Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Update

Good morning everyone. First, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who commented on my WRITE THE NEXT LINE Blogfest hosted by Christine Danek. It was such a great experience to write someone who was as creepy as a Stephen King character. Stretching my wings, as it were.

Anyway, I've been lurking around the blogosphere, trying to keep up because I'm just a news-bag that way. I don't read or comment everyday but I've been around.

I found these two posts which I think you should go look at pronto.

Samuel Park has given us a list of publishers that accept unsolicited ms. And some of them are very surprising. If you're having no luck finding an agent, perhaps you could try one of these publishers. Go take a look, you won't be sorry because I learned a LOT just by reading about them.

And if you don't know about Elizabeth Spann Craig and her Twitterific Sunday posts, OMG, you must go now. She has also compiled the lists into a writer's database where you can find all her tweets. It's a fantastic resource and I know you won't be disappointed. She's got EVERYTHING there.

And Monster Child has a loose tooth. Her first. She's so excited. I'm afraid I can't even look at it. And she insists on showing it to me every chance she gets. Now THAT creeps me out. Funny, I can look at blood and gore, I can deal with poop of all kinds, vomit doesn't faze me. Show me a loose wiggly tooth and I get sceeved out so bad with the oogies I run away and hide. Which she thinks is funnier than all get-out. She chases me around the house. Do you see now why I call her Monster?

So, that's all. I'm kind of digging this hiatus and really want to keep off the blogs for another few weeks. What I'd really like to do is get the first draft for Ellis & Violet finished before I come back. But you know me. I have so much to say I'm sure I'll be back long before then.

Tell me, what have you been doing? Do you miss me yet?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Christine's Write the Next Line Blogfest

The wonderful Christine Danek, who holds "Write the Next Line" posts on her blog, usually once a month, decided to take that idea and turn it into a blogfest. The first part of this is hers, mine follows after the *****. And please excuse the length. This was so much fun to write I got carried away.

3:00 am. Those numbers glowed green, staring at me, letting me know I wasn't sleeping. I couldn't. If I did, who knows what injury I would wake up with. Every night a dream would consume me, and when I woke, something on my body was cut, bruised, or almost broken.

I stared at the ceiling. The fan squeaked and wobbled, trying to produce air flow. It wasn't succeeding. I turned over, hugging my pillow. What's happening? Maybe I should see someone, but who? A doctor? Padded room for sure. Is there such a thing as a dream specialist?

A branch scratched the window. I turned over again. 5:00 am. Where did the last two hours go? Adrenaline pumped through my veins, accelerating my heart. My T-shirt was damp and clinging to my back. What happened? Did I dream, again?

Bang. Bang. Bang. I jumped up. Someone was at my door.


"Police, open up," said an angry masculine voice.

Police? Holy crap. What did the police want from me at five in the morning? I threw on my robe and padded down the hall to the front door. I opened it a crack to make sure it really was the police.

"Ma'am, we need to ask you some questions." I noticed the other officer shining his flashlight in my car.

"What is this about?" My sleep deprived mind and the adreneline rush from my dream made me snappish.

"Are you the owner of a light blue 1991 Honda Civic?" He asked, shining a flashlight in my face.

"As you can very well see. It's sitting in the driveway. What is this all about?"

"Ma'am, where were you between the hours of one and four this morning?" He took out a notepad and pen from his pocket, moving the flashlight to his upper arm. It didn't look like the easiest way to write and the breeze from the open doorway made my toes cold. The other officer clomped up the porch stairs.

"Look, officer," I looked at his name tag, "MacMillan, you just woke me from a sound sleep. I need some coffee. Why don't you come in and I'll try and answer your questions." I closed the door, swung the safety latch and opened it wide to allow them admittance.

Both officers followed me into the kitchen. I grabbed the coffee canister and measured, filled the pot with water and dumped it into the water reserve. I delayed as long as possible just to get my nerves to calm down. Finished, I turned to the cops standing in my kitchen.

"Now, what is this all about?" I folded my arms across my chest.

"Where were you between the hours of one and four this morning?" He repeated.

"Sleeping. In my bed." Where else would I be?

"And can anyone verify this?" MacMillan glanced at his partner.

"No. I live alone."

"And that's your car sitting in the driveway?" The other cop asked.

"Yes. Why? What is going on?"

"Does anyone else have access to your vehicle?"

"No, of course not. It's my car. I live alone. Look, what the hell is going on?"

The coffee maker gurgled its doneness and I automatically reached for a mug inside the cabinet.

"Ma'am, your car was seen leaving a location this morning and we believe it was used as the get-away vehicle for several unexplained deaths in our area."

I dropped the cup. "What?"

Officer MacMillan picked up the mug and handed it to me. "Why don't you make your coffee, sit down, and we'll see if we can't get this straightened out."

His politeness unnerved me. Unexplained deaths? What the hell did that mean? I poured my coffee, got milk out of the fridge, poured a splash, returned the milk, and sank slowly into my chair. I saw they both remained standing.

"Look, please sit down. I can't think straight with you looming over me."

MacMillan sat, but the other, Rodriquez, leaned against the counter near the dishwasher.

I took a sip of my coffee. Comforted, I asked, "Now, what's going on?"

"We believe your car was used as the get-away vehicle in several murders."

"Wait, you just said they were unexplained deaths, now they're murders? I don't understand."

Rodrigues flipped open his notepad. "Do you know Peter Kane, Jason Markowitz, Stephen Landing, or William Knowles?"

My heart stuck in my throat. Of course I knew them. I had dated them. I couldn't decide if I wanted to answer or ask for a lawyer.

"Ma'am, do you know any of these men?" Rodriguez asked again.

"Yes." I decided I would play along until it got sticky.

"When was the last time you saw any of them?"

Oh God, how do I know? The last one I saw was Billy, the night I found him with Nancy making out at the bar.

"Billy, William Knowles, was the last one I saw. Last Friday night at The Eagle Eye."

"You didn't see him tonight?" MacMillan asked.

"No, I didn't go out tonight. As a matter of fact, I didn't feel well so I went to bed early." The migraine that hit me around seven didn't even leave an out for watching tv.

"And what was the nature of your relationship with Mr. Knowles?" Rodriguez asked.

"I dated him until he dumped me last weekend for some blond bimbo named Nancy. I haven't seen him since."

"And when was the last time you saw any of the other men?"

"I don't know. They were all asshole's to me, excuse my language, so I just put them out of my mind. I don't generally see men again who treat me like shit."

MacMillan wrote something down in his pad. He looked up and asked, "Do you know any of the martial arts?"

"What?" What?

"Do you know karate, or ju jitsu, anything like that? Do you box?"

"No, don't be silly. I'm a dental hygenist for God's sake. Why? What does karate have to do with anything?"

"Have you been in the service?"

"No. I graduated from Surry Community College in '93 and have been working for Dr. Henton ever since."

"Have you ever taken cooking classes?"

"Okay, what the heck do you want to know any of these things for? What does that have to do with my car?" A tingling sensation hit the back of my head. A memory, or was it a dream, entered my mind. Stephen laying on the ground with his throat slit. And then Jason on the floor of his apartment, his neck twisted at an odd angle. Me looking in the mirror at an ugly black eye. Oh God! Did I do those things? I looked up to see MacMillan staring at me.

"Are you okay?" He asked.

"How was Stephen killed?" I had to ask. I had to know.

"I'm sorry ma'am, I can't divulge that information."

"Please, tell me." I thought fast. "I loved him."

"His throat was slit."

"And the others?"

Rodriguez flipped his pad again. "Kane had his head bashed in with a baseball bat. Landing was electrocuted in the shower, and Knowles was beaten to death."

Another flash of a memory-dream flashed in my mind. Billy begging for mercy. Oh God! What had I done?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Was Told

Just came up for air with this amusing anecdote --

The other day I was looking at an old blog post with Monster Baby standing behind my shoulder. She saw the word 'Monster' and immediately asked,

"Why are you writing about Monster's Inc.?"

I said, "I'm not. I'm writing about you. See, there's the word 'baby' as in Monster Baby."

Can I say she looked a bit peeved when she said in an academy award performance,

"Mommy, I am six years old now. I am not a baby anymore. I am a child. So you can call me your Monster Child instead of your Monster Baby."

