Hey, check me out!

0 punch
Stop beating yourself up over low blog traffic!

I got featured on Indie Plot Twist! How cool is that?

There are lots of ways to find followers and get a little recognition. Indie Plot Twist is all over Twitter because they have an innovative way of incorporating your post with clickable tweets that send out the highlights of your message.

 

I found the site because one of my author friends posted on it. They mentioned it, so I checked it out and submitted. Now Indie Plot Twist is running my guest post and I’m mentioning it to you.

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There I am!

The site is good for many reasons but posting there couldn’t be easier. They have a button; you use it to contact them. Send your thoughts and they’ll let you know in a pretty fast manner. That’s it. If they like it, they schedule you and ask for some additional stuff, like links.

 

curious-woman
I do need to stay current.

Now, when you see your blog post on their site, you tell the world like I am. They get more readers, you get more readers. Everybody wins.

 

After you read a few posts on their site, you’ll see what they are looking for in content. Subscribe, and you’ll always have the latest tips.

 

It’s a good way to get your name out there, and guess what? There are lots of sites that will let you do a guest blog post.

 

Like this one.

 

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Me? A guest blogger? SURE!

For example, we will be featuring author interviews but we also have our friends of the blog post stuff we all need to know about. Al Macy is doing a few for us about building an email list (how to do it, why you need one) and using Kboards to get input on covers, blurbs, and titles. When his new book comes out in early 2016, we’ll be featuring him in a fun interview. Al gets a little exposure for his books and he becomes a trusted commodity by being a guest blogger here. You learn stuff you need from somebody who just did it. It’s a win-win.

 

That’s what you want, too.

 

So give Indie Plot Twists a shout, and send me an email (use the Contact Me button) to tell me what you’d like to guest post about.

 

Then, when it runs, you tell everybody – giving you an excuse to talk about yourself and your new book, drive traffic to your blog, or whatever!

 

It helps us; it helps you. And not every great idea has to come from me.

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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.

 

Whaaat??? TWO Flash Fiction challenges in one week?

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

Sure, why not?

 

Let’s learn to write a blurb!

 

We all need to do it, and practice makes perfect!

But.

Let’s write one for a book or movie we all know, to learn the process. Because while we’re all slapping down words in volume to build a story, a blurb is baiting the hook to get readers to read the story. Completely different.

 

It’s a tease, a sales pitch, a… baited hook.

 

In her book Gotta Read It, Libby Hawker says there are 5 steps to a good blurb.

  1. A Character, who
  2. Wants something, but
  3. Something stands in her way, so she
  4. Struggles against that force, and
  5. Something important is at stake

 

We’ve seen something similar to this before.

In December 2013, Digital Book World’s Beth Bacon posted “4 Easy Steps To An Irresistible Book Blurb” Which we used to make some fun  stuff

(1) Situation.

(2) Problem.

(3) Hopeful possibility.

(4) Mood, tone or spirit of the story.

 

The next things Bacon recommends are:

  • Make it short.
  • Make it dramatic.

 

Readers want tension in a blurb.

If your blurb doesn’t hook your readers, they’re going to assume your book won’t hook them either.

 

And we did some of that for my new story. But like anything else, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get.

 

Let’s try it. Write your own blurb for a well-known movie or book. We will probably all come up with something similar, but we can see who’s we like the best. Vote for the best one by clicking LIKE or just saying you like it. (Write yours before looking at the other ones, or just go ahead and improve on somebody else’s, no problem.)

 

Here are your movies or books:

1 Titanic

2 Hansel And Gretel

3 Schindler’s List

4 The Little Red Hen

5 Jurassic Park

Savvy Stories – Oops! How did that get in there?

6 Chicken Little

7 Tom Sawyer

8 Noah’s Ark

9 The Hunt For Red October

10 The Terminator

 

Use the Random Number Generator, HERE  to select your story. (Spin again if it gives you one you don’t know.)

randomnumbergenerator2

Pick one and have at it. I’m curious to see what we come up with, and I’ll be posting my latest BIP (Blurb In Process) for The Water Castle soon!

 

Invite your friends to play along, especially if they are good at blurbs.

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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.

Still Stuck? How To Unstick Your Unmotivated Writer’s Brain And WRITE

burned out womanSometimes a story gets stuck. That sucks, because we’re the ones who drove into the tree, but it happens. (This is not a post about that.)

 

When the story is fine but the writer is stuck, that’s different. That’s a mental thing, or an organization thing, or whatever, but if you are stuck and unhappy about it, here’s another method to re-engage your motivation.

 

BTW, if you have read my other piece about this and NOT tried EVERY solution offered, DO NOT complain that you are still stuck. You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

 

1 finish line c
You’ll get there.

First, don’t worry about “finishing” the story. That’s a thought too big for your unmotivated brain right now, like trying to swallow your whole Thanksgiving dinner in one bite.

 

Instead, let’s work in reverse.

 

(Ooh, math. Already, writing your story sounds good, doesn’t it? You’re welcome.)

 

How many chapters do you estimate you have to go to finish the story? I used about 1 chapter per plot point.

How many words per chapter? I use about 3000.

How long does it take to write a chapter? That depends, but you know and I don’t, for you. Using me, I’d say 3 days per chapter DEPENDING on if I have some plot points I have to work out or logic problems, etc.

 

In my fantasy romance story, The Water Castle, if Philip marries Gina and stays in Florida, he dies a year later in an Indian raid. If he doesn’t marry her and goes back to Spain, he lives. What was the option if he didn’t marry her and stayed in Florida? Oops. I guess I’d better make Spain mandatory. But then he’d live regardless. Oops. So he ONLY stays if he marries her, otherwise he has to go back. Staying is defiance. Okay. And she can’t go with him to Spain? Oops. Nope, I guess not.

 

See? All that thinking will stop the writing!

 

woman-stressed-pulling-hair-out

Anyway, if I have 6 plot points remaining (Philip has the meeting, Philip goes back to castle, Gina sees the book, Gina breaks up with Philip, Gina and her mom reconcile, Philip leaves, that’s about it.) 6 plot points. None of those is probably a whole chapter but let’s say they are.

 

6 “chapters” x 3000 words per chapter, at 2 chapters a week for normal speed = 3 weeks until I’m finished. (Again, your mileage may vary)

 

Add 50% to 100% for holiday interference and I’d say 6 weeks. Six weeks from now is, what, early January?

 

Okay, now I have to decide WHEN I’m going to write. (If you do not have a set writing time, there are ways to find time and schedule time HERE and HERE) For me, it’s usually 4am to 6am, plus 1 hour in the early evening and a few after dinner evenings, plus 3 hours on Sunday morning and 3 hours on Saturday afternoon, plus ALL DAY BLACK FRIDAY. Otherwise, whenever I can, since holidays mess things up.abacus

 

* Crunches numbers *

 

Yes, I can meet that January 7 deadline.

 

Now, if I finish before January 7, I will feel really good, but just knowing January 7 is when it’ll likely be finished, that’s GREAT. All I have to do is ensure I get my 2 hours in each morning.

 

Walk through that exercise for yourself. Be realistic, not ambitious. You’re not going to become SuperAuthor just because you wrote down some numbers.

 

Break down the numbers and have a weekly goal, with a daily estimate. A weekly goal might be 6,000 words but there will be days when I don’t write 1000. Maybe I’m rereading or reviewing – and my critique partners can usually tell when I haven’t. So I’ll go for a weekly goal but after 2 weeks if I’m only hitting 4000 words a week, guess what? REVISE THE DEADLINE or increase the weekly word production, or both.

 

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Don’t do that.

Right now, you’re beating yourself. I’d adjust the deadline. If that means March 31 and I hate it being that far away, I’ll get motivated – but the idea is to have a system to get where you want to go because right now you are NOT getting there without a system right now, are you? The system you’re using ain’t getting it done!

 

THEN take your plot points and list them:

Philip has the meeting,

Philip goes back to castle,

Gina sees the book,

Gina breaks up with Philip,

Gina and her mom reconcile,

Philip orders castle destroyed and leaves

 

Then take your favorite one and tell in 1 paragraph what happens in that part, or why it’s your favorite. Just sum it up. A few sentences may be enough, but feel free to explain the intricacies or details you want to hit.

 

Then, do that for the other points.

 

o spark
Feeling it yet?

Even if you wrote one paragraph for each of 6 plot points, you’d have written probably 1000 – 1500 words, and probably re-sparked your interest in your story. I defy you to write 1000 words on a story you love and NOT get restarted on it. But if you don’t, then set it aside and start something new. Maybe short stories or Flash Fiction challenges.

 

Me, I’d FORCE myself to write if I had to. I have written and discarded tens of thousands of words for The Water Castle. There have been a few strolls down interesting paths before the big ending that were later discarded. There was supposed to be a big dragon chase that evaporated. It’s all clay until it’s baked into a pot.

 

HappyChild_large
Me! Me! Me!

But if the story has left you, it’s okay to dance with a new story – as long as you don’t marry the new story. You don’t need 20 stories lying around that are half finished (and if you DO have 20 half-finished stories laying around, consider partnering up with others to finish them. Co-authors. Give ‘em your outline and notes and publish the thing, then split the royalties.)

 

They say if you have to wait for a muse, you’re a not a writer, you’re a waiter. Do you want that? How does that feel, to say that about yourself? You don’t want that.

 

Nobody wants that.

 

That’s why Hemingway said bite the nail every day and write. (Although he did shoot himself.) Sometimes it’s work. Build those writer muscles so next time it’ll be easier! You are not a quitter!

 

AB19725
You’ll get there!

I think breaking it down this way will help you see what you want to work on. You know what happens in the story; you just need to get it down. Also, as the end gets close, it’s hard to finish, so don’t let that get in the way. Finishing is difficult the first few times. You’ll be sitting there wondering if you tied up all the loose ends. Don’t. Just finish it. THEN worry about that stuff. Because clay. You can add to your story or change it. You can’t edit a blank page.

 

Write SOMETHING EVERY DAY, or even just reread a favorite part of the story. Do these exercises. Pretty soon the old fun feeling will be back.

 

And you’ll be writing again!

 

If YOU have ever been stuck, what worked for you? Tell us!

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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. 

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE, Black Friday Edition: TWO-SENTENCE STORY

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Your humble host.

BLACK FRIDAY TWO-SENTENCE STORY CHALLENGE

Flash fiction is supposed to be short and fast, and it doesn’t get much faster than two sentences! But it’s a holiday weekend here so I wanted to make this fun.

(I saw this on CS Wilde’s blog and LOVED the idea. I spent longer thinking about my two sentence reply than I have for whole sections of stories.)

THE CHALLENGE: Write your best two-sentence story in the comments section below, post the challenge on your blog, and make sure to leave the link to your blog in your reply.

Did you get all that?

  1. Leave your two-sentence story in the comments.
  2. With your blog link
  3. And post it in your blog

Careful! It’s harder than you think!

THE REWARD: as always, the recognition of your amazing talent, as signified by like and shares to your reply here.

READY? Here is the prompt you add onto. A story stem,  if you will:

THE SHOVEL HIT SOMETHING HARD. THEN THE SCREAMS STARTED.

It can be any genre you want: humor, horror, romance; anything at all, as long it’s ONLY a two-sentence story.

Now get after it!

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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.

4 VITAL Things To Know As An Indie Author (The Emotional Rollercoaster, part 2)

Well, maybe that last one...
You ROCK!

 

If you wrote a book and published it, congratulations! You’re a small business owner, and entrepreneur. A budding capitalist.

 

You write your product. That’s cool!

 

Then, you sell your product.

 

So… you’re a salesperson.

 

Ugh.

scared%20mom
Salesperson??? Nooooo!

Most of you NEVER wanted to be salespeople.

 

Your book/books are your business, and you have a small staff of employees. Probably just you. That means you are the boss, but also the manufacturer, the salesperson, the marketer, the accountant… the janitor… Since without sales there really isn’t any business, the most important thing is selling the product (after you have a product).

 

Whether it is a hobby or a part-time job or full-time job, that just means the amount of JOY or PAIN & SUFFERING you go through are magnified. Whether you are selling 1 book a week, 1 book an hour, or 1 book a minute, you probably want that number to go up.

 

Pick a good number of sales for a day, a week, or a month, or a year, and manage your expectations to trends, not little blips. Doesn’t matter what number you pick; some of you are new and some of you have been doing this a while. When I published my first book, it didn’t sell squat for a long time. A loooooooooooooong time.

 

Back then, if I sold a book a day, I was on FIRE! I was king of the world, a marketing genius! Things were going my way! Oprah was sure to call. I started rehearsing my Oprah interview questions and answers. Honest!

 

sk-well
Your writing self image when sales suck.

