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.

WRITING CONTEST – Tick Tock, we are halfway to the end of our contest period!

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

the March 2018

Word Weaver Writing Contest!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

John Darryl Winston13131361_10154451168558455_2986224098739414197_oJenny head shot

John Darryl Winston,   Lucy Brazier,   J. A. Allen

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Allison Maruska,   Jenifer Ruff

(all celebrity judges from 2017 and 2018 will be rotated out and will be invited back for a supercontest at year end)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

and a new bonus

ALL entries will be critiqued by ME!

Yep, I’m going to personally critique your submission.

Wow, I’m gonna be busy. But you’re worth it. Probably.


Enter your amazing piece of writing! Or two! Or more! I and my hand-selected celebrity judge panel of bestselling authors will decide the winners and award a HUGE prize package plus some other amazing goodies. (Last time, contestants entering multiple pieces allowed me to find a story I liked.) 

YOU will have the month of MARCH 2018 to enter an amazing piece of your own writing to my contest.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Yeah. It is. That’s how I roll.

Here’s what you do:

Yep, you guessed it. Enter a piece of your writing in the contest. I try to keep it simple.

The contest “theme” is intentionally broad:


Does that mean Jack the Ripper? Does that mean a boy and his dog? (Like, if one kills the other?)

I don’t know. That’s up to you! I’m pretty loose on these things.

What can you win?

Scroll down a little, impatient one.


The FIRST PRIZE winner will receive:

THIS prize package valued at over $150:


russell j fellows



That’s a pretty good first prize package!

Do I have your attention now?

51eRlHYLzJL._SY346_.jpgI expect we will publish another anthology in 2018, combining bestselling authors and established writers with first timers again. (Our October 2017 “scary anthology” called The Box Under The Bed, topped the charts at #1.)

  • The first place winner of this contest will be guaranteed a spot in the new anthology.

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  • Other contestants may be asked to join the anthology as well!


  • edit & critique process,

  • collaboration with other published authors in a private Facebook group created for the anthology

  • book cover, showing the creative process

  • get beta readers,

  • the whole nine yards.


  • That’s kind of a big deal

You’ll have the whole month of March to create your masterpiece, OR EVEN BETTER – USE PART OF AN EXISTING BOOK.


The FIRST PLACE winner will also receive:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website

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


  • Did you see that gold medal picture? You get that picture to display. (I think it was originally a chocolate coin we gave to my daughter for losing a tooth, but it’s really cool looking!)

  • You’ll get to refer to yourself as an AWARD-WINNING author. Because you’ll be one. How cool is that?

Now… there are critiques?

Yep. We’ll get to that in a second. Check out the other top prizes first.

2The SECOND PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website and consideration for publication in the anthology

  • $25 Amazon gift card

  • 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)

  • Not a gold medal. Sorry.
  • FRIENDSHIP WITH ME, PROBABLY, because I wanna keep good writers close.
  • I think they get to refer to themselves as an AWARD-WINNING author, too. Second place is an award, right?

3The THIRD PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website and consideration for publication in the anthology

  • $10 Amazon gift card

  • 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?

  • also no gold medal. That’s really just for the #1 winner.
  • And still, I think they’re an award-winning author, too. A little less so than 1st and 2nd, but it still counts. And who’s gonna look it up and give you crap, anyway?

Oh, and I may award additional places like Fourth Place and Honorable Mention, etc. Don’t worry, this isn’t the fine print your mom said to worry about.




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

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 private 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.


It can be shorter. If you get it in 1250, you’re good to go.

If it’s longer than 3000, I may read all of it, but I’m only critiquing the first 3000 words. And 10k submissions haven’t won yet, either. So there’s that. Learn to select carefully. Just the best stuff.

I might spend more than an hour if it’s really good! But again, if you send 10k – I’m only human and I’m not gonna be able to wade through all that from you for this contest, okay? Doing critiques is a LOT of freaking work. Try to keep it to 3000 words and under.

Many participants who wrote stories for my contests were later INVITED to be in an anthology we published.


Getting the information, the encouragement, the support, and the hands-guidance you need to GET PUBLISHED.

Almost everyone who was in the October 2017 anthology has expressed an interest in doing it again. That puts you in there with bestselling authors and other published authors.

That’s definitely a big deal, whether you’ve been published before or not. Heck, I get excited about appearing in an anthology with big name people.

EACH ENTRY will receive an in-depth critique of their story by ME, as I said. That alone is worth the price of admission.


As the winner of the last contest, your help has been invaluable. The reason my books have not been published is I haven’t know where to start. I went through the whole “find an agent” and querying steps for my other book, but was tired of rejection. Now I have an author’s Facebook page, a blog, and a Twitter account that never existed in the world before. You walked me step-by-step through the process. We are nearing the end of the beta reader phase, so I think things are going to move pretty quickly now. Although I know the Moyhill package is going to be extremely helpful, you gave me an amazing critique of my book.

