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.

#Bookreview – The Gamma Sequence by Dan Alatorre

Gamma Gets Praise From Robbie!

Roberta Writes

Book reviews

What Amazon says

Geneticist Lanaya Kim must do what authorities haven’t – tie together the “accidental” deaths of several prominent scientists around the country to show they were actually murdered. Over the past two years, geneticists have died in what appear to be accidents, but Lanaya knows otherwise. If she tells her secrets to the authorities, she risks becoming a suspect or revealing herself to the killer and becoming an open target. Hiring private investigator Hamilton DeShear may help her expose the truth, but time is running out. The murders are happening faster, and Lanaya’s name may be next on the killer’s list. But when Lanaya and DeShear start probing, what they discover is far more horrifying than anyone could ever have imagined.

My review

Hamilton “Hank” Deshear is just a regular guy who, due to some unexpected life curveballs, has ended up losing his job in the police force…

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I started writing a new book today

img_2351-23 The 3rd book in the much acclaimed The Gamma Sequence series was started today, at about 9am.



I wrote 3 chapters and over 5500 words. Not bad, eh? I bet I get over 10k for the weekend, or about 1/6th to 1/8th of the whole book! That would be cool…

Wanna read it?


Not yet anyway, but I’ll show you the cover:

TERMINAL draft 1

Not bad eh? Here’s the whole series’ covers so far. (We redid them recently.)

all covers.jpg

I know, good looking set!

If you want to check out chapters as I write them – or, as I write them but also after my editor goes over them – send me a note and I’ll consider it.

The plan is to have the book written by New Year’s Eve at midnight.

Think I can do it?

Rogue Elements Cover Voting

I decided to give my medical thriller series a makeover, so we retired the original covers and hired an artist to make professional ones. They will be appearing on the books very soon.

Here’s The Gamma Sequence cover, new (L) and old (R):


Then, of course, we had to follow that look for the series, so we created a few versions of a new cover for Rogue Elements, and asked people to vote on them.

Rogue Trio

Each has its own appeal, and one fits better than the others with the story, but the cover has to get you to open the book; you get the story after that – a bit of a dilemma.

Anyway, cover C was voted most popular!

  • A got 30% of the votes
  • B got 8% of the votes
  • C got 62% of the votes


That’s a cover landslide.

So THIS will be the new cover of Rogue Elements:

Rogue Cover C

Mysterious, right? I like it.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting. We asked over three thousand people for their input, but after about 50 votes it was clear who the winner was, and that didn’t change.

Didn’t get to vote? Join my Readers Club and never miss out on any exciting action! It’s free and you might get some free books, too.

Here’s the NEW covers for the first two books in The Gamma Sequence series

and I’m busy writing the third and final one, TERMINAL SEQUENCE.

I’ll have voting for that soon.



Great, Great, GREAT Writing Tips (That I Stole From Alycea K. Snyder)

img_2351-23Alycea Snyder is a board member of the Tampa Writers Alliance and a fellow author.

I watched her presentation on writing last night.

Here are a few things to consider.

First of all, Alycea is an avid reader.

She’s very smart.

When it comes to the writing process a lot of you are struggling with, she “gets it.”

Alycea does what I call “investing” in the learning process, not just by reading a lot but by being a critical thinker when she reads, studying why the successful authors are successful (especially new, breakout authors in a genre), and drilling down on that. For example, she goes to Barnes and Noble and looks at a display table. It has the two NYTBSA books, surrounded by the newbies that “you’ll also like.” Then she reads the back cover matter to see what’s up there – why they fit, how they are unique, etc.


Who are the new breakout authors of the last 12 months or so and what are they doing? She studies that.

She also invests in things like the online Masterclass, where she has taken master classes from Neil Gaiman and R. L. Stein, etc.

