Author Archives: mikedellosso

One-Day Fiction Writing Seminar . . . Registration Now Open!

Most of you know I teach writing at conferences. I receive a lot of positive feedback from the classes I teach and attendees often ask if I’ll ever host my own fiction seminar. Well, here it is. The details are below.

I researched other similar one-day seminars and intentionally set the price-point below them. That being said, I don’t want a day like this to be a burden to anyone if he or she really wants to attend but can’t afford the full price. If you want to come but the price is an issue please just email me and we’ll work something out. Trust me, being a one-income family of six I’m no stranger to financial difficulties. I understand and want to help.

Also, check out my new coaching site for writers. It’s not complete but you’ll get the iea.


Saturday, September 20th. 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


“Acquire the Skills to Survive the Fiction Writing Journey”

The Underground
104 33rd Street
Latrobe, PA 15650

Instructor: Mike Dellosso, Author & Coach

Morning Session . . .
Developing authentic characters
Point-of-view (seeing your fictional world through the eyes of your characters)
Writing “real” dialogue
Setting (creating a world that comes alive); pacing (keeping your readers turning pages)
Dealing with antagonists
Writing the 5 senses

Lunch . . . 1 hour, on your own. There are restaurants nearby or pack a lunch and hang out at the church.

Afternoon Session . . .
Theme (the “point” of your story)
Time management for the writer
Defeating writer’s block
7 things that have nothing to do with writing that will improve your writing
Honest to goodness Q & A (this is your chance to ask anything about writing, publishing, agents, editors, money . . . whatever)
Final words

Nearby hotels:
Wingate by Wyndham
Springhill Suites by Marriott

$50, must register in advance
TO PAY BY CREDIT CARD, CLICK HERE  (note: there is a $3.74 processing fee when paying by credit card)


Social Media, Screwtape-Style

I know I just posted something by my daughter Laura, but then she came to me with this. She had to read C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for a class she’s taking and her assignment was then to write her own similar entry. What follows is a letter from one demon to another. 

Folks, Laura is fifteen. This is some timely stuff and needs to be shared. I’m doing my part.

*     *     *

Dear Viperweed,

Your last letter concerns me considerably and part of me hopes it was one of those jokes you love to play. It seems you have forgotten your duties and instead have decided on doing whatever you wish with your patient, not thinking of the consequences. So, I will educate you. You are to cure your human, that’s why we call them patients. We are to rid them of the sickness that consumes them and instead inject sin, our golden ticket to power. Once sin overrides the love and kindness we can destroy the enemy. But do not let all this go to your head, that’s the big picture, you need to focus on the small things, everyday happenings that can be twisted towards our cause.

You say she loves people of cultural influence, the people who she sees on TV and in magazines. Make them a main focus. Have her thoughts about a certain person or group of persons consume her thoughts. She needs to know every little detail about them and make sure images of them are always present in her mind. She needs to start out with a fairly good role model and then slowly pull her towards ones who are progressively more and more vile and provocative. If you do this soon they will be her idols and their thoughts and opinions will become her own. She will clothe herself to please their taste and speak their words.

To do these things she will need social media. Make this another idol, a part of her. The connections to her idols through Twitter and Instagram need to be vital to her mental health. Selfies and inward focused texts need to be part of her daily life. Make her self-esteem rest in the hands of strangers who in reality don’t care about her the way her real family and friends do. The influence they have on her thoughts need to be able to make or break her. Texting needs to be her chief means of communication, without it she is lost. Her involvement and emotions towards the people in her real life needs to be put on hold. The people in her second life, the one on her phone, need to be the focus.

Since these actions will push her family and friends away she will become lonely. Though she has hundreds of “friends” and followers on social media websites the lack of emotional and physical support from people she sees every day will wear on her and cause her to dive deeper into meaningless, unhealthy obsessions and selfishness. All humans have this crippling need for each other that if not satisfied, weakens their mental health. Work with other patients’ mentors (for that’s what you are) and make it seem as if her family and friends are against her so she is truly alone. She needs to doubt her purpose and meaning in life. These thoughts may lead her to consider another option of escape: death. Suicide is the lowest of selfish actions. This will help us out tremendously for she will be ours and her evil essence will be added to the many others we have reaped and result in more power. Follow these instructions and you are sure to succeed.

With the most evil of intentions, yours truly,


The Final Moment: Flash Fiction by Laura Dellosso

What follows is a piece of flash fiction my 15-year old daughter wrote for a class.

*     *     *

Unbearable pain coursed through me as I lay on the sun-warmed earth. Warm blood oozed from my chest were I had been shot a few moments ago. My breath came out in shallow puffs as I thought about my wife, Cora.

I closed my eyes and pictured her the day I left for Boston. She was wearing blue, my favorite color. Her strawberry waves caressed her freckled, rosy cheeks. Her blue eyes sparkled; those were the things that attracted me to her first. Then I became enraptured with her kindness and compassion.

