Author Profile: Michael E. Dellert

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Your humble host

We were fortunate enough to spend a little time recently with Michael Dellert and managed to get him to open up a bit about his process and inner thoughts on writing.

Michael is an award-winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, as well as a writing coach. His publishing career spans 20 years. His blog is a resource for creative writers of all kinds, offering tips, tricks, and advice to aspiring writers seeking to improve their craft, plus insights into the current state of the publishing industry.

His recent guest post about character development was the most bookmarked of any post we’ve had here on the blog.

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DAN: What is the working title of your next book?

MICHAEL: The book I’m publishing next is called A Merchant’s Tale. It’s due in stores and online by early April.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

00 Dellert 3First, you have to understand that I’m a medieval literature nerd and a fantasy world-building geek.

So A Merchant’s Tale is an exploration and introduction of characters and settings that will continue to grow and develop and interrelate with one another through a much longer cycle of stories, similar to the cycles of medieval romances, such as the Matter of Britain or the Matter of France.

The specific idea for the story came out of my world-building exercises: I was developing a medieval economy in which my characters had to make a living for themselves, and it occurred to me that a traveling merchant would see a lot of opportunities for danger and adventure.

Which is the more important of these two: write drunk, edit sober?

Writing drunk is certainly the more fun of the two options, but most important?

CJ Cherryh once said: “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” So I’d have to say “edit sober.” Well, semi-sober anyway. Wine doesn’t count, right?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took me about a month to write the first junk draft of A Merchant’s Tale. It took about three months to rewrite for publication.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The actors I envision often aren’t suitable for the role anymore. Hell, they’re not even suitable for the role now. For example, the character of the young acolyte in A Merchant’s Tale might be played by a young Matthew Broderick (as “Philipe Gastone” in Ladyhawke) or a young Christian Slater (as “Adso of Melk” in the adaptation of Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose). By the time I even wrote the story, both actors were already far too old for the role.

Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

You, Dan. Many drinks, and often. With little umbrellas in them.

What makes you so damn interesting anyway?

Me? Because I’m like the mushroom that walks into the bar that doesn’t serve his kind: “Why not? I’m a fungi!”

What is the best part about being an indie author for you?

00 Dellert 0It allows me to exercise both halves of myself: the half that spent thirty years trying to be a good writer, and the half that spent twenty years being a good publisher. As a writer, I get to develop and execute stories that actually mean something to me. As a publisher, I get to put my professional skills to use publishing something that actually means something to me. An occupational hazard of publishing is that the longer you’re in it, the less you actually have to do with books. It becomes an exercise in accounting.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

That I’m actually a strange visitor from an alien planet, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. And an orbital death-ray. Commanded by my sock-monkey, Leroy.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

There’s something besides writing? I hike, I swim, I take the dog for walks, mostly just to get out of the house and give myself a clear, quiet space to think about writing. They also happen to be good exercise, which is an important way to keep oneself from not wasting away to nothing while gallivanting through one’s own imagination. I also enjoy cooking with wine (both in the food and otherwise) and listening to music. I try to get away from my desk as often as my schedule will allow (which is probably not as often as is strictly healthy). I go out to movies, readings, and arts exhibitions with friends. I’m told one has to keep up a regular interaction with society.

Why do some authors sell well and others don’t? (Indie or otherwise, but indie if possible)

Most indie authors fail to sell well because they fail to market well.

 A lot of writers have a sort of Field of Dreams approach to their work. They write it and just expect readers to magically show up. It doesn’t work that way.

Readers have to find their work. Writers can make that easy for their potential readers, by engaging in social media, getting out and doing readings and signing, or sending out free copies of their work to reviewers. Or they can make it very hard for their readers by just dropping their book into Smashwords and hoping for the best.

Also, too many writers think that marketing is “beneath” them. Sometimes, it’s not even the writers themselves who think this. I have an ongoing argument with one of my friends about this. She thinks I should only have to write, I shouldn’t have to market. I keep pointing out that even JK Rowling shows up for book-signings and movie premieres.

What’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea? Describe in detail. Inquiring minds want to know!

In bed. And that’s all the detail you get. A gentleman never tells.

What’s the oddest or most awkward or embarrassing research you’ve had to do?

The most awkward research I ever did was on the history of early Islam, from the socio-political context of the Prophet through the various successor dynasties of the early Caliphates and down to the Crusades. The next day, someone from Homeland Security asked to become a member of my LinkedIn network. Coincidence…? I think not.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

00 Dellert 2In many ways, the fantasy genre chose me. I grew up watching old Tarzan movies and Flash Gordon serials on TV, enjoying the Golden Age horror movies with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and reading about Greek and Roman mythology. I can’t remember a time when Fantasy and Science Fiction weren’t my favorite forms of entertainment. Even now, I get giddy as a school girl when I see the Batman vs. Superman trailers.

Can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you ever turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer?

I can, I have, and so I don’t anymore. Experience is a harsh laundress.

What “person” do you like to write in? First Person, Third Person, etc. – and why?

I often do my early drafts in first person, to get a better sense of characterization. But I prefer to write in Third Person Limited. It allows for, in my opinion, the greatest flexibility in presenting the story and still exploring the broadest possible range of human experience within that story. It also allows the author to break up the story into multiple viewpoints and maintain energy and interest through the boggy middle part of the story. Stories that limit themselves to a single viewpoint run the risk of becoming self-indulgent whinge-fests for the main character, and of turning potentially powerful secondary characters into limited cardboard caricatures. I also struggle to capture the magic of what CJ Cherryh calls her “Third Person Intimate Internal” point of view. I’m not sure I’m there yet.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Yes, thanks! I do, in fact. I’m going to be running my first Goodreads giveaway. Starting 18 February, 2016, contestants can enter for a chance to win one of just 20 exclusively autographed copies of both Hedge King in Winter AND an advanced reading copy of the complete, 13-episode series of A Merchant’s Tale, before it finishes its serial run and before it’s available anywhere else! The contest closes on 5 March, 2016 and winners will be announced by 11 March, 2016. You can learn more here at Goodreads.

How do you decide on a title for your book?

You know those refrigerator poetry magnets, where you just mix up different words? I give them to my dogs to play with and record the results.

