The Gamma Sequence = Better than Jeffrey Deaver

“Hi Dan –

My opinion that Jeffery Deaver is the best gotcha author in the business has changed. It’s you. I was shocked right down to the last page.

“I’m putting the final touches on my Double Blind review and will send it along when posted (and it will also go on Amazon and Goodreads).”

She’s not the only one. Check out The Gamma Sequence NOW

Interview With Author Dan Alatorre (by Author Heather Kindt)

This insightful interview by Heather Kindt is one of my faves. You can read a little here, but be sure to click over and read the rest at her blog. Lots of good tips, and I really enjoyed her interview style. Proud she referred to me as one of her mentors!

Best-selling author, Dan Alatorre sat down with me recently to chat about his writing and his advice for new authors. He holds a special place in my heart because he has helped me launch my writing career through his contest.


(10/22/2019 update: we no longer do the Word Weaver Writing Contests)

I will include a link to his current contest at the bottom of this post. Now, sit back and enjoy Dan’s “been there, done that” wisdom.

When and how did you first start writing?

Technically, I always wrote. If you’d have asked me that ten years ago, I’d have said I didn’t, but looking back it’s obvious I did. I made comic books for my older brother and badgered the teacher at my grade school into starting a newspaper so I could write for it. I became co-editor of the high school paper. But I always wrote comics and short stories, and later I wrote skits for a Saturday Night Live-like show my high school friends and I would occasionally tape record. Before that, as kids, my younger brother and the kid next door recorded ourselves doing home made plays called Steve Clancey, an action adventure character.

Say what you want, but a comic book by a kid still has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. It needs characters and a plot. One of my comic book series was Sam Parrot, Private Eye, about a detective bird, and a strange comedy series called Weird Corner that was inspired by macabre stuff I’d occasionally see in Mad Magazine and The Twilight Zone reruns on WXIX-19, a TV station we (barely) got that broadcast from Cincinnati.

So I always wrote stuff, and I often wrote funny stuff, but when I started posting little vignettes of Facebook about the adventures I had with my baby daughter, they quickly developed a following. I’d write a short story, post it, and go off to work. When I came home, there’d be a hundred comments from friends and friends-of-friends. Pretty soon they were asking me to write a book.

That lead to the Savvy Stories series, which was a big hit, but I wanted to write novels. My first one, An Angel On Her Shoulder, I wrote in about 41 days and it was 105,000 words long. That got trimmed because I sat on it while I wrote a few other books and learned about writing drama in novels. The Navigators was born because an author friend said I needed more tension in my stories, so I decided to write a story that was filled with tension. Navs was. It’s a gripping page turner. Readers can’t put it down. (What can I say? I’m a quick study.)

From what I learned writing The Navigators, and with input from a few critique partners I’d met along the way – who I still work with today, by the way – I reapplied myself to Angel, and turned a good story with a few interesting characters into a brilliant paranormal thriller readers love.


There’s a lot more to read.

Click HERE and catch the rest!




It’s Beta Reader time!


Group Tinted

For those of you who have been awaiting the sequel to

The Gamma Sequence,



The Gamma Sequence Book 2

is available NOW for Beta Readers!

That means YOU can read and enjoy this amazing sequel before anyone else.

Well, before most people; you’d be getting it at the same time as the other beta readers. (Actually, that’s not even true. My sister got it yesterday. But, hey – maybe she didn’t start reading yet.)

Anyway, it’s a full and complete amazing sequel to my amazing story The Gamma Sequence (which, you may have noticed, is NOT available in ebook yet. That’s coming soon; more on that later.)


Here’s the tag line

The past doesn’t die. It waits to be forgotten.


Here’s the blurb

After completing the biggest case of his career, private detective Hank DeShear returns home to start treatment for a disabling genetic condition that could end his life, but he learns his partner on the prior case has just been murdered. Was he wrong to conclude the secretive killer known as The Greyhound had declared a truce? Or have disciples of The Greyhound surfaced to carry on with the murders?

