Monday, October 31, 2016

Never Give Up--Never Surrender

This blog post title came from the movie Galaxy Quest starring Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub, and Sigourney Weaver. I have always loved this movie. I guess it has to do with the character arcs that happen within the space of two hours. If you've never seen it, you should take the time to watch it.

Galaxy Quest




Never Give Up--Never Surrender is also a catch phrase that one of my main characters--Henry Wade, Marquess of Dunbury, utters throughout the stories I am currently writing. As a former military man, I think it's fitting for him.

As a writer, I think it's fitting for me. 

The Truth Hurts

Many times over the course of my writing career I've had people tell me "you can't write that" "this isn't good enough" "ugh!" "Really, you wrote that?". I've told myself countless times, they don't know what they're talking about, this is fab!

Of course, this was my inner child speaking, trying to assuage the hurt that I've felt by listening to their words. Eventually, my inner child shut up long enough to listen and realized that constructive criticism (ie. editing) is good for the soul.

After ten years, I'd say I have a pretty tough hide. I send out work all the time that comes back fully loaded with red-line, and I'm like, "Bring it on."

However, over the course of the last couple of years, there's been a storm brewing in my personal life that I knew was coming, but never really wanted to acknowledge. It's hampered my writing, cramped my style, busted my bubble, and pretty much devastated me. There's no getting around it now, I cannot put off the inevitable. My life will never be the same again.

My Mother Has Memory Loss

For the last several years, I've noticed my mother slipping away. Now, it shouldn't be any great surprise--her father had dementia, her sister has Alzheimers disease. However, my mother refused to believe it could happen to her. About four years ago, I discussed it with my brothers and they basically told me, her care is all on me. (There is more to this story, but I won't share it today.) So, since the incident that started me down this wicked road, my life has taken a sharp downhill turn.

Unfortunately, her doctor refuses to diagnose her. Oh, he's run all the tests, and they've all come back negative--no protein strains, no plaque build-up, arteries are clear, B-12 is good. We now have to wait until the end of December for a final psychoanalysis. (Really, we have to wait four months for a freaking writing test that will determine that my mother can't remember. Just come to dinner one night and try to have a conversation with her. Her coherency is now four minutes before the loop picks up again and we repeat the same answers to the same questions.)

Time Management Skills

Now, I'm sure for those of you who've stuck by me (love you so much) throughout the course of this blog, you've seen me whine about how I can't get any work done, how there's not enough time in the day, I have obligations that are weighing me down...those were all true. I suck at time management. Always have. I have always worked best under pressure, so everything I do comes down to the last minute.

When I finished my last book in July I gave myself the timetable that this next book would be finished by Thanksgiving. As of today, that leaves me a little over 3 weeks. I have written 30k words so far, hoping to bring it up to at least 80k. Fifty thousand words is no small feat in three weeks, but I'm confident I can do it. I have no choice if I want to keep my fan base. (And the money rolling in. Writing is my full-time job and you know the old saying, Publish, Publish, Publish.)

Problem is, my phone rings now. 

Ma Bell

When I was kid and we lived at the beach, we never had a phone. Actually, we didn't get a phone at the beach house until I was 23 and I needed one for work. I never had a cell phone until I became pregnant with Monster. To this day, I don't use it. All my friends are like, "I tried to call you, your phone's not on." No, it's not. When I'm at home, I don't answer the phone, the machine picks it up, because usually/always when I'm actually at home, I'm writing.

Unfortunately, now when the phone rings I have to pick it up. And it's usually right when I'm in the middle of writing something great. My mother is on the other end. It's always either one or the other "My television doesn't work" or "I can't find my car keys."

Mind you, my mother hasn't driven in about three months. When she got home from her trip this summer, the day after she returned, someone hit her car in the parking lot of the gas-n-go and she's been freaked out ever since. I am now her chauffeur. Problem is, she was so used to just jumping in her car and running to the market up the street every day for whatever it was she needed, she tends to think that I will do this for her as well. And I do because I'm a good daughter.

As for the television, she can't remember to wait until the HDMI2 box goes off before she changes the channel, so the TV gets funky. "Give me five minutes, I'll be right down."

