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Anne R. Allen, A Writers’ BFF

From the BookShelf Writers

The BookShelf Writers consist of four Estero Bay women who have been writing and critiquing together for over five years. For more samples of their work, please visit www.the bookshelfwriters.com

Each issue, this column will feature one of the BookShelf Writers: Debbie Black, Catherine “Kiki” Kornreich, Judy Salamacha and Susan Vasquez.

December 2, 2021

Thinking about writing a novel? Stuck on a draft in-progress? Need to market your published book? Los Osos award-winning author/blogger Anne R. Allen makes housecalls.

Before it shuttered in 2008, Allen advised writers in a column published by a Toronto-based magazine. With content ready for consumption, she asked fellow-author/friend Catherine Ryan Hyde what to do with her pearls of writer-wisdom.
“Catherine suggested I start one of those newfangled “blog” things,” Allen said. And so, it was her weekly blog emerged as “Anne R. Allen with Ruth Harris…writing about writing. Mostly.” (www.annerallen.com).

“At first, the blog drew a modest audience until I landed a guest spot published on then-agent Nathan Bransford’s popular blog,” Allen explains. “Today the blog has an Alexa rating of about 89K. This means it’s in the top 100K websites in the world. Not just blogs, but websites, so that’s a big deal. It’s in the top 20K in the U.S. We average about 50K readers per week from almost every country in the world.”

She had to learn a lot about SEO (search engine optimization). “Now our blog dominates the Google search page in a number of categories, especially ‘publishing scams.’” And her book on blogging, “The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors,” was recommended by Book Authority (www.bookauthority.org) in “Best 100 SEO Books of All Time.”

Allen and Hyde met and became friends at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. They would ultimately write a book together, “How to be a Writer in the E-Age.” And Allen would also join Hyde as a past recipient of the Central Coast Writers Conference Lillian Dean Inspiration Award for her blog’s support for fellow writers and her prolific publishing career in diversified genres.
Allen always knew she wanted to be a writer – maybe influenced by her father, a Yale classics professor. By high school she was already published in literary magazines. However, she got the theater bug when she wrote and starred in her senior class play. She became totally hooked in theater at Bryn Mawr College and headed for California after graduation. Instantly consumed with directing and teaching acting, she spent most of the 1980s as artistic director of the Patio Playhouse of Escondido.

“But writing still called to me, so in 1987 I moved to Los Osos and started writing my big book about women of the Baby Boomer generation, ‘The Lady of the Lakewood Diner.’” She survived working at “…a bunch of bookstores, retail jobs and free-lanced writing for local papers and magazines.”

She says she’ll always be grateful to the late Steve Moss, editor of New Times, for trying out innovative ideas. For 30 consecutive weeks, the newspapers’ readers enjoyed her serialized mystery novel “Coming Up for Air.” She’d found her voice and preferred genre.

Allen admits, “It was not all perfect. I bloodied my knuckles on publishing industry doors starting in the late 90s. I had three finished novels under my belt before I finally had a book accepted in 2003. “Food of Love” was a comic thriller.”
The publisher was based in the UK and invited her to England to promote the book. She leaped at the opportunity and rented her Los Osos home.

“But things were not exactly as I’d expected. It turned out the company primarily published erotica and my room was a corner of a warehouse surrounded by pallets of porn.” The silver lining, “I lived in a Victorian-era building on the banks of the River Trent, two blocks from where George Elliot wrote ‘The Mill on the Floss’ – and not far from Sherwood Forest, of Robin Hood fame. The rest of the inhabitants were all men. Most were very kind, and wildly entertaining. I had lots of material for my next book, a mystery, ‘Sherwood, Ltd.’”

Her newest mystery “Catfishing in America” comes out fall, 2022. Set in Morro Bay, it’s number-8 in her Camilla Randall series. Her blog is available now at www.annerallen.com. Expect a new topic each Sunday — archives offer past advice. Her books? Ask Volumes of Pleasure in Los Osos or Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay.

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