Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Well, Halloween is almost here, and before we know it we'll be stuffing ourselves with turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, among many other delectable treats, I'm sure. Then, if you're like me, as I sit with my family sharing the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, the realization will hit me (like it always does) that Christmas is ONLY four weeks away...

If you're an author, you're probably always looking for places to market your books. For me, I'm lucky enough to have chosen a popular genre to write in and the first three books in my YA Fantasy Series are showing to be very marketable. Over the summer there are fairs, summer parties, and many other places that I can market to, and believe me, I try to every chance I get. But in the fall, just like the changing seasons, I also change my marketing strategy.

With the beginning of fall comes the beginning of school, and one of my target markets is schools. What better time to create something to send to a school than the end of summer!

I use Adobe Photoshop for almost all of my marketing ideas. It's a wonderful product to have to manipulate pictures or to add text on top of a picture. Be aware, however, there is a learning curve to this program.

When the marketing bug finally bit me correctly (it took a while, believe me!), one of the first things I did was to go to and get a quote for their bookmarks (two-sided) and business cards (also two-sided). They give you a template, which I open up in Adobe Photoshop, and I use the template to design bookmarks & business cards.

Another thing I've used Photoshop for is to create a postcard, which I then mail to local schools. To design my postcard, I create the blank document then inserted a photo of each of my book covers. With photoshop, you use "layers", which are just what they sound like. You can "layer" one photo on top of the other (or move them to where ever you want on the document) - You can also add text and color the background. When I get it just the way I want it, I save it as a pdf with all the individual layers, then "flatten it" (this combines all the layers into one layer, which means that you can no longer make any changes to the design) and save it again as a flattened pdf, then again as a .jpg. I then take this .jpg down to staples and have them print out whatever quanitity of postcards I'm looking for. For mine, they usually can do 4 postcards per sheet of card stock. Their prices are fairly reasonable and it makes it MUCH easier for me to just have them do it and I go pick them up later.

I then go online to google and search for "southeastern CT schools" and it gives me sites that have a list of schools in New London County. This can be a pain when you do it the first time, but once you have the list, put it into an excel sheet and save it... then you won't have to do it again. I then do a mail merge in Microsoft Word and print these addresses out on Avery sticky labels.

Another great thing about the beginning of the school year is all of the fall festivals that happen around New England. If you do a search on google for "New England festivals" or "Connecticut fall festivals" (or your own state), you'll likely get many hits for different fall events going on in your area. Some of these events can be pretty expensive to be a vendor at, but many of them (in our area at least) are reasonably priced. About a year and a half ago, Tom Santos (another author and good friend) and I bought two 10'x10' canopy tents and some card tables from Wal-Mart. The size of the both spaces at these festivals is usually the same size as our tent, so we'll either share one booth or get two booths and set up next to each other. It's a good idea to have other things to sell in your booth, because let's face it, some people just aren't interested in books. You want to make your booth appear more rich and inviting, so it's probably a good idea to bring in other items to sell, but make sure you check with the event coordinators first. Certain events that we do here don't want it to look like a flea market, so you have to be tactful with what you bring :) ... and if you're crafty, hand made things are perfect for these events!

Something else I've done is to have an 18" x 24" foamboard poster made at Staples from a picture (that I again created in Photoshop) of all three books and text at the bottom announcing that I'm the author, my email and my website info. Actually I have quite a few of these made, because I also take them to Borders Stores where I have an upcoming book signing so they can use it to advertise for me... but when I do these craft fairs, I'll usually hang one of the posters showing all three book covers on it directly in front of my books, then I'll have an easel out near the front of the booth where I hang another (different) one, advertising usually the cover of book three (Dragon's Tear) because it's the more eye-catching (I think) of the three.

Tom had us a couple of large banners made from and we hang them at the back of our tent from the top area of the tent. We also bring bookmarks, business cards, and I have summaries of each of my books as well as PLENTY of books! Especially at this time of year, more than any other time, people are looking for a sale, so I post a sign on the front of my table alerting readers/buyers to my special price for all three books.

Events like these are great because it's a BEAUTIFUL time of year in New England, but it also gets you "out there" to meet the people and to start getting that name/face/book recognition that every author needs to be successful. Because of our rapidly changing seasons here, our participation in outdoor events is nearly at an end, but that just means we need to change our focus to indoor events.

And as for writing book four, who has time for writing when all they can think about doing is market, market, market? :) When Christmas is done and we settle into the bitter cold of winter, THAT will be my time to write. It won't stop me from THINKING about selling, believe me, but hopefully I'll be able to slow myself down a bit to get that next book in my series done.

For now, I'm thankful for all that I've learned about this whole process we call "being an author". Who'da thunk it could be SO DAMN CHALLENGING! But you know what? I've said it before and I'll say it again… I wouldn't change it for anything. I love how much I've grown the past few years and how much I've learned about what really goes into being an author. Writing is definitely the easy part (well, when you can find the TIME to write, anyways!!). But the way I see it, whether you're self-published or traditionally published, if you want your books and your name to become known, YOU will HAVE to do the work to get them out there! Unless you're someone like Stephen King or JK Rowling of course, which many, many of us are NOT…

So, what are you waiting for! Start Googling!

Plug away, my friends, and know that someday all your hard work, time, blood, sweat and tears WILL pay off!!

Happy reading, writing, AND fall craft-fairing!

MJ Allaire

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big E Book Sales!!

I recently had the honor and opportunity to spend three wonderful days in Springfield Massachusetts at the Big E the weekend of 9/19-9/21/08 and all I can say is what an absolute, totally WHIRLWIND weekend it was!! I'm still flying from it and am sure I will be for a while. I talked to so many people (readers, parents, teachers, etc), sold SO many books (although I did come home with some of each, which is a good thing because I've got some events coming up in the next few weeks that I'll need books for ... but the whole Big E event was just a wonderful experience!

My son was there with me part of that weekend, helping to move books etc as I needed to (THANK YOU, MIC!!!), and as we were heading out to the car at the end of my third day there, I looked at him and said, "I feel like I'm leaving my kids behind". He looked at me kind of funny and I explained that after selling as many books as I did, talking to teachers and librarians and parents about promoting reading, visiting schools, etc etc etc, and spending nearly 12 hours every day for THREE days straight just trying to make a difference..... I felt like I was leaving something really important behind (and if you think about it, I really was). Honestly I feel like my total experience at the Big E was one of THE most rewarding and accomplished things I've done since I started writing!!! And what's even cooler than that is even after three 12-hour days of go go go, talk talk talk, sell sell sell, I didn't want to leave. I wanted to go right back in there and just keep doing it!!! It's exhausting and very overwhelming at times, but damn, I just didn't want to leave!!!!

Debbie and Mike Kilday were two of our staple contributors & organizers of this year's event, and I want to just send a MUCH deserved shout-out to them both!!!! Debbie has been there every day since the beginning of the Big E and WILL be there every day until it's done, and her husband Mike has been there almost every day. After dealing with arranging books, logging the sales, etc during the day, they then go home and tally up all the sales from the day. Debbie is our full time cashier, which was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!! I told her (and Mike) over and over again that the booth is BEAUTIFUL this year and having HER for the full-time cashier really makes it easier for the featured authors to talk to the public, make the sale, and move on to the next reader without having to worry about dealing with the $$.

At the halfway point for the Big E (around day 8), the book sales in our booth had surpassed how much we made last year total!!! Our readers ROCK!!!! I worked with Doreen Tango Hampton and Elaine Alexander on Saturday and we stayed very busy nearly all day. I worked again with Doreen on Sunday and we had an absolutely WONDERFUL time working together sharing many laughs, ideas, and just having a great time together.... thank you ladies!!!

We had a near record-breaking number of people who came to the Big E on Saturday, 9/20 - the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, it wasn't too hot .. it was just a GREAT day!!!

As it turns out, I had a record-breaking weekend for my OWN sales as well! According to what I was able to keep track of (and I'm sure it was actually more but I'm not sure how much), I believe I sold 250 books between this weekend and the sales from books last week that were in the booth before I got there!!!


I had new readers who bought the set of three books in my series as well as readers who were looking just for book three, Dragon's Tear. I had anywhere from 8-year olds to retired grandparents buying books ... and all I can say is thank you to my readers, the parents, teachers, librarians, etc that I talked to this weekend!!! You guys ALL made my weekend one of the most memorable experiences of my life!!!

As I look back, all I can think of is what an experience it was!! I'm still flying after talking to a woman who said that the books are very hot in her school right now - (she was actually very surprised when she realized I was the author lol.) I asked her where her school was and she said ALBANY, NEW YORK!!!! I told her that I've never been there and she said, "Well, your books are there and the kids LOVE them.".....

WoooooooooooooooooooooHooooooooooooooooooo!!!! And to quote my good friend C.L. Freire.....


A funny thing from this weekend .. I spoke to a woman and her husband yesterday who said their daughter was really disappointed that she couldn't be there to meet me, but she wanted to buy my books for her. I asked her how her daughter knew me or heard of me and she said she works at BORDERS IN SIMSBURY, CT (which I've been to about 4-5 times doing book signings LOL) and she's been wanting to meet me but always has to work or something else gets in the way ... so they bought her a set and I signed them for her ...


At 6 pm on 9/21 it was the end of mine and Doreen's shifts and two new authors came in to be the featured authors. I decided to sign more books to leave since they'd been such a hit, and I was standing in the back of the booth. As I looked around every so often, I would notice someone looking at my books on the shelf and of course the marketing/selling side of me MADE me go talk to them (LOL) to let them know I was the author and which was book 1, book 2, etc. I was thrilled when I actually sold a copy of book 1 (Dragon's Blood) to one lady when she saw her 10-year old wanted it and then she said she would get the other two from me but had to wait for him to wander off to the lego place before she could. I told her if she didn't get the chance, here is my business card with my info on it and she can always call/email me and I'd be happy to sign them and mail them directly to her. Now that I think about it, I did that a LOT while I was up there ... :)

If you look in my pictures here on MySpace (, I created a Big E 2008 photo album where I've put some pictures from yesterday when it finally slowed down for five minutes. My books were on the top of the brown bookshelf as soon as you walk into the booth. Indiana Jones was COMPLETELY made out of legos .. and I just had to get a picture of him. He was really amazing!!! I can't imagine how much time and legos it took to make him!!!! Kudos go out to the lego builders, too!!!

Well, the weekend is gone and today I have to go back to work. I just wanted to share my Big E experiences with you and tell you that if you're an author out there struggling to get your books out there, you CAN make a difference and it CAN be done!!!! Do everything you can to get your name out there!! If you'd like info about our CAPA group, visit the CAPA website at or email me at and I'll be happy to share anything I know. My next blog will have some info in it about what I do to get my books "out there"... so stay tuned for that!!
I actually got to go back to the Big E one more day .. 9/27/08 .. and managed to sell another 93+ books!!! So that brings my total to close to 400 books sold over a 17 day period (I was only there 4 of those days) and I believe I'm going to end up being THE TOP SELLER for the duration of the Big E!! If I didn't make the top seller, I will be very surprised ... and am sure I made the top three. What a wonderful feeling it is, to finally see the books that I've put my heart, soul and years of my life into finally getting "out there"!!! Mega thank you's go to those of you who took the time to stop and talk to me, and of course to those of you who actually bought one or more of the books!!! THANK YOU!!!

Also, infinite kudos to Debbie & Mike Kilday, the ENTIRE Capa BIG E Committee, and all those wonderful Connecticut Authors who are participating in the EXCELLENT and HUGELY SUCCESSFUL event this year!!!

Today is the first day of fall, so get out there and enjoy the cooler weather, make sure you ALWAYS have a book with you, and as always,

Hugs from me to all of you,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Support CT Authors at the Big E!!!

Hi everyone!

I've been incredibly busy the past few months and decided now was the time to update you on a few things happening in my life...

First of all, if you are anywhere near the BIG E in New England make sure you stop by the CT Building and check out the CAPA (Connecticut Authors and Publishers) Bookstore! This year there are over 100 titles in the bookstore from various genres, written exclusively by Connecticut authors! For more information about CAPA, visit The Big E runs for 17 days and this year the dates are Sept 12th - Sept 28th, so the clock's-a-tickin'!! If you'd like more information, check out their website at

If you love to read or know someone who does, an autographed book signed by the author makes a GREAT gift! You can't tell me that a book lover wouldn't just be thrilled to get a book signed by the author! In some cases, someone who DOESN'T like to read becomes a reader because they were given an autographed copy!

I will be one of the featured authors this coming weekend with all three of my books, so please, if you're anywhere in the area, come out and support not just myself but the many wonderful and talented Connecticut authors!

Here's my schedule for this weekend:

Friday 9/19 - 10am-9pm
Saturday 9/20 - 10am-9pm
Sunday 9/21 - 10am-6pm

You can't miss the booth - as you go into the CT building from the front, it's on the right hand side!

In other news, I'm not working on book 4 yet (*cringe* .. I know .. I'm hearing complaints all the time coming from the various peanut galleries in my life lol), but I will start to work on it soon, I promise. Over the past few months, my oldest son joined the Navy last year so he's out of the nest, but my two younger children who still live with me went to Italy this summer to visit their father (this was a major event for me as they've never flown anywhere without me, not to mention INTERNATIONALLY!!). I've recently changed jobs and went from working Mon-Fri from 8a-4p to working Sun-Thurs from 12p-9p, so I'm adjusting to a new job AND a new shift.

As a side note, I must say that I really like working swing shift because I am NOT a morning person .. I love sleeping in late and getting home at night when the world is much quieter, the house is much quieter (it won't be long before I start writing during those quiet hours).

Another development over the summer (just a few weeks ago, as a matter of fact) is that my good friend Angelina, whom I've known for almost 20 years, got married! This was a milestone for her and I couldn't be happier for her, her three girls, and her new husband Chris. She asked me to be her Matron of Honor, which I was (visit, go to pics, then view the album "Close to My Heart"), and for that honor, Angie, I will be forever grateful!!

As an author, one constant in my life among all these events is I'm constantly trying to find ways to market my books. As a result, I've been doing book signings at various Borders stores as well as participating in different events around the state (Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails; I Am Festival; Celts & Currachs to name a few). My life is very full and I feel like I'm always on the go, but I wouldn't change a thing ... well, maybe I would take more vacations where I would guiltlessly enjoy some much-needed down time, but I'm a working single mother and my kids are healthy... we have a roof over our heads and food in the house, so I won't push it...

When I start writing book four I'll update you again on how things are going... I'm sure I will start working on it in the next few months. I'm getting that writing itch!!

Household chores await me, so I'm gonna get moving. If you're anywhere near the Big E this weekend, please stop by the CAPA Bookstore and say hi! Hope to see you all there and as always,


Hugs, MJ

Monday, July 14, 2008

Discounted Price on YA Fantasy Books!

I'm a YA fantasy author and am currently in the middle of writing a series of books for young adults. My target audience is 8-15 year olds, but I've also had adults (anyone with an imagination, really) read and enjoy the books as well. If you'd like to see more info about me or my books, google MJ Allaire or visit the following websites, or

Do you have any teen readers in your household? Do they devour books almost as fast as you can buy them? Well, even though it's the middle of July, it won't be long before the holidays are here, and this year more than ever, the economy will force many of us to count pennies more than we ever have before. Doesn't it make sense to start thinking about that holiday shopping for those young readers as early as you can? Maybe by starting earlier, it won't be quite so painful when those pennies are stretched!

As a single mother of three, I'm already thinking about my holiday shopping. Because of this, and because I'm striving to make a difference to the young readers in the world, I've decided to offer my books at a discounted rate for a limited time!!

In celebration of the recent release of my latest book, "Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three", I'm now offering all three books at a price that is SLASHED from retail price! The books currently retail as follows:

Dragon's Blood: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book One ... $15.99
The Prisoner: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Two ......... $16.59
Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three .... $16.99

That's a total of $49.57, not including shipping!

For the rest of July, you can get your very own set of the first three books in my YA fantasy series for the low, affordable price of $35.00 (plus shipping)!!

That's NEARLY $15 OFF the retail price!! That's almost like buying two books at retail price and getting the third one free!

Shipping will be an additional $5.00, media mail. I will accept paypal (my paypal id is or a check, but your check must clear before I'll ship the books. I'll be happy to sign the books for you if you let me know who to sign them for.

If you'd like to see some of the comments left by readers, visit the books on Amazon and read for yourself! The Denicalis Dragon Chronicles will take you into an adventure filled with magic, dragons, and a quest to save an unfamiliar world from an evil sorcerer!

If you'd like to take advantage of this special offer, please contact me at! This special is only good for the month of July, so don't hesitate to contact me!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy reading and happy summer!

MJ Allaire

Monday, April 28, 2008

First Sale of Dragon's Tear!!!

Hi all,

Well, 4 days after "Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three" went live on amazon, I had my first sale!

I'm so thrilled it was purchased so fast .. I really think this book is going to be a great seller!!!
Woooooooooohoooooooooooo!!!!! Two copies of "Dragon's Blood: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book One" also sold over the weekend on Amazon, but it just wasn't as exciting as THE FIRST SALE of a newly released book!!

I'll keep you posted on things, just wanted to share!!

Hugs and happy reading!!!
MJ Allaire, YA Fantasy Author

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Fiasco with AuthorHouse...

(Note: This part was written on Sunday, 4/6/08)…

Well, as of today, Sunday 4/6/08, I’m STILL waiting for my galley to be done by AuthorHouse. It’s been almost 6 weeks now since I had my “design meeting” and I’ve sent them 2 emails in the past 10 days describing my dissatisfaction with their service, explaining that waiting 6 weeks for a galley is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE! I’m not exactly sure what’s taking them so long with this part of the production of my book, and to be frank, there is now a real possibility that this could interfere with some events I have planned for late April and May (namely a GRAND opening of a new Borders store in Southbury CT in which the DMM of Borders in CT invited ME to participate in)!!! I feel helplessly frustrated by this whole chain of events that I’m experiencing with AuthorHouse, and am SERIOUSLY considering either choosing another company to publish the remaining books in my series OR publishing them myself.

Today (Monday, 4/7) I called the support supervisor but got her voice mail. I left her a lengthy message telling her this is my 3rd book with their company and I’m very unhappy with the way things are going, and that I need them to finish the production process ASAP. I STILL have not received any phone calls or email from them letting me know the status of things, which is discouraging in itself. Tonight I logged into my author account and lo and behold, i see that there’s progress! But now I’m in a NEW pickle!

When I talked to the design rep during my design meeting back in Feb, I told her I wanted to keep the page count down below 318 pages, which will keep my cost the same as it is for my other 2 books. Based on that, I asked them to put the retail price of $16.99 on the back of the book. Now, the cover is done (and any other changes I want to make will cost me), but the page count is over 318 (I don’t know the exact page count, as the communication between them and me SUCKS!). What it comes down to is if I leave the retail price on the back cover as it is now, I will make NO money on the book. Sigh…

SOOOOO I sent an email to my new rep at AuthorHouse (my old rep was AWESOME but he recently left to pursue other ventures), asking him to please bring the page count down BELOW 318 pages. What worse is I believe they have sent my galley to be printed, and then it will be mailed to me. This all could have been avoided if they would have contacted me earlier today to let me know this is the number of pages your book will have and this will be your cost .. OR hey, here’s a new concept, just DO WHAT I SUGGESTED AT MY DESIGN MEETING, and drop the font size one point so that it will decrease the number of pages!!!!

Ayeeeeeeeeeeeeee, so needless to say, I’m NOT happy with this experience with AuthorHouse, except for the cover design. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my cover!

… I just want to have my book finished and IN MY HANDS!!!

On the brighter side of things, I finally FINALLY finished the painting for my boyfriend Ryan, and gave it to him (sort of) on Sunday, 4/6/08. It’s a picture of the Bridge of Flowers in Shellburne Falls, Massachusetts that we went to last summer, and it took me about 4 1/2 months AND at least 50 hours to complete. If you’d like to see the finished product, go to my photo albums in my MySpace profile ( and look for the album called “series of steps of the pic I’m painting for my beau”. If you feel up to it, please comment on any of the pictures and let me know what you think!

NOW I can start working on Book 4, Dragon’s Breath, and oh BOY what ideas I have in mind for this one (thanks to brainstorming with Ryan, especially this afternoon!)!!!! I’ll keep you posted on progress!!

Ok .. gonna run. I’ll definitely update this once AuthorHouse gets their head out of the sand! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!

Hugs and have a great week!! MJ

Thursday, March 20, 2008

MY Self-Publishing Challenges

Well I'm sitting here looking at what I believe to be the final product of the cover for my third book and decided to put down some of my thoughts...

I'm finding that although the writing process is quite a journey, the PRODUCTION process is an event to be remembered as well!

I publish through AuthorHouse. Once they receive my manuscript, they set an appt to have a design meeting, where I talk to someone about what I want in the galley (the guts of the book, like what type of picture I want behind the chapter headings, the font type, etc). Then we talk about the cover. They ask what I want on it ... I tell them key points of the story, and then they give it to their graphic artists to hopefully come up with what's in my imagination.


I told them for "Dragon's Tear", I want a dark body of water, like a lake, at night with a full moon rising in the sky and reflecting on the water. I want a large, white, ghostly dragon as the main picture, and a SAPPHIRE BLUE tear-shaped gem in place of the "o" in the title word "Dragon's". I think they did a good job with the water and the moon, but their first dragon was NOT white and was just plain UGLY!! (A picture of their first attempt is currently in my myspace account .. .. go into the "pics" link, then "author pics" to see all the covers of my books). Their gem is also kinda purpley, and don't get me wrong, I LOVE the color purple, but it's supposed to be stinking BLUE!! I guess the way it is now it's mostly blue and the purple highlights the cuts in the stone ....

The deal with AuthorHouse is they'll design a cover for you... if you don't like it, they'll take one more stab at it for free. BUT!!! If you DON'T like their second attempt, they will charge you for each future attempt. When I rejected the first cover, I knew that this next one had to count...

And I got lucky, because personally I LOVE it! I think out of all 3 covers (again, all pics are currently on myspace if you follow the path above), this one is definitely the BEST!!
So now, I'm waiting to sign off on the cover, and I also have to see (someday ... whistling impatiently here) the galley (guts) of the book. Once I see it, I’m really hoping the galley will be fine and I will sign off on that, too. From that point, I'll have to set the price for the book, and THEN... and THEN... in about 10 days, the book should go LIVE on the AuthorHouse website!!!

In the contract I have with them for this book, I will receive 30 free copies of the book from them. Once I approve the cover and galley, I'm going to go through a company called to get about 300 copies printed, so I'll have them onhand to sell at schools etc. Can the clock move ANY slower????

For me, the writing is a challenge at times (I suffer from writer's speedbumps just like every other writer I know), and the marketing is definitely challenging and never-ending, but one of the hardest yet most satisfying parts of the production process is the time in between approving the cover & galley and finally getting that VERY FIRST book in my hands. It seems to take decades but in actuality is really only a matter of weeks. And it's not like I don't have a bazillion other things on my plate to keep me busy, but it is what it is. I know I have fans out there who are just as anxious to get a copy of the book as I am, although their reason is slightly different from mine... and I'm learning that one of the most satisfying feelings is being able to give them what they want...

Can someone move the hands on the clock forward about 300 rotations, please?

Anxiously awaiting the next step,
YA Fantasy Author

Sunday, March 16, 2008

LIVE interview for YA Fantasy Author MJ Allaire!

Hi all!!

Friday night, 3/14/08, I had the opportunity to be interviewed LIVE by a group of wonderful people who put on a local cable show every two weeks called Planet Access. I worked a full day at my "day job", then drove just over an hour to get to this place (for the record, I didn’t get home till midnight!!!).

From the moment I got there I was VERY comfortable talking to Catherine, one of the hosts of the show, and then Matt, the other host, showed up and I was just as comfortable talking to him as well. I had a GREAT time while I was there and really enjoyed talking to them. As soon as they edit the interview and post it on YouTube, I’ll post the link on here for any of you who want to take a gander.

The BAD news about Friday night is that, while I was there, I lost my wallet. I’m pretty sure I lost it in the studio and by the time I realized it and got back there to see if anyone was there, they had closed up shop for the night. I’m hoping that someone tucked it away for safe keeping and I’ll find out maybe on Monday or Tuesday that they have it. I called the studio and left a voice mail on Friday eve about my predicament and one of the guys called me back Saturday morning and said that he couldn’t see it. But because it was the weekend I’m hoping that someone has it and they are just unreachable until tomorrow. What a pain in the butt! It had all my credit cards in it (for 4 separate accounts, which is another story), my license (of course), my medical card, gift cards to home depot AND walmart (OH, DISCORDIA!!) and about $100 in cash, among other things that I’m sure I’ll remember over the next few days ..... Ayeeeeeee!!!
Anyway, below is what Matt posted on their blog this morning ( and below that is what I posted as a comment... Enjoy!

MJ Allaire, author of the Denicalis Dragon Chronicles, visits our show!

Yes, on Friday March 15th (Einstein’s Birthday!), we had writer MJ Allaire as a guest on our show. She is the writer of Dragon’s Blood and The Prisoner, the first two books in her Denicalis Dragon Chronicles. We talked about the book series which is a fantasy series directed at 8-15 year olds. Of course, there are no age limits to the books as we had much fun reading them. :)
We also discussed self publishing. MJ had some great insight into the process. She talked about her situation and the freedom self publishing gave her. It is hard work promoting a book on your own, but MJ has come a far way in getting her series out there.

Although I stumbled quite a bit, and we had our usual technical difficulties (LOL) we all had a good time. The Record Journal even stopped by and got photos for an article they did on us! Clips of the show will be up as soon as we get them edited.

Thank you again MJ for stopping by and making for a great evening. If any of our viewers are interested in learning more about MJ and her books (including how to purchase them), please check out:

Your Host,Matt

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Hi Matt! I just wanted to thank you, Catherine, and the entire crew for bringing me on your show Friday night and giving me the opportunity to talk about my writing, my experiences, and most of all, my books. My books began as a single book, and since I began writing in 2005, it’s been QUITE a journey! In my heart I believe my books CAN make a difference for young adults and their joy of reading, because I’m providing them with believable characters, mystery, adventure... and if you like magic and dragons, that too!

Currently I have 2 books physically out in the series, "Dragon’s Blood" and "The Prisoner". Book 3 in the series, "Dragon’s Tear" is due out in April. I’m hoping to have book 4, "Dragon’s Breath" out by Thanksgiving/Christmas this year and book 5 (still unnamed) out by next summer. Right now plans are to have 5 books total in the series, but since I write a paragraph at a time, there are no guarantees as to how side-tracked I might get between here and there!
I had a BLAST while I was there... you guys were a bundle of fun and I would not hesitate to come back if I happened to be invited ;)

If anyone has any questions about my books, my writing, or would like to get a personally signed copy of one of my books, please don’t hesitate to contact me at! I’d LOVE to come visit schools to talk to kids, or go to libraries to talk to anyone interested in reading or the writing process!

Thank you again, and I’ll let you know when "Dragon’s Tear" is available!
Happy reading!MJ
As a side note, I went last week and had a mammogram and ultrasound and they found absolutely NOTHING wrong, so that's a biiiiiiiig weight off my shoulders!!!! Now if I could just find my wallet ......

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Disturbing News

Hi all,
Well, I went to the doctor for my yearly girly exam, not expecting very much because I've done them faithfully like a good girl, but it turns out I received some disturbing news... the doctor felt a lump in one of my breasts. So now on top of everything else I have going on in my life (raising teenagers on my own, working a fulltime job, promoting the 3 books I have published in my series and trying to start the 4th), I now have to make some room on my ever-shrinking plate for this and everything it entails...

The first thing I thought of is my kids and that I don't want them to have to finish growing up without a mother (they're 18 1/2, almost 17 and 14 1/2), especially since they've been with me almost their entire lives (their father is in the Navy and was never really around much because of his job, and now that we're divorced, it's much less).

I know the discovery of a lump doesn't mean that I have breast cancer, but of course when you find out something like this, the first thing most people do is think the worst, and I'm no exception. When the news really sank in, my thoughts began to spin wildly and probably irrationally.. I'm afraid of what this whole thing might mean, and that i might have to leave my kids before I'm ready (but then again, are we ever ready?). I've only been writing for a few years, and I love knowing that children are really enjoying my series and are waiting anxiously for the next book to come out. I have dreams that I want to live still, but I'm afraid that now they will just slip away...

I want to take my kids on a trip to Hawaii (which probably won't be until they're adults, but that's ok because they'll remember it better).. to show them where they were born, and the island (Oahu) that we lived on for 10 years before we moved to Connecticut...
I've never been on a cruise, and desperately want to go on that cruise to Alaska I've been talking about going on to see the beautiful scenery and finally get up close and almost personal with grizzly bears (my favorite animal)...

And I want to finish my series, to finish what I've started, and if this goes as well as I'm thinking it will, I have more books that I want to write! I want more than anything to continue making a difference in kid's lives...

And I'm terrified of not knowing what to expect and what this could mean ...
First I have to go get a mammogram and an ultrasound, which will tell us if there needs to be surgery and other steps to the process that I don't even want to think about yet ... but for now my mind and my heart are overwhelmed with it all...

I don't have breast cancer in my family and I DO NOT want to be the one to start the trend ...

An important thing I learned today is this... All it takes is a simple second of your life to help you to realize how truly mortal you are...

Enjoy every day, don't take anything for granted, and make sure you tell those special people in your lives how very much you love and cherish them EVERY day!

I'll update you as I find out more information about where this fork in my path of life is taking me...

Scared but willing to fight hugs, MJ

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing Thoughts

I'm a member of a yahoo Fantasy Writing Group, and below is one of the responses by one of the group members, Christopher Rivan. He was responding to another post during a discussion of traditional publishing vs self-publishing. You might want to grab a cup of coffee before you sit down to read this... although it's a little long, it's very enlightening and well worth the read! Enjoy!

A publisher is going to accept and print what he thinks he can get someone to buy. You're right about that. What you're missing is what it MEANS.

We've all read, or even written, the dystopian drama about the future society where only the "right" sort of news makes it to press. Basically, that's precisely what publishers today do. If your book doesn't fit into some narrow little mold they think they know about the consumer, then they kick it back to you.

We're all getting the pablum writing that the big publishing houses think we want to read. I'll bet Baen rejected ten books TODAY that would make it on your "read until it falls apart" list. You will NEVER see them. I find that a lot more saddening than personally getting a rejection letter, because I really don't CARE if someone likes or hates my writing. (You pump out 75,000 words a month and you soon stop getting overly attached to your stuff.)

I point out JK Rowling's "paltry" nine rejection letters because I think we can agree that Harry Potter was the most groundbreaking and effective piece of fantasy fiction published in the last decade. Certainly it was a commercial success; Rowling is the first billionaire in HISTORY made purely through book sales.

Yet some dumb-ass editors thought THEY knew better than anyone else. Some utter buffoons sat there on their high horses and rejected her. A few of them even took the time to write scathing letters of rejection to her. I hope they get a paper cut in a really unfortunate location every day for the rest of their damn careers for that. You lose credibility when you complain about not having the time to read all the manuscripts you're sent every day, but then you take an hour and a half to write a letter whose only purpose is to make someone feel bad.

I think you missed my point about Dan Brown and Kevin Anderson. My point was simply this: it irks me to be told by someone that I don't pay the proper attention to details in my query letter, when the same industry allows such colossal blundering from their "established" writers simply because they are established. Writing a bad book is one thing, screwing up major details and releasing press notices that are complete fabrications is something else, something the publishing industry as a whole refuses to accept responsibility for.

They make YOU, the person that spent most of your life working on this piece, jump through hoops, beg, plead, and cry, and when they finally deign to accept your work they pay you PENNIES on the dollar. Why? Two reasons:

1) The publishing industry is NOTORIOUS for being inefficient. Books are destroyed at EVERY bookseller in the THOUSANDS every week. Talk to the employees at the local Barnes and Noble sometimes. At least one day per week they destroy books. What's worse is that on the next shipment there will be another case of the same damn titles!

The publishing industry has massive overhead in storage and copyediting. These things cost money, and like any industry, the publisher passes the costs in two directions: to the reader and two the writer. (When paperbacks were first printed, by the way, they had an estimated lifetime of twenty-three years. Now, with all our advanced technology, new glues, and fibers, that lifetime has been cut to FIVE years. Think about WHY the publisher might want to sell you a book that falls apart in months. Hardcover books published in 1650 are still in libraries, yet my frickin' copy of Terry Pratchett's "The Wintersmith" is already showing cracks in the binding and I got it for CHRISTMAS.)

and 2) It's always been done that way. Some shmucks are so happy to see their name in print that they'll tolerate being paid like they work at McDonalds. I'm not terribly mercenary, BUT, if I write it, then I need to get paid for it. No editor will EVER spend more time working on my writing than I have.

The problems with self-publishing are NOT in the costs; you'll easily make more money per book through a vanity publisher than through the most generous traditional house. The problems lie in DISTRIBUTION and MARKETING. Because you're self-publishing, YOU have to get on the phone and talk to the agents at the commercial buying houses and booksellers. YOU have to talk people into SELLING your book.

Do the math, if you spend six months collecting rejection slips, you still haven't gotten paid-- and no one has read your book. If you self-published and spent the same six months marketing your fiction and just TWO booksellers picked it up, you're going to get a check. Probably not a very large one, but at least you're making SOMETHING besides heartbreak.

Now, I'll freely admit that most of my experience and opinion comes from non-fiction. I had a publisher seek me out for my NF. I was considering a vanity publisher at the time, and had the contract in front of me when I opened the email from the "traditional" publisher.

Let's see. THEY were going to take copyright and distribution rights away from me. They were going to pay me a whopping 7% (NF is about twice what Fiction royalties are.) per book, and they were going to lock me into a contract so even if I hated their guts, the rest of the four-book series had to be published through them until 2012. The book would be released in 18 months at an estimated 1% buyback (meaning I'd lose 1% of my royalties to buybacks.) THEY were going to assume all editing-by-proxy- - meaning that once I sent the book in, any changes they made were up to them, and I had no rights or legal say in the matter. (See Piers Anthony and "But What of Earth?" for an example of editor-by-proxy gone completely berserk.)

Vanity publisher: I paid them $550 for the initial printing of a 420 page book. POD, so no buybacks and no warehousing. The book was released eight weeks after I sent it in.

I market my book myself. I don't even BOTHER talking to booksellers or I could probably triple my royalties, but I don't need to. I sell primarily through my website, which links to the publisher's ordering form. In the first quarter I made $1700 profit after repaying myself the initial $550 outlay. I also make 50% on books sold through them, and 10% on books sold through other retailers. I also retain all copyrights and publication rights. I can call my publisher right now and tell them I've found a better deal somewhere else. That's MY book, and I get to decide what happens with it and where it goes.

If you're willing to do the legwork yourself then self-publishing is the way to go. If you're not, or you can't get your head round the idea, then go the traditional route. There's no shame in it, in fact there's a lot of pride, but you WILL be part of a process that flatly doesn't give a rat's ass about you or your work. There isn't a single person in a major publishing house that would piss on your manuscript if it were on fire. There are thousands piled up at the door. Yours is just one more, and frankly, if they can get out of reading it somehow, then they certainly will.

Brace yourself, I'm going to get political here. Traditional publishing reminds me of the media. A lot of people sit there in front of the boob tube and believe what the idjits on CNN tell them. They ignore spins and specific verbiage designed to get them to think a certain way (Ever wonder why our president is RARELY called anything but "Bush" while Hillary Clinton is ALWAYS referred to by title and her husband is ALWAYS called "Former President?" Why are the terrorists and murderers in Iraq placing IEDs in schoolyards called "insurgents? " Why is it that the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement to the press in 2002 demanding that major media outlets stop linking the words "Muslim" "Islamic" and "Terrorism" together in articles and stories?)

However, if you're willing to do the work yourself, to seek out first or even second source materials, you're connected right now to the largest repository of knowledge and information in mankind's HISTORY. In three minutes I can tell you whether the main headline on Yahoo! news is accurate or inaccurate, just by running some basic search routines and cross checking my sources.

Most people don't do it. They don't take the time to be informed. I don't care whether you're left or right as long as you make the choice for YOURSELF. Most people don't bother, and the media makes it for them.

Which brings me back to the publishing houses. Once you're in, its easy. After you finally scale the wall, the publisher does EVERYTHING for you: marketing, scheduling, printing, release, distribution, promotion, intermedia discussion, etc. You just sit there and collect your (paltry) checks.

You have to do all the work up front. Write the novel, proof the novel, and then submit, submit, submit. It may take years of heartbreak and rejection, but eventually you might break through to the promised land.

How about doing that work over a sustained period of time instead of up front? Put the same amount of effort into promoting a book you self-published that you would put into trying to get some jackass from Laser Media to read it. Work as hard at marketing your writing to the booksellers as you were willing to work to market it to an agent.

I'll bet you make more in the long run.

Christopher Rivan

Here are my thoughts on this:

I agree with Chris that something definitely needs to happen to get traditional publishers to understand that self-publishing is the wave of the future and it't NOT going to go away. I'm in the middle of getting my 3rd book published (it will be live in April) and I've had MANY doubts about my choice to self-publish... but the more I learn about the freedom I have by doing it myself and knowing that the decisions are MINE to make (and not someone else's to make for me), I'm finally happy that I decided to go with self-publishing. It all comes down to you have to believe in yourself, and don't be afraid of criticism because every time you hear something critical about your writing, it's an opportunity to grow.

Happy reading, writing, and self-publishing!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

News! News! News!

Well, I can FINALLY say I've done it .. as of January 21st, book 3 in my Denicalis Dragon Chronicles Series, "Dragon's Tear", is D-O-N-E!!! I'm EXTREMELY happy with the way the book turned out, and am anxious to start on book 4, "Dragon's Breath", but I'm gonna give myself a few weeks to work on painting (Ok Ok and I also need a mental chill pill to recover from the hustle-bustle of the holidays!!) I've been itching to paint a few pictures and figure I'd better do it now before I get started on the next book and then don't have time to paint .. or draw, for that matter.

So, here's the scoop. The book has been submitted to the publisher. The next step is for them to call me (in 1-2 weeks) and set up a design meeting. Once we set up the meeting (which will be from 2-4 weeks from THAT point), then I wait for that date to talk to them about what I want for the cover and galley. Once they play with what they think are my ideas and I approve them, the book should be live within a few weeks. I'm figuring by mid-April at the latest. Maybe earlier, but I don't want to jinx it, so shhhhhhhhh ... you didn't hear me say that!

Keep watching for updates on the progress (go to or If things go well, book 4 will be available around Thanksgiving this year!

Until the next update, happy reading! And for those of us in New England, STAY WARM!

Hugs, MJ

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Year!! Ready to Read??

Well, I've got good news! I've finally finished with the first draft of Dragon’s Tear and now am in the process of reading through it a final time in an attempt to make it error free!!! I'm hoping to submit it to my publisher this coming Monday. Hopefully, things will move smoothly with the production process and it will be live by the end of March!

I love how Dragon’s Tear has turned out … I definitely think my writing is improving the further I get into the series!

This book is set up a lot like book two, The Prisoner, where there are chapters within sections. I’m planning on starting book four soon, probably by the end of January, in hopes of having it out for Thanksgiving this year!

The series is heating up as the children move farther east… will they succeed in finding the final amulet? They’ve found two but there’s still one missing. And if they find it, will they return it to the dragons? Before they get to that point, however, they must first face one of the two evils that lurk in the world of Euqinom!

On that note, enjoy your week and make sure you take the time to tell those close to you how much you love them… and of course, read read read!!

Happy reading and Happy New Year!


Another Happy Reader's Thoughts...

I received this from a reader named George, who lives in Meriden CT and found my books after an article was published in The Record Journal over the summer (2007)...


I have completed book one and am starting book two, The Prisoner. I am quite interested in the release date of book 3. When I finish each book I send it to a granddaughter in California.

Very entertaining and fun to read. Well done. I actually felt myself straining when the girls lost the ring and was quite relieved when they recovered it. I am definitely "in the story."

I hope your success with this series is beyond your dreams.


George B [Meriden, CT]

(I emailed George back and let him know that book 3 in the Denicalis Dragon Chronicles series ("Dragon's Tear")is expected to be released in the Spring (March/April) of 2008. Updates on this will be posted here and on my personal website,!)

Thank you, George, for your input on the series! I appreciate any and all feedback that I get, whether it's good or bad.

Keep on reading, because reading IS the doorway to the future!!

Regards, MJ

Comments from a Happy Young Reader!

I have this posted on my website ..

My name is Natalie B. and I am 10 years old. A week or two ago my neighbor Don L. told me that his friend published 2 books. He also said that I might like them. He had bought the first one already and let me borrow it. I loved it. Soon I got my own copies of both the books. I just finished The Prisoner this morning. (By the way I loved what you wrote at the beginning of the books!) Is Little Draco the dragon that Zacharus talked about in his story? Is the human prisoner Tonia, Micah, and Nicho's Dad? What about the beargon that "destroyed" Uncava? Is Muscala going to hurt the children?!?! I just hope that a few more of the questions are answered. I can't wait for the next book!

My response to Natalie:

Natalie, you are one of the reasons why I love writing .. I love making a difference to young people, especially in today's tough and fast paced world...

I'll get Book 3 in the Denicalis Dragon Chronicle series out there as soon as I can, but until then, make sure you keep on reading!!!



Greetings, fellow readers, writers and fans of literature! My name is MJ Allaire and I am a young adult fantasy author. I currently live in Southeastern Connecticut with two of my three children (my oldest son, Nick, has recently left the nest!), Mic & Toni. For the record, we also have 2 cats (Ragu and Fluffy [who we lovingly refer to as "the fluffinator" because she's just a sweet, rolly polly Maine Coon Cat]) and one dog (Rascal, but you don't want to know what we lovingly refer to him as, besides "Knucklehead"!)

I've lived in Connecticut now for 10+ years and love it! I'm originally from West Palm Beach, Florida and joined the Navy in 1985. I was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where I met and married a submariner. We ended up staying on the island of Oahu for 10 1/2 years before we finally got stationed in Washington, DC for 5 months, then we transferred to Groton, CT. I'm now happily divorced and trying to raise my children as best as I can, striving to provide them with a safe environment and the important tools they will need when they (finally) fly from the nest.

I've always loved books and reading but never really considered myself a writer. I grew up reading Nancy Drew, Stephen King, and one little book called "Frosty - A Racoon to Remember", which was my absolute favorite as a young girl.

I decided to write my first book, "Dragon's Blood: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book One" for my oldest son, Nick. I'll admit that when I first began writing, I had absolutely NO idea what I was getting myself into, but as I look back now, I can see that I've come a long way and learned a heck of alot! Being a writer is definitely a challenge, and there have been many, many days that I considered quitting, but I've never really considered myself a quitter. I also firmly believe in raising my children by example and I'm bound and determined to keep plugging away, no matter how discouraging it may seem!

I wrote and published "Dragon's Blood" and its sequel, "The Prisoner" in 10 months (each), but I've found that between raising three teenagers, marketing two books via book signings or appearances, playing volleyball when I can, working a full-time job (graveshift, no less, for almost a year, but thankfully I've been on days and back with the living for the past four months) and trying my best to maintain some form of sanity in our household, I don't have much time (or energy) to write. I've just finished working on Book 3 in the series, which is titled "Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three", and I'm expecting it to be live and available around the end of March, early April 2008!

If you want to find out more about me or my books, please visit my website at or my MySpace site at If you're a middle school teacher or someone who knows of a group of young adults who might enjoy having me come talk to them in New England, please contact me! I have found it's very fulfilling to talk to young adults and watch their faces light up as they tell me about the books they've wanted to write, are trying to write, or have read! Reading is so very important to everyone, but especially to our future generations.

Happy New Year to all, and read, read, READ!!!

Regards, MJ Allaire