Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Christmas ~ I hope all your dreams come true!

Clipart

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa and His Singing Reindeer

Here it is, a Christmas favorite. Enjoy!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Mentionables

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." ~Mark Twain

Mentionable #1: It's the first day of my winter break! This is actually quite unusual, to have 2 full weeks off from school. Usually we teach until the 22nd or 23rd, at least. But we started soooo early this year (before Labor Day), that I guess we're enjoying the trade-off now. Of course, I have a list of things I want to accomplish over the break, including a fair amount of writing. We'll see how that goes. We'll be heading to Florida after Christmas; maybe the warm(er) weather will inspire me!

Mentionable #2: We escaped the worst of the winter storm over the weekend, thankfully, since we threw a big holiday party Saturday night. We watched the weather report in anticipation, but the storm hit south of us, and we really only ended up with a couple inches of snow after it was all over with. Thank goodness.

Mentionable #3: I really hope to be able to spend some time reading over this break, since I've already gotten a few books for my birthday (last week) and early Christmas. On my bedstand right now: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Comeback, A Summer Affair, In a Perfect World, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Socrates in Love.

Have you read any of them?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fun: An Excerpt from The Dance Club

OK, here it is as promised: an unedited excerpt from The Dance Club, the as-yet non-planned-for-publication book based on my adventures at the gym with my girlfriends. Part chick lit, part women's fiction, part nonfiction, all fun to write so far.

Lola leaned over and read aloud. “New dance class starting January tenth. Lose weight and have fun while learning all the hottest Latin steps.” She smiled. “C'mon. let’s try it. We don’t have anything to lose.”

Roxy sighed. “Girls, I’m a friggin’ trainwreck when it comes to dancing. Or anything that requires rhythm and counting. I think I’m gonna skip this one.”

Zoe waved the slip of paper in front of her friend’s face. “C’mon! You’re gonna pass up a chance to spend an hour looking at a hot piece of South American ass? No way. I know you better than that. We all do.”

Roxy frowned. “You think he has an accent? Like one of those really sexy ones where you can’t really understand what he’s saying but it all sounds good anyway?”

Soleil rejoined them and set down her coffee. “He does. I heard him talking to some little redhead in the lobby when I was picking up the flyers.”

“Is it sexy?” Roxy asked. “I mean, really, like, to-die-for sexy?”

Soleil blew on her coffee and smiled. “There’s only one way to find out, right? First class meets next Monday night. What d’ya say?”

###

“Check out the blonde in the front,” Roxy whispered. “What is she, six feet tall? She looks like a giraffe.”

Lola laughed out loud and then slapped a hand over her mouth. “You’re awful.”

“I’m just making an observation.” Roxy turned in a slow circle and surveyed the rest of the room. “And what’s up with the geriatric group in the corner? Damn, I thought I was old.”

“You aren’t old,” Soleil said. “You aren’t even close.” She adjusted her t-shirt and stared woefully at her chest. “I’m having these done the summer I turn forty. I told you all that, right?”

“You’re crazy,” Lola said. “I’ll get a facelift before I’ll get a boob job any day.”


“That’s because you already have boobs.” The voice came from behind them, and all three turned as Zoe skipped into the room.

“I hate you,” Roxy said.

“Why?”

“Look at you.” Lola poked her friend in the ribs. “There’s nothing to you. You’re beautiful. Perfect. You don’t need to lose weight.”

“I need to tone up. Plus I want to see this hot dance instructor.” Zoe glanced around. “Where is he?”

The stocky Chinese woman standing beside them shrugged. A pair of brunettes in matching pink sweatsuits, hoop earrings, and full makeup craned their necks in the direction of the door. A balding man dressed in fatigues and another thirty-something woman with a belly hanging out over too-tight sweatpants made up the rest of the crowd.

“Huh.” Soleil looked around. “Kind of a motley crew, aren’t we?”

“Well, it’s only the first night. And the place has only been open a few weeks. But you were right. It’s nice.” Roxy waved a hand at the polished floorboards and the mirrors that covered three of the four walls. “I’m loving the juice bar in the lobby, too. Think they’d slip a little vodka into one of those smoothies if I paid extra?”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: What Am I Working On?

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." ~Scott Adams

I only have time for a quick post today, but I thought I'd share my 2 current projects (of course, they haven't gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of weeks since it's finals week for the College English classes I teach, which means piles of research papers and in-class essays everywhere calling my name). But beyond the final grade submission deadline, I have 2 glorious weeks of holiday break, and I'm hoping to make some headway on...

Entwined, my literary romance which right now is about 75K words long and really, really needs to be wrapped up and just finished already. It's been just about a year that I've been working on it, and while the end is in sight, I also know it needs some serious revision work beyond that end. Still, I really want to finish the last 10 chapters and then just let it sit for a month or so. Then I can move on to...

The Dance Club, a silly something I started a couple of weeks ago that is based solely on my experiences with my girlfriends at our Zumba class. There are about 5 of us who've become quite close, and they keep asking me to write a book with their/our stories, so I sat down, sketched out some ideas, and started writing. I don't know that I will even try to publish it - it will probably resemble chick lit (which is dead in the publishing world) or maybe women's fiction (which still has a chance). Either way, it's just for them, and I'm having fun at this point, only 5K words in. Friday I'll post an excerpt...until then, have a great week!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Mentionables: From a Cat's Perspective

"Time spent with cats is never wasted." ~Sigmund Freud

My owner, Allie Boniface, is taking a break from blogging today, so I told her I'd fill in for her. I mean, I've been around for over 14 years, and I've lived with her for 13 of those 14, so I have a pretty good idea of what she'd say, anyway. But today, I'd like to talk about why it's good to be a cat around the holidays...






First of all, if you have the chance to get a brand new scratching device of any kind, take full advantage of it. Make sure to lick your chops several times (yes, that's my tongue hanging out) before tasting it for fresh catnip.

And just in case your owner is not particularly quick at adding catnip, you can meow and wind yourself around her legs to remind her why it's your FAVORITE treat EVER.



It is especially invigorating to dig right in and sharpen those claws...




Though if a friend comes along and wants to try it out too, it's okay to let him. Just keep an eye on him.



Sometimes, in fact, those friends can be quite comforting and warm, especially when the temperatures get a little frosty! That's when it's best to remember the advantages of cuddling.



Finally, don't ever underestimate your importance when it comes to interior decorating. I have given several pieces of advice regarding the tree over the years - and as you can see by looking closely here, this year I needed to sit atop the ladder while my owners were hanging the lights to really have my say.


Guess that's all for today. Time for a nap in the sun...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." ~W.T. Ellis

Fun Fact #1: We have our Christmas tree up! Of course, it still needs to be decorated (I hope this evening), but it's found a very nice place in our living room amid the other holiday decorations.

Fun Fact #2: I was pleasantly surprised by my royalty report from Samhain. Now, December is one of the biggest paying months, since there are print royalties from the summer along with both electronic and print royalties from a bunch of other distributors, but still...it was nice to see that I can afford more than dinner and a movie this month :) Note: it definitely pays to keep publishing books. The more you have in circulation, the higher the royalties are. It seems that would go without saying, but it's worth mentioning.

