Monday, April 14, 2014

I Need A Rolodex

Good morning. My last few weeks  have been just an ongoing bombardment of information overload. Between writing reports for committees at school (yeah, this whole "volunteer" thing is actually a full-time job), and writing more reports for a small business I'm trying to get off the ground (yeah, this whole "starving artist" thing can't be a full-time job anymore) and then research for the new book I'm working on (no rest for the wicked, up to 30k so far, and let me tell you how excited I am to create this character) I am sick of sitting at the computer.

And although I have spent nearly every waking hour on one computer or another, I haven't been able to check blogs or even write blog posts. I can't even tell you the last time I was on Twitter. (I guess that's how I managed to write 25k.) I said to myself, (last night as a matter of fact), I can't remember the last time I watched television. I'm actually in bed most nights by 8:30. And even then it's a struggle to keep my eyes open. (I get up most mornings around 5am. Even when I don't have to. And I know a lot of you do too.)

I could ramble on with the litany of how-busy-my-life-is-bullshit, but I won't bore you. Let's say I've just been flat-out 70. With the up-coming Easter break from school (12 days) I told Monster, "That's it! We're cleaning this house." Yes, I know, I threaten to clean at least once a week. It doesn't actually get done above once a month. But now I have time to do the "BIG" clean. Windows, walls, curtains, rip up the rest of the carpet in the kitchen, rearrange furniture, have a yard sale. Yeah, "BIG".

I looked my desk the other day. It's a nightmare. No. Really. I can't even begin to imagine cleaning it. I have notes, three levels deep. I have a dinner plate covering the little trash can on my desk, so I can open a folder for more flat surface. My research books are buried under more notes. My four tier shelf is now eight. I would take a picture and show you, but I would be utterly mortified if you saw the mess it truly is. Hey, out of chaos comes order. (I dream of an office "suite" with a nine foot long table to spread out on. And lots of drawers and a built-in bookcase.)

On my desk, at the base of my angel-reading-a-book statue, I have a stack of scrap paper that measures about two inches high. Passwords to all the sites I'm on, business cards, bookmarks with author information, web-site addresses, phone numbers.

I have said to myself over the last few years, I really should invest in a Rolodex. Spin the wheel, find what you want. I get giddy just thinking about what information I could keep in one. And it would help straighten out one little corner in my life. I had one in my hand at this wicked cool thrift shop I frequent; a flat box container, with a lid, with all the cards intact, practically brand new, that 1970's mustard color, for $3.00, and I put it down. It didn't spin. I don't know why, it has to spin.

(Yes, I'm sure there are devices or apps that keep that information for you, but that's way too technical for me. Like I said, I'm on information overload. I don't think my brain could handle learning one more thing.)

I like the idea of touching the thing itself, tactile, the spinning, the thick, hard, brown plastic base. Oh yes, I want an old one. Like Maxwell Smart had on his desk. Or Darren Stevens. (I like old things.) They served a purpose, were functional, and didn't fizzle out if you accidentally dropped it in water. Or lost all your data because the battery died. Or someone stole it. Back then you didn't have to worry about safe guarding devices because they were only dreams, or things that appeared on Star Trek. You just had to open the lid and spin the wheel. (Yes, I do realize that lugging this bad boy around everywhere would break your back, but I'm still old school, that I only do "business" from my desk in my office.

I miss this little baby too. Smith-Corona Electronic with self-correcting cartridges. I still have ink and correcting tape for it. I'd love to find another one. I lost my original in the move to NC. When I got it for my high school graduation present, that was the best thing I could have gotten. It served me very well for nearly 20 years. In college I upgraded to one of these.

I still have it. And all the disks. I wrote all my papers on this. And the typewriter. They have interchangeable ink cartridges. Groovy huh. That little time machine cost me $350 at the time. Computers were first coming out and they were $1500. I thought I was getting a steal.

And, I was just saying to my assistant in Gift Cards, how I hate the new pencils. They just don't have good lead anymore. Not like the old Ticonderoga's we used in grade school. (I do despise pencils for writing,
but with the numbers we use, we need pencils in the gift card office.)

My friend Nancy and I were talking about what kids today have and what we grew up with. We're about the same age. It's a wonder we survived into adult hood. Things were so much simpler back then. We didn't have it all in our "face" 24/7. Sure, it was bulky, and heavy, and somewhat less functional than it is now (I couldn't live without my pc), but it was somehow less hectic. There was more time to enjoy life, more time to just be. I think the "old things" remind me to do just that.

