Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays

Warmest Wishes for the Yuletide. I'll see you next year. 

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

photo credit morguefile: svklimkin

Monday, December 14, 2015

Marketing and Promotion

So, I finished my book, had my edits, made my revisions, found a cover image, and uploaded everything successfully to where it needed to go. Now, comes the dreaded next part. Marketing and Promotion.

I hate this. I really do. Because I don't know how to do it. I spent years learning how to format correctly (hell, I spent YEARS just learning how to use WORD.) For my Regency romances I had a small following, so that when the next book came out, I really didn't do much except announce the book on the blog, once or twice on Twitter, and voila, sales.

However, trying to gain traction as a "new" author is a little daunting. I had thought about publishing this new book under my Anne Gallagher name, but if I did, then I'd lose the few reviews I'd garnered on REMEMBERING YOU. I didn't want to do that.

Believe it or not, I have a marketing plan in place. I've been thinking of this for several months. Problem is, I don't know if it'll work. And you say, "Go ahead, try it. You won't know if it succeeds until you do." I know that. But...what if it doesn't?

When I'm cooking for a large crowd, I like to use my tried and true recipes. That way I won't mess up and everyone will say, "Oh, that was so good."

I'm kind of feeling that same way with this new book. I don't want to try anything new, afraid that people will say, "Oh, that just sucked." Or worse, I've just spammed them to death. I love Twitter, but it's just so full of crap these days, I don't want to be "one of those people".

Right now the book is up on Amazon for 99 cents until Christmas. I'm hoping some people will buy it and write a few reviews before I change the price. I'm also going to post some excerpts on the Robynne Rand blog and link those to Twitter. If you'd like a copy, I have epub, mobi files, and PDF that I can send you. If you'd like to write a review for Goodreads, that would be swell. If not, that's okay too.

Ads are not my thing, so that's out. I'm still unsure whether or not to do a FaceBook page. However, a friend said that the demographic I'm trying to reach is on FaceBook, so...we'll see.

Tell me -- What do you do for marketing and promotion? Any tried and true tricks? Any advice? Please share.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Women of a Certain Demographic

So, I've been working like a fiend to get this book finished. My time has not been my own since school started and the original draft was supposed to have been finished by the end of August. The writing gods mocked me. But now that it is (and has been looked over by my editor and is now with my critique partner) I'm ready to talk about it.

I've decided to release it under my Robynne Rand name as several characters from REMEMBERING YOU appear in DEMOGRAPHIC.

Without further ado...

After losing her job, apartment, and latest friend-with-benefits, prize-winning newspaper journalist Cathryn Parker returns home to Rhode Island and her domineering mother Rita, six Chihuahuas, and the old bedroom she slept in as a kid. Blacklisted for writing an expose on a philandering Senator, Cathryn takes the only job offered her at Providence Woman Monthly, if only to escape her mother's constant disapproval.

When asked to write a piece on the lack of love in the lives of women over a certain age, Cathryn is appalled, as she's part of that demography. To make things worse, the only way to ensure the magazine stays afloat and Cathryn keeps her job is if the article is a hit.

A chance meeting with her brother's best friend, Steve, finds Cathryn battling an emotional roller-coaster. Living under the Disney delusion that someday her prince would come—Steve is the perfect man, everything she's ever wanted—but he carries the physical scars of a bomb blast from Afghanistan and the emotional scars from a fiancĂ©e who left him because of it. 

However, when she discovers the secret that her perfect Prince Charming has been hiding, Cathryn makes a life-changing decision, especially as she has her own secret to keep.


The novel is available on Amazon for a limited time for .99  -- It will be available at its regular price on Christmas from  Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, itunes, Gardeners UK, to name a few by Christmas.

If anyone would like an ARC, please let me know.

Anne Gallagher  (c) 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shout Out for Mac

My friend R. Mac Wheeler has just published his 28th!!! novel and this is a shameless promotion for him. I love his stuff. His voice is distinctive and the stories are wild and wooly. If you haven't read him yet, you should. (My favorites were the REVENIR series--gotta love those vampires. But really, any of Mac's stuff is great. You won't be disappointed.)

Book 3 of the 6 Ways Series

At eighteen it’s tough to decide a life path when the threat of pandemic hangs over the world, your brother is the genius who engineered the plague, and you’re repeatedly drawn into the fight against the terrorists spreading it. Plenty of people would kill an Abernathy on sight so it would be wise for Mar to visit the dojo, otherwise play invisible, but her brother is manipulating her into another adventure.

If you haven't read Book 1 or 2, and like to start at the beginning...

Alcoholic parents treated Margarite as an unwelcome stranger, then left her at fourteen with her thirty year old autistic brother. At sixteen, things really sour, thanks to her brother. A medical researcher, Reggie engineers the ultimate plague. Fanatics seek to control him. The government pursues them as terrorists. Margarite witnesses ruthlessness, compassion, and competence she couldn't imagine from her brother, but the world needs a miracle. The best she and Reggie can do is wing it.

Nightmares. Panic attacks. Depression. Margarite is hammered by the typical issues of a seventeen year old loner, whose parents sympathized with insane people intending to collapse civilization. The few who care about Mar have more concerns. Her drinking. Fighting. Jumping out of airplanes.

Her brother engineered the plague that’s breaking out across the globe and she holds a little guilt for not stopping it. Or being one of the first to die. Still, conspirators behind what they call The Correction are not done with her.

The Author
R. Mac Wheeler writes about characters with a lot of baggage, men who make many men look like wimps, tough chicks that can whip most men...puts them in situations that push them to the worlds that don’t overly stretch the imagination.

A former IT professional,  he now focuses full time on suspense, paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy  that leverages the quirkiness and baggage of real life more often than the far fetched.

Visit his Home Page: WWW.RMACWHEELER.COM

Monday, October 5, 2015

And Then It All Fell Apart

So, two weeks ago, I was well on my way to completing my latest WiP. I had the ending outline, knew where it was going, how I was going to get there and then BOOM. It blew up in my face. I had to go back to Chapter 2 to find a conversation thread and as I read it, I realized the plot wasn't going to work.

Talk about a bummer. I took a few days and mulled it over, rethinking the whole thing, hoping maybe I could MAKE it work the way the story was written. Nope. Well, yeah, it could, but it wouldn't be believable. Okay, that's not true, it would have been believable, but only to a certain few. And I don't need bad reviews.

I discussed the problem with two friends who aren't writers and although they agreed that I could probably finish the story the way I wanted, readers would have had to REALLY get behind the premise of love at first sight. And as I thought about it, the main character, Cathryn, wasn't really believing it either. Lots of great internal dialogue, but I think if you have to QUESTION if you love someone, then you probably don't.

Of course it's been a long time since I've been in love and in writing this book, I've had to really dredge up memories that probably should have been left locked up where they were. Obviously, I haven't been lucky at it, and if I had been, I'd probably still be in it. Right?

