Friday, March 27, 2009

Allison Brennan, the Queen of Thriller Trilogies, is in the House!!!

Allison obtained her first library card at the age of four when she could print her full name, and thus began her love affair with books. It’s no surprise that her first job was as a clerk in a bookstore in her hometown of San Carlos.

In March of 2002, near the end of her thirteen year career in the California State Legislature, Allison seriously started writing—after hundreds of beginnings and no endings. She wrote five manuscripts before she found an agent who sold her book to Ballantine. Her debut novel, THE PREY, sneaked onto the New York Times extended list at #33. As nothing worth having is easily achieved, Allison worked all day, mothered five children, and wrote every night after they went to bed. Ironically, though she no longer works outside the home, Allison finds herself still writing into the wee hours of the night.

Allison belongs to several professional writers organizations . . . all the usual suspects. Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Novelists, Inc. She also is a regular contributor at Murder She Writes, Murderati,and Romancing the Blog.

For fun, Allison enjoys wine tasting, traveling to writer’s conferences, playing video games with the kids (and by herself!), reading (of course!), watching old movies (and new), and catching up on her favorite television shows through her AppleTV. She cheers on her kids at a variety of sporting events from soccer to basketball to volleyball, and finds herself driving almost as much as sleeping.

With ten New York Times bestselling romantic thrillers and a handful of short stories, Allison is taking a temporary detour into the realm of the supernatural with her Seven Deadly Sins series which launches in Spring 2010. But there are more romantic thrillers in the works: after the Sacramento FBI trilogy in 2009, look for the Rogan-Caruso series in late 2010/2011. Visit her at

Readers, be sure to read to the end for Allison's extremely generous giveaway!

Allison, first tell us about your new release, SUDDEN DEATH, that hit shelves on Tuesday. I understand that it is the first of a new trilogy.

Yes, SUDDEN DEATH is the first book of my new Sacramento-set FBI trilogy. I really love this book—it’s one of my favorites. My one-liner is: “Burn-the-book mercenary Jack Kincaid is forced to team with by-the-book FBI Agent Megan Elliott to stop a homicidal duo who are torturing soldiers with ties to Jack’s mysterious past.”

The trilogy itself is not connected except that they all connect to Sacramento, California—where I live. I really loved writing about my area in PLAYING DEAD, so when I needed a connecting theme for the FBI Trilogy, I thought, why not Sacramento? It might also have something to do with the fact that when I wrote the proposal, I was in the FBI Citizens Academy here, and I really think the world of those men and women. Also, there’s so much here—rivers, mountains, farmland, business—and I love intimately knowing my setting.

The other two books, while they have some recurring secondary characters, are distinctly different in story.

Your first trilogy came out in 2006 and you’ve had one every year since. Tell us why you’ve chosen the pattern of trilogies and how you keep a writing schedule that allows you to do this.

It wasn’t really my idea. When my publisher bought THE PREY, they thought it would work well as the first of a trilogy so I came up with the connecting theme of three women with violent pasts who become friends at the FBI Academy at Quantico. I’ve always loved loosely connected books—Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Kay Hooper, Mariah Stewart and many others—often brought back secondary characters into leading roles. It felt natural to do this. Now, I find it hard to conceive of a stand-alone book. I always want to bring in a minor character who grabbed me, and give him or her a story.

As far as my writing schedule, the most important thing is that I keep my writing time sacred. This is not always easy with five kids! But I write while they’re in school. I tackle emails and the internet in the morning after I drop them off, spending about 90 minutes on answering fan mail, blogging, going to loops, chatting. By 10:30 in the morning I need to go off-line in order to get my work done. Because I am a huge procrastinator, when I’m on deadline I’ve found the best way to do this is take my laptop and go to Starbucks or outside the house so I’m not tempting to jump online. I pick the kids up between 3:30 and 5 (depending on sports practices) and we do kid stuff, homework, dinner, etc., and most nights I’m back at the computer by 9 p.m. I find that I’m most productive in 4-5 hour chunks of time, twice a day.

Sometimes, I just have to kick myself in the butt to focus. That’s usually at the beginning of a book. Once I hit about pave 150, I’m usually eager and excited about the story. The first act is the hardest for me.

Allison, your books have recurring characters that may play minor roles in your stories and then take center stage in their own story. With the complexity of the stories and the cast of characters, how do you manage the information necessary to keep them all straight?

Good question. When I can’t remember, I skim my books. Like I couldn’t remember if I mentioned anything about Nick Thomas’s parents in THE HUNT when I was writing his book (SPEAK NO EVIL.) I had to skim every scene that he was in.

It wasn’t hard when I only had three or six books out, but I did have some problems writing the Prison Break Trilogy. I hired an indexer who has indexed all my books. It’s been a huge relief for me.

Any advice for writers who want to tackle trilogies for the first time?

Actually, not really! I think everyone should write what they are most comfortable writing and what is natural for their voice. If you’re not published, I always suggest that your first book is pitched as a stand alone with the possibility of becoming a trilogy. Publishers like choices :))

There are so many different ways to write a trilogy. Brenda Novak has her Last Stand series which centers around a victims rights group. Roxanne St. Claire has her fabulous Bulletcatcher series. Karen Rose’s last trilogy had a connecting theme through the villain(s). (And all of us are up against each other for Best Romantic Suspense in the RITAs!)

Even my trilogies have different connections:

The Predator Trilogy (2006): The heroines of all three books were roommates at Quantico and remained friends; each had violence in their past.

The No Evil Trilogy (2007): The Kincaid Family played a major role in each book, and each story related in some way to the Internet.

The Prison Break Trilogy (2008): Each book stands alone, but revolve around an earthquake under San Quentin that frees several death row inmates, and there is one connecting mystery regarding one inmate who claims he’s innocent.

The FBI Trilogy (2009): Each book stands alone, but take place in or around Sacramento, CA and at least one of the main characters is a Sacramento FBI agent.

One thing I’ve done (not really consciously!) is to bring in a major secondary character into the next trilogy. For example, in SPEAK NO EVIL, Sheriff Nick Thomas from the first trilogy is the hero; in KILLING FEAR, Detective Will Hooper from the second trilogy is the hero; in SUDDEN DEATH, Jack Kincaid from the second trilogy is the hero. It brings continuity through all my books, though readers should be able to pick up any book and not feel lost or that they missed something.

Oh, there is one thing I’ve noticed that can be a huge stumbling block for readers. When creating a trilogy or series, I’ve always believed that a reader should be able to pick up any book and not get lost. It’s sometimes difficult to balance what the reader needs to know to enjoy THAT story and not bore current readers with too many details from past books. I, personally, like books within trilogies that stand alone, but are loosely connected to others, which is why I write what I do!

When you talk about your writing, you mention a 20 year period in which you started many, many stories, but didn’t finish. What finally made the difference for you?

I realized that if I wanted to be published, I needed to finish a book. I know it sounds dumb, but I was dense  . . . also, I had it in my head that I needed to work, get married, raise a family, and it wasn’t until I turned thirty that I reflected that I wasn’t completely happy. I missed writing—it had become something I fiddled with, something that I’d do “later.” Once I acknowledged that writing was important to me, and that no one was going to just give me my dream, I was determined to prove that I could do it.

There were some external things going on—I couldn’t afford to quit my job, which I no longer liked; my babysitter was accused of child abuse (and she pled no contest) and I couldn’t afford to take time off to be with my baby (Brennan #3 was 8 months old at the time); and I turned thirty and hadn’t done half the things I’d wanted to do by the time I turned thirty. But ultimately, it was an internal switch, and I can’t honestly say what did it. Only, after I mentally committed to finish a book, and write another, and another until I sold, I was able to do it.

Once you shifted gears and began to get serious, what was your road to publication like?

I’ve been told my path was smooth. Maybe it was, but the writing itself is hard word. I also still had a day job and five kids by the time I sold.

Essentially, in March of 2002 I made the personal commitment. I wrote five books in two years, found an agent in February of 2004, and she sold my book in March of 2004, five days after it went wide. The trilogy didn’t hit the shelves until January, February and March of 2006, but that gave me the time to write books two and three while still working. I quit my day job shortly before the first book debuted, which enabled me to write three books for 2007.

Can you give us an idea of what your average writing day looks like and how you manage your busy family life?

Controlled chaos.

Basically, I wake up between 6 and 7 in the morning. I get the kids to school—often late (and I have to meet with the vice principal about this, so I feel like a total failure as a mom.) I swing by Starbucks for my coffee (I used to write at Starbucks every day), go back home to my office, check email, answer fan mail, blog, whatever, and start writing by 10:30. There are times, when I’m on deadline, that I take my laptop with me and just stay at Starbucks—I write faster when I have nothing to distract me.

I pick the kids up between 3-5, depending on various schedules. When I’m REALLY close to deadline, my mom pitches in and gets the kids for me. Often there are doctors appointments, ortho appointments, grocery store runs, etc. Homework, school projects, baths, dinner (and no, I don’t cook extravagant meals—everything is very, very simple!) games, and reading. When the little kids go to bed, between 8-9, I’m back at my computer. I try not to write on Sundays so we can do family excursions. But often, when my oldest, who is an athlete, is at a sporting event I’ll have my laptop with me.

Do you have any writing rituals such as music, candles, certain foods, etc.?

Coffee in the morning, coffee in the afternoon, margaritas at night ;)

And loud rock music on my iPod.

What’s on your “to be read” list right now?

CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith
HUNT HER DOWN by Roxanne St. Claire (an arc!)
WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON by Toni McGee Causey (an arc!)
THE BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly
HOLD TIGHT by Harlan Coben
DOGS AND GODDESSES by Jennifer Crusi, etc.
DEVIL MAY RIDE by Wendy Roberts

. . . and that’s just at the top! I also have a dozen galleys for quotes to read, and I’m trying to get to most of them, but time is crunched.

What can readers expect from you next? the FBI Trilogy, I launch my Seven Deadly Sins supernatural thriller series, the first two books coming out in 2010. I’m also currently negotiating my next romantic thriller series—this one four books centered around Rogan-Caruso Protective Services, also based in Sacramento, that was introduced in PLAYING DEAD. The hero of book three of the FBI Trilogy is Duke Rogan, one of the principles, so it was a natural to write stories related to their work.

Allison, thank you so much for being our guest today. We really appreciate the fact you took the time from that obviously busy schedule you described to share with us today.

Okay, Okay, now you guys have learned all about Allison and her writing, you want to know about the contest, right? I've got to tell you the prizes are great today. Allison is giving away all three of her trilogies, one trilogy to each of three winners. That's the Predator Trilogy, the No Evil Trilogy, and the Prison Break Trilogy. AND, if that isn't enough for you, she is also giving away a copy of her newest release, SUDDEN DEATH! WOO HOO! So we will have four lucky winners today.

So, here's the deal: Leave a comment or question for Allison and you're entered. Easy, right? Here's more: Get a friend to leave a comment, with your name as a referral in their comment and we'll enter you again and your friend once. Hey, if your friend wins, you can always borrow :))

Look for winners to be posted Saturday morning. Enter until midnight tonight. Good Luck.


Debbie Kaufman said...

Good Morning! I really benefited from reading about how you manage your time with a busy schedule. I especially love your writing rituals! Some days though, I'd rather start with the Margarita, LOL.

I've got Sudden Death on my wish list now, since I always disqualify myself from the contests! Of course, any time I see your name on a new book, I consider it an excuse to buy!

Marilyn Baron said...

I really enjoyed reading about your writing life. You are an inspiration. With all you have going on how you manage to be so productive is amazing. I only have two kids and they are both college graduates so what's my excuse?

I can't wait to read your books. I have a couple of questions. What is the difference between a romantic suspense and a romantic thriller?

Also, do you give your villains a POV in the book? How do you feel about that?

I like the fact that you base your books on places you know.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to blog with us. It's been a revelation!

I wish you continued success.

Marilyn Baron

Cyrano said...

I agree with Debbie,
A Margarita (I'm partial to Mango and the restaurant Cincos makes the yummiest) would jump start my muse nicely.
Allison it's so nice to have you with us this morning on PFHT. We love hearing from published authors, especially when they give us an insight into their writing rituals.
I too love a good secondary character and I'm always wondering how I can spin off their story in a sequal, or trilogy. I'm working on an erotic romance right now and my hero's twin sister all ready has a leading roll in the second book.
I wish you the best of luck in the future Allison. And please keep turning out those fantastic novels.
Have a lovely (rainy writing) day.

Anonymous said...


Congratulations on your writing success.

My husband & I moved to GA about 3 years ago from Roseville, CA. I retired from State of Calif after 31 years. (wk'd for EDD, DDS, DOT)Graduated from Folsom High & Sac State. Your books bring back so many memories!

Thank you for sharing your schedule with are a wonder.

As to the coffee vs margaritas, give me the coffee...the other in the evening would put me to sleep!

Thanks again

Sandy Elzie

Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks for stopping by PFHT! Like everyone else, I really enjoyed that slice of writing even if it did mean that I have no excuses with my two children.

I'm so intrigued I'm going to have to pick up Sudden Death.


Berta said...

Hi, Allison! I envy your organizational skills! Five books in two years - and they must have been really good for such a quick sale. Did your editor ask for revisions on that first book? Just curious. I loved the No Evil trilogy, Can't wait to read the others. Dianna Love Snell insisted that I read your books. I'm so glad she did!

vickyb said...

You are definitely the queen of taking people out of their comfort zones. ;) Can't wait to read these!

Vicky B.

Susan May said...

Allison, Thanks for joining us. I really enjoyed finding out how you handled your writing day.

Joyce J. said...

As a reader who also happens to work in a public library, I'm glad that writers recognize that readers cannot always read books in order. Patrons always ask me, "Do I have to read them in order?" If I haven't read the book (patrons don't always realize that we don't know everything about every book in the library!), it's hard to say. Some writers are good about recognizing this and others are not. Just a quick line about what happened in the previous book in the series is not enough for me; I need a bit more in order to get acquainted with the character if I haven't read the previous book.
Thanks to Marilyn Baron for giving me the link to this site!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your writing schedule, Allison. I always find it fascinating to see how others manage their time. Especially with all the chats, blogging, guest appearances, business duties, and all the other minutiae that goes with any job, it amazes me that any writer can find the time to actually write! Do you actually get all of (the above) accomplished between, say, 8 am - 10:30 am? Or do you still find you need to dedicate more of your time to take care of business matters?

Thanks for sharing with us!

Ann Curtis

Anonymous said...

Hey Allison,

Like all your books, I look forward to reading the next one.

Take care.

John Foxjohn

Anonymous said...


I really enjoyed The Prey, just finished it about two weeks ago! I'm officially a fan and cannot wait to read the others in that series as well as the other trilogies.

Thank you for sharing today!!!!

Caroline Ziebarth

Margie Lawson said...

Allison --

KUDOS to you for your RITA nomination! KILLING FEAR read like a RITA winner. It kept my adrenaline pumping for hours!

And--Kudos to you for being so cool. Not many NYT bestsellers post assignments to an on-line class loop.:-)

Looking forward to celebrating your RITA nomination with you in DC. I'll treat you to a Margarita!

Carol Burnside said...

I appreciate you being with us here on PFHT and being so generous with the prizes. Many times I've read your posts on RWClist and taken away something valuable. I'm in awe of all you do and your willingness to keep a student mindset and mentor at the same time. Thank you!

CiCi Barnes said...

Allison, thanks so much for droping by.

I love trilogies. When the books and characters are great, I'm not ready to leave them after just one story. I like to settle in with something familiar for a while longer.

I'll take hot tea, instead of coffee, but the margaritas sound marvelous.

Thanks for all the tips.


The Writers Canvas said...

I'm with Berta...5 books in 2 years???? I don't have nearly the amount of kid commitments you do and it's hard to find time w/day job. My congrats to you!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for being the guest today, because you have inspired me to stop using my ONE child as an excuse for not getting my blogging/writing done, after seeing what you have accomplished with FIVE children! I have read one of your books recently and look forward to finishing the series. :)

Kathy said...

Allison I saw you in the PASIC class and was veryimpressed that a popular published author like yourself would take the class. I look forward to reading all your books. I just have to gather up the funds to go buy all of them. I read KILLING FEAQR and THE HUNT. I was lucky enough to win them in a raffle from my RWA Chapter. I enjoyed both of those books.
Kathy Crouch

Kelly Lee said...

Thanks for the post. It's so good to hear that someone who worked full time, had kids, and didn't start writing until 30 can experience the kind of success you've had. You're an inspiration to me, especially since I also write a lot of beginnings but no middle or ends. I gave myself an RWA/Georgia Romance Writers membership for my 30th birthday. :)
Any tips for pushing through to the end of the first book?
Thanks again!

allison said...

Thanks so much to the gang for having me here! I had fun with the questions :) I'm going to answer some now, and the rest later this afternoon, because I'm going off-line to write--deadlines don't wait!

I can't wait to read your books. I have a couple of questions. What is the difference between a romantic suspense and a romantic thriller?

Marketing. Truly, there is very little difference, though some might say that thrillers are more about the pacing and stakes, and suspense is more about the internal tension (for the reader). When Ballantine sent my marketing stuff out to the buyers in late 2005, they pushed my books as "romantic thrillers" and I liked that.

Also, do you give your villains a POV in the book? How do you feel about that?

Yes. I've always written my villain's POV. In my first book, THE PREY, I think I had three or four scenes in the original manuscript that my editor bought. During revisions, they said those scenes were some of the strongest in the book and they wanted more--I specifically remember adding in two scenes, and expanding the others. But that was awhile ago!

I like writing the villain's POV because one of my pet peeves in romantic suspense are stereotypical villains. Everyone has a backstory, and understanding WHY the villain is the way he (or she) is, is very important to me. This in no way justifies the villain's actions, but in my mind adds a depth and shows that the past truly impacts who we are--and whether we overcome our obstacles or tragedies, or not. And sometimes, people are just bad. In KILLING FEAR, Theodore Glenn was raised by good parents and he had no empathy or real emotions, and the only enjoyment he got was through cruelty. In TEMPTING EVIL, Aaron Doherty had a selfish, manipulative mother who dumped him with friends and family all over the country. He never made attachments. There are few erotomaniacs who are killers, but he's one of them (John Hinckley is another.)

I like the fact that you base your books on places you know.

I learned my lesson! THE KILL is based in Seattle. I had been there once for a weekend, didn't really know it, but thought I'd done my research. I got something wrong. The NO EVIL trilogy is based in San Diego and I used to visit there all the time when I lived in LA, so I was more comfortable with it, but it's been 15 years. Writing about Sacramento has been so much fun. I'm pretty comfortable writing about California and Nevada, but I'm going to write a series (when I sell it!) set in Washington DC and Virginia, where I lived for 4 months in my early 20s, and am planning a research trip sometime next year.

allison said...

Five books in two years - and they must have been really good for such a quick sale. Did your editor ask for revisions on that first book? Just curious.

The first four books weren't very good! But each one was a learning experience, so when I was done with #5 I had a strong sense that This Was It. And yes, I had revisions on my first book. There were two major things my editor wanted: 1) More internalization and emotion for my heroine, Rowan Smith; 2) Reworking a scene near the end of the book (in the book, it takes place in a fallow strawberry field in Ventura County--I think! LOL.) Originally it was in a warehouse. Quinn Peterson died in the book they bought. He lived in the final version and became the hero of THE HUNT. The reason the scene didn't work was that the FBI was caught unawares earlier in the book, and my editor felt they wouldn't walk into a second trap. She was right--and when I rewrote the scene it worked so much better.

I love Dianna Love Snell. She's brilliant! And now I owe her a drink . . . ;)

allison said...

Especially with all the chats, blogging, guest appearances, business duties, and all the other minutiae that goes with any job, it amazes me that any writer can find the time to actually write! Do you actually get all of (the above) accomplished between, say, 8 am - 10:30 am? Or do you still find you need to dedicate more of your time to take care of business matters?

Here's the thing: when I'm REALLY into my book, when it's flowing so smoothly and I'm in the zone, I handle my email in 30 minutes, skip the blogs, and get back to the book. When I'm struggling, I tend to spend more time blog-hopping, so I have to go off-line or I'll continue to procrastinate because I'm frustrated. If I don't force myself to either leave the house with my laptop or stay off the internet, I can waste hours. And, sometimes late at night when I'm too tired to write, I'll surf.

Someone said I'm organized. I'M NOT ORGANIZED!!!! My office is a mess. I'm disciplined about my time, but that's it. And I don't sweat the small stuff. Dirty dishes? The kids can eat on paper plates or wash the dishes. Dinner? bribe my oldest to cook. Homework? I'll explain it, I won't do it for you, kid. :) it's YOUR homework, YOUR grade, not mine.

allison said...

Margie, I owe YOU a margarita. You went above and beyond in the PASIC class. I'm glad you liked KILLING FEAR. My agent said it was her favorite after my very first (THE PREY.) I told her it was because there were two sex scenes instead of one. LOL.

I posted in the class first because I value your opinion and wanted to prove to you I wasn't a complete idiot when it came to color coding (shiver cough) and because I hope writers learn that it NEVER GETS EASIER. I'd have participated more, but I got this book due . . . and I'm behind.

allison said...

Any tips for pushing through to the end of the first book?

First, just so you know, I've written since I was a little kid. My mom can attest to the fact that she found paper all over the house. My favorite day was back to school shopping because I got stacks of paper for my binder, and there's NOTHING like a fresh stack of paper and new pens to start a story . . . not that I finished any! LOL.

As far as finishing, you have to want it. For me, it was an internal switch. Fear is one of the biggest deterrents for everyone who wants to accomplish something. Fear of success as well as fear of failure. Fear that we're writing crap. Fear that we'll never sell. Fear that we'll change, or our husband will change, or that we'll short-change our kids. Women more than men, I think, have this mindset that they have to serve everyone before themselves. That our dreams are not as important as everyone else's dreams. That we don't "deserve" it, that we're selfish if we pursue our dreams, that we don't have the "right" to want something for ourselves. And then there are the unsupportive family members, the passive-aggressives who say they want us to be happy, but demean or belittle our writing or dreams in small, undefinable ways.

You have to get over all that. Commit to yourself that you are writing FOR YOURSELF. Success is when you type THE END. For those writing their first book, it's not selling or getting an agent or winning a contest, it's finishing. Then you go to the next step. Reward yourself for finishing. If there's something you want, whether it's a new pair of Coach shoes, or maybe a day at the spa, or a special dinner out, or a special dinner in with the KIDS out (if your husband was supportive and you want to reward him), then put that off until you finish. Set goals you can achieve.

Some people write fast, some slow. Some can only write on weekends, some can only write at night or the morning. You have to make sacrifices. I gave up television for three years. Now, I watch TV but very few shows, and I record them and save them up as rewards for finishing a project. I watched the second season of LOST in two weeks after finishing a book.

Have a routine. If it's getting up two hours early, commit to it. If you're more a night person, then go to bed two hours later, or give up the television. I wrote every night after the kids went to bed for 2-3 hours. Six days a week. My husband wasn't always happy, but I helped him in his career, I had no problem taking the time for my dream. Whatever you do, you have to stick with it. I'm with Stephen King on this: you need to write every day. Good habits take weeks to develop. But they're very easy to break. But only you know what you can do and when you can do it.

You need to want it and be willing to sacrifice it.
You need to quash the doubt demons.
You need to develop a routine.
You need to set goals that are achievable, but not too easy.

I'm sure Margie has some great advice on this as well.

Marin Thomas said...

Marilyn Baron reeled me in here today and I'm sure glad I stopped by. I'm always interested by other writer's routines and how they juggle writing and family.

Allison--I'm awed by your ability to do all that you do--write a series in a year and raise five kids? I imagine you sacrafice a lot of "me" time to get it all done. I too surf the web or do e-mail when I get frustrated with my book. One of these days I will force myself to fight through those blasted "blank pages". And what a clever idea to have an earthquake beneath a prison.

I wish you lots of luck in the Rita this year and best of luck with your new series!

Marin Thomas
A Cowboy's Promise (April 09)
Harlequin American Romance

Dianna Love said...

Hi gang -

I said Wed I wouldn't be out to visit again before next week due to a crammed schedule, but wanted to drop in to send an extra congrats to Allison on her RITA final (sent one Wed) and tell her she's in great company with the PTHT group. All very bright writers who are as determined as they are talented. (Dianna waving hi to all of you and our other GRW buds.)

Great covers on your new series, Allison!

Hi Berta! Another of my favorite authors. :)

Kathy - regarding published authors taking workshops - I try to find something different every year to take as a special treat to my muse, like Margie Lawson's Master class workshop in April that I'm attending (Hi Margie!). I personally feel it keeps you sharp to always look for ways to improve.

Hi Marin - bet your excited about your book coming out next week.

Okay group - I'm bugging out so I can get back to work. Have fun!

Marilyn Baron said...

Your advice about finishing the book is
wonderful. You should write a book about writing (You could give Stephen King a run for his money). And your sense of humor shows through.

You certainly have motivated me.

Marilyn Baron

Ginger said...

Allison, I truly enjoyed reading about your process and success. I have 3 young children and can relate the juggling act. Your response to Kelly about facing fears and overcoming them in order to allow yourself to focus on 'you' really hit home for me. I'm struggling with this right now.

Again, thank you for sharing. You have motivated and inspired me when I needed it. :)


Tami Brothers said...

This is so awesome!!! Thanks a ton, Allison, for joining us here at PFandHT. We Love having you here and I am definitely printing this post and ALL the comments. I thank you a ton for answering the questions above. Several were ones I had wanted to ask.

I totally admire your dedication to keeping on your schedule. I definitely need to step away from my internet connection to write. It's just too easy to hop on for a "second" when I'm stuck on a scene.... Thanks again for joining us today!!!

Tami Brothers

Anonymous said...

Allison ~~

You're always an inspiration to writers at all stages of their careers! Congrats on the RITA nod and I'll be crossing fingers and toes for you come July in DC. Gokd stars to PTHP for having such great guest bloggers - you guys rock!

Cheers ~~ Mary Buckham

Joanie said...

Allison, thanks so much for sharing your daily writing schedule. I was already a fan, but now you're my hero! It's great to hear that even with good to read a successful author say things that apply to my own life--that good intentions are great, but sometimes it takes things like deadlines to hold a writer's feet to the fire (or butt in the chair). I sent this link to another writer friend who shares this problem so she could read, too. Thank you!


Mary Marvella said...

Allison, I was impressed with your accomplishments before i read this interview but I'm more so now. I can wait for your visit to my group blog!

Your books all grab me in the first page and I'd love to be able to do that to my readers.

See you next month on the PFSW blog.

Kelly L Stone said...

Allison, I love your post and thanks for sharing about your schedule. I always enjoy hearing about how other writers get their work done and live their lives too. Our common ingredient seems to be coffee!! :-) You seem like such a wonderful, down to earth person. It's always great to hear from writers like you!

Best wishes,

Jill James said...

Allison, I finished Sudden Death late, late, late last night. All I can say is Wow! The characters were to die for and the twists and turns were more twisty than the San Joaquin River.

talia pente said...

Thanks for the insights, Allison! Looking forward to meeting you in NJ in October!


Walt Mussell said...

Brought here by Tami Brothers--


You being lost in Margie's class makes me feel better. It's my first ever on-line Margie experience and I am struggling to keep up.

Just wondering if your 13 years in the CA State Legislature gave you a multitude of resources for characters that you put in your books.

Walt Mussell

Jean said...

Allison - Major congrats on the RITA nod..I'll be cheering from home. And Starbucks is the place to work, for sure. I finished my book at Starbucks. I was there so often I knew their bank runs :) Ah, a new mystery.
Good luck with the new series!

Jean Willett

Anna Steffl said...

Wow, you're amazing on so many levels! Thanks for the motivation to put in a few more hours to get it done.

Maxine Davis said...

Allison, congratulations & good luck with the RITA. You must have an awesome amount of self-motivation. I think I will quit procrastinating and get with the program and write - oops, I mean I WILL quit procrastinating and write!

Can't wait to read more.

allison said...

Dianna, thanks for the well wishes and popping in out of a tight schedule--I know how that is!! and I'm sorry I missed your email. I had but it gets so much spam I never check it anymore :( . . . so make sure you have my new email ( . . . you figured that out, right? LOL.

And honestly, everyone, thanks so much for the kudos. I'm truly just like everyone else, I make mistakes, I procrastinate, I miss out on stuff. I had to go to the principal's office this morning because my kids are chronically late to school! (I really, really try to get them there on time!!! But at least twice a week we're 5-10 minutes late . . . ) And as Marin said, I do sacrifice a lot of stuff, but I love what I do. I love writing, I love going to my kids games, I love playing video games with them or reading at night. I hate cleaning, so I hired a housekeeper and when my husband complains that something isn't done, I ignore him or tell him to do it himself. He doesn't like it, but I really, really, really hate cleaning and can honestly say I have no time for it :)

But, seriously, I do have a hectic schedule and I know it's not forever. I don't plan to write three books every year for the rest of my life, but right now while I'm (relatively) young and have the energy I like being busy. When my three little ones are in middle and high school, I'll probably have to go to two books a year. But . . . I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Jill I'm so glad you liked the new book! I really thought it was the best I've ever done, but I don't like saying that out loud for fear of jinxing it. Yet when I was writing Fatal Secrets, all I could think of was "This isn't as good as Sudden Death, damn, what am I doing wrong? I thought I got the hang of this writing thing . . . " LOL. truly, though, some books just come together better than--but it's never "easy!"

Mary, it's true: the first couple pages are so important. Not just for unpublished authors trying to sell, but published authors trying to keep and build their audience. The reading public has so many distractions, you need to jump quickly into the story and save the backstory for key moments. Not always easy, but . . . we try, don't we?

Donnell said...

Why am I perpetually late for everything! Congratulations Allison on your Rita nomination. I will be in Washington, cheering you on! I cannot wait to read Sudden Death. Debbie, thanks for hosting such a great blog!

Ana Aragón said...

Hi, Allison,

Thanks for stopping by...I love trilogies, especially the way you described your books - by taking a secondary character and building a subsequent book around that character. If I like the current book, I'll always go back and purchase the previous books.

A terms of sales, do you see an upswing in sales of previous books when a new one comes out?


allison said...

A terms of sales, do you see an upswing in sales of previous books when a new one comes out?

For the most part, yes. This is largely because my publisher keeps my backlist available and most bookstores carry at least one copy of each of my previous titles. I've heard from other authors that this often doesn't happen. It's hard to track, though, because royalty statements are for six month blocks, and it doesn't say which month the titles sold. I think publishers have this information--or they can get it--and they often reprint or make backlist titles available or part of a special deal.

Kelly Lee said...

Wow. Thanks so much for your response. I printed it, matted it on pretty blue paper and hung it on my bulletin board. Now I am going to work on my Maggie entry and spend some of this rainy day writing.
Thanks again!