Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday's Feast...on Saturday

Well, since it was posted late yesterday, I think I'm still OK to put up my feast a day afterwards. Besides, who doesn't love leftovers?


Tell about a time when you had to be brave. Um...every time I step into a classroom full of teenagers? Traveling abroad in a foreign country where I didn't speak the language? Stepping to the starting line of a marathon and trusting that my body would make it to the end of 26 miles? Sometimes I think I'm brave just waking up in a world that faces so much adversity and struggle.

Which upcoming movie are you excited about seeing? Actually, I'd like to see The Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, and Half Nelson, all of which are in my Blockbuster Online queue.

Name an item you try to always have on hand. Olive oil. Always useful in the kitchen! Oh, and chocolate. Of course.

Main Course
Imagine the most relaxing room you can think of. Now describe it! Pillows, classical music, a fountain, an unlimited library, soft, warm colors, and chocolate. Of course.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), how spiritual or religious are you? Not being a fan of organized religion, I still consider myself a fairly spiritual person in my views of the universe and karma and good begetting good and believing in a higher power than oneself. So I'll say 6.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Edits, Jury Duty, and Other Things of Marginal Importance

"I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all. No... not the artful postures of love, not playful and poetical games of love for the amusement of an evening, but love that... over-throws life. Unbiddable, ungovernable - like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture. Love - like there has never been in a play. "
~from "Shakespeare in Love"

Yesterday I got my first set of edits on Lost In Paradise, the novel contracted by The Wild Rose Press. I'm excited, 'cause this is the start of a whole new experience in my writing career, but I'm also a little nervous and overwhelmed. I really just read my editor's email, and glanced at the first chapter or so, to see her markups.

I like her, and I think she'll be okay to work with. But the big thing she wants me to change is my characters' inner thoughts. She wants them taken out or changed to third person. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, I understand her point that they can slow the action, in certain cases, but in many ways that kind of writing focus is part of my style. Hmm. Going to have to think about this and perhaps come to a compromise.

We do get to compromise, right?

Also yesterday, Judy befriended me on Facebook. I didn't even remember that I'd created a Facebook account! Whoops. I wonder if I should actually do somethng with my page there? Anyone have thoughts on that site? I view it as marginally better than Myspace, since you're supposed to have some kind of college/business verifiable email address (I think) to open a Facebook account. But I don't know.

My students are watching "Shakespeare in Love" for an end-of-semester treat today. Anyone seen that movie? It's charming, really. Won 7 Academy Awards in 1998, too, which I'd forgotten.

Well, I'm off to jury duty, for the 2nd time this week! My co-workers just keep telling me to say "Guilty" and they'll let me go without a word (which I'd prefer, so I can actually watch the above movie with my students rather than leave them with a substitute). Okay, Guilty it is! Or maybe I'll try for a more dramatic strategy...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Random Ramblings...

"Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends."
~Dawn Adams

Congratulations to Fred Charles, the winner of the Writers’ Wednesday drawing for a $5 Amazon gift certificate! Fred, email me at and let me know which email address you’d like the GC sent to. And thanks for posting!


Wanted to share a few good links that readers shared with me earlier this week: Karen Fox's website for its market news and writing tips; Miss Snark (of course!) for her searing yet honest take on the brutal publishing world; Ian's Irvine's site, especially "The Truth About Publishing" section; and Ralan, for its thorough (and free) listing of genre fiction markets.

Also, WOW! Women on Writing has some great info in their e-zine this month, all about self-promotion and marketing for writers. Swing on by if you're interested!

Finally, an update on my Spring Reading Thing progress: I finished my first-ever novel by Jennifer Crusie, Tell Me Lies, and really enjoyed it. Check the SRT link for my full review!

Anyone else reading anything good these days, websites or books or otherwise??

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: How To Write A Query Letter

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Remember, everyone who leaves a comment today will be entered into a drawing for a $5 Amazon Gift Certificate. And by the way, if you're interested in qualifying for free stuff (of course you are!), stop by Marianne's blog today. She has a collection of contests going on to celebrate her latest short story release by The Wild Rose Press, "Miles From You."

As always, thanks for stopping by! And now, let's discuss those darn query letters...


You can find guidelines for writing query letters in many different places: online at sites like Charlotte Dillon's, in resource books like Writer's Market, or at your local writer’s group or conference.

However, I thought it might be helpful for me to post the query letter I used when I was seeking representation for One Night in Boston. Of the 42 agents/editors I sent it to, 36 requested either a partial or a full manuscript as a follow-up, which is a pretty good return. Ultimately, I secured publication with Samhain Publishing, and it will be a Summer 2007 release.