Here's a small list of things we came up with.

We didn't have Wii and Gameboy, we went "outside" to play. We came home when the streetlights came on.

We didn't have bicycle helmets or shin guards.

We had phones that hung on the kitchen wall with a tangled up cord that could stretch 20 ft.

We didn't have to buy water, it came out of the tap.

We had three television stations and PBS. (When I was a kid, our tv was black and white.)

We listened to a.m. radio.

We never wore sunscreen unless we were at the beach. It didn't have SPF.

Everybody could eat PB&J on white bread.

You needed a dime to make a phone call from a phone booth. You called the operator for information.(My family and I once had a phone that was three-party, and only had to dial out 5 numbers to reach the "village" where we lived.)

Only rich people had automatic dishwashers.

We wore cotton because polyester hadn't been invented.

Ah, the good old days.

Tell me --  what do you miss?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Finding Traction in Other Markets

Good Morning. I've been watching my sales figures since the day I first published (Sept. 28, 2011). I have spreadsheets galore, tracked sales numbers incessantly, checked my stats two, three, four times a day. Yes, I am somewhat OCD about this. (I wish I could say the same for housework, but that's another post.)

I found my footing at Amazon back in the hey-day when indie/self-published authors were given the same algorithms that every one else had. If more than 10 people bought your book on any given day, you shot up in the ranks, and if you made it into the top 100, you were SEEN and BOUGHT and all was glorious in your little world.

I'd also published on Smashwords, not wanting to limit myself to only Amazon. Once I figured out how to format properly, it was just a matter of uploading. However, back then, they weren't a major player. Smashwords was considered an upstart and would fail within the year. (HA!)

Then in February of 2013 all that changed. Amazon changed its algorithms, pushed the indies out and concentrated on the BIG 5 books. I had just released THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT and watched it go from #19 on its debut to #3,798 in a matter of days. I was crushed, floored, and had no idea why. Then I read a blog where an insider told us all that the Mighty Zon was pushing us indies out. We had done our duty to the megalith by giving them cheap books to fill the coffers of their e-readers thus giving them the monopoly on e-reading.

Okay. Well, it's business. People ranted and raved how unfair it all was, how the Zon was going to destroy publishing, destroy indies, destroy the universe. I got over it. It's business. Jeff can run his business any way he sees fit. He's a smart man, did what he had to do, and is now a multi-billionaire. Good for him I say. He had a clear vision of his company and knows how to make his machine work.

On the other hand, I am a smart woman. This new e-publishing thing has a long tail. We've all heard that at one time or another. What you publish today may not find readers for two years, or ten years. What you publish today is just the beginning of, hopefully, a long and fruitful career.

When Amazon changed its algorithms, I changed my tactics. I had also published on Smashwords and gotten into Barnes & Noble through them. However, I wanted more control over my books. (Not that Mark Coker isn't as brilliant as Jeff Bezos -- more so I think because Mark gives us more venues to publish with, more international stores, more of pretty much everything us indies need -- and if you're not publishing on Smashwords, well, you're losing out). However, I opted out of B&N through Smashwords and published through B&N PubIt!

Sometime late last year, PubIt! went through a restructuring and became Nook Press. Same store, only better. They built a model for uploading, with the added bonus of being able to correct mistakes in your book right there on the page -- instead of fixing the ms. uploading through various epub machines, and then reviewing everything all over again and waiting the required 48-72 hours for the book to publish. I just used this feature the other day when I found the last (I hope) mistake in the Captain's Coincidence. I went to the page, fixed the mistake, and voila, the book was reviewed in less than an hour and the new version uploaded. No fuss, no muss, and I sold a copy the same day.

Nook Press has also just expanded its market share and gone global. Not only are they selling in the UK, but now they have stores in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, and Belgium. (I've always wanted to go to Belgium.) The outlook for this expansion is phenomenal. I've been reading about Barnes and Noble's imminent demise for years, but this expansion shows they're not going anywhere.

In thinking about all this, and looking at my numbers for the last few months, I've found that I've sold just as many books on Nook, as I have on Amazon. (US only). On some days, quite a few more. I don't know if they have algorithms. I don't know if they feature new books on their website or flash "new releases" in front of your face. (I've never bothered to actually go to the Nook Store and look.) I don't really care. All I know is the margin between both stores is closing in. And that, my friends is the name of the game.

