A long, long time ago, on a blog post very very close…

I’ve been in school. Then I was in New York.

But, there’s news:

In anticipation of the three books I have coming out (hopefully) in September, I’m offering all my current books free for five days starting tomorrow and running until August first.

If you’ve been meaning to grab my stuff, now would be a perfect time.

Everything is on my Amazon page, or just search me: Aaron S Gallagher, on Amazon.

I hope you enjoy them, and think about leaving a review.

My Amazon page


ProAm tip #13

People ask me all the time (no they don’t) how they can make their writing better. Because I’m a master of my craft (please) and I’m wildly successful (I have published work, I wouldn’t call it wildly successful) I’m constantly bombarded for advice (never, that’s how often. Never.) on making writing better.

So here’s the secret, and maybe everyone will leave me alone (please ask me questions… I’m so lonely):

Read it out loud.

It’s that simple (no, really, it is. I promise). Read it out loud. You want better dialogue? Read it out loud. Want to know if a passage flows? Read it out loud.

Humans know what other humans sound like. We listen to people constantly (as long as you’re able to listen, that is) and we’re bombarded by a multitude of different speech patterns, education levels, and backgrounds. You want to write convincing inner-city black youth dialogue? Go find some, listen tot hem, and then come back and write it. Then READ IT OUT LOUD.

You want to do English? Go find some. Scottish? Go find some. Irish? Go… you get the point.

Then, you write it down, approximating the way you think it should look ont he page (see ProAm Tip #11 for when and how much visual dialect to use) and then…

can you guess?

Read it out loud.

I read everything I write out loud, for two reasons:

  1. It helps me get the speech patterns and language of various characters down pat and;
  2. it helps me find spelling and grammar errors I wouldn’t normally pick up because our eyes routinely lie to us like terrified two-year-olds sneaking cookies.
  3. I like the sound of my own voice (Okay, three reasons)
  4. I’m the only one who knows what I’m shooting for (Okay, four…)

You’re the one who invented these people. You’re the one who knows how much schooling they’ve had, and how extensive their vocabulary is, and whether they swear like sailors (Why don’t you go play hide and go fuck yourself?) or like kindergarten teachers (Oh, fudge, i scorched my muffins… and my hand. And I cut off the tip of a finger. Phooey.) or if they just make shit up (Oh, mother… monkey-mistresses!) or whatever.

When you read it out loud, you’ll find yourself acting it out. You won’t be able to help it. We’re natural actors, all of us, to one degree or another, especially when it comes to our own work. You KNOW these characters. You know these situations. You know what you intended, and when you read it out loud, you’ll see if you’re getting it right.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Tune in next time when I try to exorcise the demon in my head that keeps heckling me (Fat chance, weirdo!)


Hear ye, Hear ye!

As promised (or threatened, as the case may be) The Delancey Street Disappearances has just gone live!

It’s available right now for $3.99 in the Amazon store, and March 20th through the 24th (Tomorrow, that is Sunday until Thursday) it’ll be free!

Grab a copy, hopefully enjoy it, and leave me a (honest) review! Follow the pretty picture!

Delancey cover

Because what’s down time?

“New York City, 1980. Almost a year has passed since a serial murderer targeted hookers in the Bowery neighborhood of Private Investigator Harry DeMarko and his new partner Toni Bennett. It’s been a quiet year, but something sinister is happening again. Working girls are disappearing from the streets- only this time, there are no bodies to follow, no leads to chase.
With no information upon which to base even a theory, much less a case, Harry and Toni grow increasingly frustrated and desperate.
When the kidnapping escalates and three, four, and then five girls go missing, Toni and Harry know they need to get creative- before it’s too late.
From the streets to the police, from the police to the Mob, from the Mob to the FBI, Harry and Toni work every possible angle, getting in deeper and deeper, until their own lives are as much at stake as the girls they’re hired to find.
With time running out, pressure, and danger pouring in from every direction, the partners find themselves between a ticking clock, and a ticking bomb.”
The Delancey Street Disappearances is the second book in the Bennett & DeMarko series that began with The Bleecker Street Bodies, and will be available tomorrow.
I’m going to run a free promotion for the first five days, but it won’t start until the day after it goes live. If you can’t wait, buy a copy, tell your friends to buy a copy, tell your family to buy a copy. Otherwise, wait a day and get it free!
Delancey cover

The end of an Era

It’s finished.
121k words.
The final book in The Veiled Earth Trilogy is in the can. The journey I began with Magician, and continued in Martyr, has ended in Savior, and it didn’t turn out ANYTHING like I envisioned. Villains became heroes, heroes became citizens, and the world was saved, sort of. It’s the way everything works, I suppose. Life, I mean. You can never tell what’s going to happen, and people will always surprise you. And it’s finished. 
I feel kinda… weird.
I’ve spent a decade with these characters, and they taught me new things about themselves right up to the very last minute. Even today, finishing the last three paragraphs, I found out new and interesting things about these people I put through the fucking ringer.
How can you not feel good about that?
But I feel strange. Almost anticlimactic, really. It was satisfying, finally writing The End, and meaning it. The first draft I thought I finished had all the plots I envisioned, all the characters I’d created, and all the high points and low I’d planned. And it kinda sucked. a lot. So I ditched the last part of the middle and the entire end, and let the characters grow and stretch and tell me what they wanted to do about the world they lived in. And they did. And it was amazing, writing THE END, and really meaning it. Loving it. Knowing I did the best job I could.
And it hurt.
And it’s sad. And happy. and all kinds of things.
But… it’s why I do what I do. Because I can’t do anything else. 