No Rest for the Weary

I've been wrestling with whether or not to give up this blog this for awhile now. Whenever I was crunched for time before, the blog was always the first to take a hiatus. I've been seriously thinking of giving it up for good. I mean, this is the first post I've written in six weeks. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I've had to make three trips to Wal-mart in the last 6 days. (Each trip lasts two hours because we have to walk down every aisle to make sure she doesn't forget anything. Even with a list.)

Since school started, I am exhausted. With my volunteer duties at school (which have since slowed to a very basic minimum), volleyball and now basketball for Monster, (believe me I really tried to not let her play basketball but she's such a good kid, and a great team leader I kind of had no choice), my mother's daily drama, not to mention Robert's ongoing recovery (remember he fell off the roof in March and broke both of his feet), and let's not forget the housework that all falls to me (including now cleaning my parent's house) and cooking for five people (who live in two separate domiciles and eat different things every night -- the restaurant is now OPEN), it kind of is a wonder that I'm still standing. 

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Thanks, Katy.  


Never Give Up -- Never Surrender

So, why did I tell you all this? I don't really know. Purge my soul maybe? I'm dealing with some heavy duty shit right now and therapy is supposed to be good for us. Right? I probably should be in real therapy with a real therapist, but I don't have time. I haven't had a drop to drink since the day I found out I was pregnant with Monster, but let me tell you what--Jack Daniels is looking increasingly sexy to me. (And no, I have no desire to drink, but it makes me feel better to talk about it.)

Yesterday I eked out a mere 409 words on the latest WIP. I thought that was fantastic. A couple of years ago, I thought a 14,000 word Saturday was the height of achievement. When I checked my word count, I was surprised I had written 29,976 words so far. How did I do it? I didn't remember any great word count Saturdays in recent weeks. I grabbed an hour here, a couple hours there, in between the assorted trips to Food Lion, Panera for lunch, and shopping for basketball sneakers for the Monster.

I'm not a quitter by any means. I never give up until I get my way. It may take awhile, but I'm tenacious. However, this microcosmic world that I am now currently living in is pushing me to my limits.

My father doesn't want strangers in the house, so I can't get any help. My mother doesn't understand why I go to my own home for supper every night. (She's starting to think I still live with them because I'm there so much.) Monster rolls her eyes when I say, "I can't help you with homework right now because I have to fix Yo-Yo's tv." (Because fixing the television is literally a 30 second job, but it takes an hour to get out of the house.) And my poor dogs don't understand why Mommy doesn't come down and sit with them in the office every day.

So, why did I tell you all this?

It's about the passion. The passion I feel as an artist to bring to life something someone else will/might enjoy. A long time ago I told my father I wanted to be a writer instead of becoming a computer programmer like he wanted me to. He thought I was stupid to throw away my life on "writing books that no one will read". (Remember, when I was in high school, computer life was just starting out. Oh, for the love of Microsoft stock!)

Well, I know a lot more about computers now than I ever did before. I also know how to write code, format documents, make book trailers, create covers, and design newsletters, not to mention brand recognition, marketing, promotion, and social media. No, I didn't really want to know how to do all that, but with zero budget, I learned. It's part of the "writing" process these days. My creds looks great on a resume, but what good does it do me? It's not like I can get a "real" job these days even if I wanted to.

Funny thing is, my father is now on board with my writing. He even gave me a couple of suggestions when I started killing people in my murder mystery series.

I am a Writer, hear me ROAR

I am a writer. I tell stories. It's what I do. It's what I've always WANTED to do ever since I was little kid. It's my PASSION. It's like breathing to me. Sure, I don't write every day now. I can't. But I'm always thinking about it. ALWAYS thinking about it.

So, when the fit hits the shan in your life, never give up, never surrender. No matter who tells you you can't do it. Prove them wrong. It may take awhile, you may get sidetracked, you may get plowed over by a bus, but get back up and get back to it. 

There's nothing worse than regretting your dreams.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.



Anne Gallagher (c) 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Structure/ Formula/ Craft

As a writer in three different genres, I am constantly aware of how I need to structure the composition of my book. Not by content, but by the way the paragraphs, scenes, and then
chapters "build" the body of the work.

Perhaps it is part of my individual "voice" in these different genres, but in each I am writing to a particular audience. Each person reads differently. Each genre takes that into consideration. Each writer should know the "rules" of writing in their chosen genre before they begin.

That said, as a Regency romance novelist, I structure my book with ten-page chapters. No more, no less. Two person POV plot.  80-95 thousand words. I always have an epilogue. However, it's a very circuitous journey to the inevitable Happily Ever After. Give the readers what they want.

As a writer of contemporary romance, I find my page counts for chapters are lower. Same word count. And I do tend to like my epilogues. However, I write only in the main character's POV. Close third person.

I also dabble in murder mysteries. I write separate scenes within a chapter with page breaks and no transitions. Words counts are lower -- 35-50K. No epilogue, but with a cliffhanger ending. (Hopefully, to lure the reader into the next book.) Again, I only use the main character's POV.

New writers may ask -- Is it necessary to structure a book? Why can't I just write it the way I want?

Well, you can. It's your book. You can write it any way you want. But readers want certain things from books and if yours is not structured properly, well, it could bite you in the end.

Put it this way--you wouldn't build a house without a proper foundation. For that you need cement, lumber, nails, screws, big tools, and a set of blueprints. Blueprints, like writing "rules" are necessary. If you don't have them when you start, sure enough, by the end of building your structure, something will be off and then you'll have to find the mistake and fix it. Sometimes, you have to go all the way back to the beginning. (My father built a house once without blueprints. It took him twenty years to finish it.)

Tell me -- Do you think about the structure of your story before you write? Do you follow the rules? Did you know the rules before you started writing? And if you do know the rules, do you break them?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Comparisons and Jealousy

I recently came across an article that focused on a writer, a very successful writer who is now making a six figure income. The thing that kills me is she only burst onto the scene a few years ago. I used to follow her blog. I don't anymore. Why? I'll admit because I'm jealous of her success and I hate to compare myself. Pretty simple.

Don't get me wrong, she's a perfectly lovely woman. She's smart, funny, well-spoken, well-written, and we could probably be friends (or at least in the same book club if we lived near each other.) However, this woman is all over the place with book ads, podcasts, blog posts, guest appearances, and is quoted by everyone. Yup, she works hard for her money. And I don't begrudge her one cent.

What I do begrudge is how she makes it look so easy. Her books are everywhere, she is everywhere, and I'm just sick of it.

Why? Because I'm not.

Why? Because I can't.

This woman has no children. She is also married and her husband is her marketing manager. She focuses her life 100% on her books, writing, marketing, and promoting. Oh, if we all could live in that world.

I'm lucky if I can find time to wash the kitchen floor. (I swear when I'm rich I'm getting a maid.) I have so many things pulling on my time CONSTANTLY I fall into bed exhausted just thinking about all the shit I have to do TOMORROW. Between school, my parents, the yard work, not to mention Monster and figuring out how to feed her eight times a day (my God, the child never stops eating), I barely have time to take a shower every day. (Yes, I know that's just TMI and too disgusting for words, but I'm sure a lot of other moms out there know exactly what I'm saying.)

So, yes, I'm jealous of the writer who has time for all the stuff I can barely dream about. Sure, I'd love to do podcasts. Sure, I'd love to write timely and interesting blog posts. Sure, I'd love to have a six figure income. But, I don't have time.

And I can hear a whole bunch of you screaming, "Well, make the time." I hate to inform you, there's only 24 hours in a day, and of those I need seven to sleep. (Although, I never get the full seven because something is always waking me up in the middle of the night--be it my to-do list for the next day, the scene in Chapter Ten that's giving me fits, or an uncontrollable bladder. Again, I apologize for TMI.)

I remember when Kindle was the new craze. Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon and self-published and made a lovely little name for myself. But then, as more and more writers took the plunge, I found myself drowning in a sea of other Regency authors. I was no longer arriving at #11 in the Top 100 on launch day without a review. Now, I can't even get placement in the Top 500 with three reviews.

What do these other authors have that I don't?

Time. Time to blog, and Tweet, and FaceBook, and Instagram, and whatever other social media craze is out there to talk, discuss, mention, brag, and sell the latest book they have out. It's disheartening for a writer like myself. I can't even do ONE of those things on a steady basis, never mind for a book launch.

I'm jealous of this author's time management skills and envious of her success. Does it drive me to distraction? No. I've given up worrying about what other people do or don't do to achieve the limelight.

I have a new book out. I Tweeted about it a couple of times. I posted it on my blog (which then gets shared to Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Amazon.) And that's pretty much it. I don't have time for the other stuff. (By the way, in the article about the famous author, it was also revealed she doled out five grand for a BookBub ad. Ha! If I had five grand, I wouldn't know what to do with it. Yes, I would. I'd put new floors in my house.)

I've always maintained the way to a book's success is by word-of-mouth. No ad in the world will make people buy your book. (Okay, that's sort of not true and I know it, but for argument's sake let's just go with my premise.) If one person likes the book, then hopefully, she'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on and so on. (Or we could hope for one particularly brilliant review that ignites a spark.)

I can't do anything about the concept of time and my lack thereof. The only thing I CAN do is to use what I've been given wisely. One hour equals ten pages of edits, two can get me a blog post written for next week, three hours could possibly find me finished with the dreaded Chapter Ten rewrites.

We can only do what we can do. Will I continue to be jealous? Hell yeah. There's nothing wrong with a little envy--it's what actually spurred me into writing to begin with (I thought I could write a better book than an author I had read). Will I allow it to eat at me until I can't function anymore? Nope. I don't have time to wallow.

I'll write my books, publish my books, and continue in this vein until I get rid of what is sucking my time (right this moment it's the lawn. Between the rain and the humidity I haven't been able to do the yard in almost ten days.) And hopefully, I'll make enough money next summer to be able to hire a lawn guy so I can shave off four hours every week for myself. Wouldn't that be nice?

Tell me -- Are you jealous of other writers who have TIME to do the things you can't? Do you have (or have you ever used) BookBub to promote your books? Do you have a lawn care guy?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Ambiguous Ending

Okay, so here's the story -- my friend sent me her finished manuscript. One of her requests was that I take a look at her ending -- was it too ambiguous and should it be stronger. So, I looked. Oh yes, it totally needed to have a definite ending. This book was the third of the trilogy. I have been honored to read all three and this author put the MC through so much pain and heartache, she needed to find a little happiness at the end. And truth be told, as a reader, I needed the closure.

I finished my latest project a couple of weeks ago and I sent my friend my final draft. My novel is the first in a new series. It has an ambiguous ending. When the MC rides off into the sunset with the love of his life, we still don't actually know what is going to happen. A bad thing to do if you're a romance writer.

However, if you've read the last four books in the Reluctant Grooms series, you'll know exactly what happens to him, and why. In this new series, I'm turning back time so-to-speak and showing how he got there.

I don't mind that I've written an ambiguous ending. And I don't think my readers will mind either. They already know what happens. I'm taking a chance, I know, with new readers, but I hope if they enjoy this new book, they'll follow along as the rest of the series unfolds.

Because by the final book, he does finally get his own closure and it all ties in to the other series

Having said that, as a romance writer, we all know the rules--a Happily Ever After ending must be provided. My friend was not writing romance, but literary fiction with a semi-romantic bent. (I guess that could be a genre.) Her main character was not searching for love per se, but on the hunt to find herself, and I suppose if love came along, that would be great.

HOWEVER, as a reader, I placed my own EXPECTATIONS on the ending of my friend's book. I WANTED the MC to find happiness with a man. And that was not my friend's intention. Now, because we've been friends and colleagues for a couple of years, she trusts my critique and as always I told her this was her book and whatever crits I gave, she could take or leave. I don't know what she's done with the ending. But I'll find out when I read the published version.

Anyway, how do you feel about ambiguous endings? And I don't mean cliff-hangers, I mean no final resolution for the main character? As a reader, are you satisfied if the MC is satisfied without resolution? Or do you feel cheated by your own expectations of the story?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016

And Done - Regrets and Responsibilities

Well, I finished my book last Wednesday night at 10:29 pm. It came in around 92,000 words. Funnily enough, a couple of weeks ago I was worried I couldn't even get to 60K.

I like it. I like the way it turned out. It made me cry. Twice. So that's always a good sign. It totally needs a couple of rounds of editing (five might do it). And then it's on to the next book. No rest for the wicked.

I did a mock-up cover because I can't generally finish a book until I have one. I  don't know why. It's like if I don't have one, I'll jinx myself. I know, it's weird.



It's a little plain, but I think it's Regency inspired. I might add some flourishes. I might change it entirely. I don't know. What do you think?

Here's the cover copy.


After nearly thirty-five years in the Army, Henry Wade, the Marquess of Dunbury, finally returns to London to officially claim his father’s title, hopefully to reunite with his long lost love, and to exact revenge on the man who ruined his life. Add six orphaned nieces into the mix, and suddenly, Henry’s life is upside down. Marrying them off seems like a fine plan, but finding suitable husbands for them is an impossible task.


They all wish to marry for love.

I'm going to take the rest of this week to get Monster ready for school, and then start work on the next book. Christmas is only four months away. 

REGRETS and RESPONSIBILITIES should be out in September sometime. 

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

Writing to the Muse

Good morning. Here's something I haven't talked about in a really long time. Writing to the muse. Or in my case, when I get a bunch of free time and I can slack on
"You wrote that?"
the housework, and just write to my heart's content. Those times just don't come along very often. You know exactly what I'm talking about. The ever elusive "time" when you "work" outside of writing. (I consider MY writing, what I do when I sit at my desk, ass in chair, hands on keyboard, WORK. See what I did there. MY WORK.)

However, with ill and aging parents, a man still sleeping in my kitchen, and Monster who wants to go to the pool every day, I also "work" outside of writing. It takes a considerable amount of finagling these days just to find time to take a shower.

I follow a "school" schedule because of my volunteer "job" as the gift card coordinator, so in the winter I can only write in blocks of time during the day. We have 10 days for Thanksgiving break. 14 Days for Christmastide. 10 for Spring. During those blocks of time over the last three years, I have spent remodeling/painting/landscaping my house. So, it all boils down to summer writing.

I hate to say it, even on my last official vacation 3 years ago (I can't believe it's been so long...) I wrote 130k words over six weeks. I confess, it was so cold at the beach, I was grateful Monster found two friends across the street and went to the beach with them.

I have to tell the truth, I royally screwed myself when I came up with the concept for this new series I'm writing. It interweaves characters from the first series into this one. (Last night I realized I'm going to have to edit most of the Reluctant Grooms when I finish with these stories, so the connections are seamless.) And also answers some of the questions I've been asked by readers to clarify. I guess. I still don't really know what the hell I'm doing. I had a what if moment four years ago and said "Hey, why not? Has it ever been done before? I'm willing to test my boundaries of structure within a novel." What the hell was I thinking?

However, I must also confess, I am enjoying getting to know these characters. They have sparked my interest and curiosity, and quite honestly, are not the people I thought I knew. So that's nice. They've been keeping me on my toes.

Writing to the muse -- or -- when all your shit is done and you have some free time.

Do you keep a strict writing schedule? Do you find time even though there is none? Do you have a muse?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2012

Monday, July 11, 2016

Is It Manic or Maniac?

Well, since LAST week, I put another 20k words on my latest WiP. However, with that comes uncertainty, sore shoulders, and swollen ankles. I've been writing like a maniac in manic mode, or maybe I should say panic mode.

This could be Henry
Panic because I just want to finish this damn book. You can't even know how much I want to. Finish. This. Book. If I could just finish it, I could start the next one. I know, I know, and then fight the same battle with the next one.

I've gotten through all the backstory. I pushed past the first of several hurdles for Catherine and Henry. I initiated the final climax. And I can see the end in sight.

The problem is, I'm not sure where to stop. Do I stop at the climax and leave a cliff-hanger ending. Or do I wrap it all up? It is a series after all, but the books do follow each other in sequence, so in essence, each book is a cliff-hanger. (See, panic. How did I create such a mess?)

I don't know. And I won't know how this first book ends until I get there. Perhaps today. (Wouldn't that be nice?)

Also, I realize this post is fluffy, and I only wrote it so I can have 667 posts in my feed. I had 666 posts written since I started this blog, and that number always creeps me out, so that's why I wrote this post.

Anyway, I hope you have a great week. I'll be writing. What about you? What are you doing this week?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016