Author Alycea K. Snyder

One of the (several, great) things she mentioned in her presentation was when we want to (paraphrasing) keep the story moving. a lot of times we increase the stakes or add tension. Different genres do that in different ways, but for somebody who’s writing a mystery, that might be making the challenge or hurdle bigger and bigger and bigger. She noted we could go back and make the character more internally flawed so that they are overcoming their own internal problems, which is equally tense. She had a great, short, list of ideas on how to do that. On is as follows.

EXAMPLE: Gone Girl. (The book, not the movie.)

Alycea gave the example of Gone Girl and said how the author built the husband character to be the exact type of person who nobody would believe, and that he would get in his own way due to his internal flaws, causing himself all kinds of problems.

(This is not unlike having my detective in The Gamma Sequence 2: Rogue Elements fighting the sudden onslaught of a debilitating disease as he tries to find out who killed his friend. Great minds…)

But I thought it was a great idea to increase the stakes on a micro level instead of a macro level!

She asked us if we could specifically identify who are reader is: Age, sex, education, income level, what it is they read, who their favorite authors are, who they follow on Instagram

  • Who else they read
  • Do they follow on Instagram

Hmm. I know a lot about my readers, but I didn’t know that. But I can ask! I tend to think mine aren’t on Instagram; should I be? I mean, I am but I NEVER use it. Hmm.


She suggested when we construct our book, we stay within the norms (again, paraphrasing) but we also differentiate ourselves somehow. What is unique about us? We don’t necessarily have the ability to be the leader in the market nor do we want to be the bargain basement, but we’re going to be somewhere in between – and when we are, follow the norms but differentiate somehow. (I’m not doing that segment justice; you’ll have to go see her presentation yourself for more on that. Maybe she’ll do a guest blog post.)

Everything stalls at 80% (AND)

  • She said that everything stalls at 80%. book writing, projects, manufacturing… That sounds familiar. I see it with writer types all the time.
  • AND… Have a DEADLINE

Again, genius.

Have a deadline. That seems like that would be a huge motivator to certain friends of mine. All of them, in fact. But the proof is, how was I able to write an 80,000 word medical thriller in six weeks? Because I had to. Magically, we get things done when there’s deadline.


She suggested finding specific beta readers who will give proper feedback and that on are Facebook there are groups of beta readers you can fine; there are also online beta groups you can find. That’s something to look into.


Do First – before starting your novel.

  1. Write back cover copy description – could you even? What a smart idea. it will keep you focused.
  2. Find comparables
  3. Plot key scenes
  4. Plot key decisions
  5. Refine main character
  6. Iterate


Set a deadline for the book to be completed.

I’m not sure she emphasized the deadline thing as much as I am, but it’s a huge point.

I firmly believe if we write the back cover first and set a deadline, we’d write better books, and complete them faster.

Those two things, plus an outline, are probably the biggest things I see myself doing for every book going forward.

Want more? Here’s her blog, and if you are in the Tampa area on Wednesday nights, you can usually find her at the Tampa Writers Alliance meeting.

Marketing Tips For AWESOME Marketing Success

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

Dear Dan,

Pleasure for the beta reading. I’ll get the review done asap. As for the box set, I’ve already pre-ordered it.

You are amazing with your marketing! I’m so impressed and it’s so important for selling books and getting known.

I’m terribly hopeless at that side of things so basically no one knows about my books – or reads them for that matter!!! 

I really need to get around to learning how to market my books like you do! Amazing!

Let me know if you have any courses you could recommend?




Dear Stressing,

Marketing is tough because it’s always changing.

What worked 5 years ago may not work now.

I have a hard time keeping up, but what I’ve learned is, blogs and newsletters are helpful, but paid media is essential. Well-known entities like James Patterson and Ford and Coca Cola advertise all the time, right? So we have to, too.

The problem is, WHERE to advertise (that we can afford, since we aren’t Coke) and then making sure the paid media we buy is EFFECTIVE.


I was fortunate enough to be in the Death and Damages box set with a bunch of New York Times bestselling authors and USA Today bestselling authors, so I’ve been networking with some of them and picking their brains.

