Monday, August 25, 2014

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Good Morning. Today is Monster's first official day of school. Yay! 4th grade. I cannot believe how time is flying. Over the summer, I finished writing two novellas, and started the last novel of the series. Again I say Yay!

I also learned a few things and as with every beginning of every school year, I have written the requisite WHAT I LEARNED ON MY SUMMER VACATION essay.


1. After five years I finally had all the elements of creating perfect meals, gas stove, gas grill, farmer market organic vegetables and locally caught seafood. I indulged a few times and realized playing with food is a creative talent that I should indulge in more often. Unfortunately, without people to eat said food, it's not worth it to cook. Half of it went down to the beach for the sea gulls.



2. I way over-packed, including extra shoes, dresses, and beach cover-ups, however, wore the same 3 outfits the entire time I was there. (out of the 8 pair of shorts I brought with me, only two still fit. I've gained back all the weight I lost before I left so I could fit into those shorts. Ironic, or sad, either way.) (As for the dresses, I thought I might meet someone and have like a date. Uh, what in god's name was I thinking.)



3. Five weeks is too long to be away from home. I missed my bed, I missed my animals (3 dogs and a cat) I worried that by the time I got back all my houseplants would be dead (which they weren't thankfully). You can only go to the beach so many times before it gets boring (and you get sun poisoning -- which I did the first day we were there -- and then again the last week we were there). I also did not realize that the more I shopped, the less room we would have in the car on the way home. Needless to say, I have to return to Pennsylvania to my brother's to pick stuff up.




4. I read more while I'm on vacation. Truthfully, this is the first time I've read in about two years. I used to read a book a day, almost 6 per week before I began writing. Now I don't read at all. And I can honestly say that New York editors aren't all that. Nora Roberts had typos. In all three books I read. And she used the wrong character's names. And had grammar issues. And run on sentences. And long boring paragraphs of useless description. And she used adverbs and adjectives so much I thought I was at a circus. What that taught me is, A) she's either a very crappy writer, B) New York doesn't care as long as she keeps bringing in the big bucks C) rules are totally meant to be broken.



5. Writing is something that I must do quietly. I tried to write in places people were not meant to write in. I tried to write in bed. I tried to write at the beach. I tried to write in the bathroom. I got nothing but frustration. So I gave up. And then lo and behold, a beautiful day presented itself. Monster went to the beach with the kids across the street. I set the laptop out on the deck, and bam, just like that hit 3000 words. I took a break in the afternoon, and added another 2000. As I looked everything over at sunset, I heard Amazing Grace being played by bagpipes. Yes. Bagpipes on the beach at sunset and 5000 words. I would have to say that was the best writing day I've ever had.



So yes, cooking, sun tanning, beach going, reading, shopping, writing, all the elements of a wonderful vacation.

So why do I feel so drained. I need a vacation from my vacation.

Tell me --  How was your summer? Did you go away? Did you get any writing done? What did you do?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Lady's Secret is Finished

Where I am going to sit for the next 5 days and
burn to a crisp
Good Morning. For those of you who keep track, my last novella for my series is finished. I worked on it for 12 hours yesterday, and wrote the end last night at 7:39 pm. It came in at 44,378 words.You must think I'm nuts to do something like this and I am, but I was on a roll. My vacation ends Saturday and I wanted to actually be able to spend time and enjoy it, so I pushed myself to finish it. Besides Monster has been camping all weekend with my brother and his family so I had no one asking "Can we go to the beach?" every five minutes.


I'm very excited about this little book. It has a lot of good stuff in it if I do say so myself. Evil sisters, Prince Charmings (2 actually), wicked father (sorry, no step-parents in this one), intrigue, sexual tension, oops, sorry, we're calling that desire and longing these days. What's cool about this novella is that I've tied it into the other novella LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING. If you read one, you'll see elements of the other in it and vice versa. It's pretty clever if I do say so myself. And these are the pre-quels to the last novel in the series.



Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that, and now I'm going to enjoy the last 5 days of my vacation. Because as you know, it's been a doozy so far.


And if you don't follow me on Twitter, you should. @gallagher_anne

I've been having a lot of one-sided conversations with myself. It'd be nice to talk to people.







Tell me -- Have you ever worked like a maniac to finish a book/book/novel/story? Did you bum ever fall asleep while you wrote? (That was my challenge -- my bum kept falling asleep)











Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Have Been Dreaming

Good Morning. As I clicked the "schedule" for this post, I saw that I only have TWO weeks left to vacation, instead of THREE! OMG, where does the time go. And, as I watched the morning news, the weather lady said Tropical Storm Bertha will be on our doorstep within the next couple of days. I do not want to tell Monster that she may not get in any beach time until later in the week.

