Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Reviews but Poor Sales

Just a quick blog today, since we're driving home and have to get on the road super-early:

I stumbled across another review of One Night in Memphis, 5 Nymphs from Literary Nymphs! Here's part of what the reviewer had to say:

"Boniface conveys some real danger and tension in this fast-paced tale, but shows astonishing and realistic growth in her characters. It’s not a sensual relationship yet, but it’s sweet, sensible and extremely entertaining.This is an absorbing novel, nearly impossible to put down. It has coincidence, a car chase, corruption and cool piano music. I definitely plan to read more by Allie Boniface."

OK, I know some of you might be getting tired of me posting my reviews here. But to get such positive feedback on this novel makes me really happy...especially since I just received my first month's royalty statement from Samhain, and sales were, well, not really what I had hoped. I have to keep in mind (as my husband reminds me) that Samhain readers tend to read way more spicy romance than what I write, and that a lot of my readers, I think, will still buy print rather than electronic books. (I hope, anyway.)

Interestingly, I've talked to a couple of other authors in the last 6 months who are also discouraged by their sales. One has decided to write straight erotica, "just because smut sells." The other is toying with the idea of quitting writing altogether.

It's tough, when you write and publish and market and then don't sell the way you'd like to. I suppose it comes down to why you write in the first place: to make money? to have a creative outlet? to become famous? I write because, now, I can't imagine NOT writing. And I do believe that, at some point, I am going to break into the bigger markets. That's why reviews mean so much to me...the more good stuff I can put in those query letters to agents and editors, the better :) And honestly, I'd rather write a story I knew was my very best effort, the best story I could possibly create, than give in and write to a trend.

What do you think??

Friday, August 22, 2008

Greatest Summer Olympics Moment in Recent Memory

OK, here it is: the end of the week, the end of the 2008 Olympics, and the end of my unofficial celebration of great moments in Summer Olympics history. Today, I have to recognize what I think of as one of the most exciting moments in recent Summer Olympics Games:

The US Women's Gymnastics Team Winning Gold Over Russia in 1996 (Thanks to Kerri Strug Vaulting on an Injured Ankle) ~ I picked this moment for a couple of reasons: first of all, I don't think anyone who watched this can forget Strug vaulting not once but twice on an injured ankle, then being carried out by her coach Bela Karolyi for the medal ceremony. And second, this team was so strong and deep in talent - every girl contributed to the win. I also think, when you watch their floor routines in the second clip, their choreography is stronger than what we saw in these Olympics - I think dance has been sacrificed to tumbling today.

Anyway, there was a reason they were nicknamed "The Magnificent Seven"!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Greetings from the Outer Banks!

Hey, everyone, a very exciting announcement today:

My good writing friend Liz has her short story "The Biggest Loser" featured at The Long and the Short of It today! So 2 things: first, go on over and read it. Then, drop by her BRAND NEW blog and leave her a comment telling her how much you liked it, OK? Liz is a great writer and gives terrific (and honest) feedback on the multiple drafts of stuff I give her, so she deserves a big celebration for her story today!!


So I've been vacationing in the Outer Banks (North Carolina) this week, and it's been fabulous. This is the kind of vacation where hubby and I don't do much except relax, rest, sleep, and then relax a little more. It's completely not the kind of vacation I usually spend...but it's pretty indulgent and enjoyable, I'll admit. We rent a house on the water with 6 other couples, which makes it really affordable, too. Here's what this week looked like:

Somewhere around 7 am: Wake up and, if inspired, go for a run.

Somewhere around 8 am: Eat breakfast.

Somewhere around 10 am: Play some (very competitive) pool volleyball.

Somewhere around 1 pm: Eat lunch.

After lunch: Nap. Or read a trashy tabloid magazine. Or lie out in the sun and listen to my Zune.

Somewhere around 2 pm: Play another round of pool volleyball.

Somewhere around 6 pm: Figure out what we're doing for dinner.

After dinner: Go out for ice cream or to play mini golf. Or watch the Olympics. Fall asleep early.

The daily schedule might have varied a little, to fit in some shopping or climbing the lighthouse or seeing the wild horses that live on the northern beaches. But yeah, that's about it.

