The First Rule of Wine Making And Maybe of Writing Books

What is my target audience - or do I even have one?
What is my target audience – or do I even have one?

The hardest part or being an author is being a marketer. All authors know people who have different jobs (construction, medical, whatever) and they say, I’m writing a book, or I have an idea I think would make a great book. Most of the time those books don’t get written.

So for those people, writing is the hard part. Luckily, most authors don’t have that problem. I suppose you can always hire a marketer to market your book for you, but it’s hard to get somebody to write your book for you.

The challenge is, if you know how to write, learning how to market. I met a lot of wine makers over the years, and I learned what I call the first rule of the wine maker, and that is: make what sells. You can make all the sweet dessert wines you want but if nobody buys them, you are SOL. You can make the best tasting meritage with great tannins and an amazing finish, but if nobody knows about it, you won’t be making it very long because you’ll be out of business. So the smart wine maker makes what sells, and that allows him to make what he wants as a sideline.

It's not one-size-fits-all!
It’s not one-size-fits-all!

Heartbreaking, no? or smart business?

Now, wine making isn’t the same as writing and marketing books, but there may be some sage business advice for people who want to be in the business of selling books – because even though I write for a reason other than to sell books, I want the books to get sold.

I have told people that my Savvy Stories books were written for a small audience but she is getting bigger every day. I wrote those books about my daughter and about learning how to be a good dad. I think it would be really cool to hand my daughter a stack of books one day and say, “Here; this is all about how much fun it was hanging out with you.”

So, with those, I was making the wine I wanted to drink…

How my Amazon author site looks now.
How my Amazon author site looks now.

When selling books becomes my top priority, you may see me writing something other than what I’m writing now (I’ve written a sci fi thriller, a romantic comedy, cook books, children’s books, family humor and paranormal, but so far no teen vampire stuff). For now, though, I’m going to keep making the wine I like to drink, I’ll be telling the world all about it with great enthusiasm, and I hope the new stuff sells and the old stuff keeps selling, but if it doesn’t, I know I have my integrity and my pride of doing my best at writing what I loved, and not just whatever crap I thought I could sell. That doesn’t mean I won’t try something different in a few months, to get things going and spark some interest. But I have a funny feeling that when a writer stops writing about what they love and starts writing what they think will sell, they need to guess right.

I think the people who people give up on writing do so because they do it for a while, it doesn’t get to a place where they can quantify it as successful, so they get discouraged and stop. Sales of books is probably the universal bar for success; marketing is they way to hit that bar.

Guessed wrong.
Guessed wrong.

Guessing wrong about what to write, and failing at chasing the money/popular theme of the day/trend, would be soul-crushing to writers who write out of love for their topic, and is probably a dangerous road to follow – if it is the only path you choose.

The winemaker didn’t say to ONLY make the wine that sells, and he knows he must be a good farmer to grow good grapes, a good winemaker, AND a good marketer, to be successful. If he lacks in any of these categories, he needs to work on it or hire someone to help in the areas where he lacks. Help usually costs money. But if he can learn those skills, as he learned the skills of making wine (or marketing book) – because few are born with the knowledge – he (and we) can be successful.

Balance is required, above and beyond the writing. You need the  persistence to hang in there and adapt, and the willingness to learn fully what is necessary to be successful in the craft you love – however you may define success.

This is true in any business.


Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

What Makes A Person A Friend?

What makes a person a friend?

My daughter has a little playmate, another little girl her age. Let’s call the other little girl Nancy. They are the same height and they were born about a month apart. They see each other once a week if they are lucky, since we all have busy schedules, but when they do get to see each other, they literally jump up and down and scream with delight.

It is hilarious and beautiful to watch.

Nancy’s mom, let’s call her Emily, is a young lady in her 20’s (so she is much younger than I), asked me recently time why I thought they were such good friends. She would take her daughter to play with other friends of hers and they didn’t play together as well. Nancy went to play with her friend Sophia and they ended up not playing well but actually complaining that they didn’t like playing with each other!

That happens, I know. I guarantee as a kid I disowned my best friend more than once, but we would forget our disagreements overnight and the next day we were best friends again. I assume girls can be the same way.

When you ask my daughter about Nancy, she gets excited. If you tell her she is going to see Nancy today, it’s like Christmas. She will bring up Nancy’s name out of nowhere and ask if she can go see her today.

Nancy’s mom says that Nancy is the same way.

The two girls first met when they were both about 1 year old, at Gymboree, a kind of indoor playground for very small children. They had a “class” together once a week and would see each other at the open gym sometimes a second time that week.

