out. And Jenny thinks it’s great, not because she owes you a favor but because she was a critique partner or beta reader or friend who just plain old liked it.

And you encourage her and your other author friends to help you the way you helped them.

And you blow up on Twitter and Facebook and maybe sell some books.


If they’re honest and sincere and have decent followings and you wrote a good book and – you get the idea.

3. Quality is implied in the formula, or it doesn’t work.

So, the lesson is kinda like the golden rule, I guess. The Golden Rule Of Promoting. (Wow, it felt a little sacrilegious just writing that). Promote others the way you’d like them to promote you. Help them become successful – and enjoy the benefits of helping others as well as maybe benefiting yourself down the road.

Personally, I need all the successful author friends I can get.

So do you.

Why not help them get there? And me? And you?

Also me. Did I say that?


Your humble host.If you benefit from this blog, share it with your friends!

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.”


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Author Interview: 10 Questions With T.A. Henry

Your humble host.
your humble host

Occasionally on the blog we will talk with one of our author friends, gaining valuable insights into their behind the scene world. Today we meet again with the AMAZING  T. A. Henry, a terrific writer with sinister deep, dark secrets we, the writing world, simple need to know. Probably.

(T. A. has braved these interview waters once before, so we must not have been all that bad.)

Please join me in welcoming author T. A. Henry to the blog!

  1. Dan: Let’s get right to it! What is the working title of your next book?

T.A. Henry: An Approximate Solution (the title was a suggestion from a beta reader. Goldie Pox and the 3 Spies was another one. LOL)

T A Henry 3
the elusive T. A. Henry – or at least her elusive eyes
  1. Goldie Pox was a porn movie in the ’70’s I think… (clears throat) so I’ve heard. Um, anyway – how long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Something like 4 years.


The editing is likely to go just as long. LOL.

Double wow.

All my beta readers disagree with each other. We love the sex, put in more. We hate the sex, why are spies having sex? We love the relationship between A and B. The relationship between A and B needs work. Etc etc etc. Bleh.


  1. If I get a vote, I vote for more sex and all the spies having sex. Moving on… Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

I’m pretty wishy washy about this sort of thing but right now, Joe Malik. He’s a spec ops guy I talk to at every Norwescon and his stories are amazing but there’s never enough time to ask all the questions I want. Actually, hang on, I think I’ll just email him and see if he wants to get a drink. Ok handled that. So….maybe you, Dan. Want to get a drink? Talk about how I can market my books better?


  1. (A few drinks later – and deciphered for slurring) What the hell?

Dan: Why do some authors sell well and others don’t?

T. A. Henry: I think it boils down to a couple of factors.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since Con. I go for the writing panels.

  1. Genre. Some genres just accept self pubs better than others.

  2. Marketing. Working the Amazon metrics so you appear higher and for longer.

  3. More books under your name. I think there is a pervasive feeling about self pub that one book=you slogged through something that probably sucks. 3 books=you’re either really deluded or you have something to work with. 5 books=maybe you can write.

  4. Time and Money, the more time you spend polishing that book, money you spend on editing, cover, and advertising.

(I agree. Readers, what are YOUR thoughts? – Dan)

  1. How many story ideas are in your “good ideas” file? What are some of them?

That’s a bit complicated. I am always generating story ideas. A little facebook meme or video and the gears start turning but…not all ideas grow legs. Right now I have 3 ideas waiting for me to get done wrestling my spy novel. All three have legs but they might not all be for me.

I know your follow up question, what makes a story grow legs for me? (That counts as my question even though she asked it to herself – Dan)

When a character appears and claims a story idea as his or her own by acting in it.

“I see everything I write as a movie in my head. Once a character starts showing me scenes, the idea grows legs.”

For about 18 months now I have been throwing around the idea of an assassin who kills by technological means. I had lots of ideas of the means this guy might use and how that might look. But it wasn’t happening. Just last week the main character walked in, sat down at his computer, and showed me how he’s going to track and kill a mark. Bam-legs.