DeShear is able to attach himself to an overseas goodwill mission headed by the U. S. Vice President, enabling him to pursue leads in foreign hospitals he thinks could be offshoots of Angelus Genetics’ illegal organ harvesting programs and human trafficking operations. Determined to pursue the truth wherever it leads, DeShear must also keep a low profile so he doesn’t become the next murder victim—but the onset of his debilitating condition may kill DeShear before the murderer gets a chance.


HERE’S THE FIRST CHAPTER! – below, at the end of this email.

Honestly, who else does that for you?

Are Michael Crichton and Robin Cook emailing you with their stuff?


Because, well, it seems Michael Crichton passed away quite a while ago, and Mr. Cook is probably very busy and doesn’t have your email.


And now you have been alerted to the news! ROGUE ELEMENTS will continue the journey we started in The Gamma Sequence. It is a stand alone novel AND is part 2 of a 3-book series that I plan to finish writing by January 31, just a few short months from now.

While book 3 is planned on being a stand alone, odds are you’d want to read books 1 and 2, so here’s your chance.

What you need to do:


  2. Tell me what e-version of the book you’d like: PDF, Mobi or Word document; I will send you a copy;

  3. YOU read and send me your thoughts when you’re finished.

Pretty easy, I’d say.

The book will be released as part of the multi-author medical thriller set “PULSE,” but you get it free from me right now.

Awesome, right?

And just think: there’s a third book coming.


Okay, if you’re in, CONTACT ME and tell me.

Meanwhile, here’s chapter 1.

Chapter One

The assassin backed his stolen car into the parking space, exactly three rows from the target vehicle where the device would go. He tapped his fingers on the wheel. This was a good spot. Close enough to see his victim in the parking garage, but far away enough to not be noticed by her. He glanced at this watch for the third time in two minutes. Two twenty-seven A. M.

Taking a few deep breaths, he lowered all four windows of the sedan, letting the icy Minnesota winter rush in. The frigid air made his eyes water and dried the inside of his nose.

He ran his hands back and forth over his thighs, tapping his heels as he checked out the other cars. The nearest one had a light dusting of snow on it, compliments of the strong winds that blew nonstop through the airport garage’s second floor.

Okay, I have something for that.

The assassin reached across the car and hauled a gray duffel bag from the floor and onto the passenger seat. White clouds formed with each rapid breath as he inspected the objects inside. His gaze darted past the magnetic metal box that would help kill his victim. Next to that, a homemade transmitter rested. Some clothes acted as cushions between the other objects, with a can of artificial spray snow and a can of spray-on window frost completing the inventory. They weren’t technically necessary in the near-zero temperatures, but appearances mattered. He needed his stolen sedan to look as if it had been sitting in the parking garage for a while.

He swallowed hard and jumped out of the vehicle, shaking the can and spraying a fine layer of fake snow onto the car’s hood and roof, then lightly coated the windshield with the fake frost. He glanced over his shoulder at the elevator.

Nothing yet.

With shaking hands, he leaned close to the glass, spit onto the driver’s side, and cleared away a baseball-sized spot with the heel of his hand.

Midway up the glass. Just about perfect.

Another glance at the watch. Two-thirty. She’d be here soon.

His heart was racing. The chosen parking space was outside the field of view of the security cameras, but his victim’s car was not. Grabbing the duffel bag off the passenger seat, the assassin dropped the cans inside and slipped the strap over his shoulder, walking towards the black Audi.

Walk normal. Walk normal.

As he passed the victim’s car, he zipped up his jacket and pretended to drop the duffel bag. Bending to retrieve it, he snapped the magnetic box onto the underside of the car frame and shoved a remote stopper inside the exhaust pipe.

He stood up, bag in hand, and proceeded to the elevator. After pressing the button, the assassin waited, tapping his fingers on the side of his leg and holding his breath.

No cameras here.

An instrumental version of Jingle Bells played on the elevator speakers as he stepped inside. When the doors had closed behind him, the assassin pulled off his jacket and reversed it from gray to blue. His hands shook as he removed a knit cap from the duffel bag and placed it on his head, then reached into the bag for the glasses. The elevator doors re-opened on the second floor. He took a deep breath, stepped out, and took a different route back to the sedan. This time, he carried the gray bag low, at knee-level.

