Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hi, My Name is Allie, and I'm a Writer

Hi, everyone ~ I'm back! (This is me waving hello...)

I've been away for a few days, out in the city of Cleveland while my husband was attending a conference. Since I used to live there in the mid-90s, I had 2 days to myself to play and visit old haunts and, best of all, catch up with a couple of friends.

One, in particular, is a woman I met at my very first teaching job. She's teaching a 3-week intensive summer creative writing class to middle schoolers (6th-9th graders)...and since I was in town, she asked me if I would speak to her students. " know, since you're a writer and you have two novels under your belt."


She says this to me, by the way, on the phone 12 hours before we're supposed to get together for lunch. Here's the conversation:

Friend That I Love: "I know you were going to come by for lunch, but I was thinking, maybe you could come early and talk to my students?"

Me: "Um. Sure."

Friend That I Love: "We've been talking about the writing process, and I thought you could just tell them about yours, let them see what a real writer looks like."

Me: "Um. Sure."

Friend That I Love: "How long do you think you want to speak? Because we can stop whatever we're doing when you come in."

Me: "Um..."

And thus was the introduction to my very first speaking gig as a writer. Let me tell you, if you think perfecting a pitch for an agent or editor is tough, think about preparing it for a roomful of 12 year olds. Even though I'm a teacher, and used to getting up in front of students and talking, this was really, really different. This was the first time I called myself "a writer" out loud, in public, for the world to hear.

It was terrifying.

It was exhilarating.

It was exhausting.

30 minutes, and I was done. But they were cute, and fun, and interested, and I had a chance to tell them not only what I write but some of the things I've learned along the way.

What an interesting experience, really, to look inside and think about yourself--and then talk about yourself--as someone who creates stories. Someone who will, in a matter of weeks, have a novel published. Someone who is very different from the person I've defined myself as all these years.

Hi, my name is Allie, and I'm a writer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday!

Today we're featuring an interview with Samhain author Diane Craver. Let's see what she has to say about her experiences writing inspirational romance...

1. Can you tell us a little about your background?
I grew up on a farm and went to the same small rural school all twelve years. When I started college at Ohio State, it was a big change going to a big ten university. I met my husband when we were both teachers at a state orphanage. My faith is important to me, especially since I’ve been through some difficult times with raising two children born with special needs. I love celebrating holidays and spending time with our family.

2. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
Ever since I was small, I’ve enjoyed writing. When I was in junior and senior high, I wrote a few stories for fun and also wrote poetry. Since I was high school yearbook editor, I wrote, assembled and edited the yearbook. After I married and started a family, I no longer taught full-time so turned to writing. I wrote nonfiction when our oldest daughter was a toddler. I had several magazine articles published by the time I wrote a special needs book. I also published a “creative nonfiction” book, The Christmas of 1957, which is about how a little girl’s faith helps her father in overcoming a disability. It’s based on a true event from my childhood. Around 1995, I attended a romance writing conference in Cincinnati. I met many published authors and their enthusiasm was contagious. I decided to start writing fiction. I loved it but I got off to a slow start with six children at home.

3. Tell us about your latest novel.
Three books released in 2007. A Fiery Secret and No Greater Loss are available in print now. My mainstream, Never the Same, will be released in print on August 21st. I thought it’d be interesting to write about characters wanting to change their lives after surviving a traumatic event.

Here’s a blurb of Never the Same:
When fashion buyer Kimberly Collins and high school senior Tori Moorhead escape a burning plane, both women make radical decisions that intertwine their lives forever.
Kim’s priorities change, especially in the bedroom. She’s thankful to be taken to another world—one of love and romance, not of smoke and death. When she decides she wants another child, her husband reveals his own shocking plans for their family.
Pregnant teenager Tori is on her way to get a secret abortion when the plane crashes. The baby’s teen father wants to get married. Her dad pushes for adoption. Caught between the two men she loves, Tori struggles to make the right decisions for her baby and the future she dreamed of.