The secret to success – if you can call it a secret – is:


1. Develop and build a loyal fan base. That means a group of people you can go to, but realize that

(A) it’s ALWAYS going to have attrition, so

(B) you ALWAYS have to be growing it.

2. A newsletter/mailing list/reader’s club so YOU can directly reach your people (and don’t have to rely on Amazon or Facebook or WordPress or anyone else.)

Information like email addresses of people who like your work is the bread and butter of those social media giants and marketing behemoths, and if they take it away or mess with it or charge you for it – and they’ve all shown themselves to be capable of that – you are screwed.

3. Paid media (a.k.a. buying ads, pay promo sites)

(More on that in a sec.)

4. Lots and lots of other smaller things

Like blogging, a Facebook author page, launch parties, doing local bookstore signing events, going to book clubs, etc.

DOUBLE BLIND 3DNone of this is new to me, and if you ask most bestselling indie authors, they’ll say the same thing.

The “little” things, like blogging or local author events, add up. We should try to do those when they’re available.

Blogging, people do once a week or once a month; some don’t blog.

Same with Facebook. You do what feels right to you. What you like and have fun at.

Local events, do when you can/when you can afford to.


Newsletters/mailing lists/READER’S CLUBS: 

We can buy a course on how to build a newsletter (which I’ve done) – and then we have to DO the things required to grow it (which I haven’t done), and there are a LOT of things on that list.

Strategically giving away a LOT of stuff can be part of that process, and it can take a lot of time initially, but it’s worked for lots of people.

Finally, and most importantly, we can and should buy ads.

Get all the free exposure and networking you can, but buy ads.

Navs new final 11252018 3D book cover

With paid media, we have to do “a lot” of it and  monitor what works. You can go through a TON of $$$ and see NO results.

  • Ask your author friends who they used and ask what the results were (For some, spending $50 and selling ten books is good. For others, that’s bad. Ask so you have an idea.)
  • Is there a specialty for your genre? Some sites work great for cookbooks but not romance books. That’s important to know before you put your book there.
  • Expectations: When someone says, “XYZ was good for me,” ask: when did you run the ad, what book did you run, what were your results?


Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets, so we are best served by tracking our results.

That means how many books did ads X, Y, and Z sell?


Stacking ads – having a LOT of ads running at the same time – is also effective, and sometimes it’s VERY effective – but then if you sell 200 books, how do you know what ad sold the books? You might spend more money on a site that didn’t sell you anything, and not spend on a site that did because you won’t know.

You can create a free global link for a book (Double Blind = “DB” here) and create a different tracker for each site where you place an ad on for that book. (Like DB1, DB2, DB3 – and THEN you’ll have a better idea of which site sold the most books. If DB1 gets 5 clicks and DB3 gets 300 clicks, odds are DB3 was doing the selling. That doesn’t mean the site with DB1 was bad; it means it’s not as good as DB3’s site. Depending on the cost, The site that used DB1 might be worth running again.


When you develop a loyal base, you must cultivate it.

Be friendly. React and reply to everyone. Try to seem upbeat. Show them your true self, your personality. Basically, become friends – and let them know they are special. 

That’s hard for a lot of writers because they’re introverts,

but when you say “Thank you” versus “Thank you, my friend! You ROCK!” there’s a difference.

You called them your friend. That matters, even if they aren’t coming over to the house on Friday for pizza. (It felt weird the first few times I did it, too.)


Is your story one with interesting characters, good pacing, no typos, and a professional-looking cover that screams the genre the book is in? Would I think so? Would fans of that genre think so? Beta readers can help with that.

Look at the covers I’ve placed in this post.

  • Does The Navigators cover grab your attention – and say adventure?
  • Does the Double Blind cover scream Murder Mystery?

You weren’t expecting a test, but here we are.

Gang, if you want to write a guest blog post or showcase some of your books on  someone’s blog, ASK. The worst that will happen is they’ll say no.

That’s how we grow our author network, and we’ll always need friends (and friends of friends) to go to for something.

