Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Under Threat of Extreme Prejudice

We're off to the Land of the Long White Cloud (God Zone to Kiwis) for a well earned break and I have been threatened with violence if I write anythng other than post cards while we're there so this page will go quiet until we return in late April (the 26th)
Enjoy your writing

Monday, March 27, 2006

The End

When I first started writing, reaching the point where I typed "The End" to mark the completion of a manuscript seemed impossibly far - a little like life itself. I'm much older now, with a growing body of published work, and my definition of "The End" has changed to the point where I never use it anymore.

There are two reason for this, one practical and the other artistic.

The practical one is the difficulty in determining when a manuscript has reached the stage where it is ready for submission. Completing the first draft creates a physical reality for the initial idea, revealing its strengths and it flaws. It also creates a sense of inevitability, making it difficult to see other ways of telling the story and I need to step away for a while to refresh my critical sense (usually by starting another story). There seems no end to the benefits of the review process. Submission and acceptance lead to further review stages, with the introduction of other minds, and the process continues until the final proof-read is complete and control is relinquished, allowing any remaining faults to pass into the public domain to haunt you each time you see the book.

The artistic reason for not using "The End" is simpler. If the reader is not aware they have reached the end of the story, then I have failed to tell it effectively and it isn't finished.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Why do we write?

My partner expressed disatisfaction (not for the first time) at my retreat to this computer to capture an idea before it turned illusive and it started me thinking.

Writing is the loneliest profession I've ever experienced. I spend days sitting here, intolerant of interruptions, focused on creatures that have no existience outside my mind and, hopefully, the printed page. Every other task I've undertaken required interaction with others. Why am I doing this now?

If it's the search for fame, why do writers use pen names? Fortune may come to a lucky few, but most of us labor for the satisfaction of bringing the stories into existence. I suppose some write out of loneliness, searching for congenial company, revisiting their past perhaps, but that doesn't explain the number of writers out there, nor even the ones who come to my classes at night in spite of inclement weather and busy lives.

The buzz that comes from a completed manuscript, a published book, a royalty payment(which is usualy just enough to pay for a good dinner for two) is intense, but I've experienced others just as intense and was paid better for them.

In the end, I suspect my answer will be the same as every other writer worth their salt.

Because I must!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The First Review

The pause is over and the first review is in and I'm sitting at the computer with a big grin on my face.

It reads, in part, "New Blood is definitely an unusual story but I thoroughly enjoyed my time within it and Amy Gallow is a new author to my diverse collection but I enjoyed the way she wrote New Blood and found it to be a very good read. The characters within this book were special in their own way but they all suited the storyline and in some instances enhanced it. While reading this book I could undoubtedly understand the love between the hero and heroine because their love affair moved me emotionally seeing as they fought so hard to be together. If you want to escape into a world made from dreams then New Blood will take you there and allow you to enjoy the unusual environment because Amy Gallow has penned a stirring and emotionally involved tale that crosses many boundaries to unite two people in a love of a lifetime. "

You can read the rest at

I can resume breathing now

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hero figures

On the NCP Authors Blog, Donna Grant wrote about what gave her the inspiration for her hero and quoted a couple of film stars as visual triggers. With me, it's different. I rarely visualize the hero until the writing process begins, long after he appears in my mind as a person.

In "New Blood" the hero emerged from the obituary of a 107 year-old WWI soldier when I began wondering what sort of a world he would have created, given the power. In "Mitchell's Valley", he was a composite of two men separated by a century, each the product of his times. "A Soldier's Woman" had a hero drawn from conversations with SAS troopers over a number of years and experience in dealing with Asian engineering companies. In "A Fair Trade", he sprang from the heroine's past rather than his own. Stuart Ferguson of "Snow Drifter" was a match for my younger daughter (A ski instructor), while the hero of "Beyond the Barriers" grew from musing over the changes in professional motor cycle riders over the years.

By the time they reach the pages, they have grown naturally from their histories, their general appearance the product of heredity and their environment and I start filling in the details as they become relevant and I rarely have a full visualization until the job is finished and I'm reading the submission copy. Until then, I probably wouldn't recognize them in the street.

It's a strange process, isn't it?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Pregnant Pause

The review copies of "New Blood" have gone out and now we wait.

This is another new process for me, print books are handled differently. The process is longer and the results from the local booksellers more immediate, so I'm not sure what to expect and I've been reading published reviews and comparing them to the books themselves.

The numbers of reviewers involved is staggering, which reduces the process to a lottery. Hopefully, I hold a winning ticket.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Luck of the Irish

I'm not Irish, either by inclination or descent, but an outlaw who proclaimed his Irishness is almost a national hero here in Australia and "Game as Ned Kelly" is an accolade well worth the earning.
Every group of emigrants has brought something with them to enrich our society, even our indigenous people came from somewhere else whilst the land bridge to Asia still existed. (This continual movement makes a nonsense of claims to land ownership, which will remain long after we're gone, but that's another subject.)
Getting back to the Irish and the diasporas that have sown their seed in every corner of the Earth. It wasn't a sense of adventure that drove them, it was desperation. They fled Ireland to escape starvation, poverty, persecution and, sometimes, prosecution, enriching their new home without ever relinquishing their old.
I salute them, but hope my luck will always be better than theirs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A crisis in confidence

A fellow writer across the Tasman in the Shaky Isles asked how others dealt with the inevitable rejections that interleave our successes, particularly when we try to spread our wings a little wider, and it started me thinking.

Succeed and you get feedback, fail and you get none. It should be the other way around.

In the beginning, when rejections were all I knew, it was easier. I'd failed and had no option but to try again. I'd try to analyze it, testing my choice of publisher for the manuscript, re-examining the writing, the story, the presentation, searching for a reason I wouldn't know enough to recognize when I saw.

A few successes and the problem grows more complex, the analysis more difficult - the perfect example of the danger of a little knowledge.

Do you stick with the publisher you know, and who knows you, even when you doubt their suitability, or go on looking for the perfect match for what you want to write?

If we were all immortal, it wouldn't matter. We could afford to waste a few decades polishing our skill at writing as we looked for the perfect outlet, but we aren't and time is racing by.

I guess all we're left with is the core of self-confidence that made us try this writing game in the first place and trusting our judgement one more time.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Vampires, were-wolves and other beasties

I'm on their side.
Created out of ignorance and saddled with impedimenta neither logical nor attractive to give an explanation for their existence, (It doesn't really matter whether it's imposed by religion or pseudo-science, it's still unattractive) they are the untermenschen of society. Tradition gives them enough power that their defeat reflects credit on the victors, but they are programmed to fail individually even as they provide a continuing presence to justify their persecution.
It's not fair!
Romantics humanize them, believers demonize them, everyone wants them to change. I vote to set them free from their dependency on us and let them escape. They deserve an existence without the restrictions our ancestors have imposed and we have refined endlessly.
Free the creatures of the night. Let them depart unheralded into the great unknown.
It's the reason I don't write vampire stories

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Out on its own in the world

With "New Blood" out in the world on its own and the second book "New World" put aside until I can start the editing process with fresh eyes, I've begun the third book. It only has a working title for the moment "Treaty Port" because that's the goal of the hero at this stage of the story.

These three stories are the first time I've used the same environment more than once and it's interesting. The first book dealt with it's creation, the second with its pre-history and the third with its distant future and each story grew from elements of the one before so it's probably more accurate to call them a series rather than a trilogy.

I'm having fun with the terminology of a theocracy in this third book. It has to grow logically out of the history that created it as well as being readily recognizable to a new reader - a part of writing we hope the reader never thinks about.

I must admit to some nervousness about "New Blood". It's a great yarn, but a little unusual and probably sits closer to the edge of its genre than is entirely comfortable and although the cover art is excellent, I'm not sure its entirely appropriate.

The truth is that another of my babies has ventured out into the world on its own and I'm a worried parent.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

New Blood goes on sale at NCP

She became a woman and changed destiny

Experience a unique world and endlessly fascinating characters through this sensuous new romance.... New Blood by Amy Gallow

Abandoned by her race, manipulated by a unique individual, Dael grasps the opportunity to break free of ancient bonds and become the woman she imagines. In doing so she finds a love beyond anything her world has ever known and bears a son with the power to rewrite history.

Use the link to drop in and have a look. They've put two thirds of the first chapter up as a teaser. I think you'll enjoy it.

Jane Austin

Jane Austin died of Addison's Disease on July 18th, 1817, but her legacy lives on.

I became a fan of hers when I was quite young, listening to a radio adaptation of Pride and Prejudice before I went to school in a small country town. It was late enough that I had to run all the way to school and the single male teacher (all the classes were together in a common room) was not amused by my excuse so I kept trying out new ones until he took me aside and suggested I stick to the truth or come early and listen to it with him on the school radio. I don't remember his name now, but when the time came to leave that town, I looked over my shoulder with regret. Something that didn't happen often.

I went on to read her other stories, her collected letters, including a fanciful history of Englandand a poem about English weather she dictated just before her death and saw an excellent one-woman show about her life based on her correspondence. All this gives me some interest in the most recent of screen adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

I enjoyed Matthew MacFadyen in "Spooks" and Keira Knightley is an attractive young woman playing a thoroughly modern Miss Elizabeth Bennet. The settings were gorgeous and much more realistic than any of the previous attempts, while the pastische of scenes cobbled together in an attempt to span the high points of the story without becoming too long were thorougly enjoyable, but I can't help feeling that they missed the whole point of Jane Austin's writing and would have been a terrible disappointment to her.

I escaped ever having to analyze Pride & Prejudice in school, so I've never read the academic notes on the story, just Jane Austin's views and my own regret that unlike Dickens she chose to write in a political vacuum during times of great change. I would have loved reading her slant on the contempary events around her.

I guess I'm growing old and grumpy.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Choosing a Title

"New Blood" as a stand alone title appeals to me as it is quite story specific and the answer to the story problem. It becomes problematic only when associated with vampire stories, which it is at New Concepts, so be very careful in choosing your title and take into account where it's going to be marketed.

My first book, "Mitchell's Run", began life as "High Plains Ghost" until I realized that the property called "Mitchell's Run" (Run is an Australian term for an outback rural property, a ranch) was the driving force behind the story. When rewritten for its American release, It became "Mitchell's Valley".

I aim for two things in choosing a title, brevity and aptness. Like the closing words, I want it to resonate in the reader's mind so they'll look at my next title with appreciation for the care taken in choosing it.

Which is why I was reluctant to change "New Blood".


Friday, March 03, 2006

Tomorrow, the World?

I was going to blog on the NCP Authors site this morning ( introducing "New Blood" and showing the eye-catchingcover art, but a mix-up saw someone else posting first so it goes here instead.

Every story you write comes complete with a series of mental images and trying to communicate these to a cover artist is fraught with difficulties because they will probably never read the story. In this case I failed badly and will have to depend on my writing to overcome the disappointment of the expectations created by the artwork.

There's been considerable discussion on the NCP readers' group about what prompts readers to buy books and eye-catching cover art came close after author recognition. The implication of inappropriate cover art is therefore serious.

Without knowing what "New Blood" is about, what would be your guess from the cover?