What Is Your Book Going To Be About? (A reblog of a post by Don Massensio)

Interesting question and some thoughts on where ideas come from, via friend of the blog Don Massenzio.


Author Stephen King once said that the question he is asked most is where his ideas come from. This quote is the answer he usually gives:


When he’s been in a more snarky mood he has said that he has a magic box in his basement where ideas appear and when he wants to write a book, he just goes and grabs one.

That being said, not all of us have the fertile mind of Stephen King so where can we get our ideas. Many of my ideas have come from these sources.

To read the rest of Don’s post, click HERE.


your humble host

Each week we’re taking a few 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.

Scary Anthology – what should the cover look like?

I’m reading stories for the scary anthology, and let me tell you, some of them are GREAT.


So I was wondering what should the cover artwork look like?

Send me some ideas.

If you have images, copy the link and post it.

I was strolling through a free image website and saw a few things that grabbed my eye, but I’m open – and these aren’t necessarily the right line of thinking anyway.


Whether you plan to contribute or not, give me your ideas.


This kinda says scary to me.


This has a nice, eerie feel to it – but I don’t think any of the stories involve a castle. Jenny’s ghost ship thing might, though. Canada is kinda castley, isn’t it? At Epcot it is…


That’s eye-catching.


Too Halloween-ish? And maybe too not-book-cover-ish?


I’m not even sure why this is in here. Maybe I downloaded it for something else.


This might have potential. It’s interesting, and gives that I’m scared vibe.


I like the graveyard thing and the stature holding two victims; that’s pretty original – but I think no bare boobs. It’s not right for this collection. I wouldn’t even have posted it but it’s a cool thought, to have a statue doing that. I wonder why she’s topless, though. Like, I have to hurry and murder these people and there’s no time to pull my top up!


Anyway, send me

  • some written ideas of what might make a good cover, or

  • links to pictures, or

  • links to some other books that we can emulate

– I’m open.




Word Weaver Writing Contest Update AND Anthology Update

danI should probably stop doing updates for two different things. It gets confusing.



the Word Weaver finalists have been decided.

And until the big announcement, no one knows who won but me. I think. My daughter may have spied when I did the last round of tiers. But otherwise I think it’s a close circle of tight lipped confidants.


Anyway, we are on schedule to announce the winners of the July 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest on August 15, as scheduled.

Not really sure why that needed announcing but I felt like it did.


But I will say, wow, what a tough group of entries this was. Very hard to determine a winner, there were so many terrific stories. I’m not sure I got a bad one. You guys are bringing your A Game. And it’s fun to read these things.


Next, the ANTHOLOGY.

We decided on “scary”as out theme but don’t feel super limited by that. Send me something and let’s have a look. The goal is to get everyone exposure, so if you have a macabre story or paranormal or fright night or blood and gore, send it in for consideration.


The deadline is September 1.


Don’t worry about the LENGTH of your story. I’m looking at pieces 6000 words long and pieces 99 words long, okay?

Some of the ideas that have been accepted are:

  • Jenny tells a tale about a ghost ship.

  • Lucy’s PorterGirl has a eerie encounter.

  • Mine is about a guy who had a kind of daydream where he relives a horrible event that happened to someone else.

  • Allison has written a bunch of really short pieces that I’m planing on putting in between the other stories.

  • Plus I think she is writing a regular length short story.

  • I’ve received about a dozen or so other stories that I’m reading this week, about all kinds of things. Don’t feel limited.

If you’ve never been published before, this is a big opportunity for you. There’s still room. And look at those people you’ll be published with!

What’s scary? It’s practically wide open.


So click on the Contact Me button and send me something.



The BS That’s Called “Cultural Appropriation”

your humble host

From time to time on the blog we have other authors discuss a topic they’ve encountered. Here, Mike MacDee, friend of the blog and author of Shadow of the Fox, shares a potentially touchy topic that may be frustrating other writers.

Check out his few insights; feel free to discuss, agree, disagree – but be respectful. (You can tell my thoughts from the title.)

Here’s Mike.


This topic has been a source of controversy for a lot of authors, including recently in a Facebook group I frequent with other writers. I wanted to share this to settle the matter for the many authors, myself included, who struggle with accusations of “cultural appropriation”.


It is OKAY to base a work of art or fiction on another culture.

It doesn’t even have to be another country: you don’t have to be Latino to write a Latino character. Just make sure you have a strong research ethic, make your characters people rather than stereotypes, and you’re fine.


I’m white. I have been fascinated by Egyptology and Japanese culture since I was a kid, and always find a way to sneak a little of one or the other into my work somehow.sotf cover (1)

I busted my ass for years on my first book, Shadow of the Fox, a spy thriller anthology set in Edo Japan.

It is a labor of love and the result of painstaking research, and everyone who has read it has loved it. My first book signing was at Arizona’s Japanese Friendship Garden, called Ro Ho En: the Japanese folks running it were thrilled by the book and extended every courtesy.

They didn’t cry “cultural appropriation,” they were flattered by my interest

and thrilled that I was spreading the love.


I also drew a webcomic called Daddy’s Girl on tapas.io, where the majority of the characters (both good and evil) are black or Latino. One of the three central characters is a black/Latina mix. Another is Japanese-American. There are angry cholitas, Brazilian prizefighters, black physicians and judges, and gangsters of every color.

panel4 p150

All the characters are human and give some indication of backstory, wants, and needs.

The comic was featured in a Michigan comic con panel about “ethnic characters in webcomics”, probably because so many webcomic characters are white by default. Pretty sure that means its okay for me not to exclusively populate my stories with white folk.

wiki geri cigars

That’s why I lose my shit when I see someone trying to vilify an author for not “sticking to their own turf.”

Those people are the racists, not me.

They always will be no matter what their hugbox tells them.


So I’m posting this for all the authors who have asked if it is okay to write outside of their race or culture:

the answer is YES.

Do it.

Do not be afraid to diversify your cast

or use a setting outside your own home, especially if you are a white author — if there ever was an easy target, its us. It’s enriching to you as an author, it adds variety to your work, and if you do it without making a bad joke out of it, nobody has the right to vilify you.

Mike MacDee is a subterranean desert creature that secretes graphic novels and short fiction as a defense mechanism. He is currently on the endangered species list, but so far environmentalists have shown no interest in preserving him.

You can read more of his work at mikestoybox.net!