Friday, November 06, 2009

Reviews and other things

By November 16th, I will have released three books in four months: "Snow Drifter" and "A Fair Trader" from Whiskey Creek Press and "A Soldier's Woman" from Eternal Press. All have garnered excellent reviews and I admit to being pleased, flattered and grateful that other people have enjoyed my writing efforts. "The Widow-Maker", my previous book at Whiskey Creek Press, performed just as well, even attracting a film rights contract, yet book sales reflect none of this and I suspect that the fault is mine.

I am abysmal at promotion because I'm not really interested. I have a real hunger to write, and to write well, to share my love of complexity and adventure, but, approaching seventy-two, my financial dreams are limited. A new monitor for my creaking computer, the costs of a research trip to some location that interests me and I haven't already visited. (I've been to writer's conventions, so they're no longer on my wish list.)

I earn more income from the adult education writer's classes I conduct, but I suspect I would do them even if they paid nothing because of the pleasure of opening other minds to the joy of writing.

I enjoy some promotional activities--the blog radio interview with Cat Johnson was a ball, even if I was as nervous as a kitten--the occasional chat via some writer's blog, answering reader's comments, etc., but, my current venture with Heartfelt Promos aside, I've made a value judgement on how I want to spend my time and writing wins hands down...

Thursday, September 17, 2009


In a little over a week, we're off to spend ten days with a grandson I haven't seen since he was three months old. He lives in Sydney, while we are in Melbourne and too many things have been allowed to gt in the way of visiting him and his parents. Some we had no choice about, but others we did, and I regret missing so much of his life.

For the rest, my coordinator duties for the annual competition at EPIC are winding down, I survived the interview on blog radio "What's Hot In Romance" thanks to the skill and generosity of Cat Johnson (you can listen to it here and my current WIP is on track for a November submission. (about the time Whiskey Creek Press release "A Fair Trader" - see above)
"Her Brother's Keeper" (my WIP) has passed through a number of name changes as the story itself changed and I'm still uncommitted to the present title. It began as a teaching tool for the writing classes I conduct in the adult education system here - a common story we could use to illustrate various stages in writing a novel, and was never intended as anything more. A simple, linear, story generated from a scene in a movie staring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman that owed nothing to the tale told by the movie and began as a means to show how a simple idea could be developed into a story.
Over a period of three years and ten courses, I added more and more until I had thirty thousand words written in fragments and had fielded innumerable queries as to why I didn't complete it for publication. A passing moment of weakness made me agree it should be finished and then the fun began.
More when I've finished it...
It's a great life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Post-natal depression

I have never suffered real post natal depression, but would be the last to denigrate what is a very serious problem. As a writer however, a similar malady strikes everytime I release a book.

My literary pregnancy begins in earnest with the arrival of the contract, and, as in real life, my joy is diluted only by the realisation that some time will pass before the book becomes a reality. My pre-natal exercises of editing, proofing, cover art, etc., increase my anticipation of the happy event proportionally until the book is released. Then comes the flurry of promoting, posting of excerpts, chats, interviews, competitions, etc., etc., etc...

After that, things settle down a little, not unlike the establishment of regular feeding patterns with the new child and a return is made to the current WIP...only to find regular work patterns disturbed by a vague anxiety leading to restlessness and reduction of daily output. This problem increases exponentially as the first royalty reporting date approaches and a delay, or silence, from the publisher becomes exceedingly painful.

With two books released in the last month, and another due in November, I am not looking forward to the next six months

It made me very grateful for Zollyanna's reviews of "Snow Drifter" and "A Soldier's Woman", particularly her final paragraphs:

Snow Drifter
Amy Gallow is a bright and talented author always gluing you in your seat until you finish the story. The characters pop right off the page into whatever room you are reading in. I will definitely read any other book that Amy Gallow writes. She is a wonderful author who can sweep you off your feet and into a whole new realm.

A Soldier's Woman
Amy Gallow never ceases to amaze us with each and every one of her books. She is a bright and very talented author. Her characters keep you riveted to your seat making each word seem to come to life. I am very, honored to read each one of her books that come across my desk.

Post-natal depression or not, it's a great life


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Promoting Books

I have published five e-books, with two more releases scheduled before the end of 2009, and found promoting them the least rewarding of my activities, if one judges by royalty statements and website traffic. All five were received enthusiastically by the publishers, garnered good to excellent reviews, and I used the traditional means of promoting, posting excerpts, chatting, interviews, RT adverts, blogs, presences on the web via Yahoo groups, Myspace, Facebook, etc., etc., etc., but the most significant factor in sales has been the dwell time on the front page of the publisher's website. It outweighs the effect of every other activity by so large a factor, it is embarrassing.