4. How do you go about developing your characters?
I think of interesting and big conflicts for the main characters first. Then their goals in life, problems they have to conquer, and get a feel for their motivations. I list their physical descriptions and try out different names until I feel comfortable with the name selections. In my book, A Fiery Secret, two of the characters are based loosely on two of my daughters. For a few days dialogue, scenes, setting and characters parade across my mind before I write anything down. I have a general idea of big scenes for each main character in the beginning, but the neat thing is that might change when the characters take over the story and become very real to me.

5. Tell us about your promotion strategies. How do you plan on making Diane Craver a household name?
Of course, I’d like to be a household name but I’ll have to admit that it’s mind boggling to me how there are so many talented authors. I definitely don’t want to be the author who doesn’t make it, so I do spend time doing all kinds of promo work. I do online chats, post excerpts, do contests, keep my website updated, book signings, take out ads online, interviews and distribute promo items to as many places as possible. I did place ads in Romantic Times for my books with reviews for two. I also placed an ad for Never the Same in Romance Sells which goes to 7,000 librarians and booksellers. I heard that a reader needs to see the author’s name nine times before they’ll remember it.
I’d like to be able to hire a publicist someday to help me in selling my books. If not a publicist, I am considering using the AuthorBuzz promo services of the marketing genius, M.J. Rose.
But the most important thing I need to do is to keep writing books, and each time I want to write the best book possible.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring, unpublished writers?
Follow your heart and believe in yourself!
You have to be persistent and develop a thick skin when it comes to rejections. Remember this is a subjective business so don’t get discouraged. You can’t give up. I almost did but a published friend of mine, Dianne Castell, told me not to quit and to submit to this new publisher. I took her advice and submitted to Samhain Publishing. Within a month, I received three book contracts. Also write consistently. Writing is a craft and you have to keep at it to grow as an author.

7. What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I have many favorite authors and here are some of them - Debbie Macomber, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Brown, Mary Higgins Clark, Mary Jane Clark, Marion Chesney, John Grisham, Jude Deveraux, and my friends, Dianne Castell and Stacia Wolf.

8. What do you find most difficult about writing?
The most difficult thing about writing is trying to find enough time to write. Also I’m a slow writer so it’s always discouraging to me to hear how many authors write so much more in a day’s time than I do in a week.

What do you find most exciting or rewarding?
The most exciting thing about writing is when I’m happy with the dialogue I’ve created, and I feel confident that readers will enjoy the interaction between the characters. I probably like writing dialogue the best. I love the freedom writing gives me and that I can work at home instead of having to drive to work daily. I also think researching the careers of my characters is rewarding as a writer.

9. How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
I’ve tried writing so many words a day as a goal but I’m having more success thinking in terms of pages and chapters. I don’t feel like I have very much personal time because I’ve had three books releasing so close together. I feel like I’m in front of the computer all the time with editing, doing online chats, writing entries for my blog, and etc. Then there’s housework, laundry and so many other things to do. While writing my new book, I’m taking breaks to do other things. I like to walk, go for a bike ride with my daughter Amanda, swim with my daughters, husband and son, watch movies, or read.

10. Can you tell us about your next writing project?

I started a new book about three sisters named Shannon, Regan and Whitney. Whitney, the youngest sister, lost her correspondent husband in Iraq 2 years ago. Right after he died, Whitney left her job in New York to take care of her ill mother in Ohio. Her older sisters had families so she wanted to do it. But now that their mother is dead, her sisters are trying to get Whitney involved in life again by signing her up for skydiving. Whitney doesn't want to return to NY as a TV news producer, but she definitely doesn't want to go skydiving. They tell her how many hot guys skydive, but Whitney is scared of heights and hates flying. She proposes that they all three start a business together. They are throwing out crazy and fun ideas for their new business. The middle sister, Regan, is married to a firefighter and she wants him to quit. She’s afraid he might die and also because of another firefighter named Anna. Regan thinks Anna is interested in her husband. Shannon has some issues and has a jealousy problem.

Thanks, Diane!

Stop by Diane's blog to leave her a comment today, or post one here. And thanks for stopping by! If you're an author who'd like to be interviewed on my blog, drop me an email at

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Vacation!