What do you do for cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist (you can name names if you liked them), or purchase premade?

Fantasy is a very difficult genre for indies when it comes to cover art, particularly medieval fantasy. Stock photography of dragons is hard to come by

and you want to find something that makes the reader wonder what’s special about your book compared to the other 500 titles next to it on the shelf. If you’re not an artist yourself (and I am certainly not an artist), your options are to do something very abstract (which runs the risk of being incomprehensible), to purchase something premade (which therefore has no organic relationship to your book itself), or you have to commission custom artwork.

So I hire artists, depending on my budget. For my first novella, Hedge King in Winter, it was important to me that the cover didn’t scream “first time indie author,” so I broke open the bank and hired Victor Titov and his Grafit Studio to come up with an original design based on some ideas that I sent him. When the budget for my second title, A Merchant’s Tale, proved to be more modest, I used 99Designs to run a book cover design competition. This helped me keep costs down and gave me a few samples from various artists before I had to settle on one of them. That artist, Vacaru George-Florin, and I then worked together post-contest to further fine-tune the idea that became the final cover for A Merchant’s Tale. For my next title, Romance of Eowain, I’ve done the same thing with 99Designs, owing to scheduling conflicts with both Victor and George.

The challenge then becomes tying together books that are ostensibly part of a series, but have widely different styles of artwork on the covers. I have a single book designer who handles my cover and interior book design, tying together the various titles typographically, rather than by the artwork.

How has your experience with editors been (you can name names if you liked your editor)?

I recently engaged a copy-editor for A Merchant’s Tale before I sent it away to the typesetter, and she really helped me tighten up a number of places where the language clunked, but I had become tone-deaf to it.

she (my editor) really helped me tighten up a number of places where the language clunked, but I had become tone-deaf to it.

Her name is Erin Sandlin, and she’s also the author of the blog Being Southern Somewhere Else, and has several published books of her own, including No One Has Such A Dog, and No One Should: A Collection of Canine Essays and Petit Fours from the Pie Hole: It’s For Your Face Hole. Aside from her excellent editorial skills, she’s also a social activist, and she’s donating a portion of the proceeds from her collection of canine essays to a charity called Ahimsa House, which works to rescue abused women with animals from domestic violence situations. I have a lot of respect for Erin, both for her editorial work and her social causes.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

The greatest misconception is that indie authors are indies because their work lacks quality, that their work “wouldn’t make the cut” in a traditional publishing environment, and that they’re all in it for vanity’s sake. That is patently false. Many worthy indies are simply talented entrepreneurs who have recognized that they can take their work directly to the market (as in the readers) and let them decide on its worth, rather than waiting for the traditional market (as in publishers) to take a chance on a horse of a different color.

Many younger writers today won’t remember this, but it used to be that a writer was actively discouraged from engaging in what was called “simultaneous submissions,” the practice of sending the same work for consideration to several possible publishers at the same time. Each publisher wanted the opportunity to consider a work in their own leisurely time, and weren’t happy with the idea that they might finally, after months of deliberation, make an offer on a story only to discover that it had been snatched up by a competitor in the meantime. So there was actually collusion amongst publishers to discourage this practice. This meant that a new author might send the same manuscript around to only a dozen houses in half as many years.

Today, indie authors with an entrepreneurial spirit can publish half a dozen novels in the same year, and collect a heavier share of the profits off each book.

However, the problem of quality is going to continue to plague them for at least another five to ten years, not because they aren’t talented, but because they lack the resources that traditional publishers can afford to bring to bear. Cover art, professional production values, and good copy-editors all cost money, a resource that most indies have only in short supply.

Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position!

Plotter, but in a very hippie-dippie-doo pantser kind of way. I believe that plot is the series of damned things, one after another, that happen to the characters while they’re trying to resolve the theme. The theme is what ties the “series of unfortunate events” together and provides the narrative drive, and that can only be explored through the characters in a very creative fashion. So the plot might involve an argument with a colleague, bad customer service at Starbucks, and a running gun-battle, but the theme might be about finding love. The plot is easy. The theme is much more challenging and unpredictable.

What was your road to publication like?

Like the road of many emerging authors, I imagine: long, bumpy, uphill, dark and full of terrors, plagued by dead ends and switchbacks. The hardest thing to overcome is the notion that becoming a published author is really going to change very much in your life. The day I dropped Hedge King in Winter, my first commercially-published fiction work, I still had to go out and get the milk. It wasn’t like a limousine showed up at my door and divested a full media fanfare, clown-car-style, at my front door, along with millions of dollars in sales. It just doesn’t work like that. When I drop A Merchant’s Tale in April, I’m still going to have to figure out how to pay the rent. Becoming a published author creates at least as many problems, if not more, than it solves.

What advice can you give new authors?

If you’re serious about it,

don’t give up, and don’t think in terms of this book or that story. Think in terms of a career.

Don’t start building your platform after you’ve published your book, start building it while you’re writing your book. The contest doesn’t go to the strong, or the fast. It goes to the bull-headed and the stubborn.

And if you’re not serious about it, go learn a trade and do that instead. There are easier ways to earn a living, and those of us who are serious really don’t need the competition.

What’s a good writing secret or time management secret?

  • Show up. Set realistic daily goals, be ruthless about achieving them, and show up to get them done.
  • Keep track of your goals and your progress toward them.
  • Spend a few minutes at the end of each writing session making a notes about where you intend to go in the next writing session, so you don’t have to flail around “waiting for inspiration.”
  • And when you have a bad day and don’t meet your goals, be merciful. Give yourself credit for showing up, and for what you did accomplish. Then show up the next day and get back to work.

Check out Michael Dellert’s Goodreads giveaway!00 Dellert Merchant's Tale - GoodReads

Where in the process do you create the story’s title? Do you start with it? Do you know it before you begin? Before you end? Elsewhere?

I have working titles planned out well in advance, before I start, just to keep track of project goals on the calendar. But the final title often evolves out of the final rewrite, once the theme and resolution are clear to me.

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Mornings. I like to get up, take the dog for a walk, then sit down with a cup of coffee and get started while I’m fresh, before the day has a chance to whisk me away with other things.

Coffee addict? Name your poison.

Gods, yes. The caffeinated kind, dark-roasted, fresh-ground, light and sweet.

