Saturday, June 07, 2008

Ah, Saturday...

"I've been thinking Hobbes --"
"On a weekend?"
"Well, it wasn't on purpose..."
~Calvin and Hobbes

What I'm doing today: Meeting some girlfriends from my writers' group at Borders to chat and swap pages. Hooray!

What I'm reading today: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - Anyone else know this one? It's YA vampire romance, and the teenage girls in my class have been RAVING about this series (there are 3 books out, the 4th due this summer). I finally decided I should see what all the hype is about.

What I'm writing today: Probably figuring out what to use as an excerpt for One Night in Memphis. I know that's going to be the next thing my editor asks me for, so...

What about you??

Friday, June 06, 2008

Odds and Ends and Questions from Readers

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance." ~Bern Williams

So a few odds and ends to round out the week:

1. Amy asked when we start school here in NY ~ the day after Labor Day, always.

2. Dru asked how I decide where to set my One Night... stories. Well, One Night in Memphis was the first one I wrote, and it was based in part on a real-life single night in Memphis, on Beale Street, that a girlfriend and I spent after college. One Night in Boston - well, I just love the city. I do feel like I should write about cities I've actually been to. But I deliberately set One Night in Napa on the West Coast for marketing reasons, thinking I shouldn't isolate readers out there. (I've been to SF and Napa Valley, though). I have plans for Cleveland and Philadelphia, too.

3. I found out that my short story "Blue Circle Books" is about 95% guaranteed to make the cut for publication in Adams Media's My Mom is My Hero anthology, coming out next Mothers' Day.

4. I received my copy of Romance Sells in the mail yesterday. This is a catalog of new and upcoming releases in romance, that's sent to about 8000 librarians around the country. It's hefty $$$ to place an ad in it, but I figured I'd give it a try for my first 2 books and see what happens.

5. And speaking of selling, I got my May royalties from Samhain, and unbelievably, I'm still selling ebooks of One Night in Boston. Cool!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's the Personal Touch that Counts

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure not this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." ~William Butler Yeats

Here's my latest discovery, and it's certainly not rocket science: a personal touch will get you further in promoting your book than a big fancy book signing at a big fancy chain store in an overcrowded mall off a major highway.

If you read my blog every day, you already know I contacted my local library/resource center and they were delighted to host a book launch party for me later this month. And you already know that I'm planning on attending a book discussion group this summer headed by my fifth grade teacher, who discovered that One Night in Boston was dedicated to her.

More evidence? I sent a handwritten letter and some bookmarks to the library in my childhood hometown and said I'd love to join their writers' group one evening and talk about my experiences. The librarian emailed me tonight asking what date this summer worked for me.

And finally, all those handwritten notes I sent to independent bookstores in NY/CT/MA/RI/NH? I mailed them Monday. Today at noon I got a phone call from a store manager up in Portsmouth, NH, saying they'd like to carry Lost in Paradise, since it's set in New Hampshire. How cool is that?

I'll keep you posted on what kind of response I get from the other 79 letters I mailed.

Went to see the "Sex and the City" movie the other day. I was never a big fan when it was on TV, but some girlfriends wanted to go. It was cute. Long, but cute. But wow, definitely a lot of sex. I guess that's sort of their whole theme, though, right?

Devon asked me the other day if I was done with school yet. {{Insert huge sigh and shaking of head here.}} I think New York goes longer than any other state in the country. My last day of school is actually JUNE 27 can you believe it??!! I am so ready for it to be here...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Janet Lane Walters

Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Today I have the great pleasure of featuring prolific romance author (she's published books in just about every sub-genre!) Janet Lane Walters. I'm a little partial because, well, Janet is also in my critique group, so I'm one lucky author to be able to benefit from her experiences in the business!

Hi, Janet, and welcome to my online home! Can you tell readers a little about your background?

I have a BA in English and a BS in Nursing. Married for a long time to a psychiatrist who refuses to treat my obsession for writing. I have four children, the youngest is a biracial adopted daughter. I have five grandchildren, four black and one Chinese. We're awaiting the second Chinese granddaughter. I have been around for a very long time.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I've always tried to write, but it wasn't until we lived in a small Oklahoma town with a small limited library. After reading three volumes of the encyclopedia, I decided to write and so I did.

Three volumes - wow! So tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

My latest published is a YA to adult fantasy, The Henge Betrayed -- Flight. This is a story about two sets of male/female twins who must leave home and their parents to seek teachers. On the way, they meet up with the son of the prince who is partly responsible for their tragedy. They also encounter an evil dom who wishes to use them. The story tells of their learning to use their affinities for Water, Earth, Air and Fire. I have two books coming soon, as well. One is a spicy romance -- A Silken Seduction and the other is a third of a fantasy trilogy -- The Secret of the Jewels.

How do you go about developing your characters?

I often use Astrology to develop my characters. Using the Sun, Moon, and Rising Sign to give them their motivations, actions and reactions to various situations. Then I flavor them with bits and pieces of myself and those people I know.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

The advice that was given to me. Finish the book and then revise.

