Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Have a New Series

Good Morning. I was writing along, working my little fingers to the bone, Richard and I were just being washed overboard in 12 foot swells, when the strangest thing occurred. I had an idea. Okay let me just say I had this idea a while ago. Maybe this spring. But it hasn't really shown itself fully to me so I just let it stew. And just as I was bringing Richard to a crossroads, inspiration for the idea struck.

Well, they say creativity makes your brain expand, so I put Richard aside for two seconds, just to jot down a couple of notes, (because if I didn't, I would regret it later)  a quick 5 minute search for names (which didn't pan out by the way. I thought them all up in the car in the pick-up line at school) and a quick outline. That's all. I just needed twenty minutes.

Three days later I had written copious notes on each of the characters, the family tree, and how it pertains to Lady Olivia, (yes that Lady Olivia.) I outlined the whole series, with each plot for each separate book (7 in all and one novella), had also written five scenes. Funny scenes I hope. They're meant to be funny anyway.

Once I had all that, I then went to Google images and found everybody I need for character inspiration. I also worked out three sub-plots that will weave throughout each of the books to the final conclusion at the very end.

Having said all that, I'm not going to tell you anymore. However, here is my new hero.

age 35

age 50
He is the main character that will appear in each of the new books. And I'm not going to tell you anymore.

Especially his name.

If I say too much, I'll jinx myself.
If I say nothing at all, I'll explode.

I'm hoping to return to Richard's story as soon as I get all this falderal out of the way. I think I'm almost finished with notes.

So tell me --  What do you think of my new hero? Is he swoon worthy enough? (And I know Sharpe's been done to death, but I'd like to think I have a unique perspective.) Do you think it's too soon to announce a new series -- should I have waited until after I finish The Reluctant Grooms first? (  I just couldn't stand the excitement.)

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Title Changes

Good Morning. As you must know from the last few posts I've written, I'm working on Richard's story -- THE CAPTAIN'S LADY. Research took a lot of time, but lately I've been working diligently on the narrative and hoping to really get the word count up before the end of November. (I know I said I wanted the book finished by Thanksgiving, but... it's not going to happen. I have the discipline, however, the world around me keeps interrupting.)

Anyway, I was reviewing a chapter the other day, when I noticed I had written Richard several coincidences in his quest to find Amanda. The man seems to always be in the right place at the right time. When he gets in a jam, boom, two pages later, help comes in the form of another coincidence.

Now, I didn't originally intend to write this story this way. Believe me, Richard and Amanda have a LOT of obstacles to overcome. For every coincidence that seems to help them, I throw another obstacle in their way. Oh yes, I'm taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride.

But, in the middle of all this, I realized THE CAPTAIN'S LADY wasn't going to work as a title. All my novellas have the name of one of the characters in them. (Winsbarren, Davingdale, Lady Ryder, Lady Cadoret) That's how I differentiate them from my novels. My novels on the other hand have a noun and a verb.


See. Yes, they are simple sentences/titles. I suck at titles. Always have, so I don't fight it. But with Richard's story THE CAPTAIN'S LADY, that is just the suckiest of them all. It doesn't even make sense or work with any of the others. Sooooo...

I've come up with


Yes, I know, ultra simple, but at least it has a noun and a verb and makes a little more sense to describe what the story is about. Check the above -- Masquerade, Divorce, Engagement, Fate, and now we have Coincidence.

I think it works.

Tell me -- What do you think? Do titles really make a difference whether you read or not read a book? Anyone have a better word? I like coincidence, and it fits the story, but I always second guess myself.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Pushed Back Novel

Good Morning. For those of you who don't know what a "pushed back" novel is, the simple explanation is -- a novel that you've started and then pushed back to the end of the line to write something new.

My latest novel THE CAPTAIN'S LADY is one of those. Way back when, I wrote (and finished) THE LADY'S MASQUERADE. Then I began THE DUKE'S DIVORCE and THE CAPTAIN'S LADY. When I first began this writing adventure, I had it in my mind that William, Robert, and Richard were friends of long standing. These were/are the first three books in my series THE RELUCTANT GROOMS. I finished MASQUERADE. However, DIVORCE and LADY sat at 30,000 words each.

But before I finished those, I got sidetracked by Ellis and Violet and just had to write THE LADY'S FATE. I loved that book, the words flowed, and before I knew it I had written the end. And then along came the novellas. I had new friends I wanted to write about and again, before I knew it, I had three of those written, along with finished DIVORCE and then I just had to write THE EARL'S

However, in the midst of all this writing, I knew I had to go back and rework MASQUERADE. The series had found its underlying element (which I didn't know when I started writing it) and so, rewriting MASQUERADE took some time. Over a year as a matter of fact. But I did it and it's done, and now I'm trying to tie up all the loose ends about Richard and Amanda before I start the final phase of the series.

I digress, but I think you needed to know that before we get on with the post. Now, because THE CAPTAIN'S LADY has been pushed back for so long, the 30,000 words that I have are unusable. They stink like last week's trash. The dialogue is horrendous, the narrative is mostly backstory, and although I still like the plot, I've found I can't use the setting.

Which brought me to doing more research. Now as you probably know, writing a historical romance novel involves research. You can't just sit down and write a book without doing "some". And because I've been writing historicals for a long time, I have the gist of the Regency era. But with each of my stories, I've had to dive into "select" pieces of history to get the story "right".

In ROMANCING LADY RYDER I stepped into a small portion of the Russian's side of the Napoleonic Wars (with some artistic license if you will.) In MASQUERADE we had the issues of primogeniture and Letters Patent. In DIVORCE we took a look at the issue of divorce and annulment.