I don’t care where you are on the sales volume ladder, if you go a few days without making a sale, you will be convinced that you are suddenly a dog. Worthless. Unfit to walk the earth. Nothing is coming your way except more empty Amazon sales reports.

 

By picking a time frame of a week and setting my new-author-self’s expectations to sales over a week, I wasn’t disappointed if I didn’t sell a book that day. I kept doing things every day to sell books, knowing they’d come in. That’s hard when they don’t come in, which is why you track efforts and results, but you want to give yourself enough time to produce a result before stopping an activity.

 

  1. UNDERSTAND: You are the same author on a good sales day as you were on a bad sales day. Your book is still just as good. (This is easy to say but hard to make yourself believe on a bad sales day.)

 

Welcome to the emotional roller coaster that is sales! It will mess with you!

 

Give yourself time to develop that thick skin for this. It’s not easy. I have had a book flying off the shelves. THOUSANDS of copies over a few short days. I was a guru. Talk to me three months later when I hadn’t sold for three days. I was an idiot. Except, I wasn’t. I was just as good as when I was selling big.

 

drunk
Sometimes the brain doesn’t get it, either.

Your brain understands this. Your gut does not.

 

At first, you will question everything when sales dip. Or when your second book doesn’t launch better than your first. Or when book three is a blockbuster and book four sells in piddles.

 

Guess what? Even if every book does better than the prior book, you’ll wonder why they didn’t do even better!

 

You’re a tough boss!

 

When you started, you were planting lots and lots of seeds, not knowing which activities might result in sales. Most seeds come to harvest later on, maybe after you stopped doing the activity.

 

  1. Good salespeople prospect all the time, and try different things. So do good authors. That may be different things for different authors, but consider an “all of the above” strategy until you have the sales volume you want.

 

My friend Jason Matthews constantly re-tweaks his SEO keywords in his books, among other things.

 

Another friend, Kelly Abell, does lots of events and signings and lectures. As in, talks to groups of people who came just to hear her speak.

 

Another friend doesn’t do jack, he just keeps writing books. (He’s the one the rest of us hate.)

 

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Like on a spread sheet? Ugh.

What you want to do is keep track of what you’re doing so that later on you can have an idea of what worked. That will help. Track results any way you can, so you don’t spend time or money on things that don’t work.

 

  1. Sometimes things fluctuate. Now, if your sales go to zero and stay there for six months, you really need to think about what you’re doing, but if you have an occasional blip, you need to let your emotional side know that it’s going to happen. Look for trends. Don’t freak out over any one little thing.

 

  1. Very rarely do two books sell the same. No two kids are alike, and your books are a lot your kids. They will sell in their own unique way.

 

Don’t get discouraged. Even Stephen King puts out a dud once in a while, but since his marking is so good you would never know it. Maybe if you had the insights on his sales numbers you would see certain books sell a lot better than others. He’s still a great writer.

 

Same with Steven Spielberg movies. Some are great; some are not. He’s still a great talent.

 

And in both cases, certain ones that didn’t do at the box office or with critics, you may have thought were terrific.

 

Don’t let your emotions run thing. Put your emotions in your books but try to keep them out of your book business.

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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.

 

3 Tips To Getting Over Your Holiday Writing Hurdles (The Emotional Rollercoaster, part 1)

 

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A visual representation of me if I were a lady in a Santa hat. Even I don’t get this one.

I expected to get a ton of writing done at Christmas last year. NOTHING got done!

 

 

NOTHING!!!

 

 

Writer’s slump? Maybe.

 

Don’t you HATE it when the words aren’t flowing, or you can’t get motivated to write? Or other writing related hurdles?

 

The thing is, it passes.

 

Think about how difficult it was to share your work with another person the first time. Hopefully they were nice no matter how good or bad it was. Whether it was shared on Facebook, with friends, a spouse, a critique group, SHARING was a mountain BEFORE you did it – and now we look back and see it wasn’t such a big deal.

 

businesswoman-pointing-gun-to-computer-laptop-sitting-office-desk-desperate-stressed-young-attractive-having-problems-47931112
Write, damn you!

Somehow, we got through it.

 

Lots of hurdles are that way. You just knew about some of them, like publishing or getting reviews. Maybe you had an idea of what writer’s block was, but it hadn’t ever happened, or you never had to push through a case of lack of motivation all by yourself.

 

Those are all hurdles, too, and they seem HUGE when you are in them.

