Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2019

Format: Kindle Edition

“Santa Maybe”: Believe in the Magic

Santa Maybe Cover

Writing to be Read

Santa Maybe

Dan Alatorre’s Santa Maybe is a delightful tale that will make you believe in the magic of Christmas at any age. This story is brief, but it will keep you smiling all the way through. A brief trip to the store and a bearded man in a red shirt lead a dad and his daughter to ask, “Could it be?” What they discover may not definitively resolve the existence of Santa Claus, but it proves that the magic of Christmas is real and everlasting. This is a great seasonal feel good story to brighten the holidays and capture the Christmas spirit in all of us.

Some stories you just judge by the way they make you feel inside. I give Santa Maybe five quills.


Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

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“The last few chapters blew me away.”

“The last few chapters blew me away.”

Yep. I do that.

Gang, here’s a review by a new fan.

GAMMA SEQUENCE FINAL 11182019 ebookGenetics – the subject that is the marker of humankind, everything is decided by our genetics.

I love medical thrillers, not many can write it well.

Dan Alatorre went one step ahead in this thriller and thought wickedly.

And I cackled in delight.

In this book, we had Lanaya who was in deep as she knew someone was killing off the geneticists who had worked 20 years ago on the gamma sequence which led to disastrous results. So she hired a private investigator, an ex-cop, Hamilton DeShear to help her. And boy!! Were those bullets zapping!!

My first book by author Dan Alatorre, authored solely by him,

the story was absolutely mind blowing

when the truth was revealed. I loved the mind of this author who could see beyond what he knew or read. He put the theory into words which I had always been scared of. Brilliance of the plot deserved all the accolades along with the ingenuity of the villain in the book.

The majority of this book was a high octane action thriller with both the main characters trying to escape the killers. The mid section meandered for me as I wanted to know the reason. Something had been done years ago, and I needed to get more hints of it. I understood the various layers that the author had to add to bring the shocker of the reveals at the end. But the doc in me craved for hints in the mid-section and more action by the main characters.

Genetics was given the spotlight, but nothing which would confuse a non-medico. I loved how the author played with the idea of it and showed the dark side. Who is to say that a gamma sequence is not happening in some lab somewhere on this world?!

Overall this was an amazing fun read.

The last few chapters blew me away.

Me: Patting self on back.

Get your copy HERE

Writing Rule #1: Tension Drives Stories

img_2351-19I’ve been watching a TV show/miniseries about the Unabomber, and it’s basically told from the point of view of the FBI agent who ultimately got enough information together to capture Ted Kaczynski.

As I was watching the third weekly episode, I realized that it was very compelling drama – and I wondered why.

Half of my brain loves just enjoying the show and the other half of my brain – or less, I guess – breaks it down and analyzes it.


WHY is it good drama?


Why am I tuning in week after week?

Why do I like a certain character or dislike a certain character?


The guy from Sex And The City plays a boss pretty high up in the FBI. Below him but above our agent hero is a Jerk Boss.


We really dislike the Jerk Boss because he’s a jerk – but what does he do that makes him a jerk?


Jerk Boss is always frowning. Always negative body language, and he does not believe in Hero Agent’s work. In fact, Jerk Boss basically says what Hero Agent is doing is a waste of time and feels they should be spending their resources in other areas (Which they are, too. I don’t mean to imply otherwise. The FBI was chasing down all sort of leads.)


So it’s especially victorious when the Jerk Boss and his theories turn out to be dead ends and he’s the one who’s been wasting time.


The Sex And The City Boss pretty much also doesn’t believe in what the Hero Agent is doing, but Sex And The City Boss is not a jerk. And it’s because he’s almost as strict but he’s not as personally demeaning. And usually he appears much more rational in his thought process. Jerk Boss automatically says no. The Sex And The City Boss is more thoughtful before he says no. But ultimately it is a long series of no’s for Hero Agent.


Occasionally the Sex And The City Boss will think about or consider what the Hero Agent has to say. So it’s like chipping away at an iceberg with the Sex And The City Boss. Whereas with the Jerk Boss it’s just a brick wall. He’s not changing and he doesn’t care what you have to say.


All that’s fine except for one thing.

We know the Hero Agent was right!


And that is why it’s compelling drama.


See, in stories like Gladiator, we immediately saw a hero who was unjustly victimized by the new emperor. The gladiator gets sold off into slavery, his wife and child murdered, his home burned – because he told the truth.


In Bambi, this beautiful new baby deer is learning all these things and his mother gets killed.


You can find it time and time again, but it’s

an unjust thing happening to the hero or the main character and it tends to make us root for them. The more unjust, the more we root.

And if we can drag out that unjustness, and make it last, oh, three to six episodes, people will be shouting at their Tv sets. Leave him alone! He’s right, Jerk Boss, you fat cow!


Grr. Jerk Boss is such a . . . jerk.


Anyway, in this instance, with the Unabomber show, and like in Titanic and other stories where we already know the ending, it’s the simple fact that you know he was right that frustrates you. He didn’t know he was right. He just believed in himself. Everybody kept saying he was wrong and he kept sticking to his guns and working hard.


On the other hand, WE know he’s right. We know his research ultimately leads to the capture of Ted Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber.


So as we watch Hero Agent run into dead ends and frustrating brick walls and damned Jerk Boss who should just die, we marvel at his resolve and determination.

We pull for him as he just keeps chipping away at the iceberg.


And ultimately, although we are only three shows in to a six-episode miniseries, Hero Agent wins because Kaczynski gets caught and they even show us that. (They show Kaczynski and the Hero Agent talking while Kaczynski is in jail.) So they jump back-and-forth in time a little bit,

and that’s neat to see but it also is a constant reminder of:

the hero was right,

the hero was right,


Die, Jerk Boss!! DIE! DIE!



Where was I?

Oh, Hero Agent. See, he didn’t know he was right most of the time. He believed it, but he didn’t know it. And he had a lot of high-powered people above him telling him to stop. Sometimes in embarrassing ways.


(In reality I marvel at the fact that even though this is a dramatic representation, there were a lot of different ways this could have gone and they would not have caught the Unabomber. And I marvel that this guy was such a champ to hang in there and pursue his belief, probably just as vigilantly as other agents who were pursuing dead ends or things that turned out to be dead ends. So that’s a big thumbs up to just good old fashioned police work and hard work and determination.)


But as far as storytelling goes, you can complain maybe they’re over playing their hand with the Jerk Boss and some other elements, but

the reason I’m pretty much glued to the set is because of the drama, and

the drama comes from the hero having to constantly overcome challenges.


Sound familiar?


He has challenges everywhere. Inside himself. With his coworkers. With his bosses. With his wife. With his children. And of course, with the bad guy.


That tension drives this story. Make sure it drives yours.


Whether it’s a manhunt or a romance or whatever, overcoming the challenges are what make us keep turning the pages.

img_2351-18Dan Alatorre has had a string of bestsellers and is read in over 112 countries around the world.

To get free books and updates on his newest novels, join his Readers Club HERE.

16,665! BOOYAH!

img_2351-23I AM ON FIRE!

I just finished writing a scene/chapter that was about 3200 words long, AND I LOVE IT!!!

It’s fun to be excited about writing a book. Even if I have a cold that’s filled the wastepaper basket by my desk with used tissues.

I’m being incredibly prolific, even for me. I’m not sure why.

Well… yes I am.

I was kicking around the idea for this book for, oh, I don’t know – maybe three weeks? Almost since I finished book 2 in the series. (I wasn’t thinking about book 3 while I was writing book 2 because that gets weird. You won’t let yourself do some stuff because you’ll be like, oh, that could be in book 3.) Instead…

I made book 2 as packed full of good stuff as possible and THEN, when it was finished, I looked at book 3.

For like three weeks.

Three loooonngg weeks.

I was like, okay, WHAT will book 3 be about???

What’s the burning question that we need to know?

I had one thought – which I can’t tell you because it’s a really big reveal for the book, but I knew that just that one thing wasn’t enough for a whole book.

So I would make notes about ideas, stare at them in disgust, and get on my treadmill (or as I call it, my idea generator).

NOTHING gets the ideas flowing like working out on a treadmill. I’m not sure why; maybe because I don’t really want to do it. I mean, I do, but workouts are work.

Anyway, I was working out and I said, okay, we have ONE idea. What else?

Monday: maybe this and this.

Tuesday: wow, those ideas from yesterday sucked.

It went on like that for a while, and I said, well, there’s no rush for Book 3. I’ve done well with deadlines, and I’d like to be productive over the holidays, but maybe it’s just not gonna happen right now.

And as you know, if you wait for inspiration, you’re a waiter, not a writer.

That kinda bothered me. As it’s supposed to.

ch 8 screen shotBut I tempered that with the advice from Jim Patterson (if you spend a hundred bucks on a guy’s master class, you get to call them Jim): it’s better to spend a few extra days outlining than to start writing and then get stuck.

I agree. But I worried that a few extra days was turning into a few weeks.

Nevertheless, I’m a good writer. I’ll make it happen. And I stayed after the outline. I stayed after ideas.

Then one day last week, it struck. I was on the treadmill and I as like, oh, what if THIS happened!

Then, I was like, and this! And this!

Each day, when I went to work out, the ideas came crashing forth!

But I did the right thing.

I gathered them up and I created an outline.

Now, my outline isn’t the cleanest piece of writing you’ll ever see. This one’s actually quite sloppy. But I emailed five bullet points to my editor, and she replied saying, “I can’t tell much from this but I’m glad you’r excited.”

Good point. it needed fleshing out, if for no other reason than I’d need to remember stuff later on down the road.

So I started explaining the basic plot and the subplots to her, but not in their actual order, just in clumps of paragraphs that said things like, the X character will meet Y character, and they will do ABC.

Then she got excited. She pointed out which story lines really interested her. Those story lines really interested me, too!

(Why write it if they don’t?)

Point is, it – the story – was happening.

When I had those clumps or paragraphs, I had the “go to” info for my story.  Now, it was just a matter of arranging it into the order it would have to happen.

Easy peasy.

But I didn’t do it.

Because I started writing.

I didn’t break the rule. I outlined. But I always give myself the leeway to change the story as I go, and with my clumps I was ready to begin. I knew how the story would start, how it would end (it’s a terrific ending) and all the stuff in the middle – I just didn’t decide yet what order all that middle stuff would happen in.

Long story short, I was excited about the plot, the ending, and all the subplots, so I started writing. 6 days and 16k later, I’m going strong – because an outline gives you an amazing set of writing prompts every day – and

if a story prompt doesn’t fire you up, ask if you can boil it down or better yet, if it doesn’t interest you, why write it?

If any of you have read this far and would like to opine on what order the opening chapters ought to be in, contact me and ask for the book to date. It’s 8 chapters and 16k, but it can probably begin in any order. YOUR input could shape the start of the story!

Okay, time to take a short break and then get back to the story!

TERMINAL draft 1




13,500 Words. I’m Slacking!

img_2351-23I had to rewrite about 2,000 words of my latest medical thriller today.

I had this great scene, and I said, this happens, then this, then THIS… what  great plot twist! What a cool surprise!

Readers will love that!

Then I realized I had people speaking Ukrainian when they were supposed to be in London.


AAAND I remembered all that cool stuff needed to happen partially out of view of the reader, otherwise – no surprise!


So – rewrite!

Then I added another however many words to finish the chapter on a cliffhanger, and we are right back to it!

TERMINAL draft 1

Now, I’m fighting a head cold, so I could pack it in for the day after write this, or I could write until 11pm, but the smart thing says, since I have tomorrow off, to hit the hay early and get up early and write then.

I feel bad that I didn’t add another 2k to the story today…

but if this thing was to end up at 60k (ha, who are we kidding? a book as short as that – from me?) then I’d be almost 25% of the way through and could conceivably finish in 3 times longer than I’ve spent already, or roughly… let’s see… Nov 22 at 9am until Nov 26 at 8pm, so roughly… 5 working days? So, three times that would be about two and a half more weeks? FOR A COMPLETED NOVEL?

Ha, gang, even I wouldn’t set that as a goal.

Or would I???

No, Ima write this sucker the way I want, and then edit it down to the bare bones, so I’m estimating 85k because at 13k we haven’t even scratched the surface! But you never know! It will be done when it’s done, and it will encompass the story I want to told. That’s all I can tell you right now.

But we’re 13.5k into however long it’s gonna be, and we have about 4 solid writing days plus part of Thanksgiving Day to write before the real world creeps in again, then the Christmas holidays come, which, for my kid’s school is 3 weeks long, so it’s entirely possible we bring this in at 105k in mid-January.

I’ll keep you posted.

Wanna read Book 1 of The Gamma Sequence series right now? Contact Me!

Terminal sequence = 12 K as of yesterday

Just thought you might wanna know.

I’m also suffering from a ridiculous head cold that seems determined to take over my nose and throat. Not my lungs. The lungs are fine. But everything else, forget it.

Undeterred, I soldier on.

I hate to brag or make estimates. Actually I don’t hate to do either… But it’s entirely possible I get this thing done before New Year’s, as planned! 

Terminal Sequence now at 7,596 words!

img_2351-23The new book is now at a whopping 7,596 words after two days!

I gotta admit, having logged almost 5500 yesterday, only doing another 2k seemed a little… meek.

But I wrote out an impromptu 1500 word “fat” outline, fleshing out the major plot points and laying out the subplots. Then I emailed it to my editor for input on which topics to emphasize…

to make Terminal Sequence a really gripping medical thriller.

I think we have a winning combination.

Thusly encouraged, the words are now flying onto the page.

I’m loving this book! I still think I can get it done before midnight on New Years’s Eve, too. Wish me luck!

TERMINAL draft 1

Wanna see what the fuss is all about? Contact Me and I’ll see about hooking you up with a free e-copy of The Gamma Sequence and/or Rogue Elements. Restrictions apply; limited quantities; other legal-sounding phrases; blah, blah, blah.

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