Sunday, October 19, 2014

Writing a Series -- Formulaic Writing

This week we'll take a look at Formulaic Writing. It's a little more detailed than an informal outline, (or even a formal one). There is a definite list of things that need to be taken into consideration. This kind of writing is usually reserved for certain genres (romance, cozy mystery, some sci-fi and YA). We're going to look at romance, because it's what I know.

THE ACTS

Formulaic writing is a technique that is used to bang out manuscripts quickly. There are three acts (basic structure), the word count is generally not high (55 - 70K), and there are minimal characters. Harlequin, Zebra, and Kensington authors were famous (and some still are) for this kind of writing. The formula/outline is laid out like a map, and you just follow along. Basically it looks something like this --

(Remember we're writing romance)

ACT 1

Hero and heroine meet within the first 5 pages.
The goal of the main character is stated.
1st obstacle is shown for the MC to overcome
Sub-plot and secondary characters (if any) are introduced
1st climax (obstacle is overcome)
2nd obstacle is introduced


ACT 2

Goal is re-introduced
2nd obstacle is bigger than the first
Sub-plot and secondary characters are fleshed out
(especially if this is a series)
3rd obstacle is introduced
2nd climax (obstacle is overcome)

ACT 3

Goal is within reach
3rd obstacle is the hardest to overcome
3rd climax resolved
Sub-plots are resolved
Goal is reached
Denouement

Now this is a very simple simple way to look at it. (I'm sure there are 1000 books on writing the 3-act structure for you to peruse.) Let's take a look at how I would plot a book for our friends from last week -- Susie and Bob

ACT 1

Susie and Bob meet at the hospital (Susie is a nurse at the hospital Bob is a firefighter) because of the huge fire that is started by the arsonist
Susie's goal is to get away from her wicked stepmother
Susie's obstacle is she doesn't have enough money because of school loans
Amy, Joe, Larry, and Abby are introduced (secondary characters)
Susie sells her car (1st obstacle overcome)
But she still doesn't have enough money to get her own place (2nd obstacle introduced)

ACT 2

Susie is desperate to get from under her wicked stepmother
She goes on a double date with Bob/ Amy and Joe
Amy doesn't like Joe, she likes Larry (Secondary characters and sup-plots fleshed out)
Wicked stepmother says she won't get any of her father's inheritance if she moves out (3rd obstacle introduced)
Susie has a giant yard sale to get more money (2nd obstacle overcome)

ACT 3

Susie has enough money to rent an apartment -- now she only has to find one (3rd obstacle hardest to overcome)
Amy and Larry get together (spin-off book 2)
Abby and Joe get together (spin-off book 3)
Bob asks Susie to marry him (3rd goal reached)
Denouement -- all goals are met, sub-plots (spin-offs) are tied up (Except for the arsonist who is our underlying problem throughout the series)

Okay, so I know this is a silly simple plot for a story, but that's what I came up with to show you how formulaic writing works.

I do not write like this. I have never used an outline (okay, truthfully, I tend to make up an outline once 2/3rds of the book is written so I can find my ending.) But for the most part, the characters tell me what they're doing. I don't force the writing because then I feel the book is forced. It has no flow. Other authors can do this kind of writing all day long and come up with greatness. We all have our own way of writing. There is no right or wrong. You just need to find what works best for you.

THE NUMBERS

We all know writing is hard work, and if you have a job (and yes, Motherhood is a full-time job) we have to be creative with our time. I used to write for two hours every morning while my daughter was in pre-school. After supper I would edit what I wrote. Now that she's in school full-time, I have 6 hours in which to write every day. Believe me when I tell you, you cannot sit down and write for 6 hours at a stretch. (Unless you're extremely disciplined, have absolutely no distractions, and your characters are well-behaved.)

For the sake of argument, let's say you have 2 hours after supper to write every night M-F. On S/S you gain an extra hour so that's 3 each. That = 16 hours. Some people write fast (when it flows) others write slow (when it doesn't). Again for the sake of argument, let's say we can write 1000 words every night, and on the weekends you take the time to edit those pages and maybe write another 1000 words. That = 6000 words a week. If your goal is a 60K word manuscript, this should take 10 weeks to write. If we give ourselves two weeks for critique partners and beta readers to read and make corrections (and they can do it within those two weeks, and you're editing as you go) you should have a book ready to go in 3 months.