Fun Fact #3: WOW-Women on Writing is featuring Literary Agents this month - how to get 'em, what they're looking for, and how they work. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Ebay Auction for You

"Any proverbs about weather are doubly true during a storm." ~Ed Northstrum

Well, I'm sitting at home enjoying the first snow day of the season...yes, there are some perks that come along with this teaching job! Although I do have a stack of research papers to grade (not to mention contest entries for my local RWA that are close to being overdue...yikes!). However, I'll take the day off to lounge around in my pjs and grade when and where I want to, anytime!

***

Spotted this interesting Ebay Auction the other day. Irene Goodman, a very well-known, very successful, and very selective literary agent, is offering 25 manuscript critiques. She's auctioning them off on Ebay with proceeds to benefit two different charitable organizations, in part because her own son suffers from a degenerative disease that will eventually take away his sight and hearing.

The auctions (and there are 25 separate ones, one for each critique) run through tomorrow, December 10th, if you're interested in bidding. Last time I checked, each was up around $300.00, which seems a little pricey, but keep in mind that if you have the money, this is a great way to get your first 50 pages + synopsis in front of a very savvy agent who will give you honest feedback about what you need to do to improve it/make it marketable. It's not a chance to pitch your work (well, of course in one respect it is) as much as a chance to have someone in the industry honestly assess it and give you direction for revisions.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. If you decide to bid, let me know! And now I'm off to make some hot cocoa and curl into my chair while the snow comes down outside...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Mentionables: The First Reviews of Summer's Song!

The first reviews of Summer's Song are in, and well, let's just say that I'm reminded yet again of how subjective readers can be.

It got 4.5/5 stars from Single Titles review site (apparently a new sub-site of the well-known CataNetwork review site). In part, the reviewer said, "Summer's Song is an engrossing story about hidden pasts, lost memories, and finding love despite everything else. Summer is a complex character who you will grow to care about; her vulnerability is beautifully described throughout the story. Damian, the protector, is compelling as you read his internal struggle with his attraction to Summer..."

You can read the whole review here.

Then, it got killed - and I mean slaughtered - by Mrs. Giggles, who is notorious for her snark but up to this point didn't really destroy my books. Until now. She hated the bookSummer's Song and gave it a 56/100, claiming it was entirely too melodramatic from start to finish. Ouch. The tagline she has posted on her website is the tiniest preview: "Wow, lots of angst and drama here. Everyone has at least two issues to deal with in this story. I don't know why nobody has attempted to put down the hysterical heroine, however. "

If you want to read the whole thing, 5 miserable paragraphs about how awful my heroine is, then go ahead. You can read it here.

And in the meantime, I will be off toughening up my skin...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Writers' Weekend: An Interview with Joanna Challis

Welcome to a special author interview with Joanna Challis. Her brand new novel, MURDER ON THE CLIFFS, is the first in the Daphne du Maurier series. Today she's visiting with me for a look at the woman behind the book...and at the end of the interview, you'll find a hint at how you can win a copy of it!



Hi, Joanna, and thanks for joining us here today! So, when did you first begin writing?

As soon as I could hold a pen in my hand! My parents' house is littered with my early attempts. Growing up, I loved English and History and any chance to write a story. I finished my first novel at 15 and never looked back. If I'm not writing something then I don't feel normal!

Tell us about your latest published title.

MURDER ON THE CLIFFS is the first in a new murder mystery series featuring Daphne du Maurier. It has all my favorite elements: history, mystery, a touch of romance, and the setting is the Cornish coast and an Elizabethan mansion full of secrets.

How do you go about developing your characters?

Characters come out first for me. I have a sketchy plot in mind but the characters lead it once they're fleshed out and I learn their motivations. They become real and seem to take over :)

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

To love what you do. To never give up.

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

When at home, read and watch favorite movies. When not at home, travel, particularly the overseas kind: Europe for its scenery and history.

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

REBECCA, PRIDE & PREJUDICE, THE PRINCESS BRIDE...I seem to love a blend of the old classics with a good mystery/suspense and a touch of the fairy-tale is always nice too!

Joanna, thank you so much for your time! Now, readers, for a chance to win a copy of her new book, MURDER ON THE CLIFFS, simply go to Joanna's book tour page and enter this distinct PIN #: 3829. Have a great weekend...hope you win!!


Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

"Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?" ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Received my Romance Writers Report the other day...I'm always interested to see what articles are featured. Here are some of the highlights in December:

What Can Internet Communities do for You?
Hook those Readers with a Great Scene
Writing by Committee?
There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity and Other Famous Lies
The Warrior Writer: Using Green Beret Techniques as an Author

The most interesting for me, though, was an interview with best-selling author Christina Dodd. A couple of my favorite excerpts:

"The most important thing an author can have is an absolutely brutish belief in herself and her talent, and she can never, ever allow the facts to change that faith..."

"...on any given day, successful writers write the best way they can, and if what they're doing doesn't work, they adapt. Best way to write a book, I guess. But, I admit, I spend an incredible amount of time thinking I know nothing. That seems to be part of the job."

Please note: Tomorrow I'll be featuring a special Weekend Writer's Interview with author Joanna Challis. Stop back on Saturday to read her interview and find out how to win a copy of her new book!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: What to Give, What to Give?

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." ~Jeff Valdez

'Tis the season to start shopping - if you're lucky enough to either have ideas for your recipients, or a specific list from them. But what do you do when you have neither?

No, that isn't a rhetorical question...I'd really like to know! Every year my husband and I are faced with the dilemma of buying holiday gifts for relatives who give us no clue as to what they'd like. You might think this makes things easy; after all, a gift card or two, and you're done. But it's not. We struggle every year.

So I'm asking for ideas. Anyone have a foolproof (or nearly foolproof) idea for buying at holiday time for those loved ones who either (a) have everything or (b) don't know what to ask for??

************

In a sidenote, here are two ways you can give this holiday season and benefit animal shelters!

Send an Ecard, Help an Animal

Give a Dog (without really giving a dog)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Mentionables

"Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space." ~ Dave Barry

Sooo...did you survive Thanksgiving and Black Friday? Were you brave enough to risk the stores and the sales, or did you stay in the comfort of your home? Are your holiday decorations up yet? Holiday cards ready to be sent?


Yikes...so much to do, and such a busy season! Last night I tackled the order for our Christmas cards. Last year we sent out simply a photo card, but I was surprised at how many people said they wished for the yearly update "letter" I usually send out with them. Since my father was so sick this time last year, it was all I could do to manage a card. But this year, I'm returning to the letter. It's a bit tricky, you know: you want to sound friendly and newsy but not pushy or overly annoying with all the wonderful things you've spent your year doing :) I tried to keep it short and sweet, but we'll see. I'll read it over in a day or two and see what I think with fresh eyes.


