Here is the First Friday Lunch for February
Here is the First Friday Lunch for February
The Fixer Upper
Abby Callier is more in love with Shakespearean heroes than any real man, and she’s beginning to wonder if there is life for her outside the pages of a book. It doesn’t help that her esteemed parents tend to view her as they would one of their science experiments gone wrong. On the eve of finishing her dissertation, she escapes her staid existence to live in the house she inherited from her Great Aunt Evie in the small town of Echo Springs, Colorado. Because, let’s face it, when a woman starts comparing her life to horror films, it might be time for a break.
Sheriff Nate Barnes believes in law and order and carefully building the life you want. In his spare time, he has been remodeling his house in the hope that one day it will be filled with the family he makes. But Nate doesn’t like drama or complications and tends to avoid them at all costs. And yet, when Miss Abigail Callier, his newest neighbor, beans him with a nine iron, he can’t help but wonder if she might just be the complication he’s been searching for all along. It doesn’t hurt that he discovers a journal hidden away by the previous tenant and decides to use Old Man Turner’s advice to romance Abby into his life.
Abby never expected her next-door neighbor, the newly dubbed Sheriff Stud Muffin, to be just the distraction her world needed. The problem is she doesn’t know whether she should make Echo Springs her home, or if this town is just a stopover point in her life’s trajectory. And she doesn’t want to tell Nate that she might not be sticking around—even though she should because it’s the right thing to do, the honest thing—because then all the scintillatingly hot kisses with the Sheriff will come to an abrupt halt. Did she mention that he’s a really great kisser?
Praise for The Fixer Upper:
“Maggie Mae Gallagher writes with warmth and a wonderfully compelling voice – I loved The Fixer Upper!” NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR HEATHER GRAHAM
“Maggie Mae Gallagher makes the reader forget the actual words on the page so they can just enjoy the story as it unfolds.” Nancy Berland, NBPR, Inc. President
Amazon Print https://amzn.to/2ZAv3t4
Indie Bound http://bit.ly/2lwwW7T
Twitter: @magmaegallagher https://twitter.com/magmaegallagher?lang=en
I have a BA in English/Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has
always been my first love, the media has been my home for more than 17 years, during
which time I’ve built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky magazine,
Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Triangle). I have also worked in corporate communications,
marketing, public relations and business development for several regional and
international companies. At age 35, I finally embraced my true calling as a novelist and
began writing the first draft of what is now my debut release MEANT TO BE BROKEN.
I am a member of RWA and YARWA as well as a number of online romance-inspired
When I’m not writing, reading, or spending time with my husband and three kids, I also
enjoy kayaking, family hikes, yelling “Go Tigers!” as loud as I can during football
season, playing the piano and taking “naked” Jeep Wrangler cruises on twisty, country
How do you make time to write?
I didn’t for the longest time, which is why it took me 10 years to write my first book after
the inspiration struck. I don’t make that mistake anymore. Life gets busy with the kids, a
husband that’s often away from home, and two businesses under my belt, but I’ve learned to take time where I can get it. My favorite place to write (and where I wrote most of MEANT TO BE BROKEN) is the school car line. I go early, park out front and have an hour or two for focused writing time. In the car line, there’s no laundry or dishes or
countless other chores calling my name. It’s just me and my notebook.
Honestly, though, I also have to give credit to my family. They are so supportive. They
understand this is my passion, and they are terrific about giving me the time I need to
steal away and write in private when inspiration is really kicking into high gear.
How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?
I wrote an entire blog on my path to publication for MEANT TO BE BROKEN, which
you can find here: http://brandywsnow.com/the-long-and-winding-road-to-publication-installment-1-a-timeline-of-meant-to-be-broken/. It gives a comprehensive look at the
process, from first inspiration to THE CALL.
But to give a quick summary, I did receive rejections on MEANT TO BE BROKEN. I’d
lie if I said they didn’t sting. They do, and there’s no getting around that. But for me, that
was the trick. So many people tell you to shrug off the rejection and consider it one step
closer. And that’s true to a certain degree, but I don’t recommend just shrugging it off.
