Sunday, September 22, 2013


I love that word. It's fun, isn't it. However the definition is what I'm dealing with at the moment.

 transitive verb \ˈstī-mē\
: to stop (someone) from doing something or to stop something) from happening
sty·mied sty·mie·ing
:  to present an obstacle to :  stand in the way of <stymied by red tape>
I have been presented an obstacle, something is standing in my way. I can't work on my books because I've over-extended myself once again. You know how it goes -- You say yes to something and then it snowballs into this mega-death-star type explosion and you vow you'll never say yes to anything ever again.

You see, I volunteered for a position at my daughter's school. When I signed up, I didn't really know what it would entail. However, now I'm four weeks into the school year and I've found that I'm the proud owner of a part-time job (30 hours a week) without pay.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I'm doing it, and I'm sure once I get all of the previous year's business settled and into their proper accounts, my hours will be reduced by at least half. But for the present moment, I'm full out.

When you're a writer and "real life" gets crazy, something has to give. I don't want to give up what little precious time I DO have to write, so for the moment, I'm going to blog once a month. I can't give this up (because quite frankly I don't want to do a newsletter.) I think for my regular readers, this is the best scenario for me at the moment. I hope you'll stick around.


And just to keep you updated in what I've done lately...

I received the final critiques from the teachers for WHEN SUCH FRIENDS ARE MET. I'll be working on the formatting for the paperback version. Things are moving along for the book signing
October 18, and planning on the big reveal at the school for October 1.

I'm up to Chapter 3 on THE LADY'S SECRET, one of the prequels to THE SEDUCTION OF MR. SUMMERVILLE. This story is about the eldest sister, Ariana and her feelings for Stephen Summerville, her little sister's fiancé. I really like how it's coming along, and I've found a killer cliff-hanger ending. I also have the most fantastic picture for the cover and when I reveal it, you'll probably gasp. (I've gotten really superstitious about showing my covers before the books are finished so you'll have to wait. Sorry.)

I'm also up to Chapter 3 on THE CAPTAIN'S LADY. Richard and Amanda's story for The Reluctant Grooms. This is the last book that I need to finish to bring the series in complete order. I hated to release the series out of order, but as I was writing the books, I had made so many changes to the overall series arc, it seemed prudent to rewrite the earlier books to make them fit. Hence, Richard's is the last story.

LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING has been put on the back burner for the nonce. I have the outline and several chapters finished. Hers is not a story that will take me long to write because it pretty much happens over the course of a few days. Bam Bam Bam. This is also a prequel to SEDUCTION. You will be able to read SEDUCTION without the prequels, however, the prequels will give you a better understanding of what's going on behind the scenes of the major players. This will also have a cliff-hanger ending which will be revealed in SEDUCTION.

I don't know what's gotten into me with cliff-hanger endings, but I think with these two stories, they'll work.

And so, that's where I am. I'll post again sometime in October, maybe twice if I have something interesting to say. I hate to bore you.

Have a great week! I'll see you when I do.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Intimate Portrait -- Fiona Stewart

Fiona has always been one of my favorite heroines. Due to her father's machinations, she is forced into marriage with Robert. And believe me, Robert is not the easiest man to get along with.

Fiona lost her mother in a freak riding accident and Fiona's father, the Laird Stewart, has always blamed her. The guilt Fiona carries is overwhelming at times. Her lot in life is to take care of her father. She has no friends, no hope for marriage with a member of her own clan, nothing to look forward to.

When Robert shows up at Castle Cornann to discuss farm and sheep interests with her father, she admits she admires his mind, Robert is a brilliant businessman after all. But he's standoffish, pompous, callous, has no feelings. He also has a problem holding his liquor and when the Laird Stewart sets Robert and Fiona up to entrap them, the only outcome is marriage.

Fiona is not happy, Robert is irate, and there is nothing they can do to get out of it. Divorce was just not an option. (Well, it was, but it was expensive and highly scandalous.) Robert cannot do that to his family. Robert comes up with a plan for annulment, but that doesn't go the way he plans either. Fiona and Robert are stuck with each other for six months.