The way I look at it is, if I can't keep my traction at Amazon, then I need to find someplace else to get it. This is business. Kobo is going through another major restructuring with the takeover of Sony. (I am installed over there, but haven't published through them as yet.) Apple is great if you can get through the Mac hoops to publish. Smashwords is a great aggregator for other markets, (Apple itunes and Kobo, not to mention B&N, FlipKart, Oyster, and Scribd, and I think six more) and they have a nifty gadget on their dashboard that tells me how many times my 15% sneak peek has been downloaded.

Therefore, for me, Nook is the up and coming place to be. I remember the Barnes and Noble store at the mall when I was a kid. I'd go through the stacks, wishing and hoping someday I'd be published. Okay, fast forward 30 years, and there I am. Yes, I understand it's only virtual reality, but hey, if it pays my electric bill, I'll take it.

Tell me -- Do you publish through other companies or are you only at Amazon? And if you are, why? Do any of you keep track of your sales figures or do you just not care as long as the money flows in?

I have not been endorsed by any company. This is strictly business opinion/observation. .

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Am I Successful?

Good Morning. Ten years ago, I had the inkling of a story. Nine years ago, I started writing it down (pen and paper mind you.) Seven years ago I got my first computer. (Yes, only seven.) Five years ago, I finished writing my first book. Four years ago, I finished my second. Three years ago, I self-published my third book. Two weeks ago, I published my fourteenth.

(And yes, some of those books are novellas, some short stories, however, they are still mine, and were published by me. Written, formatted, and uploaded by me. I had help of course, by amazing critique partners, beta readers, and my fabulous cover designer.)

I'm a little stunned with that timeline. If you take out the short stuff, that's still six novels in three years. Two a year, with a couple of novellas thrown in for good measure. That's a lot. Well, for me anyway. I know a few writers who can bang out a novel in three months. (Personally, I think those people are aliens with super hand/mind/eye coordination, and a built in dictionary/thesaurus/encyclopedic brain.)

Having said all that, I have to wonder if I'm successful. I'm living the dream so many of us had. Read any interview with an author, and they always say, "I've been writing since I was a kid."

But what determines our success? Is it money? I've had good months, I've had not-so-good months.

Is it reviews? Some authors have thousands. I have several handfuls. Some fabulous, some not-so-much.

Is our success determined by how other people see us? I don't get out much, so my contact with the outside world is limited to mostly the Moms at Monster's school. Some of them are pretty impressed with my writing ability. Others, not-so-much (when you consider there are a couple of doctors, lawyers, a brain surgeon, an astro-phycisist.)

Is success determined by what we have? Cars, houses, vacations, shoes?

I can't go by what the outside world, or even other authors, think, do, have, or say. I am the only judge of my success. And I'd say I'm pretty damn successful. I'm doing what I want to do, living my own fantastic dream. Sure, I'm still struggling for footing in this ever changing publishing landscape, but for someone who's built some name recognition for herself, by herself, I'd say I'm doing okay.

But now what? What does the future hold? Yes, I will still write. I can't not write, it's like breathing for me. But there has to be more. The question is -- more of what? More money? More fame? More reviews? I don't know. What is it I'm missing, or THINK I'm missing? Or am I just delusional thinking there is MORE?

Do I continue to build my "platform"? Join other social media? Join writing groups? Find new followers, new readers, new ways to make myself known? Or do I keep on doing what I've been doing -- quiet promotion -- because it seems to work -- and if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Or do I take chances, step out of my comfort zone and find something else? I've been writing Regency for most of the last decade. I do have a contemporary romance out there too, and that has also been met with quiet success. Do I pursue that avenue as well, or just stick with what I know, and obviously love. Do I become the next Jane Austen? or the next Danielle Steele? Or both? Do I want to try for an agent now? Do I want to be a hybrid author?

Can I have it all? I don't know. Or, as I've been thinking lately, do I just leave it all, finish up this series of books and call it good? End on a high note. Walk away from writing as my work and get a job in the real world? Publish what I want in my own time as a hobby. This new publishing dynamic has a long tail, and as long as I don't un-publish, I'll still get paid for years to come. Instead of two novels a year, just one every two years or so.

