Writing Contest! FINAL DAYS TO ENTER (KINDA) and UPDATES!! Must Read!

We aren’t in the “final days” yet, but soon.

Think that “must read” thing was a little over the top? Yeah, it may have been. Well, we’re all here now. Let’s get down to business.

If you have already entered, please share this post with your friends.

If you have not entered, what’s up with that??? There’s not a big advantage to waiting (said the guy who only recently started writing the  murder mystery that’s due in a few weeks).

Insert contest announcement here (there are more new comments from me at the bottom, totally worth reading):

Have YOU entered yet?

I’ve gotten a few DOZEN entries (you writer types always wait until the last minute) and so far we are still on track to have our BEST contest EVER!

DON’T MISS OUT!Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed 2The July 2018

Word Weaver Writing Contest!

Enter your amazing piece of writing! We have over $400 of valuable prize packages!

and a special 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 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. Smart move.) 

YOU have about 9 more days to enter an amazing piece of your own writing to our contest.

Here’s what you do:

Yep, you guessed it: enter a piece of your writing in the contest. (Nothing gets by you, Smarty McSmarterson!)

The contest “theme” is intentionally broad:


Get the idea? The contest entries will be used to assembled and publish the second book in The Box Under The Bed series, called VOODOO (along with stories I solicit from some bestselling author friends). Your story does not have to deal with voodoo.


What qualifies as horror/scary, etc? That’s up to you. I’m pretty loose with these things.

What can you win?

Scroll down a little, impatient one.

1stThe FIRST PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package:

Darkwater 1

The publishing company with a defense contractor’s name, Darkwater Syndicate is a full-service publisher founded in 2008 and headquartered in Miami Lakes, Florida.

Darkwater Syndicate is seeking to publish titles in the genre of fantasy, comedy, horror (novels and short stories for this one particularly), sci-fi, and thrillers.

That’s perfect for us, gang.

    • This insanely great package includes

      • A publishing option, whereby my friends at Darkwater Syndicate will consider a novel or short story by the winner for publication.

      • Prioritize the winning story so it gets bumped up to the top of an editor’s reading list.

      • If Darkwater Syndicate does sign the author on, they’ll give the work their full treatment of:

      • EDITING

      • COVER ART



      • PLUS, Darkwater Syndicate pays sales royalties better than prevailing rates.

The winner ALSO receives:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website

  • AUTOMATIC ENTRY into our next published scary anthology, VOODOO, expected to be released on October 1, 2018.

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


  • You’ll get to refer to yourself as an award-winning author. Because you’ll be one.

The winning short story (or chapter from the winner’s bigger piece/book) gets featured here on the blog AND will be invited to join the next scary anthology, AND it can go to Darkwater, OR Darkwater will look at the winner’s whole book or a different book.

How awesome is that!

That’s a pretty good first prize package!

IMG_2111Do I have your attention now?

We plan to publish Book 2 in our scary/horror anthology series on October 1, 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.)

EVERYONE who enters the contest will be considered for this anthology.


My edit and critique process, collaboration with other published authors in a private Facebook group created for the anthology, showing the creative process behind designing a winning book cover, getting beta readers, and marketing strategies discussed with other bestselling authors.

That’s kind of a big deal.

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



Catch your breath. There’s more.

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:


2 Months admission to my Private Critique Group

My Private Critique Group is a way for me to work one-on-one with writers and give them critiques just like the ones I do for my bestselling author friends.

(If you entered one of my Word Weaver Writing Contests before, you got a sample of the process, but you can check out the cool testimonials HERE. You know you want to.)

In my Private Critique Group, I will guide you towards achieving the dream of publishing your story.

You can submit approximately 3000 words, twice a month, for me to critique. Additionally, we can have one-on-one Messenger conversations or YouTube Live video chats as needed. We will discuss your plans for the story, plus keep you focused and motivated to achieve your goals.

The 2nd 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

  • slightly less massive bragging rights than first place (because that’s only fair, really)

  • FRIENDSHIP WITH ME, PROBABLY, because I wanna keep good writers close.

  • Yes, they get to refer to themselves as an AWARD-WINNING author, too. Second place is totally an award.

3The THIRD PLACE Winner will receive THIS prize package:

square Total stickcast logo

AUDIO INTERVIEW on The Total Stickcast show!

These guys are great. Each week Paul Johnson (writer, author, vlogger) and Shane Hoopfer (former athlete, parent) get together to discuss what’s new in the world and their own lives, all while working to create an animated webseries called The Total Stick Show.

This will be an opportunity to sit and share your book, your process and anything else you wish, with their audience, all in a relaxed and casual format. I have been interviewewed by these guys, and they are terrific.

The 3rd 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

  • also bragging rights. Bragging rights are big.

  • 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.

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 groupDon’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 critiques is a LOT of freaking work.


DOOR PRIZES just for entering!

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!

  • eBook copies of the #1 bestseller that started it all, The Box Under The Bed(The eBooks are not autographed, but some of the other prizes are.)

  • An audio book prize from an Amazon Bestselling author. (Audio books are not autographed either, you know. Just sayin’.)