A tear slipped down my cheek and pain shot through me as I shook with a single sob. We were going to start a family. We were going to have five kids and now we can’t because of me. I had gotten in too deep with the wrong people. I owed what I didn’t have. Cora never found out, I made certain of that. I couldn’t pay up, so they got rid of me. They promised me they wouldn’t hurt her.

More sobs shook my body and the pain became unbearable. My fingers dug into the soft dirt as I began to lose consciousness. I had to hold on. All I ever wanted was to make her happy. Someone will find me dead behind an abandoned warehouse and call the police. The police will identify me and call Cora. She’ll be devastated. I couldn’t bear the thought any longer now that it consumed my mind.

So, I let go.

Loch Ness Monster Idiot Meter

Those who know me know I’m somewhat of a monster fan. Real monsters, I mean. Well, at least I think they’re real. You know, the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, that sort of thing.

Yes, I think there is a Bigfoot. And yes, I think there is a Loch Ness Monster. UFOs? I believe something is out there, just not sure what.

Call me weird. Call me gullible. I’ve heard it all before. And I don’t care.

What aggravates me are the throngs of individuals out there who give us “believers” a bad name because, well . . . how do I say this tactfully? They’re idiots about the whole thing.

Case in point. There have been pictures floating around the internet and getting a lot of attention of a supposed image of Nessie caught by one of Apple’s satellites. Here’s one:

loch ness boat2

You can find an article and lots of images here: It’s very interesting and intriguing and at first I thought we were on to something.

Now here’s the rub that sends the idiot meter through the roof. According to the article the “Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club” had “experts” examine the photo for six months and allegedly have ruled out many explanations.

But . . . after reading another reader’s comments on one of the articles, it took me less than five minutes to find this image on Google Maps:

loch ness boat

Notice anything similar? The above boat is located at the northern-most tip of Loch Ness. It’s right there on Google Maps; you can see it for yourself. Check out the wake then compare it to the image of “Nessie” that has stumped “experts” for six months.

Is the first photo a hoax and the boat has been digitally removed? Is it some weird glitch in the satellite’s photo? Who knows. But it’s clear that the first photo is the wake minus the boat.


A Walk In Gettysburg

Some photos from a recent stroll down Hancock Avenue in the Gettysburg battlefield. (All photos are compliments of my wife except, of course, for the one with her in it).










Editing Life

I don’t like edits. There, I said it.

I’m the kind of person who does things once and wants to leave it at that. I don’t like having to go back and do things over, take a second or third pass at a project. I want to only put one coat of paint on a wall, file my taxes once, try on a single pair of pants.

Writing a novel is no different. I spend considerable time on the first draft for a reason. I want to get it right the first time. But as any writer knows, once isn’t enough. Twice isn’t enough. Three times? Nope. Not enough. Edits are part of writing. Changes need to be made, mistakes corrected, inconsistencies made right.

I’m delving into the edits for my next novel, Centralia, now. And how’s it going? Let’s just say . . . it’s going. And I’m kicking and screaming.

But no matter how much pain the edits cause, or how much discomfort they produce, I know the changes will be for the best and the book will be better because of them.

I’ll respect your intelligence and assume you see the parallels to life here. It’s a lesson I need to learn over and over again.

I’ve published eight novels now and every one of them is the same story. I dislike the editing. I kick and scream. The book is better in the end.

And sadly, it’s not much different with life.

The Dirty Secret Fiction Writers Don’t Want You To Know

Before I became an author I thought of fiction writers as either genius or insane. When I started writing my first novel I quickly discovered that I was correct.

And I’m no genius.

As an author I get asked a lot (A LOT) where I get my ideas from. And as an author of suspense I get asked a lot (A LOT) how I can conjure such macabre material from my mind. I usually give some pat answer about having an active imagination or wanting my readers to see the world for what it really is. I talk about telling the truth through my writing.

And all that is true . . . but it’s not the whole story.

What I don’t tell those inquiring minds is a dirty little secret that fiction writers keep well protected.

Until now.

The truth is that fiction writers are all slightly off center. A little insane.

I say fiction writers because I don’t want to unjustly lump my non-fiction brothers and sisters into that group. And fiction writing is an animal all its own. (A disclaimer is necessary at this point. I’m sure there are fiction writers who don’t fall into this category and I apologize for generalizing here but really, c’mon, admit it, we’re all a little wonky).

Think about it. We create worlds that don’t really exist. Towns, buildings, and people to inhabit those places. We give those people personalities and lives and histories and then we converse with them in our heads. Sometimes we talk out loud to them. We spend time with people who don’t really exist. We grow to care about them. We hear voices in our heads. At times, we obsess over those voices and people behind them. And at times, we let those people tell their own story.

The American Psychiatric Association has diagnoses for all those behaviors. No kidding.

But we live with it because we say it’s part of our imagination, our creativity. We’re okay with being a little insane.

Regular folk (I say “regular” for lack of a better term) don’t understand the mindset of a fiction author. They can’t. And it’s probably for the best. If they knew what really went on in our heads, if they could hear those voices, if they knew the fine line we walk, I truly believe they’d have every single one of us committed.