So now what? Well, for the most part, I'm just too busy to care. Real life has once again taken a nasty turn and I'm knee deep in school crap again. Also, when I write, I like to block out days to get it done. Say Tues Wed Thurs for 6-8 hours per day (not necessarily in that big of a chunk, but split the day into shifts). However, I haven't been able to block off any days in a row.

When do I think the book will be finished? I've now given myself until the end of October. Why? Because I have no choice.

Am I working on something else? Well, yes. I can't not write. I've gone back into the new Regency I started last March. And I've dabbled a little bit with the mystery detective stories again.

Am I freaking out? Yeah, kind of, a little bit. But hey, the way I figure it, it'll get done when it gets done. And hopefully, still in time for Christmas.

So tell me -- What do you do when you're almost at the end and you realize it's not going to work? Do you leave it alone? Or continue to work on it? Or do you make yourself sick on chocolate and pistachio ice cream?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Down to the Wire

Good Morning. I had worked on a blog post over the weekend for today, but then abandoned it. Friday night I was at 68K on my latest WiP and decided to do the dreaded outline. I never outline before I start writing, I just follow where my nose (and characters) lead. However, once I get to the 3/4 mark, I usually give myself a little nod as to where it all ends up.

Friday night I wrote the last plot points, climaxes, and big surprises. I left out the denoument because I'm still not sure what's going to happen at the very, very end. My characters have already thrown me for a loop several times. I figure I'll just wait and see what happens.

I've given myself until the end of September to finish it. Almost 10 days. And you think that would be easy, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's not going to happen. This is the second deadline I've given myself (originally supposed to be finished by the end of August). I NEED to get this done. And not for any reason other than, I'm dying to see how it ends. HAH!

I've put a lot of work into this one, and even though I'm writing the book, my characters have completely taken over the story. Revelations keep popping up and startling me. Don't you just love it when you find out you're totally brilliant/insane? Lol.

Once it's finished, I'll be able to tell you all about it. I hate to jinx myself. Hopefully, next Monday I'll have a cover reveal and back cover copy because once it's finished it's going up for pre-order. I'm very excited about this book. VERY EXCITED. I'll be looking for reader/reviewers so stay tuned.

Tell me -- Do you outline at the end or the beginning or are you a strict pantster? Do your characters surprise you? Do you have moments of brilliance or are you just insane?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Real Life, Real Writing

Good Morning. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. That's where I've been. I started writing a new contemporary romance sometime at the end of July, abandoning my mystery detective series. Why, you may ask if I was having fun writing out of my preferred genre.

Because sometime at the end of July, I found a book I had written two years ago sitting on my desk-top hard drive. It was finished and even published, but then I sent it to a writer friend who said, "This basically sucks." You see, I had written the book with very broad strokes and as he said, "There's nothing to push back on. There's no substance, no structure. Yes, it's informative, but there's no STORY."

I was crushed, as this author is someone I highly regard, so I promptly unpublished it and left it alone. When I found it again, I thought, "Hmmmm. I think I'm ready to tackle this. I think I know what to push back on."

Let me digress.

As you may or may not know, I'm a single parent. I had a volatile relationship with Monster's father, who came and went into our lives when ever he felt like it. I'm over the hurt, disappointment, and pain, Monster is relatively well-adjusted, and I decided after ten years, I was ready to look for a man. 

Not so easy. There's a whole lot of stuff I needed to take into consideration with this endeavor, and decided that I would just LOOK and SEE what was out there instead of jumping into the dating pool again. In my little microscopic world, there's no one.

I have no friends with single male friends to set me up with, they're all married. I refuse to do online dating. I don't go to bars or clubs (I think I'm just too old for that now.) We have no family where I could meet a friend of a cousin. Monster attends a private school where everyone is married. No single men anywhere. 

Until Stanley. (Not his real name.) Stanley's children attend school with Monster. He was married and his wife, through circumstances I won't discuss, left him a few years ago. Stanley is in the military and has always been our key-note speaker for our Veteran's Day Celebration. I've always been a sucker for a man in uniform and for the last several years have had a mild crush on him. He's very nice, handsome, and very smart. Fine attributes all.

We've had a few brief encounters at the PTO meetings, Veteran's Day, and volleyball games. He laughs at my jokes and takes me seriously when I discuss serious things. I think we're "friends" now, rather than just mere acquaintances. 

There is no way I would date this man. Not that I wouldn't want to, but life in a private school is a fish bowl and our children don't need to be involved in the gossip. Besides, he hasn't asked me out, and I would never ask him. Just too old-fashioned.

Moving forward...

As I discussed this infatuation with my friend one day, (because what woman doesn't discuss falling in love with her BFF), a whole array of topics were brought to light that I hadn't even considered before. Primarily, how hard it was, as a woman over 50 (!) with a ten year old daughter to find a man who was willing to date her. (I'm not looking for a relationship, just a date.)

As a writer, if I find someone foolish enough to listen to me babble on about plot points and story structure, I will talk their ear off. As my BFF and I discussed Stanley, the root of the new story began to take shape. Conversations about Stanley began to taper off and the story took hold.

My BFF, LOVES this story. She wants me to finish it so she can read it and she's not a big reader. I call her every day to fill her in on where I am in the writing and how I'm going to get to the Happily Ever After. 

After a particularly trying day (stress in my personal life is through the roof), I started discussing progress on the book. My BFF said, "It's so nice you have something to look forward to. You're so happy when you talk about your writing. You love it so much."


Writing is hard work, and the Regency series eventually became a "chore". I had lost the magic in writing until I stopped writing for "business" and started writing for fun again. Developing the mystery detective series was fun. 

However, this contemporary romance is something I'm particularly excited about as it explores the "plight" of single women everywhere--how they meet men, where they meet men, what women actually want in a man rather than the fantasy they've all dreamt of, and also, what real men are actually looking for in a woman. As we all know, men and women think differently when it comes to relationships and that is what this book is all about.

In case you were wondering, it should be out by Christmas.

Real Life. Real Writing.

Tell me -- Do you pull your stories from real life? Has writing become a "chore"? Have you switched genres to find the fun again?When was the last time you went out on a date?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Not a whole lot. Or maybe too much. I can't decide. Monster and I didn't go anywhere this summer so I cleaned the house and wrote a bunch of stuff. Murder mysteries for one, and a contemporary romance for another. Still not finished with any of it -- cleaning or writing. But here are a few pics (because I really don't have a lot to say. School started last week, Monster is playing volleyball, I got roped into more PTO junk and I'm just flat out for the next few weeks.)

So much junk

After (First coat. Looks better with 2 but didn't take pics)

Before it was soooo dark

Now it's soooo bright (again, only 1st coat)

the new color for my dining room

It's dark in the pic, but it looks nice in the room

So, that's what we've been doing.

Monday, August 3, 2015

What I Learned (Am Learning) Writing Murder Mysteries

As an historical romance novelist, my pages are filled with angst, longing, yearning, the promise and hope of love, and the absoluteness of happily ever after. As a first time murder mystery writer -- there's none of that.

