Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Annual Sister Trip, Day Two

Still on the road with sis, vacationing and hiking...

By the way, check out my trailer for One Night in Memphis, featured at The Romance Studio this week!

How's your weekend going??

Friday, August 08, 2008

Our Annual Sister Trip

"It's hard to be responsible, adult and sensible all the time. How good it is to have a sister whose heart is as young as your own." ~Pam Brown

I'm off on a 3-day hiking vacation with my sister ~ every year we take a "sister trip" somewhere, just the 2 of us, and every year we take turns choosing. She's the high adventure type, so I thought maybe this year's trip would include jumping out of a plane over Alaska or riding elephants on the Serengeti something...but no, it's relatively tame, just hiking and revisiting some of the places in Canada and the Adirondack Mountains where we stayed as kids.

I'll probably have little to no Internet access 'til later this weekend, though, so just a warning...tune back in Sunday for the full report!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Last Night's Book Club Discussion

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

So last night I had the time of life...proving that the "local author" draw will always have the most power when you're doing a book signing.

My fifth grade teacher, to whom I dedicated One Night in Boston, invited me to speak to her book club. They hold their meetings in the most charming former one-room schoolhouse, on one of the Finger Lakes. 30 people showed up for the book discussion...most of them, people I knew. Former teachers, parents of former friends, even a guy I went to school with who still lives in the area. It was humbling, in a way, to know that all these people came just because they knew me when I was young :)

The discussion itself was a rousing success, with some good comments about the book and the characters. One woman even read me a sentence she'd underlined because she liked it so well. And most of them really, really got the message I was trying to convey and the characters' journeys.

One neat marketing/networking opportunity: a woman/parent of former friend had gone to the local Borders and asked if the book was in stock (it wasn't, but they ordered it). But the inventory manager said I should contact her, since they like to stock local authors' books, and this woman brought me the manager's card. Cool! I also sold 16 books, between both One Night in Boston and Lost in Paradise, but honestly that wasn't the highlight of the evening. It really was wonderful to go back to the place that started it all, to the town that raised me and have all these local people there to help me celebrate my success :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Mary Andrews

Welcome to another edition of Writers' Wednesday! Today's featured author is Mary Andrews. Enjoy!

Welcome, Mary! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I am the eldest of seven children born and raised in the military (US Air Force). I have built the cabs of CAT graters, refitted the tails of Cobra helicopters, done electronic assembly, been a relay operator for the deaf, a licensed airframe mechanic, the editor/founder of Gorbash (a now defunct magazine for aspiring artists and writers in the 80’s) AND a managed a shop as a Gypsy merchant. But all I’ve ever really wanted was to write...and get published. This dream came into fruition when Swimming Kangaroo published The Fireborn Chronicles in late October 2007.

Wow...what interesting experiences! What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Join a writer’s group. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Keep a copy of your original manuscript and save it. Then try out some of the suggestions from the group. If it is better, change it, if not don’t. Leave your ego at the door. If the group does not help u, find another. There are many good ones online: Lea Schizas Muse it up club, Long Story Short’s Writing Friend, Critters are all good starts.

Also, attend online conventions and locate good writing sites. The world has become the size of a Keyboard. Networking works.

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

When I begin a story, I begin by brainstorming on a piece a paper. I decide what kind of story I want to write and what market I’m targeting. Then I decide who/what my main characters are. I start at the beginning and spiral out with ‘what ifs.’ Eventually something will take shape and I have some idea of what I want to do.

Then, I open a document on the computer and start listing my scenes (i.e.: introduce characters: boy arrives at new school...he meets girl in biology class... when school lets out he sees her forced into an expensive dark car but doesn’t reach her in time and nobody seems to have even noticed...teacher takes him to office and calls parents to get him...)

I just run through the whole story like this, then I separate each scene so that there are only one per line. That becomes my basic outline. I can now fluff out each scene and fill in specifics, and I can add new scenes as needed. I keep my headers pretty general at first to help determine sequence but that can all change too if I decide.

Once I’m writing scenes, I’m pretty well along for the ride myself since the characters tend to take over and direct how things happen. The advantage to this method on the computer is that you do not have to refer to the outline, it is right there on the page as you go and you just fill in the blanks as you go. Helps to keep you on track but can be changed too.

After the story is first draft completed, I activate the TRACK CHANGES option and go back thru again. Then I go back and choose what to keep and what to lose...check GRAMMAR, SPELLING, READABILITY & WORD COUNT.

Then I take it to a writers’ group, let it sit for a while, and then rewrite with a fresh eye and the groups suggestions in mind. Then I take it thru a couple of people who haven’t seen it before and hopefully it’s ready to go and I start the process for marketing it.

That's some great insight and advice for our readers. Now, what do you like to do when you're not writing?

Puppets. I like to make and sell stick puppets, and tiny silver wire dragons (all from one piece of silver nickel wire)..

Very cool! Anything else you’d like to mention?

Yes. My website contains lots of information and links to other sites for writers as well as a sample chapter of The Fireborn Chronicles and direct links to buy it.

Also, I have just signed another contract with Swimming Kangaroo to publish The Fireborn Chronicles Book II. (smile)

Terrific! Thanks so much for being here today, Mary - and good luck with all your future writing~

Thank you for inviting me, Allie!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Title Troubles

"Lost Illusion is the undisclosed title of every novel." ~Andre Maurois

Actually, I'm not the one having title troubles - it's one of my writing friends. She's working on a romantic suspense that's set in a casino...and she can't think of anything to call it besides "The Casino Story."

I always think it's easier to brainstorm and get excited about a book if you have a kick-a** title. So...I'm asking for some brainstorming help from you all today. I've been trying to think of some good titles for her, and I've been going off the casino theme. This is what I've come up with so far, but I'd love some other suggestions. If you're feeling creative today, leave me (and her!) some ideas in the comments, would you?

Allie's Title Ideas:

Playing the Odds
Winner Take All
Beating the Odds
All In
Hearts All In
Hearts are Wild
Where the Chips Fall
Gambling Hearts
Betting Hearts

What do you think??

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Facebook Phenomenon

"We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people. " ~Pierre Omidyar


Most of you probably know what they are - online social networking sites. Places in cyberworld where you can put up your picture, a profile, and collect friends and contact others with the same interests/background/job/kinky pleasures.

For the most part, I've avoided them, in part because most of my students belong to them, and I'd rather not hang out in the same place as the teens in my life (no offense, but I don't hang around at the mall or the movie theater or the skate park anymore either).

But I decided to create a basic Facebook profile recently because it was supposed to be a step above MySpace, and because some of my author friends kept bugging me to. So I did.

The funny thing is, every time I open my email now there's another "friend request" or "bumper sticker request" or "message written on your wall." I don't even know what some of these things are. But I do sense that I could spend an awful lot of time building my profile and adding pictures and personalized songs and listing my favorites books and movies and tracking "what I'm doing right now" each time I log on.

I don't think I have the time.

The only good thing is that in the last 2 days, I've rediscovered 3 friends from college I'd lost touch with years ago. And that's pretty cool. So maybe I'll keep my Facebook profile a little longer. But just a warning to anyone out there who's thinking about friending me or sending me a card/gift/wall/message/dedicated song...I'm sort of clueless when it comes to keeping up!

What do you think - anyone out there a diehard Facebook or MySpace fan? And do you do it for networking, building your author name, or procrastinating?? :)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

RWA National - The Big Dance

"Romance has been elegantly defined as the offspring of fiction and love." ~Benjamin Disraeli

For anyone who isn't familiar, RWA stands for Romance Writers of America. It's THE national writers' group to belong to, for published and aspiring romance authors. Depending on who you talk to, of course, there are pros and cons. I joined years ago, honestly, so I could write " a RWA member" in query letters to agents. That aside, RWA local chapters do put on some good conferences and sponsor some good contests, depending on the chapter. I joined my local one, Hudson Valley RWA, a couple of years ago and have met some terrific fellow writers.

The Big Dance is RWA's National Conference: big, splashy, and expensive as all get-out. But supposedly everyone who's anyone goes (I have not ever attended...I wanted to, this year, but, well, the economy made that decision for me a few months back). Days of workshops, mingling, NY Times best-selling guest speakers, parties, chances to meet agents and get the idea.

This year, it was held in San Francisco, CA, and my dear writing friend Cynthia Borris crashed the party. She's so good at that: hangs out in the hotel lobby and chats up those coming and going, so without paying a dime she's hanging out on the fringes and getting into the whole conference groove.

She emailed to tell me about it, and lo and behold she was talking to someone (from NY who was giving a workshop on making book videos...according to the schedule it looks like it may have been Diana Holquist, but who knows?)...the woman said, "Oh, I've heard of Allie Boniface. I hear she's a great writer."

How cool is that? I wasn't even there and my name got dropped! Major thanks to Cynthia for working me into the conversation :) She even blogged about the conference, and she's a new blogger, so drop by if you want to read about her experience.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the two awards given out at the Conference. The Golden Heart goes to unpublished authors (in a variety of sub-genres) and the RITA goes to published authors. My fellow Hudson Valley RWA chapter member (and hilarious writer-friend, who also throws one heck of an authors' tea) Jenna Kernan was nominated for a RITA in the Historical category this year - and even though she didn't win, the nomination is huge. If you haven't read one of her books, check out her website. You might find something you like :)

(Oh, and you can see the list of this year's winners here.)

Next year, the Conference is in Washington, D.C., and I'm making every effort to attend...