Sure the industry is highly subjective, and in most cases you’ll get that “it’s not you, it’s
me” explanation after the “no thanks,” but there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment
to FEEL the rejection. Scream. Yell. Cry. Go to the gym and beat on the heavy bag for a
while. Let it out, get in touch with that negative outflow and then harness it and repurpose it—pour it back into your drive to continue onwards, to find success.
Can you tell us your story of getting “THE CALL”?
I got THE EMAIL—the one that led to THE CALL—in July 2017. I was standing in the
checkout line at a local department store, waiting to pay for a fab new pair of shoes when the email notification dinged and appeared on my phone screen. I opened it immediately and cried—tears rolling sort of crying—in the middle of everything.
THE CALL was incredible. A small press publisher, Filles Vertes Publishing, had read
my manuscript and was completely taken. The owner, Myra Fiacco, shared my vision for
it and had a plan moving forward. I loved the fact they were open to my being an active
part in the process, even allowing my input on the final cover design. It took a month to
negotiate contract specifics and call in other outstanding submissions. In the end, I knew
FVP was the perfect place for my book, and I officially signed the contract in August
What are you working on at the minute?
I think for the moment the question might be what am I not working on? LOL I’m in one
of those unique spaces of time where I’m able to see the industry from several different
angles all at once. While I’m promoting the release of my debut YA contemporary
romance, I’m also busy writing the sequel and another WIP that just won’t leave me
alone (I’ve tried to put it aside until I’m finished with the other one but it just won’t go!).
I’m also once again in the trenches, querying another standalone YA contemporary
romance and am an acting mentor in the #WriteMentor program, helping two mentees
polish their manuscripts for the upcoming agent round in September.
It’s busy, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m excited to be able to
give a little back to the writing community that has been so good to me.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I love book trailers if they’re done right. I think they are essential, especially in cases like
mine where I’m trying to reach the YA market. The younger generations have been
raised on technology and the ease of access to visual information on social media
platforms. Trailers are a perfect way to tap into that vein.
My book trailer was done by Brando Jones Films. I wanted something a little more
cinematic, and they came through with flying colors, planning and putting together a
small production piece that captured MEANT TO BE BROKEN with such style and
You can see the trailer for MEANT TO BE BROKEN here:
How do you relax?
Oh, lots of ways! Spending time with family is my number one, closely followed by a
long hot bath with a good book. I also have to plug my favorite product, the Spoonk Mat,
which is a therapeutic acupuncture mat that I lay on to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Other than that, I’d have to say a trip to the SC coast always works wonders, too, with
heartaches and all being healed by the sea.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Three things jump to mind immediately.
Find your tribe. A healthy group of critique partners is a necessity to get your manuscript polished to perfection. They’re also great for rooting you on during querying, consoling you during rejections, and cheering you on when that Call does come in.
Read in your genre and then read some more. I know you’ve heard this advice before. It’s
true. The truest true that ever was true. Just do it!
Never give up. Rejection is a part of the process, but what determines our success is our
ability to keep going in the face of adversity. I love to recall this quote from Oliver
Goldsmith: “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.”
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I do my best to stay active on a range of social media platforms and on my website’s
blog. I’ve also just started a fledgling YouTube channel to begin posting vlogs soon. Find
me at any of the below:
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Absolutely! The book is told in a dual POV from both the female (Rayne) and male
(Gage) protagonist. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s opening in Rayne’s POV. I love
these opening lines because they hint at the relationship to come, they give you a good
sense of the small town Southern setting and they set-up the conflict Rayne will face
with her Mama.
At 9:30 Saturday morning, I find out Preston Howard wants to date me. At 11:30, my mama hears it from old lady McAlister and has a “spell” in aisle three of the Piggly Wiggly. It’s taken seventeen years, but I finally understand the two things my social life and Mama have in common. They’re both erratic and one usually suffers because of the other.
The store manager calls me on my cell and asks me to come get her. He has my number
because he’s Daddy’s best friend’s brother and used me to babysit his kids a few times last year. I answer, expecting another job offer.
“Rayne? This is Dave Sullivan, you know, the manager down at the Piggly Wiggly? There’s been an incident with your mama.”
