Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Good Morning. I read this article by Kristine Katherine Rusch a few weeks ago and as she said in her blog title, discover-ability...is all about surprise. So Surprise. It's Tuesday. And I'm posting.

It's also my birthday. I'm 52. But in my head I think like I'm 38. My body feels like it's 96. (I've been doing yard work for the last week, before the weather turns either too wet or too hot.) I used to like yard work. Not so much anymore. Priorities change as we get older.

I've been thinking a lot about my house. Alas, I have not painted since we moved in. I'm living in a beige world with pineapple wallpaper. I need to put some color up.

The yard sale I thought was this weekend is actually next. But I didn't find that out until after I cleaned the Florida room. We're on Spring Break this week so I've been cleaning. Like a mad fishwife. Thinking about tearing down pineapple wallpaper.

I'm stuck on a book I've been working on lately. Not so much the "book" but the series. I've been re-evaluating what I want to do with it. I have an idea for another one, a spin-off from this. I've been giving serious thought about acquiring an agent.

And because I've been thinking and cleaning, all this has brought about another rather personal discussion I was having with a friend of mine. You know, that what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life discussion, the one you have after after you blow your final exam because you were out drinking the night before. The one you have when you walk out on a perfectly good job because that little bitch in the downstairs office got the promotion you deserved. The one you have when you quit your high paying executive job making six figures to become an organic wheat grass farmer in Ohio. You know, what the fuck am I doing with my life?

Throughout my life, I have always maintained when something stops being fun, I won't do it anymore. And I don't. I think because it's my birthday I have to be truthful with myself. Blogging isn't fun for me anymore. I struggle to think up new and interesting topics of conversation. I struggle to comment on your blogs. (I've missed some fine series/specials during the A-Z Challenge this year. By friends, no less.) I struggle to keep up.

I know there are super-bloggers out there who do it all. Write, Tweet, Blog, Tour, etc. etc. Have an amazing presence on all different kinds of mediums. Have thousands of followers everywhere. Yeah, I'm not that kind of girl. And I don't pretend to be.

However, knowing what I do about social media, (and a lot of other factors), I can't just quit blogging. Not yet. But I do have to refocus, re-evaluate, and re-design. So, I'm going to take some time off and do just that.

I hope you all have a great Spring. I'll see you when I do.

PS Today is also Earth Day. Be kind to the Earth. Pick up some trash.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dividing Love

Good Morning. I've been tackling a new project, part of the Regency series I've been writing for the last couple of years. However, with this book, I'm trying to introduce a new series that I WILL BE writing beginning next year.

I'm stuck. Not because I can't write. I have the words, the outline, and believe it or not, the time. I have just never encountered this particular dilemma in my real life so I have nothing to base my character on.

Let's call my character, Oprah. Oprah knows two very different men. Steadman and John. Oprah is in love with each of these men for different reasons. Here's the skinny and then I'll tell you my problem.

Steadman -- Oprah met Steadman when they were both twenty, two weeks before she was to marry Fitzhugh, an old man. She marries him because she has to. For her family. Steadman joins the Army. Oprah doesn't see him again for almost forty years, at a school reunion.When they meet, Fitzhugh is dead, Steadman is a decorated Colonel and Oprah is a billionaire. Steadman and
Oprah have a full-blown love fest for a year where everyone thinks by Christmas they'll be engaged, with a spring wedding. On Twelfth Night, when Steadman doesn't propose, Oprah gets all up in his face and storms out the door. (Steadman has amassed a small fortune from being in the Army, and also has about a billion dollar inheritance. Her family thinks he's a good catch.)

John -- So Oprah's family is related to some real gangster type people, and they put a hit out on another of Oprah's relatives, her dearest niece. So Oprah grabs the girl and flies cross country to Connecticut to hide
out on a farm. Near the ocean. Living in near seclusion, with only John, the houseman for company, Oprah and he form an attachment. And then to take it a step further, once the threat from the niece is removed, John moves back to Oprah's mansion, where they've been having a perfectly kept secret affair. (Because he's actually Black Ops and posing as the butler. Oprah entertains a lot of foreign dignitaries. John speaks fifteen languages. He's doing special time for the Foreign Office.)

However, here's the kicker -- Both Steadman and John have been called up for one last mission.

When John tells her he's going away, Oprah wants to get married. She tells him she'll go to the JP and get the licence. John says no. What would people think? He's just a butler, married to a billionaire. That's like Liz and Larry. No thanks, says John. She argues it's not like that. He doesn't want to hear it.

But John also told Oprah that Steadman is going on this same mission and she must apologize to Steadman for running away last year. What if she never sees him again? However, when she apologizes, Steadman tells her what a mistake he made for not giving her a ring, he understands what happened and why she went away, and all is forgiven. He asks her to marry him. She's so overwhelmed, she says yes.

My character is in love with two men. At the same time. And is having a dalliance with each of them. At the same time. Yes, she has a perfectly good reason for it. Perhaps even somewhat selfless (if I wrote that scene the right way), but let's call a spade a spade here. She's being a slut. And selfish. And cruel. And conceited. And all these things that women hate about other women, because those kind of women always get what they want, instead of what they deserve. You know.

Well, in this case, that isn't so. Oprah will get what she deserves and then some.

My problem is I can't find the dividing line between the love she feels for each of them. Her cousin, Constance says to her, "What are you going to do, just wait until one of them comes back? What if neither of them do? What if they both do? What are you going to do then?" Oprah says it doesn't matter if they both hate her when they return, only that they both come back alive.