  1. If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Hire a nanny and a house cleaner so I could write more. LOL.

“I think there is a pervasive feeling about self pub that one book=you slogged through something that probably sucks.” – T. A. Henry

  1. Tell us about yourself. Who IS the real T.A. Henry? And not typical the boring bio stuff. The dirt. Like, when was the last time you did laundry?

(Laughing) I do laundry every day.

Okay, that’s crazy talk.

Seriously a load a day keeps that mess off your back and it takes mere minutes. In fact I could go start a load of laundry right now and you wouldn’t even realize I was gone. I’m that good.

If you want dirt, don’t look at my laundry, look at my windows. I hate doing windows. I never do them. In fact, the windows are so bad my hubs occasionally cleans them. And we have a strict he pays for it, so I do everything policy.


  1. Most writers are a bit shy. Is that how your friends would describe you (shy), or do you have your readers fooled?

T A HenryI get in arguments about this with one of my friends.

“Everyone thinks I am an extrovert. I am chatty and friendly and love to make people laugh. But all of that takes a huge toll on me.”

I only recharge in private quiet me time. Introvert.

So I guess you could say I have most of the world at large fooled but isn’t that the job of a good author, to spin lies like they are the truth?


  1. 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?

I know I sound an ass but it was so easy. I knew the book was good. I knew it would swim.

It didn’t, it barely floated, which is why the second publish is killing me. LOL.

He! Been there!

She’s incredible, right? T. A. is insightful and amazing – and so is her work. Check out her writerly prowess HERE.

T A Henry 5
TA’s blog

Again, thanks so much for coming by the blog and having a chat! I love the insights we gain from having access to other authors processes. Procces’? Proccesi? Whatever.



What Makes Something Funny?

Your humble host.
your humble host

I have written a dozen bestselling funny books, and I love watching and learning techniques from great comedians. I know funny.

What makes something FUNNY?


But first I have to tell people about our writing contest because time is almost up and when they read this post later they’ll be pissed.

Waaaah, I missed out on this amazing contest! Now I’m gonna be a loser the rest of my life!

Nobody wants that. Tell your friends about the contest.

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

Hey, I’m having a WRITING CONTEST this month. (Gee, REALLY, Dan? You  only told us 50 times!)

Wanna enter? YES, YOU DO BECAUSE:

  • Get valuable FEEDBACK on your writing

  • Possibly win a share of $400 in PRIZES

  • Be the envy of your friends with MASSIVE BRAGGING RIGHTS

  • Cool e-ribbons you can proudly display if you win

For more details and to enter, click HERE. CONTEST ENDS APRIL 30! Don’t wait!

You really should enter that. Now back to our post.

Stuff like this:


After a few minutes of watching Patrick, Mr. Krabs, and Squidward attempt to do . . . something to SpongeBob, I’d had enough. I was ready to push SpongeBob into a blender, but Sienna was happy, and Mattie was still chatting with Sam, so I headed back downstairs to my desk.

I picked up my cell phone and sent Sam a text. Internet access is supposed to be shitty a lot of the time over in Italy, especially in Tuscany. So I reset all the passwords to my email and voicemail and everything else to your first name and the last four digits of your social.

Even though she was still talking to my wife, her reply was quick. That’s handy.

I nodded. I thought so. I need you to check on things in case I can’t.

After a moment, Sam’s reply came back. Ok. Is my bonus paperwork in there, too, boss?

I smiled, typing. No. My wife’s friends say Facebook and Twitter work great, I think, but that my email will be nonexistent. Go figure.

I could ask her. She is on the phone with me.

My fingers pounded out my message. Thanks, but no.

Okay. Expect a lot of angry co-workers when you get back.

I frowned. Why?

A second later, her message appeared. I’ll be accessing your voice mail and email under your name. I plan on telling a lot of people what I think of them. As you.

Or do you need it spelled out with numbers? Because we can do that.