– Heather Kindt, author of Ruby Slips and Poker Chips

Hi Dan,
Wow, thank you so much for the critique. Amazing job, thank you. Dan, thank you so much for doing this. I feel as if I’ve found a great mentor, one who knows where my writing is coming from and hopefully to advise me where and how to get to the next level.
 Adele M
Hey Dan,
 You really know how to make my day! I’m so grateful for your detailed critique of my story. It’s wonderful to get this kind of feedback, and totally validates all the hours we put in, alone at our desks, writing our hearts out. To be honest, I jumped up and down and cheered so much, my dog thought I had gone completely berserk, not to mention my husband.
– Heather H
And there are hundreds more who have received my input on their manuscripts via my unique critique process.

Some are bestselling authors who will not publish a manuscript without me looking at it first!

Where else can you find established authors willing to reach out like that? Nowhere, that’s where. Well… here. But nowhere else probably.


“DOOR PRIZES” just for entering!

ALL contestants not winning first, second, or third place will be put into a drawing to win one of these other prizes!

How awesome is that? Stuff for you to win from these cool authors!

Allison Maruska

– Winner’s choice of 1 signed paperback, eBook, or audio book!

(Not all of her books are available in audio book format.)


allison books
Quite the selection!

Joanne R. Larner

– a set of the Richard Liveth Yet (trilogy);

Dickon’s Diaries (single book).

joanne r larner author pic

joanne r larner books

Heather Kindt

– 1 signed copy of Ruby Slips and Poker Chips

Anne Marie Andrus

– signed copies of Monsters & Angels

Russell Fellows

– A copy of both my books (electronic formats only)

russell author pic

russells books

Sarah Brentyn

– signed paperback copies of flash fiction

Sara Bretyn author bio
author Sarah Brentyn

Sara Bretyn books

and stuff from me!


  • Several audio books of The Box Under The Bed (audio books are not autographed) will be awarded

  • Several autographed paperback copies of my bestselling books will be awarded

  • Several not-autographed copies of my eBooks will be awarded


NO LIMIT ON ENTRIES BY ANY ONE PERSON. You wanna enter 10 stories? Pay 10 fees. I’m totally okay with that.

You must enter an original piece of your own writing and pay the entry fee. Please don’t exceed 3,000 words (but if you’re a little over, fine. If you go 10k, I know you aren’t even trying. Shoot for 3k. You can do that, but don’t ruin your story chopping it to 3k, okay?Entries can be as short as you want. FEEL FREE  TO USE A CHAPTER OF YOUR UNRELEASED BOOK. (That’s what I’d do.)

THEME: To coincide with a new book I’m writing, the theme is MURDER/MYSTERY/SUSPENSE. That can be happy stuff, cozy mystery, violent stuff, psycho killer stuff, crime stuff (I guess murder is already a crime) detective stuff,  YOU NAME IT.  Totally your call. Don’t feel limited. I’m pretty loose with this aspect.  Wanna have some insights into what I like? Check out the prior winning entries from the last three contests (April, July and November) and not just the first place winners. In some way shape or form, your story must touch on the theme of MURDER/MYSTERY/SUSPENSE. Again, I’m pretty loose on this.

All entries must be submitted on or before midnight eastern time on March 31, 2018. There is a preset number of entries that will be allowed. When that number is reached, and it’s a LOT, no additional entries or fees will be accepted. When we get close, I’ll announce it on the blog – but if you get in early you’ll be fine. You’ll probably be fine anyway, but keep an eye on the blog just in case – or enter early, right? That will work, too. Did I mention to enter early? Because you should totally enter early.

There is NO restriction on genre other than murder/mystery/suspense – and I’m pretty loose on that anyway. Go crazy. You can have love in your psycho thriller.

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 $20.00 entry fee (USD) via PayPal to .  PLEASE SEND A WORD DOCUMENT (WordPress text and PDFs mess up the formatting). Simply send me a message using the Contact Me button saying you want to enter and I’ll email you back; from there you’ll be able to attach your piece. IF YOU DO NOT GET A REPLY WITHING 24 HOURS, ASSUME AN EMAIL SCREW UP AND EMAIL ME AGAIN. (Not using Word? Attach it in whatever you used. If there’s a problem, I’ll let you know. But please try to use Word, okay?)


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.) A lot of the entries’ email addresses don’t get on the list because it’s work and I’m lazy. 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 a mailing address to deliver a paperback to. Winners who live outside of the country of the sponsor whose prize they won may be limited to a prize that can be emailed or sent electronically, like an eBook, audio book, PDF, or Amazon gift card. You still get your work published here, and the profile, etc., if you win those things, but sorry; mailing a paperback from here 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. NO LIMIT ON ENTRIES BY ANY ONE PERSON until our preset number is reached. You wanna enter 10 stories? Pay 10 fees. By entering you agree to all this stuff and that I pretty much get free reign in selecting the top 3 winners (along with help from our celebrity judges) but it’s probably 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 way in advance because I’ll be whining about it here on the blog.