What’s your favorite food?

Italian is my comfort cuisine. I grew up in Northern New Jersey, in Sopranos territory. Ay, oh, badda bing, badda boom. If it’s smothered in fresh, hand-made tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, fuhgeddaboddit.

How do you develop characters?

Very carefully.

How much structure is in your story before you start writing it?

None. And all of it. There are basics to good story-telling structure that I try to live by. But how I’m going to use them in any particular story largely depends on which way the characters take me. There is no story without characters, and the characters will have unique needs that have to be addressed in each story, regardless of how it’s structured. I try not to let my initial idea of the story become confused with the actual story.

How many story ideas are in your “good ideas” file? What are some of them?

Too many to count, but some of them include: Is it possible to write a “traditional” (i.e., contemporary) romance novel with a male protagonist? What does a “heroine’s journey” look like? When the villain is the hero of his own story, what does that story look like? What happens when the “child of destiny” is an unlikeable little brat? What does “boarding school” for the unlikeable child of destiny look like in a medieval setting? How do the friends, family, mentors, and rivals of the “child of destiny” shape his fitness for his role long before that fate becomes apparent?

What is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

Character, I think. I’ve started more novels than I will ever finish, and those that fell by the wayside failed to engage me and draw me in early to the story. In almost every case, this was because of poor characterization.

If I don’t care about the characters, I’m not going to finish the book.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Drop dead of shock, more than likely. But after that, there’s some beach-front property in Fiji I’ve had my eye on…

Best book to movie you’ve seen?

Ohh, a tough one. Most adaptations are so awful. But I think the best adaptations have both been from the novel M*A*S*H. I think in both cases (movie and TV series), what made the adaptations great wasn’t their loyalty to the story per se, but to the characters and their absurd circumstances.

What are your three favorite books by other authors?

  • Gate of Ivrel by CJ Cherryh.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
  • The Swan War Trilogy by Sean Russell.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was in seventh grade, so about twelve years old, before I finally had a label to put on the thing I’d been doing for as long as I could remember.

Do you hate cats?

Hate is a strong word. But I’m about as indifferent to cats as they are to me. I’m definitely a dog person. My dogs have always been so excited to see me when I come home: “Where you been, what you do, what it smell like, when you gonna take me theeeere?! I’m so glad you’re hoooooome!!!”

My cat, on the other hand, could care less. “Oh.” (Licks crotch.) “It’s you.” (Licks crotch.) “My litter box needs cleaning, by the way.” (Licks crotch.) You know you’re going to go blind doing that, you silly cat. She’s lucky I’m a big-hearted slob and rescued her from the rain one dark and stormy night.

In a story we are often asked to create images for the reader that we may not have experienced ourselves. When have you had to do that?

In a medieval fantasy story, that’s something that has to be done on almost every page. But

ironically, it’s not usually the really fantastic stuff that is hardest to write.

In A Merchant’s Tale, there’s a scene involving a monstrous bear and a pack of otherworldly hounds. This actually wasn’t so hard to write: I grew up around dogs, and I grew up in a region where black bears are very common, so much so that I’ve several times encountered them by surprise and at close range, as my characters do in the story. I drew from those experiences to paint that scene. It was more challenging to describe a typical rural medieval scene in early springtime: the tools the farmers were using, and the difficulties they faced using them. I grew up in a rural community, but I’ve never been a farmer, and I’ve certainly never known anyone who had to use an ox-drawn ard-plough to furrow a half-frozen field. That took some research and some imagination.

Tell us about yourself. Who IS the real Michael Dellert? And not the typical boring bio stuff. The dirt. Like, when was the last time you did laundry?

I did laundry last weekend, same as every Saturday morning. I try to get most of my errands and housekeeping out of the way early on Saturdays, so that by afternoon, I can look forward to having the rest of the weekend free.

I take a guilty pleasure from superhero movies, despite how awful they often are.

And I’m a critical theory nerd: structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, post-colonialism, transnationalism, I eat all that theoretical stuff up with a spoon.

What’s a favorite quote of anyone besides you, and one from you?

Kurt Vonnegut: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in my mouth.” I love that line. It so perfectly describes the difficulty of wrestling words down onto paper in the form of a compelling story.

From me? “You can’t edit what ain’t writ.” My personal mantra every time I’m faced with writers’ block. I can’t make something better if I don’t start someplace.

Most writers are a bit shy. Is that how your friends would describe you (shy), or do you have your readers fooled?

I’m not sure I’d describe myself as shy. I was actually a member of a theatre troupe in both high school and college. My best friends, I don’t think they’d describe me as shy. But if I’m not on stage, I can be very reserved, particularly around people I don’t know well. One of my best friends likes to call me “Silent Bob,” as in the Kevin Smith character from Clerks. I don’t speak often, but when I do, apparently I’m terribly profound.

Did you ever have a job where they were strict about shined shoes and stuff?

Several of them in fact. I’ve worked a few jobs in corporate publishing where appearances were considered important. I even had one job where I was told that the car I was driving (a beat-up 2001 Jetta that’s been across the country four times) didn’t “represent me as well it might.” I was actually told that it would be a good idea “for my career” to get a new car. I left the job. I still have the car. I figure the car is more loyal and better company.

Is tea a big deal over in England like they make it seem in Downton Abbey? (My wife watches, not me.)

I’ve had the pleasure of doing a lot of business in England in my career. Yes, tea is a big deal, but not as important anymore as in the period of Downton Abbey, at least, not among those I’ve known. Beer, on the other hand… My lord… I’ve come home from some business trips sure that I’d need a liver transplant.

How playful are you? Is your REAL Facebook page much more revealing about sides of you that people won’t know from your blog posts or books? Is there a double life thing going on?

I’m very playful, though I doubt even my REAL Facebook page shows much of that side of me. My grandmother always said, “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Sunday paper.” In the modern age, I figure that extends to social media. But in private and among friends? Hell, the kit gloves are off.

How hard was it to hit that “Publish” button the first time and send your book into the world? Looking back, what can you tell new authors about that experience?

There were more than a few moments of trepidation, I have to admit.

I think I needed two glasses of wine before I worked up the nerve (to hit the publish button).