Oprah loves each of them for totally different reasons. And wants to marry each of them for totally different reasons. (There's more to each backstory than I've alluded to here.) The way I've written it so far, Oprah never really reveals who she wants more. And that's where I'm stuck -- Will my readers want Oprah to choose one particular man, or will they suspend their disbelief that she can love two men equally?

Tell me --  Should I be looking for the dividing line? Can a person be in love with two people at the same time? What would you rather see as a reader -- a firm decision in love, or ambiguity until the story plays out?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Need A Rolodex

Good morning. My last few weeks  have been just an ongoing bombardment of information overload. Between writing reports for committees at school (yeah, this whole "volunteer" thing is actually a full-time job), and writing more reports for a small business I'm trying to get off the ground (yeah, this whole "starving artist" thing can't be a full-time job anymore) and then research for the new book I'm working on (no rest for the wicked, up to 30k so far, and let me tell you how excited I am to create this character) I am sick of sitting at the computer.

And although I have spent nearly every waking hour on one computer or another, I haven't been able to check blogs or even write blog posts. I can't even tell you the last time I was on Twitter. (I guess that's how I managed to write 25k.) I said to myself, (last night as a matter of fact), I can't remember the last time I watched television. I'm actually in bed most nights by 8:30. And even then it's a struggle to keep my eyes open. (I get up most mornings around 5am. Even when I don't have to. And I know a lot of you do too.)

I could ramble on with the litany of how-busy-my-life-is-bullshit, but I won't bore you. Let's say I've just been flat-out 70. With the up-coming Easter break from school (12 days) I told Monster, "That's it! We're cleaning this house." Yes, I know, I threaten to clean at least once a week. It doesn't actually get done above once a month. But now I have time to do the "BIG" clean. Windows, walls, curtains, rip up the rest of the carpet in the kitchen, rearrange furniture, have a yard sale. Yeah, "BIG".

I looked my desk the other day. It's a nightmare. No. Really. I can't even begin to imagine cleaning it. I have notes, three levels deep. I have a dinner plate covering the little trash can on my desk, so I can open a folder for more flat surface. My research books are buried under more notes. My four tier shelf is now eight. I would take a picture and show you, but I would be utterly mortified if you saw the mess it truly is. Hey, out of chaos comes order. (I dream of an office "suite" with a nine foot long table to spread out on. And lots of drawers and a built-in bookcase.)

On my desk, at the base of my angel-reading-a-book statue, I have a stack of scrap paper that measures about two inches high. Passwords to all the sites I'm on, business cards, bookmarks with author information, web-site addresses, phone numbers.

I have said to myself over the last few years, I really should invest in a Rolodex. Spin the wheel, find what you want. I get giddy just thinking about what information I could keep in one. And it would help straighten out one little corner in my life. I had one in my hand at this wicked cool thrift shop I frequent; a flat box container, with a lid, with all the cards intact, practically brand new, that 1970's mustard color, for $3.00, and I put it down. It didn't spin. I don't know why, it has to spin.

(Yes, I'm sure there are devices or apps that keep that information for you, but that's way too technical for me. Like I said, I'm on information overload. I don't think my brain could handle learning one more thing.)

I like the idea of touching the thing itself, tactile, the spinning, the thick, hard, brown plastic base. Oh yes, I want an old one. Like Maxwell Smart had on his desk. Or Darren Stevens. (I like old things.) They served a purpose, were functional, and didn't fizzle out if you accidentally dropped it in water. Or lost all your data because the battery died. Or someone stole it. Back then you didn't have to worry about safe guarding devices because they were only dreams, or things that appeared on Star Trek. You just had to open the lid and spin the wheel. (Yes, I do realize that lugging this bad boy around everywhere would break your back, but I'm still old school, that I only do "business" from my desk in my office.

I miss this little baby too. Smith-Corona Electronic with self-correcting cartridges. I still have ink and correcting tape for it. I'd love to find another one. I lost my original in the move to NC. When I got it for my high school graduation present, that was the best thing I could have gotten. It served me very well for nearly 20 years. In college I upgraded to one of these.

I still have it. And all the disks. I wrote all my papers on this. And the typewriter. They have interchangeable ink cartridges. Groovy huh. That little time machine cost me $350 at the time. Computers were first coming out and they were $1500. I thought I was getting a steal.

And, I was just saying to my assistant in Gift Cards, how I hate the new pencils. They just don't have good lead anymore. Not like the old Ticonderoga's we used in grade school. (I do despise pencils for writing,
but with the numbers we use, we need pencils in the gift card office.)

My friend Nancy and I were talking about what kids today have and what we grew up with. We're about the same age. It's a wonder we survived into adult hood. Things were so much simpler back then. We didn't have it all in our "face" 24/7. Sure, it was bulky, and heavy, and somewhat less functional than it is now (I couldn't live without my pc), but it was somehow less hectic. There was more time to enjoy life, more time to just be. I think the "old things" remind me to do just that.

Here's a small list of things we came up with.

We didn't have Wii and Gameboy, we went "outside" to play. We came home when the streetlights came on.

We didn't have bicycle helmets or shin guards.

We had phones that hung on the kitchen wall with a tangled up cord that could stretch 20 ft.

We didn't have to buy water, it came out of the tap.

We had three television stations and PBS. (When I was a kid, our tv was black and white.)

We listened to a.m. radio.

We never wore sunscreen unless we were at the beach. It didn't have SPF.

Everybody could eat PB&J on white bread.

You needed a dime to make a phone call from a phone booth. You called the operator for information.(My family and I once had a phone that was three-party, and only had to dial out 5 numbers to reach the "village" where we lived.)

Only rich people had automatic dishwashers.

We wore cotton because polyester hadn't been invented.

Ah, the good old days.

Tell me --  what do you miss?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014