Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Web Site Blues

I sat down to the daunting task of creating a web site. Daunting not only because I've never done it it before, but also because it is not what I want to do.

I enjoy writing and am determined to become proficient. I want to share the interesting characters who pop into my mind and make me dream their adventures, to have the freedom to write what I want to write and have editors willing to publish it. I want readers to enjoy my books because they are well written and interesting, not because my name is on the cover.

As you can see, I am a hopeless romantic.

Self promotion is the reality of the modern workplace, no matter what your profession. I already have the freedom to write what I want, but if I want to be published and gain the insights of professional editors, then I must also be commercial. Part of being commercial is name recognition.

Name recognition now means an interesting web site, regularly updated, and a Blog.


Sunday, February 26, 2006


I'm having one of those days.

The second book of the New Blood trilogy has reached the interesting stage where the background is established and the story has its own momentum, we are preparing for two overseas trips and the weather has turned comfortable after a series of hot and humid days.

I should be focused on the tasks at hand, but I'm not.

Instead, my mind keeps straying to the damned vampire story I mentioned in an earlier post, adding lots of interesting little twists to a different take on an area of the genre I usually leave to people who can do it much better than I, especially in the erotica stakes (an appropriate term for a blog on vampires??).

I've tried all the old tricks, even posed a question on the NCP readers and author's group in the hope than someone would say it was nonsense, but the heroine keeps stalking into my thoughts and demanding attention. I've told her to wait her turn a dozen times, but she ignores me as completely as she ignores danger.

Perhaps that's her secret. She really ignores nothing, merely bends it to her will and she's proving stronger than my writer's discipline, even slipping unnoticed into the characters in a different story.

I'll end on that note and go back to the struggle.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Every time I have a book published, that quotation springs to mind, not because I feel the passage of the years, but because I've released another time capsule of my writing style that I will never be able to alter or correct as I learn more. C.S.Forester (of Horatio Hornblower fame) said in his autobiography that he didn't read his published books because their mistakes haunted him. I've learnt what he meant in the last five years.

Rewriting Mitchell's Run for its American release as Mitchell's Valley was pure joy. It's a great yarn and deserved better writing than my first attempt. (It still sold it various print runs so I may be a little harsh on my writing, but who's better qualified)

The sneak peeks of New Blood are due out today in the NCP Readers and Authors group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_concepts_pub hence the philosophical ramblings.

I guess the only answer is to keep writing and hope my readers become addicted enough to forgive my stumbles.

Friday, February 24, 2006


We've all read of the kind-hearted publisher who recognized talent in a new writer and fostered it to the benefit of both parties, or of the Agent/Editor the famous writer thanks so fulsomely for their support and advice.

It possibly still happens.

For the rest of us, the truth is a little harsher. Publishers and Agents have cut staff numbers to remain solvent and the survivors are very busy. Glimpses of latent talent are not enough. They have to see something immediately marketable, or close enough to be turned into it with the small amounts of time they have available.

This means a clean edited manuscript without typos or corrections directed to the appropriate person in the organization and introduced with a professional query letter giving the required information in a recognizable format. (Familiarity saves time, gimmicks waste it)

The economies don't end there. Professional proof readers may still exist in large successful publishers producing mass market books. The others throw the responsibility back on the author. With print books there is the printer's proofs to help. The changed format highlights errors that slip under the radar on the computer screen because we've read the words so many times we "know" what's there. In E-books we don't have the benefit of that stage.

It all sounds a bit gloomy, doesn't it?

If it was easy, everyone would suceed and the intensity of the buzz produced by success would lessen.

Good Luck and keep writing.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Changing Editors

After five books with one publisher, I was comfortable with her editing style and preferences. It made submissions easier. I knew she prefered the newspaper hierarchy of quotation marks for conversation rather than the traditional one espoused by Fowler, changed all semi-colons to commas, and the areas she considered off-bounds for category romance. I was familiar to her too and we both benefited.

I've just received the first edit from NCP and my writing environment has changed. It's too soon to say more than that, but it is different and I have a new set of preferences to learn. It's a little like changing the language settings in a word processor.

Another four books and this new relationship will be just as comfortable as the other and I will have broadened my skills a little more.

It's the great thing about writing. You never stop learning.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Story ideas come from the oddest things.

I responded to a general invitation to join a Yahoo group run by two NCP authors which pretends to be a nightclub peopled by vampires, werewolves and the like. Wanting something better than a simple "Hi, I'm Amy." I shared an imaginary first visit to the club, writing about 650 words.

Vampires, ghosts and things that go bump in the night are not my favorite genre, but I suddenly had a full-blown story on my hands about a daughter's revenge on a vampire father, complete with incest and a poignant ending when he willingly sacrifices himself for her love and learns her true identity in his dying moments.

I've written enough to capture the main elements of the story and put it aside to return to my current project, the second book in the "New Blood" trilogy.

The first 1000 words of the vampire story appear in my Yahoo group http://au.groups.yahoo.com/AmyGallow/ and the group run by the two NCP authors is http://groups.yahoo.com/The_Raven_Vampire_Nightclub/ _

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lessons I should have learned earlier

I came to writing through a love of reading and a father who could make the old Bush Ballads real. Listening to him, I rode on the wing with the Man from Snowy River, chasing the wild bush horses, stood with the Boss of the Admiral Lynch while Balmaceda’s enemies pounded his boat to pieces and “saw the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended” with Clancy as we went Queensland droving.

It took me years to relearn the two simple lessons this should have taught me.

(1) In the books I enjoyed best, I had no consciousness of reading, only of the story unfolding before me; and
(2) My father spoke with voice and knowledge of the Bush.

These distill into:

(1) Don’t intrude between the reader and the events of the story; and
(2) Do your research.

Edward George Bulwer Lytton, of “It was a dark and stormy night” fame, was guilty of the first and I can no longer achieve the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy several, otherwise good, writers because they strayed into my world and got it terribly wrong.

Can any writer afford to lose even one reader?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Research Treasures

One of the pleasures of being a writer are the pearls you find when researching.

"Snow Drifter" is set partly in Aspen and partly in the Australian snowfields near Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales. The mountain was named by Paul Strzelecki in honor of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish freedom fighter and American War of Independence General, because he thought standing on its peak gave you a view of what freedom should be.

We met a descendent of Paul Strzelecki in Cooma and spent a day with him exploring the area, meeting locals and listening to their tales. In the process, he told us the story of how Paul Strzelecki left Poland and came to Australia.

He fell in love with a seventeen-year-old heiress living near his home, Alexandrina Turino. He called her his "beloved Adyna". Her father wasn't happy with the match. He was saving her for a wealthy suitor, which Paul certainly wasn't at the time. Lacking her father's consent, they eloped, but were caught before they'd covered 20 kilometres. The ensuing scandal drove Paul out of Poland. Although he wrote to her for the rest of their lives, and even sent her a pressed flower from the top of Mount Kosciuszko, they didn't meet again until he visited her in Switzerland when she was sixty.

The message is don't short change your research, because you never know what you'll find.