This leads to two opposing conclusions, either my efforts have been so badly directed as to be totally ineffective, or the traditional means of promoting are nonsense and nothing works beyond having enough books released that they promote themselves by their excellence and the fact that readers keep tripping over them on the web.

My first five books were all in print and the publisher did the general advertising etc, allowing me to hold local events, book-signings and the like, and dabble with conferences and my magazine short stories required no effort on my part. It spoilt me for the "real" world of E-publishing.

In case the first of the two opposing conclusions is the right one, I have signed a six month promotional deal with an affiliate of Coffee Time Romance and will observe the process with considerable interest.

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Soldier's Woman

The final edits are done and everything is ready for Eternal Press to release it on August 7th and I must admit to being quietly pleased with the final product.

Having lost her father in the Falklands Campaign, it takes a very special soldier to overcome Megan Ryan's distrust of all things military, especially when Michael Davidson returns from Afghanistan to usurp her hard won position at Davidson's Machine and Tool. Only the seriousness of the position holds her there as they battle to save the firm, both at home and in Singapore.
After prolonged tension catapults them into his bed, the ultimate confrontation at the Lim mansion, leaves Megan with two impossible choices.
Lose Michael to the SAS or follow her mother's footsteps and become a soldier's woman.

I love researching my books and this one was no different.

Singapore was home territory for so long that it needed very little effort, and Oliver's Hill was equally familiar, as was the engineering firm. This left only the SAS and my search introduced me to some very generous souls who shared their knowledge freely, giving me a glimpse into a hidden world.

The Special Air Service was the brainchild of then Major David Stirling in the middle east during WWII and their name was chosen to confuse German Intelligence into believing there was a parachute battalion being formed in North Africa. After an initial false start they combined with Ralph Bagnold's Long Range Desert Group to perfect a very effective tactic of appearing out of the desert in armed jeeps to attack German garrisons.

The Australian SAS copied much of the tactics of the British 22 SAS after the War and adapted them to the different cultural imperatives of Australia, serving with distinction in Borneo, Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq and now in Afghanistan. There is a love/hate relationship between them and the regular Australian Army, where they are referred to as "The Swanbourne Polo Club", or the "Brown Hats" (Swanbourne is a suburb of Perth containing the SAS headquarters and the SAS wear beige berets.).

One regular soldier in the airborne infantry battalion illustrated this perfectly when he asked "How many SAS troopers does it take to change a light bulb?" When I looked blank, he answered "A whole squadron. One to change the bulb and the rest to applaud."

The tall poppy syndrome is alive and well in the Australian Army!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Following the muse

My current WIP is taking me on a fascinating journey. It began with a teaching tool I've used repeatedly in the Adult Education courses, a means of providing a common connector to a group of disparate would-be writers in developing a story from a single scene in a forgettable movie starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. In the process, I've written a dozen or so scenes from the story to illustrate how to begin, develop, sustain and complete it. Of necessity, I've kept the story reasonably simple, but my last group of students challenged me to write the whole story and, in a moment of unusual weakness, I agreed.

I began by joining the dots, connecting the existing scenes into a continuous narrative, but the character of the hero kept eluding me. I couldn't quite see how he came to be as he was and went searching into his background for an answer.

A memory came to me of a transit lounge conversation in the early hours of the morning, some ten years after Vietnam. Our plane was delayed, we were tired and bored and my companion on the journey had drunk more than was wise. He'd been involved in covert operations during the conflict, but didn't speak much of their details, concentrating instead on how he was recruited and trained. An astute individual, his descriptions of the methodology and the individuals involved kept me interested and successfully passed the time until our plane was ready.

Vietnam was too far in the past to be of value to the story I was writing, but the effect of the passage of time on my companion wasn't and I had the environment that moulded the hero into the man he was.

Storytelling presented a problem. With so much to be hidden until the right moment, a simple narrative from the heroine's point of view was inadequate, and the normal(?) balance of heroine/hero not much better. I'd already passed the thirty thousand word mark and was loathe to discard the lot so I went searching for another point of view that could carry the story and found it in a secondary character.

I'm now back at the thirty thousand word mark, having re-written the beginning to capture the changes in the heroine and introduced the thoughts and actions of my second point of view. Other than a very general picture, I have no idea where the story will go from here...and it's fascinating.

It's a great life...insane or not.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Snow Drifter

July is almost here and I'm gearing up for the release of Snow Drifter.

The first step was revamping my website, . I'd updated it along the way, adding books as they were released, reporting the progress of The Widow-Maker from book to film, but it no longer reflected my writing and it was time to change.

What I'd forgotten was amount of work involved for an amateur like me.

It took two days of experimentation, false starts and simple mistakes before what I'd designed could be seen in my web browser, let alone on the web itself, and another day before the website was successfully loaded onto the web. Since then, I've grown cross-eyed looking for errors and can only hope I've caught them all.

Yahoo group, Coffee Time Romance, etc., etc., etc., are next...then the preparation of excerpts for each of the groups I belong to...

With A Soldier's Woman coming out in August, I can't see me getting much writing done for a while.

Still, it's a great life.


Monday, June 08, 2009


Our home bulges at the seams with children and adults. Our eldest daughter has returned home with her two children while their house sells and she reorganizes her life as a single mother after ten years of marriage. The children struggle with the effects of the change and she is as prickly as a hedgehog (an Echidna to fellow antipodeans).
Our second daughter struggles with a two bedroom house and returning to work as a teacher part- time with two children under five and needs what help we can give.
In the midst of this, edits arrived for "A Soldier's Woman" with a forty-eight hour deadline and jury duty beckons mid month, all making the completion of "Her Brother's Keeper" a matter of snatched moments.
I suppose the next crisis will involve the second round of edits and those for "A Fair Trader".
Looking backwards at our parents' lives in their seventies, it all seems so impossibly serene, but I suppose we should be grateful that we are both healthy enough to manage and still so involved in life as to feel the need to try?
It's a great life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A homily from long ago

Back when I was young and we exchanged autographs between friends rather than sought those of celebrities, it was the practice to inscribe some small homily before your signature.
One I remember well:
In a life that's mainly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone;
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own.
One of our children is going through a difficult time and I am proud to see the truth of the above demonstrated by her siblings as well as us.
None of our children are meek, their battles growing up were the stuff of legends, but their aid when it's needed is unstinting.
I am proud of them all.
It's a great life!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cover Art

As writers we are at the mercy of many different people, publishers, reviewers, readers and the rest. If we are lucky, we have two staunch friends, our editor and our cover artist in giving our books their best chance of success.

Jinger Heaston created the cover for "The Widow-Maker" and now for my two upcoming Whiskey Creek Press books. I'll let you judge her success.
I'm a little biased. I think they're great.
Thank you Jinger.

"Snow Drifter" is due for release in July this year, but you'll have to wait until Nov/December for "A Fair Trader"

In the meantime, Eternal Press, propose an August release for "A Soldier's Woman."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Once more into the breach..."

We returned from our holiday refreshed, having walked for miles along windswept beaches, clifftops, through the bush, and around Warranambool, Portland, Port Fairy, etc.
A new contract with Whisky Creek Press was waiting and a release date of July 09 for "Snow Drifter" added to our pleasure. Plus, there was an intriguing response to one of my general fiction submissions that could mean anything.
"A Fair Trader" now has a projected release date of Nov/Dec 09, so this year promises well.
It's a great life.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An ideal holiday

We are taking a rest from baby-sitting and all the other multitudinous duties of grandparents and having nine days at Warrnambool with no television, no Internet and no writing before the school holidays and other events double the intensity of our lives.
It is glorious in prospect and starts in three days.
It's a great life--truly!

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Conumdrum

Two of Amy's submissions have been successfull and a third looks promising, which, given my non-New Years ponderings, creates a problem that will have to be solved before publication--is she to have another life or another name?
My two non-romance submissions are still current and success in either would have its effect, but, for now, I am marking time.
An unusual state for me.
It's great life.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I never make New Year's resolutions!

That said, the dawning of 2009 coincides with several changes in my life, each bringing its own decision and any disclaimer on my part will be ignored by one and all.

The sales of "The Widow-Maker" have been disappointing and New Concepts may praise the quality and writing of the three books of the First Family of the Blood series, but their returns have been below average because they are very technical for romances. It is hard not to make the connection between the two and New Concepts agree that future sales for Amy Gallow will be affected.

Amy still has three submissions live at two publishers and there will be the temptation to use another pseudonym if these are successful, but that does little to determine the future for the three WIPs in my computer.

All suffer the same disadvantages as my New Concepts books in being the type of stories I enjoy writing rather than middle of the genre stories that sell. It may be time to bid Amy adieu and thank her for her assistance in learning my craft as a writer. (She introduced me to some very good editors.)

To everyone else, I wish the very best of the New Year. I hope you survive our present financial difficulties with as little harm as possible.

It's a great life even so.