Or do I measure my success by how I FEEL? If that's all it truly is, then by golly gumbo, I am at the top of the charts. I couldn't have asked for a better life. No, I don't have a new car, or groovy new shoes, but I can buy Monster what she wants for Christmas, and I can go to the beach this summer.

Tell me -- Are you successful? What determines your success?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quiet Promotion

Good morning. In the last few weeks, I have been crazy nuts trying to do several "big" projects at the same time, as well as keep up with the blogs, and writing. I guess I've been focused elsewhere because I forgot to mention that the next book in my Regency series -- THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE is about to be published. Oops. How could I have forgotten to mention that?

Well, it's kind of easy. See, I don't market, promote, do blog tours, or any of that stuff. Yes, some of you may think I'm stupid not to, but I don't think it gets me anywhere. For the last several years, I've held a strictly "quiet promotion" stance. I may Tweet once or twice, I post it once on my Anne Gallagher blog, and then let it go. I refuse to ram my book down your throat at every opportunity.

Now I've been blogging for four and a half years. (I actually did check this. It was a surprise to me it's been that long.) And in all this time blogging, I've seen all kinds of promotion -- blog tours, interviews, cover reveals, "splashes" (whatever those are), Twitter spamming, give-aways, you name it, it's been done. And what I've found, is that, the more I see the same book being promoted, the more it annoys me.

And if it annoys ME, then I'm sure it must annoy some of you as well. Which is why I don't do any of that. I hate to annoy people. Yes, I used to. Sort of. I'd mention the book more than once. Yes, I did do a couple of interviews. Once I even Tweet/spammed for a whole weekend. Did any of that work? No, not really. Which is why I don't do it anymore.

I will now share with you the two secrets I've learned to promotional success...Ready?

Secret #1) Word of Mouth. Oh yes, we all know it's no secret, but it's one of the best marketing/promotional tools in our arsenal. If two of your "fans/readers" tell two of their friends what a great book they've just read, they will tell two friends, and those readers will tell two friends. And so on and so forth. And it doesn't matter when they read the book, or when they tell their friends. This new e-publishing thing is all about the "long tail". We've heard that mentioned time and again. Ten years from now, if someone reads one of my books and tells their mother, aunt, bff, or sister-in-law, and they buy my book, it's a win.

And I'm going to tell you another secret that relates to the above -- if you write more than one book, and the reader likes it, they will usually always buy another one. If you write a series, they will most often read the whole thing. The first time this happened to me I was floored. I got a letter from a "fan" once, who told me she enjoyed one of my novellas so much, she bought the whole rest of my series in one buying session. (And this phenomena has happened again and again in the US. And now I've found it's global. It's happened in Germany, in New Zealand, France, and even in the UK.) I still can't believe it.

Secret #2) Write the next book. Yup. It's just that simple. I feel it would better serve my readers if I spent all my time writing and not bothering with promotion. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. There are several "big name" authors and guru-bloggers who say this as well. If you've written a compelling story, have a couple of decent reviews, then your job for that book is done. Just write the next one. Rinse, Repeat.

Yes, it really is just that simple.

Okay, so here's my one bit of promotion for THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE.

Decorated war hero, Captain Richard Gaines has given up his commission in the Royal Navy. He stalks the docks at night seeking relief from the nightmares of Trafalgar. One night, he happens upon a woman who captures his attention, and his heart. In a series of random coincidences, Richard is compelled toward Mrs. Wood, just as circumstantial evidence suggests that Mr. Wood may be a seditionist.

Returning to England after a decade away, Amanda Wood is on a mission to save herself and her daughter from the prison of her marriage. Meeting the Captain seems heaven sent when he reveals an acquaintance with her only friend and brings an invitation for a visit – and a chance to escape. Her joy is short-lived when her husband insists on going with her.

The situation takes a grievous turn when Amanda’s husband kidnaps their daughter. Richard must save her, but to do that he must engage the enemy at sea. And it appears Amanda’s husband may be a nefarious pirate. With limited armaments and a damaged vessel, Richard knows he has only one chance to rescue the little girl.

When the battle is over, to the victor, go the spoils. Yet, Richard must overcome his tormented past, in order to begin a future with the woman he loves. However, Amanda holds a secret that could destroy that very same future.

Release date -- March 15th. It's available for pre-order on Smashwords and itunes (so far). Look for it everywhere else on the 15th.

Tell me -- What do you do for promotion? Does it work? Do blog tours annoy you? What about cover reveals? Would you rather write the next book than promote?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sustaining your Soul

Good morning. Since I took the job at Monster's school, I've had the opportunity to meet lots of people. Most of them Moms. Some of them work, some of them don't. Lots of them volunteer at the school like I do. (There's lots of stuff to do.)

I've always worked. All my life. I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't. Writing is a job. So that's what I do now. I had an interesting question from one of the Moms last week. She asked, "What do you do when you're NOT writing."

I kind of laughed. "What do you mean? I clean my house." And you guys know what I'm talking about here.

She said, "No. Not like that. What do you do for fun?"

I said, "I write."

She said, "No, I mean, don't you do other stuff? Like scrap book, or bake cookies, or paint. Surely, you can't write all the time. Doesn't that get boring?"

How could I explain it to her. Even when I was working all those years, even when I worked 2 and 3 jobs at a time, I always wrote. (I have a cedar chest full of manuscripts -- all of them garbage, but mine nonetheless.)

I can't NOT write. I think if someone took away my keyboard I would die. (Yes, the same goes for pen and paper, chalk, crayon, pencil, hieroglyphics.) I cannot ever think of my life in any circumstance and not write. Sure, I may not have written every day when I was younger, sure, I have many many unfinished manuscripts, but I always wrote. It's not something I DO, but rather, it's part of WHO I am.

It sustains my soul.

I'm sure if I searched I could find oh-so-many-quotes on the subject with words to describe it like passion, fulfillment, joy. It completes me.

When I was younger I always maintained, that when a job stopped being fun, I would quit. No matter the pay, the hours, the benefits. And I did. If I can't have fun at work, then why bother. I'm not going to my grave like my forebears before me, working 40 hours a week at a job I despise just to put bread on the table and hope for two weeks off in the summer. Sure I made money, sometimes lots of money, but that's not what it's all about for me. I've also been poor as a church mouse and happier than I could ever be.

Now that I'm here, in this job as a writer/author/publisher, sure it gets to be trying at times. Sure, working through a block, or a formatting issue makes me want to scream sometimes, but I could never give it up. Never Never Never. Only when it stops being fun.

Writing sustains me. Without it, I wouldn't know who I am. And just for fun, I did another experiment. We know that I just finished writing the end on my latest novel. It's now with critters and readers and I just have to wait until it comes back until I can further it along. I officially sent it out on Monday the 17th. For the rest of that week, I cleaned my house. (Yes, it took that long.) Once that was finished, I looked around for something to do.

I thought about reading a book. (How long has it been since I read for pleasure and not critique?)

I thought about going shopping and picking out some new clothes. (My wardrobe is atrocious. I should be on that show What NOT to Wear.)

I thought about ripping the wallpaper down in my bathroom and painting.

I thought about rearranging the furniture again.

Guess what I did? Nothing. I watched the Downton Abbey marathon a few Sundays ago and that was pretty much it on my fun-scale. Monday morning I found myself back on the computer, scratching out an outline for another title.

Some people say I'm dedicated to my craft. Some people say I'm crazy. Some people say I'm boring because that's all I do is write.

I say I'm sustaining my soul.

Tell me -- Can you not write? Does it sustain you? Is there something else you'd rather be doing than writing? (And yeah, we all have dreams of winning the lottery and traveling the world, but after that? What then?)

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Word Counts and Time Limits

Good Morning. There are some people who say we must write every day. There are others who say write when the spirit strikes. Then there are those of us who write when we can.

Unless you're a million dollar author who employs outside help, or have no children, no friends, no life other than the one you imagine, writers have time limits on what they can and cannot do. Writing full time is a luxury. It will also kill you if you're not careful.

Numerous studies have shown that sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen for several hours a day, leads to eye strain, plantar fasciitis, obesity, poor blood circulation, shoulder and neck pain, and other various ailments. It has been suggested that we get up from our arses at least once an hour for at least ten minutes to improve the circulatory system.

I have maintained I'm a full-time writer. However, that's my job description for my IRS filing. I can't write 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I have a child, I have laundry, I have housework, I have a life. So, I need to be able to fit writing in AROUND those other things. And sometimes writing has to take a back seat to life. Other times it's just the opposite.