That’s part of marketing, too.

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.

My Review of The Gamma Sequence, Book Two, Rogue Elements By Dan Alatorre


Review of The Gamma Sequence, Book Two Rogue Elements
a medical thriller by Dan Alatorre

I was given this book as a gift and absolutely loved it.
I have read other works by Dan Alatorre and I really like his writing style and sharp dialogue.
With, Rogue Elements he pushes everything to their limits with a plot that grips you from page one.
Private detective Hank De Shear thinks he has solved the case from book one but is left with a deadly genetic disease which is killing him unless he gets treatment. Meanwhile, a friend is murdered which puts suspicious thoughts into his head regarding his last case. It turns out that perhaps not everything was tied up quite so neatly.
From then on until the end of the book, De Shear is catapulted into a high-speed chase between treatment for his disease, villains and allies alike who want…

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Go Rogue – Rogue Elements, The Gamma Sequence book 2

AAA B eries TGS2 v 1 BLUE 2Beta Reader praise for Rogue Elements.

Wanna go rogue?

Contact me HERE and get a FREE copy for a limited time.

A masterful thriller!

A riveting thriller by Dan Alatorre, the fast-paced plot is loaded with suspense, intrigue and chilling implications for the future of genetic research. I cannot wait for the next book in this spine-tingling series!

– Julie Y


Another winner!  5 stars.

What a surprise ending.  Didn’t see that coming.  Can’t wait for book 3.

– Shirley B


This book is even better than Gamma Sequence

and I was held captive in a chair reading this by Dan Alatorre.  The story begins back with the fundamental question: Who Can You Trust?  The characters evolve and their motives become apparent.  I will say genetic anomalies, pharmaceutical companies, and goodwill missions all come into play.  I am hesitant to say more and ruin any of the build-up and/or outcomes to this book.  I UNEQUIVOCABLY do believe you should read Rogue Elements if you enjoy suspense, thriller and edge of your seat page turning books.

– Sharon S

Wow! I just finished the book and what an ending!

 – Pam P


Loved the book!

Please keep on writing and count me in for No. 3.

 – Linda D


Great story!!

 – Sammye H


Can’t put it down

Consider yourself responsible for my current insomnia episode. I started reading your book yesterday evening…  Well, I’m over half of it and I just can’t put it down. It’s a Blast.
Even better than the first one. You’re definitely “my man” mate.

 – Valeria B


Shocked right down to the last page

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.

 – Jane B


“WOL” (WOW’D-Out-Loud)

Grabbed me right away and soon after got an actual “WOL” (WOW’D-Out-Loud)… seriously, I only stopped reading to feed the dogs and heat up a bowl of soup for myself. You’ve outdone yourself and I’m joyfully exhausted from all the action.

– Claire N


Like the heat

DeShear is a good main character, holds the story together well.  Like the heat with Trynn.  The end is a great setup for the next book to see if they can sift through the deceit and work together.

– Steve M


Great book

Great book, Dan!  I like the twist at the end.

– my sister Trish. Hey, her opinion still counts.



Wanna go rogue and see what all the fuss is about?

Contact me HERE and get a FREE copy of ROGUE ELEMENTS, The Gamma Sequence book 2, for a limited time.


AAA B eries TGS2 v 1 BLUE 2

Group Tinted


Some secrets refuse to remain hidden.

Geneticist Lanaya Kim must do what authorities haven’t—tie together the “accidental” deaths of several prominent scientists around the country to show they were actually murdered. Over the past two years, geneticists have died in what appear to be accidents, but Lanaya knows otherwise. If she tells her secrets to the authorities, she risks becoming a suspect or revealing herself to the killer and becoming an open target. Hiring private investigator Hamilton DeShear may help her expose the truth, but time is running out. The murders are happening faster, and Lanaya’s name may be next on the killer’s list. But when Lanaya and DeShear start probing, what they discover is far more horrifying than anyone could ever have imagined.