3 months per book = 4 books a year. Ta Da! Congratulations.

However, that is all in a perfect world. We all have lives, laundry, grocery, soccer games, sick kids, parents, work, distractions that keep us away from our writing. Don't be disheartened. We'll discuss what happens when the External Controls keep us from our goal. We'll also discuss the Publishing aspect to a series later on.

Now, I'd also like to say that some writers just write the first draft and then edit the whole thing when it's finished. I can't write that way. I have to edit as I go along. I write a chapter (or scene) and then the next day, I re-read it, and edit it so I can, not only move forward with the story, but keep my storyline in my head. (I am a certified pantster and do not use an outline. I have a "basic" idea of the story, but then the characters tell me what they want to do with it.)

Some writing gurus tell us we have to write every day. I'm not of that mind-set. I can't. Real Life is too complicated. However, when I do tell my family, "I'm writing" they know enough to leave me alone. If I can't get in writing time during the week, I make sure I try and meet my goals over the weekend.

If we remember our poster board from last week, you can have the formulas listed on them as well. Take in the BIG picture before you sit down to write the first page of the first book. See if you can figure out clearly all the plot points, the secondary characters, the obstacles, the climaxes before you begin. Set your writing schedule (but not in stone because things do change) and try and stick to it. It does help when you know you only have a certain time to write every day. It keeps you focused on the task at hand.

Formulaic writing can be a blessing or a curse. It all depends on YOU the author and how you want to write.

Next week, we'll dive a little bit more into research and settings. Hope to see you.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Writing a Series -- Plotting the Big Picture



Today we will discuss plotting a series. Now, I'm not going to tell you how to plot -- we all know how to play the "what if" game. However, to have a successful series, you might want to think about where it all leads.

Basic Plots

As I said a few weeks ago, there are really only 12 plot lines. (That theory has been discussed ad nauseum and some scholars generally believe there are only 7.) There's a whole construct about the hero's journey that I won't bore you with, but for the sake of argument, let's just go with 12.

In my series, I have used some of these basic plots. (Remember I write romance.)

Wicked stepmother. (sister/father/family member)
Forced/arranged marriage.
Mistaken identity.
Jealous ex.
Lowly servant attracted to an aristocrat. (or vice versa)
Love at first sight.

If you think about it, all romance plots can be utilized by watching any of the Disney Princess movies. It's what you do with them that makes them different. What if...?

Let's take last week's characters and give them plots, shall we?

Susie and Bob -- Wicked stepmother.
Abby and Joe -- Arranged marriage
Carol and Gary -- Mistaken identity
Larry and Amy -- Jealous ex
Linda and Steve -- Love at first sight

As you know, we have already written Susie and Bob's story. Susie has a wicked stepmother who won't let her marry Bob. For whatever reason. But they triumph because love always conquers all.

And because we have all these other characters and plots, we've already decided that we're going to write the next books in the series.

However, just because they're all friends, is that enough to tie them together?

Here is where I feel plotting a series gets interesting and helps fuel your readership.

There needs to be a larger, underlying issue, to tie all these books together. Let's play the what if game.

What if Bob, Joe, and Gary are firefighters? What if Larry and Steve are cops? What if Susie and Amy are nurses at the hospital? What if in the first book, there is a huge fire and Bob and Larry get hurt and have to go to the hospital, which is where they meet Susie and Amy? What if at the end of the first book we find out the fire was started by an arsonist? What if in the second book, there is another fire? What if in the second book, Steve gets promoted to detective and starts working the arsonist case? What if in the third book, Joe gets caught in another fire started by the arsonist?

Okay, so we get the drift. The underlying plot throughout this series of books is the arsonist and how we're going to catch him. This is the angle we'll work and by the end of the series we'll either have caught the arsonist, or spun it off to another series.

In another example, in my series The Reluctant Grooms, Lady Olivia is keeping a secret. She is present in ALL of my books and this secret appears as well. It may only be one or two lines, but it's present throughout, until the end, when I blow the lid off it.

Lady Olivia's secret is the underlying plot-line that holds the series together. The same as the arsonist above. Only at the end do we have the final resolution. Otherwise, I'd just have a bunch of romance novels with Lady Olivia in them.

