Monday, May 7, 2012
I have enjoyed reading Ms. Anne Gallagher’s (Piedmont Writer) short stories for a long time. Her writings inspire and entertain me for the simplistic plots and deeply engaging characters. While her story plots are simple – this one is, as the title implies, finding a wife for John Tremont, Viscount Winsbarren – there is nothing simple about the characters. And I am, above all else, a character driven reader.
The story itself has an other-world feel to it; simply because it is so different from modern society. The verbiage, morals and social conventions are archaic – as befits a regency romance – but I found myself casually slipping into the cultural norms that encompass the setting.
The ending was both satisfactory, and happy. The author kept me guessing about the revelation of the destined bride almost all the way through the novel. When I made up my mind who the wife would be, Ms Gallagher pushed the mystery one step further, so that I had to trust the story was ending exactly where I thought it should, even if the circumstances were not completely expected. I liked that I could trust the author to lead me into the desired conclusion, without making it so expected it felt contrived.
A pleasant yet adventurous story I’d recommend to anyone who needs a few hours of escape. Even if you’re not a consistent romance reader, you will enjoy the light-hearted difficulties that John Tremont encounters in a world where social prowess determine marriageable assets. I assure you I will be reading more of author Anne Gallagher’s “Reluctant Grooms” series of e-books.
I have no qualms giving A Wife For Winsbarren a full five star rating.
Ms. Gallagher is currently preparing her latest novel - a women’s fiction novel titled Remembering You- for e-publishing in June. Many of you may remember when Anne was writing on this novel and she posted some excerpts and character descriptions. I an excited for her, and for myself as a reader, as I’ve followed this novel creation practically since I first met Anne. I asked Anne some questions about this novel, and her writing career in general.
Anne, can you tell us a bit about REMEMBERING YOU?
This story is about a thirty-something woman who has finally reached the pinnacle of her professional career as an executive chef and goes home after a decade’s absence to celebrate. Unfortunately, when she arrives, her past comes back to haunt her, and she has to deal with that before she can move forward. But can she? In the midst of her vacation, several things happen (no spoilers here) to the people she loves, and her decision to keep the new job she has worked so hard for, is questioned. Genna has to make some tough choices and it’s not easy.
What was the inspiration for Genna? How did you develop the supporting characters? Do any of these characters resemble people from your real life?
I’m going to answer all three of these questions at the same time. Lots of people have asked if this story is about me. And I will say yes and no. I am in every single character I wrote. This book was the first one I wrote after I moved down to North Carolina and I was so homesick I wanted to die. Genna’s journey home for vacation is strictly metaphorical for the angst and anxiety I was going through at the time. My parents were dealing with medical issues; I had just left everyone I knew, my job, my family, my clients, my favorite library, and restaurant. I couldn’t have been lonelier. And that ended up pouring out onto the page. I can honestly say, working on it for edits was a bear, I cried every single time I read it. Still do. This book is full of memories.
From reading your author bio, I know that you were a professional chef. Can you tell us about your cooking experience, and how that influenced the characters for REMEMBERING YOU?
After I got out of high school, I had to pay my way through junior college (back when there were dinosaurs it was still called junior college) and what better way than to be a waitress. The money was good, and the hours were flexible. From there I found a job at a country inn and started, believe it or not, as a dishwasher. After a month, I was asked by the head chef if I wanted to be on “the line” as a prep cook. I began to take on more responsibility and after three years, when the head chef chose to leave, I was promoted. I worked there for almost 10 years.
After that, I decided to go back to college and finish my degree and took my chef career out on the road, doing private parties, catering, bartending, and that got me involved in becoming a professional domestic. (Working for one family exclusively being the all around, housekeeper, cook, chauffer, butler, personal assistant, ladies maid etc.)
As I said above, all of the characters in REMEMBERING YOU were formed from some parts of me, but the characterization of them was found in the people I worked with and for over the course of my career.
Are you a plotter or pantster?
Oh God, this is a good question. I wish I knew. I think I can honestly say I plot in my pants. I'm not a plot driven writer, I'm a character driven writer, so when I come up with a story, it 's usually a bit of dialogue between two characters first. Depending on the dialogue, I frame out that one scene. Then I let it rest. From there, I’ll write out a shaky synopsis, (it’s really nothing more than chicken scratch). Once I’m ready to start work on the book, I’ll just write. I don’t look at the synopsis again because the characters will tell me where to go. However, I find by the time I get 2/3 finished, I’m stuck. So I’ll write another shaky outline to get to the end of the book. I usually don’t follow that either, but somehow writing it down, gets all the stray thoughts out of my head and I can get the book finished.
Once the book is done, I let it rest (like bread), for as long as possible. I’m always working on two or three books at the same time so while I let “A” rest, I’ll work on “B” until I need to stop, then I’ll go to “C” for awhile. Once I can’t stand that, I’ll start a read through on “A” and make first draft changes, sometimes getting all the way up to final draft before I let it rest again. I’ve gotten a lot tighter in my writing process over the years, and always edit the next day, what I’ve written yesterday, so by the end of my first draft, it’s usually the third or fourth. Makes final editing and revising so much easier.