It was twenty long minutes before anyone came out of the elevator. At the sight of his victim, his adrenaline surged. He gripped the wheel and leaned forward, peering through the clean spot on his windshield as she headed toward her black Audi.

The woman tugged her coat around her as she walked, the wind blasting her black hair. Before she got to her car, she lifted the key fob, unlocking the doors and starting the engine. She opened the shiny black door and slipped inside.

His pulse pounding, the assassin lifted an electronic telescope from the gray bag, holding it to the cleared spot on the windshield. He swallowed hard as he reached out with his other hand and flipped the first switch on the transmitter.

Under the car, just behind the gas tank, the metal box’s red light came on.

The assassin sat back, releasing a long, slow breath.

When the Audi’s taillights came on, he started the sedan. When his victim pulled out of her parking spot, he drove out of his. A quick squirt from the windshield washers cleared most of the spray frost away, but left the window a little smeared. The second squirt finished the job.

He was right behind her, headed for the exit and the attendant. His heart raced.

Easy now. Take it easy.

The Audi slowed, and the driver shoved her parking card into the slot on the machine. When the screen displayed the amount due, she swiped a credit card across the protruding brackets. The striped arm of the automatic gate went up, and the Audi rolled out of the garage.

Pulling forward, the assassin paid as well—being careful not to lean too close and allow the security camera to catch his face.

The gate went up. He grabbed his phone, his fingers trembling. The screen was lit with a map of the city streets, a green dot blinking as his magnetic device relayed the Audi’s location on 34th Avenue South. In a moment, it should turn onto highway 494 and drive toward Lynnhurst.

He drew a deep breath, a knot forming in his stomach. Slipping the phone into a cupholder on the console, the assassin drove the stolen car out of the garage.

The dot on the screen did as predicted, pulling onto highway 494 and heading west. He pressed the sedan’s gas pedal a little harder, not wanting his prey to get too far away. Squeezing the steering wheel, he did his best to contain his nervous energy. He’d never killed anyone before.

Outside his window, snow-covered trees streaked by. Inside the car, the dot continued straight along 494. He drove past the on ramp to the highway and pulled behind the row of empty warehouses lining the street. Parking, he grabbed his duffel bag and slid the strap over his shoulder as he exited the car. He rubbed his hands as he headed to the big white tow truck that awaited him.

The cab of the truck was still warm, but the cardboard pine tree hanging from the rearview mirror wasn’t effectively masking odors in the cab any longer. He started the truck and placed the bag on the passenger seat, withdrawing his transmitter and his cell phone.

His finger hovered over the transmitter’s second switch. The device would work from this distance, he knew, but he preferred to be closer.

The dot on the screen moved steadily along 494.

Just a few more minutes and she would’ve been home.

Staring at the black night beyond the highway, he lowered his finger until it rested on the second switch. Around him, the world was silent. At this hour, in this part of the world, not much was happening. A blanket of white covered the trees and ground. Nothing moved.

The road was calm, wet from the melting snow and streaked white from the road salt. Highway 494—just a few feet away, really—was all but vacant.

All but for the one driver he was about to kill.

He swallowed hard and stared at the metal box in his hand. In a moment, it would all be over.

Gritting his teeth, he shoved the little switch forward.

His gaze darted to the highway, then to the phone. Silence. He held his breath. The green dot on the phone screen slowed and then stopped. The hush of the still night remained undisturbed.

Dropping the big truck into drive, he stomped the gas pedal and raced toward the highway on ramp.

The black Audi was on the side of the road. The hood was up, but only technically. She’d probably pulled the release from under the dashboard, but hadn’t released the second latch under the hood. Maybe she didn’t know where it was, or didn’t want to search for it in the cold.

His heart thumping, the assassin flipped on the truck’s yellow emergency lights and pulled to a stop behind her.

It was noticeably colder on the highway than it had been in the garage. The assassin shivered, the snow crunching under his feet as he crept toward the Audi. Flashlight in one hand and cell phone in the other, he shined the beam into the car. “Roadside assistance.”

Can’t have any surprises.

He kept walking, his pulse throbbing in his ears. The snow around the vehicle was undisturbed.

Good. She’s still in the car.

When he reached the driver’s door, the window powered down. “You certainly got here quickly,” the woman said.