Then Nancy and her family moved away for a year to Colorado. Not much was said about them by my daughter while they were gone. In the interim, Savvy learned to swim, ride a bike, and discovered Monkey Bizness.

That’s another indoor playground for kids, but it’s built for kids that are probably age 2 to age 7. There are big things to climb on, a big bounce house, slides, a fingerpaint area, tables for lunch… all inside and air conditioned.

And we would go there about once a week. Which is where we ran into Emily and Nancy again one day.

A year had passed. Nancy had grown and was talking. Emily had changed her hair color, so I did a double take.

At first, I thought I recognized them across the room, so I smiled and waved and said Hi. Then I immediately had an awkward second thought: Nancy and her family moved to Colorado a year ago; you are waving at a lady you don’t know.

But my first thought was right and my second thought was wrong. it was them. And when Emily came over to say Hi, she was happy to see us. When Nancy recognized Savvy, and Savvy recognized Nancy, they were delighted. Little friends reunited again. They played together, held hands, hugged… it was quite a reunion.

We exchanged phone numbers so we could get the kids together once a week or so.

From there, whether they played together once a week or less than that, they were fast friends. in the ensuing year, they have gone to the zoo together, the park, had picnics, played at our house in the pool, attended each other’s birthday parties, and gone back to Monkey Bizness several times.

And that’s when, recently, Emily asked me why I thought they were such good friends.

It was an easy question to answer, but it was very difficult as well.

They are friends because they play together often enough to know that they can trust each other. They are young, still almost babies, but they have learned that each will not hurt the other. They have similar interests and when their interests don’t align, they are relaxed enough to try what the other wants to do. They have similar home situations; each is an only child that doesn’t go to day care – although Nancy started pre-VPK a month ago.

They encourage each other to eat so they can go back to playing. Nancy has often fussed at Savvy: Eat your carrots! Savvy is a slow eater; that cuts into play time.

They enjoy each other’s company.

They put up with each other’s crap.

They miss each other when they are apart. Savvy will say, “Dad, remember when me and Nancy went on the boats? And we didn’t like it?” It’s her way of reminding me about the motorized boat ride at the zoo, where the kids can drive their own little boat without an adult on board – and it’s a disaster because they can’t drive, the boat starts spinning in dizzying circles, and they cry. Or they throw up. We were lucky that our kids just cried.

They didn’t even ride it at the same time. Savvy rode it once, and hated it; and then a month later when we went back, Nancy rode it (Savvy refused) and hated it. Neither could control the boat, and they just went in circles, spinning out of control until the ride operator rescued them.

I’d hate spinning in circles, too.

But I thought is wasn’t nice for Savvy to bring up a memory where her friend had a bad time, and I was bothered by it. She originally asked, “Dad, remember when Nancy went on the boats and she didn’t like it?” and then she laughed.

“You didn’t like it, either,” I reminded her. “Don’t pick on Nancy about not liking that ride. Neither of you liked it. You cried when you went on it, too.”

The next time she brought it up, she included both of them in the recap: “Dad, remember when me and Nancy went on the boats? And we didn’t like it?”

I was equally perplexed at why she would bring up a bad memory at all.

But she references Nancy at other times. “Can I go over to Nancy’s house today?” or if we were in the car, she would ask if we could go by Nancy’s house. Sometimes she would ask if we could go to Monkey Bizness and see Nancy, or if Nancy could come over to grandma’s house after swim practice.

Not all the time; she asked these things randomly and occasionally.

Of course, it was a 3-year old’s way of saying that she missed her friend. But it took me a while to realize it,, because they most common phrase she said was about the boats. “Dad, remember when me and Nancy went on the boats? And we didn’t like it?”

She missed her little friend. Her mom and I were fun, but there’s no substitute for a friend your size, who can go down the slide right after you, bounce along in the bounce house with you, fingerpaint next to you…

The answer to the question “Why are they friends?” was as simple as it gets.

And as complex.

They are friends because they like each other.

They have common interests, and their parents have similar parenting styles. that means we allow certain things and don’t allow other things.

They like each other and they trust each other. When one gets hurt, the other shows concern. If one accidentally hurts the other one, or knocks her down while running for the same slide, or trips over her while playing in the bounce house, they apologize. And they mean it.

They’re good kids.

I can think of a hundred reasons why they are such good friends, and I couldn’t say what exactly it is about the combination that makes it so special for each of them. I’m just glad they are good friends. I’m glad they are discovering close friendships at such a young age. I hope they continue to be good friends for a long time, and to add other people into that circle. I’ll do my best to help.

But to be honest; they’re three years old. What do they really know about friendship? I don’t know…

I don’t know, but they do.