Get it HERE on Amazon



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

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.

Get it HERE – only available from me this week, for free.



Forget everything you thought you knew.

The much anticipated conclusion to The Gamma Sequence series, Terminal Sequence reveals the secrets we have wondered about over the prior two books. DeShear teams up with Trinn and The Greyhound to finally stop Dr. Hauser’s illegal multi-national genetics operations. But as they plot to trap Hauser’s forces, the people at Angelus Genetics have a few ideas of their own – to keep doing business as usual, to expand into politics for protection, and to go on the offensive against anyone who would try shut their business down – and do it in the harshest, most permanent way possible. But what waits for all of them is a shocking reality that no one could have envisioned.

Join my Readers Club HERE and get a free copy as soon as it’s available. (Expected January 31, 2020.)

SHOW Versus TELL in Storytelling

your humble host

The phrase I see myself writing most often to new writers is, “You need to work on adding emotion and showing more, telling less.”

  • Add emotion.
  • Show, don’t tell.

Well, why not give some examples so we can learn that first hand?

Everyone talks about Show versus Tell because it really helps a story be more engaging and immersing to the reader.


Show Versus Tell – NOT what you did in kindergarten.

Let the reader see the scene. Describe it. When you show what’s happening, you are putting us there in the moment as readers, using our senses; we get a better feel for the story and characters. We are part of the scene as it is happening, and we immerse ourselves more in your story – making it more interesting and harder to put down.

An example is when Chekhov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Yeah, do that.

If your search for the term “show versus tell in storytelling,” you’ll get a lot of articles that explain this in a lot of detail and that give examples. Read some of them, but develop your style for it. Watch for how your favorite authors do it. Now that you’re aware, you’ll see it – or not see it, I guess, if it’s done well.

Okay, here are examples from a story I critiqued. The critique notes in bold. I try to be friendly, light, and informative in critiques, but just as often I’ll ask questions I’m thinking at that moment like a reader might be thinking in their mind, and I’ll make comments a reader might be thinking, too. This is helpful as play-by-play feedback, letting the author know you are getting the material or not. I am also very lax in capital letters, punctuation and spelling in critiques, cos I’m lazy.

This is a long post, but it’s worth it to see how things unfold.

REMEMBER: each critique you get from different people will bring a different perspective. By receiving several as you’re writing, you can appeal to a wider range of reader or hone in on a specific type. You’ll get differing opinions on how to address a problem so you can make a choice that feels best to you. My suggestions are just my ideas. Somebody else might have a better one. Use it!

Here’s the story:

Simone was sitting at the table in the small kitchen of the flat. She had a glass of wine in front of her and a cup of what we called coffee but was really a blend of chicory and acorns taking alternate sips of each.

“That’s an interesting breakfast.” I straightened the skirt of my uniform waiting for her to acknowledge my presence.

She shrugged and took another sip from her wineglass. We had been living on a small inheritance from our mother but it was hardly an inexhaustible source of income. I was focused on my work, but Simone had been distant and unmotivated since her last love affair had come to an end even though there was a long line of replacement suitors. We shared a phone in the hallway with six other tenants and were most unpopular as the majority of calls were for Simone. She went out most nights but came back at varying hours of the morning saying little to nothing to me about her personal life. Simone was much more French than I was.


Isn’t wine glass two words?

This paragraph is a bit tell-y. I’d give one or two details here, but more casual and save the rest for later

for example:

We had been living on a small inheritance from our mother but it was hardly an inexhaustible source of income.
Why’s that important to know now? Lingering resentment that you work and’s doing whatever? dig in a bit, Maybe with some conversation.

as you get ready: “Mom’s inheritance isn’t going to last forever.”
“Hah. That pittance.”

established the inheritance (obviously from a deceased mother), that it’s not a lot, and that they disagree about how to live using it, or whatever else you want to imply. You can also say it was a stale conversation you’d gone over a thousand times before

and this:
“Are you still upset about Harry? It’s been three months. And from the number of phone calls you get, there is no shortage of replacement suitors, princess.”
“Oh, everyone knows all about my social life, don’t they? Maybe if we didn’t share a hallway phone with have six other tenants…”

Then the comment about most nights

This folds it in and makes it seem less like a big gulp of information, much more digestible, to my eye

I sat down and poured myself a cup of the same liquid. I looked at my sister over the rim, noticing her smudged mascara, the slight paleness of her lips and red tinge under her nose as if she had been crying, although I discarded that thought immediately for Simone rarely wept. Even after suffering the dissipations of the morning after a late night she was still strikingly beautiful and I had to stifle the usual streak of jealousy I felt in my stomach. She acted her usual aloof self and didn’t meet my eyes once. Was she coming down with a cold?


This is good, but imply the jealousy, don’t tell it straight out

Sisters will have ideas about each other. you can show her semi-jealousy without stating it. Assume your reader is smart, and if there’s jealousy it’ll come cross in the tone they take with each other.

Even after suffering the dissipations of the morning after a late night she was still strikingly beautiful (damn her)

She acted her usual aloof self and didn’t meet my eyes once.
that statement implies jealousy.

Also, you can google jealousy or signs of jealousy, and have our characters do those things. Readers will pick up on it.

too pretty/always trying to look good
too many phone calls
active social life

I think they’ll get it.


“Well, see you tonight then.” I stood up.

She looked up and her eyes focused on me for the first time. “Oh, good bye Sylvie.”

I turned back after opening the door but she just gave me a dismissive wave of her hand. I didn’t bother with my coat but put up my umbrella for it had started to rain early in the morning, although it was a light shower. There was the usual Friday traffic. The footpath was filled with people as I turned from White Hart Lane to the much more crowded Whitehall where I worked. There were men and women in uniform as well as mothers pushing prams, older couples on their way to the shops, young girls traveling to school, and other assorted people going about their lives as best they could considering the perilous times.

this definitely reads as icy, but when you say “dismissive wave of her hand,” imagine you doing that, or somebody doing it to you. Think about what you see and describe that. Maybe they hold the newspaper up in front of their eyes, don’t look at you, wave their hand – THAT SHOWS the dismissiveness without TELLING it, and brings your reader in much more.

I started my routine typing after reaching my office, noting that my boss Colonel Hastings, was not in as yet, a common occurrence of late where previously he had been implicitly punctual. There was an air of something different over the past few months with him, for Colonel Hastings, always friendly and jovial, had become positively secretive. He had taken to staring at me when he thought I wasn’t looking and his expression was pensive as if he wanted to tell me something but was holding back. I took it personally thinking he was dissatisfied with my work and I was about to be transferred, although it had always been satisfactory.

it is said we don’t start to do things, we just do them. So maybe she assembles some paper and whatever. I can go either way on it

I started my routine typing after reaching my office, noting that my boss Colonel Hastings, was not in as yet, a common occurrence of late where previously he had been implicitly punctual.

maybe try:

I started my routine typing after reaching my office. Colonel Hastings, was not in as yet.

That’s becoming more and more common.

occurrence of late where previously he had been implicitly punctual.(implied)

Later she can refer to him as boss, but I think him being a Colonel it’ll be assumed if she is readying herself for typing. See? In my mind, the officer doesn’t type, the underling does – saying it without saying it again

He entered the office. We dispensed with saluting, an understanding we had between ourselves unless joined by a superior. He appeared tense as he bid me good morning, the furrow I had come to recognize between his eyebrows. His blue eyes were bloodshot and rimmed with black circles in contrast to his pale complexion. I was alarmed. Was everything was all right with his family?

We dispensed with saluting, an understanding we had between ourselves unless joined by a superior.
and this cements the work chain of command

He appeared tense
what does that look like? Darting eyes, sweaty upper lip, fidgeting with papers, tugging at his collar or necktie?