The Romance Studio is having a terrific holiday promotional event. Many, many authors are giving away all sorts of books and goodies, so if you're not a regular visitor to their site, bookmark it for December and give it a try! I have several giveaways and promos being featured there between now and the end of 2009.


Finally and most exciting, I received the covers of my 2 books that AudioLark is making into audio books, One Night in Memphis and Lost in Paradise! I have to say, it's a funny thing, seeing new covers for books that have been out for awhile with another publisher (but since they are new rights, this company can do whatever they want with the covers). I love what they did , though...check them out!!




Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fun Facts: Black Friday

Sooo.....how was your Thanksgiving?? Did you celebrate with family and/or friends? Were you home, or did you travel? And the big question, of course: will you be doing any shopping today, Black Friday?

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My husband and I usually do tackle the stores on this day, though we aren't with the crazy troops who brave the cold and the dark sometime after midnight to wait in line for hours. No, we scan the flyers, figure out what we might like to get that everyone and their mother isn't gunning for, and we hit the stores around 6 or 7 am. Usually, we're back to the house by 9, and while the stores themselves are pretty full, and the lines pretty long, there's still a bit of a thrill to finding that awesome deal and scooping up the last of a super-sale item.

Some interesting facts about this day:

Although most people think the meaning of "Black Friday" is the day that retailers finally move from the red into the black, the term originated in Philadelphia because of the heavy traffic on that day!

However, the term has also been associated with financial crises, as far back as the 19th century.

Of course, it can also be a rather ugly day, as crowds of people are willing to literally stampede each other to get to that elusive, rare gift. Last year, a temporary Walmart worker on Long Island (NY) actually died when people trampled him to death as the store doors opened. Horrific. As a result, many Walmarts (at least in our area) are open 24 hours this year.

This day is also known as Blitz Day, and the official site for sales can be found here.

However you spend this day (maybe just recovering from yesterday??), I hope it's a good one!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: Things I am Thankful For

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." ~Meister Eckhart

On the day before Thanksgiving, it seems fitting that I should mention some of the many things for which I'm thankful. So here goes:

I am thankful for...

My good health.
My family members, especially my mom, my sister, and my husband.
The friends I have rediscovered this year thanks to Facebook!
The new friends I have made this year, especially the girls at the gym who love Zumba as much as I do :)
My job, where I get to laugh and touch young people's lives every day.
The roof over my head and the comfortable, lovely home I live in.
My community, which is safe and pretty and friendly and close to the hometown where I grew up.
My inherent talents, especially for creating books and creating music.
My optimism.
My perseverance.
My cats, who love me unconditionally no matter what.

What about you? What are you most thankful for this year?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fun Facts: Audio Books!

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force..." ~Anonymous

Happy Friday! I'm happy to share the news that I recently signed contracts to put 2 of my books, Lost in Paradise and One Night in Memphis, into audio book format!

This will be a new venture for me -- and it's a new company, AudioLark, so I am approachinhg it with caution. However, I'm interested in seeing how making the books available in audio format might help sales (or not). I've had a few friends say to me in the past, "Oh, I'm too busy to sit down and read your book. Now if it was in audio and I could take it on the run, then..." Of course, they might just be making excuses (!), but I do think that with the rise of iPods, along with people's inability to sit down for any length of time, having books available in audio can't hurt. And I have friends who borrow books on tape from the library all the time, to listen to in the car.

Anyway, a fellow author I had done signings with before emailed me about AudioLarkto let me know they were looking for all romance genres, but especially sweet/sensual as opposed to erotic, which was awfully nice of her (you never know how those contacts are going to pay off!). I believe they're still looking for ebooks to put into audio, so if you're interested, follow the submission guidelines at their website.

The publisher is quite professional and agreed to a couple of changes in the contracts I requested. She was also VERY fast in responding to my inital query.

So, the release date for both my audio books will be March 1, 2010. I'm excited and will keep you posted!

Question: Do any of you listen to audio books now?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: Announcing the Release of Summer's Song!

"What if everything you knew about the past turned out to be...wrong?" ~Summer's Song by Allie Boniface

My latest contemporary romance novel, Summer's Song, released in ebook yesterday over at Samhain's My Bookstore and More! Very exciting. This means it will be in print roughly ten months from now, or September 2010. Mark your calendars!

Today, there's a character interview with my heroine over at Emma Lai's blog today, so please stop by and take a look!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Mentionables: An Author to Watch For

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

I'm thrilled to share the news that fellow Samhain author, Rebecca James, has hit it big in the publishing world, in her home country of Australia. Rebecca released her debut book, Nightswimming, with Samhain Publishing back in 2007. Now she's being called "the next Stephenie Meyer" [of Twilight fame] and has enjoyed a million-dollar advance for her upcoming novel, Beautiful Malice, a YA thriller. Here's a link to an article that tells more, including the fact that the book was first rejected by "pretty much every literary agency in America" for being unmarketable.

I got to know Rebecca a little bit in cyber-world when we were both newbies at Samhain, and as another non-erotic contemporary author, I'm so excited to see that she didn't give up on her dream to break into the mainstream market.

*************


Now, in other exciting news, my newest novel, Summer's Song, releases in ebook TOMORROW! And guess what? I and 4 other authors are having a very cool release-eve party in the Samhain Cafe this evening, beginning at 8:00 pm (EST). We're featuring character interviews and a scavenger hunt, with the prize being...of course...free ebooks! Come on over and play, will you?


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fun Facts: It's Friday the 13th!!

Happy Friday the 13th! How many of you are superstitious??

Fun Fact #1: Interestingly enough, there were 3 Friday the 13ths in 2009 (Feb, March, and Nov), but the next time we will have 3 in one year will be 2015.

Fun Fact #2: The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, and the fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekephobia - try saying those out loud!

Fun Fact #3: The roots of this fear go back at least to the 14th century's Canterbury Tales (most bad things seemed to happen on Fridays); the Knights Templar were supposedly mass arrested on a Friday the 13th in 1307, and even earlier than both of those, of course, for followers of Christianity, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

It's interesting how superstitions and belief systems take root and grow, isn't it?

******

In other, non-superstitious news, I'm not sure the following is a "fun" fact, but since I'm active in my local animal shelter and I do what I can to raise awareness about animal rights, I wanted to share this video with you (plus I love the music!).

Please watch and, if you're so inclined, share with others on your own blogs/Facebook pages/etc....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Tracy Ruckman


Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! We haven't had an author interview here in a while, so I'm thrilled to have Tracy Ruckman join me. Grab your coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

Hi, Tracy! First off, can you tell us a little about your background?

I’m a full-time freelance writer, editor, and photographer. In the past two years, I’ve been editing more than writing, for financial reasons, but I always seem to dabble with words in some form or another. I offer full editing services through my company Write Integrity Editorial Services, and earlier this summer we began WIES Workshops – online writing courses for anyone interested in writing for the Christian market. I also own the popular Pix-N-Pens blog where a team of us offers book reviews; freelance writing, editing, and marketing advice; photography tips and assignments; writing prompts; and even frequent contests!