  1. Funny Is Unexpected

In a story, FUNNY is something happening that is unexpected. Often, it’s based on pain or implied pain, like Mike getting back and finding a lot of angry co-workers – because his loyal assistant dared do something outrageous, something we’d all like to do, and had the brass to tell him she was gonna do it. Yeah, she’s teasing, but she still thought of it. And no, she likes him, so she won’t do it. Probably.

See? Sticking that “probably” in there made you smile a little inside.

  1. Commonality

We share an experience when one of us makes the other laugh, and we share it more easily when we both identify with the topic. In the above example, who hasn’t wanted to tell off a bunch of co-workers, or take a shot at the boss?

  • When Jerry Seinfeld talked about a stray hair on the shower wall and how you cup some water with your hands and try to wash it away – a few inches per splash – we knew what he was referring to.

  • When Mel Brooks as the 2,000 year old man said he has 42,000 children and not one comes to visit him, we’d heard that from our parents, too.

  • When Chris Rock talks about the guy who cheats on his girlfriend, we all roll our eyes because we know somebody like him or her.

Familiar territory makes us relax. Being relaxed allows you to be surprised.

  1. The Intent Is Not Actually Mean Or Cruel

They say all humor is based on pain, so we can get away with a lot if the audience knows the person telling the joke or story doesn’t mean to be an @sshole. We wanna like the person involved. Sam likes her boss. She’s teasing him the way siblings tease. Okay, maybe not, because my brothers sent each other to the emergency room a few times. Maybe we should find a different example. And stop looking at me like that.

  • Dick Van Dyke falling over the ottoman in his living room was funny because we didn’t expect a guy in a suit to crash to the floor tripping over his own furniture, but also because we didn’t really think Dick was hurt. (Blood and a broken arm = not funny.)

  • Equally, Dan Akroyd as Julia Child slicing her hand was funny because of the outrageous amount of blood spurting forth and her staunch refusal to act anything other than her prim and proper, stuffy self – until she keeled over from blood loss.
  • Lucy stuffing the conveyor belt candy into her mouth and shirt was completely unexpected.

  1. Outrageous

This next example is a bit long, but it’s totally worth it.

I picked up the gown. I’d rather wait naked than wear a paper dress, but my trip now rested on good results from the doctor. I stripped and put on the glorified lunch bag, waiting for the poking and prodding to begin.

The door flew open with a bang. “Surprise! Look who’s here!”

“Jan!” I jumped up. “What are you doing here? Where’s Doctor Fischbaum?”

She strode toward me, beaming. “I’m Doctor Fischbaum.”

I backed away. “No, you’re Doctor Waters.”

Jan waved a hand, walking to the counter. “I changed my name back after the divorce.”

“But . . . Fischbaum’s not your maiden name.”

“What, go back to Pratt? That’s so plain. Blah.” She studied the chart. “Don’t you think Dr. Fischbaum has a nice ring? It was my second husband’s name.” She glanced at me over her shoulder. “I think you missed that one.”

I stepped behind the examining room table, keeping it between us for safety. “I missed the wedding and the marriage, both. How long were you guys hitched, like three months?”

“Two, but it seemed like ten. For a guy who was so into golf, his putter never got near the right hole.” She set the file down and folded her arms. “Besides, as Jan Fischbaum, maybe I’ll meet somebody who wants a nice Jewish girl.”

“You’re not Jewish.”

“But he won’t know that, will he?” She placed her hands on her hips. “So why are you still wearing that thing? Aren’t we doing your physical today? Or did you want to get physical?”

I swallowed. “Now, Jan, you and I had an agreement that after I got engaged—you wouldn’t be my doctor anymore.”

“Oh, shush. Who else could’ve squeezed you in on such short notice? Now come on.”

“Don’t make me file a complaint with the AMA. Flirting with patients is against the rules.”

“Well, it shouldn’t be for cute ones. Anyway, we have a history so it’s different. Maybe I can go to a few board meetings and get that rule taken care of . . .”

I crept out from behind the examining table. “Just . . . no funny stuff. Seriously.”

“This will be strictly business.”