45 ft. down -- at the Coast Guard Station
Point Judith, Rhode Island


Anyway, I have been dreaming. During the night, as it were, not day - of which I am generally most fond. My dreams at night have been mind-blowing to say the least. I have not had such "real" dreams in a very long time. You know, the kind where you do NOT want to wake up from. The kind you wish you could live in forever. The kind, when you do finally wake up you roll over once more to see if you can get back into it, but to no avail, and then you feel like crying because the life you had in your dream was sooo muchhhhh betterrrrr than the one you are currently living in.

Yeah, those kind of dreams.

The first dream was in answer to a question I had asked myself before trying to sleep. I had just finished reading a book (contemporary romance) where the male protagonist was hot. Soooo hot. I liked the book very much, I liked the writing very much, I liked the male character (and the female MC, but this is not about her). Anyway, as I drifted off to sleep that night, I asked myself the questions -- Why can't I write a character like him? What is the secret? How do I get my writing to THAT place?

Ellis -- love him
So, I slept. And in my dream I was with my character Ellis Smith, Marquess of Haverlane from THE LADY'S FATE. Yeah, I know kind of wacked, but go with me. This book was the first novel in the series that I had published. It is, however, not the FIRST book in the series it is in actuality, the THIRD.

However, it has always been my best seller. Even when I have published other novels THE LADY'S FATE has always managed to outsell anything else. And I have always wondered why.

In my dream that night, the answer finally came to me. I was in love with Ellis when I wrote the book. Totally, irrevocably smitten. I had his image so clearly in my mind during every single scene that I wrote, I couldn't help it.
(Mind you, I had only ever seen the actor from this picture once, in a British drama about a zillion years ago, and even though he's quite famous now, I still can't tell you his name.) He's always been Ellis to me.

I also loved Violet as I wrote it, not in that way, but as a writer who's dug deep from the recesses of her own memory and imprinted her feelings onto the page through her character. (wow, that was kind of deep for me.) Anyway, as I was BEING Violet, and falling IN LOVE with Ellis as I was WRITING, I guess it made an impression on the pages. Hence, the obvious outselling other of my novels.

When I awoke from this rather bizarre dream, and as the answer clicked into place, that made me think about my other stories -- why they sell, or don't, and how I felt about the characters as I wrote each of them. Was I in love with them as well? I can honestly say, yes. And no, some not so much.

However, what's really weird, is -- each of the leading male characters from my other novels is based on a man I have known and loved at some point during my life. In each of the stories, each of them has the flaw that broke us up in real life to one extent or another. (I'm a writer who draws from her experiences) EXCEPT FOR ELLIS. He is totally and without reservation, completely made up.

Mind blowing isn't it? Well, maybe not to you, but it certainly was to me.

Perhaps I need to go on vacation more often? Or just eat pistachio ice cream before going to bed.

Tell me -- Do you ever dream about your characters? Do they speak to you? Give you the answers to questions you didn't even know you wanted? Or do they generally leave you alone?

Anne Gallagher (c) 1014

Monday, July 28, 2014

I Collapsed on My Bed

Good Morning. If you didn't know, we are at the beach on vacation. We arrived at our final final final destination Saturday around noon. (I say final final final because I have slept on 4 different couches in the last 3 weeks.) After packing and loading the car in the morning, I had to unload and unpack, then go to Mary's and get all the stuff we left there -- a major glitch in my mother's planning -- and so when I was finally finished with all of that (hers, mine, Monster's) I collapsed on my bed.

where we're staying -- small but cozy


Sunday morning I awoke with a stomach/intestinal/headachy kind of something but that didn't stop me from going to the supermarket and stocking up on all the food I haven't eaten in nearly ten years. Naturally all carbohydrates, ten million calories each, and filled with sugar. (Scones, crumpets, garlic bread, regular bread, artisan bread, cheesecake, tomato pie.We got back from the market and I ate my way through the afternoon, then collapsed on my bed.




surrounded by flowers


This morning I awoke with a major headache because of the crazy weather. It's 72 degrees out with 72% humidity. We're expecting a major thunderstorm this morning according to Kelly Bates the meteorologist. However, the sun is shining right now, but the wind is blowing around 20 knots. I am freezing. In all my years living on the beach I can never remember a July being so cold. And I did not pack one single jacket or pair of pants for me. Thankfully I do have socks.

I did manage to finally repair the scene in Chapter 8 that I have been working on since I got to Rhode Island. It's been bugging me since I wrote it, and thought I would be able to fix it while on vacation, but the solution didn't come to me until I was laying on my bed wondering if I packed the Pepto Bismal. And my mother and Monster were taking a walk on the beach so I had the house to myself for a little while.

the view from across the street -- you can't see it but
Rhode Island Sound and Block Island are in the distance


I'm waiting for the weather to make up its mind so I can decide what I'm going to do today. My headache has not dissipated ( because I had to sleep with my window closed and now my head feels like I have a hangover) but I really want to get this chapter finished. I worked on the little narrative between the two big scenes in Chapter 8, but I'd really like to get to Chapter 9 today. With 19 days left to vacation, I'd like to be able to finish this novella before I get home.