I’m married to THE Prince Charming, and we live with our spoiled dog, in Alabama. I’m proud mom of two grown sons who live in metro Atlanta.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

I’m so excited about this beautiful book. Christmas Miracles is a powerful collection of heartwarming stories written by many authors – I’m honored that my story was chosen as one of them. The book is co-authored by Cecil Murphey, bestselling author of 112 books, including the book he coauthored with Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and Marley Gibson, author of the Sorority 101 series.

About the book: Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives. In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

My story, “Miracle of the Nativity” reminds us all that God is still very much with us today, even in the smallest details of our lives during the hardest of times.

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

Join writers groups, critique groups with writers more advanced than you, study writing as a craft. Learn as much about the craft as you can learn, with a mindset that you’ll never know even a fraction of what you need to know. Develop the habit of writing daily – no matter the circumstances. Even if it’s only 500 words per day – that’s an entire novel over a year’s time. It’s oversimplified, but if you’re going to be a writer, you must write.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Writing in general is more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. I’ve held some tough jobs in my lifetime, and writing is by far the most difficult. My brain tends to generate an idea every hour – but learning which ones are workable, feasible ideas is a feat in itself. Then, taking that idea and putting it onto paper – sure, you can just slam it down on paper and type “The End.” But that’s really only the beginning. To get a manuscript to the publishable stage you have to rewrite, edit, hone, tighten, delete, add to, rearrange, and much more. And like most writers I know, the middle of the book is always the hardest to write.

The most exciting and rewarding part has to be the characters. Getting to know my characters so intimately that they become part of my family, and when I speak aloud and call out one of their names, my family doesn’t ask, “Who?” They KNOW. In the early stages of a book, my husband will question me as we run errands, “What kind of car does your character drive? What kind of cereal does he eat?” This helps me know my characters, and they become friends.

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

I edit almost full-time these days, so being able to write is special time. But when I try to take a break from either, you’ll usually find me exploring some town somewhere – I love to travel – camera in hand. I also love to garden, although my thumbs are more brown than green. We did manage to grow some tomatoes and peppers this year, and I grew some herbs for the first time. I LOVE fresh dill and basil – yum. I also like to cook – just about anything. It’s a good thing my hubby and I like to eat! And even though I don’t get to do it very often, I’m an avid freshwater fisherman. I’ve been fishing since I was five years old, and it is the greatest escape, greatest relaxation of all time.

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

Definitely by computer – I just don’t know how books were created before the invention! If I were still having to use a typewriter, I’d probably have a different career. The backspace key is one of my favorites! I have heard of writers who dictate – and sometimes wonder if that would work for me, but my brain and typing fingers tend to work faster than my voice, so it probably wouldn’t work.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?
I like action/adventure movies and shows – 24, Gone in 60 Seconds, National Treasure, Executive Decision, and many others like them. With the first book I completed – I knew NOTHING about writing, and had the story in my head, but didn’t really know where I was going with it. If/when I decide to go back and edit it – totally rewrite it is more likely – it will probably be the action/adventure category. The third novel I’m currently writing is definitely an action/adventure detective novel. It has some fast-paced scenes that are my favorite, and my crit partners say I’ve found my “voice,” so I guess all those movies did indeed inspire my writing.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

I’m giving away a copy of the book, and some other awesome goodies, in a fun contest this month! Just drop by my Web site, look for the Contest tab, and leave a comment to enter.



Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Mentionables: Revisiting Rejection Letters

"Never, never, never give up!" ~Winston Churchill

Happy Monday! I FINALLY got around to sorting the piles of stuff in our office over the weekend - hooray! And as I was moving files from one file cabinet to another, I came across my folder of rejection letters. They're from both agents and editors/publishing houses, and I vowed always to keep them so I could remember how hard it was to get a contract and how many times I had to pick myself up from disappointment. As I was flipping through, I found some that made me smile, and I thought I'd share them with you:

Rejections for One Night in Boston

"I regret having to tell you that I've decided to pass on this. I wasn't convinced enough of being able to place this manuscript, considering the very tight and demanding conditions of the market."

"Thanks but because of your location, I suggest you would be better served by a NYC agent."

Rejections for One Night in Memphis (which went on to become an EPPIE finalist and earn 4 stars from Romantic Times)

"Unfortunately, we have problems with this story. [Our house's] contemporary romances are generally more light-hearted in tone than your novel."

"When it comes to contemporary romances, I am very picky about what I am looking for. I really want to feel a strong connection with the characters and to truly want to see them together. I also look for a story that has a strong purpose and sense of place. Unfortunately, I just did not see what I was looking for in this story."

"You are a good writer, but somehow the story did not strike the right chord with me."

Rejections for Lost in Paradise

"Unfortunately, I just did not fall in love with the story."

"I just was not enthusiastic about this story."

"As I conduct a legal practice in addition to my work as an agent, I am forced to be very selective in the literary projects I take on to represent. While I am eagerly looking for quality women's fiction, I ultimately concluded that your writing was not strong enough to make this a clearly marketable project."

***

Then I went through my folder of "Fan Mail" and pulled out 2 emails at random:

"Just finished reading 'One Night in Boston' last night, well this morning at 1:10 am. It was great and I couldn't put it down! I can't wait to order 'One Night in Memphis' and 'Lost in Paradise'!"

"I just read your first two books and loved them both! You have amazing characters, gripping plots, a fantastic vocabulary, and fresh comparisons. I just had to drop you a note to let you know."

***

Sooo...don't ever give up! One person's rejection is simply that: one person's. The next letter (or email) may be the one you've been waiting for, the one with the wonderful news that says, "I am happy to offer you a contract for..."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out. " ~Alfred Hitchcock

Today: I am in NYC on a field trip with my students. It's supposed to be chilly but sunny...I'll be back with a full report (and maybe some pictures!) soon.

Tomorrow: I am getting rid of my Facebook account. Sigh. I loved keeping in touch with people, especially as I was planning my high school reunion last summer, but there got to be too much drama recently - leave it at that. Anyone else experience anything similar, on FB or Twitter or another social networking site?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: Links for Writers

"All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Wednesday! Okay, not every link today is for writers. Some are for readers too...

First off, check out the Book Video Contest over at JK Coi's blog and vote for your favorite!

The Meadowland Review is a small, new online literary journal that's accepting submissions for its spring 2010 issue. Details here.

Revelry Magazine is another small, online magazine that's just starting out and welcoming submissions from authors ~ in their words, "anything that relates to the literary world."

Since there were a couple of articles in last month's Writer's Digest about using small markets to boost your writing resume, I highly recommend checking out either of the above and submitting anything you might have. Those publications look great when writing your query letters to dream agents!