“Yes, ma’am. We, uh . . . we keep an eye on the roads around the airport.”

He shined his flashlight into her eyes. She recoiled, squinting into the brightness. “Is that necessary?”

He raised the cell phone to the window, trying hard not to let it shake in his hand. The face on the screen matched the one behind the wheel. He lowered the beam of the flashlight, staring at the woman he was about to kill.

She huffed. “I’m sorry, but that’s very rude.”

The assassin slid the phone into his pocket and reached for the .45 holstered on his hip. “You’re right, Lanaya. Or Dara Han—whatever name you’re going by today.”

Her mouth dropped open and her eyes went wide. He yanked the weapon free and raised it, pointing it at her chest. The woman pushed away from the open window, turning to run, to flee somehow, but her seatbelt held her—the shoulder strap moved freely, but the lap band kept her hips in place. Her hands flew to the clip, crushing the button as she strained to run away from the man outside her car.

He froze, staring at her, unable to pull the trigger. She screamed as she clawed at the seat belt.

“Stop,” he said, stepping back. He dropped his flashlight and gripped the gun with both hands. “Stop trying to get away!”

The seat belt came free. The woman leaped to the passenger side of the car and grabbed the door latch.

“Stop it!” he shouted, his gun shaking. “Stop!”

The first gunshot boomed through the quiet night like a cannon. It ripped the shoulder of the woman’s jacket, sending a tuft of white material upwards in a little cloud. The muzzle flash lit the Audi’s interior. Blood splattered onto the shiny dashboard.

The gun bucked in the assassin’s hand as he fired a second and third shot into his victim’s back. She cried out as the rounds pounded her, ripping through her insides. She slumped across the console, gasping and groaning. The assassin stared at the dying figure, her back moving up and down as she fought to breathe.

He shook his head, reaching in and grabbing her jacket, yanking her upright. “Did you really think we wouldn’t find you?” His voice quivered. “Did you?”

Blood dripped from the side of her mouth, her head sagging. Her eyes drifted in the direction of her killer, half open and unfocused.

He stepped back and forth on the snow, leveling the shaking gun at her chest. “This is a gift, to die so quickly. I’m giving you a gift! You—you should be thanking me.”

He clenched his teeth and fired two more times, her body jerking with each impact. A trail of blood painted the back of her seat as she slid sideways, her eyes staring ahead at nothing, but he kept firing. He stepped forward, pulling the trigger over and over until the hammer clicked and the magazine was empty.

The Audi was now red inside, its owner dead and nearly unrecognizable from the amount of blood covering her face and body.

He stared, gasping, unable to move or to remember what he was supposed to do next. In the distance, over a long, grassy field, an airplane approached the runway. Its engines grew louder and louder, waking the assassin from his trance.

The card.

Tugging off a glove, the assassin shoved his hand into his pocket and withdrew an Angelus Genetics business card. He thrust himself into the Audi and jammed the card into the corpse’s open mouth, then sprinted back to the tow truck. Jerking open the door, he flung the empty gun onto the blood-stained body of the first victim on the night—the tow truck driver, whose fat corpse now lay on the floor of the passenger seat. The click, click, click of the emergency lights were the only sound in the cab of the truck as they cast their yellow glow over his murder scene.

Cursing, the assassin slapped at the dashboard buttons until the flashing lights turned off. Then his knees buckled.

He put his hands on the seat of the truck and lowered his head, fighting back the urge to vomit. He closed his eyes, spitting to get the bile out of his mouth. A few deep breaths cleared his head. There were details to take care of.

He took off his jacket and heaved it onto the corpse, then stared at the dark, empty road.

What else?

After retrieving his flashlight and removing his equipment from under the dead woman’s car, the assassin pulled a clean sweatshirt from the duffel bag. He gazed at the inside of the cab, remembering the plan, unable to let his eyes wander back to the black Audi.

Light filled the inside of the tow truck. The assassin gasped, whipping his head around. The headlights of an oncoming car lit the horizon. The killer crouched beside the open door of the truck, holding his breath.

There’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong.

The car came closer. He forced himself upright and wiped his hands on his jeans.

Cross the road. Go to the car.