But I had spent about six months ahead of that moment getting prepared: setting up my blog, talking about it on my blog, growing my Facebook and Twitter platforms and mentioning the book there a million times each. Hitting “Publish” was really the only thing I could do. However big a fool I might look if the book was awful, I would have looked more a fool if I’d built up all that hype and then backed down.

I would tell new authors, “Just do it.” If you’ve been working diligently at your craft, built a platform, announced to all and sundry that you’re going to be publishing a book, and you finally come face-to-face with that button, then it’s time. Yesterday’s not an option, and tomorrow is too late.

Just push the (publish) button. It’s really not going to change your life that much, where the world is concerned. But at the same time, it changes everything in your heart, where it really matters.

Doing something once and for the first time is always hardest. But doing it at all gives you the courage and confidence to do it again and again. So go ahead. Just do it.

Have you ever spent time with anyone famous? Was there any ransom involved?

I once attended a fund-raising party where I met Harry Belafonte Jr, his wife, and his daughter. They were very lovely and gracious people.

I’m also an irregular attendant at the Irish-American Writers and Artists Salon in New York City, which is headed up by Larry Kirwan (of the band Black 47) and Malachy McCourt (brother of Frank McCourt, of Angela’s Ashes fame), whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with from time to time. They’re both very kind and humble people, dedicated to the arts and the improvement of artists’ circumstances. It’s a privilege to know them both. And so far, the only ransom has involved shots of whiskey.

What was the most fun interview you’ve done and why?

Why, of course, this interview is the most fun I’ve ever had, ever, in the whole history of fun times. But it might have been because of the bologna in my shoes. The bologna just made me feel funny.

I think we have a new contender for most bookmarked post!

Here are Michael’s links:

Michael Dellert Learn more about Indie Publishing!

LinkedIn: Michael Dellert

Blog: MDellert-Dot-Com: Adventures in Indie Publishing

Twitter: @MDellertDotCom

Facebook: Michael Dellert, Writer, Editor, Publishing Consultant

 

New Year’s Flash Fiction Challenge

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

A challenge should be, well, a challenge, right? A degree of difficulty. A little work.

 

And I promised these would be more challenging in the new year, didn’t I?

 

It occurred to me that this internationally acclaimed (by me) blog will reach different readers at different times. My Aussie friends may be reading this a full twelve hours before my California friends. Although knowing my buddies Down Under, they’ll be celebrating the New Year early and often and may not see this until Tuesday…

 

So I was BSing with an author friend the other day (Okay it was Allison) and she found a random character generator.

 

Bwahahaha – that’s fun right there. Hang on, we’ll get to that.

 

See, most of us can do the basic elements of writing pretty easily, so the challenge comes from the unknown. The “Can I do it?” thing.

 

And what are the hardest things to do? (Jenny addressed this HERE)

Make a reader cry

Make a reader laugh – actually harder than making them cry

Make a reader experience loss, love, longing, fear. Those are ALL hard to do!

 

But!

 

If you can do them you become a literary GOD. (Trust me on this.) See this handy blog post by Allison for additional support for the theory of how these short stories make you a better writer HERE.

 

So that’s what we’ll do.

 

See, you will learn this here and then you’ll use it in your next book or something and people will say Wow you have become such a better writer and then you’ll be all like Gee, Dan was right and you’ll buy my novels and books about how to write better stories and how to market and… Uh, where was I? Those books exist, by the way. They aren’t published yet but you guys will get first crack at them. Be ready in January, that’s all I’m saying.

 

Oh, about this challenge.

 

First, let’s remove all the little obstacles. Go to the random character generator

http://writingexercises.co.uk/character.php

and select your character. Copy paste the description into a document. It’ll look like this

 

A stubborn 39 year-old man, who comes from a wealthy background, lives in a fisherman’s cottage and tends to spend too much money.

 

or this

 

An overbearing 62 year-old man, who comes from a wealthy background, lives in a city apartment and tends to be rather lazy.

 

Then go to the random number generator

http://www.mathgoodies.com/calculators/random_no_custom.html

and put in the range 1 to 41, selecting the emotion you have to work with from the following list:

 

  1. Arousal – and yes this is hard to write*
  2. Aggression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Compassion
  5. Confusion
  6. Contempt
  7. Depression
  8. Desire
  9. Doubt
  10. Ecstasy
  11. Empathy
  12. Envy
  13. Embarrassment
  14. Euphoria
  15. Fear
  16. Forgiveness
  17. Frustration
  18. Gratitude
  19. Grief
  20. Guilt
  21. Hatred
  22. Hope
  23. Horror
  24. Hostility
  25. Homesickness
  26. Hunger
  27. Hysteria
  28. Loneliness
  29. Love
  30. Lust
  31. Paranoia
  32. Pity
  33. Pleasure
  34. Pride
  35. Rage
  36. Regret
  37. Remorse
  38. Shame
  39. Suffering
  40. Sympathy
  41. Wanting to murder someone – extra points if you choose this one. Just cos.

 

* This is hard to write. That’s why it’s in here.

 

I took these from http://www.listofhumanemotions.com/listofhumanemotions after removing a few.

 

NO CHEATING! One spin of the wheel of fate for your emotion and for your character – otherwise, where’s the challenge? You can do it. The literary gods have spoken. Do not question them.

 

If you draw LUST or AROUSAL or whatever, keep your story rated G or PG for MY site, but if you really go hard R or whatever, have at it – just post the link and a warning okay? Some stories need require that, so don’t feel you have to hold back. You need to be able to go there, and that will take practice. This is your excuse, and the feedback will be valuable. No worries.

 

You have 500 words to create the emotion and really make it stick, using the character supplied. (It can be a little longer than 500, nobody’s gonna yell at you.)

 

I’ll give you a tip, too. Think about your own experience, a time when you felt the way your character has to feel. Write down how you felt, even if some of it doesn’t make sense, and then transfer it to your character. (CJ talks a little about that HERE)

 

Here’s another tip. Next week we’ll all be using the same emotion and different characters to see what that does.

 

Ready?