However, I just want to collapse on my bed.

I deserve it.

the neighbor's porch. Isn't it pretty?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2104



Monday, July 21, 2014

A Working Vacation

Good Morning. As some of you may know from my recent tweets (@gallagher_anne) I am in Rhode Island on vacation. We left on the 10th of July and stayed 6 days with my brother and his wife in Pennsylvania.

the view from outside his front door
corn fields and mountains

We left there and drove to Rhode Island, where we're staying with my mother's friend, Mary, until the 22, when we go up to my cousin's house to stay for 4 days, and then come back to the beach for three weeks.

the first day we arrived, I planted my ass
in the chair and refused to move -
 paid for it with severe sunburn
can you see how white my feet are?
after that day they were so burned
I couldn't even wear flops

Why all this traveling? Because my mother didn't plan accordingly and now we're doing the  "sleep-over shuffle". Don't get me wrong, it's great to be "home" (I grew up in Rhode Island) and I'm eating my way through food I haven't tasted in a couple of years, but I'm not sleeping right (from a lumpy double, to a soft twin, to a couch), not pooping right (sorry, that was probably TMI) and have to deal with my MOTHER. (Who, quite frankly, is a pain in the arse. She's a neat freak and has to "clean" and put away, and nag that I'm not the same way.)

And let's not forget about my Monster, whose only words besides "Good Morning" are "When can we go to the beach?"

the beach -- that's Monster on the right with her boogie board


I had a lot of stress last year. A LOT. Most of it personal, some of it nasty (Remember the bully at school?), and I thought coming to the beach would be good for me. I would relax and refresh and regenerate. I would also be able to finish the second novella I started (for the conclusion of my series THE RELUCTANT GROOMS).

I thought, (thought being the operative word here) that I would be able to "work" in the morning, and then Monster and I would traipse down to the beach in the afternoon. After supper I could edit or whatever, and maybe Tweet some more, and keep to a schedule so that I could at least finish the first draft to THE LADY'S SECRET.

stone sculpture at the Pt. Judith Lighthouse Coast Guard Station


How's that working for me, you may ask. Yeah, not so much. I haven't even LOOKED at the manuscript (though I have two laptops and copious notes with me). There's too much going on.

And it's not that it's TOO much, it is, believe it or not, the NOISE.

I'm a silent writer. I cannot have any background noise, music, tv, distractions. I get into my own head, into my character's heads and let the words pour out. Take for instance right now as I'm writing this -- my mother is slurping her oatmeal, Monster is watching some weird sci-fi thing on tv, and the stupid hot water heater is making this god-awful noise in the basement. It's driving me crazy (especially the slurping).

So what's a writer like me supposed to do? I have no idea. Even if I go upstairs to the bedroom, Monster will follow me "What are you doing? Can we go to the beach? When are you going to finish?" My mother will follow that up with "Are you taking a shower? Are you going to do laundry? Are you going to the supermarket?"

I am supposed to be on a "working vacation". So far it's work just being here.

Tell me -- Have you ever taken a "working vacation"? Did you get any work done? If so, please tell me HOW.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

PS If you'd like to see a couple more pics from our first day at the beach, you can click here

Monday, July 14, 2014

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Good morning. Call me frustrated. For the last several weeks I've been trying to figure out why I can't comment on some blogs, to no avail. I received a ChromeBook for my birthday, and with Blogger being attached to Google, you would think it would make commenting a snap. Not so much. I have no idea why I can't comment, even (as I found out this morning) on my best friend's blog.

I also finally went over to Goodreads to try AGAIN to put up THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE. It's been published since March. I've tried to do it like 5 times since then, and again, to no avail. After screwing playing around with it for like 45 minutes, I finally got it all together in one place, on my author page. You would think it would be easy considering they're interfaced with Amazon. But no.

Then there's Google+. I figured if I joined that, it would be easier to blog and post, and join, and see, and do, and guess what, it's just another nightmare to figure out. AND the worst part is I have two Anne Gallagher persona's, so which one did I set myself up with -- the WRONG one. I set up the Piedmont Writer blog instead of the Anne Gallagher one.

I'm kind of peeved because I also can't write. I'm 25K in to THE LADY'S SECRET and want to finish it but I can only write on Monster's laptop, because the ChromeBook won't allow Word, and DropBox won't reconfigure it. It's an unholy mess trying to figure out how to do this, and how to do that.

Sorry about the rant today, but I'm supposed to be basking on the beach, but we're stuck in Pennsylvania because of impending severe thunderstorms. Not that I mind PA, it's gorgeous where my brother lives, but I'm itching to smell seaweed.

I'm at the point where I'm ready to give up on social media all together. I mean, I take breaks when it all gets to be too much, but somewhere in between breaks, they change codes or htmls or some god-forsaken-thing, and then I can't figure out how to do anything. I HATE modern technology.

And let's not even get into why I can't set up voice mail on my new Android phone. You would think the maker's of the device would give you clear concise directions on how to do it. Guess what... not even a word. So I've been to the store where I bought it, but none of the salespeople could help me either.

I need a vacation.

Tell me -- How do YOU feel about modern technology? Do you embrace it? or would you rather be in the stone age? (I'm heading back to Jurassic I think.)

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014








Monday, July 7, 2014

Revisions, Re-writing, Re-Publishing in the Digital Age

Good Morning. Well, I never expected to be gone for this long, but it's been a wild ride the last few months.

I've been writing, of course, and revising, naturally, then re-writing, what else, and then re-publishing.

Re-Publishing. What a concept. Thirty years ago that would never have happened, unless you wrote a scholarly tome, and the changes that occurred would have demanded a re-write. You know, Second Edition, with a new forward, index, glossary, what have you.

These days, rewriting and republishing are almost second nature. I've done it myself I don't know how many times.

Writing my series The Reluctant Grooms has been a challenge these last few months. I'm finally at the end of it with one more novella, one more novel, and possibly one final final short story to give the entire thing complete closure. (I say final final because I keep finding more stories to tell. Yikes!)

Here's the thing -- As I wrote the last novella, I kept finding little things that needed to be tweaked in the other stories to make the series work as a cohesive whole. If a reader wanted to start at THE LADY'S MASQUERADE and work her way through the series in order, (and has a really good memory) the ending wouldn't make much sense. Some of my earlier dates were wrong, some of my characters names have changed, some of the information I imparted means nothing now. Even though I wrote everything as a stand-alone, there is a sub-plot that runs through each of them that ends with the final novel.

To take another example, I started reading Sue Grafton's Alphabet series (you know -- A is for Alibi with Kinsey Milhone), but I stopped somewhere around L. I can't remember exactly why, I only know it had something to do with her family. By L, they either weren't there or had changed so dramatically I just didn't get it. I was disappointed because I really liked those books. Perhaps it had to do with the publisher (she is a famous cash cow) and they didn't want her bogging down the main plot. I don't know. However, because of that, I won't finish reading them. (Okay, maybe someday when the series is finished, but not now. I like to read in order.)

In my latest novella LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING, Lady Olivia receives an invitation to the Duke of Straford's holiday ball, which was also an engagement party for his brother. Well, according to the novella that I wrote about his brother, this engagement party could not happen because Dorcas and Daniel did not get engaged until the following summer.

Well, I went back into LADY CADORET'S LONGING, and not only did I tweak the dates, I also revised and rewrote what was necessary for LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING to be correct and true. I did the same for LOVE FINDS LORD DAVINGDALE, another story that held content for the ending of the series.

Yes, it was a pain in the neck. Literally. I spent the better part of eleven days
hunched over the computer, re-reading, revising, rewriting all to allow the ending to make sense. And also to not have some reviewer slam me for mixing up my dates.

You may ask, does it really matter? Oh, YES! Series readers are quite fanatical about information. They REMEMBER even the slightest mistake. As I did with Sue Grafton. If you lose them half-way through, they may never come back no matter how many glowing reviews you have.

I also added the first chapter for each succeeding novel, to the novels I had already published. Remember in the old days that was how publishers got you to buy the next novel in the series. A little tease for what was to come next. Well, I hadn't done it because none of my books were ever published in order according to the series. I had to wait five years for that to happen, and now that is finally has, I decided it was time to keep the order straight.

Also, I found that my writing has changed over the years. Words and phrases that I used five years ago were cumbersome and sometimes just plain wrong. I also found typo's (egads that just about slayed me because I have four critters and two betas) so I took those out. Little changes that allowed the books to become more polished so NEW readers won't be deterred from giving up on the series. You know.

Re-publishing. What a concept.

Tell me -- Have you ever republished? How long did you wait between publication dates? Are you writing a series like me and found the beginning didn't match the ending?


I also wanted to say that for some reason Blogger is being mean to me and I find I can't comment on some blogs. I joined Google + thinking that would help, but it didn't. I've spoken to a few people and they can't figure it out either. I know I'm not the only one. If anyone has a clue why Blogger won't let me comment, please tell. Thanks.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014