There’s nothing’s wrong.

He yanked the clean sweatshirt over his head and grabbed his duffel bag, running across the road and waving.

The car slowed to a stop and the driver’s window went down. “Everything okay here?”

Reaching the far side of the car, the assassin opened the door. “Like clockwork.” He thrust his bag over the headrest and plopped down in the passenger seat. “Let’s go, Mika! And call Fuego. Tell him phase one is complete.”

The driver nodded, made a wide, slow U-turn, and drove her car back the way it came.

img_2351-23I know, right?

I amaze myself sometimes.

So contact me and tell me you wanna go rogue and I’ll send ROGUE ELEMENTS on over. Limited quantities, and as a special treat for reading all the way to the bottom of this email, if you’d like an e-copy of The Gamma Sequence, tell me that, too, and I might hook you up with both.

Thanks, gang!



Great Stories Have Great Subplots and Great Sidebars

We have addressed hundreds of writing related topics here on the blog; use the search button to find the ones you need.

img_2351-19SIDEBARS (also known Side Roads, or as, wait, what just happened?)

If your reader trusts you – and you usually start out with the benefit of the doubt – you can do a lot of things. 

You have to be telling a good story, but you can take occasional trips down the side roads and explore the scenery there for a while. 

The goal of a side road or sidebar is to tell the reader more about a character or a motive.

Doing this is a bit of a risk, but great writing isn’t safe.

Does your subplot or sidebar slow the pace of the story? Do we lose the reader’s interest?

Angel Cover 18 eyesIt’s risky. In An Angel On Her Shoulder, we did it a lot and readers loved it if they hung in there. If they didn’t like it, we did it early enough for them to know this story wasn’t for them and they could leave.

Not every story is for every reader!

We jumped around in Angel, but most readers can keep all the story lines straight, and most like subplots and sidebars.

  • We have the main story about Doug and his family, dealing with a possible possession of their daughter.
  • We have the story of Doug (Dougie) and Jimmy from Doug’s youth.
  • We have few other sideline stories that are really Doug’s memories, but they are nonetheless still stories inside the main story. There’s a short story about Mrs. Billen, and now this letter to Carl.

Whether they are a flashback or just an interesting scene, they are happening. So under the big umbrella of Doug’s present day journey, we have lots of little stories happening – and each has their own obstacles. (For example, Doug went to a church, but he had to overcome the obstacle of not having an appointment. That’s a tiny rock to throw at a character already up a tree, but it was fun to watch him interact with the receptionist.)

I think readers can pay attention to all those things and follow them effectively.


Sometimes you go too far.

Here we have 1000 or so words that might not fit extremely effectively at this point in the story. Read it and see for yourself.

Chapter 16


Dear Carl,

I had prepared for the death of my mother for years.

I was an adult when Mom died, and afterward there were many things that reminded me of her that I could have never predicted. They came out of nowhere. My wife and I went to the Florida state fair and they had a taffy pulling machine. Mom always loved salt water taffy, and whenever we were at a fair in Indiana when I was a kid, she would always get some. My first, immediate thought when I saw the taffy machine was, I should get a box and send it to mom. My second thought was, I can’t because she’s gone. I can never send her any gift, ever again.

Be strong for your daughter. Losing her mother at the young age of 12 will be something that may cause unexpected sadness at strange times.

Your daughter will be surprised by things like that and how they affect her, so let her know that she will have these thoughts because she really cared for her mom. I believe the amount of pain we feel at a loved one’s passing is a testament to how much we loved them.

I can tell you this: when my mother died, she had been sick for quite a while—years, in fact—and we all knew she didn’t have a lot of time left. Mallory and I visited, I got to see Mom one last time, and a few weeks later she was gone.

I knew it was coming and I expected it. I didn’t cry when I visited her in the hospital, not when I got the news in the middle of the night, nor at the visitation.

But when I was at her funeral mass, in the church I grew up in, where I sat, Sunday after Sunday, next to her when I was a child . . . Now, in front of the altar was her coffin, cold and alone. When they started playing her favorite church song, the one she loved to sing at Mass, I cried like a baby.

I sobbed uncontrollably and unashamedly.

