Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Book I've Been Working On is Finished

I'm pleased to say the latest manuscript is finished. I shored up my last round of editing last night. Now it's off to readers to see what they think. I'm ready for a night like this.

The novel is somewhat autobiographical as the main character is a caregiver for an Alzheimer's family member. However, not all of the aunt's mental incapacity is from my own experience. I have several friends who are also dealing with aging parents and I took licence with their stories.

The most difficult scene I wrote was when I killed the aunt, by accident. She fell down the stairs. But then my cat took ill and eventually succumbed to pneumonia. Which is why I couldn't kill the darling aunt. It took too much out of me. Besides, it's romantic women's fiction. The ending wouldn't have been the same.

The most difficult thing I've had to do FOR the book is find a cover. I have gone through nine different covers. I had 12 friends choose. It was a 4-way tie. I found two more covers. I changed the title. I still don't have a cover. My friend Katrina has a camera. We took test pictures this morning. We're going to take more tomorrow.

I enjoyed the process of writing this novel. I kept track of how much I wrote and how long it took me. I think in total 45 days to write 104,000 words. 279 pages. An average 6 hour writing day was 4500 words. However, those six hours were broken up over the course of 14. It was a very rare occasion to get all six in one fell swoop.

This book was my summer novel. I started during Spring Break in April, and worked on it until the end of school in June. Then on and off during the summer. I was also working on another Regency as well, so time was divided. I had hoped that I would finish by the end of the summer, but things got a little hairy at my house-- the cat got sick, we went back to school, volleyball, and well, I finished the book last night.

I went through it I can't tell you how many times over the course of the last two weeks. I rewrote the ending three times. I'm still unsure of certain word choices, but for now they're staying. No, I did not drop the F-bomb. However, maybe I did have a few choice words, but they're in Italian. They give it flavor.

This is one of the covers I did for it. And the cover copy.

At forty-two, Abby Pryzbylowicz had everything she thought she ever wanted—nice apartment, nice car, nice life. A novelist by trade, she penned romance novels for the money, detective mysteries for fun, and the occasional piece of literary fiction to keep her name in the papers. A reclusive woman by choice, she only wanted to be left alone with her characters. However, when her cousin phoned and begged Abby to help with her mother she couldn’t say no. Abby loved Aunt Rose. Besides, it was only for the summer.

Upon her arrival to Rose MacLaren’s house, Abby found her aunt a ferocious hoarder, had frequent bouts of forgetfulness, and a penchant for choosing her clothing according to color rather than season. Conversations had to be pieced together to make sense. Convincing Rose not to drive proved to be a covert operation. 

When Abby set out to help her aunt, she thought it would be simple enough. All she had to do was clean the house and get it ready to sell. Rose was moving in with her daughter in September. However, as family skeletons started falling out of the closet, Abby’s only confidant was the mechanic next door.

Dealing with him was another story. 

So, this is where I've been and what I've been doing.

THE MECHANIC NEXT DOOR will be published SOON.

And for those of you who didn't know, yes, Robynne Rand is my other pen name.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

RIP Mike Wyczowski -- Eulogy for a Kitty

This is Mike. She was my 7 month-old kitty that Monster found behind the shed at school in April. She was scrawny and skinny, but crawled into Monster's lap on the car ride home and fell asleep. Once at the house, I fed her, starvin-like-Marvin, and then she climbed up on the couch and slept for two days. She was home.

Mike talked. Well, she talked to me all the time. I'd walk in, she'd meow. I would call her, she could come. Just like a little dog.

She would sit on the counter when I was in the kitchen and watch me do whatever it was I was doing. Cooking, making tea, washing the dishes. Didn't matter. She'd stare at me. Just the same way she is in the picture. Just sit. And watch. Never smelled anything. Never wanted anything. She just wanted to be wherever I was.

I set up my ironing board in the dining room. I have a large plant stand in the front window that Mike would climb up to sit and watch me iron. (Which I did every day.)

At night, I would sit downstairs in my office and catch the news. Mike would sit at the top of the stairs behind the baby gate and wait for me.

I don't know what it was about her. We have another cat and three dogs, but I have never felt for them what I felt with this cat. Don't get me wrong, I love my animals. But Mike was my familiar. I loved her, she loved me. She slept on my feet every night.

Mike took sick about three weeks ago. Really sick. She got better. Then she got sick again. And never recovered. I had to put her down. This morning. About eleven o'clock. An hour ago as I write this. Her loss is still fresh in my heart.

I am bereft because I brought her to the vet (after my vet couldn't fit her in -- knowing she was so sick, and calling three other vets in the area) to see if he could help her. He tried, but she collapsed on the exam table. I had to put her down.

I walked around the house just now picking up her stuff and putting it in the laundry. Her binky, her towel, and her rug. I took all her pots of grass (she was an indoor cat) and put them in the garden. (I know she appreciated the fact that I would go out in the yard and dig up fresh grass for her every week. If you have indoor cats, you should do this too. Just make sure it's the right grass.)

Mike was suffering. It was the right thing to do.

I want to blame someone and unfortunately, the vet I brought her to the first time, I believe, misdiagnosed her. But that's something I won't get into here, because I'm just bitter and sad and heart-broken and I have no idea what to do now.

I will never be able to be in the kitchen again without seeing her soulful eyes staring at me, her contemplative gaze meeting mine, sharing something that no one can explain.

I love that cat. Loved that cat with my whole heart and soul.

And I know she was just a cat, but she was my cat, my little furry person who hung out with me all the time. Like my best friend. And now she's gone.

And I am very very sad.

Anne Gallagher (c) September 11, 2017