It was his custom to greet me, perhaps exchange a few words, and then continue into his office. Instead he paused, moved aside the files I was working on and actually sat down on my desk, a completely unprecedented event.

some of this reads as very formal. not good or bad, just an interesting style thing. if the author’s tone is more formal when the character is at work and less so at home, that’s a neat technique

“Sylvie, in a few moments I’m expecting a young man. When he comes in I want to speak to you both.” He blinked three times in quick succession, a thing he only did when he was concentrating or annoyed. I wasn’t sure which it was.

three is a but technical. it may or may not work. Why not say several times and keep the explanation. It’s something she’d know about her boss, but three reads as too exact to my eye


“Yes, sir. May I ask his name, sir?”

“His name?”

“Yes, the name of the young man.”

“Oh of course, forgive me. His name is Andrew. Andrew Le Claire.”

I was confused. “But Colonel Hastings, that’s my surname. Is he related to me?”

that’s my surname.
he would know this, readers will quickly get it


“No, Sylvie, but he will be.”

With that mysterious comment he left me, open mouthed, his last sentence resounding in my ears like an echo. It was impossible to just carry on with my typing but I made an attempt. After three errors in the first paragraph alone, I paused trying to calm myself. What could Colonel Hastings possibly mean by those cryptic comments about the man named Andrew?

good question

As if in answer to my query the door opened. He was indeed a young man, older than myself but not by many years, likely twenty-seven or eight to my twenty-five. He was dressed somewhat formally in the clothes of a businessman, although he could never be mistaken for one. The knot of the tie was crooked, and all the buttons of his jacket and coat were open in a carelessness that implied he was dressed like that by necessity, not choice. He had fine features, a wide, easy smile, full lips for a man, and a lock of dark hair that fell across the left side of his forehead. He was carrying the newspaper opened to the crossword that was half solved. He had a way of holding himself that was not military at all, an aura I found refreshing and confusing at the same time.

this description is good. unlike the earlier one, which seemed info-dumpy, we’d expect her to spend some time taking in this stranger under these circumstances.

“Hello.” His voice was quite lovely, somewhere between tenor and baritone. “I’m Andrew.”

lovely tends to be a British term

I stood up, the top of my head came to about his cheekbones. “Sylvie Le Claire.” I extended my hand but instead of the shake I was expecting, I got a formal bow that contrasted ridiculously with his demeanor. He took my proffered hand so I wouldn’t look like a complete fool and pressed it into both of his own. He continued in a polite string of perfect French to which I answered him in the same language.

now, if she thinks he’s good-looking, she can say she came up to his impossibly handsome cheekbones, although if you said that I’d probably get on you about it, but you take my point

show us a few French words. it adds to the ambiance and shows us she knows French without having to tell us

“Bienvenidio, madame.”
“Aah, cest speak francias?”
“Oui, messieur.”
“Blah biddy blah blah about the recent weather”
“Reply in French about I prefer it warmer”
the colonel interrupts

Colonel Hastings interrupted by opening his door. “Well I see that you have met each other then. Splendid. Please come in, both of you.”

don’t tell us he interrupts. we see it. another possibility:

He took my hand. “Bonjour, mademoiselle.”
He smiled. “Oh, vous parlez français?”
“Je suis du Québec.”
“La météo est toujours cette agréable?”
“This cool weather is unusual for us. I prefer it warmer.”
The colonel cleared his throat. “Well, I see…

See? (French words and odd markings compliments of Google translate)


Andrew stood aside to allow me to precede him. We sat opposite Colonel Hastings who pursed his lips and didn’t look directly at either of us. Andrew leaned back in his chair, the puzzle open on his lap while I sat straight without moving. I clasped my palms together surprised that they were moist.

“Forgive me for all the cloak-and-dagger Sylvie, but what I’m about to explain to you is in the highest confidence.”

“Of course, sir,” I crossed my legs. Most of our work was classified.

period after sir


“Let me start by asking you how long it’s been since you have seen your father?”