Robert places restrictions on Fiona when they arrive in London, and she's unsure what will become of her. He doesn't want her out in public. Even though she's an Earl's daughter and perfectly acceptable as a bride, Robert thinks she's too backward.

Fiona is welcomed to the family by Robert's mother, and when she's told they are to separate, Lady Joanna takes Fiona under her wing and prompts Fiona to fight for her husband. Unfortunately, Fiona finds herself mired in scandal after scandal. Naturally, it's not her fault, just the circumstances, and Fiona finds that Robert is not the man she thought him to be. He can be kind when he wants to be and Fiona begins to fall in love with him.

Fiona finds a friend in the Earl of Greenleigh, and Robert is jealous though, his jealousy is unfounded. However, that bit of emotion allows Robert to finally express his real feelings for Fiona.
Everyone is happy for a change, but that is short lived when Robert's ex-fiancé shows up out of the blue and wants Robert back.

Fiona does the only thing she can under the circumstances. She leaves him.

In writing this plot line, I took that saying "when you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours, if it doesn't, then it wasn't". Or something like that. But you know what I mean. I wanted to show Fiona in charge of her own life because for most of it, she was under the thumb of her father, and then Robert. She needed to find her own independence, her own soul, if you will.

Although this book is not one of my best sellers, I received the highest compliment from a reviewer. She said it made her cry. And truthfully, that is how I rate my books. If they make me cry as I'm writing them, I know I've done a good job.

Tell me -- Have you read THE DUKE'S DIVORCE? Did it make you cry? How do you judge a good book?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Creating a Plot -- Basic Steps

There are many ways an author may come up with a plot line. Overheard conversations, an article in the newspaper, gossip, a song on the radio. And then, once the idea of something starts brewing, we always ask the question -- What if?

What if my heroine does this?
And my hero did that?
And the mother did this?
Which in turn would lead the heroine to do that?

We question every little thing, like playing chess. If I move here, what will my opponent do?

The problem is, most of us, (Well I say most of us who are pantsters -- writers who don't outline) may get stuck every once in awhile. We think we know where the story is going, but then one little tiny thing (which we may have simply overlooked because we're writing 90 mph to get the story down) may blow the whole thing out of the water.

(Which is why I don't outline the "whole" story. I find the rigidity of sticking to an outline stems my creativity.)

In creating any kind of "genre" story, we need to have several ducks in our design. They don't necessarily need to be in a row, but they do need to be there. You want to answer the basic questions of who, what, when, where, and why.

Inciting incident (the thing you need to have a story to begin with)
Hero's journey (or heroine if you prefer)

(You also need other building blocks such as Setting, Characters, Minor Characters, Sub-plot, but we're just discussing Plot right now.)

I tend to write the first four or five chapters off the cuff, allowing the characters to take control and lead me wherever they want to go. I have a simple idea of a plot and I edit as I write so hopefully by the time I get to the end of those first five chapters I have a pretty firm commitment to those words.

Then I'll sit down and play the "what if" game. I'll write a semi-formal outline (Suit and jacket, not tux -- nothing is firm until final edits) and continue writing. Generally, between the 50,000 and 70,000 word mark, I'll do a major re-read/edit, and then write another outline, (tuxedo this time) taking every plot point and character, piece of back-story, and write those in three columns to see where everyone is, what they're doing, and how I think the story is progressing. Once I do that, then I figure out how I want the story to end.

Someone much smarter than I (I forget who) said "you have to have the ending before you write the beginning." Which I believe is true. I don't work backwards, however, I always have the ending in mind when I start writing the beginning.

As always, there is a happy ending, but hopefully, by the aforementioned word counts, I've left doubt in the readers' mind as to how the Hero/Heroine is going to get there. It's kind of a fun game I play with myself. Like solitaire, only better.

Because I'm working on Amanda and Richard's story now, I'll use them as an example. My basic outline and plot points.

Richard ~
Richard has suffered from PTSS (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) since the Battle at Trafalgar.
He has lost hope (put it completely from his mind) that he will ever marry.
He earns a decent living doing "detective work" (if you will), and has a few friends. Most notably William.

Amanda ~
Amanda grew up in England and was friends with Penny when she was a girl.
Her mother died when she was 12 and her father took her to America.
Amanda has the "gift" of being empathic. (Like the character Diana Troy from Star Trek.)
Amanda has married a despicable man (for reasons I won't get into here).
They have a daughter Rachel (age 6).

Basic Plot

Chapter One -- Richard and Amanda meet one night. (inciting incident) There is an instant attraction. Richard thinks he knows Amanda but can't figure out from where. He realizes she's married to a despicable man. (conflict) He needs an excuse to find her again. (goal) Some of Richard's back story.

Chapter Two -- I need Richard to somehow find Amanda again. Enter Robert who needs a ship's captain. Robert's plan is for Richard to go to where Amanda is. (hero's journey)

Chapter Three -- Richard and William meet up again. Richard finds out Penny knows Amanda. Penny finds out Richard is going to where Amanda is, and asks him to bring her something (A letter most likely.) (Re-introducing the inciting incident, and the goal, and reaffirming the hero's journey.)

Chapter Four -- Amanda's back-story. (This chapter has already been written, but now I find I need to tweak it a little bit to fit better into the changes I've already made. Introducing Amanda's conflict and goal. This is a sub-plot.)

Chapter Five -- Richard and Amanda meet again. (Reintroducing the main conflict -- Amanda's husband and giving the first climax resolution.)

Now, having said all that, in writing genre fiction, you also need to find the structure of the novel -- there are several to choose from -- the most basic and almost always used is three acts.

Act One is where we are introduced to the characters and give them their inciting incidents, conflicts, goals, and send them on their journeys. We also need to have a climax -- generally at the end of Act One, where all these preliminary things are resolved. Also the introduction of sub-plots if you're going to use them.

Act Two is where the tension mounts, because even though we have resolved some of the conflicts, there are more obstacles to get over before the end of the book. We must put our hero/heroine through much more before they can reach their goal. (Sometimes in working with sub-plots, we can have other climaxes.)

Act Three is when the hero/heroine has the goal firmly in hand, however, one more monkey wrench is thrown their way and they must fight for their ultimate goal. In romance, that is when the hero and heroine finally get together. All the conflicts have been resolved, there is generally one final massive climax, and everyone lives happily ever after. (That particular part of the story is called the denouement.)

 So there we are -- the basic building blocks of writing a story. There are many many fabulous craft books on the market to delve deeper into how to write, but this is just a simple explanation.

Anything I've forgotten? Please share in the comments.

I hope you have a great week!

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

When Such Friends Were Met is Released

Well, here we are. This book was added to my "buy" page on Amazon last night at 10:30. I'm afraid it's going to take a little bit longer for other vendors, but don't fret, it will only be a few weeks.

(Not because I can't do it right now, but we're doing another fund raiser at the school and the "big" reveal will be October 1 when the paperback comes out.)

And yes, for this novella there will be a paperback version. This is going to be the focus for the fund raising event. And I get to do my first book signing. Yay!

And I just want to reiterate, this story is NOT my typical Regency romance. I wrote it for the winners for a prize I donated at the school so there is a lot of historical context, and more about the teachers whom I wrote it for than an actual romance.

Cover copy --            

              Dianne Lessard survived France’s Reign of Terror, years without her parents, and the security of a permanent home. In the summer of 1809, she needed a job. Her position as governess was at an end. Her luck seemed heaven sent when she read the ad in the Ladies Gazette requiring a French teacher for a private school. After securing two interviews, she not only had a job, but a new home.
            However, Dianne’s happiness is short-lived when her teaching methods go awry and the headmistress, Mrs. Heaton, is not pleased. Can Dianne rise above her failures and conquer Mrs. Heaton’s disappointment?
            A handsome Captain on leave from his duties fighting Napoleon’s forces, surprises Dianne with a simple question, and forces her to rethink her once fierce independence for a chance at marriage and family. But then, the Captain is sent back to sea, and Dianne wrestles with her guilt for never answering his query.

            Dianne’s faith is sorely tested at every turn, but it is the only thing that remains constant in her topsy-turvy world. Will it desert her when she needs it the most? 

If you should buy it, I would be ever so grateful if you could leave a review either at Amazon or Goodreads.

Hope you have a great week!

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013