Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Tamara Hart Heiner

Visions of death plague Jayne, who thinks watching her boyfriend die is the worst that could happen to her. But when she witnesses a murder, Jayne finds herself caught up in a dangerous world of intrigue and suspense.

As it turns out, she is not the only one doing the stalking. The killer is on to her, and all of her visions of the dying don't reveal how her life will end. Somehow, she must stop the murderer before he arranges Jayne's own inevitable death.

Tamara's graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me.

1)  INEVITABLE sounds like an interesting premise. A girl who smells
lemons and the person she looks at dies. Where did that plot come from? 

Where do most plots come from? I really have no idea. I've had an elevator pitch for the book going around my head for a couple of years, and I finally decided to sit down and write it. Where it came from before that, I'm clueless!

 2) I noticed all three of your books have the same subcontent of death in them. That's a pretty heady subject. Any particular reason you want to write about that? 

I don't consider that I write about death. I write suspense, thrillers. If there's not death in it, it's not very
suspenseful, is it? It just kind of comes with the territory.

 3) After reading your bio, I saw that you teach, have a family, and are a busy busy lady. Where do you find the time to write? Do you have a schedule or is it catch-as-catch-can? 

I have a schedule. I give myself about half an hour during the day, when my little ones go down for naptime and quiet time. Then again in the evening, I clean up as fast as I can so I can sit down and write. That time varies, depending on the day!

I hear you on time management.

 4) As a published author we all tend to have something else brewing in the background once we release a book? What's next for you?

 For sure is a nonfiction book about the Joplin Tornado. It's under contract and should be out in April next year, in time for the anniversary! For not so sure are a myriad of projects, some of which I'll pursue, and some
I'll set aside to start something else. :)

A non-fiction book about the Joplin tornado sound fascinating. Best of luck with that. And last question...

5) What secret can you share about INEVITABLE that you haven't told anyone yet? 

The plot centers around Latvian mythology.

Okay, now that is just wicked cool. Thanks so much Tamara for sharing your book with us today.

Here's all the information you need to find Tamara's new book.


Available on,,
Barnes &
, and!

After an awesome ebook launch on Facebook, Tamara's trying hard to top
that with the paperback. So here's the plan:

1) For the entire month of March, every comment on Tamara's blog gets entered into a
drawing to win a HARD COPY of one of her books. (You get to choose which

2) Leave a comment on THIS BLOG for a chance to win ALL of her young adult

3) Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for another chance to win

Goodreads Book

 by Tamara Hart Heiner


by Tamara Hart Heiner

Giveaway ends April 02, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.
to win

4) If you SPREAD THE NEWS, whether it's on your blog, on Facebook, on
Twitter, or just plain word of mouth, you'll be entered into a drawing for
a $50 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble gift card. Email Tamara at
tamarahartheiner dot com and tell her how many times you did it, and
you'll be entered into the drawing that many times!

Are we ready??? Get set! Go!

About the author: I live in Arkansas with my husband and three children,
two crazy boys and one pretty little princess. I used to spend a lot of
time writing until I had a baby and discovered Facebook. Now you'll often
find me on there pretending to have a social life.

I am the author of three young adult suspense novels, PERILOUS,
ALTERCATION, and INEVITABLE. You can find out more about what I'm writing
and catch deleted scenes from my books on my blog at

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Responding to a Negative Review

Okay, if you've self-published, we've all heard, NEVER EVER respond to a negative review. And as someone who's gotten more than her fair share, I never did. I was lucky enough to get reviews in the first place so I just figured any review was better than none. And it's true for the most part. People who buy books, look at reviews as a gauge. First it's the reviews, then it's the price.* (more on this phenomenon next week, because it's a fascinating topic.)

A couple of weeks ago, I received a review that was more like a rant and picked apart every single thing I did wrong in my stories. Now, I don't claim to be the next Jane Austen, and my critique partners don't read Regency romance (except mine and I like it that way) so the things the reviewer picked apart were - I hate to admit - dead on.

(Truthfully, this review had my blood pressure through the roof because she also claimed I didn't do enough research. OMG this tore me up inside. I have spent countless hours on research.)

These were not editing mistakes, or typos, or formatting, these mistakes were within the context of the story that Regency writers should know. (Which I did, but chose to ignore because, well, actually there are too many excuses to list. Suffice it to say, I wanted to write my books MY way and not be like everybody else.) Which I will never do again.

That being said, I decided to tackle the monumental task of rewriting all of my novellas. It's not so much using "find and replace", it's the task of rereading every single word and changing what needs to be changed. I spent three 12-hour days doing this. Because as you know, once you revise, then you have to republish.

(And if you want to know what's actually involved in that enterprise, take a look at my Anne Gallagher blog, because I've spelled it out quite concisely. For those of you who are thinking about self-publishing, you might want to read this because it will tell you that you really really really need to make sure you have an excellent copy to publish on the first go-round.)

For those of you who have a publisher behind you, you know what it means to have copy edits and galleys, and other revisions you need to do to get the book perfect before anyone sees a word of it. For a self-publisher (on a budget) I rely on my critique partners. I have one for grammar and punctuation, one for overall story content, and one I rely on as a copy editor. As I have stated, they are totally made of awesome and I wouldn't change them for the world.

Anyway, I revised all the stories. Then I republished them. Then I wrote a disclaimer and tacked that up front and center on my Amazon author page as well as the book pages and into every single book I revised.

To My Readers ~

In writing any kind of book, research is needed. In writing an historical romance novel, research is critical. In all my books, I have done exhaustive study into the era known as the Regency Period. I strive to make the historical facts I intersperse throughout my stories interesting for you. That I sometimes take liberties with those facts is my right as an author, because, after all, this is fiction.