I meant to do all kinds of writing this week. I meant to revise One Night in Napa and possibly outline a next novel. But somehow, that didn't happen. I have to convince myself that's OK.

Now it's home - and get ready for another crazy school year. But hey, I have a great tan to show off, for the first couple weeks, anyway :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Liana Laverentz

A break from the Greatest Summer Olympics moments today, to chat with author Liana Laverentz. Enjoy the interview!

Hi, Liana, and welcome! Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

The hardest question for me to answer is “What is your book about?” I tend to freeze up every time. So let me go with the blurb, here. It tells the story so much better than I can.

The last person small town bad boy Jacob Donovan expects to find when he returns home in disgrace after serving time is Rebecca Reed, head librarian. Rebecca had always had much bigger ambitions. Jake hadn’t wanted to stand in her way, so after one night of passion with his former best friend, he’d hit the open road.

Rebecca refuses to believe Jake is guilty of murder. The boy who’d been her friend and protector when they were town outcasts together could never have killed a woman. Not to mention the tender, loving man who’d given her their daughter, Katie.

But who is Jake now? That’s what everyone wants to know, including the town council chairman, who is determined to send Jake back to prison, by any means available.

Jake’s been running from love for all of his life. Will he find the courage to defeat his demons and stay this time?

Sounds terrific! How do you go about developing your characters?

I start with an external conflict, and try to imagine what kind of person would be involved in that conflict, try to figure out what kind of past or emotional baggage would lead them to be in that situation, and build from there. All my stories deal with issues stemming from childhood, and all my characters are built in layers. They don’t come fully formed, and they continue to surprise me with little details about themselves until I send the manuscript in to production.

What a great overview! Now, what kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I love to read romantic suspense, or just plain suspense. Some of my favorite authors are Lisa Gardner, Rachel Lee, Erica Spindler, and Eileen Dreyer, who also writes romances as Kathleen Korbel. I think she writes awesome books. She has an obvious love for the written word and knows how to use it. I do most of my pleasure reading at night, before bed. When I read her books, it’s like looking forward to checking in with old friends at the end of the day. She makes her characters that real for you. In her book Sinners and Saints, she even made the setting, New Orleans just before a hurricane hits, a character in the book. You can tell she does her research. But she weaves it into the story so skillfully you don’t even realize you’re learning something as you read. And that there’s more going on than just the story, here. It’s a story written on several levels, and you can read it at any level you choose and still be satisfied at the end of the book.

What do you find most difficult about writing?
Believe it or not, making myself sit in the chair and just do it. Once I get started, the rest is easy.

What do you find most rewarding?
Reading a review where I realize the reviewer “got” what I was trying to do with the story.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t suffer from writer’s block. My biggest problem is finding the time to put all the stories I have in my head and heart onto paper. Writers write. It’s what we do. We write because we can’t not write. It’s in our blood. But every word doesn’t have to be written for publication. So if you find yourself stuck, just start writing, even if it’s stream of consciousness, and it may take a while, but once you get started, you won’t want to stop. Even if the first thing you write has nothing to do with what you’re currently stuck on, just opening yourself up to the flow of creativity in your brain and enjoying the moment will eventually bring you to where you want to be. Something you write will undoubtedly spark an idea that you can tie back in to your WIP.

Either that, or pick up a book in an area that is different from the one you are trying to write. That works a lot, too. It shifts your conscious mind to something else, so that your subconscious can work out the problem. In a sense, you’re getting yourself out of your own way.

Or you can do something mindless, like the dishes, or folding laundry, or even take a walk. Slow down enough for your creativity to catch up to you again.

So what do you do when you’re not writing?

My favorite activities are reading, writing, watching movies on DVD, making soup from scratch, martial arts, road trips, and all things spiritual. I’m a huge fan of self-improvement, and am always looking for ways to keep my life balanced between writing, working, and being a Mom. I constantly listen to motivational CDs in the car, and fully believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking. At the moment I am listening to T.D. Jakes. He writes wonderful inspirational books.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned about creating your books?