That was probably the last question I was prepared to be asked but I decided to answer without inquiring the reasons. “About ten years, although my sister visits every year or so, at least she did until the occupation.”

I’d break this up.
That was probably the last question I was prepared to be asked. I decided to answer without inquiring the reasons.

it gives us readers a pause at the period, making it feel like she’s contemplating her answer.


“I see. And your step mother?”

“My step mother? You mean Colette?”

He nodded. I didn’t speak out of bewilderment so he leaned a little forward. “Go on, Sylvie.”

“The same amount of time I suppose. They only married recently after the death of my mother but have known each other many years.”

“Did you know she had a son that lives here in England?”

Aha! I knew it. The England part, not the son.

see, and that is an example of showing not telling. We pick that up contextually and confirm it like this.


I was starting to have an inkling what the conversation was possibly about, but instead of looking at Andrew, I kept my eyes on my boss. “Yes although I don’t really remember him. I believe Simone, my sister, is acquainted with him but I’m afraid my father and I are somewhat estranged, so I’ve lost track of the family.”

“Yes, well her son was at Oxford some years ago reading mathematics but never finished his studies. He was recruited to a special branch when war broke out. I’m not at liberty to discuss it more than that.”

“That’s all very interesting sir, but I don’t see—“

“Andrew is Colette’s son and for our purposes, your brother.”

“Andrew is Colette’s son – and for our purposes, your brother.”

(more dramatic)

Dun, dun, dunnn!


I turned toward Andrew and saw him in a new light. Of course, I now remembered his name was Andre. There was a resemblance to my step mother around the eyes, but not in the color for Andrew’s were greenish while his mother’s were dark brown, it was more to do with the shape. I thought he might lean forward and kiss me on both cheeks, but he sufficed with winking, a gesture I thought odd for a man I had just met. “Enchante.” The newspaper rustled on his lap.

I had the feeling the two of them were in a conspiracy about something, as if I had walked into a room and everyone had stopped talking. Colonel Hastings cleared his throat. “Let me explain from the beginning what the proposal is.”

“Proposal?” My oblivion was embarrassing.

He went on to say how for the past few months he had been working on a special project and was currently recruiting suitable people to infiltrate occupied France and become operatives of an organization of which I had never heard called the Special Operations Executive. He thought of me because of my familiarity with the language and the fact that I would be able to blend in without arousing suspicion.

“We want you to return to Sainte Victoire where you will be reunited with your father at his café. Andrew will be at the farm his mother owns and you will both be couriers among other things.”

I was too shocked to ask him to elaborate.

“I know it’s a lot to take on board. You would be doing a great service to your country, both of you. We have intelligence that a certain officer whose father is a high ranking Nazi frequents Sainte Victoire, it being his assigned territory if you will. The man is known to be careless and might be persuaded to let certain important information slip if properly handled.”

You know, I rarely read author notes because they can give stuff away, but this had a definite WWII feel to it, probably from the formality of speech and things like a typewriter, the hall phone, etc. Good job of getting me there.


I had to laugh at that. If Colonel Hastings was looking for a femme fatale he had the wrong person in me. “My abilities at that type of thing are sorely lacking, sir.”

“I think you underestimate yourself Sylvie, but we have another role in mind for you. We were considering someone else for the part of…of becoming friendly with the enemy.”

A sudden pain hit my temples as the realization struck me. “Simone.” My voice was almost a whisper.

good job with this!

Okay, and although you can’t really end here (it was too soon in the story), you can see how ending here would be an amazing page turner/cliff hanger, right?



See? By looking at a few example and then doing a little practice, you’ll have this down in no time – and your stories will be MUCH better as a result!


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

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CAUTION: Reader Says Rogue Elements Causes Insomnia!

Group Tinted

Actual reader email:

Hi Dan,
Consider yourself responsible for

my current insomnia episode.

I started reading your book yesterday evening…  Well, I’m over half of it and I just can’t put it down.
It’s a Blast.

Even better than the first one.

You’re definitely “my man” mate.




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