Good one, absolutely! OK, what kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I'm an eclectic reader just as I am a writer. I don't like horror and the artsy kind of book are the only ones I don't read. Favorite authors are too many to be counted since I read a book about every two days.

Every 2 days?! I'm impressed. Now, what do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Writing the rough draft is the hardest for me. I love rewriting and revision though sometimes I have trouble letting a story go.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

At this point in my life, there's little to get in the way of writing. Years ago when I had children living at home, finding writing time was harder. I also worked part-time as a nurse and for a few years full-time. I didn't write much during those years.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block?

I don't think I suffer from writer's block but from writer's procrastination. That means diddling around and finding other things to do instead of write.

Describe your writing space for us...

I have a study off the living room of the house that was once a sun porch. There are shelves on one wall for my reference books and another bookshelf. A recliner, and two tables for works in progress as well as the computer desk. On a shelf above my computer is my dragon collection. At this count 16.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

My first choice is visiting in person or on the phone with my grandchildren. Then comes reading. Cooking is third. Cleaning the house is my hobby, the thing I do when I have nothing else to do.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

I'm a planner, so little surprises me while I'm writing. Perhaps making the characters come alive sometimes surprises me. They can be so stubborn at times.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I handwrite everything and them type into the computer, making notes and revisions as I type. I then write the next draft by hand. Around the third or fourth draft, I make notes and corrections on the printed pages and only re-write segments.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?

Now here's a funny thing. I seldom go to movies. Even when I write, I don't see pictures, I see words on the printed page.

Janet, thanks so much for being here today! Readers, take a peek at Janet's blog if you want to know the latest!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another Promo Opportunity

"I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works." ~Oscar Wilde

A picture from the book signing last Friday - don't we look good??

And a new review for Lost in Paradise, from Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction. It says, in part, "This was a very sweet love story I'm glad I had the chance to read. I wouldn't hesitate to read anything by Allie Boniface."

Finally, I'm excited because last night I met with a lovely group of women at our local resource center/library (very small but cute and cozy), and they've agreed to host a book launch party for me later this month! We agreed it will be good publicity for both of us, since they're trying to raise funds and I'm, well, you know, trying to sell my book :)

P.S. Don't forget you can enter my contest every day this week, over at Long and Short Reviews!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Contest Time!

Just a quick Monday post today, to let you know that this week I have author features on two websites, to celebrate my releases of One Night in Boston and Lost in Paradise, and on both you can enter to win either a book or a gift certificate! Plus, I have to say, the women at both sites did a lovely job with presenting all the information:

I'm the Featured Author over at Road to Romance, and

I'm in the Author Spotlight over at Long and Short Reviews.

Stop by and enter to win - it's easy!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

More on Promotion

"Upon the creatures we have made, we are, ourselves, at last, dependent." ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe(1749-1832) German poet, novelist and dramatist.

Yesterday, the June issue of Romance Writers' Report arrived, with an article titled "Self-Promotion for the Introvert." Perfect timing! Though I'm not really an introvert, I'm always interested in what other authors/publishers have to say about marketing and promotion.

Most of it was the typical advice: develop on online presence, send out press releases, have bookmarks made and carry them everywhere you go.

But two pieces of information did stand out for me, both in the section on Book Signings. First, the author of article recommends having 2 but no more than 3 authors at a book signing. More than 1 is good so you're not sitting there alone, but more than 3 becomes intimidating for readers walking by. I've already blogged about how I agree with this. Second, choose other authors whose books are similar in genre to your own. This, I think, is part of the struggle I have with the group of authors in this area that I've been doing appearances with. They're all lovely, interesting women, but 4 of the 5 of them write erotic romance. (The 5th writes historical romance and I, of course, write contemporary mainstream that's sweet/bordering on sensual). It's tough to promote your book about a love story set in present day that has no explicit sex in it, when your title is sandwiched between covers with naked men and multiple arms and legs twined together and stories about demons and vampires and futuristic societies where everyone is having lots and lots of graphic sex, often with multiple partners.

Don't get me wrong, I know that the market is hot for paranormal and erotic romance right now. And I'm learning a lot in spending time with authors who've been published longer than I have. It's just that it's difficult to sell such completely different kinds of books to a single reader standing there looking at the covers.

So how does this affect me? Well, in the future I may not go to every signing and appearance that the group sets up, though I'll still attend some, especially in my local area. But as I said a couple of days ago, I need to think carefully about where I spend my promotional time and money, and this article shed some light for me.

Along those lines, I'm looking into setting up an author launch party at my local library (which is not really a library, but a "resource center" - long story for another time), which would be just me and my books. We'll see...I have to do some more research and talk to some people this week.

And that ends today's chapter on Allie's Promotional Efforts - I hope those of you out there who are pre-published or newly published are taking notes! (just kidding...sort of...)