I wept in front of my family, my friends, and my God.

My young wife, sitting next to me, was unsure of what to do except hand me tissue after tissue and hold my hand.

I was overwhelmed. My mother was gone.

I could not stop the tears, and I didn’t want to.

I loved my mother and the world is not a better place without her in it, and on that day at that moment is when it hit me, even though I thought I was prepared and I knew it was coming and I thought I was handling it well.

I believe I honored my mother that day, and I will tell you, I doubt anybody who saw me crying thought any less of me for it.

Even though I had moved away from home many years before, and I rarely visited or even called to chat, there was something nice about knowing I could. Now, even that was gone.

I would never again be able to buy Mom her salt water taffy at the fair. I couldn’t spontaneously call her up at Christmas just to playfully ask the names of the Three Kings. I couldn’t pop in for a quick weekend visit on my way to some fun, other place.

I couldn’t do any of those things, ever again.

So when I say to expect the unexpected from your emotions, that is what I mean. Ultimately, you will all be fine because you have a strong family and a great loving network. The emotions you or your daughter feel during this time are valid, so don’t feel bad about having them—any of them.

At the first Christmas after my mom had died, we had our traditional family gathering. Before we all opened our presents, my brother offered a toast to those who we loved but who are no longer with us. It let everybody address the elephant in the room, have that emotion, and then move on to enjoy the rest of the day. It was a smart move, and it helped a lot.

Just like people feel guilty about the joy of having a new baby when another close relative’s parent is dying of cancer, grief and joy are both allowed in the same room.

So just do what you have to do. Expect the unexpected from your emotions, and if I can help in any way, let me know.

Our hearts are with all of you in this difficult time.

Try to enjoy Thanksgiving, my friend!



With trembling hands, I folded the yellowed photocopy of the letter and placed it back in my desk drawer. I turned off the light and sat in the darkness, leaning back in my chair as the growing winds from the tropical storm howled outside.

Few people would make a copy of a handwritten letter they were sending to a friend, but when I finished this one I realized I’d written it to Carl as much as I’d written it to myself. The letter was like a solemn vow of some sort. Reading it was a kind of prayer.

Someone who had put so much effort into shaping me as a person, who went to every swim meet and soccer game, who taught me about so many things . . . it seemed a waste that my mother’s influence would never pass to her granddaughter. Mom drilled me incessantly with multiplication flash cards so I would learn my “times tables,” volunteered at our school and at the YMCA, taught me—through her actions—about our role in the real world and not just book stuff like the nuns at school. What a huge benefit to my daughter, to have had that resource, but they would never meet.

And yet, they had a commonality.

I saw it in the delivery room when Sophie was born. The first time I gazed upon my newborn daughter, I remember thinking that she had the combination of a wrinkly old man’s face and my mother’s, a round face with dimples and bright eyes. It only lasted for a moment. When I looked again, it was gone, but it was there.

My wife didn’t care much for that description—wrinkly old man—but all babies are kind of wrinkly and odd-looking when they’re first born. Babies look a lot more presentable after the nurses clean them up, weigh them and wrap them in the soft white hospital blankets, and put the little hat on them.

A newborn baby gets a routine doctor’s exam and gets discharged, but that’s not how it went for us. On the day of our planned release, to go home with our addition to the family, our examining doctor felt there was something not quite right as he pressed the stethoscope to my daughter’s chest. He said he heard something that bothered him. That bothered me.

Tests confirmed his uncanny suspicion. They found a rare and potentially fatal heart condition, one that no doctor could ever have heard through a stethoscope—and yet this doctor did just that. And off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit we all went.

We watched, with the empty feeling of helplessness eating away at our insides, as our daughter, just 24 hours old, clung to life. And we and the parents of the other babies in the NICU wept and prayed. In the midst of all that, I felt a something I had not felt before. At a time when I should have been scared, I grew to feel strangely calm.

My dad, a physician, said it was a miracle. He said that there must have been an angel on the examining doctor’s shoulder that day, whispering in his ear. If we had taken my daughter home, she might have died with no warning, like so many others with the condition.

We were lucky. There was an angel on the doctor’s shoulder that day. Or one on my daughter’s.