Finally, Summer's Song releases in ebook two weeks from yesterday...very exciting...and I'm currently thinking up some kind of cool giveaway events. Oh, I'll be promoting the book in a variety of places that week, too, so stay tuned for the places and times as release week gets nearer. Many cool prizes to be given away, including (of course) the ebook itself!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday Mentionables: Thoughts on Halloween and Daylight Savings Time

"One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place." ~Emily Dickinson

How was your Halloween? Do you get a lot of trick-or-treaters? None at all? Somewhere in the middle? I've found there are 2 theories to people who hand out candy (or, in the case of my best friend from high school, who hands out candy to the kids and jello shots to the adults bringing them around): you either buy candy you like, so whatever's left you'll eat yourself...or you buy candy you hate, so whatever's left won't tempt you.

Which one are you?

We don't get any trick-or-treaters at all, which always makes me a little sad, but I guess that's OK. We did go to a party Saturday night, which turned out to be a little more raucous than I expected: one of our friends is recently separated and dating a much younger woman (24), so all of her friends were there...and let me just say that it's been a long time since I was 24 and partied like that. Hmm. I don't really miss it, either, truth be told - though it was good for some character ideas for future books. Of course, what isn't good for character ideas?

*****

And then there's Daylight Savings Time. OK, while I do appreciate the extra hour when it comes to early morning (I suppose), this day in fall always seems like f-o-r-e-v-e-r long. Doesn't it? I was ready for bed at 6:3o, and not just because it was pitch back outside. Ugh. It really does just make me want to crawl into bed after work for the next 4 months!

But enough about me. How was your weekend??

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fun Facts: Random Pages from Entwined

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." ~Anais Nin

So NaNoWriMo is nigh upon us...for those of you writers out there, that means that November is the month in which if you're crazy enough, you sign up to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the thirty days. Yes, many people do it every year. No, I have not ever been one of them, though last year I chose December as my own month to attempt to do the same. That produced the first 30,000 words of Entwined...and now here I am a year later, trying to finish it. Yikes!! Where does the time go?

Anyway, for kicks, and also to motivate myself to finally finish this story, I thought I'd have my husband choose 5 random page numbers and then post the first 2 sentences on each one. I thought, I don't know, that maybe it would kick start me into remembering why I like this story and where I still have to go with it. Here they are...

5 - Edward Meacham stands to the side, watching. He waits until the sea of black parts and only Alex Smithson and his wife Trinity stand beside Natasha.

86 - His smile changes a little, grows rueful. “If I tell you I don’t really believe in that sort of thing, will you still have dinner with me?”

157 - Of course she wants to know. But it has taken so much effort to heal her heart that she suspects reading Maggie’s journal will undo all the work of the last six months.

211 - “Listen, I’ve got it bad,” she confesses. Her smile is a half-moon singing to him.

234 - There are truths that reach beyond what we can see or read or believe in consciousness. There are truths that should stay hidden, truths that belong to no one except the people who create and hide them in the first place.

Ooh, now I'm excited again! OK, how about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Do tell, and your reasons why or why not!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: A Blog Post from Yours Truly!

"If you don't allow yourself the possibility of writing something very, very bad, it would be hard to write something very good." ~Steven Galloway

Well, I'm blogging over at the Samhain Publishing Blog today....do stop by and visit me there, would you? Love to hear from you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Mentionables: Pics from the Boston Trip!

If you didn't check in with my blog last week, I traveled to Boston for a whirlwind 2 days. While there, I accepted a teaching award at Boston College and visited with 3 friends from high school/college. had a WONDERFUL time! So, here are some pics...



With (from left to right) the former student who nominated me for the award, the Dean of the BC School of Education, and the president of the BC Student Senate




With my husband, standing in front of the BC flowers (there were a few of these, all around campus). Boston College has a gorgeous campus, and the weather on the day we visited was 70 degrees~



With my former student, Kerry, in front of one of the many beautiful buildings on campus



A view in Boston Public Garden



In Boston Common, downtown


One of a few squirrels foraging in the now-empty flower beds in Boston Public Garden - they each had their own, by the way. No sharing. Hmm..wonder if it's a squirrel-etiquette thing


They do love posing for pictures




And this duck was hard at work catching something for lunch...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

"Three things give the student the the possibility of surpassing her teacher: ask a lot of questions, remember the answers, teach." ~Jan Amos Comenius

I'm in Boston today! Pictures from yesterday's teacher awards ceremony to come next week :)

In the meantime, here's some info from the latest Romance Writers' Report:

The first annual National Bookstore Day, "devoted to celebrating bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores," is scheduled for November 7. Wonder if my local stores know this and are doing anything to celebrate? I'm thinking an open wine tasting, 50% discount on best-sellers, etc....

AND

Romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2008 and was the biggest share of the consumer market, with 13.5%. 7311 new romance titles were published, and 74.8 million Americans read at least one romance novel in 2008. And the "most typical" romance reader is a woman between the ages of 31 and 49 who is currently in a romantic relationship.

Interesting, huh??

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: A Contest!!

My author friend J.K. Coi is hosting a marvelous book video contest: one entry per person, and she'll post all the submissions on her blog November 2 -6 for voting. What does the winner get? A great basket filled with books and other goodies AND a 50% off coupon for a trailer or a trailer review at Blazing Trailers.

So....if you're an author with a book video, you might want to give it a try. I haven't decided if I'm entering or not, but if I do, which one do you think I should enter? Here are the 4 I currently have:







Monday, October 19, 2009

"A gifted teacher is as rare as a gifted doctor, and makes far less money." ~Anonymous

Finished proofreading the galley for One Night in Napa this weekend - thankfully! Whew...but it's always nice, in reading something you've written, to love the story again. I do like this one and can't wait to see it in print!

***

Diane Craver wrote me a lovely review of it, by the way. Here's just a snippet:

"I enjoyed the fast moving suspense in One Night in Napa...During the twenty-four hours, the climax explodes with passion and sexual desire between Kira and Grant...I have read all of Allie Boniface's novels and I highly recommend them. Her books, including her latest, are always exciting and satisfying page-turners filled with lots of emotion..."

Thanks, Diane!

***

I'm excited: the end of this week, I'm off to Boston where I'm being given a teaching award by Boston College. Can't wait to see the student who nominated me - she's a senior there and looking forward to "showing off" her adopted hometown and school.

***

Did you see that 3 people died during the Detroit Marathon yesterday?? Now that's scary...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

Audrey Niffenegger, author of the runaway best-seller The Time Traveler's Wife, received close to $5 million as an advance for her second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. According to Writer's Digest, it's "a ghost story set in and around London's famed Highgate Cemetery...mirror-image twins inherit their aunt's flat and begin to question their identities, the bonds of sisterhood, and whether their aunt is really gone after all." But $5 million dollars. Wow.

***

The holidays will be here before we know it -- I should know by the fact that we had snow yesterday - on October 15th!! Yikes...I'm not ready!