So… after replenishing the 30k words I sliced away from the carcass of my latest novel, I added them back… and then some.
The Veiled Earth: Savior is currently at 105k, and counting. The first book was only 101k. The second was 99k. But I want to do it RIGHT, damn it.
I’ve lived with these characters for over ten years. I thought I knew their depths, I thought I knew their motivations, and I certainly thought I knew how it would end.
I am delighted to discover I’m wrong on every account.
My writing has become deeper, more evolved, and more nuanced (I believe) and the differences between the first book and this book, while not jarring or fundamentally climate-breaking, are obvious. I discovered depths to the story, ramifications I didn’t expect, and meaning I never intended. I can’t wait to finish this and contemplate.
I can’t wait to be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

ProAm Tips #12

On January 26th of this year, While making a run at the final edit of the final book in my Veiled Earth Trilogy, I spotted a terrible digression and some plot flaws and had to excise a few words- thirty thousand, basically.

That took the manuscript from complete at 88k to not even close at 58k.

Today I hit 88k, having revised and shored up and extended and inserted and… god damn it. I fell in love with what should have been a one-sided, plot moving, opposite-of-the-hero type villain. I suddenly realized I had a human being on my hands, who had lived, learned, grown… in other words, became real, with drive, desire, remorse, and all the good things about flawed people. Someone who wasn’t a villain in their own eyes, and managed to convince ME that maybe they weren’t either. And their changes are being reflected on all the other characters, making everything move in different directions than I had planned. It obliterates the ending I’d written, of course, but that’s par for the course.

It fundamentally changed the scope of the book. It changed the nature of what Iw as trying to say with this particular set of books, and it made the heart of the story what ALL stories should be- about people trying to figure out how to be people, despite life happening aggressively all around them, the best they can, whether they succeed or not.

If my estimate is correct, this one’s gonna top out at about 100k.

And… I don’t think I’m wrong, or playing up my own work, or bragging, when I say this story’s gonna be good.

Personally, _I_ can’t wait to see how it turns out.

This is a perfect example of how a writer is not just suggested to, not just encouraged to, not just required to, but FORCED to allow the story to tell itself. There’s a lot of theory as to where the story comes from, whether it’s just grabbed out of the ether and condensed into hard copy by our willing little fingers, whether it’s meticulously planned and outlined, whether symbolism is intentional, accidental, or whether the story is like a Rorschach blot- you see what you impose onto it.

There’s a million ideas about it, but what I believe, truly believe in my soul, is that these stories are there, in whatever I have that passed for a subconscious. Stories I need to tell not because of the story, but because of who I am as a person. I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do. But what about the story itself? Do I write it? Do I just write it down? I think the answer’s probably a combination of everything, just like people are a culmination of every experience.

The story I’m telling in this novel, which will be called Savior, is supposed to be the idea that a man can change the world. It’s supposed to be the idea that we live in a world of which we can truly be in control. That we have the fundamental power to change our reality if we have the drive, the will, and the hard-assed guts enough to make the necessary sacrifices to do so.

The Veiled Earth trilogy, beginning with Magician, and continuing in Marty, was originally the story of an unlikeable asshole who also happened to be right. The stories break down into that simple truth- sometimes a prick can be right. And you don’t have to be nice, you don’t have to be politic, you don’t have to be easy-going. Sometimes, being right is right enough for anything.

The guy is an asshole.

I fill the books with his journey because I wanted to have a single uncompromised character. Someone who remains, against all odds, the same from start to finish. Someone who is a rock against the tide of life: he’s unchanging and unchanged. He’s the epitome of the axiom: don’t let the world change you. Be who you are, no matter the odds.

The guy is a grade-A prick, and he’s RIGHT. There’s no question.

And I failed. I realized that in order to get where he was going, he’d HAVE to change. That change, as anathema to his character as it was, would be his path to success, not failure. And I realized it was about coming to grips with compromise.

The villain was the opposite of that character. Dark, evil, twisted, and willing to be whatever was needed to accomplish the goals to which this character had devoted itself to. (Yeah, I’m being vague. Have to. I don’t want to give shit away.)

And I failed.

Throughout the course of this book, I had a simple goal in mind, a hole into which I wanted my peg to fit, and I’ll be fucked sideways if I didn’t try to force that bastard into the hole, despite the evidence that it wouldn’t.

But, as I have integrity, I realized that a forced story is a terrible story. That you can’t constrain it. I have to let the story be the story it wants to be. I trust it. I have to. I know right from wrong, I know good from bad, and more importantly, I know my process. This is how it HAS to be.

And that brings me to my point. Recently on a board of which I’m a member, someone asked how the others on the board write- do they plan, to pants-seat it, do they outline, how do they write?

Sometimes you plan, and sometimes the plan, plans YOU. This story is bigger than I realized, bigger than I planned, and more complex, rich, and allegorical than I imagined. It’s a good story about people. It’s a good story with good people, bad people, the differences, and the similarities we all share with those people. The moral may be lost, but the essence is still there. And I’m doing what i set out to do- tell a rollicking good story. That’s my goal every time I sit down to write.

I write because I have to. I do it well because I SHOULD.

The story had other plans than mine in store, and when it came time to fish or cut bait, I let it have its way. I trimmed the bad parts, and I salvaged the good parts, and I let what wanted to be born come alive in the bones of this book. I let it drive, and I haven’t been disappointed. And in return, the story gave me a character to love that isn’t loveable, but is real, and that’s why I love them. I sometimes shed tears for my creations because the have to go through shit no one should have to go through, but I love it when they square their shoulders, face it, and smile.

Let your story be what it needs to be. It WILL tell you. I promise.

It’s up to you to have the courage to follow it into all the places it has to go.