I sat down, holding shut the back of the hospital gown. “Let’s get this over with, shall we? I have a busy day and I’m not much in the mood for any antics.”

She stifled a laugh. “Have I ever told you how good you look in a blue paper dress?”

“Okay, I’m leaving.” I started to get up.

“Oh, stop. I’m kidding!” She put her hands on her hips. “Can’t a girl have a little fun? Boy, are you in a sour mood. If you had your sense of humor surgically removed, you should have at least consulted us first.”

She stretched a blue latex glove over her French manicured hands and let it go with a loud snap. “You know the best part about conducting a physical on you, Mike? I get to fondle your genitals and stick my finger up that cute little tushie of yours, and you have to pay me for the privilege.”

I tried to tuck a little more of the paper dress under my behind. “Let’s keep things professional, okay?”

“And I am! What’s a little joking around between friends? Geez, when did you become such a fuddy-duddy?”

“Probably after I got married and started a family.”

“Spoilsport. Okay, stand up and slide down your boxers. Or do you wear briefs now?”

“Aren’t we, um . . . gonna start with a stethoscope on the chest or something like that?”

“Who’s the medical expert here? There’s plenty of time for that later. Let’s go. Drop ‘em.” She sat down on a small stool and wheeled herself over as I slid off the table.

“Hold up the gown, please. Boxer briefs—how stylish. As always, Michael, thank you for manscaping.”

“Uh, my pleasure.”

“And there’s the little guy!”

“Hey! It’s not that little. And . . . it’s cold in here.”

“I was kidding!” She peered up at me. “Would I be fantasizing about you in Cabo if it wasn’t something to be proud of? Geez.” She resumed the exam. “Let’s see here. Well, Mike Junior looks clean and healthy. And there they are—hello boys.” She gazed up again, smiling. “Honestly, Mike, I’ve always said you have a wonderful penis but these balls of yours are simply amazing. You should be very proud of them.”

“Okay, see? You—that’s skating right past the safety zone again there, Jan.”


NOBODY expects that from their doctor. Nobody.

But… it’s funny.

And why?

Because of stuff like the paper dress (we’ve all had to do that and we all agree it’s unpleasant), the boldness of the doctor flaunting all the rules and not caring – she is the definition of outrageous , and hardly what we expect from a doctor. A sober one, anyway.

And again, it’s fun to see the guy being teased. He’s obviously up to it, and not being harassed, but she’s a bit on the crazy side. Larger than life. Outrageous.


Here’s another outrageous example, compliments of Sam.

In a different story, Sam tries to assist her teenage niece with a problem while simultaneously letting the niece drive a car for the first time.


Sam threw her hands out. “What, do you blame your mom for killing your dad? By sending him a text? Or do you blame him for being so excited about the new baby that he read it while he was driving and accidentally blew through a stop sign?”

“No, I didn’t mean that.”

Sam lowered her voice. “Well, what then, sweetie?”

Gina sighed. “I just would like people to talk about him like they’d talk about anybody else, not like he walked on water. Like other kids talk about their dads.” Her voice cracked. She sniffled. “That they came home late for dinner or need to lose a few pounds or… just something normal.”

Sam nodded. “Something real. So he’d be more real.”


She sighed. “Well, that can be good things too.”

“Okay, you win. You can tell me all the good things about him you want.” Gina smiled. “Go ahead.”

“Okay, well- ”

“As long as you don’t make him out to be a saint.”

“Um, wow, you are so like your mother. It’s like you guys are secretly all lawyers or enhanced interrogation experts for the CIA or something.”

“You’re stalling. Tell me something real. Something mom would never tell me. Just say the first thing that comes to your mind.”

“He was a good lover.”

Gina’s jaw dropped. “What?”

“With a big penis.”

“Oh, my god.”

“Huge.” Sam shook her head. “Your brother will probably be pretty popular after he hits puberty. Now slow down, you’re speeding.”

Gina gripped the wheel. “You saw my dad’s penis?”

“No, no, no.” Sam swallowed. “Well, yes.”

