It's always exciting when a WOW! Alumni Member publishes her first book. I can't help but feel proud-- not that we had anything to do with the process, but it still gives me the chills... as it should! No matter how you look at it, it's an accomplishment and a milestone in a writer's life, and one worth celebration.
Allie Boniface is an award winning high school English teacher who lives in the northern NYC suburbs with her husband. A member of both the national and local chapters of Romance Writers of America, she has been writing fiction for approximately five years. Her debut novel, One Night in Boston, was recently released by Samhain Publishing. This contemporary romance novel tells the story of Maggie and Jack, former lovers who meet up after ten years to discover that strong feelings still lie between them.
Join us as we chat with Allie about her labor of love, and discover what motivated her to write One Night in Boston.
WOW: Congratulations Allie on the launch of your first novel, One Night in Boston. We’re always proud when one of the WOW! Alumni makes it in the publishing world. How do you feel?
Allie: I’m just thrilled! I started writing seriously, with an eye on publication, about five years ago. One Night in Boston is actually my fourth completed novel but the first one I sold.
WOW: I remember you were working on a few other novels when I spoke with you last, but let's start by going back to your journey that brought you here. When did you first start writing One Night in Boston? And what caused the spark?
Allie: I came up with the idea for a “24 hour novel” about 3 years ago, and I began writing One Night In Boston about 18 months ago. Considering the popularity of the television show “24,” I thought it might be neat to write a novel that followed the same kind of structure. So, One Night In Boston takes place over a single day and night, with 24 hours unfolding over 24 chapters.
WOW: That's a great premise. So why did you choose one night to tell this particular story?
Allie: Most novels, especially love stories, take place over a much longer period of time. I wanted to explore a different kind of love story: the way that, sometimes, people can change each other’s lives in a matter of hours.
WOW: That must have been hard, because as fiction writers, we know that there is always a taboo toward writing flashbacks. Sometimes it’s a battle between knowing when to show, and when to narrate. How did you manage to familiarize your protagonist’s past with the reader?
Allie: That was a challenge with this novel, definitely. Because the primary action takes place in just one night, it was necessary for me to rely somewhat on flashback/characters’ memories to give the reader information about the past. I tried to keep those flashbacks to a minimum and, wherever possible, use dialogue to fill in the blanks.
WOW: Allie, please give our readers a synopsis of One Night in Boston.
Allie: Maggie Doyle is about to lose everything she owns unless she can find her estranged stepbrother and ask him for help. Her journey takes her to a charity ball in downtown Boston, where she runs into Jack Major, her college sweetheart and only love of her life. Our hero and heroine have less than twenty-four hours to deal with the renewed attraction between them, as well as the past secrets that drove them apart.
WOW: That plot sounds delicious! And a must-read. As you were writing, did you have a preeminent feeling that this novel would be published?
Allie: Actually, no. I queried a number of agents before looking at small publishers. While many of the agents were interested in the premise of the novel, they found issues with some of the early plotline. I went back to the drawing board many times with this novel.
WOW: As you went back to the drawing board, were there any times where you found yourself at a crossroads in plot choice? If so, how did you solve them?
Allie: Absolutely. In fact, early in the query process, I received a detailed letter from a top agent who liked the structure and characters but had some problems with the conflicts driving the story forward. After taking her feedback to heart, I went back to my outline. I created an entirely new secondary character and changed the heroine’s goals and motivation significantly. It was a lot of work!
WOW: It sounds like it! But a good editor is wonderful to help move a story forward. So, what would you say the hardest part of writing this novel was for you?
Allie: Realizing that I had to make major changes in the storyline after I’d completed the first draft (at about 80K words!).
WOW: I hear that! And I'm sure besides the technical aspects, there were other challenges. Last time I spoke with you, I remember you saying that you’re a high school English teacher. How did you find time to balance your career with your writing schedule?
Allie: That’s a tough one! During the school year, I try to spend at least one hour each night writing. I’m not always able to, since I’m grading students’ papers many nights as well, but I try. I also spend about an hour each morning updating my blog or working on promotional contacts. I don’t have any children of my own, which gives me more time than many working mothers who are also writers. My husband is very supportive of my efforts, which also helps immensely!
WOW: It's always fantastic to have support. Last time you freelanced for us you wrote a wonderful article for our Freelancer’s Corner, “Character Trouble? Try Man’s Best Friend.” So, how much did your pets play a roll in helping you write One Night in Boston?
Allie: My two cats constantly come in and check on me while I’m writing, making sure to remind me when it’s time to take a break and feed them!
WOW: (laughs) My cat, Noodle, agrees! So tell us, why did you choose Samhain Publishing for your debut novel?
Allie: At first, I followed the traditional route of submitting this manuscript to agents and editors. However, the response was lukewarm, so I did some research into electronic publishers. Although Samhain is a relatively new e-publisher, it is run by Crissy Brashear, who was with Ellora’s Cave for many years. Samhain has quickly developed a reputation as one of the top small e-publishers in the industry, and I was very happy when they offered me a contract. Another advantage is that all their full-length novels are first released in e-book format and then in print approximately ten months later. I decided that if I was going to choose a small electronic publisher, I still wanted the opportunity to be published in paperback.
WOW: That's a great benefit. I also heard that they won an award from Preditors and Editors. How was the experience working with them?
Allie: It’s been terrific, very professional. My cover artist and editor are both top-notch and spent a lot of time working with me until we were all happy with the end product. Samhain has a great marketing department as well.
WOW: That attention is super. In your opinion, what are the benefits of going with a small press?
Allie: Oh, definitely the personal attention you receive from everyone there, from the owner to the editors to the cover artists to the marketing director. Everyone is totally accessible at any time.
WOW: That's wonderful. So, what’s your promotional schedule for One Night in Boston like?
Allie: Since One Night In Boston is currently available in e-book format only, I’ve been concentrating most of my promo efforts in online forums (like this one!). I’ll be doing interviews and giveaways in a few different blogs and forums over the next few weeks, too (readers can find out more by checking my blog). Once the book is released in print, I’ll be focusing on in-person appearances as well.
WOW: So Allie, where can readers pick up a copy?
Allie: Currently, One Night In Boston is available as a download at www.mybookstoreandmore.com. Don’t be frightened off by the idea of reading an e-book! While it might not be as convenient as throwing a paperback into your beach bag, it’s easy to download the file to your computer and read a chapter on your lunch break or during your commute (my brother-in-law is reading One Night in Boston on his daily train ride). There are many handheld e-book readers on the market now as well, which makes it even easier to slip the entire novel right into your pocket!
WOW: Super advice! Our editor, Sue Donckels, just did a wonderful must-have article about e-book readers. This is definitely a growing trend in reading. I remember a while ago, you'd talked about a romance novel you were working on called Paradise, USA. Are you still working on that, or what are you working on now?
Allie: Ah, thanks for asking! That novel was renamed Lost in Paradise and has since been picked up by The Wild Rose Press, another small e-publisher. It is currently in the editing process and will be released in e-book format sometime this fall, with a print release approximately six months later. My current WIP is another “24 hour novel” titled One Night in Memphis, which I hope to submit to my editor at Samhain later this summer.
WOW: How exciting! I can easily see this becoming a series of "One Nights" in different towns! Please keep us informed on all your adventures, we love success stories. So, do you have any closing comments or advice for our readers?
Allie: Publishing your first work, whether it’s a full-length novel or a brief article, can take a long time and be an involved process. Don’t get discouraged by it. Understand that anything worthwhile takes time and effort. I see too many new writers give up after they aren’t successfully published in their first year of writing. Remember that the craft of writing can take a lifetime to learn!
WOW: Very smart advice Allie. Thank you for sharing your publishing journey with WOW! We wish you success in all your projects, and can't wait to get our hands on One Night in Boston!
For more about Allie Boniface, check out: www.allieboniface.com
Visit her blog: www.allieboniface.blogspot.com
Allie will be featuring a giveaway of One Night in Boston at the debut of www.longandshortreviews.com on August 27, 2007!
Watch the book trailer for One Night in Boston: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey7zS3mlXIU