But anyway, as those days of hot cocoa and carols fast approach, what are you going to buy the writers and readers in your life? Books? Bookstore gift cards? A cozy throw and slippers for curling up while reading that shiny new book? I think I'm adding an ebook reader to my list this year. Since my books all release in ebook prior to print, I'm thinking I should support the industry and actually own one. Plus I sort of like the idea of carrying around a bunch of books on an electronic device that can fit in my purse~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: Tackling the Galley


Before I became published, I didn't have the foggiest notion of all the steps that occurred between submitting a manuscript to a publisher and seeing the finished product on the shelves of a bookstore. Now, 3 books in and 2 more to come in 2010, I have a better idea. And I'll be honest: it's a long, lengthy process. Right now, I'm tackling the galley of One Night in Napa, which will release May 1, 2010.


What is a galley? It's the final author look at his/her manuscript before it's released in print, permanently. This means that the publisher sends you the complete document for you to read through, page by page, to catch any last-minute errors or wording changes before it's immortalized on the page. Ugh. Utter tedium, as far as I'm concerned.


OK, it's nice to have that last look at your words before they release in print. But for me, it requires so much close attention that I can only read through a few chapters at a time. I feel wholly responsible for each word, each letter, and I tend to lose concentration after 30 or 40 minutes or so.


So the reading of my galley is consuming my life this week. I try to tackle it little bits at a time, though October 19 is my deadline, so I don't have too much time to play with.


The nice part about the galley? It allows me to fall in love with my story again, to remember why I love these characters their story so much. So as much as I complain about the close reading, I do like being reminded of why I wrote it in the first place. And I hope you'll feel that way as well!


Less than 7 months until One Night in Napa releases in print...I can hardly wait! Can you??

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

"Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." ~Oprah Winfrey

Attention all authors: the Backspace Writers Conference will be held on November 5 and 6 in NYC. This conference prides itself on creating an informal atmosphere in which authors and agents can mingle at several different times and in different ways, as opposed to the formal "agent pitch session" you'll find at most conferences. It's a little pricey, IMO ($500 for both days, $250 for one) but it might be worth a look if you're in the market for an agent.


**

A great writer's ezine, WOW-Women on Writing, just released their latest issue. Lots of writing info and opportunites. Check it out here.

**

A writing friend of mine emailed the other day to ask me how much I spend on marketing per book. I was embarrassed to admit that I don't know, exactly. I mean, I was able to sit down and figure out a rough estimate, between online and print advertising, ordering bookmarks/other swag, and buying my own author copies. But I know some other authors keep detailed accounts of every dime they spend on marketing and promotions. Are you one of those? Do you use Quicken or some other program to keep track of all your author expenses?

**

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Writers' (or Maybe Readers'?) Wednesday

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." ~Anna Quindlen

Busy, busy, busy! I always forget once school begins how full and complicated my days become. Thus, no official blog post today, but I do have a question for you: one of my friends is starting up a book club, and we're trying to decide of which books to read for our first few meetings. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Mentionables

Received another 5-Book review from The Long and the Short of It last week, for One Night in Memphis!

"Allie Boniface has given us another terrific read...I got so lost in this story with the characters and the plot and the scenery...Ms. Boniface took a storyline and made it into a work of art. She's definitely an author you must read. And this is a book - and a series - you'll want to read over and over again."

The cool thing is, I think this reviewer went looking for my other books after she read and enjoyed One Night in Napa. I only hope new readers will do the same!

*****

Went and saw the movie "Bright Star" with some girlfriends last night. It's an independent film, a love story based on John Keats and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, who became his muse. Though a little slow, it had some beautiful moments and lines. I didn't realize he died at just 25 years old. How much more poetry could he have written if he'd lived even another 10 or 20??

Friday, October 02, 2009

Finally, A Cover!


What do you think of the cover for Summer's Song??


This one took the most back-and-forth with my editor and cover artist ~ we had a hard time getting the right visual we were all satisfied with. I'm really happy with this one; it has the mountains in the background and Damian's guitar in the foreground, which are both important to the story. And I think the interaction of the hero/heroine is just sensual enough... ;)

Mostly, though, I have to say that I'm so happy this story finally has a home. It's the one I worked on the longest and revised the most, so to see the title finally on an official cover is just like heaven :)


P.S. It releases in ebook November 17th...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Banned Books Week!



It's Banned Books Week! Now, when I mentioned that to my high school English students yesterday, they all (all) stared at me with blank looks on their faces. I didn't know whether to be annoyed that they were so clueless, or happy that they hadn't personally experienced the concept of banned books before.

Regardless, I took the time to explain what it is -- a week established by the American Library Association to raise awareness about the importance of the First Amendment and the freedom to choose which books we want to read in this country. Of course, some of the "classics" now taught in many high schools across the country were banned or at least challenged at one point, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and Huck Finn. And many current favorites have also come under fire, including the Harry Potter series and Judy Blume's coming-of-age teen novel, Forever.

I also showed the students my all-time favorite YouTube video: John Green talking about why his book Looking for Alaska shouldn't be banned in a New York eleventh grade English class. It's worth another look, here:







What do you think? Is there ever a case where a book should be banned from a school or public library?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Mentionables



Finally got my first review for One Night in Napa, which released in ebook back in July. I don't mind waiting for this one, though, 'cause it's a good one! 5 Books from The Long and the Short of It:

Hot, hot and wow hot! One Night in Napa is packed with sensuality, emotion, and passion. A talented author, Ms. Boniface has given us a story that offers a little bit of everything and with her aptitude the story flows from one scene to the next. One Night in Napa is a classic story of two lovers defeating all the odds. And, boy! When the lights go out the fire between the two heats up.

This is the first story that I have read of Allie Boniface's and let me tell you -- I’m already searching her backlist and her future releases for more great reads. If her other stories are even close to as well-written and entertaining as this one, I'll be more than pleased.I can highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the odds of one night changing everything between two people. A mere twenty-four hours and your destiny is written.

In addition, One Night in Napa was in the running over the weekend for LASR's "Best Book of the Week" award, and as of late last night was running first in the polls. So thanks! to everyone who voted, and if you're an ebook reader who hasn't yet picked up One Night in Napa, maybe you'll want to give it a try...


Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

"Drinking coffee for instant relaxation? That's like drinking alcohol for instant motor skills." ~Marc Price

I just liked this quote...

TGIF!!! Hope you're looking forward to your weekend as much as I am. If you're an author who writes romance with some spice, check out All Romance eBooks' "28 Days of Heart" submissions call. They'll be releasing a short story each day in February 2010 and are taking submissions now through October 31 from any author who has a book listed for sale on ARe (check with your publisher if you aren't sure).While all proceeds from the sales of theses stories will be donated to the American Heart Association, this is a great promo opportunity and a chance to get your name out there~

*****

And if you love spas, check out www.spaweek.com. Hundreds of spas across the country are offering great deals and discounts during the week of October 12-18. If you're a spa junkie - or if you've never tried one but always wanted to - this is a great way to check out what some of the elite ones offer at a fraction of the price!