That said, I do not hold strictly to the more formal aspect of addressing titled characters with their proper designation. Nor do I firmly adhere to other elements of the period – clothing, food, rank, or architecture. For some purists of the genre, they find this unacceptable. I find it makes for easier reading. However, I try to keep as much to the era as possible.

My books are meant to entertain and written with that purpose in mind. I hope you like them for what they are – and what they are intended to be. An enjoyable diversion from your everyday lives.

Now, because I thought this was kind of a drastic measure, (this review was hurting my sales, and no one is going to mess with my sales) I wrote to one of the leading professionals in the business to see if this was a stupid idea or not. She said it was a ballsy move, but thought it might work. "Try it and see what happens" was the response. (I also spoke with a few other friends and they agreed.) What could it hurt.

I also decided to "comment" to the reviewer and tell her what I'd done. Another thing you should NEVER EVER do. And she responded kindly, and said that she didn't mean to rant about it, but it was driving her crazy. Which, when I read some big authors out of New York, the stuff they throw in their books makes me fling them across the room. So I know how she feels.

I'm trying my best to put out a quality product. That said, in this new publishing world, with the ability to revise and republish, hey why not. New readers come along every single day. And if I can snag a few more fans, then 36 hours work to rewrite them is a drop in the bucket.

And some of you may ask, "Well, why didn't you put out a quality product in the FIRST place?" And my answer is -- I thought I had. I don't know about you, but after reading a manuscript 10,000 times, the only thing I want to do when I get it back from my critters is make the changes and upload it. I'm sick of looking at it and I want to move on.

When I first saw this review, I thought seriously (for about an hour) to write to you all and ask for your help, either writing your own reviews and posting them, or clicking on the "does this review help you" button at the bottom of the review and saying no. But that's just childish. I mean, yeah, this review was devastating, but I'm not in high school anymore. I can fight my own battles.

Now, I also know, what I've done might not help you. Some people are going to leave bad reviews no matter what you write. One 2 star reviewer of mine insisted I wasn't anything like Mary Balogh. Yeah, and? I'm not her and don't write like her, nor will I ever write like her. I'm me. Other 2 star reviewers have complained my novellas are too short, that they should be turned into novels. Uh, no. They're called novellas for a reason. And then I have the people who say "same old same old, boy meets girl, they fall in love, so what..." Makes me want to scream, "Well why did you buy it if you KNOW how it's going to end?" So, you have to take the good with the bad. But the upside to this post is, if I didn't respond to this reviewer, I never would have gotten the stories revised and who knows how many other readers I'd have lost because of a few simple mistakes.

So, the old "rule" of not responding to negative reviews, in my case anyway, worked. I think. I hope. I pray.

Tell me -- What do you do about negative reviews? Do you go back in and change your stories? Or do you just leave them the way they are and hope for the best -- because they're YOUR stories and no one is going to tell you how to write? (I dealt with this anguish as well. It was not pretty to admit I dropped the ball.)

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Writing Detox

Good Morning. Last Monday I touched on what we Should and Should Not do as writer/authors. Of course, that list is free to interpret any way you wish. I just wish "they" would stop hammering it down our throats. Perhaps if they made them "suggestions" it might be a little easier to swallow.

Anyhow, for the last couple of years, everyone has agreed on this one essential issue where writing is concerned. Something that we all SHOULD do. Write the next book.

I can remember being in query hell, and the resounding response to my "What do I do while I wait for responses to come back?" was write the next book. You need another in the coffer if the agent makes a request. And if not, you'll have another to query when you give up the first one. Write the next book.

Putting a book up on Amazon and debating whether to promote or not, and the resounding response was write the next book. This is a long tail enterprise, and the more books you have out, more readers will find you. Promotion can wait until book four or five. And besides, blog tours don't work. Neither does a Twitter campaign. Just write the next book.

Trying to play the Amazon game, and the resounding response was write the next book. Don't worry about getting reviews, bad reviews, no reviews, whether KDP Select "free" works or not. It's a game, and the only rule is to get the next book out there. The more you have, the better off you'll be. Write the next book.

Okay, so here I sit, after 18 months, with 4 novels and 4 novellas (published) under my belt, with another novel ready to fire up in the next week or so, and what should I do? Why, write the next book, of course.

But you know what, I'm tired of writing. I'm tired of figuring out plot points and inciting incidents and figuring out how to make my heroine less irritable. What I really need is a vacation. A nice long vacation with beach sand in my Virgin Mary, and sun burn on my nose.

But then I think how my books will suffer if I don't write the next one. My readers will be heart broken and leave me if I don't cough up another "something" within 2 months. My sales will plummet to nothing, I'll lose my ranking, my audience, my shot at being #19 again on the New Releases Best Seller List. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there in publishing land, and if you're not top dog, or even mid-list dog, you're nothing.

And then I think I'll lose my mind if I have to sit at the damned computer staring at a blinking curser for days on end wondering how to write when I really don't want to.

We've all heard how we SHOULD write every day. How we SHOULD churn out something, even if it's 500 words of crap. How we SHOULD keep notebooks in the car, by the bed, in the bathroom when inspiration hits.

Yeah, okay, I was on this kick for awhile too. Writing, writing, writing. Letting the house get so bad I could have been a candidate for Hoarders. (Okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea. The dust bunnies even packed up once and left.) Ignoring the phone, my mother, my daughter, all for the sake of the next book. I've forgotten how to live in the real world because I've spent so much time with my characters.

And that's just not right. The guilt I have because I'm not sure what to do. I feel guilty if I spend time with my daughter and not writing. And I feel guilty I'm writing and not spending time with my daughter. Or cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn, or for God's sake, just doing laundry and keeping the dishes up.

Until I read one of those posts I mentioned earlier. And this guy, Bob, is his name, said, "You need to detox every once in awhile. You need to take a break to replenish your imagination." (paraphrasing here)

And I KNOW this. I take breaks off the blogs. But this guy was talking about something more. Just walking away from it all -- blogging, social media, writing, marketing, all of it. Just walking away for a good long while, or until the next big idea hits and you can't wait to get back to the keyboard. That, he said, was the key. WANTING to write. (And he's got 50 books under his belt, so he should know what he's talking about.) Writing because you WANT to, not because you SHOULD.

And that, I think, is where I am now. I need a writing break. Detox, if you will. Oh, I'll still blog, for the time being. But I'm not writing. I can't. And why churn out shit, when I know I'll just scrap it all anyway. That, my friends, is an exercise in futility. If I can't write 1000 words of something half-way decent, then why bother.

Tell me -- Do you ever willingly detox? Does it replenish your imagination? Or do you keep working away because you think you SHOULD?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Scott G.F. Bailey

This is a real treat for me today. I'm a huge fan of Scott's work. His prose is lush and compelling, and makes you think about every word he uses. I've had the privilege of reading two of his novels, and most of the excerpts he posts on his blog, and I'm just in awe. Yes, I'll say it, the guy's a bloody genius. I wish all his other work would be published NOW so I won't have to wait to read it. Gush much? You bet'cha!

I've known you for a couple of years and I would describe you as a literary fiction writer. I know what that means, but for those of my readers who only read genre fiction how would YOU describe the term "literary fiction"? And would you describe yourself as a writer of such?

The term "literary fiction" is an awful term, and nobody really knows what it means. I guess when I think about my own books, I think about what I'm trying to do, which is to write about humanity as honestly and as beautifully as I can. So there's tragic and comic and lyrical and obscene stuff all at once, just like real life. Everyone dies, so you can't avoid that, but hopefully everyone experiences love and truth and beauty, too. My books, at least so far, have all been set in the real world, either in contemporary times or in some historical past, so I don't write fantasy or science fiction. Though every book I've written has had sort of fantastical dream sequences, and lately my books have characters who undergo mystical, maybe even religious experiences. Look how handily I describe my books while avoiding your question! Yes, I try to write literature, but no, I don't know what the term means.
 I am constantly amazed by how many books you read during the course of the year. Nothing "fluffy" about your reading list either. Thomas Hardy, Dickens, Chekov, Faulkner...Why is that? Do you find "modern" authors aren't smart enough, or does it have more to do with the "style" of the prose?
(I use "smart" in this sentence in reference to British verbiage. I don't know any other way to describe the word I want to use.)

We are very dull at my house. We don't watch TV and we own thousands of books, and we're constantly buying more books. I just pick up whatever novel calls most loudly to me. I try to read as much contemporary work as I can, but there is a huge amount of brilliant stuff already lying around that I also want to read. Basically, I want to have read every novel ever written, no matter the genre or culture or time period. That way I could have the luxury of only reading new books, and of re-reading all of my favorites from the past. That would be a nice reading life. I do have a fondness for a certain kind of 19th-century English prose style, though I am reading a lot of stuff from the first part of the 20th century now, Modernists like Woolf and Joyce and Hemingway, and Faulkner and those sorts of people. I'm also reading more translated novels, especially French, Japanese and Chinese books. Just to get a different perspective. A lot of modern American novels seem to all be saying the same thing in the same way, and so I'm looking around for something different. A lot of old books are really creative, wacky mind-bending things. They're not stuffy or formal or dull at all. Dostoyevsky was insane and unpredictable. Chekhov always surprises. Shakespeare's plays are fresh and new every time I read them. But I'm also looking forward to the next books by Peter Carey and Umberto Eco and Jamie Gordon and Hannah Pittard. I have piles of newly-published books at home; it just takes me a while to get to them. There's all that unread Dickens and Chekhov in the way, that's all.


I know that you write every day with pen and paper on a bus going to and from work, and then transfer those words into your computer. Having only gotten my first computer five years years ago, I remember late nights at the kitchen table scratching out my first drafts as well. Now I find I only revert to pen and paper when I'm stuck. Do you find the subtle art of pen to paper fires more cohesive thoughts in the first draft? Or is it too hard to write on a laptop on a moving bus? (I'm being semi-cheeky here.)

Writing longhand forces you to slow down, and makes you hold the thought longer while you write. This has been a good thing for me, because the longer I think about each sentence, the longer I hold onto each specific image from which the story is built, the more likely I am to write something imaginative and fresh and surprising, and to avoid cliches. The prose becomes more important when you write each word, each letter, by hand. And you also ignore how it's laid out on the page. Word (or whatever program you type into) sort of forces you to consider how it looks on screen, not how it sounds in your head. Also, the revision process is better for me on paper than on a computer, because when you mark up pages with a pen, you see the entire history of the sentence at once, and often what you really want is something in between what you originally wrote and what you first revised it into. Computers lose that history of the writing. Hit "delete" and it's gone forever. I like the process, I like to show my work. Also, I work with computers all day. Computers are ugly; word-processing programs are ugly. Excel is ugly. Facebook is ugly. Writing fiction is a break from all that. Pen and paper is quiet, and you use your eyes differently, which is also nice. I should also say that even though I write longhand, which is slower than typing, I tend to get a first draft of a novel written more quickly than most of my writer friends who write directly onto a computer.
You've written an historical novel set in 18th century America concerning two thieves and a prostitute, a book about a transcendental detective (coming in 2014), another about a woman who travels the US highways in the 1950's (which I desperately want to read), and your next endeavor is a man's pursuit to the South Pole in the 1914...These are certainly very different characters. Do you find characterization far outweighs plot in your stories? Or do you take ordinary characters and drop them into extraordinary circumstances?

 My concern is mostly about the characters, because my work is concerned with the problems of being human; specifically, I find myself writing about identity, self-worth, love and the idea of home. Plot's got nothing to do with those things, nor does setting, really. The primary thing I try to do with my writing is say, "Look how hard it is to be alive. The best thing we can all do is to be more kind to each other." We are all extraordinary characters; we just don't remember to respect that about each other. So I try to show people in difficult but realistic situations, and how hard but vital it is for us to be kind to one another. I don't really set out to build stories that teach lessons or anything, it's just that I keep finding myself writing about kindness. As for how each specific story comes, I guess I get a strong image, usually the final image of the story, and I try to figure out how the characters could have gotten to that point. That's how the plots are built (in reverse, from end-to-beginning), and the setting comes from the original image. For the 18th-century criminals' story, I had an image of William Bull, in a tricorn hat and a frock coat, sitting on the steps of a wooden church, holding a box of money, waiting to be arrested. The year 1749 and the location of Maryland was what I found that fit that image. The detective novel is set in Oregon, in 1935, because that's the time and place that best fit the character and what she was doing in the story. So I have to piece all of this together bit by bit to make something that seems to form a whole. The woman walking along the highway in 1950 is set in 1950 because she's wearing a 1950 cocktail dress and also because she's more-or-less of my mother's generation. The South Pole thing came about in the same way: just fitting together pieces of fabric until the quilt looks good. I make it all up as I go along; I don't have a plan for the type of novels I'm going to write.
Again, THE ASTROLOGER  is not your everyday light reading. Taking a page from Hamlet, you decided to tell a unique story, one I certainly would never imagine. How would YOU describe this novel? Is it a quest for truth? Or just a crazy idea you had one night after knocking back a few brews?

 THE ASTROLOGER is about my favorite themes: identity, self-worth, love and home. I had the image of a guy looking through a telescope, in love with this brand new technology. So it had to be a Renaissance-era story. I also had the "Hamlet" story going through my head, with its themes of betrayal and revenge and father/son relationships. Then I stumbled across the theory that, in 1601, the king of Denmark had the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe murdered. The story fell into place around my ears, as it were. I tried to make it an exciting adventure story, with swordfights and mysterious castles and palace intrigue, but it's also concerned with ideas like being a genius versus being ordinary, innovation versus tradition, loyalty versus honesty and things like that. Big, timeless themes. It's also really funny, I think. It's got ghosts and jokes and adultery. And swordfights.

And let's not forget about eels. 

Scott, I can't thank you enough for being here today.  You can buy Scott's book here.

You can also find THE ASTROLOGER on Amazon, or buy it from Rhemalda Publishing.

"As long as Denmark, looks backward, there will be bloodshed."

It is December of 1601. Soren Andersmann, the Danish royal astrologer, has smuggled a trunkful of poisons, daggers, and a venomous snake into the royal castle at Elsinore. Though Soren knows nothing of the assassin's trade, he has sworn to be the instrument of justice. King Christian IV has murdered Soren's mentor and spiritual father, Tycho Brahe, the most famous astronomer the world has seen. Soren will have his revenge.

The Astrologer takes us into the world of Europe on the edge of the Renaissance. It is a world ruled by the sword, where civilization is held in place by violence and blind loyalty. The birth of science is still overshadowed by medieval religion, but men are learning to think for themselves. In 601, a man who thinks for himself is a dangerous man. Soren Andersmann, the astrologer, is becoming a dangerous man.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Good Morning. I was tagged by two different people for this -- Yvonne Osborne and Bridget Chicoine. Although I should clarify that Bridget tagged Robynne Rand, and for those of you who want to know what she's up to, you can find that post here. (How much fun is it being a split personality? I get to talk about myself in 3rd person.)

Okay, so here we go.

What is the title of your next book?

THE LADY'S MASQUERADE. It should be out in the next few weeks.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

My brain. lol Thank you, Monster. Actually, one day, a REALLY long time ago, I was trying to take a nap. However, I kept hearing these two people talking. The more I focused on them, I saw them sitting in a gazebo. A young girl and a handsome man. Only he was pretending to be someone else. And the story was born. Mind you, this was about 8 years ago, and the whole concept of the story has changed except for the part that someone was pretending to be someone else.

What genre does your book fall under?

Regency romance, Historical romance, sweet romance. I try to hit them all.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your caracters in a movie rendition?

You can find those here.  Did I mention I was on Pinterest now.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Hmmmm. I hate these. When Lady Penelope Leighton masquerades as a traveling companion, she doesn't expect to fall in love with a lowly steward and when he asks for her hand, she must decide whether to give up her life in the aristocracy or follow her heart.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Ha! Almost 7 years. I started it way back in 2005. Monster and I were living at the beach house and during her naps I wrote it out on paper. I didn't have a computer back then. I know, huh. I had it almost finished when we moved to NC in 2007. I got my first computer in 2008 and transcribed everything. In 2009 a friend suggested I get on the blogs so I did, and found out I had to revise the thing. I started those revisions in 2010. But then I was writing other things and just put Masquerade away for a while. Once I decided on the Reluctant Grooms series, and kept adding more characters, and more intrigue, Masquerade just wasn't the book it once was. So over the course of the last few months, I revised the snot out of it and hopefully, it will meet with the approval of my critters.

And just for fun, the original manuscript that I transposed, finished at a whopping 145,000 words. I can happily say, it is now at a mere 80K.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don't know. Mine I suppose. I haven't read anything in my genre lately that doesn't have sex in it. Mine don't, so I have no idea. Jane Austen, maybe. lol

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My Monster. Way back when, I was on a limited income. I was working as a housekeeper, and knew (although I was making good money) it would never be enough. I needed to supplement my income, so I figured I could write a book. I mean, besides restauranting, it was the only other thing I knew how to do.

What else about the book might pique the readers insterest?

It's a mystery. Or has a mystery element. Someone is trying to kill Lady Penny's father and the fiend turned his sights on her. So William and his friends try to figure out who it is. And because this is the first book in the series, this is where we find out how Lady Olivia has manipulated the aristocracy. I delve into a lot of her secrets in this first book, and hopefully, by the end of the series, it will all tie in together nicely.

So that's my Next Big Thing. And like I said, you can find out what I'm doing with a contemporary romantic women's fiction over at The Other Side of Providence.

PS If anyone would like an ARC of this for review, I'm all in. Give me shout on my email piedmontwriter at gmail dot com

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Shoulds and Should Nots

Good Morning. Today I'd like to discuss things we should and should not do when we're writer/authors. I've been around the blogs for a couple of years now. I've followed agents and big name writers, read blogs followed by thousands of people. These people know what they're talking about. I guess. But as with everything, I take what they say with a grain of salt.

We SHOULD blog with captivating content no less than 500 words no more than 800. We SHOULD Tweet and be friendly and engaging. We SHOULD have a Face Book author page and update it once a day. We SHOULD do blog tours when we publish. We SHOULD do this, that, and the other, so our name will be seen and heard and we will sell millions and millions of copies.

Uh, no. We don't. What we SHOULD do is find a place where we are comfortable.

I blog because I like it. I started my blog to meet people, like minded writers who I could engage with. Some of you who have been around with me from the beginning know me. I've written whatever the heck I want. Some days it's about writing, some days it's about romance, some days it's about my daughter, or the fact I'm building another fence. Some days I'm captivating, others I fall flat on my face. But I'm not blogging with specific content because I SHOULD. I'm blogging because I want to.

I've been reading forever about how to do a blog tour when you have a book coming out. You SHOULD set up no less than 15 stops, guests posts mixed with interviews, make sure you reply to every person in the comments etc. etc. I personally, don't do blog tours. Yes, I may do a cozy interview or two when my book comes out, but that's about it. And you know, there have been a couple of books I've released and only mentioned it once on my blog. (One story I never mentioned at all.) But that's me.  I don't have time for all that fuss and bother. Sure I might be missing a whole lot of sales, but you know,  I'm of the old school where word of mouth sells books. The writing should speak for itself.

I read a big name blogger a few weeks ago who said you SHOULD NOT reply to every single comment on your blog -- she said, it's padding the comments. Makes you look like you have 50 comments when you really only have 25. Now I had a "block comment" system in place for years. It's a pain in the butt sometimes. So I decided to go with "reply" comments instead. But you know, that turned into a pain as well, so I'm back to block comments. I'm making life easier on myself.

I also read over and over how I need to be on Twitter 3 or 4 times a day. I need to "engage" with people. I should be friendly and retweet. Then I also read that I should not retweet anything. Makes me look like a brown nose. I should have a schedule for Tweeting, 15 minutes morning, noon, and night. Uh, no. I don't have time to be sociable. I'm a writer. And personally, I don't think people give a fig what I had for lunch, or if Monster is home from school. I get on Twitter when I feel like it. I retweet interesting stuff if I think someone I know might like it. I Tweet because I want to and when I have the time.

And I've also read over and over how I need to get on Face Book so my "fans" can find me. As I've said before, I will never get on Face Book. In the back of every one of my books is my blog link to my Anne Gallagher Regency Romance Writer blog. I update every Sunday. I share what I'm doing in my books so my readers will know what's coming out next, what I'm doing, what's happening in my little writing world. My readers don't give a flying fig what page line edits I'm on, updating my status every 15 minutes. They just want to know when the damn thing will be finished.

I SHOULD do blog hops to find new followers. I SHOULD NOT do blog hops just to find new followers. I SHOULD follow every single person who follows me. I SHOULD NOT just follow someone blindly because they follow me. I SHOULD do memes and writing themes. I SHOULD NOT put my writing on my blog. I SHOULD use pictures. I SHOULD NOT use pictures. On and on and on.

Let me tell you what I have learned from the SHOULD and SHOULD NOT list. I SHOULD be true to myself and do whatever I feel comfortable doing. I WILL NOT do what every one else is doing. I mean, fish all swim upstream together. Why SHOULD I? I can zig zag if I want to. I'll still get to the same place. Maybe not as fast as the other fish, but I'll get there eventually.

Tell me -- What's on your SHOULD and SHOULD NOT list? What else have you seen on the blogs that you SHOULD be doing but don't? Or are not doing, but SHOULD?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Anita Seymour Davison

I am so thrilled for Anita to be here today. She's graciously offered simplified answers to one of England's most beguiling eras. The English Civil War period. It's like mini-history lesson and I do hope you'll take advantage and read the post all the way through. Hey, you might learn something!

Let's jump right in.

1) Royalist Rebel is not like your other books in that it seems more biographical than fiction. Is it? and how did that mighty undertaking come about?
In my critique group, one of the big questions after, 'Should I write what I know and feel passionate about?' is, 'What are the publishers buying these days?'
My first two novels and its sequel, was a family saga set during the Monmouth Rebellion and Glorious Revolution [late 17th Century] - neither of these popular genres when I wrote them six years ago. One major UK publisher I submitted them to told me he would have published my first book straight away - if I had submitted it ten years ago!
Determined not to make the same mistake again, I did some research and discovered what publishers did want, was stories based on strong, female characters who went their own way, regardless of the era. Thus I went in search of one from the 17th century, my favourite era, and found Elizabeth Murray, who lived at Ham House between 1640 - 1698, practically on my doorstep. 