 

You know the drill:

 

  1. Use the Random Character Generator to pick your character
  2. Use a Random Number Generator to select your theme
  3. Write a story up to 500 words that is obviously written using both the character and emotion.
  4. Post your story below in the comments with a link to your blog where
  5. You also post it on you blog (No blog? see #9)
  6. And mention what the heck this is so people don’t think you’ve gone schizo
  7. Read and comment on OTHER people’s entries. That makes it fun. Allegedly.
  8. You have one week. Noon Friday a week from this posting date (sunny, warm Tampa, Florida, USA time)
  9. If you don’t have a blog, post the whole story here as a comment. If it needs a warning, give us one.
  10. Don’t be afraid to tell us how hard or easy this was for you!

 

Get after it!

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Your humble host.

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Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

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

 

 

 

Christmas Flash Fiction Challenge!

00 Santa Dan
This is the last one of these with the hat.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This is your present, from me to you!

It occurred to me that you will have some down time this week. Not today, necessarily, but in a few days. At which time you’ll check in and see we had a writing challenge that could brighten your writing day. And here it is.

For the NEW YEAR, the challenges will be a little challengey-er!

More challenging! More difficult! More fun! (For me, anyway.)

So we better get ready. This challenge will do that because very few people will participate, but those who do will have a big advantage in the new year. Just sayin’.

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It’s kind of like a gift. (Read on. You’ll see.)

Ready? Here we go.

Take a topic from the Random Subject Generator below

http://writingexercises.co.uk/subjectgenerator.php

and that will be the theme of your story. (Mine was about betrayal – which is pretty good!)

You build your story around that.

Easy, right?

BUT!

00 gs
Remember, he was a good guy by the end of the story.

You ALSO build your story within a classic genre, DERIVED BY A RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR!!

 

Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!

 

There are two reasons to do this. One, I’m evil. But you knew that. Two, those writer muscles need to be built where they haven’t been. You fantasy folks need a little romance in your stories (Star Wars was a fantasy but it definitely had a romance going on underneath, didn’t it?) You romance folks need a little action adventure in your stories (Dr. Zhivago had a revolution going on for pete’s sake!)

 

Build those neglected writer muscles!

It only hurts for a little while but you might find out you’re good at it.

TheNavigatorsDanAlatorre
No, you cannot buy it yet.
Poggi cover FINAL
Can’t buy this yet, either.

For example, I have often mentioned the kiss I had to write for The Navigators. That was really difficult for me at the time (eight rewrites for one kiss), but friends here helped me learn how to do it. (Yes, I had several grown women “teach” me how to kiss.) That helped a lot when I had to do romantic stuff in Poggibonsi (I stretched those muscles but I also now had a network of people to bounce the scenes off of before they were aired to my critique group – HUGE benefit), and THAT helped when I had to do two steamy sex scenes in The Water Castle – which had readers fanning themselves, they were so hot. (It was all implied stuff, too. Much more difficult, IMO. But they were honest, realistic, sexy and tasteful. Because I developed some new writer muscles. Most important, they were well received – as in, they were good writing.)

If I can, you can.

A great story usually contains elements from several genres. Adding these things enhances you stories, and practicing them here makes you a better writer.

Thaaaaat’s what you want!

Eating_through_lunch
I DO want that.

(Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.)

Genres: Use the Random Number Generator to get one of these:

  1. Romance
  2. Murder Mystery
  3. Action Adventure
  4. Thriller
  5. Sci Fi
  6. Fantasy (like dragons and knights in shining armor, not sexual fantasies)

Random Number Generator: https://www.random.org/

You know the drill:

  1. Use the Random Subject Generator to pick your THEME
  2. Use a Random Number Generator to select your GENRE
  3. Write a story up to 3000 words that is obviously written using both theme and genre.
  4. Post your story below in the comments with a link to your blog where
  5. You also post it on you blog
  6. And mention what the heck this is so people don’t think you’ve gone schizo
  7. Read and comment on OTHER people’s entries. That makes it fun. Allegedly.
  8. You have one week. Noon Friday a week from this posting date (EST – Tampa, Florida time in the U S and A) is plenty of time, slacker!
  9. IF you intend to play, post a comment below so I can give you crap when a week passes and you don’t post it, EMILY.
  10. Um… I think that’s it.

Get after it!

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Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

Cracking The Mystery Of “Goodreads For Authors,” Part Two: READERS

CJ photo
Author CJ Andrews

A Timely guest blog post by my friend, critique partner and fellow author CJ Andrews – Dan.

Sunday afternoon Dan and I were chatting about his post on how authors can use Goodreads. As I rambled on about my thoughts on the topic, we (okay, Dan) realized that a lot of authors may struggle with this platform, because theyve never used it as a reader—there’s a disconnect.

(To read that post, click HERE)

In my mind, Goodreads is a more valuable place to have a strong presence as an author than any of the other social media sites. That’s just my opinion, but it comes from my experience as a reader who used Goodreads and appreciated the valuable resource it is.

 

I started writing about a year and a half ago. Before that, I was an avid reader devouring 75-100 books a year. Not even James Patterson writes fast enough to keep up with that appetite for books! I often found myself searching for new authors, or at least new-to-me authors, and my next good read.

woman-armfull-books-bigst
I love books!!!

I’m a fussy reader—I read mostly in one genre, but not exclusively. I want to be entertained by an interesting story and realistic characters, and I despise poorly written and poorly edited books.

I started out searching for something to read in the “recommended books” on sites like Amazon or B&N, but finding something that met my standards wasn’t always easy. I read a lot of duds—sometimes bailing after only a few awful pages—before encountering a book worth reading.

 

I eventually stumbled upon Goodreads, and some might say the discovery was like Christmas morning.

00cmastree
Imagine an inspiring  background chorus going “Ahhh”

From a reader’s perspective, Goodreads is an amazing resource.

  1. I simply check off what types of books I like to read, and
  2. they give me suggestions based on my selections.

 

Pretty cool.

But wait…there’s more!

As a reader, I have my very own bookshelf—a place to list the books I’ve read—where I can rate how much I enjoyed them . . . or didn’t enjoy them. Now when I ask Goodreads to recommend more books for me, they take this information into account, along with the check-list I created, to further refine their suggestions of books I might enjoy. The list even tells me which books on my shelf were used to determine each recommended title, so I know what to expect.

For a reader, this is awesome! But . . . it gets even better.