I'm off on another vacation today...the beautiful benefit of being a teacher who is also married to a teacher, with no kids, which = summers off.

It's not a *real* vacation, I suppose not for hubby anyway, who's going to be at teacher training all day Wednesday - Friday, but since the training takes place in Cleveland, my former hometown when I was in graduate school, it'll be vacation for me as I tag along and spend those 3 days catching up with old friends and visiting some old haunts. Should be fun!

And just in case you didn't get a chance yet, stop by and visit my brand new website...up and running just in time for the debut of One Night in Boston (publication date 2 weeks and counting!) You can read an excerpt here.

Tomorrow, a fellow Samhain author will be here for an interview...Diane Craver. Make sure to leave her a comment or two, OK?

And yes, since my Internet access will probably be limited while I'm away, and because Blogger doesn't let you future-date your posts, I'm posting Writers' Wednesday and Diane's interview this morning as well.

See you on Saturday!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Websites Worth Visiting

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
~Mahatma Gandhi

So I have 3 websites I'd like to mention today:

1. The Long and Short of It - This is a new review site for short and long romance fiction that was started by my good writing friends Marianne Arkins and Judy Thomas. They have taken on the mammoth task of reviewing romance, and to date have done a marvelous job of both reviewing and getting a number of guest reviewers to sign on as well. I did do one review, of Marianne's short story "Tickle Fights and Barbecues," which should be appearing sometime soon. Stop by if you're in the mood for a little romance...or if you're interested in revewing, I know they're still looking for volunteers!

2. Glass Slipper WebDesign - I've mentioned this web design company before, as this is the one that's doing my website/blog redesign. I just wanted to say again that the owner, Jo, is a marvelous professional and has been terrific in working with me. If anyone's looking for a web designer with a personal touch, I highly recommend her. My new website is up as of today, so please visit and let me know what you think!

3. Freecycle - Not writing related, but this is a terrific resource that everyone should be aware of. This site, with local groups all over the US, promotes recycling used items instead of throwing them away. In their words, "It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns." I joined up about 6 months ago and have since passed on a bagful of shirts my husband outgrew, 2 juniper plants that we pulled out of our front lawn, and a carton of Capri Sun juice pouches. Wondering what else people put up for grabs? This was the list from my local group last night:

4' x 6' Oriental type rug with fringe
Videos & CD games for kids
2 Old powerwheels
Craftsman 12/5hp tractor (not working)
Twin custom made platform bed
4 Maroon Patio chair cushions
Bag of purses and 2 wall shelves

I'd encourage everyone to check out this site. One of the fringe benefits is meeting the people who are also freecycling, whether picking up or donating. It's a nice way to meet people from your community. Has anyone else tried it?

Sunday, July 08, 2007


"Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work's the curse of the drinking classes."
~Oscar Wilde

Randomness...feed your mind and your blog

1. What is your favorite vacation spot?
This is a hard one...I'd say someplace warm or someplace that has great historical or cultural significance. There's not one single place I'd go back to time and time again. New is good.

2. Would you rather drive or fly?
Ugh. Both have their downfalls. Driving is nice if we're talking a single day's worth. But there are some *terrible* drivers on the roads. Seriously. Flying is convenient for getting to far-away places quickly, but I sort of have this whole crashing fear, so...
3. Have you ever been on a cruise? Would you want to go on one?
Oh, interesting story...hubby and I went on a 5-day cruise of the Hawaiian islands for our honeymoon, and I was seasick the whole time. So no, I wouldn't want to go on another one.

4. What has been your best/worst vacation?
Best: toss-up between Maui (actually staying on the island, not cruising around it) and Germany/Austria/hiking the Alps.
Worst: no such thing.

5. How long do you think is long enough for a vacation?
1-2 weeks. After that it's nice to come home and sleep in my own bed!

6. Do you spend alot of money while on vacation? Do you buy alot of souvenirs? What's the coolest one you've gotten?
I spend more than I probably should, but on events/adventures/dinners. I don't buy a lot of material things on vacation. The coolest souvenirs are always pictures and memories.

7. If money were no object, where would you go on vacation?
Italy and Greece!