Okay then.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

Good morning my darlings. Another week has passed and we are still digging out of the snow. Well, yesterday we dug out of the snow. Actually, I dug out of the snow and Monster Baby played. Funny, I never, ever remember my father digging out the driveway when we were kids. Maybe because my brothers did it for money? I don't remember.

I've been playing with an ague this last week. Or quite possibly a malaise. At first I thought I had caught Monster Baby's cold, then I thought I was beginning with the flu. I've been in bed for most of the week but haven't figured out what's wrong with me. Perhaps it's just the winter depression hitting. I don't know. All I know is I just feel like shit. (sorry, but that's how I feel.)

Anyway, it's just too much. Monster Baby has been home since last Friday and I am slowly going out of my mind. I can't seem to get in 'writing mode'. And believe me I need to.

So here begins my hiatus. I don't know how long it will take. I have one ms. to finish, one to revise and another to get started. Plus deal with the queries I have out on REMEMBERING YOU. (Makes me just want to go back to bed.)

I may or may not post sporadically. You know I can't stay away from the blogs, but with the way I feel right now, it's anyone's guess if I'll even make it to the keyboard.

So have fun, keep in touch if you feel like it, I love email. Best of luck with all your own work, but you know, you don't really need to get an agent until I come back.

Okay, well if you really have to.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


So I've been ill and in bed. With nothing to do but moan and sniffle, I've been catching up on my TBR pile. Nothing spectacular, just Regencies. More research if you will. However, I found something in one of these books that almost made my head explode.

The word -- irregardless.

Now contrary to popular opinion, this is NOT a word. I know, I know, I used to use it. Until somebody told me not to. So I'm passing on this great advice -- Don't use this word, it doesn't exist.

Just for fun, I dragged myself out of bed and grabbed my 18 pound New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language and looked up irregardless. It wasn't there. So I looked up regardless just to see if somehow they might have put it under regardless (I knew it wasn't there, I just wanted to cover all my bases. See, I'm still in research mode.)

regardless: 1 adj. (usually with of) paying no heed or attention
2 adv. (pop.) without consideration of the situation, consequences

And there on Page 53 of the book I was reading was this sentence.

Straining, grasping for something she did not understand but wanted irregardless.

(Let me also add, this was in a sex scene as well. Go figure.)

This book was published in 2006 (probably written in 2004) by Ivy Books, an imprint of Ballantine, which is owned by Random House. So yes, it was pubbed by one of the Big 6.

So, a writer writes the book. Presumably she shows it to either a crit partner or a few beta readers. She has an agent who reads the book. Which then gets passed to an editor who also reads the book. Then to a copy editor. And probably a few interns along the way. How in God's name can seven people read this book and not fix that word? The only reason I can come up with is that they skip reading the sex scenes as well and didn't see it.

Did nobody do a line edit? What does that tell you about the state of affairs in the publishing industry? I mean, I can see a few typo's, a misplaced comma or three, hey, I can even see the occasional misspelling of a word. But to see a word that is not even in the dictionary -- well, we're not in outer space where made-up words are the norm.

I feel bad for the author. I really do. To have such a glaring newbie mistake printed for all the world to see. REGARDLESS of who ended up with the book in the final editing stages, someone should have found this mistake.

Question -- How many times have you found a mistake like this? Or not found one, only to have your beta's or critter tell you? And, would you rather feel stupid now, or wait until you're published?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buried in Research

Good Monday Morning my lovelies. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I won't bore you with the details of mine, oh wait, yes, I will.

I was buried under research. Piles and piles of it. Well it would have been piles if I were in the library. I have six new "favorites" on my tool bar. I believe this would be translated to 342 books. OR at least 342 pages from books.

I ran the gamut from Who's Who in the Regency to etymology (gosh, hope I spelled that word right). Did you know that the contractions for was not, should not, and would not, were not used until the 1830's? Well, I didn't. And that means I cannot use them in my books. But I can use bloody and bugger. (And let me tell you how much I lurve those words.)

Now most of you know I've been writing Regencies forever (at least 3 years now) and I have done research out the wa-zoo. I pretty much know all the major players and what's going on in the world view (in the early 1800's anyway). Problem is I had to change my timeline two weeks ago, I only moved it up 5 years but those 5 years were big. Lord Nelson's action at Trafalgar, the Princess's death, the King's madness, the Prince's Regency, and of course, the murder of Lord Percival Spencer. (Or was it Lord Spencer Percival...oh way too much research!)

Anyhow, I read and read and took notes until my eyes bled. Six hours on the internet Saturday morning. But on Sunday, I took it easy and watched the A&E version of Emma by Jane Austen. (Starring Kate Beckinsale -- *waves at Alex*). I watched it three times. (Should probably also mention I was sick as a dog and could not be anyplace else but bed so it was a good day.)

I love Austen for her quirky characters. I love Austen for her turn of phrase (found two new ones -- Depend upon it -- and -- I have done thus -- I love that word thus) I also love the way Austen changes Emma -- in the beginning Emma was a spoiled little rich girl with no apparent yearning to see people as people (instead of where they are in the class stucture). And at the end, Emma fully realizes her mistakes of the past and corrects them. Huzzah! No wonder she's the most oft quoted romance writer of the

Question -- When you research, do you just get what you need and get out? Or do you keep going even when you know you don't need all the extra information?

Have I posted this before? I'm still not 100% well so if I'm redundant, sorry. I hate being redundant.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Tuna Melts, "Sick" Soup, and Bread Pudding. (Hi Liza)

I just wanted to say Thanks to everyone who commented on my "I Hate Sex" Post. It was a great discussion and I loved hearing everyone's views on the subject. And PLEASE, I never intended to insult anyone and their writing. I know several ladies I follow on blogs who write erotic romance and are published and do a damn fine job of it. More power to you. For my post I was strictly referring to the Regency romance genre and how they just plop (Hi Michelle) sex in with no reason for it whatsoever. Okay, enough about that.

I thought you might like to know that Lydia and Joe Sharp over at The Sharp Angle are holding a crit contest where EVERYONE will get a critique of their first 500 words. So go here now and sign up. I believe this closes down Jan 15. I think. So hurry over because I'm not sure.

I believe 2011 will become THE YEAR OF THE QUERY. So far, I've counted eight people who are getting ready to query this year. Including myself. There are also three of us who started the process right before the holidays (Yeah, what were we thinking, there's nothing worse than waiting on queries over Christmas.) So to all of you, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. If you need any help with your queries, don't hesitate to ask. I'm always up for a good query. (And not to toot my own horn or anything but I think I'm pretty good at them. My own have garnered partials and fulls and at least partials from other people whom I've helped if you need references. piedmontwriter at gmail dot com)

I received another request from an agent for REMEMBERING YOU. She wants an exclusive. Unfortunately I couldn't give it to her when she wants it, (which is now) because I still have 10 queries out with other agents. However, I did tell her when the other 10 come back in, I will grant it if nothing else develops.

I've heard horror stories about exclusives before, and I always said I wouldn't give them, but this agent was so nice about it (we had several emails) I couldn't refuse. Besides she's one of my top 10 picks so... have to.

I'm also taking a small hiatus -- not sure when that will happen, probably the week after next. I have to seriously buckle down and get my act together. Ellis and Violet are building a nice little love story, which is great, but also Penny and William are clamoring for me to fix them. (I finally had the revelation I needed to make this ms. work.) And if I can get both these books finished by the time I'm done querying REMEMBERING YOU, who knows, I may come away with a two-book deal. Wouldn't that be nice?

Any-hoo, I hope you all have a great weekend. I'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Hate Sex

Okay, how many of you saw this yesterday and said, "Huh?" I hit the wrong key and bam, it published. Simple fix of course -- tip for you -- before you do any writing on your post, fix the date on your post options and you won't have the problem of being totally embarrassed like I was.

Back to the real post.

I hate sex... in books. There, I've said it. And I know I've pontificated (Hi Donna *waves*) on this subject before, but I have to rant today.

I've been working on my Regency romance. As you may, or may not know, I don't write sex in my books.** I have sexual TENSION. I have tons of angst. I have passion filled kisses. I do not have sex. Not that I have anything against the act itself, I just don't want to write it, or read it for that matter. (And just so you know, I CAN write it, I HAVE written it, I have three sex scenes in my files just in case I ever did want to put it in my books.)

I recently acquired three new (pubbed in 2010) Regency romances. Two by NYT best-selling authors, one from a debut. The books were fantastic, (especially the debut -- soooo jealous), I read them in a day. (One a day.) The plots were great, the characters were great, the writing was great. Until I got to the sex.

The first book hit me with a sex scene on page 27 (which is kind of quick), and had four more sex scenes as well. And I'm not talking about regular missionary position kind of sex, I'm talking wild screaming monkey sex. Do I really want to read that?


The other books weren't too bad, the sex scenes were the "usual" and there were only two per book. However, each of them were between 5 and 7 pages long. WHY?

Because the authors described each and every little thing that happened. BORING!

To me, reading 7 pages of sex is like reading 7 pages of narrative on the correct way to wash dishes. Good Lord, we all know how to wash dishes and I'm presuming (as we're all consenting adults) we all know how to have sex. If you need to learn how to have wild screaming monkey sex, then go find a copy of the Karma Sutra.

As writers we're told to cut the crap out of our manuscripts, we're told to polish polish polish, make it shiny. So why the hell do we need to have 7 pages of sex? Wouldn't 3 have been enough? Do we really need to know ALL the details? Why are publishers publishing this?

Because sex sells.

Okay, call me a prude, call me a Puritan (I am orginally from New England), call me whatever you want, I don't care. I just don't see the need for sex scenes just to sell a book. Give me a great plot, give me characters who are real, give me some angst that doesn't involve heaving bosoms and eyes that bore into my soul.

I once queried an agent who said, "If you have an historical romance, can it stand by itself without the sex? If you took out the sex, would you still have a good book? If so, then you don't need the sex."

So why is there so much out there? Are readers in the Regency niche market not getting any? Are the ladies reading my genre all voyeurs because that's what it amounts to in my mind. I wouldn't like someone peeking in my bedroom window watching me do the horizontal shag. Which is why I don't read it. I'm not a perv.

And I can hear you all -- It's just a book, they're not real people. I know, I know. But still. Sex to me is a private act between the two people doing it. And you know what -- It's all the same. Pick up any two historical romances from any year, or different years for that matter, read the sex scenes, they're pretty much the same. You can only do it so many ways. (again Karma Sutra). And after awhile, it just gets boring. Like ham on rye with mustard.

Why does sex have to infiltrate such a sweet genre like Regency romance? Has anyone read Georgette Heyer? For God's sake, Jane Austen was a TRUE Regency romance writer and I don't think there is even a KISS in Pride and Prejudice. And you CANNOT tell me, THAT wasn't a GREAT book.

Question -- How many of you skip the sex scenes in the books you read? If you do write romance, do you write sex?

**To clarify -- I don't write sex in my Regencies. I write sex in my contemporary romances but even that (I think) is tasteful and most of it happens behind closed doors anyway. I like to leave some things to the imagination. Which, I think, is the real reason I don't write it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to Work

Good Monday Morning everyone! Even though I've posted throughout the holidays I still feel like I've been on vacation. I haven't written a single word in my latest WIP. I will blame that on Monster Baby being home on break. (I'll take any excuse.)

But here we are, bright and shiny, holidays over, decorations back in their boxes and I am raring to go. The question is -- on what?

I was working steadily on MISMATCHED and was gaining (even though the research threw me for a little loop, but I fixed that.) I looked at it yesterday and well, I'm not sure now. I also took another look at revisions for MASQUERADE. I would have to do some major work. Not that I'm afraid of hard work but I'm just not sure what to do with it. This business is all so subjective. (Especially without vampires or werewolves in sight.)

I suppose I could look at the two YA's I have kicking around too, seeing that YA is all the rage right now, but I don't write YA. I don't really know how. (And writing for the market is not really a great idea anyway. Besides, still not a vampire or werewolf in sight.)

I also have another women's fiction that has been on the back burner for quite some time. I have the storyline, sort of, beginning and ending, not the middle. Hmmm.

I could also focus on REMEMBERING YOU, cleaning it up again, get ready for a big deluge of querying in the spring. But then, I'd still need something else to work on.

So what to do. My muse has abandoned me for the sunny climes of Down Under and I'm stuck. I actually don't want another S.N.I. (Shiny New Idea) because I'm afraid it will just be wasted. (Like my second YA.)

Question for the day --- Now that the holidays are over (thankfully) and we can all get back to work -- are you having trouble focusing on what you want to do?