I was unprepared for the emotions I would suddenly have from out of nowhere after the death of my mother, so I understood when people said they could no longer drive by a certain intersection where their kid had crashed a car and almost died. It changes you, like the NICU changed us.

The street light outside my window illuminated the falling rain. The drops came down almost horizontally in the whipping winds of the storm.

For a long time, a word or phrase that someone would innocently say to me, or something they’d do in passing, would instantly plunge me back into that cold, dark church in Indiana where I would again find myself staring at a shining coffin in the dim glow of candles. The box that now held my mother for eternity.

I’m not sure I told my mom enough that I loved her. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m sure I didn’t. I showed it at her funeral, and I could write about it in a letter to my friend, but I doubt I did enough to show her while she was alive. Women are different that way. I see that now, watching my wife with our daughter. A mother always wants another kiss or hug. She can’t hear “I love you” enough from her child. I won’t make the same mistake with my daughter that I made with my mom. I tell Sophie that I love her all the time.

It would fall to me, then, to teach her the good things about my mother. Sure, there were many things to be learned from Mallory’s side of the family. They are good and decent folks. Sophie loves them and we visit their farm all the time. She helps throw old bread to the cows and holds the basket when they collect chicken eggs from the coop. At three years old she was catching her own catfish with Mallory’s father in the pond.

Sophie will build her own fond memories of childhood, and she will build her strengths and weaknesses as she does. I’m not sure how you could teach your daughter about her other grandmother anyway, especially when she can’t see it for herself. I’m not sure I would even know how to teach her, or whether I could if I did know how. And that seems like kind of a waste.

I guess that’s why I hang onto the copy of that letter. To help show her one day.

But that’s not the only reason I keep it.


I put this sidebar in to explain Doug’s feelings about his mother, who he refers to occasionally in the story. She’s important to him (and therefore the story) but she’s not really in the story except when he thinks about her.

You would think that would be the case with anybody’s deceased mother, and you won’t necessarily know why this is important when you read it. That underscores the importance of beta readers. They are looking at the entire story as a whole unit, and IF YOU ASK they can tell you “I’m not sure you needed that scene” or “I’m not sure you needed that chapter.” Or sections of chapter.

(Don’t poison the well. Write your questions down and ask them after the beta readers have read the whole story.)

Is The Sidebar Effective?

Maybe, maybe not. You decide. I think it’s emotionally sound, and adds a nice layer to Doug’s emotional state, but it might not be important enough to make it through the final edit.

Most writers don’t tell their stories in anything other than a straight line. Mine tend to wander around a bit – and that usually makes them more fun.

It can also be an unnecessary distraction. In that case, listen to your betas and cut!

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.

Interview with horror author Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle does and interview and shows off her latest horror works!

Writing to be Read


Today my guest is an author who I’ve gotten to know well, because she is a member of the Writing to be Read team, where she writes a monthly blog segment on children’s literature that’s proven to be very popular, “Growing Bookworms”. By day she walks in the world of fondant and children’s fiction, but when darkness falls she transforms into an emerging horror author. But this author doesn’t just emerge, she explodes onto the scene with  this month’s release of her first novel length horror tale, Through the Nethergate.  In addition, this month she also has a short story appearing  in  Dan Alatorre’s Nightmarland anthology, and another coming out in the WordCrafter paranormal anthology, Whispers of the Past. I’m really excited to be able to interview her about her experiences with horror, so please help me welcome author Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Kaye: You started out writing children’s…

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The Gamma Sequence 2: ROGUE ELEMENTS – Is Complete (And It Is BRILLIANT!)

Rogue Elements, the sequel to The Gamma Sequence, was started on approximately August 18, 2019, or a few days before, as a standalone sequel to The Gamma Sequence. I had already kicked around some ideas but I thought having DeShear dying as he tried to solve another case was a good idea.


After completing the biggest case of his career, private detective Hank DeShear returns home to start treatment for a disabling genetic condition that could end his life, but he learns his partner on the prior case has just been murdered. Was he wrong to conclude the secretive killer known as The Greyhound had declared a truce? Or have disciples of The Greyhound surfaced to carry on with the murders?