Of course, maybe things are topsy turvy and fiction writers are the normal ones. Maybe everyone else is insane.

Then again, maybe that, too, is part of the delirium.

•10 Shoes Every Guy should Own•

I am a way too practical person to own ten pairs of shoes. I own three: a pair of very worn and falling apart leather “work” shoes (not every day work shoes but Saturday work-around-the-house/yard-shoes), a pair of leather work/church shoes, and a pair of seriously worn-out sneakers. That’s it. I know, it’s sad. As Yoda would say, ” Fashion conscious I am not.”


If you ask me what is your favorite part of any outfit I will answer shoes. I am obsessed with shoes and I have more shoes than any other clothing item. Anyone I meet for the first time, first thing to catch my attention is his shoes. Also, the way they are styled. A lot of my guy friends take me with them to shop for shoes  and often ask me how they should wear them ( I’m pretty keen on men’s fashion!). So I decided to create a list of my favorites!

1.Dress Long-wings/Toe cap Oxfords

Every man needs one pair of leather brogues. Brown ones can be dressed up or down. Black ones go for work or for fancy nights out.




2.Casual Brogues/Suede Derby Shoes

These shoes look best when worn with shorts or folded up pants.


Monsieur Jerome; street style; NYFW

3.Boat Shoes

I myself own 2 pairs of this type of shoes…

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A Cancer Story: The Dark Days

I’ve tried recollecting my journey through cancer a few times now over the  past six years. I have no problem telling about the pre-cancer tests and anxieties, the surgery and post-surgery gloom. Talking about the ileostomy comes easy. But the next nine months, those months when I endured chemo and it’s dark side effects, that’s another story.

It’s a rocky story, one of faith and doubt, courage and fear, strength and weakness. Truthfully, much of those months is a blur to me. There are moments I remember, images, feelings, but mostly, the events of those months reside in a fog, the kind that rolls in off the ocean and distorts the landscape, blurs the fine edges.

I received chemo every other week. It was on Wednesdays and the infusion took about three hours. The nurse would them hook me up to a portable chemo pump and send me home. I’d then receive a steady infusion of chemo over the next 48 hours. On Friday’s I’d return to the doctor’s office to have the pump removed and I’d be free for another week and a half.

The side effects of chemo included numbness in my fingers and feet, an extreme sensitivity to cold, decreased ability to taste, fatigue like I’d never felt before, and nausea. Lots of nausea. After every chemo session the side effects would be worse for a few days, then would taper to barely noticeable. Each round they got worse and lasted longer, though. By the end, I had the side effects the entire two weeks.

I was working during those days, too. I’d have off on chemo days then just work a half day on Thursday, go home and sleep. Friday I’d be back at it but would have to take time off to have the chemo pump removed.

Thus was my schedule for the nine months I received chemotherapy. It was a steady spiral down both physically and emotionally and psychologically.

Looking back on it, those were dark days. Tears came easily. I did a lot of staring, a lot of thinking. My emotions sat on a knife’s edge. But in spite of the darkness the Light was always there. I felt Him, heard Him. I’m not crazy. I did. And in many ways I’ve never felt closer to Him.

The valley has a funny way of pushing us closer to our Father, doesn’t it?

A Cancer Story: The Gross Stuff

Because of the surgery I had where they removed the tumor and part of my colon I was left with a temporary ileostomy. For those who don’t know, a colostomy has to do with the large intestine, an ileostomy with the small intestine. Part of my small intestine was now on the outside of my body (not where it was intended to be), and a bag attached to the skin around it caught everything that came out. Note: the bag adhered with adhesive which, yes, sometimes failed. Not good.

Pretty gross stuff, really.

The protruding intestine is called a stoma, or more sentimentally referred to as a “rosebud” because someone somewhere thought it resembled one. It doesn’t. If it did no one would ever stop to smell the roses.

Let it be clear, I hated the ileostomy and everything about it. The bag was a nuisance, it was difficult to conceal under my clothes, the odor was anything but rosey, and it needed to be emptied at the most inconvenient times and places. The stoma was gross, it, too, didn’t exactly smell pleasant, it was sensitive to touch and developed a nasty rash around it from the adhesive. Did I mention I hated it?

But. BUT . . . that ileostomy gave my damaged and traumatized colon the time to heal that it needed. It served a purpose and one that was ultimately for the good. And because of that nuisance I learned to deal better with the discomforts of life.

This taught me that the most important lessons in life aren’t learned on the mountain tops, but rather in the valley.

If we’re paying attention, we can learn something from hardships and trials. But we have to go through the darkness with our eyes open so we can see the pinpoints of light that show us the way through. To cover our eyes and hold them shut in an attempt to block out the shadows and obstacles that surround us is only to prolong our stay and set us up for certain misery.

So what about you? Share with us one nugget of wisdom you learned while journeying through life’s valleys.

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