Monday, January 30, 2012

When Lightning Strikes

Good morning.

I got my crits back for THE DUKE'S DIVORCE and they weren't that bad. Like I said the other day, I've been working on my writing and self-editing skills over the course of the last few years, so everything is more or less really tight when I hand it off. I'm really proud of that about me. It also gives the critters less to have to correct.

However, during the course of the week I waited (yeah, only a week, how fab are my critters -- LOVE THEM!) I was restless. I was so used to writing every day, now I didn't have anything to write. I wrote up some blog posts, I took another look at THE LADY'S MASQUERADE but decided that needed too much work to get into before diving back into DIVORCE, so I put it away again.

I was itchy. I wanted to write something NEW. But I had nothing. No new characters, no new plot lines. Nothing "spoke" to me. So I figured, well I may as well enjoy the silence and clean my house.

No sooner had I switched off my brain, I was driving to the grocery store and BLAM, out of the blue, I had an idea. Not just any idea mind you, but a BRILLIANT idea! And not just an "idea" but the whole concept of the story, start to finish. And not just the beginning, middle, and end, but everything in between.

And so I began writing. And I couldn't stop. In a couple of hours I had about 3,000 words. It's just a short story, so I hope to have it finished by the end of the week, which means THE DUKE'S DIVORCE is going to have to wait.

Tell me -- Do you ever get caught up in a Shiny New Idea to the exclusion of everything else? Or do you jot notes down and put it away for later?

Oh, and on Friday I have the fabulous Alex J. Cavanaugh here at the Grille for an interview about his writing process for his new release CassaFire. Hope you'll stop by!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Three books I loved that I think you should read too.

Michelle Davidson Argyle's TRUE COLORS

As a former private chef, I would use food to create my art. Pairing flavor with texture, color and aroma, my canvas was a testimony to my love of gastronomic delight. Michelle Davidson Argylle’s TRUE COLORS And Other Short Stories borrows from my kitchen. Her mastery of the English language is like indulging in the finest seven-course meal. The subtle word play, combined with deliberate description, made me long for a nice glass of wine to accompany every page. Every story adds a new flavor, a new dimension to taste, which compliment each other. There are no mistakes in this menu, and after reading each selection, you want to sit back and savor everything you’ve read before cleansing your palette and beginning the next course. Tart, tangy, sweet, savory, TRUE COLORS is a testimony of her love for the written word. I cannot wait for more from her literary kitchen.

Anne R. Allen's FOOD OF LOVE

What do an overweight Princess, an African-American Baptist minister, a nuclear bomb, UFOs, a pornographic movie producer, Mickey Mouse and Elvis have in common? They are all intertwined in Anne R. Allen’s new book – FOOD OF LOVE.

While the main plot revolves around someone trying to kill Princess Regina, the story is truly told in flashback diary scenes, which take us back to the 60’s counterculture and what happens to two foster sisters, one white, one black, growing up in Boston.

From the book: Andy Warhol had been right about one thing. Everybody wanted their fifteen minutes of fame. These days, everybody had to imagine they were in the middle of some movie. They couldn’t face the fact that some lives are ordinary. Not everybody gets to play Carnegie Hall.

In FOOD OF LOVE the characters are larger than life, so over the top that you couldn’t imagine them being real. However, Allen perfects the art of characterization so that their struggles with weight, with love, with acceptance, and forgiveness show us that we all share the same human commonalities, whether black, white, young, old, rich or poor. Even if you do live in star-studded fame and fortune, we all share the same desires and set-backs.

I loved this book, it was such a genre filled mix – romance, thriller, spy-capade – the only downfall, I couldn’t read it in one sitting. Allen’s snarky humor shines on every page, and her not-so-subtle pokes at Hollywood’s rich and famous made me laugh out loud, especially when Elvis leaves the building.

This is Allen’s first book that I’ve read, and with so many more out, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into all of them. FOOD OF LOVE is the first in a long line of successes for Anne R. Allen.

Les Edgerton's JUST LIKE THAT

This is a man's book. No doubt about it. A semi-autobiographical tale written in fiction form of his life and travels as a criminal. I couldn't put it down. I never thought I would root for a protagonist that was on the lowest edge of society, but I couldn't help feel for Jake. His antics with his friends, in and out of the pokey, were some of the best fun I've read in a long time. Edgerton's writing is raw, plain and simple, and if you can't look at the seedier side of life, pass this book by. However, what I found in reading is that even the lowliest of people have feelings. The emotional integrity with which Edgerton shows us that Jake is a PERSON, a son, a friend, a lover, bring two lessons that are easily defined. Most people are not who they appear to be, and everyone deserves a second chance. Les Edgerton has come a long way from his past and with this book, only Blue Skies are sure to be ahead of him.

I hope you'll all give any and all of these books a try.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Help Me Please

Okay, I don't know if I'm stupid or not, you all know I have trouble with the computer, but this problem is driving me absolutely nuts and I've been on Word Help for about an hour with no clear answer.

It seems for some reason, after I've gotten a document back from someone else (crit partners in this case) all my formatting for whatever doc. I'm working on automatically CHANGES to what they use.

I used to have a 0.5" indent for my paragraphs, now it's 48 px. What is that? I don't want it, don't care about it, I want my 0.5" back. It's what I know, what I've used, what I like.

I've tried to clear my formatting. It isn't working. I've tried going into the drop down menu, that doesn't seem to work either. I've gone into paragraphs, into tabs, used the ruler, nothing is working.

Can someone please tell me how to format my ^%$&#* manuscript to the way I used to have it? My margins are off, my ruler is off, my tabs are all screwed up. ARGH!

And why does my style automatically change to someone else's? I can't work on my new doc. because I can't get an indent to a paragraph.

And what is up with my ruler? It's out of whack. Question -- I recently changed out my old Dell 14" monitor to an 18.5 (which I think I seriously hate, could that be why I'm having all this trouble? doubt it, but worth the question.)

Also, what the hay-zoo do I have to do to completely CLEAR all the formatting and start all over again?

Does anybody have a clue? Can anybody help me before I drive myself completley insane.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beating a Dead Horse

A Wednesday post is rare these days, but I'm trying to swing for the fences. Spring training starts soon.

I've gotten my crits back on THE DUKE'S DIVORCE and I have to say they were pretty good. My writing has gotten tighter over the last few years, and I'm very proud of that. I've learned how to say what I mean, and mean what I say. Most times.

However, the one problem I'm still having is my tendency to explain certain points over and over to my readers, thinking they won't get it, or remember it. A key issue, the "smoking gun" if you will, that has to be explained again and again. Beating that dead horse for all it's worth. (Like I'm doing right now.)

Yes, we know that Robert had issues relating to his ex-fiance, but do we need to read about it five different times? Yes, we were told Fiona has received a box of jewelry from her father, but do we need to be retold twice more before it comes out to the forefront of the narrative.

I think my tendency to do this comes from needing to repeat what I say to The Monster, over and over. "Did you feed the cat? Pick up your socks. The stove is hot."

My question -- Do you feel that certain key points in your story need to be made again? Do you feel your readers won't remember? Or hear it the first time? Do you love your critique partners as much as I do?

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's About the Sex

Good morning, yes, you read the title correctly, this post is about sex.

You know how I tend to go on and on about how I don't write sex, don't put it in my books, how I think it's just soft-core pornography, well...Well, I did it. I put sex in my books.

Okay, wait a second, before you start throwing nasty words at me like hypocrite, liar, smut girl, let me explain the reason why I put it in.

THE DUKE'S DIVORCE revolves around Robert, the duke, and Fiona, the Scottish lass. Without giving away too many spoilers, they have to get married. The caveat is, Robert will not bed her, and at the end of 6 months, Fiona will get an an annuity for her trouble and Robert will get his annulment.

However, this is the first book I've written where the H/H are married, so naturally, they SHOULD have sex. I mean that's what husbands and wives do. But because of the deal they made with each other to get out of the marriage, they can't.
Robert is not handling it too well because Fiona is a beautiful woman and she keeps getting more beautiful every day. Other men find her exceedingly attractive and Robert's jealousy is out of control. He throws himself at her on numerous occasions, and then backs off. Which leaves Fiona a little like "Hey, are we or aren't we." I mean they ARE married.

And then one night he does. He throws himself at her and they stick. Literally. Okay maybe that was too literal, but you get the idea. They have sex.

But here is where I think the line becomes blurred. I never show the sex. I slammed that door so fast it would make your hair stand back. Here is the actual sex scene from the book, and I want you to tell me if you think it's sex or not.

“Fiona, I love you with every essence of my being. I’ve been like a lunatic today thinking you found your happiness with someone else. Please, forgive me. I swear to you I will never doubt you again.” He kissed the tears that streamed down her face. “Oh my darling,” he whispered, before he kissed her again and brought them both to the bed.

Chapter Thirty

Fiona woke to the sound of snoring. Laying in the darkness with her husband’s arms wrapped around her naked body, Fiona smiled. Robert loved her. Her mind whirled at the thought of it. She would never get over hearing the words – I love you.

Okay, let's put aside the fact it's schmaltzy as hell. I told you last week, my friend thinks I'm old-fashioned. But if you read UP to the part where he throws her on the bed, I dare say you would swoon. Well, I swoon, but maybe it's just me.

And if you notice, I even threw in a Chapter break as well. Does that make me a prude? God, I hope not.

Truthfully, here's my logic. Someday the Monster is going to read this book, and I fear it will be sooner rather than later. If I HAD written sex I really didn't want to hear a bunch of giggling 10 year olds in another part of the house. Ewwwwww Your mother wrote THAT! Ewwwww. You know how they are when they see the word penis. Or breast. And I have absolutely no desire to explain what the word burgeoning means.

So my question to you, gentle readers is -- Do you think that's sex? Yes or no would be helpful in the comments.

(Semantics aside, I believe it's not. However, this is actually bothering me.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Champagne!

Last night at 8:07, I finally finished writing THE DUKE'S DIVORCE. YAY!!

It came in at 90,088 words. You have no idea how hard I've been working on this. 3,000 word count days, sometimes up at 4am because I just couldn't sleep, but it's done. It's done, it's done, it's done.

I had wanted to finish it before Christmas, but you know how that goes. I got side tracked with the S.N.I.
A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT which took from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day.

But now, I get to sleep for a week, send if off to beta readers and crit partners and see if I can get an AMEN! Of course, it will come back with redline all over it, I really got carried away with the new cool thing I learned called interiority, but for the most part, I think the writing is pretty solid. I like to edit as I write so I think what everyone will get is like the third or fourth draft, depending on how they edit.

Oh, and another bonus last night, A WIFE FOR WINSBARREN made it to #14,725
and was ranked #67 on the Kindle bestseller list. (Which doesn't really mean all that much yet, but hey, #1 is only 66 spots up, right?)

Thank you so much to everyone who supports me in this endeavor. It really means the world to me and I so totally can't do it without you.

So that's my news. Tell me tell me tell me, what's yours? I feel like I've been gone forever from the blogworld.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Am I Old Fashioned?

Before we get to today's post, I've posted an interview I did with Lady Olivia, one of the *stars* of my Regency series. If you're a fan, please go on over to my Anne Gallagher blog. I know the duchess will be taking questions, so if there's anything you'd like to ask a member of the British aristocracy circa 1810, by all means, feel free.

Good morning.
I sent my book, THE LADY'S FATE, to an old friend a few weeks ago. She wrote me to tell me she loved it, but she also asked why I write such old-fasioned stuff. I thought she meant the genre, which is Regency. She didn't. She was talking about my prose style.

I write in tight third person, with one POV for the hero, and one POV for the heroine. That's what I used to read when I was a kid on the beach. That's what I'm used to. That's what I'm comfortable with.

Mr. Bailey (six words for a hat) recently had a post about his current WIP, and how he's writing in limited third POV for one character and omniscient for another, alternating chapters. Which I find very exciting.

When I wrote my first book, I used omniscient POV. I loved the way it turned out, using all the characters' thoughts. However, after a couple of crit partners came back and told me it would be better to stick with one or two, I decided it was the wise choice.

I do like the ease with which I can get into one particular character's head with third. I do like the manageablity of the manuscript when I'm only alternating between two characters POV instead of a whole boatload.

But I miss the fun of omniscient. I feel there's a lot missing from my books in not being able to really share what the other characters are thinking, Lady Olivia especially. (And for those of you who've read my work, I bet you would like to know what Lady Olivia is thinking as well.)

Tell me -- What POV do you like to write? Which do you like to read?

*image courtesy of cynfulfashion*

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Blog Has Been Fixed

Hey all, just wanted to let you know, the problem with my comments has been fixed, whew. It seems Blogger wants to try out the new fandangled comment thread thing that Disquis (sp) is doing and decided to give me that, even though I didn't want it.

Unfortunately though, in order for me to read my comments in any way shape or form, I had to put in a pop-up window. I suppose it's not as bad as comment verification so there is that bright side.

Anyway, just thought I'd let you all know, it's not a bug, or martians, or viruses. It's just Blogger.

I'm not sure if I'll be posting on Monday next week, as it is a holiday and The Monster will be home. So I'll see you when I do.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

There's a Fly in My Soup

A bug in my ointment. A burr under my saddle. Blogger is not letting me comment, or go to my comments or look at my comments, or yours. I know Denise (L'Aussie) pretty much lost her whole blog due to some malfunction, and I hope that is not happening here. But, just so you know, I won't be commenting on your, or my blog until I can be assured, I'm not going to blow up. I can still read everything you say in my Google Reader so please keep posting, but know I can't comment.

I'm also going to disable the comment thingy at the bottom of this post so you can't comment either, just in case it's some kind of bug. And I really don't want you to catch that.

And for some crazy reason, the Anne Gallagher blog works fine. So if I can't post here on Monday, I'll post from over there.

Monday, January 9, 2012

There's a Change in the Air

Good morning. And no, I'm not talking about snow, or the lack thereof. I'm talking about the blogosphere, the blogoverse, blogging, whatever you want to call it.

I've been picking up on these little threads lately, these little discussions, sometimes rants, often times questions, about what the hay-zoo is going on here. I remember when I started blogging, we were all in this together -- to write the best book possible, land an agent, a contract, and be published.

Then somewhere along the line, the publishing world shifted, Amazon became a god, and we found ourselves in new territory. The imposed taboo of self-publishing was magically lifted and thousands of books began appearing on this thing called a Kindle. We didn't have to query anymore. We didn't have to suffer through the agony of rejection. If we put our book out there, someone would buy it.

And the blogosphere changed. We were no longer looking for ways to write better dialogue, or find out where a hyphen truly belongs, we were looking for information in how to format, to upload, to write cohesive 400 character cover copy. We shifted our focus to meet the new demand. To jump on the bandwagon. To make a gajillion dollars as promised by the new gods of Kindle -- Konrath, Hocking, et al.

We somehow turned the blogosphere into a side show, hawking our wares, asking, telling, begging, people to buy our books, to read our books, to please just look at our books. We became singular in our attention. It wasn't about "us being in this together" anymore, it was about me, me, me.

I am guilty of this as well.

And I hate every freaking minute of it. I loathe it with a passion. Which is why I try not to do it. It annoys me. And I know how much it annoys you.

But the problem is, how the hell are we supposed to sell our books if we don't publicize, market, promote. For most of us, this isn't some little "hobby" we do late at night when the kids are in bed. Sure, it may be the dream we've finally achieved, but it's also our "job" now. We're writers, who sell books, which makes us authors, who need to make money, to put food on the table, to pay the electric bill, to maybe make enough to finally get the damn car fixed.

There's a fine line some of us seem to be walking now in the blogosphere. We have to promote, yet we don't want to annoy. But what can we talk about these days? Can we go back to being the same bloggers we used to be? Can we really discuss the merits of a semi-colon without sounding like some lame asshat? Can we actually have a decent comment thread on the nuances of close third POV? or does it all now revolve around how many we sell, what our rank is, what royalty rate is best?

I want to go back to the way it used to be. I'm sick of being an author already. And it's only been three months. I want to go back to just being a writer. Who's really stuck in the last third of her book and can't decide whether to make her hero love the heroine or hate her guts. I want the blogs to be fun again, where I can learn something, where I can help someone. Where I don't have to be Anne Gallagher - Author of Regency Romances.

I just want to be the plain old Piedmont Writer.

photo courtesy of Jimmy Emerson, AL 2006

I'm Having Trouble

Good morning. I'm having trouble these last few weeks getting back into blogging. I was on hiatus from before Thanksgiving until last week. I missed a lot in the blog world by doing that, but it did get me back into what I needed to do -- spend time with The Monster and my books before the holidays.

But now the holidays are over, and I'm looking at the the next 5 months until I can take my next hiatus. (Part of my publishing goal was to only "work" while The Monster was in school, and when she was out for the summer and on vacations, so was I.) I need to get back to the blogs and come up with something snappy, some witty repartee, some fantastic mind blowing chatter.

Problem is, I've got nothing to say.

I mean, sure, I could talk about my books, but that's boring. You don't want to hear about that.

I could probably go crazy and read a couple of craft books and discuss those, but hey, you can do that on your own. You don't need me.

There's also the idea that I could just talk about The Monster but this isn't a Mommy blog, it's supposed to be a writing blog.

I don't know when the shift in my world occured. I would have to say, probably last summer when I decided to officially self-publish. But in doing that, I became someone new. I lost who I was. I'm not Piedmont Writer anymore, I'm Anne Gallagher -- Author of Regency Romances.

And don't get me wrong, I like Anne Gallagher, I'm just not sure what to do about Piedmont Writer. I liked being a writer. There was fun in that. I got to create new characters, test my wings in writing styles, and POV's, use my brain to figure out how to make good dialogue. Now that I'm an author, it's all about the next book. Traditional published authors will tell you that too. To find and keep an audience.

I hate that. I really do. There's so much damn pressure.

My aunt used to tell me, If I can't say anything nice to or about someone, don't say anything at all. I'm going to modify that concept.

If I can't find anything relevant to say, I won't say anything at all.

I hate the idea of giving up this blog. I really do. I've met so many wonderful people, made so many great friends, formed such solid bonds with other writers. I did miss you all when I was on hiatus, very much, but I've seemed to have lost my voice somewhere. And I really don't know how to get it back.

I'm going to try and only post on Monday for awhile, and see how that works out. I don't really know what else to do.

Tell me -- What do you talk about when you have nothing to say?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Please Help

I know I never post on Thursday but I do hope you'll all see this, and help out if you can.

Matt McNish from The QQQE had a blog post that caught my eye, and you can read it here. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to read it. It's about a friend of his, Candace Ganger from The Misadventures in Candyland. Now, I've never met her, never even been to her blog, but I've been in her shoes, not so very long ago, I might add. She wrote a post, which you can find here, and I really hope you'll read it. It broke my heart is 17 places, and she said she was going to take it down, but I hope she didn't.

She needs help. She didn't want to ask for it, but she has no choice. There are just some things a mother has to sacrifice for her family, and one of them is pride. There should be no shame in that. We are such a supportive blogging communtiy, I hope you'll be able to donate at least a dollar to this family. It would mean a lot, and help out so much.

She listed a Paypal account on her blog, but if you don't have an account please write her and ask her for address to send something through snail mail. I know she will appreciate it. When we have so much good fortune, it's easy to overlook those who are struggling.

Please do help. She's one of our own.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quick Thank You Announcement

I'm at the dentist today with The Monster so I'm not really here, but I just wanted to let you all know, I put up my latest novella A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT for FREE on Smashwords. Just my way of saying thank you for all your support throughout this crazy self-publishing adventure. (Amazon has yet to post it free so please don't go there or you'll have to pay for it. (And I don't want you to have to do that.)

When a surprising invitation arrives in the post, impoverished spinster Miss Ophelia Trent wants to turn it down. With no funds for a new gown or even slippers, she’s afraid of becoming the latest laughingstock in Society. With her mother’s gentle insistence, and a borrowed antique gown, Ophelia decides to take one last chance to find a suitable husband.

The ball to which she’s been invited is everything she could have dreamed, including a marriage proposal to the "perfect" man. However, she longs to see the stableman whose easy smile and soulful eyes have etched a mark on her lonely heart.

Should she stick with "perfect" or let her heart take a chance at finding true love?

I believe if you go here, it will bring you to the book. (I'm hoping the link works. I've been having a lot of trouble with links lately.)

And do you not think the guy on the cover is just dreamy? I'm so glad this book is done, because I used to spend hours just staring at him....

Monday, January 2, 2012

There's a Book Fair Today

There's a book fair today, my friends, hosted by the lovely Susan Kaye Quinn who put together the whole shebang. Eisley Jacobs designed the fantastic banner above. (And if you look realllllly close, you can see my book, THE DUKE'S DIVORCE in the top row, 3rd from the left.)

Now, if you want, you can click here and scroll down to see what I'm up to. I've only got one book offered on the actual fair site, but if you click on the above link, you'll get to see the second novella that will be available very soon. (Like maybe by the end of the day soon.)

If you click here, you can see who all is at the book fair. And let me tell you, if Santa surprised you with an e-reader this Christmas, I would definitely take a look see because there are some wicked cool books.

(I am sort of a little disappointed with Santa, but hey, my birthday is on Earth Day, and an e-reader saves trees, so I may just have to become ecologically sound, right? Sounds good to me.)

Anyway, I really do hope you'll all stop by at the fair. If not for me, for all the other great indie authors out there.

2:30pm I'm sorry, my links don't seem to be working the right way. Stupid blog. I'm going to see what I can do.

2:36 pm I think I fixed the problem. Sorry about that.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope 2012 brings us all we wish for!

The Harbor at Sakonnet Point
Painting by Nancy Isherwood.