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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Good Morning. I read this article by Kristine Katherine Rusch a few weeks ago and as she said in her blog title, all about surprise. So Surprise. It's Tuesday. And I'm posting.

It's also my birthday. I'm 52. But in my head I think like I'm 38. My body feels like it's 96. (I've been doing yard work for the last week, before the weather turns either too wet or too hot.) I used to like yard work. Not so much anymore. Priorities change as we get older.

I've been thinking a lot about my house. Alas, I have not painted since we moved in. I'm living in a beige world with pineapple wallpaper. I need to put some color up.

The yard sale I thought was this weekend is actually next. But I didn't find that out until after I cleaned the Florida room. We're on Spring Break this week so I've been cleaning. Like a mad fishwife. Thinking about tearing down pineapple wallpaper.

I'm stuck on a book I've been working on lately. Not so much the "book" but the series. I've been re-evaluating what I want to do with it. I have an idea for another one, a spin-off from this. I've been giving serious thought about acquiring an agent.

And because I've been thinking and cleaning, all this has brought about another rather personal discussion I was having with a friend of mine. You know, that what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life discussion, the one you have after after you blow your final exam because you were out drinking the night before. The one you have when you walk out on a perfectly good job because that little bitch in the downstairs office got the promotion you deserved. The one you have when you quit your high paying executive job making six figures to become an organic wheat grass farmer in Ohio. You know, what the fuck am I doing with my life?

Throughout my life, I have always maintained when something stops being fun, I won't do it anymore. And I don't. I think because it's my birthday I have to be truthful with myself. Blogging isn't fun for me anymore. I struggle to think up new and interesting topics of conversation. I struggle to comment on your blogs. (I've missed some fine series/specials during the A-Z Challenge this year. By friends, no less.) I struggle to keep up.

I know there are super-bloggers out there who do it all. Write, Tweet, Blog, Tour, etc. etc. Have an amazing presence on all different kinds of mediums. Have thousands of followers everywhere. Yeah, I'm not that kind of girl. And I don't pretend to be.

However, knowing what I do about social media, (and a lot of other factors), I can't just quit blogging. Not yet. But I do have to refocus, re-evaluate, and re-design. So, I'm going to take some time off and do just that.

I hope you all have a great Spring. I'll see you when I do.

PS Today is also Earth Day. Be kind to the Earth. Pick up some trash.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dividing Love

Good Morning. I've been tackling a new project, part of the Regency series I've been writing for the last couple of years. However, with this book, I'm trying to introduce a new series that I WILL BE writing beginning next year.

I'm stuck. Not because I can't write. I have the words, the outline, and believe it or not, the time. I have just never encountered this particular dilemma in my real life so I have nothing to base my character on.

Let's call my character, Oprah. Oprah knows two very different men. Steadman and John. Oprah is in love with each of these men for different reasons. Here's the skinny and then I'll tell you my problem.

Steadman -- Oprah met Steadman when they were both twenty, two weeks before she was to marry Fitzhugh, an old man. She marries him because she has to. For her family. Steadman joins the Army. Oprah doesn't see him again for almost forty years, at a school reunion.When they meet, Fitzhugh is dead, Steadman is a decorated Colonel and Oprah is a billionaire. Steadman and
Oprah have a full-blown love fest for a year where everyone thinks by Christmas they'll be engaged, with a spring wedding. On Twelfth Night, when Steadman doesn't propose, Oprah gets all up in his face and storms out the door. (Steadman has amassed a small fortune from being in the Army, and also has about a billion dollar inheritance. Her family thinks he's a good catch.)

John -- So Oprah's family is related to some real gangster type people, and they put a hit out on another of Oprah's relatives, her dearest niece. So Oprah grabs the girl and flies cross country to Connecticut to hide
out on a farm. Near the ocean. Living in near seclusion, with only John, the houseman for company, Oprah and he form an attachment. And then to take it a step further, once the threat from the niece is removed, John moves back to Oprah's mansion, where they've been having a perfectly kept secret affair. (Because he's actually Black Ops and posing as the butler. Oprah entertains a lot of foreign dignitaries. John speaks fifteen languages. He's doing special time for the Foreign Office.)

However, here's the kicker -- Both Steadman and John have been called up for one last mission.

When John tells her he's going away, Oprah wants to get married. She tells him she'll go to the JP and get the licence. John says no. What would people think? He's just a butler, married to a billionaire. That's like Liz and Larry. No thanks, says John. She argues it's not like that. He doesn't want to hear it.

But John also told Oprah that Steadman is going on this same mission and she must apologize to Steadman for running away last year. What if she never sees him again? However, when she apologizes, Steadman tells her what a mistake he made for not giving her a ring, he understands what happened and why she went away, and all is forgiven. He asks her to marry him. She's so overwhelmed, she says yes.

My character is in love with two men. At the same time. And is having a dalliance with each of them. At the same time. Yes, she has a perfectly good reason for it. Perhaps even somewhat selfless (if I wrote that scene the right way), but let's call a spade a spade here. She's being a slut. And selfish. And cruel. And conceited. And all these things that women hate about other women, because those kind of women always get what they want, instead of what they deserve. You know.

Well, in this case, that isn't so. Oprah will get what she deserves and then some.

My problem is I can't find the dividing line between the love she feels for each of them. Her cousin, Constance says to her, "What are you going to do, just wait until one of them comes back? What if neither of them do? What if they both do? What are you going to do then?" Oprah says it doesn't matter if they both hate her when they return, only that they both come back alive.

Oprah loves each of them for totally different reasons. And wants to marry each of them for totally different reasons. (There's more to each backstory than I've alluded to here.) The way I've written it so far, Oprah never really reveals who she wants more. And that's where I'm stuck -- Will my readers want Oprah to choose one particular man, or will they suspend their disbelief that she can love two men equally?

Tell me --  Should I be looking for the dividing line? Can a person be in love with two people at the same time? What would you rather see as a reader -- a firm decision in love, or ambiguity until the story plays out?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

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