First and foremost, I thought writing a murder mystery would be semi-easy. I wouldn't have to do much research on word choices, I could use contractions, I pretty much grew up where the novels are set, and I have a couple of yearbooks where I could pick my character's names from. The plot lines were supposed to be fun -- I had killed a half dozen people in my head over the course of my lifetime. Bad bosses, a couple of frenemies, not to mention nasty ex-boyfriends. How hard could it be?

*cue the laughter*

Research Is Killing Me

Killing people takes guts. It also means you have to know about guts, and physiology, biology, science, chemistry. You need to know where bullets holes go in and out, what happens when a particular body part gets hit by a bullet, the difference between the sizes of bullets to make bigger or smaller holes, and how long it will take to recuperate from said bullet wound. And that's just for starters.

Do we want to talk about poison? Chemical reactions? Deterioration of evidence? Chemical compounds? Knife wounds vs. bullet wounds? Yeah, I didn't think so.

To put it simply, you can't just write whatever you want. People will laugh. Especially people who actually protect this country from bad guys for a living. And I hate being laughed at. So research it is. I'm finding I research when I need to know, not before. Also, what you think is simple common sense, isn't.

For instance, my MC has a gun. The gun has a magazine for the bullets. In researching, I found out that most police officers don't call it a gun, they call it a weapon. They don't have bullets, they have rounds. They don't have magazines, they have clips. (Or vice versa, I forget.) They also don't call cars, cars, they're called vehicles. They also don't generally say "10-4" anymore. Real life isn't Adam 12. (How many of you remember that show?)

Research takes time, and for anyone who wants to write (anything), if you're not going to do the research, don't write the book. (This statement also applies to the blog post I wrote last week. Thanks to VR Barkowski for reminding me.)

Writing About Murder is NOT for Sissies

The first book (novella) I wrote, was this crazy idea I had one day because the characters in my head would not shut up. I said, "Okay, if I get this out, will you please leave me alone?" They all agreed and so I wrote it from start to finish in 17 days. It was a rush, and I felt proud that I did that quickly. (Not exactly a sucky first draft, but after two critique partners read it, I know what's it's missing and where it needs to go.)

The characters begged me to write another story. I figured, hey why not. I can blast out another one. It's summertime after all. I'm on vacation. However, this story was different. The plot was about a cold case murder that had been languishing in the police department for forty years. My MC finally gets a break in the case and he learns pretty much what happened the night of the murder. Suffice it to say, it was not pretty. What the murderers did to this poor girl had me depressed for DAYS. And she is only a character.

I was absolutely distraught because, well, I knew what happened to her long before anyone else did. The problem was, now I had to get it down on paper (laptop). Writing that scene was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to write. In the first book, the murder had already taken place and I only shared the details sparingly throughout. In this book I had no choice but to make the murder scene/sequence as real as I could get it. Yikes.

This book is not going to end with a happy ending or even a clear resolution to the murder. I'm dreading that scene as well, but it will have to be written. Police work does not always bring the bad guys to justice. And that's hard for a writer who's used to writing happily ever afters.

Slitting My Own Throat

Overwriting is the bane of my existence. I want these stories to be tight, well-worded scenes that flow from one chapter to the next. I want the writing to be hard and fast, in your face because that's how I want to write it. That's not the case. I'm finding I'm heavy with dialogue, explaining everything twice (because one character knows something that another character doesn't). And because I'm a pantster I don't follow an outline. Editing is going to be a nightmare because it's all about the clues -- who knows what when. I want to make sure it's all in there. I don't want people to say the story dragged or that they missed something because I inadvertently cut it out.

I also want my characters to sound realistic. One of my biggest challenges is that most cops, most real people of my acquaintance swear. I don't want to offend my readers, not that these books are rife with F-bombs, but peppered with shit, hell, damn it, son-of-a-bitch, bastard, and asshole. In this day and age, are those considered swears? I hear them on tv all the time. And I don't even get HBO. I hear them in the grocery store. I hear them at the gas station. I use them myself.  If my hero gets shot, he's not going to say, "Oh, drat." He's not even going to say, "Damn it!" He's going to use strong language. Right now, I'm leaving everything in. And yes, I've read detective/mystery/thrillers in which no offensive language is used. Amazed and shocked was I that it could be done. But that's not me. It's not my voice. However, when I go through edits, I'm sure most of them will go. It's a fine line between realistic and offensive.

The Kiss of Death

In writing this series of books, (what was I thinking writing a series!) my MC the detective has a deceased wife. She's been gone five years, and only now, since he's met the psychic does he think about women again. He doesn't want to become involved because he thinks he's not good enough. He's a small town detective, she's a once-famous celebrity. He also doesn't think he's ready to let go of his deceased wife. Love, and all its complications, must play a role in these books. Why, you may ask? Because love is the glue that holds people together, whether they're together or not.

I also have several other characters who are in the midst of breaking up or trying to stay together. Why am I sub-plotting all this craziness? Why drag the romance into murder mystery? Because most murders are considered to be crimes of passion. (more research). Passion is the element that lies underneath love and hate. It's all very psychological bouncing passionate murders against passionate lovers and I don't quite understand it all, but I like the idea of it, and well, it's my series, and I'm writing it that way.

Killing My Darlings

Why am I doing this? I'm supposed to be writing another historical series, not messing around with murder. I'm also supposed to be finishing up a contemporary romance I've had kicking around for years. (That I totally promised myself I would do at the beginning of the summer.) Why am I killing myself trying to write books in days rather than months?

Because it's fun.

Writing the historical romance series was fun in the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing. I was just writing, writing, writing, books that I wanted to read because I couldn't find any historical romances that were like Jane Austen's. (I'm sorry, I just don't like Georgette Heyer.)

Writing this detective series is fun for me. I get to challenge myself mentally (research), spiritually (good vs. evil), emotionally (love, hate, death, life), and physically (10-12 hours days because I just can't stop writing). I also have no idea what I'm doing, and so far, I've only let two people read it, so there are no reviews to cry over. (Remember the Kryptonite from last week?)

I also think it's fun because I'm exploring contemporary characters, which I haven't done in almost ten years. I don't have to think about social mores, or social classes, about a society that only exists in history books. I'm right there, in the middle of someone's life, someone I might know (if he actually existed). I'm diving into the depths of what it means to be human, what makes someone who they are, in the here and now, good, bad, and everything in between. I don't have the strict rules of writing historical fiction to get in my way.

So, that's what I've learned. So far.

Tell me -- What genre do you get the most fun out of writing? Do you like the challenge of writing something different or do you stick with what makes you comfortable? Do you have any tips for writing murder mysteries?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

5 Important Lessons I've Learned About Writing

With any new job, there's a learning curve. Take waitressing for example -- in the beginning, I just kept my little pad and a pen on me all the time. Over the course of several months, I didn't need the pad and pen anymore, I could remember the order. I could remember customer's names and what they drank. I could get my side-work finished and be out the door come closing time without having to look at the closing list. I think if I ever took another waitress job, it would be second nature. Sort of like riding a bike. I might not want to take a spin, but I remember HOW to do it.