In total, I’ve queried 4 novels over the last 6 years and received all kinds of feedback along the way. Now, I’m sharing with you the tips I’ve found most helpful:

1. You are writing a business letter, or a business email, depending on the agent’s preference, so follow the standard format. Contact info, paragraphing, spacing, closing, should all be appropriate and correct. Not sure what that means? Look here.

2. Open your query letter with straightforward information. Some people suggest a “hook” in the first paragraph--just don’t make it too long! I’d also suggest including the title of your work, the genre, the word count, and why you’re contacting the agent (reference, response to conference pitch, found the agent on, etc).

3. The middle paragraph(s) should include a general description of your work, including the main characters and their struggle/conflict. What is their central goal? What is the overall theme of the story? How is this work both similar to, and different from, other works on the shelves today? What will make this attractive to the target audience? Who is the target audience?

4. Include some brief biographical information about yourself. This means any education/experience with writing and any publishing history or contest wins you might have. It doesn’t mean a long-winded description of how your great-aunt loves your work or how your three cats keep you company when you write in the wee hours of the morning. If you don’t have any publications to your name, or specific background that relates to your genre or topic, then don’t put anything at all. A simple statement such as “The Mystery of Seven Slippery Sisters” is my first complete novel is fine.

5. Close with an offer to send more material, if you haven’t included any in the first mailing. Make sure to indicate that the work is complete (and it should be, if you’re querying agents).

6. Proofread twenty times. At least. Then give it to five other people and ask them to proofread it. By the way, this includes confirming the spelling of the agent’s name. Don’t rely on one website or source for this; I’d check at least 2 different places.

7. Open your letter/email with Dear First Name Last Name of agent. “Dear Agent,” “To Whom It May Concern,” and “Dear Sir or Madam” are too generic and suggest that you didn’t do your homework. You need to target a specific individual, and I recommend using the person’s full name rather than Mr./Ms./Mrs. to avoid any possible gender screw-ups. Ashley Grayson, for example, is a man. Wonder how many query letters he receives addressed “Dear Ms. Grayson…”??

8. Make sure to follow the agent’s guidelines when submitting material. Some will ask for a query letter only. Some accept emails only. Others want the first three chapters. Include a SASE for snail mail responses. Tell them they may recycle the partial/full manuscript unless you want to pay the return postage to get it back.

9. Make a generous list of agents to target. Many people have an “A,” “B,” and “C” list of their top choices, and they work their way down. Unless the agent says “No multiple submissions,” I recommend sending your query letter to multiple agents each day/week/month, according to your timeline. The query process can take a long time, and there’s no need for you to wait for a reply from each single agent before you send out another query.

10. Your query letter should be no longer than 1 page (or its equivalent, for an email). Really, agents slog through sometimes hundreds of queries each day. Get to the point, and grab their attention. Period.

Okay! Below is my original query letter for One Night in Boston, along with a few notes in brackets. Good luck with those queries, and remember: do not let rejections stop your query process. What one agent turns down, another may very well scoop up with excitement and enthusiasm. Keep at it!

[Contact Info and Date would go here if a formal snail mail letter]
Dear Susie Agent:
Can anything really change in 24 hours? Can everything?
[My hook, which turned out to be my tagline on the Samhain Coming Soon page]

My mainstream romance novel, One Night in Boston, offers a twist for the contemporary romance reader because it takes place over the course of a single day and night. (Think of the award-winning television show “24” translated into the romance genre: twenty-four hours unfold in twenty-four chapters.) Complete at 85,000 words, One Night in Boston tells the story of Maggie Doyle and Jack Major, college lovers who meet ten years after their relationship ends and discover a renewed attraction that is both stronger and more complicated than the first love they shared. As RWA indicates that you are an agent who is accepting new romance writers I thought you might be interested in taking a look.

[Opening paragraph includes general info about the book, its length, its topic, what makes it unique, and why I’m sending her this letter]

Maggie, a single but struggling entrepreneur in rural Rhode Island, faces foreclosure on her interior design business, thanks to a spiraling small-town economy and her mother’s nursing home bills. Her only option: find the stepbrother she hasn’t spoken to in years and convince him to loan her the money she needs. Jack, meanwhile, has carried on his family’s business legacy and become CEO of a major Boston corporation. He’s also just become engaged to a successful attorney, who’s planning the city’s biggest wedding and driving everyone crazy doing it. Though the marriage will join two prominent families and please his father, sometimes Jack still thinks about the fireworks of his first love.

