your humble host
Each week we’re taking five, maybe ten, of YOUR writerly questions and setting about answering them for you. 


Skill level doesn’t matter. Newbie writer, veteran writer, you have questions. I’ll opine; maybe some others will chime in with their thoughts, and hopefully YOU will get several good solutions to choose from.

Or something like that.

  • Wanna know what dialogue tags are, and why you don’t want them in your story?

  • Wanna know how to create a “page turner” story?

  • Wanna know why you need to build an author platform?

And it doesn’t have to be directly writing related. Sometimes you need to get in the writing mood by NOT doing writer stuff. Maybe you wanna know about doing author events, but maybe you wanna know about public speaking, or… I don’t know; the London train system. (I had some trouble there, if you’ll recall.)

Or why so much of Europe requires you to pay to pee…

I don’t want to suggest ideas TO you, I wanna know what’s on YOUR mind.

What are YOU struggling with?

So ask.

Ask me anything.

We have lots of smart people here; if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does. Or I’ll make something up.

Go ahead, you know you want to.


Post your questions in the comment section below. I’ll answer the first five, maybe the first ten – so don’t goof off. Post your question NOW!


danDan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious romantic comedy “Poggibonsi: an Italian misadventure.” 

Click HERE to get your copy of Poggi FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Also available in paperback.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

10 thoughts on “Ask Dan ANYTHING

    1. This is in excellent question. I’m glad you asked.

      When I first started out, I put a cover of my book as my “icon image.”

      That means when you went to find me on Facebook, there was a picture of my book. When you looked for me on Twitter, there was a picture of my book. My blog. Everywhere. That book got a lot of exposure.


      That was a mistake. Because people don’t want to talk to a book. They want to interact with a person.

      I thought I was doing good marketing but I was actually shooting myself in the foot.

      So if you do not yet have a cover for your book, you can’t make that mistake!

      What you do is find a picture of yourself that you like. One that’s authorey-looking and flattering, one that you will want to see everywhere. Use it for all your social media. Use it on the back of your book cover, below the blurb, there will be a smiling picture of you – letting everyone know they have found the right place.

      So even though I have tried different pictures of myself before, the one you’re going to see pretty much everywhere is the one you see on this blog most of the time. That’s my brand. Blue shirt, brown hair, some distant trees in the background. The uncropped version of that shows me holding my daughter.

      I have taken better pictures since then but at some point you just have to decide which when you’re going to go with. I don’t even particularly like my hair in that picture but when I asked my fans about a year ago, that’s the one they all picked.

      So that’s my advice for you. Find a picture of yourself that you like and put that on your blog and put that on your icons everywhere.

      When it comes time for a book cover, let me know and you can try a few out and let some of our readers help you decide which one is the best one. That’s what I do.

      Also, you want to have some kind of a big image on your blog, you might think the book is the best way to go. On my Facebook page, I have several of my books displayed but they are behind my author picture.

      And you can change that around, but for the most part I would go with something that you are going to want to look at for a long time because you’re gonna see at the most. Something pleasant. Khristina Stanley did mountains. Other people have done different types of scenery. My blog is solid blue with white letters and my Facebook page is a few of my 18 published books. There’s really no wrong way to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s even easier to answer.

          Something simple and dignified but one where you like how you look. Ultimately, I’m not really sure anybody else cares. If you are selling sexy novels and you are sexy looking, that might be a plus but you don’t want to overdo it. If you are still selling murder mysteries, you might want to look more conservative. If you are writing fantasy, I recommend you not dress up in a suit of armor, but you could probably post a few pictures of you in a suit of armor on your author page!

          If you’d like, you can do this: if you are debating between a few pictures, used to contact me button to send me an email and I will reply. You can’t attach some pictures and I will post them on the blog and we’ll see what everybody says.

          You can also do this on your own personal Facebook page because after you get about 12 replies you will have an answer. 100 more replies does not usually change the outcome after about a dozen, believe it or not.


    1. You got it.

      Dialogue tags are when somebody says a line of speech and then we attribute it to them.

      “Where is Joe?” Susie asked.

      “Joe is in Spain,” Bill said.

      All the times when we say he said, she said, he wondered, she asked – those are dialogue tags.

      Why are they evil?

      They aren’t. But when we see quotation marks, we know somebody is speaking. If we see any kind of action attributed to a person that is attached to that dialogue, then we know that’s the person speaking.

      Susie scratched her nose. “Where is Joe?”


      Because we have the dialogue attached to Susie’s action, we know she is the one who said it.

      Each new speaker’s dialogue gets a new paragraph, too.

      Sometimes if there’s just two people talking, you don’t necessarily need to identify them each and every time. You certainly don’t want a back-and-forth like I just showed you.

      You also don’t want them sitting around doing nothing. People move and react when they speak and when they hear someone speaking to them.

      If your mom screamed your name in anger from the kitchen window when you were in the back yard, you may have jumped. She may have cupped her hands around her mouth to shout the words. All the little things that people do like scratch their head or furrow their eyebrows or nod or rub the back of their neck, those are actions – call beats – that allow the author to explain what’s going on in the story and help set the scene or the mood while not wasting words.

      So instead of saying words like he said or she asked, you can put in actions like the ones I just described that basically show the reader the character is questioning something or puzzled by something or disturbed by something.

      By the way, question marks at the end of a quote are dead giveaways that somebody asked, after all.

      And the biggest reason not to use dialogue tags because most readers skip them.

      Readers are smart.

      They get it.

      And by showing more and telling less, which is basically what a dialogue tag is, we allow the reader to become more immersed in the story, which makes it harder to put down and more of what everybody calls a page turner.

      You want that.


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