Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Writer's Block

Mandy Roth started a thread in the NCP Reader's group about writer's block and some interesting views emerged, showing how personal a subject this is and how different are our definitions for Writer's Block.

The traditional one, made famous by countless movies and novels, shows the disheveled author in a crisis of confidence, unable to type a coherent page, surrounded by crumpled sheets of paper, chain smoking with a near empty bottle of liquor at his elbow.

Computers and word processing packages have removed the crumpled sheets of paper, the anti-smoking lobby has stifled the chain smoking, the medical profession have confiscated the liquor bottle and our partners have frowned on dishevelment. Only the crisis of confidence remains.

Something I've yet to suffer because I began with the knowledge I knew nothing and learnt my craft step by step. A stumble sends me back down the path I trod to get here, retracing my steps until I can see my way ahead again, applying the same old lessons yet again to the story I'm working on until I see my way clearly once more.

"New World" has been beset by every possible interruption. Overseas trips, family crises, reviews of "New Blood", the launch of "Mitchell's Valley, etc., etc., etc., and I've had to pick up the pieces more times than is reasonable, but I've never lost confidence in either the story or myself. It's a writer's life to do these things.

In a month's time, we're off overseas again and I would love to have "New World" submitted before we go. The odds are good that it will happen, but real life has a habit of interposing itself into my calculations. If it does, I'll mutter a little and accept it because submitting a manuscript before its ready is not the act of a professional writer.

Therein lies my self confidence!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Four Roses from Romance Reader at Heart

New Blood received four roses from Romance Reader at Heart and I have a very large smile on my face.

Here's the Review:

Dael is essentially a person within a person. She lives inside of a host, whose name is Samara and is a healer. She has this great personality that is all her own. Dael and Samara literally take turns using Samara's body, and they communicate with one another through telekinetics. Their bond is very strong, and before they were through sharing a body I had come to think of them as sisters.
Upon discovering a new life and a new way of doing things when Samara—and Dael—are stolen from their hive, Dael uses the help of a man named Peter to make changes to herself. She literally creates herself a body, right from the very first cell. What Dael doesn't understand is that Peter is a very powerful being and he is manipulating her to get her to do his bidding. He wants to create a better way of life for his people, and knows that Dael and the son that they will have is the answer to his prayers.
While a little disillusioned when I began to read NEW BLOOD (mainly because there is a lot of information, and at first, everything is not explained very well), I ended up really liking this story. Dael and Peter conquer great odds to be together and with their son, Karrel, they become a force to be reckoned with. Theirs is a very strong familial unit and I grew to love them while reading their story.
This being my first experience with this type of paranormal book, I was pleasantly surprised while reading Amy Gallow’s NEW BLOOD. It was an interesting read and helped to show me a new aspect of paranormal romance.
Kristal Gorman

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Life goes on

"Mitchell's Valley" gained three stars from RT.

I haven't read the review yet, but its importance shrank with the news the Australian Army is taking troops out of the Solomon Islands and deploying into East Timor again. Our son is currently in the Solomons with a rifle company. and has been to East Timor twice before, once with INTERFET and once with the UN. He'll be keen to go again.

The preparation for our next trip goes on, checking bookings etc., and another trip to NZ has appeared on the horizon(back to the North Island again to see the rest of it), both our daughters are happily pregnant and the night course I teach in the adult education system has reached its halfway mark with signs of success.

The rewrite of "New World" is progressing steadily with growing satisfaction on my part, although I'm no longer sure I want to return to this environment again for the third book( a decision I'll make when the time comes)

As you can see, writers have a normal life as well.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rewriting is Hard

The discard file of "New World" is growing and contains a half dozen scenes that were very hard to put aside, even when I acknowledged their replacements were better, or the scene itself was redundant. A little piece of me weeps when I transfer a scene to the discard file (I can't bring myself to simply delete it) because I know it will never return. I promise myself I'll cull the discard piles one day, but I probably won't and they'll continue to clutter my computer memory until some disaster wipes them for me. (Given my propensity for tinkering, disasters happen frequently enough to prevent me reaching saturation point on my hard drive.)

I was muttering to myself about how long this story is taking to complete when my more logical other half overheard and stood ticking off the points on the fingers of an outstretched hand, listing the New Zealand trip, preparations for the UK/Europe trip, first sequel story, "Mitchell's Valley" in the US, and a myiad of family events, all exciting and distracting. I'm not sure I was convinced, but it did make me feel better.

Finishing the rewrite will make me feel even better, so I'd better get back to it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It gets better by the day

"Snow Drifter", my fourth book with Australian publisher Rocky River Romances, will follow "Mitchell's Valley" into the American market in April 2007, probaly with a changed cover as they reused this one for "Mitchell's Valley" in the US.

It's set in Sydney, the Perisher snowfields in New South Wales, on top of nearby Mount Kosciuszko and Aspen so it has a built-in American connection as it tells of the love between a footloose ski instructor and a girl recovering from a tragic love affair and clinging to her past and her home.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It's a Great Life

"Mitchell's Valley" has hit the bookshelves at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Wadenmart and Powell's Books and will be part of a full page ad in the Romantic Times. The Austalian publisher of Rocky River Romances is on a promotional tour for the four books of this release in the US and "there's movement at the station", as "Banjo" Paterson might say.
In addition, my first royalty payment came unexpectedly for "New Blood". Only a month's sales, but a delightful surprise none the less.
Writers are not supposed to have favorite stories, other than the one they're working on, but the one on the right will always have a special part of my heart and I was very glad to have the opportunity to apply a five-year learning curve to a great yarn before its American release.
There's more about it and "Mitchell's Run" on my website http://www.amygallow.com

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Damn! Damn! Damn!

I've been struggling with the second book of the "New Blood" series since we came back from New Zealand. No matter what I did to it I wasn't satisfied. The story is good and my writing felt fluent, but the sense of reader engagement wasn't there.

In the early hours of this morning, I realized why.

I'd used the same structure to tell the story, emphasizing the inevitable similarities growing out of being set in the same world as the previous book.

I've been working on it since, the words flowing effortlessy from the keyboard, my mind racing ahead in the buzz of creation.

Why does it take so long to recognize our mistakes?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Todd Russell, Brant Webb and Larry Knight

Along with every other Australian, I've shared the high and lows of the fourteen days since the mine collapse on Anzac Day and Larry Knight's death. I was awake when the two survivors were finally freed just before five am local time and shed a silent tear when they walked from the pit-head cage and took their name tags from the board showing who was down the mine. Their black humor during the rescue made me chuckle, their determination to exit the mine as they entered it, on their feet, made my throat tighten.

I'm a proud Australian this morning, happy to share a bond with these men, however tenuous.

At one pm, when Lary Knight's funeral begins, I will be silent, remembering him and giving thanks for the miracle that spared the others.

This morning, and doubtless in the days to come, many claimed these men's conduct grew naturally from their nationality, their upbringing and their industry.

All nonsense, of course.

Courage, humor and grace under pressure has no nationality. We should salute them as individuals and be thankful that they exist as guidons for the rest of us.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Things I should've learnt from Scheherazade

I'm sitting muttering to myself as I contemplate the tatters of a manuscript...all that remains of 64,000 words. It's the second book of the New Blood series that I'd put aside before going to New Zealand. At the time, I'd thought it just needed a rewrite, a bit of cut and paste and a polish to be ready for the publishers.

Now I realize the magnitude of the task.

What does this have to do with the lady at the centre of the Thousand and One Nights?

She survived, not by the number of stories she knew, but by her craft in telling them. "New World" is a good story, but I'd allowed myself to be gulled by its connection to "New Blood" and depended on the credit and knowledge already established instead of crafting it as if it were completely fresh.


Friday, May 05, 2006

A Dark Fantasy?

When Fictionwise catalogued "New Blood" as a dark fantasy, my first reaction was to blame the cover art and mutter to myself, but then I reconsidered. A fantasy world created by a dying soldier in which the underlyng logic of his decisions takes charge to twist his creation out of shape does have dark elements, regardless of the outcome.

The same argument makes the next two books in the series dark fantasies as well, which will make the choice of cover art interesting. Will a lighter approach change the category Fictionwise applies to them?

I'm finding this series fascinating. Every development is controlled by the initial premise that this is an environment created by a man born in 1898 and dying in 2005. Nothing can be introduced that he wouldn't know, even when I venture into his distant future and the story's distant past. It simplifies the science considerably, because speculative discoveries he didn't have the tools to understand are barred.

This type of cogitation is what makes writing fiction so enjoyable.

It's a tough life.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

At last!

It's eight days since we arrived back and today is the first normal work day. I've finally dealt with stolen cell phones, lost credit cards, taught the introductory lesson of the evening course and this morning I settled back into the comfortable routine of writing rather than snatching moments between distractions.

Routine is my saviour. It makes it easy to keep writing and ignore distractions.

How about you?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fresh Eyes

Holidays are great, but returning to a task refreshed is the real benefit. I've prepared the first week's lessons, reread the first draft of "New World" and started the next draft, rearranging large blocks of the story and confining others to the cutting file to be discarded when the story is published.

It's a different world when you have the whole story in a physical form, even though I've hacked it about a lot, and this is another enjoyable stage. You know where you're going and exactly what you want to achieve. I have to force myself to take breaks and the seven week course is great because I have student assignments to drag me away.

Teaching is great fun, particulalry with motivated students who've paid money and given up their evenings to attend the course. It imposes a responsibility to ensure they get value for their money and use their time effectively, but there's always time for a laugh and lots of opportunities to learn a little more about the craft of writing. I can't think of a more effective way to learn a subject than to teach it.

Perhaps I should be paying them rather than vice versa?