Same with writing. I can't TEACH you POV, or dialogue, or structure, which is why I don't do it on the blog. I've been writing for almost ten years full-time and now it's just stuff I know how to do. Fingers on the keyboard, butt in chair -- GO. I had to practice, and practice makes almost perfect, and now it's just second nature. The way a pianist practices scales.

There are tons of books and articles, and blogs, and videos to learn HOW to write, but you can't really learn it until you actually DO it. You can sit in the restaurant all day long and watch the waitresses, but you won't actually know HOW to waitress until you walk up to that first table and say, "Hi, how are you. Are you ready to order?"

And don't get me wrong, I didn't just write a book and BAM I know how to write. I've read craft books, studied other writers, and blogs, written my million words of shitty first drafts. Those things helped to TIGHTEN my writing, but they didn't actually TEACH me how to write. I just sat down one day and wrote "Chapter One" because that's what I wanted to do.

Jhumpa Lahiri said:

“All writing, all art is just a wild leap off a cliff because there’s nothing to support you. You’re creating something out of nothing, really.  No one’s telling you to do it.  It comes from within, and it’s a very mysterious process, at least for me.  I still don’t understand how I write a story or a book.  I don’t understand how it happens.  I mean, I know it takes time, I know it takes effort, I know it takes lots and lots of drafts and hours, but I still really don’t understand the internal mechanism of how it really happens.”

Lesson # 1
Write what you want to read.

You can't write for the market, the market changes in a heartbeat. Ten years ago, it was all about wizards, and sparkly vampires, two years ago it was all about the shade between black and white. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Write what you can't find in the marketplace. Write what makes you happiest to read. There are other people out there who will want to read it too. I write traditional Jane Austen type Regency romances. They don't have sex and they don't have contractions. I wanted to read something without a heaving bosom and washboard abs on the cover. I couldn't find it. So I decided to write it.

Lesson #2

Write about what you know.

I recently sat in on an online conference and mostly it was about non-fiction. How to make a bazillion dollars writing a book about beet farming. And hey, if you know all there is to know about beet farming and you think there's a market for that idea, then go for it. Write that book. You probably could make a bazillion dollars.

It's the same in fiction -- stick to what you know.  I also write contemporary romances that are set in Rhode Island with crazy ethnic families. WHY? Because that's what I know. You have a penchant for parakeets, you love cozy mysteries, and your Aunt Matilda is the town gossip -- well, there's a book if ever I heard one. You dress up every year for Halloween as Frank Sinatra, noir is your favorite genre, and you would totally love to time travel. Go for it.

Lesson #3



My favorite quote of all time from Margaret Atwood (THE HANDMAID'S TALE). I've had it on my blog forever. To me it means, no matter what anyone says about your writing, don't let it stop you from writing. Don't let ANYONE stop you from writing. Your mother, husband, BFF, writing teacher. If you're not good now, it doesn't mean you'll never be good. You don't know what you don't know, and practice makes almost perfect. (Nothing is "perfect" but it can be damn near close.)

I recently sent a story to a friend of mine for a quick critique. I thought it was fantastic. I thought I wouldn't have to tweak any of it. Yeah, not so much. It came back with several (okay, lots) of "suggestions" on how to make the story better. And it hurt (because I have the ego of Superman), and one well-meaning "suggestion" is like Kryptonite for me. I went through my usual two days of self-doubt and throwing in the towel, but then I got over it. Those crits weren't going to stop me from doing what I love. As a matter of fact, it only gave me more reason to "show him". I'll make this story the BEST DAMN STORY I've ever written.

7/28/15 Post Script -- Thanks to Maria for pointing this out in the comments. 

It's hard to think that I'm NOT a "perfect" writer. I ask for help from critique partners and because my EGO is larger than my pea-sized brain, I tend to get all grumpy about their suggestions. As I said to Maria in the comments, Critters are the best people on the planet. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. And generally, 9.5 times out of 10, I always take their suggestions and put them in the book. For #3, I guess I should have made the point about those people who aren't writers who nay-say our "little hobby", or trivialize our passion for the art. You know, those people who say, "Oh, you're writing a book -- how quaint." Or "You're writing a book -- WHY? What do you have to write about." You know, the mean ones. We all have mean people in our lives. Don't let those bastards grind you down. Keep plugging. Keep working at it. Don't let nay-sayers have their way.

Lesson #4

Learn your craft.

You couldn't be a mechanic if you didn't know what a torque wrench was. And sure, I've just said write -- what makes you happy, what you want to read. But the caveat is you need to learn the CRAFT of writing. It's not just stringing a couple of sentences into a couple of paragraphs into a couple of pages into a book. It's about grammar, and punctuation, and spelling, and structure.

YOU CAN'T BREAK THE RULES UNLESS YOU KNOW THEM. Did you know you can't use a semi-colon in dialogue? Even though Word says you can. Do you know the difference between a 3-act structure and a 5-act? Do you know the difference between 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and omniscient POV? Do you know the difference between an em-dash and an ellipse? Learn the tools of your trade and the correct way to use them. You wouldn't put a fuel cap on a tie rod.

Lesson #5

Writing is hard work.

Sure, we all saw the instant overnight success of sparkly vampires and pale colors. Sure, we're all jealous. I know I am. Hey, I'd love to have something I write be turned into a hit movie or make the NY Times Bestseller list. Who of us wouldn't. But those are just dreams I hold onto because they're fun. Like winning the lottery. I spend the millions in Powerball every week. But I don't buy a ticket. What would I do with millions of dollars? Buy the stuff I need, make sure Monster has enough for college and give the rest of it away. I wasn't raised to be idle.

I write for a living, and I love my job. I can't see myself ever retiring. And with every job I've ever had, I gave it 110%. Including this one. Every time I sit down at the computer I give it everything I can. No, I don't write every day. I can't. But during the days I do, or the hours that I can, I'm in it until I know I've given 110%. Until I'm satisfied with the outcome. Until I can honestly say, "Job well done."

Working hard becomes a habit, a serious kind of fun. You get self-satisfaction from pushing your self to the limit, knowing that all the effort is going to pay off.

Mary Lou Retton

Extra Lesson 

Social media doesn't sell books. I don't care what anyone says. The only thing that sells books is still word of mouth and a damn good book.

Tell me -- Have you any lessons you want to add? Share them in the comments.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

My New Characters

I've been working ferociously on the new detective series (one story finished, two more started). It's been grueling because I'd like to get all of them written before the summer ends. Yeah, I'm a little crazy that way. (I also need to work on the new Regency series, but the new characters won't leave me alone.)

Anyway, I needed a break and decided to get some images for my characters. I'm a "visual" writer, meaning I can't write a character unless I have a picture of them in my head, and in my hard drive. I had several people in mind for the characters, but then I found two that are spot on.