HappyChild_large

I can connect with other readers, similar to social media formats, and join groups. Now I can talk to readers who enjoy the same types of books as I do. I can see their bookshelves to know what they’ve read and how they’ve rated those books, and compare that to my own bookshelf and ratings.

I can also see when theyve given a review on a book I might be interested in reading. This isn’t just some random stranger’s review, one who might even be a friend of the author and gave a supportive but unwarranted five-star review. This is a review by someone Ive built a relationship witha friendand that carries a lot more weight. I already know this person likes the same books I do, so I can trust his/her opinion and recommendation.

When I started writing, I learned about the importance of building an author’s platform with a presence on social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Of course I complied—I want to be successful, after all—and set up my profiles. I even created an author page in addition to my regular Facebook profile, despite the fact that I’m still writing my debut novel. And, of course, I set up an author website and blog. (cheap plug for the guest blogger: visit me at authorCJAndrews.com)

 

Transitioning to an author’s mindset, these are the places I go to learn about fellow authors and what they’re up to. So imagine my surprise when I discovered my non-writer friends are still going to Goodreads to look for authors and their new books.

 

Now I see the value of Goodreads from the other side of the page.

 

woman-stressed-pulling-hair-out
What should I do?

But, as Dan’s post pointed out, figuring out how to make it work as a part of our author platform can be tricky. People on Goodreads don’t want to see ads by an author to buy their book. They go there looking for dependable referrals from other readers.

A wise mentor once pointed out to me that writers are readers too. So the key to being successful on Goodreads may lie in that premise. Establishing ourselves as readers among a highly active group of other readers is probably a better approach than playing the part of the pushy salesperson who gets ignored.

 

So, here’s my game plan.

  1. I’m working on filling up my new bookshelf and adding my ratings.
  2. After that, I’ll write some reviews of books I’ve enjoyed—this should help me gain some exposure and establish credibility.

 

When the time comes to put my own book out there, which is in the same genre as most of the tiles on my bookshelf, hopefully I’ll have built an audience eager to follow my recommendation and read it.

Gang, CJ’s tips here are invaluable if you are trying to figure out how to make Goodreads work for you as an author – and judging from Sunday’s post and comments, that’s most of us. Use these suggestions and follow CJ at her blog  http://authorcjandrews.com/ – Dan.

.

00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

Author Profile: Claire Fullerton

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

As we try to meet new authors and expand our literary palate, we will meet folks who write in the same genre as us and those who write something other than what we write. I personally believe that a well written story can (and maybe should) contain elements of multiple genres. A drama should have a dash of offsetting comedic relief.  A mystery might have a romantic underpinning. You can’t be all things to all people but you should read things outside of your normal sphere to broaden your talents.

We also get a glimpse into how other authors work, how they started, where they get their ideas. Each one we learn about teaches us more information we can use down the road.

With that in mind, meet a fascinating, intelligent author who brings a broad spectrum to the table – Claire Fullerton.

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DAN: What is the working title of your next book?

CLAIRE: My next book? The working title is “Mourning Dove,” and nobody has seen it yet because I’m still going over it line-by-line. But “Dancing to an Irish Reel” was released six months ago.

00 claire fullerton 3Where did the idea come from for the book?

With regard to “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” I once lived as an outsider in rural Ireland, but it didn’t take long to grow accustom to Ireland’s social and cultural nuances. I lived in the region of Connemara, in what is known as the Gaeltacht, which is where Irish is spoken as a first language. The village I lived in is called Inverin. It has one grocery store and no traffic or street lights. Everybody there knew I was a single American woman living out in the wilds of the bog, but, I had no idea everybody knew this. It was a wonderful, yearlong experience where everything was new and different. When I got back to America, I started formulating the idea for a book.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? A year, but this doesn’t mean the first draft was worth seeing! The book went through many edits.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Jonathan Reece Myers as Liam Hennessey, Emma Stone as Hailey Crossan, Keith Nobbs as Declan Fenton.

Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

Donna Tartt, but I’m not sure she’d be good company. Seems a little dark, edgy and cynical to me, and maybe not the best personality to ply with drink! But I find her books incredible for their unusual plots and structure. And there’s a woman who knows her way around the English language.

00 claire fullerton 1
Author Claire Fullerton

What makes you so damn interesting anyway?

I’m a dyed in the wool Southerner living at the beach in Malibu, California; let me spell the damn part of this out for you: Nobody in Malibu can get a handle on where I’m from. I can’t open my mouth without someone asking me if I’m from Texas, which is terribly disappointing for a Southerner from the Mississippi Delta. If this isn’t enough for you, I’m so damn interesting because I’m a ballet dancing German shepherd owner who was once a rock-n-roll DJ at a station on Beale Street in Memphis, before I was offered a job in Hollywood to work in the record business, in which I shopped a band named Better Than Ezra for a year and a half (more Southerners- not so easy to do in LA.) Then I worked in a post-production facility, where I met every movie star known to man ( name someone; I’ve rubbed shoulders) then moved to rural Ireland for a year, before fate landed me back in sin-city until I met my husband and moved to Malibu.

What is the best part about being a traditional author for you?

I have two books out with Vinspire Publishing, which is a medium-size press. The best part of this has been that they’ve literally walked me through everything I didn’t know about marketing and promotion, and I can’t stress enough how little I knew. I knew how to write and that was it, but after two and a half years, I now understand the game.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

00 claire fullerton 6
Supermodel and Entrepreneur Cindy Crawford
00 claire fullerton 5
Olympic Athlete Greg Louganis

I taught Pilates and Ballet barre to Greg Louganis and Cindy Crawford. Seriously. They both repeatedly came to my class. Cindy is so good looking you can’t even look her in the eye, and nice beyond measure. And Greg is Malibu’s hometown favorite. A lovely guy.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I can’t wax enough about our two German shepherds. I spend a lot of time entertaining them. Believe me, if you don’t give a shepherd something to do, they’ll find it for themselves, so I’m outdoors with them a lot, either at the beach or in the woods. Beyond this, I keep up with ballet.

Why do some authors sell well and others don’t?