Although you have published several novels in your Reluctant Grooms romance series, I understand that you started your writing journey in the women’s fiction genre. Can you tell us why you switched your writing focus?
Before I moved to North Carolina I had written (or tried to write) two romance novels that weren’t very good. I was aiming for the Harlequin market before I actually knew what that was. I’m not a chick lit writer, or a straight romance writer, I lean more toward the inner dynamic of women’s fiction, and that's what I had written (without knowing it.) But I’d always read historical romances. Always.
So I began writing THE LADY’S MASQUERADE about two years before we moved to NC. (Again not knowing what I was doing.) I was also dealing with a toddler, moving, and working so it was sporadic writing. When we moved to NC I got my first computer (yes, all my writing was done long hand and by typewriter) and I finished MASQUERADE. Then I found the blogs and learned a whole new set of writing skills and that’s how REMEMBERING YOU came about. It was really the outpouring of my angst at leaving home. And you know how much I love angst.
Speaking of publications; can you tell us when/why you decided to self publish your regency romances?
It was the total frustration of having my manuscripts declared unsellable in the publishing market. I queried THE LADY’S MASQUERADE, and then THE LADY’S FATE until I couldn’t query anymore. Because the Regencies are a niche market unto themselves, there were only so many agents who take them. I garnered quite a few requests for partials and fulls, but they would always say the same thing – the writing is good, but they couldn’t sell them. I write single title sweet Regencies, which is a hard market. I don’t write sex in my Regencies. And there are only two or three publishers who take those. And from what I was reading, those markets are inundated until 2015.
You can only get so many rejections before you start to think you suck. But if the agents liked the writing, then maybe someone else would too. My self-publishing journey started after I got my last rejection in April of 2011. I was frustrated beyond measure; I couldn’t understand why no one wanted my books, so I stewed about it over the summer. I had time to read everything there was to know about self-publishing, and when The Monster went back to school in September, I took a deep breath and plunged in. It’s scary at first because it’s an unknown, but it’s worked out pretty well. Looking back, I’m glad I went through the road of querying. I learned how publishing works.
What was the most difficult aspect of e-publishing?
Formatting, without a doubt. As I said above, I used to do all my writing on a typewriter. I had no idea what Word could do. It took almost two years for me to learn how to format a regular manuscript, never mind one for e-pub. Without having the funds to find someone to do it for me, I had to learn how to do it myself.
However, I have wonderful friends who got me through the sticky parts. And I have to say, once you learn where everything is on your computer, it gets easier. My one piece of advice for anyone thinking about self-publishing: learn how to format correctly. Go to the forums and scroll through the questions and answers. I have a section under my header on my Piedmont Writer blog that has a few blog posts I wrote up, but don’t just read mine. Read everything you can, and then try uploading to the Mobi-Pocket (which you download from Amazon) with a trial manuscript just to see how everything lays out. DO NOT make the same mistakes I made. What is it that carpenters say – Measure twice, then cut. Well, upload twice, then publish.
Any thoughts of querying for traditional publication?
I have given it thought from time to time. I mean, you hear all about the self-publishing wunderkind getting traditional publishing deals after they’ve made their mark self-pubbing, but New York comes to them. I don’t think I’d query again. That is just too stressful; between the waiting, and then the ups and downs of requests and then rejections. I’m really happy where I am right now. I’m in control of my own publishing schedule. I can write what I want, when I want, and publish when I want. I don’t have to wait two or three years to see my work in print.
And to me, that’s what writing is all about. Getting my stuff out there to be read. Why should I wait for someone else to make my decisions for me?
Once REMEMBERING YOU has been published, what is next for you as a writer?
Well, I read once a long time ago, that you need to have your writing goals all laid out for at least five years. So in order of appearance for the remainder of 2012 (2013 is another story)
1) THE LADY’S FATE formatted and out to paperback. (now)
2) ROMANCING LADY RYDER a short story for e-pub starring Lord Greenleigh (who is another of my Reluctant Grooms) (now)
3) work on over the next few months SECRETS ON THE BEACH a women’s fiction novel I started writing last summer after my vacation in Rhode Island. You can find the first few pages here.
4) revise and rewrite (again) THE LADY’S MASQUERADE (over the summer)
5) And then in the fall after The Monster goes back to school, I’d like to start on THE CAPTAIN’S LADY (another Regency) and a book of short stories I had an idea for. (I find I like writing short stories.)
Thanks Ms Gallagher for sharing your writing and publishing journey with us today. You can learn more about Anne Gallagher and find purchasing links to all her e-pubbed novels by visiting her writing blog at Piedmont Writer or her web page here.
Bio: Crazy hippie flower child mother of a seven year old daughter having a mid-life crisis writing Regency romance novels, women's fiction and taking a stab at literary short stories. Growing up on the beach, I always had a romance book in my hands. Couldn't help it, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Now, I write sweet, sexy Regencies, and character driven women’s fiction. Human frailty, hard choices, and Fate, all play a part in our lives, whether in the 1800’s or now, and that’s what I try to espouse. And love. Who doesn’t like love?