Maggie’s search for her stepbrother leads her directly to a high-profile charity ball…and to Jack. A dance, some reminiscing, and a spontaneous kiss startle them both into realizing that old feelings haven’t died. But then Jack’s fiancĂ©e arrives at the ball, and Maggie flees only to find herself trapped in a violent storm that has closed half the city streets. Jack follows her, but when Maggie reveals the reason she left him in college, and the reason she cannot be with him now, both are forced to realize that people change, that memories are tempered by years, and that time alters even the things we most want to stay the same.

[Two body paragraphs give a very general overview of the hero and heroine, their goals, their conflicts, and the underlying theme of the book: that time changes everything, whether it’s 24 hours or 10 years]

I am an RWA member who earned her PRO pin in 2003. Previous online publications/contest wins include “Time for Teacher”, a narrative essay published by in 2002, and “Hawkman and the Widow Thompson” (short story) and “Untitled” (poem) which won 1st and 2nd place in WriterOnline’s Mystery Contest (2003) and 5 Senses Contest (2004), respectively. I am currently working on my next One Night…book, which will also explore the ways and places desire can bloom overnight. A synopsis, sample chapters, or the complete manuscript of One Night in Boston is available upon your request. Or, you may prefer to read an excerpt on I am available via email ( or telephone (999-999-9999). Thank you for your time and consideration.

[Closing paragraph, while a little long, mentions my previous writing experience - notice no full-length publications - my membership in Romance Writers of America, which indicates an interest in and familiarity with the genre, and my contact info. While I did mention my plan for future One Night books, it’s not a wise idea to query more than one project at a time. Notice it’s a only a mention, here]


Allie Boniface Basic Author

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

Okay, Judy tagged me yesterday with "8 Random Facts," and I guess this could be kind of interesting:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

8 Random Facts/Habits About Me:

1. I love baths. I could take one every night & have felt this way ever since I was a child. Don’t know if it’s the warmth (probably), or the relaxation, but I just love them.

2. I cannot draw to save my life. Really. Even stick figures frustrate me. It’s sort of odd, ‘cause I consider myself creative in other “artistic” areas, like music and writing, but drawing/painting/sculpting? Not a chance.

3. I don’t mind driving really long distances. When I was in college/grad school, I’d think nothing of jumping in the car and driving 8 hours one way for a weekend trip to visit a friend.

4. I refuse to give up my navel ring, which I’ve had for 10+ years. Yeah, maybe it’s my last hold on my youth, on the days I used to go out dancing with my girlfriends ‘til way after midnight. I don’t care.

5. I love foreign languages and in fact still know basic vocabulary in Latin & German (both of which I took in HS) and American Sign Language (which I took right after grad school, just for the heck of it). If I could squeeze another career into my life, I’d be an interpreter for the deaf. Maybe in Germany.

6. My favorite stuffed animal when I was a child was Paddington Bear. He still sits on the rocking chair in my former bedroom in my parents’ house, actually. Still in his blue coat and yellow hat, all worn down with love.

7. I once dated the guy who modeled for the Cool Water cologne ads, back in the mid-‘90s. He was a jerk.

8. Even though I spend a fair amount of time online, some of my best cyber-friends don't keep blogs, so I can't tag them, much as I'd like to. So I'll compromise and tag these 4: Rebecca, Bunnygirl, Diane, and Annie.

Anyone else who wants to be tagged, let me know!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Just Another Manic Monday...

"Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun."
~Colleen C. Barrett

As it is the start of a brand new (crazy) work week, and as I am feeling in every muscle my gardening efforts of this past weekend, I’ll leave you today with nothing witty, nothing particularly exciting to report in my writing world, just 2 links that I think every aspiring writer should have bookmarked:

The Passionate Pen: Romance author Jess Michaels/Jenna Petersen has put together a tremendous amount of romance-genre resources regarding submissions, agents and publishing houses. I use her site, often, when I’m researching new places to send material (she updates regularly, too, which is great).

Piers Anthony: He's a fantasy author who also maintains a great log of Internet publishers. This is a helpful place to search if you’re sending out material or even thinking about it sometime in the future. Along with Preditors and Editors, I find this a very helpful place to discover tips and trends about the market, and to find out who should be avoided and who‘s up-and-coming in the e-publishing world (also updated regularly).

What about you? Any writing/publishing sites that you’d recommend because their content is honest, helpful and reliable?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

World Laughter Day

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."
~e.e. cummings

Bet you didn't know today was World Laughter Day, did you?

Well, apparently it is. And the folks at Laughter Network claim that not only does laughing out loud just make us feel good, it also boosts our immune system, tones our tummies, increases blood flow to the skin, brightens our eyes, and reduces our blood pressure.

Wow--better than most of the drugs on the market today, right? Plus it's free! So to tickle your funny bone today, here are some clips that are (hopefully) guaranteed to make you laugh: