Monday, July 10, 2017

My Books Were Pirated -- How I Handled It

To add to the growing number of crappy things that have happened to me in recent months, I found out that several of my books were pirated and offered for free as a PDF download across multiple web-sites. Naturally, I was stunned, then angry, then depressed. It's been hard enough to write these days, now I had to confront this nightmare of a situation, which I didn't really want to do for a number of reasons:

1) It was wasted energy.
2) It was wasted time.
3) What was the point of writing and trying to sell books if some little piss ant was just going to steal them?

A few years ago, I found a blog post that gave step-by-step instructions as to what to do if you ever found yourself in this situation. Luckily, I had saved it in my bookmarks bar. I reread it, then searched for more answers. I read about a half-dozen more blog posts just to make sure I knew what I was doing. (Just search "ebook piracy" or "DMCA notices".)

I took nine days to get my act together to deal with it. Last Friday I sent out DMCA notices. (Digital Management Copyright Act). By Saturday night, after another Google search, the pirated books were gone. I kind of didn't think it would be that quick, but I guess when you mess with copyright infringement, pirates are scared they'll get sued for damages (which for some could be in the millions.)

It was a process to be sure because even though these websites are supposed to have a DMCA tab for such things or an email address on their site, most didn't. I had to look them up on WHOIS. And once I did, it was a nightmare to figure out which address to use. It took just about 5 hours from start to finish to send 9 notices.

Here is the letter I sent. (Pretty much word for word from the blog post.)

7 July 2017

To Whom It May Concern:

In accordance with Section 512(c) of the DMCA, I am submitting this takedown notice in writing and with a digital signature at the bottom. 

My name is Anne Gallagher. Effective 7 July  2017 it came to my attention that my copyrighted material, specifically The Lady's Masquerade is being offered as a free download on your site (You have to make sure you include their website. Found this out when I received an email from one of the pirates who asked, "Which website?" Needless to say, said pirate obviously has more than one.)

I have a good faith belief that the use of these copyrighted materials on your site is not authorized by the copyright or intellectual property owner, its agent, or the law. Under penalty of perjury, I certify that the information in this notice is true and accurate, and that I am the copyright owner of the copyright(s) involved.

Under this statute, you are required upon receipt of this notice to remove and disable access to the infringing materials specified in this notice.

The title is as follows, with an active link to this item on your website:

Title: The Lady's Masquerade
(You also need to include a link to the book, not just your author page. I used Amazon because they have global reach. Most of the websites had domains in India.)

Thank you for your assistance and for handling this matter promptly. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me via email at .

(You also need to include a written signature. At least that's how I interpreted the instructions. I think it makes the pirates take you seriously.)

Anne Gallagher
Shore Road Publishing

Here is a link to the post

They also explain much better than I can.

I wrote the main text in Word, then copied and pasted it into the email. I couldn't figure out how to insert the written signature so I wrote one out, scanned it, then uploaded it as a picture to insert in the email. (I know, I'm still so outdated when it comes to computering.)

I found six Regency romances and my latest contemporary romance in the pirates' booty. Unfortunately, every book I found, I had once offered for free at one point in their publishing history. So take that as a lesson to be learned. Free is not what it used to mean. And that's not to say that pirates won't take a bought book and do the same thing, I'm sure it's just easier with free. Most of these websites also maintain they're doing a service to the reading public by offering these books.

However, as the above mentioned blog post says, most of these sites are just scams wanting to steal information or infecting your computer with viruses. And I know one of the pirates had more than one website because I found the same comments on three of them, all claiming "this is one of the best websites around to get free books. Now I can finally read the book I have been wanting without paying for it." It made me sick to my stomach.

How did I find out that my books were being pirated? I Googled "The Lady's Masquerade free download". I then searched each of my other books. I found Women of a Certain Demographic quite by accident. I wanted to see if it was up on itunes so I Googled it and voila, there she was.

So, two lessons today, my bloggy friends--
1) Take the time to search your titles.
2) Think long and hard about offering your books for free.

Tell me -- Has this ever happened to you? What did you do about it? Do you still offer your books for free?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2017

PS. I've also posted on my other blogs this week if you want to take a look. I'm finally rested enough to get back in the game.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Writing for the Future

For the last year or so, I've felt like a deep sea diver, descending into uncharted territory, a shark spear in one hand, flailing for the guide rope to the surface in another. My mother's diagnosis has left me nearly paralyzed under the routine of housework, Monster, and writing to keep my feet on terra firma. But paranoia swims at the bottom of that endless ocean and the question remains --what state of mind will I have in ten years?

Alzheimer's disease is a nightmare to live through. Blinding frustration, overwhelming panic, incredible sadness, and just plain helplessness are a few of the more colorful adjectives I can think of. My grandfather had dementia. My maternal aunt has it (has been suffering from it for the last 22 years). Technically, my aunt shouldn't even be alive, but she is, which frightens me even more that my mother could live with this horrible affliction for the next fifteen years. And that if she is still alive in fifteen years, she will be 90 and I will be 70. Chances are, I will be fighting that same disease. Monster will only be 27. I do not want to leave her with that legacy.

I've begun to seriously consider the next ten years. Something I don't often do. I live in the present, have tried not to plan ahead more than a few weeks. Plans change and I hate to be disappointed. It's that Taurus thing. However, when I first started blogging I read that every writer should have a five-year plan. Same as a small business model. I achieved my five-year plan, albeit with an extension to finish The Reluctant Grooms Series. (By this time, my mother's illness had begun to show its ugly head.) Somewhere in the back of my mind I had thought to write the next Regency romance series, Ladies of Dunbury, within the next five year plan, which is where I am now at two years in. I have written and published three books, contracted to write five more, hopefully within the span of the next two years, which will leave me at year four of this five year cycle.

Having said that, last year I began writing a detective/mystery series. What was supposed to be a lark, has actually turned out to be an interesting opportunity for me to stretch my wings as a writer. It's also turned out to be a massive project. I have finished 6 of the 24 novellas, and started on five of the others.

I also have a contemporary romance in the works with 24k words on that. Those words took only eight days for me to write. I could probably finish  the durn thing in three weeks if I had a mind. But since the day Monster got out of school, I have been spring cleaning and moving furniture, and trying to keep up with the yard work. I bushwhacked through a jungle of overgrowth three days ago and am still paying for it.

Taking all that into consideration, I look at where Monster is in school- 7th grade. Two more years until she graduates, then high school (four years), then hopefully, college at Wake Forest (four more). Equals ten years. Monster will be 22. I will be 65. And my mother will be 85. I know what all the Alzheimer's doctors say-- they only give the patient five years from the diagnosis. Well, my family throws that theory out the window.

So, here I sit contemplating the next decade. The five remaining Regency romances will take at least two years to finish. The massive detective/mystery project will take a year to finish, at least, and then another year for edits. And not only do I have one contemporary romance that I want to work on, I have several unfinished manuscripts lying around in the bowels of my hard drive I'd like to work on again. I think I have enough work to keep me busy for the next couple of years.

In ten years, I will be sixty-five. What state of mind will I have? Will I still be able to write? Will I still be able to function? Will they have found a cure by then? Will my books still sell? What is the legacy I'm going to leave for Monster?

I know, heavy thoughts for a Monday morning. With the looming idea of Alzheimer's disease added into the equation, it's not looking good for me. But I'm ever optimistic. As cynical and jaded as I am about the rest of the world, I have faith that some human spirit will break through the mysteries of the disease and find a cure. Not just for me, but for every single person who's suffering right now.

As for me, I intend to just pound the keyboards until my writing looks like this
[m/d w   gjwoudn  gjou njowrspw.
Maybe by then I'll be so famous, those words will be worth a zillion dollars.

Tell me -- Do you ever think about what you're going to write next? Do you have a five-year/ten-year plan?

 Anne Gallagher (c) 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Power of a Bad Review

I've been debating to broach this topic for a couple of weeks now, but I decided if I don't let it go, it will eat at me and possibly cripple me for the rest of my life. Having no one to discuss this with in "real life" who could possibly understand, you guys are it.

I generally check my Author Amazon page a couple of times a week. I check my stats, and then reviews just to see if anything is happening because I don't get many reviews, so when I do, I'm excited. Even if it's a bad review. At least someone is reading my book.

So, I checked. And I got a 2-star on several books (several books) from the same reviewer. It seems she purchased my boxed set on KU because it's free for KU subscribers. Not only did she leave the reviews on the boxed set, she decided to leave the reviews across the board on each of the individual stories. Nine (9) stories total.

Now, anyone who has had the experience of a bad review knows DO NOT ENGAGE the reviewer. It can only lead to a pissing contest and a social media nightmare. I've heard enough of these stories since I began writing to know not to do that.

It also seems that this reviewer left comments on one of the last reviews and when I looked, it seemed as though she and another reader were having a conversation about, not only MY books, but another author's as well. On MY comment board. WTH?

So, I politely inquired of the reviewer that if she didn't like my books, then why was she going to bother reading the rest. She gave me her answer, we had several paragraphs of dialogue where I explained my thoughts about my writing and why I wrote the books the way I did. She seemed satisfied with my answers and I thought she would either repair, replace, or hopefully bump up the stars. (Because I had done this once before with a different reviewer and she did bump up from a 2 to a 4.)

Nope. What she then did was read the final boxed set, trash it and pretty much tell the world, "Don't bother reading this series." IN THE HEADING!

I looked up her stats because she was a top reviewer and found some comfort in the fact that she didn't like anything she ever read. Every book was tagged with 2 stars. (Some 3, but those were few and far between.)

However, during this time, I had just taken my mother for cataract surgery and had to make sure she had her required eye drops 4 x a day, (hard to do with an Alzheimers patient), was getting ready for Spring Break (which meant I had to get my school responsibilities together when I came back b/c my mother's NEXT surgery was that week--lots of paperwork), try to get the yard in order--we've had rain, finish doing my mother's garden (b/c obviously she can't do it anymore), make a list of what to clean in the house during Spring Break and attempt to install my new bathroom sink, but most importantly...

...finish the book I had started in March. Yes, on March 1, I started the 3rd book in the Ladies of Dunbury series and had 75,000 words written. I was on a roll writing (even with all the other stuff on my plate) because I LOVE this story and was just writing, writing, writing. Until I read the reviews.

And then I stopped. Dead in my tracks. I didn't even look at my computer for almost a week. My Never Give Up Never Surrender mantra was out the window. I honestly wanted to give up writing. I hadn't been this depressed in about twenty years. Seriously. I mean what was I going to do if I couldn't write. It's not like I can just go out and get a job. Not with my mother the way she is.

I finally broke down and wrote to a good friend and dumped the whole load on her (which I did not want to do because really, who wants to hear this shit). Thankfully, she talked me off the ledge. She loves my stories and is a talented writer in her own right, so her kind advice to "let it go, there are trolls everywhere" seemed sage and heartwarming.

I know and understand that every reader will not like what I write. I get that. I do. And I have several 1 and 2 star reviews to prove it, not only on Amazon but Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, and Goodreads to boot. However, for some reason, this just slayed me. My overwhelming urge was to kick this chick in the teeth and tell her, "Well, if you hate what I write, then write your own damn book."

That's the thing about this business that gets me the most (and I think most other writers as well). We pour our heart and souls out onto the page, write what we love, take the time to revise and edit--sometimes for months--and publish with the hope that this book will
make the NY Times bestseller list
make us the most money we ever had
give us the recognition that we crave
fulfill our heart's desire
fill in the blank

What this chick did with her reviews was to take away my dreams of a good life for Monster, make me rethink my future as a writer, and jack hammer my fragile ego to smithereens. It took almost 10 days for me to go back to my computer, something which has never happened. EVER.

I'm happy to say that I am finally writing again, have 83,000 words on the story, and if I play my cards right, one final chapter to write. I'm trying not to hear this chick in my head every time my fingers touch the keyboard, but it's damn hard.

I know this is a business and it's not supposed to be personal, but it is. I don't care who you are, whenever someone says something about you, good bad or indifferent, it IS personal. The old adage comes to mind -- if you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all. But in this day and age with the privacy of the internet, manners have gone out the window.

I'm sure this reviewer, who actually said to me, "I feel I'm doing your readers a service"
does believe she IS providing a service. But at what cost? She has no idea who I am, what I'm trying to achieve, or what my life is like at this point in time. She sits on her throne and reads book after book and passes judgement on what she thinks is good writing. (She told me that's what she does all day--just reads. Must be nice to have that kind of life.)

Anyway, I guess the lesson I learned this time is to never ever read your own reviews.

Tell me -- Have you ever had a review that just knocked you off your feet? What did you do about it? Do you read your own reviews? Do you write reviews?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Cold Hard Ugly Truth

Well, hello to you who are still with me. I can't believe it's been so long since I've been here. Yes, I did finally finish the book I'd been working on last fall. Eleven days ago--the day before Valentine's Day. And I was worried I wouldn't finish before Thanksgiving.

For those of you who are wondering, yes, my mother finally received her diagnosis--it is Alzheimers. Mild to moderate leaning more toward moderate heading into severe. Needless to say, it's been a long winter.

I realize it won't get any easier, and I've learned to take one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time because I can't really do anything else. I've had fights with my father, with God, and myself, because I don't really understand why I've been saddled with this responsibility on top of everything else I have to bear. But what am I going to do? Walk away? It would be soooo easy. Just pack it up and head back to Rhode Island. But you and I know I won't do that. I'm a good daughter.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

 My Monster
Monster, (who's 12 now and playing every sport imaginable -- she went from just volleyball, to basketball, now field hockey, track starts tomorrow, and softball in April) Monster and I were having a conversation about her so-called friends. You know, those little witches in middle school who just have to make fun of everyone and everything. She's been having a problem because she's not hip. Okay, what's the word these days--with it? Groovy? I have no idea. They think she's not cool enough because she doesn't have the right shoes, the right phone, the right sports equipment, the right mom. I'm doing the best I can, but I can't give her everything she wants.

Anyway, the other night the conversation turned ugly and I lost it. Monster was complaining about these girls and how they're so petty and back-stabbing and just fucking nasty. To HER! My daughter! My perfect, beautiful, sweet, athletic, smart, funny kid. Short of slapping every single one of them across the face, and getting kicked out of school, I told her, "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum."

Don't let the bastards grind you down.*

She looked at me with "the face". You know the one. Like I was from Alpha Centauri. I said, "Hey, if you think about it, five years from now, these people won't matter. Ten years from now, you won't even remember half of them. Twenty years from now they'll be a distant memory, like a movie you watched when you were little. Just keep on doing what you're doing, get good grades, have fun playing your sports, and take the laundry downstairs." I got the big sigh in return. But like the good girl SHE is, she took the laundry downstairs. She won't think about what I said now, but she'll remember it when the shit really hits the fan.

But isn't that what it's all about in this rat race? Just do what you gotta' do to keep your nose clean, your head on straight, and make it until retirement. Hah! I know there's more to life than just that. Every day when I take my mother's dog out to the back forty, I see the deer crossing through the meadow, the geese making their flight to wherever they're going, the robins are back, the daffodils are up. I see the simplicity in what God gave us and I try, try so very hard to keep from losing it. Some days it works. Others not so much but what are you going to do?

I suppose I could cry and lament and gnash my teeth and just make my friends miserable with the poor-poor-pitiful me scenario. But why bother? They don't really care. Honestly, they're just glad they're not living my life. You know how I know that? One of them told me. She said, "I don't know how you keep it together. I know I couldn't do it. I'm glad I don't have to." Yeah, we don't talk much anymore.

The Cold Hard Ugly Truth

Yup, this is my blog now. My writing blog, where I'm supposed to dish on all things creative. How I'm supposed to wow you with fabulous bits of information to help you in your writing endeavors. This is a far cry from when I started out. But hey, life's messy.

So, here's my advice for today (God knows I might not be back for another six months)--Just keep on trucking. Do what you gotta' do to get through the day. If you only write 50 words, so be it. If you open your word.doc and stare at it for a half hour, then close it up again, so be it. If one Saturday, you manage 2500 words and on Monday realize they're all crap, so be it. Just keep working at your craft.

And I know my last blog post said almost the exact same thing, but it's true and bears repeating. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Or fingers to keyboard and one day you'll actually write The End. It was a long hard winter, but I finally finished the damn book. I took a week off to clean my house and then started on the next one.

Why? Because I'm a writer and writers tell stories. That's my job. It's what I do. It's who I am. And no one will keep me from doing the thing that I love. Not God, not my mother or the damn disease that's eating her soul, not anyone.

If I can get through it, so can you. I told you all this just in case you wonder why you're writing--when you get another rejection, when your sales take a dive, when life slings crap in your direction and you're too overwhelmed to duck. Just remember Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. And me stuck in the life that I don't think I deserve.

Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2017

* Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale

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