Hey, check me out!

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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.

 

Remember: The READER Doesn’t Know The Characters Are Okay!

At a few key places in The Water Castle, I really built up the tension – and it works. Nail biter stuff.

The reader is tense, the character is tense…

Hell, I was tense.

(I discovered a little trick, that whatever I wanted the reader to feel, I had to make a character feel. We’re in their heads after all, as readers, so if they are biting their fingernail and creeping slowly holding their breath, we tend to do that, too. I mean, you have to paint it right but that’s a big part of it. That’s also why, if your MC likes/dislikes/trusts/loves/hates another character, your reader will, too – if you allowed the reader to know and like the MC first.)

But

At a few other places that should have had tension, the story didn’t deliver it.

(Yet; it’s the first draft.)

Stacie’s friend is suddenly hauled away by Spanish soldiers from the 1600’s to the dungeon. Sure, Stacie gets nervous, as does the friend, but neither gets super upset.

 

Um… what was I thinking?

 

Two things. One, I know her friend doesn’t get hurt. Because I wrote it. I know she’s okay and not to worry too much.

 

That wasn’t intentional; I was excited to get on to the next scene – where some big time drama was about to happen. (That’s number two, of the two things.) There’s a big cliffhanger ending to that chapter, too. It totally rocks. Stacie… I don’t know. She was in the way. Stand over there; I’ll get to you, Stace.

 

That’s because I know nothing bad happens to Stacie or her friend.

 

I have to remember the reader doesn’t know that, and build it up.

 

That’s why first drafts are shit. But luckily, we get to make second drafts. In that version, I’ll add the necessary emotion, and then the big drama scene will be even bigger.

 

What are some of the mistakes you’ve caught between your first and second drafts?

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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: See The Scene, Write The Story!

00 wreathHow about a little holiday spirit for this writing challenge? Use the random number generator below and it will tell you which odd little holiday scene to visualize in your head. Then YOU have to write a caption for the scene. It can be drama or comedy, long or short, uh… fast or slow (I couldn’t think of a third thing to complete that line of thought.)

 

Limit 1,000 words. Write one line or two, or ten – or more, up to a thousand! Totally your call.

 

What you CANNOT do is take a second random number for a better story line. That’s the challenge part of the challenge, see? One try and you go with what it deals you.

 

Oh, and you have to use one of the following words in your caption – Santa, Rudolph, etc. on the second list, to complete your caption. The word you get will be determined by another spin on the dreaded random number generator, 1-10. (Yes, I said one spin. I meant one for the story. The second one is for the key word.)

 

Here is your list of Holiday Scenes

  1. Santa wearing only one strategically placed stocking
  2. A kid sticking his/her head out of a snow bank
  3. A grandparent baking cookies and a bottle of scotch near by
  4. One reindeer laying down with five other reindeer glaring at him/her
  5. Two shoppers lined up at a cash register while a man holds up and examines a necktie
  6. A cooked turkey sitting on a table with a car nearby and nobody around
  7. A dog running after Santa’s sleigh
  8. A child walking in on mom and dad the night before Christmas
  9. A Christmas tree in a small apartment with one open present and no one around
  10. A kid with about 30 open presents and a pile of wrapping paper with a frustrated look on his/her face

 

Oh, yeah, and your key words:

  1. Santa
  2. Rudolph
  3. Baked
  4. Angel
  5. Snow
  6. Candy cane
  7. Star
  8. Present
  9. Cheer
  10. Merry

And the random number generator!

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

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It looks like this.

Now, your naughty little mind might see a lot of bawdy possibilities here. That’s fine; it’s your writing challenge, your chance to be creative. But I warn you, there is a non-bawdy option for each one, too. And other options. Drama. Mystery. Get it? Be creative. It’ll be your call to see how brave you wanna be. Because great writing isn’t safe. And interesting writing challenges aren’t, either. Throw a curve ball. Be amusing. Mix it up.

 

Surprise us.

 

Extra points if you have been drinking when you do this, especially if it’s your lunch hour and you’re at work.

 

Here are the rules:

What, you need more instructions??? Okay.

  1. Use the random number generator to pick you topic
  2. Use a second random pick for the key word
  3. Write a caption, quip, paragraph, or whole story (1000 word limit) using the scene and the key word (tell us what they were, too, like Scene 1 and Keyword 4, for example)
  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 been hitting the eggnog
  7. TRY to stay sober long enough to read and comment on OTHER people’s entries.
  8. You have a week. Try not to take that long!

 

Your prize might be my holiday classic short story Santa Maybe, written by me a loooooong time ago when I still used dialog tags. Whoever gets the most likes (over ten) on their post wins. No cheating. I’ll know, but Santa will know – it’s too close to Christmas to take that kind of risk.

 

Got it? Off you go!

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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.

 

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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. 

4 Important Things Every Aspiring Author Needs To Know

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Your humble host.

Pushing that PUBLISH button is a big moment, and your life is different – for better or worse – from that moment on.

 

Writers need to get over the fear of publishing.

 

I was lucky, I started by writing family humor essays and my stuff was out there for a years on Facebook where friends read it and enjoyed it and shared it with strangers and encouraged me, so I knew what was funny and how to hook readers and how to get an audience to cry before I ever sat down to create a book. Still, pushing that PUBLISH button is a big moment, and your life is different – for better or worse – from that moment on.

 

I know each new story is better than the last one and believe it will be well received, but getting past that initial fear, worrying that I was about to humiliate myself, was hard for me and is hard for most writers.

 

What I can tell you is DO IT.

 

Publish book one and get book two out as soon as possible. There are very few Harper Lee’s. Most of us are going to have to write a few books to get good at it.

 

Here are the FOUR most important things every aspiring author needs to know:

 

  1. Don’t polish it forever, put it out there.
  2. At some point the changes aren’t improvements, they’re just changes.
  3. Believe in yourself and start achieving your dream. It waits for you on the other side of the publish button.
  4. Mobs do not show up with pitchforks and torches if your book is bad, and odds are you didn’t write something bad.

 

  • From an interview with Cathleen Townsend in her blog The Beauty Of Words when she asked me “What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?”

 

When chasing after your story, KEEP 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.

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

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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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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.