DeShear is able to attach himself to an overseas goodwill mission headed by the U. S. Vice President, enabling him to pursue leads in foreign hospitals he thinks could be offshoots of Angelus Genetics’ illegal organ harvesting programs and human trafficking operations. Determined to pursue the truth wherever it leads, DeShear must also keep a low profile so he doesn’t become the next murder victim—but the onset of his debilitating condition may kill DeShear before the murderer gets a chance.

Not bad, eh?

By September 19, 2019 I had written roughly 15 chapters and 35,000 words, trying to not “tire” myself the way I did the first time, but also realizing that I had a good start but wasn’t satisfied with a book 2 ending that felt complete and standalone yet offered a smooth segue into a book 3.

I planned on having it completed by Sept 15 or Sept 23…

That didn’t happen, but I did finish at 1am on October 4, roughly 47 days after starting.

It’s 64,000 words before I tweak it this week. (I will add words and possibly a scene or two.)

Group Tinted

Ideally, I will finish book 2 and go right on to book 3 without a break. (The story is expected to end there.) But while I am trying to write book 2 quickly, I will take a more relaxed pace to book 3, writing in free days and weekends, and not squeezing it in every chance I get. Book one was written at a frenzied pace that made me grouchy. I wanted to avoid that with book 2, but I was skipping workouts to get it done in time. Book 3 will be put into a schedule that allows me to spend time with family, work out, and still write.

It’s almost time to ask for beta readers. Stay tuned.


Takeaways From R. L. Stine’s MasterClass

Great tips from Alycea K. Snyder! You should follow her blog. I do.

A. K. Snyder

I’ve completed about a third of the lessons in R. L. Stine’s MasterClass and I’m loving it. Here are a few of my take-always so far. Writing doesn’t have to be hard and stop listening to the people who say it does.

Spend the difficult hours on the outline so the writing time is fun. Make sure the outline includes the twists, and there should always be twists.

When it comes to writing scary stories for kids, it is to be obviously unrealistic so kids feel safe enough to enjoy being scared. Young adult writing has to be more realistic or teens check out.

And there are a few key things that make reading fun, especially for kids.

Another twenty or so lessons to go with this one. So far, I’m a big fan.

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53k – and counting

img_2351-23On about August 18th, I started writing Rogue Elements, the sequel to my very well-received novel, The Gamma Sequence.

Now, about six weeks later, Rogue Elements is about 53,000 words long, and THE END IS NEAR!

I got DeShear into some trouble this time!

My plan is to have The Gamma Sequence, Book 2: Rogue Elements completed in about seven days. I only have about 10 plot points left to write, at about 1000 – 3000 words per plot point, so it’ll come in around… 68k? (That’s pretty short, for me! The Gamma Sequence was 83k.)

THEN, I’ll be looking for some beta readers.

Not yet, though. Hold your water.

I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, when Rogue Elements is completed, I plan to keep writing the story – just not quite as fast – so the trilogy will be completed as soon as possible. I’m targeting January 31, 2020.

Group Tinted

Then I go back to Double Blind and see where we left Carly and Sergio.

Think Carly (Double Blind) will meet a fate like Lanaya (The Gamma Sequence) did?

Stay tuned!

Bathing Is A Lonely Business

a bath

Hobson: Yes, bathing is a lonely business.
Arthur Bach: Except for fish.
Hobson: I beg your pardon? Did you say “except for fish”?
Arthur Bach: Yes… fish all bathe together. Although they do tend to eat one another. I often think… fish must get awfully tired of seafood. What are you thoughts, Hobson?


Dan Alatorre is Writing a Sequel to The Gamma Sequence!

Awesome post to boost my upcoming novel…

A Girl and Her Book Reviews

This is an excerpt from an email Dan Alatorre recently sent out to his subscriber list:

To be honest, I’m not even sure how it happened. I remember being in my office, working diligently on the horror anthology and outlining the Double Blind sequel… writing a few chapters – you guys remember that, right? And then… suddenly I was writing a Gamma Sequence sequel.

He was looking for a few readers to provide feedback on what he’d written so far, and I responded immediately. Of course, it was spellbinding.

He hopes to have it finished by the end of September and ready for beta readers.

Here’s the mock-up cover:

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