You are probably a better writer than you think. Time to launch your rocket!

Tick tock. March 31, 2018, will be here before you know it.


img_2351-2REBLOG 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.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazing paranormal thriller “An Angel On Her Shoulder.”  Click HERE to get your copy of Angel – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

 Available in paperback format, too!

You have questions. Ask away.

your humble host

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.


A is for Action 3
mock-up of the cover

I’ve been asked numerous times to create a manual for people I critique for, so

here and there I’m gonna take a weekend and jot down some of my secrets.

Those of you who have enjoyed The Dan Treatment on your critiques will recall some wise bits of info being delivered, and might even wish some of it were available in a reference manual for you.

Well, I’ll get to everything in due course, but when Allison created S Is For Story, I thought it’d be a great idea for her friends – me among them – to take a topic and dive deep into it. 

AM 4
I said, what a great idea!

For those of you who have expertise on certain areas, let me know what topic you might wanna tackle. This could evolve into a series and eventually an anthology-type omnibus. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to work and on the next rainy weekend I’ll pop out another one of these.

This one will be on sale soon enough, but if you’d like to read it NOW and are prepared to sing its praises on Ammy – or say it sucks, I guess, because I’m asking for truth and not just praise – then use the Contact Me button and I’ll send you a copy!

Limited quantities. Hurry!

Feel free to share this with your friends.

Other Ideas That May Need Addressing For The Series

  • B is for Beta Readers, Blurb, (Why You Should) Blog, a Bad review
  • C is for Character Interview, Critique Partners, Conferences, Cliffhanger chapter endings, Contests
  • D is for Dialogue Tags, Death
  • E is for Editing, Easy To Read Means Hard Work In The Writing, Author Events
  • F is for Funny, Fresh Eyes, Flash Fiction, Find Time To Write
  • G is for Grabber Opening,
  • H is for Hook, Hesitate
  • I is for Interview (Character Interview), Doing an author Interview, Immersion, Indie (why every writer should learn indie even if they wanna be trad
  • J is for Jump Cut between scenes
  • K is for Kick ass dialogue, kick ass characters, kick ass stories, Editing Kills
  • L is for Love
  • M is for Mystery, Marketing
  • N is for Nothing Is What It Seems
  • O is for Outline, Opening lines, 5 things for your opening chapter
  • P is for Plot Twists, Pace, go where the Pain lives, Psycho, Paranormal
  • Q is for Quitting (stay motivated)
  • R is for Reaction Before Action, Character Reactions (not rushing on to the next exciting scene), React (Have A Character React The Way You Want The Audience To React), Realism
  • S is for Sex Scenes, Signings, Sample chapters, your blog Sucks, Steamy scenes
  • T is for Tension, Teasing
  • U is for 10 Things That Make Your Story Unreadable, Uncomfortable (getting out of your comfort zone)
  • V is for Vices (your characters, to make them interesting; yours that keep you from writing), Vampire Romances as in please no
  • W is for Write Drunk/Edit Sober, find time to write, the spousal fight that comes from writing all the time
  • X is for X rated, Xenophobe – how to write black characters if you’re white, and gay guys, and other stuff
  • Y is for yellow and describing other colors in your story like sunsets, Yearning (will they/won’t they in Moonlighting, Cheers, and a million other stories), or: YES! I made a book – now what?
  • Z is for Zoo as in describing animals and yes I mean poop smell but not just poop smell, Zombies (as in please no)

What you thought – is correct

My daughter discovered this book series yesterday. Read her first book cover to cover in the afternoon.

Troy Cummings

They’re easy to read, so that’s not a big deal – but this next item is.

I checked out how a guy like this ends up with a series at Barnes & Noble, published traditionally and available everywhere – because we would all like that kind of exposure.

On his Random House FAQ, he said this (emphasis added by me):

Q: Do you think that really what it all boils down to is that you just have to keep at it?  In other words, once you stop writing, then it’s really hard to start again? And that the same goes for drawing?  Or even playing the saxophone?  Oh, and also that the more you create, the easier it is to create the next thing, be it writing a story or drawing a picture or sculpting a national park out of mashed potatoes or anything, really?

A: Yes.


Food For Thought (a.k.a. A Writely Kick in The Rear)


You are allowed to have early works. You are allowed to not be perfectly polished the first time out. You’re allowed to do a lot of things from which you’ll learn. But yeah, listening to naysayers, that’s not something I’d say you’re allowed to do.


Don’t forget the writing contest!

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

You could win, you know. Somebody has to.

Writing Contest!

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How can we forget? You tell us every day!

Yeah, well…

We are already tracking to have more entries for this contest than we did for prior contests, so

you better bring your A Game!


For details, click HERE and check out the original post announcement.

THEN ENTER and show your stuff!

  • Win valuable prizes!

  • Winning stories featured here!

  • ALL entries critiqued by ME!

Enter NOW!