I learned that you have to write a story in a totally different way when the characters have known each other before, like Jake and Rebecca in Jake’s Return, who grew up together, as opposed to two strangers meeting, like Eric and Emily in Thin Ice. I think that’s why I like them equally well. They explore totally different aspects of falling in love. In Thin Ice, Emily’s trust has to be earned, and that is no small feat, considering what she’s endured. In Jake’s Return, Rebecca’s trust in Jake’s basic goodness is right there at the beginning, and never wavers. The problem is, Jake doesn’t have that same trust in himself. Whereas Eric, in Thin Ice, has no such baggage. He knows he’s a good guy and can’t understand why Emily wants nothing to do with him. In Thin Ice, Eric is paying for the sins of those who came before. In Jake’s Return, Jake is dealing with his own personal demons. In my next story for The Wild Rose Press, a murder mystery romance called Ashton’s Secret, Nick and Meghan are strangers, but Nick has some demons to deal with, and Meghan is determined to get the out into the open for her own reasons, so it will be a whole new combination of circumstances.

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

I compose on the computer, print it out, get a mug of tea and some pillows and get comfortable, read and mark up the hard copy, then make the changes on the computer and carry on from there. Compose some more, print it out, get a mug of tea, and so on.

You're obviously enjoying a wonderful career as a writer. What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

To succeed in this business you have to believe in yourself, and Never Give Up. It’s also invaluable to have a good friend (or, better yet, two!) to keep your spirits up and to hold your dreams for you on those days when they seem too heavy or unwieldy to hang on to. So the first order of business is to find a partner who will help you stay on track. Accountability is the key. This person can be a friend, relative, spouse or fellow writer. Critique partners are wonderful for this kind of support and encouragement. And with the internet, you can find CPs online now, so there’s no excuse! Find a friend, share your dreams, and get going!

Because if you don’t write the stories in your head and heart, no one is going to do it for you.

Liana, thank you so much for being here today! Readers, make sure to check out more at Liana's websites:

Liana Laverentz
Thin Ice (NJRW Golden Leaf Winner and EPPIE Finalist) ISBN 1-60154-016-7
Jake's Return ISBN 1-60154-124-4
Ashton's Secret (coming in 2008)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Great Summer Olympics Moments, Day Three

Here we are...I know you're wondering which great moment(s) I chose for today. Well, today's a different sport: diving. First of all, the entire event amazes me. I don't think I'd be able to even climb up onto that highest platform, let alone jump off while doing a double twisting dive on the way down. And have you seent he synchronized divers? They do those crazy dives AT THE SAME TIME AS their partner. Yikes. But I digress. Today's great moment goes back to 1988:

Greg Louganis Winning Gold in Seoul - You remember this one, don't you? He hit his head on the springboard and then came back to win the gold, diving with a concussion and a bandaged head! (Warning: this video clip shows him with an earlier accident, as well - it's a little graphic, but he survived, so all is well)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sister Trip, Revisited

OK, a brief break from the Greatest Summer Olympics Moments. Today, some photos from the sister trip I took last week:

The very cool sign they have at the Northern border of NY - into Canada:

Halfway up the challenging Ampersand Mountain Peak:

Looking up at the Ampersand Trail (yeah, that's a lot of rocks...straight up...):

Finally at the top of Ampersand (the view is definitely worth it!):

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Great Summer Olympics Moments, Day Two

OK, today's choice for great Summer Olympics moments takes me to track & field. I'm also a runner, albeit a recreational one, but I do love the running events in the Games. Here are two of my favorites:

Michael Johnson Wins 2 Gold Medals and Sets 2 World Records (1996) ~ I still remember those gold shoes he wore!

US Marathoners Win Silver and Bronze in 2004 ~ American marathoners rarely medal in the marathon; it's a sport that's dominated by African and European runners. So when Meb Keflezighi won the men's silver medal, and Deena Kastor came from behind (she was in 18th at one point) to win the women's bronze, it was a major accomplishment. This clip is long, but it's worth watching (or just scroll to the last 3 minutes or so). Kastor said after the race that she was crying so hard during the final lap she could barely see...