I think the question is best looked at from the vantage point of where an author is in their career (assuming, of course, that they’re good.) A writer’s career is “a marathon not a sprint” ( I’ve heard this forever) and so much of it comes down to constant, let me repeat, CONSTANT marketing and promotion. The way I see it, it’s all a build, and one has to tap themselves in with readers to prove they exist! But at the end of it all, it all comes down to the quality of the work and the ability to keep producing.

What’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea?

The lobby of the La Playa Hotel, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, which is on the Monterey Peninsula. It was the strangest thing: as my husband checked us into the historic hotel, my eyes scanned the vast, opulent lobby, where there was a stone fireplace on one end and a sweeping Mediterranean tiled staircase on the other. I noticed a hallway flowing to the back of the hotel, which faces the ocean, and as I walked down it, I saw sepia-tinted etchings and old photographs taken of the area dating from 1900. People were in period clothing standing beside horses at hitching posts, the streets were unpaved, and everything looked eerie. In looking at one photograph, which was the architectural plan for a house, I realized the La Playa Hotel started out as a private resonance.

00 claire fullerton 7
Nice place!

This put a different spin on the stairs I saw in the lobby, so I walked back and imagined myself, at the turn of that century, walking up to the level above, where I assumed there must have been bedrooms. When I actually did walk up the stairs, I saw a cathedral, wooden door at the end of the hall and knew it must lead to the master bedroom. I imagined there was a bay window looking out towards the sea, and imagined myself standing before it purposefully. “A Portal in Time” was the book I wrote that led me to that imagined window at the top of the stairs!

 

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

00 claire fullerton 2For “A Portal in Time,” I had no idea in which genre it belonged; I just thought I’d written a good page-turning, rather off-kilter story with an unusual ending. But when I submitted it to Vinspire Publishing, I said it was paranormal, because it had to do with the idea of past lives. For “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” I told the story in the first person and made it all a true to life commentary on how I experienced Ireland, although the story is fiction. This makes “Dancing to an Irish Reel” literary fiction, which is my favorite genre. My third novel is also literary fiction.

Can you wash light and dark clothes together?

Have you even turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer? Can I now moan about the nature of my husband’s socks? Lord, have mercy. They’re of the white sporting variety and he tends to wear them around the house without shoes, which turns what was once white to the grossest color you’ve ever seen. I’m talking dirt-brown. With dog hair from two German shepherds. Have I turned anything pink in the wash? Maybe not, but I’ve never mastered the art of removing filth.

What “person” do you like to write in? First Person, Third Person, etc. – and why?

First person. I don’t think I’ll ever write in third again. I find other’s points of view too tricky, and if I write in the first, then there seems to be more authenticity in the telling. I prefer reading first person as well because it give me a person with whom to connect.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

00 claire fullerton 8.jpgYes! I submitted the epilogue to my third novel to Southern Writer’s Magazine’s 2015 short-story contest, and it is a runner-up. It’ll appear in their next edition. I’m actually still adjusting the 81,000 word manuscript- going over and over it- you know how it is. But I thought I’d submit the epilogue to the contest, even though it’s not technically a short-story, but it does stand on its own. I’m thrilled Southern Writer’s Magazine saw its merit.

How did your blog start?

I have a blog on Goodreads, which I’ve kept current with these past few years. It’s a great spot from which to start a blog because so many readers are on the site. For an author, it’s a ready readership.

How do you decide on a title for your book?

“Dancing to an Irish Reel” came to me because it describes what goes on in the book between the American outsider and the local, Irish traditional musician. The young lad, Liam Hennessey, has never been in love before, so when he meets American, Hailey Crossan, he doesn’t know how to handle himself or the growing attraction between them. He can’t decide whether to draw closer or run away, because he’s an Irish musician, married to the music, and not sure how this woman can fit into his life. But the attraction is clearly there and building, and in Hailey’s eyes, she’s involved in a dance and trying to find her footing as a stranger in a strange land.

00 claire fullerton 9What do you do for cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist (you can name names if you liked them), or purchase premade?

Vinspire Publishing hired Elaina Lee: For the Muse Designs.

 

Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position! Both!

I know the beginning and end first, then I write down highlights, plot twists, and building blocks that I want in the story, and perhaps a few lines I want the characters to say in dialogue, which will shed light on their personality as well as move the story forward. I also answer these questions: what is the theme or themes of this book; what am I trying to say? What’s the point of this story? In my opinion, there’s very little point in writing a book if you don’t have something to say! I consider all this the scaffolding of the story, and from here, I fly by the seat of my pants. Writing a novel will avail plenty of opportunity for side-trips during the process, so to speak, and if I’m not boxed in with a concrete structure, then I’m free to explore.

 

What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

I’ll put these two questions together here and report I’ve learned the imperative, in writing of any kind, and it is this: after you think you’ve finished, walk away and go back to it later. You’ll catch all kinds of things then. I’ve heard it said that writing is re-writing, and it is true.

What was your road to publication like?

Ah! Great question, which I spelled out in detail on The Story Reading Ape’s website in October, which is how I was lucky enough to find you!

What advice can you give new authors?

00 claire fullerton 4If you think you should, then you should! Writers learn as they go along, but it starts with getting in the traffic. There is no “there” to get to, only the willingness to stay the course with commitment. A writer’s career will create itself if a writer allows it to. It is typically unpredictable, so one has to stay loose in the saddle and persevere. And never, never, never compare yourself to others.

Who or what helped you the most getting started?

Not a soul. I dove in the waters alone! But then Dawn Carrington of Vinspire Publishing believed in my first novel and treated me with such guiding respect that it ramped me up in my own esteem and gave me motivation to continue.

 

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Always first thing in the morning, coffee in hand, which leads me to the answer of the next question on this interview: my fear is if I didn’t begin each day with coffee, I’d go into withdrawal.

 

 

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

I’d go where ever asked and make it my mission to tell other authors how to plot their career. I’d answer any question because I know there are legions of great writers out there looking for an open door. I’d like to point the way.

Best book to movie you’ve seen?

“The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy- the book, not the movie. There was no way to capture the lyrical, insightful flow of this great Southern novel in the movie. The book was all about the flow of past and present and how they beled into each other. It is the ultimate “sins of the father” book and so masterfully constructed I’m still not over its genius!

What are you three favorite books by other authors?