Ed Harris
Meet Detective-Lieutenant Thomas Locke. He's tough, tender, has a loving relationship with his parents, has no baggage (except an old dog), and is polite, smart, funny, and sympathetic to the plight of the heroine's past issues. He's like the perfect man. Almost. He does have a few flaws, most notably his distaste for dressing in anything other than Levis and flannel shirts, and a propensity for making of fun of people who don't.

Dyan Cannon
And his sidekick, Mallory Pope. She's a stoner, hippie, has-been, who used to be a famous astrologer and psychic. She has a devastating past and severe physical limitations, which only lends to the anxiety Thomas has in working with her. He does like her, and she likes him, which leads to them both acting like they're 14 years old. It's kind of funny.

I'm having a blast writing this series, mostly because I get to go "home" again. I Google map Rhode Island and hit "street view" so I can get the feel of the place. I'm totally homesick these days because it's July and I'm not at the beach. I have some money saved up (for Monster's tuition) and it's eating at me because I could just as easily spend it on plane tickets and hotel/car reservations. What to do, what to do...

The beach where I used to live. 

Tell me -- Are you a "visual" writer? Do you have pictures of the people you want your characters to be? Do you wish you could go home again?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Writing Out of My Preferred Genre

So, I finished writing the detective story last Friday morning. I re-read it (countless times) edited, revised, re-wrote, and finally put The End on it. Actually, I wrote the end on it Wednesday, but I didn't like and tore it all apart on Thursday. Put it all back together on Friday. Called it done.

Don't get me wrong, I still have another round of edits (and probably ten more), but it's readable and I believe the story's tight. I also have to take a look at the structure. Some places it drags and don't you just hate that. But I have to say, after writing this book, I want to immediately start writing another one.

You know why, I'm having so much fun building these characters I don't want to stop. And I came to a major realization the other day.

I have absolutely no expectations of this story. 

I feel the same as I do when I finished THE LADY'S MASQUERADE. I had no idea what to expect, but I finished what I started. I wrote a detective story of 34K words. And I think it's pretty good.

I don't have a clue who my target audience is. I'm also having trouble with my keywords and BISAC category. Is it a thriller? Suspense? Murder? Police Procedural? Detective? Mystery?

I've been giving a lot of thought to options about this story, Should I query it? Should I submit it in a contest? Should I self-publish? Should I promote? Under which name should I publish? Should I get a new pen name? How much time do I want to invest in a "big" project? Is it worth it to continue writing in this genre, with these characters? (As well as the new Regency series = 2 big projects.)

Or do I not publish at all, put it in my drawer and hide it away.

I've given that some very serious consideration. Would you like to know why?

Because everything I write has been judged. People have expectations. Readers become fans if you do it right. Those fans have expectations of my writing.

If I publish under another pen name, who's going to know it's me? You won't if I don't tell you.

I can hear Anne R. Allen screaming at me from across the states. I don't need another pen name. I already have two. However, Anne, you said it yourself, unless you're writing in disparate genres, you don't need a pen name. And well, I am writing in three disparate genres now.

I'm too stupid to know I don't know what I'm doing. 

But here's the thing...I've been writing and publishing (formatting, marketing, editing, proofreading, revising, and watching the industry change and evolve) over the last six or seven years. I know EXACTLY what I'm doing. Kind of.

Whatever ideas I may have about publishing these stories, I won't know if they'll work, unless I try. Right?

If I do decide to publish any of the detective stories, it won't be for a long while yet. I'm enjoying the high from knowing I started and finished something. (I also painted my office in between the time I began and finished the story -- pics coming soon. June 1 - June 25. I think total writing days equaled 17.)

The only thing I do know for certain, is that I like the story. And I want to write more of them.

Stay tuned!


And yes, I changed the blog back to a more beachy feel. And also the name of it. SEO is what it is.


I hope you all have a safe and non-explosive 4th of July.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Uploading/Publishing to Google Play

I dropped this post in on a Saturday instead of waiting until Monday. And yes, I changed the title, and background in the header. I just can't stand not being on the water. More to come at a later date.


Yes, I finally figured out how to upload to Google Play. And let me tell you right now, if you're thinking about it, don't bother.

1. The dashboard/interface is an absolute NIGHTMARE. It is NOT user friendly at all.

2. You have to change the titles of all your files, but you can't do that until they give you the GG Key. Stupid. (I should say, that if you want to upload your series they give you a template, which then you can use the GGkey for. However, the template didn't work and I got confused as to what I was uploading, so I had to scrap that idea -- and then had to upload each title individually, which I didn't use the GG key for. It was such a pain in the ass, I only uploaded 3 books.)

3. I can't even tell you how hard it was to set up the banking account page. And then to actually have each book correspond to my bank. And then, to set up the book so that all the different countries' money will flow into that account. (Which, incidentally, you need to "refresh" otherwise you may get paid a lower denomination. Money fluctuates in the world as we all know, but YOU need to manually "refresh" your account instead of Google automatically doing it for you.)

4. I cannot seem to get their excel spreadsheet to work on ANY of my computers. I even have a Google Chromebook.

5. Your epub has to be PERFECT, which, on every other platform mine are. Except for this one. It kept telling me it was in error. I sent mine to a friend who checked it out for me. He said it was perfect, shouldn't have a problem. It still did. Finally, after repeated emails to Google, they said it was because my ORIGINAL WORD document was written on Word 2003, it wouldn't format correctly. What? Yeah. (I have no problem uploading original Word docs to Amazon or Smashwords.)

6. And the kicker to all of this -- My books are priced at $3.99 across all platforms. Google decided to discount the price to $3.03. And of course when the Amazon bots found out, they lowered their price. (So I'm earning less on Amazon.) And Google only pays 58% in royalties.(Which is only 2% less than what B&N pays @ 60%, but somehow just seeing that 58% makes me FEEL like it's so much less.)

So, there you have it. I've been published there for 5 months now and have still not sold a single copy even though I have embedded metadata in my files for the Search Engine Optimization that everyone talks about.

I've heard that Draft2Digital and Smashwords, and one other aggregate are trying to get Google Play into their fold, but I haven't seen anything in stone yet. And, from what I read a few weeks ago, Google Play stopped allowing new authors to upload. I can't remember why. (Probably because no one could figure out how to do it and crashed their stupid system. No, that's not the reason.)

The talk for the last year or so has been getting into foreign markets. Three quarters of the world speaks English, and we need to be seen. So far, the only major player is Google. Amazon has a few countries, but have problems in one form or another. However, Google is Android, and it seems the people who look at this stuff seem to think that these billions of English speaking people read books on their phones. Well, obviously no one wants to read mine. And yes, I do realize that I write Regency romance, and it's a niche market, but if I can sell books in Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and India through various other aggregates, then why can't I sell books on Google Play? They must have found my books by searching for it. What is the largest search engine in the world? Uh, that would be Google. So why haven't I sold any books through them? (And no, this isn't sour grapes, it's just utter, blinding confusion.)

The whole Google Play experience was a nightmare, and the frustration wasn't worth it to get into English speaking foreign markets. Perhaps if I had sold a couple of books, but so far the till is empty. And with Amazon cutting my price because of them, I'm  not really sure if it's worth it to stay.

My advice to you -- wait until one of the other aggregates gets them in their corral and upload through them. In my opinion, Google Play isn't worth all the hype.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Writing is Hard "Work"

Good Morning. I've been thinking about my five year plan. I touched on it with this post in January. The Year of the Popcorn Kittens. Writing the Regency series took a lot out of me, in more ways than I ever thought. During my last blog break between March and June my brain just shut down. I didn't want to write anymore. Seriously, I thought about giving it all up. Actually, I just wanted to sleep until I decided to get up again.

However, writing is my JOB. I am (for the most part) an historical romance novelist. That's what I do to make money. Yet, after pushing out so many Regencies, (7 novels and 6 novellas in 4 years) I just didn't want to write another word. But as self-published authors, we're taught to write, write, write. To get it out, publish, rinse and repeat.

not all the books are here

What I had forgotten during the last two years, and what my blog break showed me was how much FUN I used to have while writing.  I always have five or six different WiP sitting on my hard drive. (If one gives me fits, I just go to the next.)

However, the guilt I felt for wanting to abandon my chosen genre was eating at me like a cancer. How could I disappoint my readers if I didn't churn out another series when I said I would write it? Would I lose my fan base? I had found success by publishing every four months or so. Would they wait for the next book? (To make a success of a series, readers don't LIKE to wait. They want to read them all from beginning to end. Write, write, write, publish, publish, publish.)

However, what I found when I sat down to write the next series was that I had no new ideas. I have six heroines I have to find plots for, and I had already pretty much done them all. Mistaken identity, brutish hero, war hero, lies, spies and country bumpkins and long-suffering women who waited for their man to come up to snuff. I had nothing left. And I couldn't bear to do any more research. (The timeline for the new series is set 5 years before the last one. Different wars, different people, different politics.)

So I said f*ck it. Yes, I did. I had written 5 chapters for the new Regency series first book and I stopped.

And let me tell you what a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Writing this detective novel has been like a breath of fresh air. New characters, minimal research, contemporary language. I feel as if I've been reborn. (Could I have any more cliches in that paragraph?)

Like that rhyme we used to sing at the end of the school year -- No more teachers, no more books, no more bully's dirty looks. Well my rhyme is now -- No more Dukes, no more Viscounts, I can write whatever I feel like. Yes, I know it doesn't rhyme, but I never said I was a poet. lol

I'm writing for FUN again and it feels so good. I don't feel guilty. I don't feel like I'm driven to the brink of madness doing research. I don't feel as if I'm wasting my time writing other things when I should be "WORKING".

And this, my friends, is the most important lesson I learned --

No matter WHAT I write, that means I AM working. 

Tell me -- Do you write for fun? Or are you writing as a job? Do you ever feel guilty if you write out of your chosen genre?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

I'm Back -- Kind Of

Well, it's been awhile. I got through my mid-life crisis intact. I guess. I'm not sure if that's what it was or not, but life has settled down and I'm feeling much better.

I cleaned my house, or at least straightend out the mess that was my dining room. Here are a few pics to show you the before and after...

the original dining room

note the bannister and the rug

the upper room is now my reading nook
front door entrance and new dining room

note the bannister is gone

the cabinet where I keep my treasures

the other side of the front door entrance

This is what it looks like now because I've started writing again

Yes, I've started writing again. I mean, I can't not write. It's encoded into my DNA. Life just threw me a bunch of curveballs in March and it took me until now to hit them out of the park. Now that I've straightened those out, I'm back to the grind.

I think part of the problem was that I wanted to write other projects and ditch the Regency stuff. It took me awhile to realize I could actually do both. I mean I wrote REMEMBERING YOU at the same time I wrote THE LADY'S FATE. It's all about scheduling and sticking to it.

So that's what I'm doing. Sort of. I'm still not sure about this blog. I hate to give it up completely, this is where my friends are. But I've noticed more and more of them are also giving up their blogs to devote more time to family and writing.

It's hard to keep it up after so many years. With so many other social media avenues to travel on, why keep on blogging. It's not like any one is here anymore anyway. However, on the off chance someone is, I'd like to keep in touch.

So I guess here I am. I'm thinking I'll post updates about once a month. Although, I tried that before and eventually that fell away too.

I do have the other blog, Anne Gallagher Writer but that's mostly for my readers. Although, if you want to stop by and say hey over there, I won't ignore you.

And if I don't see you, have a great summer!

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Examining My Mid-Life Crisis

After publishing the last book in my series two weeks ago, I decided to clean my house. Ugh, what a nightmare. It's spring, well, almost, so in the midst of my cleaning, I decided to do the BIG clean. You know, wash windows, declutter, rearrange furniture. I also have every intention of painting, and putting in new floors. Or at least ripping up the old rugs. Lots to do.

The first couple of days were easy. I didn't even miss my computer. But then, I started to get itchy. You know that feeling -- I'm finished with that one, what do I write next? But I fought it off. I had so much to do in the house I refused to give in to the nagging.

Another couple of days passed. I had some work to do at school so I took care of that. Another couple of days and I went through my closets and Monster's closets weeding out the stuff that doesn't fit. Another couple of days and the kitchen cupboards were straightened out.

I'm not done by any means, that is just the preliminary first draft so to speak. I've given myself until the end of April to finish the house.

In the midst of all this cleaning, I couldn't help think about what to write next. I have six half-finished manuscripts in my hard drive. I have a new Regency series in outline. I've been musing on a new short series of cozy mysteries (those were Monster's idea actually). However, as before, I kept pushing them off. I wasn't ready to sit down again. Like I said, lots to do in the house.

I was talking to an acquaintance about finishing the series and she said, "Well, it must be a relief to have it all done. Ten years is a long time to work on a project. You must be glad you can finally move on with your life."

I didn't think anything of it, but then a couple of days later it hit me. "I can finally move on with my life."

For the last couple of years I've been struggling with a bunch of personal issues -- my health, my ex, my parents' aging and their problems -- I started writing seriously when Monster was a baby. I was still living in Rhode Island then, but also worked part-time. I thought the writing would supplement my income.

When we moved to North Carolina and I couldn't find a job when the crash hit in 2008, I figured I would give the writing thing a chance full-time. It was a wild, bumpy ride and when I started making money, I thought I had made it. I thought I would be set and I wouldn't have to get a "real" job. Yeah, not so much. As we all know, the publishing business changes with the speed of light, and when things are good, they're great. When they're not, it takes awhile to gain that traction again. I've had my share of ups and downs. I'm sick of riding the wave. There's no security no matter how many books I write. (16 so far. Some of them sell well, others, not so much.)