 

Worry not.

 

There are ways over your WRITER HURDLE just like any other kind of hurdle. Here are a few suggestions.

 

  1. Down in the dumps? Help somebody else. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or help another author with their problem. Misery loves company but in this case your input might help them get past their hurdle. It feels good to help. You want to feel good. I feel great every time one of you says that I helped you, or thanks me, whether you do it in a comment here or in a private message (and I get a LOT of those). They all feel great! (And don’t worry, I’ll be asking every one of you to buy a book pretty soon to show how much I really helped you.)

 

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Oh, it’s a compliment, eh?

Remember, when you help a writer friend and they say “no” to your suggestion, that’s a good sign. They instinctively have a better one percolating. Or they’re an asshole. Hold back the desire to stab them. “No” is good and so is “yes.” Talking about it with a sympathetic ear that belongs to a writer makes a big difference. Normal people don’t understand. Find that ear. Talk to it. (Did you just get a flash of a big ear sitting on a table at a coffee shop and you were talking to it, with no person attached? I did. Weird.)

 

  1. Writer’s block? Do a flash fiction challenge. Muscles atrophy and so does your sharpness as a writer. Don’t let it. You can force yourself to write something that is just for fun and it can restart you engine.

 

  1. Stuck on a plot point? Talk, or think up an alternate ending.
    man-reading-book
    Ooh, that’s GOOD!

    Send in your problem. Maybe we’ll air the options here and when people say “Ooh that’s good!” – WOW, the wind goes right back into your sails.

 

What else is bothering you? Let me know. There are lots of smart people here. No need to suffer in silence.

 

Most important, realize: with a few exceptions, you are not a robot. You have emotions or your stories would read like instruction manuals for Legos. This is a different business from a lot of others because it is so personal (more on that in part 2), and that can magnify things, so don’t let it. Learn to develop a thicker skin. But until then, ASK FOR THAT HELP.

 

Everybody here wants to help you.

 

Let us.

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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.

 

 

Yes, BLOG! What New Authors Need To Know About Building A Platform

Is this you when it comes to blogging?
Is this you when it comes to blogging?

Occasionally a new author will write me with a question or problem and I’ll answer it here so we can all learn.

 

Dear Dan,

I went to a writers’ conference last weekend (which was kind of intimidating) but I learned a lot about writing technique and learned some things about myself. I’m not a good self-promoter. I’m kind of quiet, actually; but one thing they recommended was a blog and/or website. I never had a good impression of blogs because I never thought people would be interested in things like, “I got up and made myself coffee.”

Sincerely,

Blogless Beginner

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Dear Blogless,

Not a good self promoter? A little on the quiet side?

Talk? To people?
Talk? To people?

Sounds like you’re an author all right!

Let me tell you a secret. MOST people aren’t good self-promoters. There are very few Donald Trumps in the world – he wrote a few books, you know.

(We recently discussed building an author platform HERE, HERE, and HERE)

The folks at the conference who recommended you have a blog or website probably believe a blog is a good platform from which to build a fan base – and they may be right – but you don’t have to do one. If blogging is a chore, it’ll read like a chore, and nobody will want to read it, a lose-lose.

But some blogs are fun to read. Like this one!

My blog has started to become a good one in the last year or so, after I figured out what I was doing. It’s supposed to be helpful and lots of people think it is. I also like to promote other authors and so far that’s worked pretty good for them, too. So anything I can do to help, let me know.

A visual representation of my blog, year 1
A visual representation of my blog, year 1

(You know what would be good for you to do? But boring? I mean BORING? Go to my archives and see the progression of what I blogged about 3 years ago and what I blog about now. Which posts got comments and which didn’t. Talk about an education! There’s 2 years saved right there!)

There are a lot of ways to do a blog, almost none of them wrong, but you’d never know that from reading people’s complaints about how nobody reads their blog.

And you’re right, nobody wants to read about boring stuff, but think about it: some construction worker somewhere doesn’t want to read about writing and how to do better dialog. But somewhere else, a bunch of nurses would love to share their funny nursing stories – and a bunch of nurses might like reading that, as well as a bunch of other people. (There’s more but this is a start.)

You ROCK!
You ROCK!

What interests you will be interesting to others, trust me. It’s a chicken-egg thing, but if you blog with enthusiasm about what interests you, people will find it, enjoy it, and tell friends.

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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.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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.