*****


Finally, I saw the movie "Adam" last week and LOVED it. It's an independent film, the story of a 29-year old man with Asperger's Syndrome who's living in NYC and struggling to negotiate his first time falling in love, living without his father, finding a new job, etc. It was beautifully acted and filmed, and it absolutely captured the quirky characteristics of people with Asperger's (I have had a few students with Asperger's in the past). I think the movie might be on its way out of theaters, but if you have a chance, go see it. It was just wonderful!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Vacation from Writers' Wednesday

"Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions." ~Anonymous

No authors to feature today...

Instead, here's a few tidbits of information, both from the writing world and my own personal little corner:

Literary agent Donald Maass puts up a bimonthly feature on his website called "What We're Looking for this Month." For September, interestingly enough, it's authors who have submitted work to the agency in the past and been turned down. Well, that's not *all* they're looking for, of course, and his discussion is a little tongue-in-cheek. But it's worth a read, here.

*****

My local writing group, Hudson Valley RWA, is currently accepting entries for our Hook, Line and Sinker contest. Test out the strength of your first three manuscript pages -- finalists get a read by Harlequin Senior Editor Brenda Chin! Find out more here.

*****

And in unrelated news, I had a pleasant surprise earlier this week in my other life -- the full-time teaching one that pays the bills -- a letter in my mailbox telling me I'm receiving a teaching award from Boston College. One of my former students is a senior in the School of Education there and apparently wrote a letter nominating me for the award. Pretty neat! I'll be going to a luncheon there in October as part of an Education Symposium.

Ah, the idealistic me thinks maybe she can change the world after all...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Mentionables

"Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home." ~David Frost

Hi there! Hope your week is off to a good start. Did anyone watch the Emmys last night? Let's talk about fall TV, since 'tis the season for new shows and new episodes of favorites. Which ones am I excited to see start up again?

Fringe - love the crazy sci fi concepts and love Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv (John Noble too as the crazy father/doctor).

Life - I think Damian Lewis as the lead character is just terrific, with his quirky personality and intense yet sexy persona. Can't wait to see where they take the love interest with his co-detective Reese, either!

Lost - yes, I'll stick with it for another season. I'm too far in now to quit!

Survivor - the only reality TV show hubby and I watch religiously.

So You Think You Can Dance - I watch this one on my own, but I do love the talent that emerges!

The Mentalist - hubby and I discovered this through reruns over the summer. Love - love - love Simon Baker as the weirdly intuitive police agent who also is easy on the eyes!

Flashforward - this is a new one, by the creators of Lost: the entire world loses consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, during which everyone flashes forward 6 months to see their fates. Sounds like an interesting concept, and it has good buzz right now.

What about you - what television shows are you looking forward to seeing this fall?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fun Facts

"Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail." ~Ernest Hemingway

First things first: I'll be at the Pine Bush Harvest Festival (a very cute craft/street fair) in one of our local towns tomorrow between 10 and 3. If you're local, stop by and say hello! (and maybe pick up a book or two...the holidays are coming, so think of gifts!)

*****

Good news: my editor and I are closer to liking the cover art for Summer's Song! The third version has much more heat between the hero and heroine than the earlier versions. And fewer clothes, too! :) Hope we have a cover soon I can share with you all.

*****

I'm 65K words into Entwined, and though I haven't written too much since school began, I really want to finish this revision by November 1st. There it is! An official date to aim for, set out in blogger-world, for virtual eyes to see. Now all you have to do is hold me to it!

Have a great weekend...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Linda Weaver-Clarke


Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm featuring author Linda Weaver-Clarke. Linda travels throughout the United States, teaching and encouraging others to turn their family history and autobiography into a variety of interesting stories. She is the author of the historical fiction series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho which includes the following novels: Melinda and the Wild West - a semi-finalist for the Reviewers Choice Award 2007, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny’s Dream, David and the Bear Lake Monster, and Elena, Woman of Courage.

Linda, what exactly do you teach in your Family Legacy Workshops?

I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Each of us has a story from our ancestors to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. Our children need to be proud of their ancestors. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint their stories, to be the storyteller. To read samples of my ancestor’s stories, you can visit my website at www.lindaweaverclarke.com.

What do you encourage people to research?

The area your ancestors settled and the time period. First, find out everything you can about the area to both educate your readers and to make the setting feel real. If possible, go to the area you want to write about, walk around, find out where your ancestors lived, went to school, and played. If you can’t go there in person, then do research and find pictures of that area.

Why do you put true family and ancestral experiences in your novels, and can you give us a few examples?

I love inserting real experiences into my novels. It brings a story to life. To me, the experiences of my family and ancestors have always intrigued me. In my family saga series, I have set my story in Bear Lake Valley in Idaho…the place that my ancestors settled in 1863.

In “Melinda and the Wild West,” I inserted an experience that happened to my dad. When he was young, his father asked him to bury the skunks that he shot because they were getting into the chicken coop. Before my dad buried them, he drained their scent glands into a bottle. He called it “skunk oil.” Then he took it to school to show his friends. While explaining how he had done it, he must have gotten a little too excited because he accidentally dropped the bottle and it splattered on the floor. The scent of concentrated skunk oil permeated the room with a stench that was indescribable. Everyone ran out of the school as fast as their little legs would go. And the teacher followed close behind. They let school out so it could be cleaned up. My father said that he was a hero for one day because he got school out for his classmates. This novel eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007.”

What a great example! Do you put any of your own experiences into your books?

Yes. “Jenny’s Dream” was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I learned that forgiveness was essential for true happiness and well-being, and that is why I felt this story needed to be told. Jenny must learn to forgive and put her past behind her. Of course, I add a little love story, but it’s not the complete focus of this novel. When she realizes that her kindred friend means more to her than she thought, then she has to make a decision whether to follow her dream or matters of the heart. This story is about accomplishing one’s dreams and the miracle of forgiveness.

Can each of your books be read separately or do you have to read them in order since they’re a series?

Each story has its own plot and can be read separately, but the main characters grow up. In the first book, “Melinda and the Wild West,” this book is about how Gilbert and Melinda get together.

What is the synopsis of your new book, “David and the Bear Lake Monster”?

Deep-rooted legends, long family traditions, and a few mysterious events! David quickly becomes one with the town and its folk and wonders why they believe in this Bear Lake Monster. It just has to be a myth. While visiting the Roberts family, he finds himself entranced with one very special lady and ends up defending her honor several times. Sarah isn’t like the average woman. This beautiful and dainty lady has a disability that no one seems to notice. He finds out that Sarah has gone through more trials than the average person. She teaches him the importance of not dwelling on the past and how to love life. After a few teases, tricks, and mischievous deeds, David begins to overcome his troubles, but will it be too late? Will he lose the one woman he adores? And how about the Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

What about this Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers arrived in 1863. The legend of the Bear Lake Monster made life a little more exciting for the pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it.

Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community.

When is the last book in this series going to be released and what is it about?

“Elena, Woman of Courage” is the last in this series and should be released soon. It’s set in 1925. It was a blast to research. I found out about words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, they were goofy. If a person was a fool, they were a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing or romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great!