And if I were truthful, I miss working in the real world. I've isolated myself to the point of almost becoming agoraphobic. (Not really, but almost.) I had a gift card for Penney's from Christmas and I went the other day to see what I could spend it on. Oh, the dresses, the shoes, the bags, the cute tops...and I didn't buy anything. Where would I wear any of it? My wardrobe for the last few years has consisted of faded jeans, t's, and sneakers. I don't go anywhere except downstairs to my office or to school. Why do I need to get "dressed"?

Monster is ten now. I want to start dating again. But where would I meet men? It's not like in the old days when I was in the restaurant business and it was easy to meet someone. It's not like I have single friends to set me up, they're all married, with married friends. Just for fun I went on but those guys are looking for 20-somethings with no baggage.

It's a different world now. Unfortunately, I keep thinking it's 1999 and I'm still 37. I keep thinking I have twenty years ahead of me to make all my dreams come true. I'll be 53 in April. My twenty years are gone. My bucket list has been kicked to the curb. Instead of thinking of retirement and traveling, I have to wonder if I'll ever be able to retire. I just don't have that security.

Which has led me to this place -- this dark and scary place I keep seeing as my future. I'm trying to convince myself that I need to get a real job. One side agrees. It would be good for me to get out of my own head, meet people, have that extra cash. The other half says, if I just keep writing I'll have all that I need. If you build it, they will come. And yes, I do have readers who have turned into fans and that's fantastic. But right now, I need more than that. I think.

See, part of my problem is that I don't know what I want. I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. In the old days I would get a divorce and buy a Corvette. But, I've never been married, and I don't like Corvettes. The question is, where do I go from here?

I guess, back to the Florida room to clear out the remaining junk.

I should also say I'm going to be taking a long blog break to figure this all out. I'll let you know what I come up with.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Writing From The Inside

Good Morning. I'm almost finished with the final book in my Reluctant Grooms series. WHEN ALL HOPE IS LOST. I've been working steadily on this story since Thanksgiving. In it, I examine Lady Olivia's life and why she does the things she does. It has been an intricate journey filled with twists and turns and and angst and depression, grief, heartache, love, loss, and agonizing pain.

One of my best friends, (a mom at school) whom I speak with nearly every day on the phone, wondered where I'd been. She never calls me because she knows I'm writing, so she waits for me to call her. It was three weeks before I picked up the phone.

"What the hell have you been doing? I thought I had done something to piss you off," she said, when I finally called her last Monday.

"No, I've just been writing." We chatted about the book. She's actually my sounding board for plot twists. When I described certain elements of it to her she thought I was a genius. "Brilliant." is what she said. But then she said, "I saw you in car line yesterday. You look awful. Are you okay?"

For the last five weeks, I have been working 14 hours days at the computer. I have sorely neglected my "real life" because Lady Olivia has pretty much dragged me through the ringer. I've cried during every chapter, sometimes nearly every scene. It wasn't something I planned to do, believe me. Making my readers cry with my words is one thing. Making me sob like a little baby is another.

Lady Olivia has always been in the background of all my stories. As other characters say, "She likes to have her hand in all the pies of the aristocracy." From matchmaking and charity work to Parliament and political intrigue, Lady Olivia is a diverse character.

However, she never had her own Point of View in any of the stories. She was always there, giving advice, and scheming to make everything turn out in her favor, but always through the eyes of another person. Until LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING.

I set her up in UNDOING to take a fall. I don't know why. I thought it was good reading. In THE SEDUCTION OF MR. SUMMERVILLE, I allow her to fall even further. Yet, once I finished that book, I realized I hadn't done enough. She needed to hit rock bottom.

It hasn't been easy, let me tell you. I cried nearly every day. I've had more than a few sleepless nights pondering over chapters. I suppose I can honestly say I am "suffering" for my art. And here's the kicker. Just as I was almost finished, on the last chapter I might add, I came down with a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis. I tried to write through it, but I had to take a few days off. Lying in bed forced me to examine what I had written and why.

You see, Olivia and I are almost the same age. (I'll be 53, she just turned 56.) She's led a charmed life. So did I for a very long time. And then mine fell apart. I lost everything, (IRA's, my savings, my home, my job, my fiance) all within a couple of months. I hit rock bottom and had to climb out of the mess circumstances had thrown me into. I don't know why, but I wanted Olivia to go through exactly the same thing. I'm thinking that I had never dealt with the nightmare that was my life back then and this was my own personal catharsis.

It wasn't easy putting myself through the emotional roller coaster again. But I dug in and remembered how I felt during that time -- angry, unbelieving, sad, depressed, gob-smacked, furious it had happened, wondering when it would end, how I would ever get out of it.

As a writer, we have to dig deep into our own emotional highs and lows so our characters will be able to SHOW that to our readers. As writers we need to get it from the INSIDE. Granted, it takes courage to be able to look at our past selves and examine where we were, how we felt, and then go through it all over again. And I can tell you, that's why I got sick. Within those six months when I lost my "life" I was also really sick (the beginning of my current health situation I deal with now). Hence, my illness for the last week. History is repeating itself.

Truthfully though, I think this is the best book I've ever written. WHEN ALL HOPE IS LOST is the perfect title (thank you Jane Austen) because Olivia has nothing. She's hit bottom and at the end of chapter ten she has lost EVERYTHING, much the same way I did. What else is the poor woman to do? I make her suffer endlessly, because I did. It took me a long time to get from that point in my life to where I am today.

However, in the book, Olivia has a champion -- ME-- who makes it all better by the end of the book. Why? Because I'm a sucker for a happily ever after. I can't tell you what happens, but let's just say she gets what she needs. As have I.

Tell me -- How far do you go for your characters? Do you "suffer" for your art? Do you write from the inside?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Time is Irrelevant

Good Morning. Anne R. Allen had a great post this weekend on what mistakes newbie writers make. I laughed as I read it because I made every single one of them and then some. I thought back to then, and up to now, and how much I learned over the y-e-a-r-s I've been writing.

I've been writing since I was a kid. Just like most of you. There's some inexplicable NEED in us to get the stories out of our heads and onto paper, or in this day and age, onto the screen. In my comment to Anne, I said how I began scratching out my prose on legal pads, and then graduated to a Smith-Corona electronic
typewriter with erasable ribbon. That was big back in the day. No delete button anywhere.

I didn't get my own pc until 2005. I knew how to access email, but other than that, had no clue what a computer could do. I started writing my first story THE LADY'S MASQUERADE on it, copying what I'd written down on legal pads. I had it nearly finished by the time Monster turned 18 months. She was in day care then, while I worked as a housekeeper, and one day I caught her pushing buttons on my pc. Well, it seems the sitter at day care had an old pc that could access games, and Monster wanted to play them on my computer. Alas, she crashed it (or so I thought because I had no idea how to fix the mess she made) and I lost everything on it.