And here in THE CAPTAIN'S LADY, we're dealing primarily with ships. Now, if you think I could get away with, "Richard got on the boat and went to Liverpool to find Amanda" you would be wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong, but that is just so boring. Don't you think? So what did I do? I spent three weeks with a very great learned friend discussing via email, the intricacies of ships and guns and crew and sails and barges and ocean swells and storms and you get the picture. And I probably won't even use a third of what I've found, but knowing it does make all the difference in writing it.

Now, as I'm writing the story and I have most of my research finished (one never really finishes with research until the end), I have to get back into the plot. Which was a fairly good one if I do say so myself. However, in the earlier versions Richard and Amanda were in the America's and the sub-plot was the abolitionist movement. Slavery was abolished in England in 1807 thanks to William Wilburforce. (If you haven't seen the movie Amazing Grace, do. It's fantastic.) But here we are with Richard and Amanda's story now set in England and all the writing I had done I can't use now.

And let us remember that I also have the issue of overlapping characters. If you've read my books you know that I always have someone from another book in the story. Or maybe two or three someones. So I have to remember who was married to whom, and when, and where they were within the time frame of the present story. Ugh. It's a lot to make the pushed back novel cohesive to the rest of the series.

And you may ask why I even bothered to write this if it was so much work. Why do I even need to make Richard a viable character when he does so well as a periphery character in so many of my other books? Because I love Richard. I love Amanda. I love their story and how they overcome all the odds that I have thrown at them.

Is it worth it to finish this pushed back novel? You bet. Why? Because the series wouldn't be what it is without them in it. This exercise (if you will) has also shown me just how far I've come in my writing. My first draft back then is so much different than my first draft now. I've learned the "craft" of writing, I've learned the "rules" of writing and understand when and how I can break them.

A lot of writers talk about the "book of their heart" and how someday they're going to write it. (Because as most writers understand, being an author is a "business" and we're all looking for success. You need to write a great book to become successful.) A "book of the heart" is something that usually gets pushed back until you achieve that success.

Richard and Amanda's story is one of the books of my heart. I want to tell their story and I want to do it well. It may not be a commercial success, but I want it to be heard.

Tell me -- Do you have a "pushed back" novel sitting on your hard drive, under your bed in a box with the dust bunnies, in a file marked "later"? Do you have a "book of the heart"?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Timeless Romance... Modern Day Dilemmas

Back in the olden days of writing (the 70's and 80's) authors were published by traditional New York publishing houses. If they wrote good stories and made lots of sales they rose to the top of the Best Seller lists. In genre writing (which is what historical romance is) those authors were "known". Stephen King is the king of horror fiction. Danielle Steele the queen of romance.

In this new publishing world of independent authors, we (most of us) do not hit any Best Seller lists for long. We rise to the top if we've worked hard and built a fan base, and are rewarded thus when we release a new book. But then it fades because we lose momentum. We don't have New York and the big money behind us pushing book tours and placement in the (now defunct) traditional bookstores.

What I've seen lately are authors who are using taglines to describe their work. One sentence that follows the author's name in blog post headers, on comments on blogs, in their Web presence.

"Romance through the mists of time..."
"Crime Fiction with a Kiss..."

You get the idea.

Awhile ago I decided to come up with one for my own writing. Not because I necessarily needed one, but because I received some comments from readers who don't understand what I'm writing.

In studying Austen's work, any of her work, she dives deep into the psychological make-up of women of that era and uses that against the mores and social customs of the time. Mr. Darcy is a snob. One can't deny it. He has no use for the lower classes. Until he meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Who in her own way is also a snob. She certainly has no use for Mr. Darcy.

In Emma, when she tries to match-make for Harriet. Austen shows the plight of women as she believes Harriet deserves more than she is worth by trying to fix her up with high-born men. In Northanger Abbey, we see the destruction of Isabella who is trying to make a play for Captain Tilney. And we can't forget Eleanor and Edward's tragic story. Need I say more?

In all of Austen's work, there is the stigma of a woman being less than, that we cannot aspire to be "better than we ought to be." There is a deep understanding of the human condition and the frailty of what it was to be a woman. Women had no rights, had no chance of becoming "more" than what their station observed. A parlour maid could not marry a duke.

In my romances, I try to take that same stigma and surround the plot with a modern day dilemma. In THE LADY'S FATE we have a much younger woman with an older man. In THE EARL'S ENGAGMENT we have a daughter taking care of a father with dementia. In THE DUKE'S DIVORCE we have a man who cannot reconcile himself to loving a woman who is so different than himself. LADY CADORET'S LONGING, a woman is grieving over the loss of her love through the vagaries of war.

In my next novel, THE CAPTAIN'S LADY, there is an element of danger. The husband is cruel to his wife. ( I do not write the violence, however I allude it is there. ) Spousal abuse is not something I wanted to write about, however, it seems the characters thought their story should be told. I hope I do it justice.

In real life, as well as back in 1811, life is not dropping a handkerchief and hoping some nice soldier will pick it up and you'll live happily ever after. Life is, for the most part, filled with the everyday conundrums that make us human. The happy and the not so much. War, cancer, Alzheimer's, spousal abuse, addiction -- these are some of the things that women must face in the modern era. How we tackle them and get through each day is what makes us or breaks us.

Same as in my stories. I write what I see and what I've experienced in my own personal life. As the saying goes -- "Write what you know." Well, my stories are what I know.

And that's why I write Timeless Romance....with Modern Day Dilemmas. Because at the end of the day, when we get through our dilemmas, we all need a happy ending.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013