Since August 16, 2013, I have been writing my latest Regency. I finished it on February 14, 2014. That's 6 months. I bemoaned the writing process throughout because in my head I thought it should have been finished sooner. I wrote every day, I edited as I went, (because that's the way I write), I ignored Thanksgiving, Christmas, school vacation to write. I gave up on all good things to write. I pushed and pushed and pushed through to finish this story.

And you know up my LIFE, didn't help my word count. I still got stuck in places, I got blocked, I had research to figure out before I could finish. There's only so much writing one can do in a 24 hour period.

I decided to do an experiment. I kept track of my word count for the latter half of this book. The results were enlightening. I'm not a full-time writer as I so proudly claim. I'm a spastic-write-when-I-can-get-as-much-in-as-time-will-allow kind of writer. However, what I took away from this exercise is that the book still got written. I'm a little disappointed that it took so long (because I thought it should have only taken me 3 months), but it's done and I'm satisfied with the end result.

I'm going to share those counts with you so you can see that you don't have to feel guilty about finding time to fit in your writing.

Here is just a sampling of my word counts for my latest book. (Because if I shared it all with you we could be here until next year.)

Start  1.26.14

53,186  begin Sun 7:30 am
55,478  end 10:43 am          Note I took breaks
55,734  end 11:22 am          throughout the day
57,294  end 6:06 pm           all day = 4000 words

57,375  begin Mon 10:10      Note the decreased word count
57,025  end 2:00                  I obviously cut 300 words
57,382  begin 4:00 pm          I rewrote those cut words
57,550  end 7:45 pm            3 hours = 200 words

57,550  begin Tues 10:12 am  1.25 hours = 500 words
58,010  end  11:48
58,017  begin Tues 2:00 pm     3.75 hours = 600 words
58,647  end Tues 5:45 pm

58,662  begin Weds 9:36 am
59,135  end 11:20 am             2 hours = 500 words
59,350  end 4:04 pm          
59,350  begin 5:58 pm            2 hours = 200 words
59,574  end 7:58 pm

59,574  begin Thurs 5:35 pm     3 hours = 1,570 words
61,147  end 8:14 pm

61,147  begin Fri 12:00 pm
61,727  end Fri  1:49 pm         1.5 hours = 580 words
61,727  begin Fri 5:03 pm
62,667  end Fri 8:15 pm
62,753  end Fri 9:17 pm           4 hours = 1,025 words

62,753  begin Sat 9:00 am   5 hours = 1,016 words
63,769  end Sat 2:07 pm    

64,636  end Sun 6:11 pm   on and off all day

66,462  begin Mon 10:00 am
66,604  end Mon 1:17 pm         3 hours = 200 words
66,604  begin Mon 4:00 pm
66,863  end Mon 5:38 pm         1.5 hours = 260 words

Without bogging this post down with numbers, let's just notice how many time slots are filled with thousands of words in a sitting, and others I could barely make 200. Some two hour slots are better than others. Some all day slots barely moved the word count. Some after supper words counts were mind blowing, others I barely hit 200.

And as I said, I edit as I go (read what I previously wrote and edit before I begin another writing session.) This makes it easier for me when the book is finished. I'm not a proponent of just banging it out and fixing it at the end. NaNo writing doesn't work for me.

For the most part, what this post boils down to is, you don't have to chain yourself to a computer all day. During the school day I fit it in as I can. After school, after supper. I'm sure you have your sweet spots as well.

Tell me -- Do you keep track of your word counts? Do you have a set time to write? Do you have a sweet spot (time frame) when you blow your word counts out of the water? Do word counts really matter as long as the book finally reads THE END?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

PS I just found out that a good Blogger friend Roland Yeomans was operated on for cancer on Feb.19. If you pray, could you say a prayer that he recovers quickly. Roland is an amazing writer, blogger, friend. His posts are fantastic and if you don't know him, you should.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

No, don't adjust your blog. I know it's Monday. However, for the last few years I used to do interviews on Fridays, thus the name of the post. Anyway, here we are today with Bish Denham and her new book ANANSI and Company.

 Anansi, the spider, is like Coyote, the Trickster, (in some Native American cultures). Anansi only thinks about himself and what he can get out of life. However, sometimes his tricks backfire and he's worse off, but most times he's just a very sweet psychopath.

Bish has combined ten or so short stories with riddles intermixed in the
pages, and let me tell you, I didn't get one answer to the riddles. (Go ahead, try them, I dare you.)