We moved to NC in 2007, and I was back to legal pads. My cousin Tommy is an IT guy and has his own business (very successful I might add). We visited one day in 2008 and he gave me an old XP desk top. Because I knew nothing about computers other than how to access Word, he said it had 5GB of RAM. I asked what that meant. He said, "It can hold 100 books at 100,000 words each." Yay. I could write whatever I wanted and not have to worry about running out of paper.

So here I sit, 7 years later with my obsolete XP desktop, with (has to be by now) a billion words in my RAM. (And I use it every single day.) I have 16 books published, with a few short stories thrown in, writing a half dozen more books that I may or may never finish. I did a mock-up cover for the latest book I'm writing, and put it on Twitter over the weekend.

Why am I telling you all this? Because if I can do it, so can you. We are only as inhibited as we believe we are. "But I can't learn that stuff," you cry. I never believed I could do any of that either. How many times did I want to give up, throw my computer through the window? Gadzooks, I need to meet a person 6 times before I remember their name. Do you have any idea how long it took me to learn how to format a book. IN WORD. Do you have any idea how long it took me to figure out how to erase the green and red squiggly lines, or how to set my margins, or how to create headers? A long time. A really long time.

Do you have any idea how long it took me to figure out what a gerund was, or a double negative, or just the basic "rules of writing"? YEARS. Yes, I took high school English. Yes, I took creative writing courses in college, but that doesn't teach you how to write in the real world, for real readers. It teaches you how to write "perfectly". Real people don't want perfect, they want a good story.

A mom at school, who didn't know I was a writer, said, "Oh, you write novels. Gee, that must be really hard." Yes, yes it is. I didn't know "writing is hard work" until I published my third novel. That's when I began to make money. That's when I figured out that writing for money is a JOB.

And with every job in the real world, there's always something new to learn. I read industry blogs to see what's going on. I read writing blogs and craft books to refresh my skills. I figured out which social media I can use to keep my name circulating. I figured out what to do to spur sales. And found out the hard way that it's pretty much -- just keep writing, publish the best book you can, pray a LOT, and hope for the best.

Time is now irrelevant in this new publishing dynamic. I published my first book in 2011. With Amazon's algorithms geared toward indies back then, I rose like a shooting star. I thought I had made it. I thought the rest of my career would be easy. Then with traditional publishing seeking some of that, I sank like a rolling stone. Algorithms change. Only now, 4 years later, with the Grace of God and my series completed have I seen an uptick.

And that's the way it is. Up and down, back and forth. We can't always be on the way up. We have to come down sometime. However, time is irrelevant. If you only have one book in you, then so be it. Write it. Finish it. Publish it. How many authors have only been one hit wonders? Harper Lee. Margaret Mitchell. J.D. Salinger.

And yes, those authors are pretty much national icons now. But how long did it take them to achieve their success?

No matter how long it takes to write THE END, just write the book.
Write the best story you can.
Learn the rules before you break them.
Read the craft books. Even if you think they're hogwash. Read them.
Find your "voice" and don't give in when someone wants to change it.
Learn how to edit.
Learn how to format.
Learn whatever it is you need to do to get the best story possible.

Just keep writing.

Time is irrelevant.

Tell me -- How long did it take you to finish your first book? How long before you published it?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year of the Popcorn Kittens

Good Morning. For the last two weeks, since Monster's winter break began, I've been laying around the house, visiting with friends, eating like a small tornado, and just pretty much been living in the real world -- something I haven't done in almost five years. I had almost forgotten what it feels like to be "normal". Whatever that entails.

I finished the last book in my Reluctant Grooms series in November. Once that went to publication, I went back in and line edited (again) the rest of the books in the series, tweaked a few things in the Hesitant Husbands series, changed my backmatter across all the books, and reformatted everything for upload to Google Play. (Again. No, I haven't uploaded those yet. As soon as Monster returns to school, I'll let you know how it goes.)

As the volunteer Gift Card Coordinator for Monster's school, December is a crazy month. Everyone wants gift cards, second quarter reports are due, end of year reports are due, balance reports are due in January, and next year's projected budget need to be thought about. It's a full time job to be sure, albeit with no pay. While on winter break, I tackled a bunch of that stuff so I could start January with a fairly clean slate.

To say I've been busy is an understatement. I just realized I haven't written a blog post since the beginning of December. I knew it had been awhile, I just didn't think it had been a month.

Now that the series is finished, I've been thinking about my life as a writer. What to do, what to write, where to start. Five years ago, I wrote up a business plan. Believe it or not, I accomplished everything on it. Time to write a new one. Thinking ahead to 2020 has me stymied.

A few years ago, Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a blog post called  "Popcorn Kittens"  (or something to that effect). For those of you who follow her, you know exactly what I'm talking about here. For those of you who do not follow her, you should.

In a nutshell, the post deals with the possibilities of writing whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Oh the ideas! One kept popping up right after another, like the kittens on the video.

And this is where I am right now -- in the middle of a herd of popcorn kittens.

I have so many ideas, I can't decide which one to tackle first.

The beginning novel to the new Regency series?
The contemporary romance that's been sitting on the hard drive for the last 4 years?
The sequel to Remembering You?
The surprise Valentine's Day Regency novella?
The literary fiction that won't shut up in my head?
The short story/flash fiction mash-up contemporary boomer romance that's been haunting me since 2012?
The fictionalized version of the real life drama I endured last year as the gift card coordinator?

I need to make a decision and stick with it.

Writing the Regency series was weird -- in that I had never intended to write an entire series. When I began writing THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, my intention was a trilogy. Now it encompasses 6 novels, and 2 novellas, with another 4 novellas on the side.

During the writing of those first three novels, I also wrote the contemporary romance REMEMBERING YOU. Back then my writing was more or less a hobby. I had no idea what I was doing, had just moved to NC, was trying to find a job, and writing to keep my head out of the depression because the job market tanked (Remember the crash?). Somewhere around the 4th Regency novel, when I received an email from a "fan" did I realize that writing WAS a JOB. (Will someone please explain this to my parents? They still think I'm writing as a hobby.)

The real problem with popcorn kittens is, they're so much fun to watch, I can't get anything done. They aren't part of my job description. After spending five years on Regency romance, I'd like to take a break for a few months. But why then do I feel so guilty every time I think about contemporary romance? If I take a year off to write other things, will my fans desert me? If I start the Regency series, will I be able to finish it in a timely manner? In today's market, it seems if you don't have a new book out every four months you lose whatever traction you've gained. (And I know this from first-hand experience.)

Looking ahead to 2020 (my God, that is just crazy), I know I'll finish up the new series. And maybe throw in a couple of contemporary somethings in there for good measure. I have a lot to write about and I'm sure I'll get new ideas along the way. But for right now, I need to begin something.

Tell me -- Are any of you experiencing this kind of angst about your writing? Are you on track with your business plan? Do you know exactly what comes next in your writing life?

Here for your viewing pleasure is The Original Popcorn Kittens video.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015