“What?” Gina glanced at Sam. “How?”

“Um, we may have slept together. Watch the road.”


“Watch the road! You said you wanted to know things.”

Gina squeezed her eyes shut. “I didn’t want to know that!”

“Watch the road! You weren’t specific. Make up your mind.” Sam adjusted her seat belt. “I mean, that man made me hit some high notes.”


Sheesh! Talk about outrageous. (It turns out Sam dated Gina’s dad before her mom did. Nothing crazy there. Okay, well, not too crazy.)

Also, we go from being sympathetic to Gina for the loss of her father to shocked that Sam slept with him to laughing about how Sam won’t shut up.

Once you get an audience to experience a reaction you wanted, it’s easier for you to get them to experience the other emotions you want.

  1. Once Established As Humor, It’s Easy To Build.

The above scene is a joke that gets a capper, and the capper gets a capper. Piling on the funny.


  • Often, the funny stuff is what we wish we could say.

  • Often, it’s snappy and witty, precisely hitting the target in very few words.

  • Usually, we have kinda been there ourselves.


It looks at familiar things in a new way.

And the best funny scenes build on themselves and what’s been established.


You can’t tickle yourself, but you CAN write a scene that makes you laugh. That’s why writers are godlike.



Bottom line, funny is one, two… duck.

Set up a pattern or expectation, then deliver the unexpected.

A situation, not necessarily the words, and then doing it in a bigger than life way.


Sarcasm helps – that’s the way I do it – and that’s how YOU should do it, because it works every time.


Your humble host.REBLOG this! And please SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! Your friends need to know this stuff, too.

See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. (The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.”  Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

 Available in paperback and audio book formats, too!






Help me pick some ads!

Your humble host.
your inquiring host

This should only take a minute.

It’s the big launch weekend for my newest book, Poggibonsi, an Italian misadventure, so I’m making some ads.

Fun stuff, right? Well, you need to learn this too, so pay attention.

Please scroll through these mock-ups and tell me if any strike your fancy.

You can buy Poggi this weekend for just 99 cents, then the price goes up – so act fast! But today I need input on what ads to run to catch other people’s eyes

You’re not going to offend anybody; just say, “I like Annette’s ad,” or “I don’t like Curtis’ one.”

If you say, “Screw the ads, I hated this book!” …we probably can’t be friends anymore.

Also, you can say, “I like the color of this one with that one’s words/layout/something. Any feedback is helpful. These folks didn’t make the ads, so they won’t be upset if you don’t like the ads. Probably.

Oh, and you might notice – I try to use YOUR Ammy review. If you are an author, I like to make ads that mention YOUR BOOK title!

Just another perk of being a loyal reader of the blog. Does Stephen King do that for you? No, he does not.

YOUR NAME AND BOOK TITLE in MY national advertising campaign. Because you guys rock and I like to help my friends. (So if you were thinking about doing a review…)

Okay. Get to work and look over these ads:

Fave 1 anne marie B 1

ABOVE: “Pretty sexy” ad with quotes from Anne Marie (we will stick her name in there on the final version)

Fave 2 anne rochelle aben 2

ABOVE: “love the characters” ad featuring Annette Rochelle Aben’s Amazon review

Fave 3 curtis bausse redo 1

ABOVE: “Funny and Sexy” ad featuring Curtis Bausse’s Amazon review

Fave 4 Grady redone 2

ABOVE” “Romance black background” ad featuring Amazon Top Reviewer Grady Harp’s review

Fave 5 Grady redone 3

ABOVE” “Romance white background” ad featuring Amazon Top Reviewer Grady Harp’s review

Fave 6 jess new

ABOVE” “Smart and HOT” ad featuring Jess’ Ammy review. (Say the word, Jess, and you’ll have your full name and book title. I didn’t do it because it wasn’t on Ammy that way and I always want to get permission first.)