I found the stories reminiscent or Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit, but only because these stories landed in the islands first before coming to America. I don't want to say they're the same, because they're not, so I'll use the word similar.

A few short questions for Bish --

Thanks, Anne, for taking time out from your busy schedule to let me and Anansi hang out with you for a while. Ever since Anansi found out you were once a chef, he’s been looking forward to a High Tea. I told him not to get his hopes up, but I have to tell you, he really would like to try some scones with strawberry preserves! (Anytime.)

Now, on to your questions.

Why did you decide to publish this book? (I know you have others you've been working on.)

Several years ago I entered my Anansi story, “Why Dogs Beg,” into the Children’s Writer Folktale and Fantasy Contest. To my complete surprise, I won first place. That win gave me the needed push to continue writing more stories. I tried peddling them around as a collection but no one seemed interested. When I seriously began to consider self-publishing, I thought the Anansi stories would be a good place to start. My critique partners and beta readers all seemed to really enjoy them which gave me a lot of confidence. Then, when I saw Adrienne Saldivar’s cover and her illustrations, I knew I’d made the right decision.

You can read, “Why Dogs Beg,” at:

How has your self-publishing experience been? Anything you'd wish you'd known before you started that no one told you?

The experience has been challenging. I’ve never been entirely sure I’m doing it right. I’m still not sure. Were it not for you, who has patiently answered every question I’ve sent you, I don’t know if I would have taken the plunge. Even if you couldn’t answer a question (which was rare) you have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I don’t think there’s anything anyone could have told me before I started. But I do wish I’d had someone sitting with me at my computer, walking me through the process step by step. It might not have taken me so long. There is still so much I don’t know how to do and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to learn. BUT… I have help in the blogging community, people I can turn to when I get into areas where I feel I’m in over my head.

(This was my experience too, and three years later, I'm still not sure I'm self-publishing the right way. However, it has also been my experience that the blogging community is made of win.)

What are you working on now? (Bish and her sister Erva have been working on a cookbook of authentic island foods for the last few years that I'm just dying to read.)

The cookbook is a pretty big project and is on hold for a while because my sister is exceptionally busy. It was written by my grandmother and the time it will take to review, revise, edit, etc. just isn’t there at the moment.
In the mean time there are other stories of mine waiting to be published. Once I make Anansi available in print, which shouldn’t be too long now, I’ll be working on A LIZARD’S TAIL, an exciting animal adventure for lower middle grade.
Here’s what it’s about.
From the moment he hatches, Marvin P. Tinkleberry knows he is destined for greatness. For one, he has a marvelous, well-groomed tail. For another he can puff out his throat pouch in the most spectacular way. Maybe the other lizards in his colony don’t take him seriously, but he knows the truth. It lives in the marrow of his bones; he’s going to be a hero.

When a feral cat threatens the lives of all who live at Stone Wall in the Garden by the Sea, Marvin knows it’s HIS destiny to get rid of the fearsome beast. Travelling Over the Hill to find help should be as easy as snapping up a sleeping moth. But it doesn’t take long for Marvin to see that the world beyond Stone Wall is not the same as his pampered life back at the garden. From the Sucker Cactus Forest to deadly mongooses, danger lurks around every corner and Marvin will have to decide if he’s willing to be the hero he’s long bragged about being.

Oh yes, that sounds fantastic. Who doesn't love a lizard who can puff out his throat pouch?

About Anansi and Company

How do you escape a hungry tiger? Why do ram-goats smell? What happens if you get too greedy? In this collection of ten retold Jamaican stories, Anansi the spider tricks, sings, and dances his way into and out of trouble.

But who is Anansi? It was the Ashanti of West Africa who brought the spider into the Caribbean. He clung tight to the web he wove in the minds of those who had been captured, surviving not only the harrowing passage across the Atlantic Ocean, but hundreds of years of slavery.

As a trickster, Anansi has both good and bad traits, which makes him very human. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses. When he wins he dances and sings for joy. When he loses, he shakes it off and keeps on living, a lesson for us all.

About the Author -- Bish Denham

Bish Denham, whose mother's side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there and visits them regularly.

She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named them, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Pirates plied the waters and hundred of years of slavery left its indelible mark. It was within this atmosphere of magic and wonder that I grew up. My hope is to pass some of that magic and wonder on to my readers."

You can learn more about Bish by visiting her blog:

She can also be found on


Thanks everyone for stopping by and supporting Bish.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014