The Best Still Have Setbacks

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So will you.

Your setbacks might happen before you have any successes.

It’s likely they will, in fact.

What separates the best from everyone else is THE BEST KEEP GOING.

Learn from the mistakes and move on. Your future best stuff is better than your current best stuff.

If you gave something your all and it doesn’t succeed, maybe you simply learned ways it didn’t work. But some future success may very well depend on having learned that lesson.

Where Does Your Story Come From? 20 Questions With Author Anne Marie Andrus

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Here on the blog we like to dive deep and reveal the inner working of the writerly mind by asking the thought provoking questions we all need to know…

We also interview friends just to see what’s up.

Which is this? Beats me. Read on and decide for yourself as I sit down with Anne Marie Andrus and talk writer stuff.

Dan: Hello Anne Marie!

author Anne Marie Andrus

Anne Marie: Hi Dan! Hello fellow authors!

Thanks for joining us. Are you back in full swing after the holidays? I seem to be dragging – a common post holiday affliction for many writers.

If you’re anything like me, very little writing takes place over the December holidays. However, the first months of each year are my time to take a deep breath and center my writer’s soul. Okay, reality check, I try to chart a general direction so I’m not crashing into walls and tripping over cats.

Yeah. Freaking cats. They live to cause falls.

Get us up to speed on you, then.

51hpfSerVyL._UY250_Last winter, I was putting the finishing touches on my recently published novel, Monsters & Angels. Since it was my first novel, I readily grabbed the advice doled out by internet groups and well-meaning (maybe) people and searched for beta-readers, critique partners and editors. Some of these new relationships were extremely helpful. Others…let’s just say, not so much.

You were in our writing contest, too, and on the blog. How’d that happen?

details of new contest HERE – starts March 2018

I’m not sure how I stumbled across Dan’s blog, but entering the first Word Weaver Writing Contest in April 2017 was an incredible stroke of stumbling luck. I entered two contests and was so honored to place second in both. Having two stories accepted for The Box Under The Bed anthology was thrilling…and it gets better!

That was fun. The Box Under The Bed helped a lot of unpublished writers become published authors, and working with them was a blast.

51eRlHYLzJL._SY346_.jpgDan’s critique style is such a great match for my writing. No judgement, just honest insights and suggestions that make you know he read your story, and he’s rooting for you to succeed. He’s also quite funnyand I’ve found myself crying/laughing at his comments.

Yep. I rock. Just ask my FWA evaluations.

Okay, and then you were inspired to pen another story that you’ve recently completed, right?

Last weekend, I wrote a tentative “The End” on my newest novella, The Vampire Raimond. I was so excited that I told everyone about it in the comment section of Dan’s Give Yourself A Pat On The Back blog post.

Dan’s answer, “The End is the beginning of all the hard work.”

That’s a terrifying, yet absolutely true statement.

Ha. Yep. I do that.

The difference this time, is that I’m excited to rip it apart, rewrite and put everything back together. I want the story in my mind to leap off the pages and grab the reader by the throat.

Yes, it’s vampires.

Well, why wouldn’t it be??? That’s your thing.

Why is that, anyway?

I’ve always been drawn to the Paranormal and believing in what others say is “just in my mind”.

“I haven’t had any earth shattering ghost encounters, but working the hospital night-shift for all these years, absorbing energy is inevitable.”

– Anne Marie Andrus

Sure, there’s tragedy and grief, but there’s joy and freedom too, if you’re open to it. Compared to daylight hours, hospitals appear pretty empty overnight. But, many times when I’ve been “alone”, I’m positive I’m in quite a rowdy crowd.

I’m also in love with love, so all my stories have an element of romance, family bond or random kindness that transcends obstacles and time.

Where do you write?

During the day, I write at my dining room table. It’s a little bump-out of windows with a very New Orleansy chandelier overhead. At night, I write on the sofa, in front of the TV. After all these years, my husband is finally used to me ignoring him, but I also miss everything happening on the screen. He may or may not be tired of my questions; “Wait, what just happened?”, and “Who’s that guy?”. I know he’s sick of, “I don’t get it.”

Pfft. I do that and I don’t even have that excuse.

What about any writing rituals?

            The original ideas for my vampire cast were born deep in the frigid darkness of winter nights. Waiting for snow is an impractical strategy to finish a novel. In the summer (it needs to be super-hot and humid for this to work),

“I turn off the air-conditioner, open all the windows, light my favorite New Orleans candle, brew coffee and turn on some jazz in another room. Almost the French Quarter, in New Jersey.”

– Anne Marie Andrus

I’ve been to New Orleans (“Nawlins” to the locals) several times and I love it; why does the crescent city hold such a fascination for you?

            That question alone, could send me spinning into oblivion. Forever.

John Goodman once said, “Someone suggested that there’s an incomplete part of our chromosomes that gets repaired or found when we hit New Orleans. Some of us just belong here.”

What he said!

I’ll be repairing my DNA again in April.

Which character in any book or story of yours is closest to you in real life?

51hpfSerVyL._UY250_            Sorcha Alden in Monsters & Angels, began as a fantasy-me, but she grew much stronger in character than I could ever aspire to. When I created Holly Hannon in Cobalt Point, I incorporated as much Jersey Girl attitude and sarcastic inner voice as possible.

I liked both of those characters. Strong voices came through in each, but they were very different.

Have you ever based a character on any real people (not counting yourself)?

            Most of my characters have at least echoes of people I’ve met in real-life. Some are well-guarded secrets, but two of my friends know I borrowed from their awesomeness.

The first is my neighbor, Lynn. Her character inspired the Dragon Lady who guards the basement of Normandie Hall in Monsters & Angels. Just like the fictional bloodline of Roussel witches she belongs to, real-life Dragon Lady is strong, mysterious and once she decides you’re worthy—loyal forever.

I know I mention my long health-care career often. I’m 49, and I started off as a candy-striper when I was 14.

Wow. You found your first calling at an early age!

It’s obviously been a tremendous influence on my life.

“I’ve learned that there’s no shortcut to experience and no magic pill for compassion.”

– Anne Marie Andrus

Sadly, I have to keep re-learning that. I wanna have the knowledge that comes with experience right away.

My second inspiration is one of the spectacular nurses I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside. If anyone embodies the soul of Sorcha Alden and her unwavering commitment to honor life and death in the face of adversity, it’s Marilyn.

Vampire stories tend to have a bit of a reputation – deserved or not. What’s your take on sex or violence in books? How much do you go there when you go there?

            I don’t especially like reading or watching super-graphic sex scenes, so in my writing I aim for romantic and sensual while leaving the rest to individual imagination. I think that kind of storytelling is an art…and a work-in-progress.

My current series is vampire-centric, so violence is kind of unavoidable.

“I’d like to think that I’ve added enough of my own spin to break away from the cliché, and make my story stand out.”

– Anne Marie Andrus

I think that’s the trick. Give readers enough of what they are familiar with and expect, but be unique, too. A tough challenge.

Which character is your favorite from any book or story?

            I’ve been asked this question before, and my answers have varied. Of course, I love my main characters but when I need to develop one of my secondary characters (I probably shouldn’t call them that), I fall in love with them and write as if they’re the stars of the show. I’ve focused on Steven Banitierre before, now it’s Ivori Journe’s turn to shine.


A1uHSOG8oLL._UX250_Who are your favorite authors to read?

            Reading Anne Rice’s novels was my introduction to the New Orleans and vampire genre. My current, favorite authors of the paranormal are Alys Arden of The Casquette Girls series, Victoria Clapton of The Binding series and Magali Frechette, author of My Soul to Give.


What’s something people would never guess about you?

            If I concentrate hard enough, I have a photographic memory.

Good! Because there will be a quiz on this interview later.

Gang, I love Anne Marie’s writing. She’s an amazing storyteller, and having her in our writing contests and anthologies has improved the quality of both.

Be sure to check outMonsters & AngelsNOW – and then come back and tell us how good it is!

Give Yourself A Pat On The Back!

people-2607201_1280We work hard at this writing stuff. We deserve a pat on the back once in while.

And who else is gonna understand anyway? Except other writer types?

The biggest things writers lack is confidence, and that starts by acknowledging that what we did is worth some praise.

Big or small, let’s talk about them all – and build that confidence we all need.

Applaud YOUR writing accomplishments for the week here.

Or praise another author friend who did something worth noting.


Imagine if you saw 10 other people telling you your accomplishment was noteworthy. What difference could that make in your writing the next week?

Let’s find out.

You have questions. Ask away.

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This blog has long been a friendly place to come and learn, and what better way to learn than to ask?

You have questions. Writer stuff, marketing, motivation, you name it.


Your questions. Your challenges. Your issues.

If I don’t know, we’ll put it out to my vast network of author friends and get an answer. Or I’ll make something up.


Many people helped me when I was starting out because I was willing to ask what I needed to know.

That shortened my learning curve substantially.

– Dan Alatorre

So go ahead. Ask me anything.

SEVERAL SPOTS STILL AVAILABLE To Be A Sponsor in the March 2018 Word Weaver Writing Contest.

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Be A Sponsor.

(Yeah, this is basically a rerun of last week’s ad, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.)

We do have some sponsors now but there’s room for a few more, okay? Don’t miss out. 

Hi gang! I’m getting ready to start promoting my March 2018 Word Weaver Writing contest, so I thought I’d reach out and see if you’d like to be a SPONSOR.

You: Whaaat??? Me, sponsor your contest?
Me: I know!

But it wouldn’t be just you (unless you wanna write a biiiig check – and then let’s talk. Because ten bucks is ten bucks.)

We writer types are always trying to get noticed. THIS HELPS THAT.

Plus, it’s cheap.

You: Hmm. My book could use some exposure…

Here are some impressive stats.

  • My blog enjoyed over 60,000 views in calendar 2017, and the contests get the biggest attention overall.

  • Each of our Word Weaver contests has had more entries than its predecessors. I expect that to keep growing, but I think it’s more fun to have different prizes and sponsors occasionally.

  • In our original July 2017 Word Weaver, almost 1000 people came over a 36 hour period just to see the winners announced and to read the winning entry.

That’s a lot of eyeballs on your book, company, service, etc.

AUTHORS: signed paperback or ebooks/audio books make good prizes and your book cover will be featured in each ad.
NON AUTHORS: ANY product or service that relates to my readers’ interests will be considered. That could be anything, really, but try to keep it Rated G, okay?

Who can be a sponsor?

Anyone, really. I mean, this blog is public, so some shoe maker in Taiwan could be a sponsor if he wanted to. 

What kind of stuff makes for good prizes?

All sorts of stuff! You can give away signed copies of your paperback, your ebook, your audio book, your editing service, a gift certificate to Amazon, Starburcks or Omaha Steaks, a dollar amount of swag you produce, book covers, book promotion services, software, etc. Get creative!
Prior author sponsors gave away books and gift cards.
Prior non-author sponsors gave away publishing, editing, and much more.

What’s it cost?

The cost of whatever you decide to give. As of right now, there is NO FEE to be a Word Weaver Sponsor. That is expected to change in future contests as we get world famous and car makers and airlines wanna get in on this.

What do I get?

Promotion, silly! I’ll run weekly promotions during February, almost daily announcements in March (the submission period) and April (during the announcement of the winners), maybe more. I will use the blog, Facebook posts and ads, Twitter, etc, plus your efforts in sharing the contest announcements.


Sponsors of my contests can get a discount for my other stuff, like $10 off one of those cool sideline ads you’ve been staring at. You guys know me; I do stuff for friends all the time. I didn’t have ANY sponsors for my last contest, did I? (It was a little lonely, I’ll admit it.)
Oh, and I put ads on Facebook and twitter, too. So there’s that. YOUR stuff being seen by all those folks.

Be SEEN by Millions of people,

probably. It could happen. You don’t know.
(I made myself laugh with that last line!)

If you wanna be part of this for March 2018:

Please reply using the Contact Me button and let me know. I will be looking for a first place prize, a second place prize, and a third place prize, plus door prizes like Amazon gift cards, Starbucks, and other fun stuff.
The format will be similar to what we did in April 2017 where all the prizes were featured every time, plus all of my fellow authors’ books. Click HERE link for that example. (It was really good.)
I’ll decide which prize is best for first and second, etc., by its value and appeal to my readership. Publishing and book covers are cool prizes, but all prizes will be considered, and door prizes can be just about anything – your name and website, etc., still get out there every time.

Let me know!


I can’t have a hundred sponsors. Well, I could, but I won’t. Yet. Maybe one day. That’d be a lot of stuff to keep track of, and I barely remembered to send out the door prizes last time. Maybe if the car maker people call, though…