It’s about a “Happy-go-lucky Bachelor” that is completely fascinated with a woman doctor: Elena Yeates. Of course, women weren’t encouraged to go to college back then, let alone become a doctor, and this fascinates him to no end. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you great insight at the struggles women had to go through, all the while watching a young love blossom! You can read an excerpt from each of my books at http://www.lindaweaverclarke.com/samplechapters.html.

Readers, thanks for being here today. To learn more about Linda, visit her blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Mentionables

OK readers, today's post is culled directly from the pages of the October 2009 Writer's Digest. And if you're a writer and you're not getting this magazine, you're missing out. It has great articles and advice for writers in all genres and at all steps of their writing journey. One of the best investments for very little $$, I assure you.

"The Passion for Prose," by the illustrious literary agent Donald Maass has some great advice for writers: make sure there is passion on the page, in every scene. He believes that passion in one's story is what separates the mediocre stories from the truly great ones. My favorite piece of advice here: "...nothing in a story is meaningful until its meaning is clear to a character...include not what a particular plot turn means in the grand scheme of things, but instead what it means to your POV character...illuminate not what has changed, but how [the character] has changed."

By the way, I haven't read his writing guide Writing the Breakout Novel, but I know many, many people recommend it highly. If you've read it, what's your take?

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Writer's Digest runs a contest each year to recognize writers' websites that are designed and maintained solely by the authors themselves. This year's top 3 were www.brianwask.com, www.freelance-foodie.com, and www.ezrapoundcake.com.

Know someone you'd like to nominate for the 2010 contest? Send an email to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with "Best Writer's Website" as the subject line. And yes, you can nominate yourself!

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Finally, a couple of writing prompts for any of you who might need a little creative nudge:

1. Pick a color, make that your title, and write a poem inspired by that color.

2. Seven people board a small boat for a tour of the islands, but when the boat returns to the dock, only six people remain on board...

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There are also great articles in this month's Writer's Digest about online writing communities, interviews with best-selling authors like Lee Child and Jennifer Crusie, and advice on getting the most out of writers' conferences. I defiintely recommend picking up a copy at your local bookstore if you're interested!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day of Memory





"A small sorrow distracts; a great one makes us collected." ~Richter

Today I'm asking that all who visit my blog take a moment to remember September 11, 2001. Years pass and memories fade, both for good and for bad, but I think it's important to think back on just how horrific that day was, and everything that resulted from it. No political comments, please -- there's a lot that has been said, and could still be said, and not everything that our country did before or after that day was noble.

But we lost so much that day, and to all those people who became victims on September 11, we owe at least a moment of dignified silence to honor their lives. We miss you and try our best to live on in ways that make this country and this world a better place.














Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Susie Schade-Brewer


Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with Susie Schade-Brewer. Enjoy!

Can you tell us a little about your background, Susie?

I was born and raised in Kansas. At 7 years of age, my family left city life and moved to the country. From that point forward until the day he died, my father, Ernest Schade, was a farmer. During the sweltering Kansas summers, he tilled and planted his acres. My mother, Hazel, was his devoted helpmate, and together they raised 8 children. I was the oldest of the 4 girls. Every one of us was expected to work the fields alongside my parents. I now reside in Adrian Missouri, surrounded on all sides by green fields and woods thick with pines and hedge trees. I live with one son and my two pug dogs, Rosie and Sebastian.

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

My Grandmother Schade died when I was pretty young. But it was she who first captivated me with tales of adventure and intrigue along the trails west. She herself and her family had traveled overland in a covered wagon when she was young. Though she was born in the 1890’s and past the time of the major western migration, she had not only her own stories to pass on, but those of family members who had lived during that time.

I have distinct memories of sitting on her lap when I was about 5 or 6, staring out the window beside her rocking chair, in my mind visualizing the places where her stories transported me. The excitement behind those stories inspired my first love of that exciting time in our country’s history.

Life, marriage and children then kind of thwarted my writing goals for a while. Once I hit 50, though - and especially after the death of Princess Diana - I figured if I didn’t get to it, it may not ever happen. Life is short and uncertain. That is when I began the novel, The Sacrifice of the Sage Hen. The actual writing of the story took only 4 months, but the editing process took another 6 years. I had had no formal training, and I learned as I went.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title!

In March of this year, my novel The Sacrifice of the Sage Hen was released. Since then, two things seem to occupy most of my time – marketing the book, and running my professional writing service (http://www.tpwwritingservices.com/). The resume writing and copywriting that I do for the writing service takes up quite a bit of time. But I still make time to work on my second novel, which will be a sequel of the first. It will center more around the day-to-day life and hardships the pioneers faced while traveling the 2,000 miles of trail between Independence, Missouri and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

I also have a blog, http://www.onewriter, having to do with anything writing or western. I invite everyone to visit the site and join as a follower and get some lively discussions going. I t gets lonely out here in the Missouri rurals!

Sounds as though writing is definitely keeping you busy! What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Sometimes I find the pressures of everyday living deplete/stifle the creative spirit within me. It is frustrating knowing how much I want to sit down and let the words flow but they just don’t come, or if they do, I find them disgustingly novice. To find inspiration, I sometimes take a day off from the office work, go to a park and sit and read. It relaxes me and fills me with motivation, and soon the words are flowing once again. It sounds silly, but it is one of the greatest contentments I know.

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

Absolutely. I think everyone does at some point. Life is full these days, and our thinking processes become fragmented and thwarted. However, I make myself write each and every day. I suppose having a writing business makes that goal easier to accomplish. Article writing, resume writing, copywriting – all are things I enjoy, and must be done frequently. The advantage is that keeping to the everyday grind keeps one’s mind clicking and on track. Another thing – I like going for a long car ride down a lonely country road, enjoying the scenery, taking it all in. All the better if I stumble upon an old cemetery along the way with lots of interesting epitaphs. That really gets the creative juices flowing.

Describe your writing space...

I work out of my office in my country home. My brain is one that comes to a complete and grinding halt when things are not organized or where I can find them. Still, the stacks of papers for ongoing projects, some that need to be filed (when I have a minute), and papers I have every intention of reading cover every inch of my desk. Exactly what color is the top of my desk again? Just kidding. It’s not really THAT bad!

Anything else you’d like to mention?

My newest venture, one I am very excited about, involves writing articles – lots and lots of them – having to do with ‘All Things Western’, the life and circumstances of both contemporary and historical western life. My website – http://www.mustangingthewest.com/, will be chock full of everything western. Mustangs & all about horses – longhorn cattle – western apparel (there will even be a store) – tack– Native Americans -- turquoise and silver jewelry –– western dance & music - historical fiction books and reviews – the best dude ranches and bed & breakfasts in the country – a section called ‘The Cowboy’s Bunkhouse’ - birds & butterflies - you name it, it will eventually show up there. This is a brand new venture for me, and I am working hard – albeit jubilantly – to get it up and running soon. I hope everyone will visit and share their thoughts and ideas with me. My writer’s website is http://www.schade-brewer.com/. Please come visit me there, too.

Susie, thank you so much for being here today. Readers, make sure to stop by and visit her websites. She's one busy lady!