Fave 7 SKIRT am 1

ABOVE: “Skirt Anne Marie” featuring Anne Marie’s review

Fave 8 SKIRT am 6

ABOVE: same ad with the book inserted. “Skirt + Book Anne Marie” featuring Anne Marie’s review

Fave 9 Skirt AR Aben 1

ABOVE: again, the same ad with different font colors “Skirt + Colored fonts Anne Marie” featuring Anne Marie’s review

Fave 10 Skirt DG Kaye 4

ABOVE: “Skirt DG Kaye” featuring Debby’s book title Conflicted Hearts. This adds credibility to the ad and also gets Debby some pub.

Fave 11 Skirt DG Kaye 6

ABOVE: “Skirt DG Kaye + Review box” featuring Debby’s actual Ammy review headline


That’s it!

Give me YOUR thoughts! 

Thanks in advance!

Your humble host.New Authors: asking for the opinion of fans and friends will save you LOTS of money on bad ads. The key is, you have to tell them to be honest and you have to accept their input. Post stuff like this on your blog, Facebook page, and Twitter, and after about 10-20 votes a clear winner emerges every time. 100 votes later, the winner will still be the same, so tons of followers aren’t necessary – and you save $$$ posting better ads than if you did this alone.

Please share this with your friends and reblog it! I want all the input I can get!

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.”

Click HERE to get your copy of the funniest, sexiest book you’ll read this year!


WORD WEAVER Writing Contest! Writing Feedback And Over $400 in prizes!

HURRY! DO NOT miss out on this GREAT opportunity.

Announcing the Word Weaver Writing Contest!

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

Yes, I already announced it once. Not everybody heard, smarty pants.


Enter an amazing piece of YOUR OWN WRITING to our contest.

You’ve always wanted to write something. Here’s your chance.

* Get valuable feedback

* Get a share of over $400 in valuable prize packages!

Here’s what you do:

Uh, enter a piece of your writing in the contest. I thought that was obvious.

Here’s what you GET:

1stThe FIRST PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package valued at over $200:

kelly selecto

  • $125 Professional BOOK COVER designed by Select-O-Grafix, LLC (www.selectografix.com)

  • $50 Amazon GIFT CARD, compliments of ME

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website

  • Signed copies of a multi-book package from several published authors who graciously donated their books to our contest (see list below).

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

  • a video interview with me, should they so choose, also to appear on this site**


** requires a quality high speed internet connection and a good camera on your computer or phone. Maybe other stuff. I’m not doing this at 3am, okay?

2The SECOND PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package valued at over $150:

Ebook Reader

  • $100 FORMATTING package for YOUR eBook or paperback novel, up to 80k, from Select-O-Grafix, LLC (www.selectografix.com) – I have used these guys, and they are AMAZING.

  • $25 Amazon gift card, compliments of ME

  • Publication of their winning piece on this website

  • signed copies of a multi-book package from several published authors who graciously donated their books to our contest.

  • 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)

3The THIRD PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package valued at over $50:


  • WriteMind author’s idea management and project organizing system ($19.99 Digital Printable Version) from Perry Elisabeth Design

  • $10 Amazon gift card, compliments of ME

  • Publication of their winning piece on this website

  • Signed copies of a multi-book package from several published authors who graciously donated their books to our contest.

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

  • also bragging rights because why not, but try not to outbrag the first and second place winners, okay?

Do you have a writer friend? Tell them about this contest right now. 

Really. Right now. Writers are notorious procrastinators.



Yep, I’ll critique your work (up to 3,000 words), whether you win or not.

I will spend an hour of my time giving you the Dan Treatment of your 3,000 word piece, just like I do in my 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.

I might spend more than an hour if it’s really good, and you can send more than 3,000 words, but I’m only human and I’m not gonna be able to wade through 10k from you for this contest, okay? Doing 25 critiques is a LOT of freaking work.



I’m reading it anyway, so I’ll give you an abbreviated version of a critique or I’ll enlist the help of one of my trusted critique partners to do it, but it should still be really helpful to you. Again, you can send more than 3,000 words but I can’t get through all that for this contest.

“DOOR” PRIZES just for entering!