  • Other stuff, possibly

HERE are some of the AMAZING AUTHORS whose books you could win!

allisons books

Your choice of a signed paperback from bestselling author Allison Maruska

Allison’s runaway bestseller, The Fourth Descendant, sold more than 20,000 copies in its first 12 twelve months and has garnered 600 reviews on Amazon.  Her Project Renovatio series and the postapocalyptic Drake and the Fliers are amazing stories readers everywhere enjoy, and The Seventh Seed, the brilliant follow up to Descendant, is a gripping, fast-paced adventure. Winner will receive a signed copy of a book if they live in the U. S.; otherwise, an eBook will be substituted as per our contest rules.


PorterGirl – First Lady Of The Keys is Lucy Brazier’s hilarious glimpse into a world usually reserved for the upper echelons of society. The newly-hired Deputy Head Porter struggles with the eccentricities of staid and stoic Old College, far removed from her everyday life. She finds herself chasing after naked students, drinking copious amounts of tea – and getting embroiled in quaint, polite murders.

Lucy’s PorterGirl has gone on to become a well-loved series. Her third PorterGirl book, Sinister Dexter, was recently released to critical acclaim, and the second in the series, The Vanishing Lord, is a personal favorite of mine.



Fledgling nurse Sorcha Alden knew she had the skills to save lives, but she never dreamed that her own life would be the one in danger.

Anne Marie Andrus brings Monsters & Angels, a dark tale from New Orleans where vampire roam a cutthroat underworld of devilry and decadence. Complicated politics, bitter rivals and jealous ancestors clash a realm where the boundary between good and evil is as murky as the Mississippi River and immortal does not mean invincible.

heather hackett

Heather Hackett’s brilliant book Restless is a bestselling travel memoir of a young woman traveling with just a backpack and without the convenience of modern technology, who sets out to learn how the rest of the world lives – and along the way gets groped on an Indian train, fights off wild beasts while trying to use “bathroom facilities” in Goa, trekked the Everest trails while pregnant, unwittingly participated in a people smuggling operation, and was mobbed by fans of a lookalike Indian movie star.


(The new comments are still below; you aren’t there yet.)


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.)


That can be scary, eerie, macabre, a ghost story, unsettling, spooky… maybe even stuff about spiders. In some way, your story must fit into that relatively broad category. Don’t feel limited; I’m pretty loose with this aspect in the contest.

All entries must be submitted on or before midnight eastern time on July 31, 2018. I’d enter early, but that’s me. You should really consider entering early, though.

There is NO restriction on genre other than horror, scary, eerie, macabre, a ghost story, unsettling – and I’m pretty loose on that anyway. Go crazy. You can have your killer clown fall in love. I’m sure it happens all the time.

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. Many of our prior contest winners have gone on to successfully publish the book their contest entry came from. Thousands view the winning announcement and the subsequent posts of the stories. Think about that. It’s a lot of eyeballs on your writing.


You MUST submit your entry via the Contact Me button and pay your $20.00 entry fee (USD) via PayPal to dalatorr@verizon.net .  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 a lot of work, so… maybe you’d like to just go ahead and sign up yourself? Please? 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. 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 winners, but it’s probably gonna be stuff that appealed to me. Typos matter but content matters more. The door prize winners will mostly be by random drawing, and I’m not above awarding stuff to a really great fourth place story. 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, and this is a terrific opportunity!

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


img_2351-2PLEASE REBLOG this and SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! Your friends need to know about this contest, too.

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!

Did you read all that? You rock. If you skimmed, oh well. Skimming happens.

Anyway, my daughter said this last night as I was putting her to bed…

My wife was still back-to school shopping at about 10:00 PM (god am I glad I missed that – notebooks and backpacks were piled up on the table this morning like a dump truck had dropped it there), which is about two hours later than my daughter will need to be going to bed once school starts in a few weeks, but I was sleepy and she can’t handle Shark Week shows (maybe she could, but why risk it? “Daddy there are sharks under my bed!” at 2AM is not good ever, and seeing shark victims with body parts missing isn’t conducive to swimming at the beach for the next… rest of her life), so off to bed!

She protested, of course, because, well, because there’s no school yet, so why can’t she stay up? It’s a good question. I’m sympathetic, too. I hated going to bed as a kid, school or no school. (I read comic books under the covers, possibly attributing to my bad eyesight later).

But since she’s a good kid and tends to fall right to sleep once we get her in bed, it was a short debate.

And as I leaned over her Hello Kitty blanket to kiss her goodnight, preparing to slide into the covers in my own bed and drift off to sleep watching shark week victims with missing body parts and have that ruin MY next vacation at the beach – I totally watch the water for fins the whole time I’m in swimming in the Gulf – I heard her say this:

“I can’t wait to dream about stuff.”

Love that kid.

Who says stuff like that? Kids do. That’s why kids are the best. Sometimes a pure thought is best expressed vaguely.

I don’t know; it made my day (as she often does) so I thought I’d share it with you. I’m misting up a little right now at how… how kid-eloquent she tends to be at age eight. But she’s always gotten to me. You guys know that. Such an innocent thought.

Do you say stuff like that when you’re headed to bed? No. Kids do. Their dreams are filled with pirates and ponies and rainbows and talking dolphins and adventures.

And to think, some people thought this was just another contest announcement post, and didn’t read this far.

If you did, feel free to tell my kid how cool she is. Or me. I’ll read them for sure. She might not. She’s got a little more summer to spend and some cool dreaming to do.



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