Apparently, it’d happened in front of the Luzianne tea bags. She was comparing the family size to smaller ones when Mrs. McAlister offered her a coupon… and a piece of news.
The details get a little sketchy from there—something about her sinking to the floor and
gasping for air. That’s when the manager came over with one of those small brown paper sacks they use to bag up ice cream and had her breathe in it. A nurse and a vet, both in the crowd assembled around her, agreed from their varied medical expertise it didn’t appear to be life-threatening. When the paper bag seemed to work, he decided to call me instead of the ambulance.
I pull into the parking lot ten minutes later. She’s sitting on the front bench beside the
automatic doors where the employees go to smoke, under the “I’m Big on the Pig!” sign. Mrs. McAlister sits beside her, a little too close, waving a folded-up circular in her face. I wonder what the store employees and shoppers think of me, casually parking the car, walking-not-running, and looking both ways before crossing the main traffic flow. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out they’re all watching from between the weekly specials scribbled on the plate-glass windows.
I don’t feel the need to rush. It isn’t a heart attack or stroke. I call it her bipolar though Daddy gets mad when I refer to it like that. The diagnosis is anxiety, better known as my evil little sister—always around, always a pain, and always ruining my life.
This sort of episode has happened before, just not too often in public. In most societies that’s considered good news—but not in the South. They say we don’t hide our crazy, we dress it up and parade it on the front porch. And even if we don’t, someone else will do the parading for us—telegraph, telephone, tell-a-southern woman. We know how to reach out and touch some people.
Mrs. McAlister jumps up from the bench and grabs my arm as I step up on the curb. “I
suwannee, child. She liked to turned over her buggy and spilt them groceries everywhere.”
Talking to some of the older ladies in town always feels like walking out of real life and into some part ofSteel Magnolias. She gives me her version of the sordid details. Mama created quite a scene, not just with her episode but also by her scandalous choice of groceries. The mayonnaise was the only casualty, rolling out the leg hole of the kiddie seat portion of the cart when Mama accidentally gave it a rough shove while collapsing on the linoleum.
Mrs. McAlister hadn’t bothered to pick that up and put it back in the buggy, which was now waiting by the customer service desk. It wasn’t Dukes Mayonnaise. She leans in close to whisper because how embarrassing would that be for Mama. To her, it’s further proof Mama hadn’t been feeling well.
My general viewpoint on conferences is that they should be viewed as a working vacation. Part of this is because of what I write and what my expectations are.
The big conferences for Romance writers are RT (Romantic Times) and RWA National (Romance Writers of America). They serve different purposes.
RT is geared mostly towards readers, although they do have some writing classes. I’ve attended this conference as an aspiring author, published author and a reader. I’ve always viewed this particular conference as a working vacation. It was a chance to visit my author friends, Lyn Armstrong and Debbie Cairo. It was a chance to see a new city, visit friends and attend parties. I always attend writing classes there and go to publisher spotlights. I actually met both my publishers (Liquid Silver Books and Resplendence) at RT.
RWA is geared mostly to the business side of things. I’ve yet to attend this particular conference, even though I’m a member. I have attended regional RWA conferences including Midwest Fiction Writers and WisRWA. I found both beneficial to my writing career. Classes tend to revolve around business, craft, and publishing in general.
Some other conferences I’ve attended are Lori Foster’s RAGT (Reader and Author Get Together). This is also a reader geared Con, unlike RT it is much smaller and there are about ten readers for every published author. Lori keeps the author roster small so readers can interact. Maddy Barone introduced me to this Con and we’ve traveled the last two years together.
I’ve attended two local Sci-Fi con’s since I write Paranormal Romance. CoreCon and ValleyCon. I highly recommend if you write in a genre that falls into the genre of SFFP (Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal) that you consider attending a local or regional Con. It is a great way to meet readers and I find the communities, in general, to be very supportive of creatives.
There are also many Romance Reader Cons popping up. I ran across this website that might be helpful for those of you writing in the Romance Genre.
I usually attend RT when I can and if I can rope someone into going with me. RWA is still on my bucket list. I’ve attended Lori Foster’s RAGT the last two years. This year, due to my job loss, I’ve cut back on my conferences. I will likely only attend the local sci-fi cons and my annual writing retreat at the end of September.