ALL contestants not winning first, second, or third place will be put into a drawing for other prizes!

How awesome is that? Lots of stuff for you to win!

  • a multi-book prize from a single Amazon Bestselling author, available as autographed paperbacks or eBooks. (eBooks are not autographed.)

  • a complete trilogy from an Amazon Bestselling author, also as signed paperbacks or eBooks. (Again, the eBooks are not signed.)

  • a multi book package from several authors, in your choice of paperbacks or eBooks. (Nobody signs the eBooks, okay?)

  • a few signed copies of The Navigators, my amazing sci-fi thriller (unless you choose an eBook, right? Let that signed eBook thing go. Just let it go!)

  • one Amazon $20 gift card

  • Starbucks $10 gift card*

* My goal is to have ALL the entry fees go to prizes, not to make a profit on this contest, so I may use entry fees to buy and award more prizes. They won’t all be Ammy; that would get a little boring, and even though I personally HATE Starbucks, you might like it.

HERE are some of the AMAZING AUTHORS whose books will be in these packages

51CShaKNiTLAllison Maruska, The Fourth Descendant, the Project Renovatio trilogy

With over 570 reviews on Amazon, a signed copy of Allison’s runaway bestseller The Fourth Descendant should be part of any book lover’s collection.

p r trilogy

Allison’s amazing Project Renovatio trilogy has captivated audiences around the world. You want to win that, too.


Hugh Roberts, Glimpses

28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns. You REALLY wanna win that!


Phillip T Stephens Cigerets, Guns & Beer; Raising Hell; Seeing Jesus; and The Worst Noel

Is murder, sex, buried bank loot and legends of UFOs your cup of tea? Or maybe a clueless optimist who “ruins a perfectly good hell”? Phillip T. Stephens offers crime, dark fantasy, young adult – and a good dose of humor.


Jennifer Weiner, 24 Love Letter Ideas

Love letters are a nearly lost art form, but they are the easiest and least costly way to show your partner love and romance. Plus, it’s quick to do! I’m a fan of quick!

24 Romantic Date Night Ideas

Jennifer’s beautiful companion book is a terrific way to round out your romantic evening.


Colleen Chesebro, The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy

Come on, who doesn’t enjoy a fairy story? Plus, it’s set in Florida, a win-win. Then along comes a  primeval nymph, who explains young Abby’s true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.


T. A. Henry, Scripting The Truth

Any story that takes place in post-WWII Britain and has the phrase “She’ll try to do it all while trying to keep the seams on her stockings straight” has to be read. You’ll agree.


and of course, ME

A few folks will be selected to receive a signed paperback of my hilarious sexy romp through Italy. The eBook is HERE but the paperback is not available in stores yet, so these will be hot commodities. Probably.


A few other folks will win my amazing sci fi thriller The Navigators as a signed paperback or an eBook. Don’t even ask me if I’ll sign the eBook. Just. Don’t.


You must enter an original piece of your own writing and pay the entry fee. Please don’t exceed 3,000 words; entries can be as short as you want.

THEME: To promote my book Poggibonsi: An Italian Misadventure, which involves traveling, entries need to touch on the theme of travel. “Where’s Bill?” “Traveling.” That counts. I’m pretty loose on this.

All entries must be submitted on or before midnight eastern time on April 30, 2017.

There is NO restriction on genre. Go crazy.

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 (USD) via PayPal to dalatorr@verizon.net . If your entry is too large to submit that way, simply send me a message using the Contact Me button and I’ll email you back; from there you’ll be able to attach your piece.


You can waive your entry fee by subscribing to my newsletter right now AND by Liking my Facebook author page! You must do both things on or before midnight EST April 17, 2017 EXTENDED THROUGH APRIL 23, 2017 (because writers are such procrastinators), and you don’t get $5.00 off for doing one of them. It’s okay to tell friends about the secret discount fee waiving thing. Reblog and RT and all that, sure. Those are friends. Can you go crazy sharing this info on Facebook? Yeah, what the heck.

Do I rock, or what?


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.) 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 an address to deliver a paperback to. Winners outside the continental United States will be eligible only for prizes that can be emailed or sent electronically, like an Amazon gift card. You still get your work published here, and the profile, etc., if you win those things, but sorry; mailing a paperback 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. One entry per person. If you cheat, you’re toast. Play fair. By entering you agree to all this stuff. I pretty much get free reign in selecting the top 3 winners but it’s gonna be stuff that appealed to me (typos matter but content matters more); the rest of the winners will mostly be random drawing but I’m not above awarding stuff to a really great fourth place person. Or not.


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

It is my desire to help each and every one of you succeed as authors and writers, so get busy!

Tick tock. April 30 will be here before you know it.


Your humble host.REBLOG this! And please SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! Your friends need to know about this contest, too.

See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. (The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious hit romance comedy “Poggibonsi, an italian misadventure.”  Click HERE to get your copy of Poggibonsi – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!



Your humble host.
your humble host

We had a LOT of fun with this last time we did it, so it’s time to try it again.


Haiku Edition

What is a haiku and why do we want to write one?

To stretch some new writer muscles of course! And because it’ll be fun. Probably. Or at least funny. And since we’re all gonna play, it should be a kick.


But… do you want to?

Sure! It’s easy and fun. But first an ad for my writing contest:

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

Hey, I’m having a WRITING CONTEST this month – wanna enter?

  • Get valuable FEEDBACK on your writing

  • Possibly win a share of $400 in PRIZES

  • Be the envy of your friends with MASSIVE BRAGGING RIGHTS

  • Cool e-ribbons you can proudly display if you win

Check it out and enter by clicking HERE.

(You really should enter that. Now back to Haikus.)

Well, first things first: what the heck is a haiku?

The Japanese invented it, according to Wiki, sometime before they got into the automotive and electronics business. It’s a “poem”  (apparently a non-rhyming one) done in a specific pattern of syllables. Don’t ask me why.

Wiki wouldn't lie, would it?
Wiki wouldn’t lie, would it?

17 total syllables in the haiku, done in three lines, 5-7-5 format:

  • five syllables in the first line
  • seven syllables in the second line
  • and five syllables again, in the last line.

Simple, right?

And it’s a poem, but it doesn’t needs to rhyme.

(I guess you get extra points if it does.) 

EXAMPLE 1: provided by a friend who used to teach poetry! She knocked this out in like ten seconds.


Red wine in my glass

Shimmering under the lights

You get me wasted


Is that cool or what? Ten seconds!


(I gave her a random topic of shoes)

White and blue sneakers

Inappropriate for work

Wear them anyway



(To stump her, I gave her a word that’s hard to rhyme: oranges)

Juicy in segments

Tropical citrus delight

Burns my papercut


Okay, they can’t all be winners.


Now, what are we writing this haiku about? Aha, that’s the even more fun part. I don’t know.

You’ll use a random topic generator to decide what your haiku is about.

It should give us some very interesting stuff!

Only click it once!
Only click it once!



CLICK HERE for your random topic.



Here are THE RULES

  1. Go to the random topic generator, select it one time, and you HAVE to write a haiku about that. No cheating.
  2. Post your haiku on your blog.
  3. Tell your readers what your random topic was so they don’t think you’re having a stroke.
  4. Reference us on your blog, further clarifying to your readers that you are definitely not having a stroke.
  5. Post your haiku (and or a link to your haiku) in the comments section, below.

  6. Brag to friends at parties about how versatile a writer you are.
  7. You have 48 hours from when you read this! LIKE the post so I know you read it and that will start the clock, so to speak. There’s not really a clock. Or a deadline, Jenny.
  8. Extra points if you do it drunk.
  9. ENTER AS OFTEN AS YOU LIKE! More is better. And funner.

  10. And yes I know that’s not a word.






PoggiREBLOG 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.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” PRE-ORDER THE FUNNY, SEXY POGGIBONSI HERE FOR $0.99 LIMITED TIME. Price goes up to $2.99 on April 20.