2) English history is so diverse and bloody --  uprisings against the Monarchy, deception, ruthless battles over Sovereignty, murder, plots to murder.... Can you give those of us with little or no historical background for this era, just what exactly the English Civil War period was all about? (In simplified terms of course.)
Oh dear, that’s quite a question, and I apologise in advance to academics out there who have studied the causes of the wars for years - but here goes:
 King Charles I believed in the Divine Right of Kings; that he had been appointed by God and was answerable only to Him. He summoned Parliament only when he required money for his rich and extravagant lifestyle and his personal wars, and didn’t want to hear their proposals for changing the status quo. Parliament would refuse him money if he wouldn’t consider their opinions, which he never did. As a result, Charles I dismissed [prorogued] them, bolted and chained the doors and set separate taxes which he collected personally - like ship money*.
He sold titles, or fined those who wouldn’t buy them, and gave common grazing land to his friends, who threw off the common people and their animals. He also married a French princess, and a Catholic, who openly practiced her faith and did her best to convert her own children to Rome while in exile. She also told her husband never to give in to the demands of his people - big mistake.  In frustration, Parliament actually impeached her for treason when she raised a French army to fight for Charles, but didn’t get anywhere as she left England in 1646 and didn’t return until her son was King in 1660.
When Parliament tried to reason with Charles I, saying the common man had rights and needed laws to protect them, he wasn’t interested. His rule was severe and arbitrary, and his religious intolerance against Puritans and other ‘dissenting’ religious groups in an age where people were questioning what their ‘betters’ told them, this turned a large number of people against him. Any attempt to protest or negotiate, was met with summary executions or armed resistance, until Parliament formed an army of their own to defend their rights. Rights the King refused to acknowledge.
At first, King Charles and his Royalists were winning, as they could afford weapons, horses and men from their private estates. Aware of this, Cromwell formed his New Model Army, common men with formal strategic training who soon began decimating the King’s Royalist army. The Royalists were brave, but lacked discipline and resisted being ordered about by their peers, so their battles often turned into shambles because they lacked authority. They spent more time squabbling amongst themselves than fighting, a fact Cromwell took advantage of.
King Charles made promises to the New Model, the Anglican Church and the Scottish Covenanters to bring an end to the war by agreeing to allowing Parliament to be autonomous and pass laws, to religious toleration except for Catholics - but broke them all. Behind the scenes he schemed to bring ‘foreigners’ into the country to fight Englishmen. Oliver Cromwell tried to negotiate with him right up to his trial for treason in January 1649 - but King Charles refused to compromise on anything. When they presented him with a list of proposals, [The Newcastle Propositions] he sent back an entire different set of his own. He had to go!
There were other issues too, all of which are too complicated to explain in a couple of paragraphs. Here is an excellent site which will answer most questions. British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate 1638-1660 []
3) I thought my research was excruciating, but something like this must be mind bending. How do you keep it all straight? Do you use cheat sheets, a giant chalkboard? What helps you the most doing research?
I love the research side, but it’s too easy to get sidetracked and bogged down in trivia, so I have to make myself  focus on what aspects of the war would affect my heroine specifically.
I am an inveterate plotter, so I spent months compiling spreadsheets and collecting information. I compile a ‘Scenes’ spreadsheet and a ‘History’ one, so when something happens in my story, I can align it with an actual event in history and include my character’s reaction to it.
It’s very tempting to include non-relevant information, for example and in my current wip I am researching Charles II years in exile and came across an amusing snippet involving Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, [Charles’ youngest brother and who tragically died of smallpox at 20, a few months after Charles regained his throne]. Apparently a sweet and charming young man, at thirteen, his sister the Princess Royal, Mary of Orange was asked by her ministers to request her brother leave the palace at The Hague because of his ‘airs and his habit of mounting his horse at the bottom of the grand staircase rather than in the courtyard!’
I love it and wish I could include it in my book - not sure yet how though!
While researching Royalist Rebel, I discovered a copy of a travel pass signed by Earl of Essex for Catherine Murray, her four daughters, and fourteen servants to travel to Oxford in the autumn of 1643, where her husband, William Murray, was Gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles I.  They stayed until February 1644, and returned by barge, and on reaching Windsor Castle, were all subjected to a search. I also knew there were frequent raids by Parliament soldiers on the city of Oxford, one of which took place in October 1643. This quite sketchy information formed the basis of several chapters in my story - it is fiction after all.
4) Why did you decide to write about this particular time frame? And this particular woman?
The 17th Century has always fascinated me, partly because so much of it still exists in the English towns where I have lived or visited.  There are castles, city walls, churches and houses everywhere that were affected by or shot at by Royalist and/or Parliamentarian troops - some by both sides, and every one of them has a story. 
The tour guides at Ham House, near Richmond refer to Elizabeth Murray as an irascible, embittered widow stripped of her glory and reduced to genteel poverty in her beloved childhood home. That she was rumoured to have poisoned her first husband to make way for her second and that her ghost roams the mansion, tapping the floors with her stick, her small dog at her side while the scent of attar of roses announces her presence.
In the gallery is a portrait of Elizabeth by Peter Lely when she was eighteen. Not beautiful by modern day standards, but clear-skinned, delicate-boned and proud looking with luminous dark eyes. Not the woman the guides described at all.
I became fascinated by her and the home she loved and fought for, and when I discovered she was believed to have been a spy for King Charles II during the Commonwealth - I was hooked.
The only book I could find about her is her biography, written by Doreen Cripps in the seventies, a fascinating story, and reading this, I felt she deserved some attention. I only hope she likes my version of her story in Royalist Rebel.
5) Okay, easy question -- Do you read other genres or do you stick with English historical?
As a reviewer for the Historical Novel Review Blog and Romantic Historical Lovers Blog, I sometimes try and move out of my comfort zone and read something I wouldn’t normally choose.  In many cases I am pleasantly surprised, though I tend to stick with European history. This ranges from Medieval to Victorian, and I am reading Anne O’Brien’s ‘The Forbidden Queen’ at the moment and enjoying her take on Henry V.
*A tax paid by coastal towns and villages for the upkeep of the navy as they benefitted the most by naval protection, but to gain more revenue, Charles levied it on the entire country. 

Anita Seymour Davison
Royalist Rebel released January 2013 from Claymore Books

Thanks Anita, for sharing another side of history with us today! I hope everybody learned something.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stumbling Blocks

Before we start, I'd just like to say this is my 501st post. I know it may not seem like much to some, and there are people with thousands of posts, but the number impresses me just the same. I've done this 500 times. Whew.

Anyway, I got this interesting little blurb from one of my critique partners last week. She said,

I'm so glad Penny and Will got to love each other from the beginning of this book. They didn't have to overcome their fear to find their way to each other, or stumble through so many personal obstacles. It's a refreshing change.

She was talking about THE LADY'S MASQUERADE and Penny and Will are the main characters.

I never thought about it quite like this before. Usually my books are character driven, and the obstacles they stumble through are interior. My characters are loaded with angst and just can't make up their minds whether or not to love the person I've put in front of them.

MASQUERADE is plot driven. That Penny and Will find their love almost from the beginning of the book was a no brainer for me. It was my first book and I didn't know any better. I had no clue how to write a story, or what it needed. That they loved each other at almost first sight seemed a good way to start.

What they have to overcome to finally be together is in the plot. Murder attempts, jealousy, misunderstandings, and an overprotective daddy. Hmmm...

Tell me -- Do you find yourself writing more character driven or plot driven books? If you write love stories, are your characters afraid of love, and their angst, or do they just jump in and see what happens?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tortured Souls

As I said in last Monday's post, I went back in to my blog posts and reworked some of them. I found this next passage in my very second blog post ever. October 30, 2009. Back when I was a shiny new blogger and had no clue what I was doing, had two followers and never thought I could ever be a published author.

The other morning I awoke at 2:13 in a cold sweat. One of my heroes couldn't possibly have been where he was supposed to be and do the things he was supposed to do because at the time he was fighting Napoleon. Talk about crazy. So at 2:19 I was sitting at my computer rewriting chapter 17, and the prologue and half  the dialogue in chapter 8. I suppose I could have waited until my daughter went to school to do it, but ... I didn't.

This is why I am a writer? To be tortured with angst and wake up at 2:13?

No. I am a writer because I have stories to tell. They might not be Hemingway or Faulkner or Flannery O'Conner stories but they are mine and I want to tell them. I want someone to say to me, just once, "I LOVED your book, it was FANTASTIC! I never wanted it to end." This is why I am a writer.

Okay, so just wow. Writing the above, I could never imagine that I would come as far as I have. I have gotten letters and reviews where people said they loved my book. It's a heady feeling. Almost the best feeling in the world (apart from the moment my daughter was born safe and sound).

And yes, I am still tortured. I still wake up at ungodly hours, sweat soaked and wondering if I've done enough research to support my novels. I don't think that will ever change. It's part of the writer's essence, I think. Hemingway and Fitzgerald tortured themselves constantly. Did it make them better writers? I think so.

I think when you place your heart soul and guts into something you have no choice but to be tortured. You want it to be as good as it can be.

Tell me -- How tortured are you? Do you wake up terrified over some aspect of your book? Or do you let it slide until the next time you get to it?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

Available Now!

On Today's Menu --  Justine Dell   ALL AMERICAN GIRL

At the age of thirty, with two failed marriages and a tanking writing career, Samantha Moore deals with the world with the only tool she had left: anger. And she’s tired of it. When her grandmother's near-death sends her rushing back home to Vermont, she hopes for the chance to overcome the rage ruling her life. 
Once she’s home, Lance Cummings becomes a constant source of indigestion. Lance is a single father who learned first-hand the devastating effects of a damaging relationship. He sees through Samantha’s nasty temper—straight to her cry for help. He wants to help her, but he also wants to know why Samantha ran from him—and their future—twelve years before. 
Taking care of her Grams, dealing with an alcoholic brother, and getting Lance to remove his annoyingly attractive nose from her business is draining on Samantha. And she’s only got three weeks to finish her stagnated novel or her publisher will drop her. No pressure. To top it off, pretending to hate the man she actually loves makes each day in Vermont harder than the last. Especially when Lance turns up the heat.

Here are a few questions Justine has answered for me.

1) Your main character, Samantha, is a writer with a deadline. Is there any sense of you in your character?

Actually, no. (Not sure I would want the problems she has, lol). The fact that she is a writer just fit with her personality. Let’s face it, we writers are a crazy-type. Heehee. Honestly, the plot itself required mobility on her part, and no too-many jobs allowed for that flexibility. Plus, weaving together Samantha’s writing with her own life worked out perfectly.

2) Do you plot your novels or do you follow your muse to wherever she (or he) leads?

I’m totally a panster. I normally come up with an idea by thinking of a cool title first (which normally comes out of nowhere), and then it flows out from there. I’ve got the guts of the story in my mind (the beginning and how I want it to end), the everything else comes as I write! It’s very liberating for me.

3) Where did you come up with the concept for your story? Without giving away spoilers, Samantha seems to be...well, a little high strung. What prompted you to write about such a "large" emotion?

This story, like so many others, came from the title. I was listening to the radio in my car one day and Carrie Underwood’s song, All American Girl came on the radio. I love that song, and it suddenly hit me, what about an All-American Girl who didn’t have it so easy? What if you took that same girl and gave her complex issues and anger management problems? What if the All-American Girl wasn’t All-American at all? And bam! The story emerged.

Yeah, Samantha’s stretched a little tight. Truly, I think there is a little bit of Samantha in everyone. Some people are just better at hiding it. She’s wears all her emotions on her sleeve and has lost the ability to deal with certain things. This book is a journey for her, like life is a journey for so many other people.

4) What is the most difficult part of writing for you? First draft, revisions, edits?

EDITS. Everything I think of the word, I shudder. I would rather have all my teeth pulled than edit something. It’s so constrictive, and because I love the free-flowing feeling of the writing itself, editing is the most difficult thing for me.

5) Now that ALL AMERICAN GIRL is out -- what's next? Any new ideas or are you going to rest?

Ahhh! A writer never rests! I’m truly blessed to be able to share my stories with wonderful readers, and I couldn’t imagine resting. Omnific will be publishing my third book, Until Next Time (date is TBD). I haven’t started anything new in awhile, but I have some projects that were started a while back that would like me to take another look. I always pictured All-American Girl being a three book series, so maybe I’ll write book number 2?

Fantastic! Can't wait to read that. Thanks so much Justine for being at the Grille today.

JustineDellJustine lives in the Midwest, happily catering to her family, which consists of a horse-obsessed teenage daughter, four dogs, and a husband who is too good to be true. She's never moved from her hometown, but hopes to grow old in a much warmer climate. 
She started writing four years ago after seeing a movie that set off a chain reaction she couldn't have stopped if she'd wanted. It's not a hobby for her; it's an obsession. One she loves and one she loves to share. Her debut book, Recaptured Dreams and her newest release, All-American Girl, are available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever book are sold.

My Blog:



Buy Links for Justine's book -- ALL AMERICAN GIRL


Barnes and Noble:


Book Trailer:

Justine has also graciously agreed to give away an All American Girl postcard and Vermont Maple Candy (together). Just leave your email address in the comments and I will pick a winner on Sunday. 

She's also sponsoring another giveaway on her blog, which you can find here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Valentine's Day is for Sissies

I know I'm a few weeks late for Valentine's Day, but this is one of those posts that had to get written.

A long time ago, I used to schedule my blog a certain way. Mondays were for "writing" posts, Wednesday's were for "love" posts (as I am a romance writer) and Friday's were all about the Grille. Or was it vice versa with the love and writing? I don't know, I can't remember. But here we are on a Wednesday and I want to talk about love. And I think I will stick with this Wednesday arrangement until I run out of things to say about it.

However, I digress.

photo courtesy of
Anyway, as we all know, I am without a paramour at the nonce. This doesn't bother me as much as it used to because, well, I've gotten used to it. Same as I got used to not having a nice glass of wine, or the smell of the ocean as soon as I step outside. One's heart forgets how to yearn for things we think we want as time goes on. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

I had a dream recently though, that made my heart nearly break wide open. I was with a man in the dream, who coincidentally looked like this.
Cieran Hinds. Triple awesome covered in chocolate sauce with cherries on top.

I can't say for sure what we were doing together, I only know that we were "together". Something about a restaurant as well. Anyway, we were getting ready to open the restaurant for dinner and I got sick. Really sick. I had to go to bed, which I did, in my ratty flannel nightgown, hair a mess, snotty nose, and just plain fugly. At some point, Marie Osmond showed up sitting alone at a table, and was waiting for her food. She wasn't Marie in the dream, but just a nameless gorgeous woman.

I remember in the dream, Mr. Man walked over to her table and laughed and joked with Ms. Gorgeous. I stood hiding behind a crack in door watching all this take place. I KNEW he was going to make a play for her. I knew it to my bones and stood there crying and snotting all over myself. I was a wreck.

Somehow Mr. Man heard my blubbering, rushed into the kitchen, scooped me up, and deposited me back into my bed. Standing over me with a stern look on his face, he said, (in his sexy accent) "What do you think you're doing?"

And I said, (still crying), "She's so gorgeous, and has so much more to offer a man like you. I know you're going to leave me so just go already."

And he said, (are you ready for this) "Are you daft? What in bloody hell would I do with a woman like that? You're more than enough woman for me."

Okay, now that we've all picked ourselves up from our swoon, wasn't that just the coolest dream? And therein, my friends, lies the quintessential rub. It was just a dream.

I've done dream analysis over the years, and this only tells me what I've absolutely known about myself all along. This is the kind of man I want. One who doesn't care how I look. Or how much money I make. Or that I'm totally insecure about my relationship. One who doesn't just cover me with chocolate and candy hearts on Valentine's Day, but who's with me for the long haul, through sickness and health, richer and poorer, insecurities and snots, and ratty flannel nightgowns.

And please, this isn't a post about finding someone. I've heard it all before -- You'll find someone when you aren't looking. You'll find someone when you least expect it. You'll find someone in the frozen foods section at the market. blah blah blah. I'm not looking, haven't looked for YEARS. Perhaps I've set my standards just a tad too high, but I'm not backing down. I know who I want.

And no it's not "the perfect man". They don't exist. Everyone has their faults, myself included. It's what we can overlook that makes them perfect for us.

I have loved a few men during my lifetime. Really loved, passionately loved, would have died for that love, put up with what you wouldn't believe for that love. But none of them ever wanted to stick through with me to the end. None of them (obviously) cared enough deep down for me the way I cared for them. Sure I got cards and candy on Valentine's Day, flowers for an anniversary, even a diamond ring or two, but in the end it didn't last. That "thing" was always missing.

That "thing" being the inexplicable that binds two people together. For whatever reason, that you just "know" he's the one. That you can fight for and through whatever life throws at you and you'll handle it TOGETHER.

So leave me to my dreams of imaginary Cieran Hinds. He's more than enough man for me.

Tell me -- What is it about your significant other that makes him perfect for you? What faults do you overlook? Does he shower you with gifts only on Valentine's Day or will he hold your hair back when you throw up?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013