Timelines

Now, in my series, I wrap each of the novels around another one. While Penny is getting to know William in THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, William's brother Ellis has just hired Violet to be his nanny (THE LADY'S FATE), and Richard (William's good friend) has just met Amanda (THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE).

I progress through time, yet simultaneously, stop time. If that makes any sense. Put it this way... I just did a load of laundry and will hang it on the line right now. You are sitting at work doing inventory. Your best friend is teaching underprivileged kids in the inner city. My life doesn't stop because yours has started. We are all doing "something" at the same time even though we don't know what that is.

That is what I call a "wrap-around" timeline.

Then there is the "progressive" timeline. I did my load of laundry. After that I will clean the kitchen, after that, I will take out the garbage. After I have taken out the garbage, you will finish your inventory, then you will sit in on a meeting, then you will go to lunch. Once you've finished your lunch, your BFF is going to finish teaching math, then move on to social studies, and then science. Time progresses.

I know you know what I'm talking about so I'll stop the explanation.

However, whichever kind of series you want to write, you need to figure out all the plots before hand, and how they will all tie in together. I used a huge poster board and wrote Lady Olivia in the middle of it. And like a clock, I have all my novels positioned around her (2,4,6,8,10,12) with the basic plot of each book, and where her secret comes out little by little.

At 2, we have the first hint of her secret. By 8 we pretty much know what it is, and there's danger of it getting out. At 12 Olivia is exposed and the series is over. (Also, because I also have novellas attached to this series, at 3,5,7,9, and 11, we also get to glimpse a little more of the secret.)

If we use the example from Susie and Bob, I'll put the arsonist in the middle of the poster board and the 5 books surrounding him at 1,4,7,9, and 11. In book one we meet Susie and Bob. We also meet the arsonist. In each of the next books, we have our love stories, but we also have more of the arsonist. We need to figure out where and when the arsonist gets caught.

Spin-Offs

Let's say for the sake of argument, that you've written all 5 of your books. In the end, we have 5 happy couples, but the arsonist gets away. In the third book, we meet another secondary character called Christopher who transfers to the fire department from out of state. At some point he meets Amy's sister, Jenny. And that's it.

We have one of two choices here -- we can either write Chris and Jen's story, or not. We could also write Chris and Jen's story and include the arsonist who got away leading to another series, or perhaps a sideline of novellas as we meet more firemen and cops and nurses.

It depends on how much you love your characters.

In my series, when Lady Olivia's secret comes out, there's also another piece of backstory that is revealed about Olivia's past. She was in love with another man before she married her husband. In the last book, we think Olivia is going to marry this man and finally get her happily ever after.

This man (Dunbury) was the impetus for me to think about writing another series and how it all ties in to this one. (And in actuality, the Dunbury series runs parallel to The Reluctant Grooms. When Penny is meeting William, Dunbury is meeting Catherine. *spoiler alert*  By the end of Reluctant Grooms, Dunbury is married to Catherine.)


So, to sum it all up, think about what you want to write, how you're going to write it, and where it will all end up. Think about the kinds of books (novels, novellas, novellettes) you want to write. Think about how long it might take you to actually write each story. Do you have that kind of time to invest?

With the advent of e-publishing, readers, if they like your first book, want the next one right away, and the next and the next. E-publishing isn't like old school traditional publishing when they only publish one title a year. (I'm still waiting for Sue Grafton to finish her Alphabet series. Has it really been 26 years?)

We'll discuss how to publish a series in a couple of weeks.

For more information about writing a series, Alexandra Sokoloff is also doing a blog series you might want to check out as well.

Any Questions?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Writing a Series -- Internal Controls

Today we will delve into Internal Controls. Characters.

Characters are the people who live inside our heads. In almost every story, there are two main characters. In writing a series, you don't have just one in your head at any given time, you have four or five.

Characters

Developing characters for a series is a big undertaking. So, say you have a great story right now. And you have these awesome secondary characters that you want to spin. That's two more books. But then, there are these other characters you could add, and do a little more spinning, and now you have five stories. We'll stop there for now.

How many main characters do you have for each story? Sherlock & Watson or Miss Marple? Romeo & Juliet? Depending on the genre, between 1 - 10 .  (under the presumption we're writing 5 stories)

Who are the secondary characters? The crew of the Starship Enterprise. The Hardy Boys? Nancy Drew? How many for each story? Is one couple going to spin off another couple? Is one murder going to spin off another homicide? Is the first story as a stand-alone able to do some spinning? (And further on in this writing series, we'll touch on the "structure" of publishing a series from a marketing standpoint.)

Now that you've thought about those questions, you can think about these.

Do you want to write 5 novels? You already have the first one written. How long did it take you to write it? How long will it take you to write the other four? Three? Two years? Six months apiece? (Unless you are the NaNo Champion every month. More power to you.)

Novellas? If you've never written a novella, they're generally very fast paced, with one very crucial problem solved, and (in my genre) a happily ever after ensues. (I can generate 35k in about four weeks. Another four weeks in revisions and edits. Another two for one last read-through.)

So now you have 5 stories you want to write to form a series. That is (for the sake of argument we're writing romance) 10 people. We'll start with the couple from the original book. Susie and Joe.

Susie's best friend is Abby. Joe's best friend is Bob. Bob is best friends with Larry , who has a twin sister Linda, and Linda's best friend Carol's brother, Steve is best friends with Gary and Ron, who have two sisters Amy and Jen.

Did you get that? In terms of characters, (which leads into Settings somewhat) Larry and Linda are part of a "family" (third tier characters) Carol and Steve, and Gary, Ron, Amy, and Jen. That's three different third tier characters (parents, other siblings, relatives, the mailman, pets, coffee guy). And do your main characters all "hang-out" together, or "work" together? More third tier characters n that "community".

Can you see how complicated it can get?

Believe me when I tell you, when you get the "idea" --  Hey, I'll turn this into a series -- think about all the people you need to create before you really even write one word. You'll thank me later.

Okay, so on to the TOOLs section. Just like at Home Depot.

What do your characters look like?
Sound like? Wear? Work? Play? Live? Have family?

Some writers choose to do a character "sketch" or reveal, or work-up and keep that close at hand. Everything from hair and eye color, to where they went to high school and their birthdays. I'm more of a "visual" person. I find actors from movies to "become" my characters and keep everyone in a folder in My Documents. Other people use Pinterest boards, Evernote, Google Docs, or Scrivener.

There is no right or wrong answer to how you develop/find/create your characters, that all depends on your creative process. However, what I can tell you, is to make sure you know your characters very well, before committing them to the written word. (You run into problems when they're under-developed. Was that brown, or sandy brown hair? Who had the mustache? Or blue toes?)

I also have a dedicated "Name Bible". For every story I write, I put down the cast of characters, from the lord of the manor, to the lowliest cow in the barn. If they have a name, it gets written down. That way, you'll never use it twice. Take my advice. If you don't do this now, please start, especially if you want to write a series. It will simply make your life so much easier down the line. (I once had a cat and a butler with the same name. I had to change one of them. Guess who got to keep the name?*)

It helps too, to have a "characters" diagram (again on poster board or cork or in docs., whatever floats your boat) to link everyone together. Who does what to who. Who is related to who. Who likes/dislikes who. (I have photocopies of my characters on a cork board tied with brightly colored yarn linking them to each family. My daughter had a class project last year on genealogy.)  I also have several pieces of paper with diagrams of smaller family trees hanging on the wall as well. (Like I said, I'm a "visual" sort of person.)

(As an aside --- You really are going to need a plot outline (an outline that will "plot" the course of all the books in the series). I have mine diagrammed on a poster board but we'll get to that when we revisit Construction) This outline also helps if you're running a "theme" throughout the series. The "link" if you will remains focused. ( Internal Controls -- Plot devices, other spin-offs.)

As I keep saying, it takes a serious commitment to begin and end a series. If you want to have a successful series, the goal is to develop it well before hand. And some would say that takes away the "creativity" of the writing experience, but it doesn't really. No matter how well you outline, the characters always take off in a different direction. Don't they.

Think about your series. Think about your characters. Think about how everybody fits together. Write stuff down. Next week, I'm going to discuss Plotting a Series.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

(* Brown, the kitten, in THE LADY'S FATE, got to keep his name once I found Manning for the butler.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Writing a Series -- Introduction

Good Morning. If you've been thinking about spinning off from your first novel into a series, there are a few things to consider. Writing a series is a commitment  not only to the books themselves, but to your readers. If you're lucky, as soon as they finish that first book, they want the second, and the third and won't stop reading until you're finished writing.

Over the next couple of weeks on this blog,  I'll share my opinions and what information I've found that works for me in writing a series.

Today, there are three main areas, I'd like to discuss. Commitment, Construction, and Clarity.




Commitment

I'm not going to lie, I never thought I'd write a series of books that linked together. I had three stand-alone novels when I started looking for an agent. I had high hopes, and was rewarded with rejections, although several agents did consider my writing quite fine, they just couldn't place me with a publisher. The market was flush with my genre.

I wanted my work to be read. People were self-publishing as the old stigma of vanity publishing was lifted. I won't lie, I jumped on the bandwagon. Perhaps it was because Amazon had made it so easy, but three years ago, when I hit publish on A WIFE FOR WINSBARREN, and a few weeks later on THE LADY'S FATE, my whole life changed.

I was finally a published author.

Giddy with my new-found career, I worked on my other novels and proceeded to publish them in kind, along with novella length stories. Buy one for $2.99, and one for $.99. This marketing plan brought readers, and then fans, and I was moving right along on my next combination when I was FORCED to stop writing.

I couldn't write. Not that I didn't want to, I wasn't "blocked", I just could not find the TIME to finish the books. I also couldn't find time for social media and sales started to slip, then dip, and I had no idea what to do other than finish "something" and get it "out there". I had been publishing at a rate of three times per year, with either a novel or novella.

(Throughout the Reluctant Grooms series, I also published REMEMBERING YOU ~ a contemporary romance novel under my pen name, as well as several short stories, and other work for literary anthologies.)

I was frustrated as I watched other authors, my peers, publish steadily and gain higher rankings on the book lists. What could I do? I cried. I raged. I was so bloody angry. But there was nothing to be done, and I put my writing aside until my personal life gave me the time to finish my fifth novel.

It took almost nine months to complete, too late to recover from the landslide that was now my career. I picked up the pieces of both my personal and professional life, and took a vacation. Literally. I had blocked out six weeks for vacation this past summer, a "working vacation". I would write and nothing would stand in my way. My own personal NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 25K novella, and finished another 22K words on another manuscript I had started in March. Three weeks later I had two publishable novellas.

I told you that, to tell you this... You need to understand the commitment it will take to write, publish, and market a series. Depending on how fast you write, what you have on your back-list, under your bed and publishable, writing a series of books is a commitment of at least three years. Especially for a new writer.

Once you have ruminated on that thought, and are ready to jump in, we're on to the next decision you have to make.


Construction

Here are the questions I wish I had the answers to before I began writing my series.


How many books do you envision? How many plots do you have? (Hint * There are only twelve.)
How will they be linked? By family, circumstance, event?
Is this a wrap-around series, or a progressive timeline?
Is there one main character for the series? or one/two for each book?
Is there a theme to maintain throughout the series?
What length and genre are you writing in? (Hint * know the "rules")
How much research are you willing to invest in?


How many books do you plan on writing?
My first three novels were planned as a trilogy. Beginning, middle, end. The fourth came out of nowhere, and then I had a secondary character from the third novel who absolutely begged to be written, and that's how I came up with my fifth. A trilogy is by far the simplest of series writing. Beginning, middle, end. However, with short stories and novellas also comprising a body of work these days, a series could continue indefinitely.

How will they be linked? By family, circumstance, event?
In all my stories, Lady Olivia Leighton, the Duchess of Caymore, is the lynch pin that holds the Reluctant Grooms series together. She keeps family and friends in her especial favor, and all of my work centers around her meddling and interference with these characters. Successful links for series writing also include family members, friends, a place, a circumstance, a job, anything that unites the books in some way.

Is this a wrap-around series, or a progressive timeline?
I believe I have both of these aspects in my books. All of my novels include disparate parts of the others, characters or circumstances, that happen within the same time frame of the novel you happen to be reading. I call that a wrap-around timeline. My original timeline begins in Nov. of 1810 and follows the calendar until June 1812 through the course of seven novels. Each of my books also follow that continual timeline, which moves the characters through those particular twenty months.   June 1812 is finite. (An upcoming blogpost why I chose that date to end my series will reveal the answer.)Where does your series start, and where does it end? What about each of the books? You need to answer each of these questions before you commit.

Is there one main character, or one for each book?
I chose to include Lady Olivia in all of my books, but only as a secondary character. Each of my stories is a  traditional Regency > historical > drama > romance. Boy Meets Girl. What the boy does with the girl after the first meeting is why I write books. You may be writing about the last cyborg. Or Brady Bunch fan-fiction. It doesn't matter. Who are your people going to be?

Is there a theme to maintain throughout the series?
If you're that type of writer who can identify themes, by all means put one in. However, know that you need to keep it alive throughout each of the subsequent stories. My main theme is reluctant grooms. I have several underlying themes as well. When readers can identify them, they become fans.

What length and genre are you writing in?
I had written three novels before writing my first novella. I was going after a particular "market" before I realized the self-publishing dynamic gave us tremendous options. I know several cozy mystery authors who only pen 60,000 word novelettes. A paranormal writer I know puts out two novellas a month. A literary fiction author publishes one book a year. It's important to know the rules of the genre you're writing in and under what classification your writing falls.  Mine is Traditional Regency > historical > drama > romance. (With sub-categories of suspense, mystery, espionage, divorce, and old age. I don't write in the same genre as Georgette Heyer. Traditional Regency > historical > sweet romance.

How much research are you willing to invest in?
There is not a day that goes by that I don't get bogged down in research. Naturally, the genre determines how much you will need to know before you attempt writing in the first place, but no one really thinks about research when they get their first great idea. World Building =  Time, Weather, Food, Clothes, Housing, Flora, Fauna, etc. ad infinitum. And then there are the things you forget about = history, science, art, music, speech, philosophy. It's all about "authentic" voice, whether yours as writer, or yours as character. That takes research.

We will discuss the construction of a series in more depth as this writing series continues.


Clarity

I could not write my any of my books/stories/manuscripts without having visual aids. Thank Al Gore for the internet. Google Images is my best friend. So is Pinterest. I find having pictures of my characters and settings easier to bring other images to mind. I never know what I'm looking for until I actually find it.

(My character Davingdale has been portrayed on one of my Pinterest boards by Andrew McCarthy, the actor. He was never right for the character, and I knew it, but I hadn't found the right actor to portray Davingdale. One day, searching the web for a movie, I found a different movie, which turned into a google search for an actor, which turned into the picture you see now in its place.)

It's all about your vision and what you'll compromise on. (Nothing.)

With research come findings, and you need a place to put it all. Some people use Evernote.  Others find Scrivener easier. I tend to have scrap paper piles all over my desk and folders tucked inside folders in my pc. I also have three bulletin boards on an office wall, and two whiteboards keeping track of the calendar. I also built a genealogical family tree (in preparation for this last novel and the next series).

It takes a commitment to create a family tree.

How ever you find your muse, once you figure out what works for you, stick with it. If you have a vision, you might want to take the time now to make a comprehensive outline so that you can follow it successfully to its conclusion. How many books? Length? Genre? Characters? Themes? How long will it take me to realistically write 3, 6, novels? 2,4,6, novellas? Can I commit fully to this endeavor?



If you can, please join me next week. The topic for Writing a Series is Internal Controls: Characters, setting, plot, structure.

I look forward to seeing you.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writing a Series -- What I Learned

Good Morning. I have been brewing over the fact that my current work-in-progress is the final novel of my series. I'll miss these characters. They've been with me for quite some time. However, I have new characters, and new story-lines for a whole new series.  (I'm looking forward to starting that in the fall of 2015.)

That being said, writing a series is a BIG undertaking. I didn't know that was what was going to happen five years ago when I put my pen to paper. But here I sit with with five novels and six novellas under my belt.

Five years ago, I wrote three stories in quick succession. THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, THE LADY'S FATE, and THE DUKE'S DIVORCE. I also had 45,000 words on THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE, but we moved and I
lost them.

My intent was to acquire an agent, and sell the series to a New York Publisher. That didn't happen. I also hadn't planned to write novellas either. My work was piling up and I wanted readers. I decided to self-publish. It was a steep learning curve. But here I sit with five novels and six novellas under my belt, (as well as other published works under my Robynne Rand pen name).

I am a working writer.

A professor told me once, that when we achieve a pinnacle, or a certain level of success, we must write about how we did it. Share it with the world and discuss it. Someone else might gain something that will help them achieve their own pinnacle.

Over the course of the next few Sunday's, I'm going to outline what I learned from writing a series. I will try to incorporate many aspects of the publishing industry as well. Here is a list of topics I will attempt to cover.


Introduction to Writing a Series
    Commitment, Construction, Clarity
Internal Controls
     Character/Setting/Plot > Structure, Plot devices, Spin-off series
Formulaic/Genre Writing
Marketing
     Novella/Short Story
     Business Plan
Publishing Structure
     Timeline > Pricing > Free?
Marketing Part 2
     Branding > Social Media >Web Presence > Spam
External Controls
     Surviving the Crash > Writing as a Job
Complete


I hope you'll stop by.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Places to Find Anne Gallagher (Regency Romance Writer) on Social Media

As a self-published independent author, "they" say we should be on as many social media sites as you can be. Market, Promote, Be Everywhere and Annoy People with Spam.

As a general rule, I try not to annoy people. Hence my less than stellar performance at Marketing and Promotion. However, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll see over the last few days I have a really great excuse. I've been adding words to THE SEDUCTION of MR. SUMMERVILLE. (Up to Chapter Five so far.)

However, I was talking to a friend of mine (who oddly enough does marketing for her job) and she asked me how many social media sites I was on. I tried to name them, but couldn't. There are just too many. So I decided to do it here, in case you wanted to find me somewhere else. (IF that makes any sense.)

Not in any particular order of appearance.... click through for the link

Goodreads -- for my reviews. I'm not just a writer.

Pinterest -- for who I think my characters are.

Twitter -- Fun at 140 characters.

LinkedIn -- Because I can.

Shelfari -- I really need to update there.


And if you wanted to buy my books.... click through for the link

Kobo US

Apple itunes US

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble NOOK

Amazon

Scribd

And coming soon to Google Play (but we're not set up just quite yet -- by Thanksgiving hopefully)

The blog where I discuss writing, mainly, but with a more personal perspective Piedmont Writer.


So here I am. And where you can find me. Hope to see you around.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reviews

Good Morning. Now that LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING is finally released as well as THE LADY'S SECRET for pre-order, I've done a lot of thinking as to how to market these books. As you know, I'm not a great fan of marketing or promotion, and have pretty much done neither over the last few years.

Truthfully, I've never liked asking people for help. If I want something done, I do it myself, whether that's formatting an e-book, laying a new floor in my living room, or building a fence in the backyard. I'm just a natural DIYer.

The problem is, I can't do EVERYTHING, and sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and ask.

A long time ago, (when I first started publishing three years ago), the blogging gurus said you needed to have at least 10 reviews ready to go before you published. Well, three years ago, I didn't know 10 people who would want to read my books. Regency romance is a niche market -- you either like it or you don't. With vampires and steampunk, shades of color, and the zombie apocalypse currently the craze, traditional regencies (Jane Austen anyone?) don't always make it to the top of the charts, unless you're a name brand.

I have a name, and yes, I've branded it, but I'm just a small fish in a very big pond.

So here's the skinny... If you've bought ANY of my books, would you please leave a review. (Bought is the operative word. Book retailers frown on reviews that weren't "paid for".)

And I know how hard it is to write a decent review. However, I have to tell you, the best review I've ever received was on THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE. From Amazon, it had 5 stars and only two words -- "Well written." Believe me when I tell you, that was music to my ears. (I do work hard on everything I write and sometimes the best praise comes in the form of "good job".)

I don't expect you to write a dozen paragraphs, or expand on my themes (if you can find them), but I would like your honest opinion. And by no means do you have to write a review on ALL of the books (depending on how many you've read), but if you have read them all, one or two would be swell. Just pick the ones you like the best. (And if you didn't like them, then I guess this request is moot.)

A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT is free on Smashwords if you're new to this blog/writer and want a little taste of what I write. It's downloadable for all formats.

And you don't have to leave the review all over the place. Just where you bought it from would be sufficient. And Goodreads would be nice if you're on that site.


Thank you in advance.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

PS If you click on the tab under my header marked Reviews, you can find a few samples of other reviews. There's also a surprise.