For more amazing cuteness from my 4 year old daughter and the rest of her hilarious family, check out my Savvy Stories book series here. (Book two is on sale today)


Sunday Driver

I was driving to Savvy’s cousin’s 2nd birthday party, which was being held at her grandma’s house, and even though it’s a short drive, I’m running late and trying to hurry. The speed limits on the streets between here and there are pretty moderate, but for some reason traffic was a little backed up.

Up ahead, about 3 or 4 cars in front of me, was a big old or a Mercury Marquis, driving slowly like they were looking for a street that they couldn’t find.

One by one, as the cars in between us turned off to their respective destinations, it was finally just me and the big old Mercury. From behind, I can see two little heads that are barely able to see over the dashboard, an old man and an old woman, driving their giant car at about 2 miles per hour.

I chuckled to myself. They weren’t looking for a street; they were just driving at old man speed: slow. Sunday drivers.

I realized that the car they drove was like the one my Dad had driven for many years – maybe he still had it, too. Even though he could certainly afford any car he liked, Dad would buy a car that was about 1 year old, then drive it forever. That’s just his style; not too flashy.

Although I always remember him driving really fast when we were kids, it could have been him behind the wheel of this monstrous Merc now. He doesn’t really drive fast these days. And Dad has seemed to shrink a little with age, so he just might be a little lower in proximity to the dashboard like the gentleman in front of me.

Of course, my Dad was always taller than me when I was a kid, and when I finally got taller than him, he still insisted I was not. He probably still would if I asked him. But there’s a time for good sportsmanship in each of life’s games, and when you are decidedly taller than a man you’ve looked up to all your life, you don’t haggle. As years go by and you see each other less and less, you might wish he was still the taller of the two of you.

I eased back a bit from the Mercury as the driver finally found the road they had been searching for, and they turned and went on their merry way.

And I thought: good for them. Slow driver or not, I hope to be there one day. It had never occurred to me before, but it would be nice to like them and my Dad.

Those slow old drivers and my Dad have lived to see their children grow up, their grand children get born, and maybe a few great grand kids too. That sounds pretty nice to me, something to look forward to about old age that I had never thought about before.

God bless that little old guy driving in front of me.

I hope to be one some day.


For more amazing cuteness from my 4 year old daughter and the rest of her hilarious family, check out my Savvy Stories book series here. (Book two is on sale today)


Primary Target Chapter 2

img_2351-19The date on this post might be confusing, but that’s because I went back and edited an old post so it wouldn’t appear in anyone’s notifications, the way a new post would.

You Inner Circle folks will have to tell me what the best way to do this is. Maybe just email the chapters to those who ask for them. I can have a little of this out there for public consumption, but not too much. There’s supposed to be a benefit to being in the Inner Circle!

We’ll figure it out.

Meanwhile, enjoy a tentative chapter 2 of Primary Target.

words words words


I’m A Beautiful Princess!

“I’m a beautiful princess!” 

“I’m a beautiful princess!”

“I’m… I’m a beautiful princess!”

“I’m  a  beautiful  princess!!!”

“I’m a beautiful princess!”

“I’m a beautiful princess!” 

“I’m  a  beautiful  princess!!!”


Somebody got new pajamas tonight.


“I’m  a  beautiful  princess!!!”

“I’m  a  beautiful  princess!!!”

“I’m  a  beautiful  princess!!!”


They’re princess pajamas.



“I’m a beautiful princess!”

“I’m a beautiful princess!”

“I’m… I’m a beautiful princess!”


Could you tell? 

Princess Movies

As the father of a 3 1/2 year old girl, I have had occasion to watch my fair share of princess animated movies.

Originally, “Snow White” was a favorite. You know the old classic Disney one where she dies from the poison apple and when the prince kisses her she awakens. savvy liked singing the “Hi-Ho” song every day for a few weeks…

“Cinderella” was her favorite animated princess movie for a while, and Cinderella is definitely her favorite princess, no doubt. When she got to meet Cinderella on the Disney cruise last year, it was an amazing moment for her.

“Beauty And The Beast” is a good one, and some of the others weigh out as pretty good or just mediocre by today’s standards.

But I think Rapunzel (“Tangled”) is probably rising up the charts for me, as far as favorite animated princess movies go. She meets her prince and all, like the others, but at the end she goes to live with her mom and dad.

I kinda like that.

At least, while my daughter’s 3 1/2. When she’s in her late 20’s, I may have different ideas.


John Lennon, The Beatles, and Savvy’s Feet In Diamonds

Maybe John Lennon wasn’t full of crap after all.