Overall I love conferences and attend as many as my budget will allow. If nothing else I get a few classes in, meet a few new authors and network. That’s a win in my book.
On my writing journey, I know I would not be where I am today without the tribe of writers around me.
Having a supportive partner and family is important too, and I’m fortunate to have that as well.
But when I write myself into a corner, cuz I’m a pantser and we do that, DH is of no help. But I can call my friend Arden Richards, whose not yet published but is the best plotter I know.
I belong to a number of tribes –
The F-M Word Weavers – This is my local critique group. Arden is a member as well. Also in my group are published Authors Maddy Barone and Mary Jean Adams. The wealth of knowledge in this group is wonderful, and my writing has greatly improved over the years thanks to these ladies. I found this group on Meet-up and It helps that most of the group is made up of Romance Authors.
Romance Writers of America – I highly recommend this group if you are looking to establish a career in the Romance Writing Industry. I’ve been a member since 2004 and belong to an online chapter. I met my first critique partner Holli Winters through RWA. If you want to learn more about this particular tribe I recommend, if you have Netflix, that you watch “Love Between the Covers”. First time DH watched it with me he said, “Sounds like your writer friends.” Yes, yes it does.
Of course there is also Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers or America. As I do not write in these genres, I’m unfamiliar with their membership.
Romance Divas – I’ve recently joined Divas, but I have friends who have been members for years and rave about the mentorship and learning there. It seems too that Divas is on the leading edge of trends within the Romance Industry. Also they are FREE, so that is helpful for those watching their budget.
Marketing for Romance Writers – Despite the name, more than Romance Writers belong to this community. If you follow my AuThursday interviews, many of the writers are from this group. This group is also FREE.
Writer Zen Garden – I’ve been with Writer Zen Garden for about five years, brought in by my friend and founding member, A. Catherine Noon. Writer Zen Garden has authors of different genres. They are wonderful for writers just starting out and maybe not so Romance focused. To me the focus is very creative and wonderful cheerleading group. And Guess what – also FREE.
I continue to join groups as I see what they have to offer and if it is a good fit for me. I highly recommend that if you aren’t a member of a tribe that you join one. There is something about the writing journey that shouldn’t be done in a bubble. I mean you can, but there are so many options to connect with people and learn, why wouldn’t you.
The groups above have helped me through Writer’s Block, Rejection, Plotting, Marketing, Networking, and supporting me through my writing journey. I can’t imagine writing without my tribes.
Last week, right after I posted my rejection post. I received a request for an additional 50 pages from another Agent. The Universe must have a plan.
I had met this agent at an RWA conference a couple of years ago when the manuscript was just getting started in my head and on paper. She had given a talk on agents and how they help you in the business. That talk made me look at querying agents for this book that was an idea in my head. Especially since what I had written was such a bit of a departure from my current work.
I will still have to wait a few more weeks before I hear back, but this is exciting news. I remember listening to her talk, and getting a good vibe.
As you read this, I’m heading to the airport to go on my annual retreat with the WZG Founders. And plotting my next book. More on that next Wednesday.
****Please Forward to your Writing Groups****
S.E.N.D presented by Tina Holland
Workshop begins: August 7, 2017
Class length: Two weeks
Cost: $15 (free to RWA® Online Chapter members)
Registration opens July 24, 2017
Link to registration: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466
Submit your work
Establish your brand
Discover your strengths.
Are you struggling to find a home for your finished manuscript? Have you submitted your book, but have no idea where to go from here? Tina Holland’s SEND workshop may be for you. In this class, you’ll learn:
1) How to research and SUBMIT to a publishing house and get what you want.
2) How to ESTABLISH your brand, even when writing different genres or standalone books
3) The importance of working on the NEXT book
4) DISCOVER your strengths as a writer and learn to use them to your advantage.
About the Presenter:
Tina Holland was born in Frankfurt, Germany and is now settled in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. She lives on a hobby farm and enjoys horseback riding, camping, travelling, and reading books by her favorite authors.