After “The Prince of Tides,” “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt, “The Mermaid’s Singing” by Lisa Carey and “Peachtree Road” by Anne Rivers Siddons.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

00 claire fullerton 1There was never a time when I was not. I say this because I always felt the need to keep a journal. I documented everything that went on in my life from a very early age because it just seemed the thing to do, to keep a running monologue, if you will. My career has been an outgrowth of this process. The only difference between what I’ve always done and publication is at one point, I started submitting.

Do you hate cats?

No, I do not. I have one black cat named La Chatte. She’s a left-handed cat with way too much to say. The dear thing understands paragraphs. And our two German shepherds still chase her, yet she remains completely unruffled. You’ve never seen such stoic confidence in a feline.

 

What was the most fun interview you’ve done and why?

Now why would I be stupid enough to say any other interview other than this was the most fun? And it seriously has been. But Ronovan Writes’ interview was unusually creative, and Chris of the Story Reading Ape is a star!

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Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Literary Fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is a four time, award winning essayist, a contributor to magazines, a five time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, and a former newspaper columnist. Claire grew up in Memphis, and now divides her time between Malibu and Carmel, CA with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.

http://www.clairefullerton.com/

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00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

 

 

 

BEST CHRISTMAS FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE EVER

00 Santa Dan
Ho, ho, ho!

If you wanna get right to the challenge skip down to where it says “FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE!”

 

It is Christmas time! And as most of you know, there are a lot of Christmas specials on TV.

And most of them suck.

 

Honestly, A Mom For Christmas? Look, I liked Olivia Newton John as much as anybody back in the day, but who needs to see that?

 

Nobody.

 

But throw in a few desperate B-list stars and some drunk, unemployed writers and BINGO, another “new” cookie cutter holiday story. Even if they’ve redone it a dozen times over the years.

 

Yawn.

 

This is YOUR chance to change all that!

 

It occurred to me that a bored person with a computer could probably do better than these TV executives! And, hey, WE have computers! And alcohol! Plus, doing this challenge is better for YOU than shopping/decorating the tree/spending time with the in-laws.

 

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE!

 

Did you see that coming? So here’s the deal. First of all you go to this website

http://www.kitt.net/php/title.php

 

And get six titles. Pick ONE to build your Christmas Themed Flash Fiction story around.

 

The definition of flash fiction is: whatever you want it to be. So sayeth Wiki:

“Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity.[1] There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category.”

 

 

Basically I’m looking for something around 1000 words. It can be less, it could be more. If you’re closing in on 3000 words and you haven’t really nailed it yet, think about some editing. Funny, romantic, erotic, mystery, drama, that’s your call. (Keep it PG if you post it below; if you go R or harder, just the link will do.)

 

THE RULES

 

  1. You write 1000 words more or less on the now-Christmassy topic
  2. Post it on your blog
  3. Reference us on your blog and this challenge so your regular readers don’t think you’ve gone batty.
  4. Post your link to your story here in the comments section.
  5. You have until Friday 12 noon EST, on 12/18/2015, that’s Tampa Florida US of A time, for those of you who live elsewhere.

 

Here’s a bonus for reading to the bottom. IF you participate in THIS challenge, you will get a few days’ advantage for the NEXT writing challenge! Yeah, that’s it. I can be Grinchy sometimes. Ask around.

 

READ the entries by everybody and let me know which ones you like. That could influence the judging. Just sayin’. We’re not giving prizes. The display of your amazing talent is its own reward.

 

GET AFTER IT!

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Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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

 

 

5 Ways To Avoid The “You Spend Too Much Time On The Computer” Fight

00 Santa Dan(I ran this post last year around this time and it’s worth running again. I’m all about helping people.)

Nearly every female writer I’ve become friends with has had the same fight with her man: she spends too much time on the computer. (I don’t think ANY of these dustups came during football season, either. We’ll be ahead of the curve.)

The fight happens because your man feels disconnected, so let him know he’s not boring to you. Bored wives end up angry and file for divorce. Bored girlfriends end up becoming ex-girlfriends.

or worse
or worse

He probably doesn’t want that.

Happily, you can hammer out a writing schedule that works for everyone, without appearing to do so.

  1. Take a week off from writing and track just how much time he actually wants. Don’t announce this, just don’t get on the computer when you normally would. Attempt to be a part of whatever he’s doing – unless it’s woodworking; that, he wants you to have no part of. Because tools. Just gaze adoringly at whatever exotic hardwood object he eventually presents.
  1. As a woman you’re practically a pre-qualified CIA spy. While spending time with him during this week off, covertly keep track of things. Whether it’s an hour of doing puzzles or watching SVU, note when you start and when he doesn’t seem to require you by his side. After a week he’ll be tired of trying to be interesting – and you’ll know how much time he really needs.
Ghost Rider, the eagle on the move.
Ghost Rider, the eagle is on the move.
  1. Talk. How’s the (your local NFL team)’s draft prospects this year? Or the (local baseball team)’s schedule? Those two questions alone show you’re trying. (If SVU is on, do this during commercials.)
  1. Let your lion know he’s still king of the jungle. Yes, that means sex, but you initiate it – and don’t take no for an answer. Attack him after dinner and give him what he likes best, right there on the couch. Casually ask if he’s thought about having a three way with you and another woman, and then before he can answer, rock his world.
I got this
I got this

After a week, he’ll beg you to go back to your computer, not because he dislikes the new arrangement, but because he’s exhausted.

Then start work on your old writing schedule again, adjusted for your week of recon. Maybe write on Monday – Wednesday – Friday, and on Sunday morning while he reads the paper.

  1. Stop writing and give him a smile when he walks into the room, not the “I’m busy, don’t interrupt” face. He’s not being mean; he simply doesn’t know the refrigerator is where the cold sodas are kept. Accept that.
It's next to the ketchup!
It’s next to the ketchup!

Yes, it’s an unfair a one-way street for a while; but unless he’s a complete bozo, things will turn around quickly. He’ll have new enthusiasm for your writing and you’ll have a busy writing schedule. Everybody wins!

Besides, baseball season starts soon. You can go the extra mile with a new schedule until it does.

Opening Day is April 15?
Opening Day is April 3?

(Ladies, turnabout is fair play. Tell us your strategies to keep things happy and productive for the writer that is you!)

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Dan's pic
Your humble host.

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