When people said the title of one of the Beatles songs, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” was a reference to the drug LSD, he denied it. But since the Beatles were said to be experimenting with drugs at the time, a lot of people didn’t buy his explanation. Add to it that Lennon had a way of being an @sshole once in a while, a rich guy with an air of superiority, and some people were more than ready to NOT give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, he said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, y’know. Okay, he didn’t actually say that, exactly, but you can see how comments can spiral out of control. I’m not sure how he would have fared in today’s instant information world. Pretty good, probably; he mastered the media of the time; why not of this time, too, had he lived?


Anyway, I always thought a little less of him when I heard him deny the drug reference. There was plenty of footage of The Beatles doing drugs and acting strange in places like India, so it seemed likely that the guy WAS secretly referring to drugs, and got caught, and offered a weak denial. He said that his kid had made a drawing and brought it to him and said, “Here, dad, this is Lucy in the sky with diamonds.”


Not having kids at the time, I found the explanation a bit ludicrous, and hardly gave it a second thought.


But years go by and occasionally one of their songs would pop up on the radio, and you might remember things from long ago. Like an arrogant musician trying to fool a willing fan base that he was a better father or citizen or something. But they did make some good music, and a lot of it has held up over the years. Lennon’s comment about “Lucy” was not something I dwelled on, just a controversial little piece of information that was occasionally brought back into the light. I never had any really hostility towards the man, I just liked the stuff by his writing partner, Paul McCartney, better. And George Harrison’s stuff. And some of Ringo’s.


So  when we were at the beach on vacation a few weeks ago, we stayed at a rental condo. Of course it was done up in beach themes: seashell decorations and pastel painted walls, and a round dinner table made of wicker-rattan, with a glass table top. Perfect for the three of us – my wife, my daughter, and I – to have breakfast. Since we were on vacation, we had plenty of cameras around, so we could take pictures of anything interesting – and usually what was most interesting to us was our daughter, so we had taken plenty of pictures of her, including one of her playing at the glass table just now.


Our tables at home are not see-through, as this glass topped one was, so my 3 1/2 year old daughter enjoyed playing under it, placing toys and seashells on top of it and then crawling underneath to view them, seeing things from that vantage point.




We were trying to hurry through lunch a bit – get her to eat some green beans so we could go see Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Aquarium or something, that I was sitting down next to her focusing on what was important to my agenda, and she was of course focused on what was important on her agenda, Rarely are the two aligned. 


“Hurry up and eat! I said. “We need to get going!”


“Look, Dad, you can see my toes!”


She smiled at me, fork in hand, completely disregarding the green beans.


“What?” I asked.


“You can see my toes!” she said again, and pointed to her wiggling piggies through the glass top. She had stretched her feet out to rest on the squares of the rattan-patterned table base, and she could see them through the table’s surface.


I looked at them too.


“Take a picture of my feet in diamonds,” she said.


Right. They weren’t squares. They were turned sideways. They were diamonds. It was a diamond pattern. 


And as I gazed at them through the glass, the sentence she uttered hung in the air, bouncing around in my head like an echo.

Savvy’s feet in diamonds. 


Of course I took a picture.


And it occurred to me that John Lennon was probably telling the truth after all. I feel like I owe him an apology somehow.



Chapter 2

In our 2nd Chapter, tragedy unfolds as the doctors give the new parents terrible news, and Savvy begins a life and death struggle to live through her first week.

  Lights! Camera! Action! Savvy Stores Chapter 2 is a rollercoaster ride you will never forget, and it’s ALL TRUE.

  You will cry.
  You will laugh.
  You will rejoice and hug the kids in your life a little closer.

  Get ready. This Friday, the next Chapter of Savvy Stories begins. Stay tuned, and have the tissues ready

Pen Names, Alter Egos, and Other Pretend Identities


If I ever write under a pen name or other name…

I might want a place for people to go to know for sure it was really me (so if it does well I’d get credit).

Here are a few alter egos and pretend writer identities that are still me:

  • David Duanes
  • Jessica McClintock

Those were created to use on Facebook and when I was working doing book covers. (I’ll insert more when the time comes.)

I also made some with anagrams – my name with the letters rearranged. Be honest, if I didn’t tell you, some of these are not obvious at all.

  1. Talon Dreara
  2. Darra T. O’Neal
  3. Rand Tareola
  4. Tara L. Reardon
  5. Alan Terrado
  6. Tarnal O’Read
  7. Lara O. T. Dearn
  8. Alan T. Roared
  9. Natale Ardor
  10. Dora Antarle
  11. Aldo Narrate
  12. Darnel Roata

I may come up with some others, too.

To see my books, all under my real name so far, click HERE





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