Tina has been published since 2005, and continues to release books as her schedule allows. Tina is a member of RWA Online, Zen Writer’s Garden and the F-M Word Weavers. She hosts a blog at https://tinaholland.wordpress.com/ and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline to register is August 7, 2017
Or email Patti Fischer at email@example.com
You do not need to be a RWA® member to take the class.
Note: RWA® Online conducts all workshops via a message board system located on this website. However, access to the site is restricted by login and password to ensure that the workshop is only available to those that are authorized to attend.
Please welcome my fellow RWAOL member, Elise Noble. Elise, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I haven’t always been a writer, that’s for sure. At school, I was a science geek, and when I went to university, I did an engineering degree. That was followed by a stint in IT, then I trained as an accountant. I bumped into my old English teacher the other day, and believe me, nobody was more surprised that I’ve become a novelist than her!
Away from work, I can usually be found riding my horse, who eats all my money, or walking my dog, who prefers to eat car keys. I also enjoy scuba diving and wakeboarding, as well as track marshaling at various motor races in the UK and France.
Q: What genre are your books?
A good question, and one which I sometimes struggle to answer myself. I’ve got a terrible tendency to break the rules, so rather than sticking to the usual romance tropes, I cross over into mysteries, thrillers, and humor as well.
My stories range from straight-up contemporary romance to romantic suspense, to romantic comedy, to romantic thrillers, and usually, they’re a mix of all of them. I write the books I want to read.
Q: What are you working on at the minute?
I’ve just finished drafting my twenty-first novel, which is a romance about a rather uptight property lawyer who secretly lusts over the hot model at her life drawing class. He’s got secrets, while she comes with three cats and a creepy next-door neighbour.
I’m taking a break for a couple of weeks to catch up on reading and research, then I’ve got two ideas fighting for headspace – the tenth book in my Blackwood Security series, and a possible project about the outrageous goings-on in London’s investment banks, which would be based on real events.
Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Finding the time to fit everything in around my day job. It’s a real push to get it all done – not just the writing, but the editing, formatting, and the hardest part: marketing.
Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My first draft of my first book took close to six months, but after twenty-one novels, two novellas, and a bunch of short stories, I’ve refined the process a little. I don’t write every day. Instead, I write in blocks, and when I start, I write quickly.
My record for a novel is six days, although I was off work at that time so I had more free time. Usually, it takes me closer to a month. Before I start, I’ll spend a few weeks thinking about the plot and characters, do some research, and write out a loose outline, chapter by chapter, of one to two thousand words.
Once I start, the first half of the book is slower as I get to know the characters, and most of the time the second half just flows. I do have a tendency to rush the endings, but now I force myself to slow down a little.
My first drafts come in a little shorter than the finished product, centered around the dialogue, but I self-edit as I go so they’re quite readable. I let them rest for a while, then read through with fresh eyes and add detail where it’s needed.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Not really – sometimes I’ll take a day to think over the best way to write a particular plot point, but I never get completely stumped. I always begin a writing project with an outline, although that has been known to change it as I go because the characters don’t always behave themselves!
Q: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Take some time out to think. Give your brain a rest and do something else rather than getting stressed over it.
Q: I see you write two series; Blackwood Security and Trouble? What do you like about writing series?
With Blackwood, it’s like visiting old friends each time I write a new book. I’m up to sixteen novels in that world now. Although each story features a few new characters, many of the others are recurring, which makes planning and writing so much easier. I don’t have to spend hours thinking about the characters’ backgrounds and motivations – I know them all already. I’ve got another five books planned, but three of the main characters have already appeared in other stories, and I’ve been setting up for those stories since the early books. My readers just don’t know it yet!
The Trouble books are more loosely connected, with just a little bit of crossover. I actually wrote the third book in that series before I wrote the second.
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I have a website, which usually has some freebies and contests as well as a bit more information about me and my books:
I’m also around on Facebook and Twitter:
As well as Instagram, because I like to play with my camera in the little spare time I have:
Okay, I confess. I’m mainly on Instagram to look at the hot men.
Join me on Saturday when we look at some of Elise’s sexy teasers. ~Tina
I’m over at Writer Zen Garden for the #atozchallenge. Please join me over here: