The Dreyfuss Trilogy

Changeling * Lucifer's Stepdaughter * Moonchild

Contact Morgan

Friday, 25 February 2011

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The First Review

Changeling has had its first review.  It comes from Betty Carlton, who writes erotic romance.  Betty doesn't like horror, so I'll let her explain how she came to be reviewing my book!  You can find her blog here, and you can sample her work and buy it, here.

A  review of " The Changeling " by Morgan Gallagher.

I don't read this stuff
I don't read this stuff

Not until I discovered, Morgan Gallagher. I found her on Sample Sunday.*
After opening her blog page I was just about to skip reading when a sentence caught my eye. Then another and another, I read the complete section and now had questions. Why was Joanne hurt, and who would have inflicted such bruises?
I read everything on her blog and could not find the answer. Her release wasn't until April 10th. So when an opportunity to read a pre-release copy of her book came my way I jumped at it.
It took me two sittings to read it. Why two, because I started reading it at 8pm. If I had started earlier, this would have been one of those books you don't put down until the last page and you read that twice not wanting the adventure to be over.
Morgan has mastered the emotional ride. From who cares about a cat. To I hope the cat is, Ok. From silly young woman to cheering her on to survive and onto that's it--show him, show them, show the world.
What can you say about Jonathan Dreyfuss? Miss Gallagher straps us into the roller coaster as she makes you dislike him, understand him, pity him, and then almost hoping for him.
Her ways with words will have you not only seeing the scenes before your eyes, but you will swear you're smelling what she wants you to. Whether the scent of cologne, sweat, blood, (yes blood) and the back streets of London at night, your senses will reel.
Dreyfuss is on the hunt. Joanne becomes his latest victim, then his prisoner. Her will to live will surprise him, and together a long arduous journey begins. He will take everything from her he can, until the day he decides to withhold nothing from her.
Joanne will not go willing in the direction he has set out for her. The day will come when she understands his weakness, and she discovers the inner strength to use it against him. Will she still want to?
Who will win the day? No spoilers here. Release date April 10th .
Check it out at:
Sample Sunday many independent writers offer on their blogs free reading from their latest work. On Sunday many links can be found on Twitter #ss or #samplesunday.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Just in case you think I'm warped...

The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.
See, it's not just me.  Others see the world, in the way we show the world, to our character... no matter how painful that world is.  It is.

"The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say." 

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Friday, 18 February 2011

How I Write - Naming Characters

I was up 'til 6am this morning, driving myself wild with a new character.  This vampire doesn't show up until book 3, Moonchild, and I didn't know anything about him, until 4am this morning, when someone I'd thought was this character, turned out not to be.  A new character completely, was needed.

This drove me daft.  For the entire third book suddenly changed shape and emphasis.  In a good way, but in an overhaul and refit fashion.  My characters lead my writing.  Scenes where they are appear, and are doing or saying something, or an expression on their face as someone else does or says something.... these are my clues to the narrative.

Imagine a writer, sitting at a desk, scribbling.  Behind them a ghost of a character, stands, impatiently tapping their foot, and awaiting their birth on the page below.  That's me and my characters.

Now imagine the poor writer scribbling away, with several full formed characters standing behind them, arguing amongst themselves as to WHO GOES FIRST.  With several minor ghosts whispering about on the edges, trying to get noticed.  Writer constantly being poked in the back, for them to pay attention to the character that made it to the head of the queue.  Writer trying to ignore them and write sequentially....

Welcome to my life!

So anyhows... last night a new character popped up.  Which means that today, I've been obsessed with name meaning searches.  I can't hold this vampire in my head, until he has a name.  I can't slot him into the narrative, until I know what his name is.  Names, and their meanings, are fundamental to my writing.  Sometimes a character is named for a person I've met, and trait that person has.  Joanne, my main character in Changeling, was named for a Joanne I knew, who was the most selfish, self obsessed, and destructive person alive.  No, Joanne in the book is not like that.... but... the selfishness of the Joanne in real life, was driven by her need to keep alive, no matter the huge burden of pain she was carrying.  You could look at her behaviour, and be repelled by it... but she was driven.  Driven by needs unmet, from early childhood, that slowly destroyed her. That she fought to overcome at all costs.  She was anorectic, and was driven by hunger and longing, and was ridden hard by her disease.  In fact, the selfishness was an aspect of her illness.  She was not a close friend, so I have no idea what her true personality was, I only saw the one distorted by hunger and pain, and the one fighting for attention whilst at the same time locked in a battle no one else could understand.  

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

And The Winner Is....

Cover art from stock photo image, by Morwenna Rakestraw 
who can be contacted via Rakestraw Editing services

Another suggestion...

 This was done as a response to my earlier postings, by Nathan Lowell, a very generous author, whom you can find here.

There are specifics rules about ebook covers, versus print book.  This one follows that, if I'm following it all correctly.  (Head spinning)

The other thumbnail mentioned in the comments:

Covers A

Cover B

Cover C

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Settling... excerpt from chapter 6...

Naturally, she was still under when he returned.  His blood, held captive on her skin, had worked its magic, and her eye was greatly reduced, almost clear.  Bruising ran the line of her face, down her cheek and jaw.  It looked three to four days old, well on its way to recovery.  She was restless, once more fighting the drugs.  The stench of urine from the soiled bed was high, but no solid waste was in evidence.  He would attend to the smell in turn.  Slipping the line out, splattering the tiny wound with some blood, it healed over almost instantly.  He washed her down, and spent five minutes combing her hair through.  He cleared the clutter of the drip and once more changed the bedding, moving her effortlessly around.  Settled back down, she was clean and her skin showed excellent colour and fluid retention.  He withdrew to check his mail and faxes.  It would be a couple of hours.
She awoke on the bed, hazy remembrances that fear and discomfort had become her existence.  She knew where she was instantly; the pain told her that.  If he was sitting in the dark beside her, she didn’t want to know.  She fell as she tried to raise herself up off the bed, the pain buckling her knees.  The floor came up hard and heavy, and she lay there, tears streaming down her face, for the minutes it took for it all to settle back down.  She crawled on her hands and knees into the bathroom.  It took about five minutes to stand up and switch the light on, but she managed.  She also managed to keep her eyes tight shut until the pain from the light faded.  Sitting on the bowl, a faint dribble was all she could manage.  With rubbery legs she scrambled into the security of the shower stall, grateful once more for the  blast of steam that soon enveloped her.  She scrubbed with all the energy she could muster.
When she finally emerged into the bedroom, the light was on.  Her bed was remade, pristine, fresh.  The table held a tray: tea, orange juice, a tub of yoghurt, croissants, jam and butter.  She wryly wondered if she’d ticked the box for ‘extra large’ on the oj.  She tried to take a small sip but the smell alone made her retch.  Faint from the heat and exertion, she lay down on the bed and closed her eyes.

When she opened them again he was sitting there, looking at her.  She caught her breath, then quickly turned away, staring intently at the bedcover.  It had been pulled up over her.

‘You were sleeping.’

She didn’t reply, tried not to move, to react.  The towel she had wrapped around her head had slipped onto her shoulders, the damp had settled on her neck.

‘You have not eaten, or had anything to drink.’  She stared harder at the bedcover.  It was white, soft, expensive.  Linen, she was sure, although not Damask, not like the table cloth.  She looked again at the table, with the glittering tray.  No evidence there of her earlier clumsiness.  Her head swam and she sighed, moving back on the pillows.  Just let it happen, the voice said, just let whatever, happen.  No thinking, no thoughts, no doing…just go with it.
He stood up, came towards her.  Her head moved further to the side, away from him.  She tried not to flinch.  He leaned into her and something heavy was passed onto her lap.  He retreated.  It was the tray, magically settled on her lap on little stilts.  She could see steam curl out of the teapot’s spout.

‘If you do not eat, more importantly, if you do not drink, I will be forced to take action.’   His voice was patient, measured. 

She tried to absorb this, tried to make her body move. 

‘Besides, there are painkillers in front of you.  Painkillers that require they are administered with food.’

This caused her to search the tray more fully.  She was convinced they hadn’t been there earlier, but sure enough, by a glass of water, was one of those little plastic cups you get in hospital.  It contained two tiny white tablets and two huge pink ones. 

‘The white ones go under your tongue.  They will make the aches go away.’ 

Should she trust him?  Did she have a choice?  She knew the pink ones were anti-inflammatories, she’d taken them often enough.  No thinking... do as he says!  Her hand reached over for them.

‘Not before you have eaten, and drunk the juice.’  His voice was compelling, insistent. 

She lifted the juice, forced it to her mouth.  It tasted incredibly sweet.  Once started, her mouth appeared to have difficulty stopping.  Juice dribbled out the sides of her mouth.

‘Not too quickly, you will cramp.  Eat now.’ 

She transferred her attention to a croissant, the thought of gaining some respite from the pain, the aches, the terror of her body, driving her on.  It flaked in her hand, tasted of dust in her mouth.  She swallowed it down with the remainder of the juice.  She reached for the drugs again.

‘Pink first.’ 

There was a pulse of impatience in her mind, an irritation at the command.  The voice was there, panicked and insistent: do as he as he says.. do as he says….
She fished the pink tablets out of the tub, careful to keep her eyes from straying up.  It took four drinks of water before they were gone, the second one almost choking her.  She picked the tub up again.

‘Yoghurt first, before you get those.’

She sighed, despite the caution.  Do not annoy him. 
The yoghurt was sharp, clean.  She almost enjoyed it, although the silence dragging out between them as she spooned it down began to strip her of the little composure she had. Do nothing, do nothing, do nothing, do nothing. Sweat was once more pooling around her.  The last spoonful gone, she reached for the little white tablets.  This time, he didn’t stop her.

‘Put them under your tongue.  Do not crush or chew them.  Just let them dissolve.’

It was fiddly, getting them under her tongue, her distended lips making her entire mouth feel wrong, out of shape.  She finally popped them under with a finger.  It was a bitter-sweet taste as they dissolved.  She waited for something to happen, either with him, or herself.  Was this was his way of killing her?  Had she taken some poison?  No thoughts, no thinking, no doing.  He stood, moved towards her, picking up the tray.  She only realised this had happened as the weight was taken off her legs.  The world was blurred, dreamy.  As she realised she was no longer in pain, or rather, that she no longer cared she was in pain, tears slid down her cheeks.  Everything was receding: her back, her legs, her shoulder, the burning on the left hand side of her face.  The voice. 
The bed beneath her was slowly becoming more comfortable, softer, cosier.  The sharp, vicious world of the bedroom was losing focus, leaving her.  The tears cascaded down her face, silent, unheeded.  There was no emotion attached, no feeling at all.  She was mostly concerned with how marvellous it was that she could know each and every part of her that hurt, map out the pathway of injury across her body, yet feel no pain.  Her right wrist had its familiar ache, the always present sensation that constant use of her mouse caused.  She’d lost it in the barrage of other pains, how odd it should be there now, when the others had left?  He moved in front of her vision and she shrank away slightly.  The bed on her right hand side dipped as his weight was transferred to it.  She should recoil, she knew, but she was so content, in her numbness that she could not muster the energy.  An arm slipped behind her neck, pulling her closer.  Panic pricked at her then, although it was a faint, formless thing.  Nothing worth her attention.  She drifted, emptied, floating, semi solid, like a jelly fish deep in the ocean, swirled and caressed by the currents around her; directionless.
There was shuffling and movement, her body being jogged a little this way, pulled along that way.  None of it hurt at all, which was just fine.  His arm pulled her up, into him.  She could smell his fragrance, clean and light.  His clothes warm and soft.  Her head rested on his chest, his arms enfolding her.  Her body moved into his without thought, her arm snaking across him, grasping, reaching for some sense of support.  Something warm to grab a hold of.  His left hand reached up and stroked her forehead gently.  The silent flood of tears continued, staining his clothes.  She could hear the air moving in and out of his lungs.  A heartbeat against her ear, soothing somehow.  She moved almost imperceptibly into him, a tiny, rocking motion flowed out along her entire body.  She curled tighter against him, made herself smaller.  His right hand stroked down the length of her spine, sure, soft.  Again and again, he caressed her back, his body matching the rhythm of hers: they slowly rocked together.  Her breath quickened, her throat tightened.  Tears that had fallen silently began to carry noise: distress, meaning.  The pain was building.  Not the pain in her drifting, echoing body, the pain elsewhere: deeper, darker, more insistent.  Sobs emerged from her throat, burning tears now being squeezed from tightly clamped eyes.  Throughout it all, his rocking held her, his hands soothed her body.  True crying was starting to emerge, broken breathing, ragged sobs; she felt the panic begin to rise within her.  As she tensed, his body changed, grew softer, released her a little.  She took in a gasping breath, trying to hold onto the dreaming, the peace.  A vibration distracted her slightly, building against her cheek.  There was a thrumming there, a humming.  A rhythm building that didn’t owe its existence to her body, to her pain.  Sound carried through the drugs, slipping into her mind.  There was a song, singing, some where beside her.  Gradually, she allowed herself to hear the words.

‘...gonna buy you a lookin’ glass, and if that lookin’ glass gets broke...’ 

He had a nice voice.  Soft, warm, secure.  She listened as his hands resumed their slow, gentle soothing.  Delicate strokes down her spine, tiny caresses of her forehead and cheeks.  The crying subsided, fell away with the rest of her.  Her breathing slowed, became more regular, deeper.  Her heartbeat calmed, her mind melting.  She fell asleep, aware only of his warmth, his weight and the blessed absence of pain.

He held her for much longer than he had intended, until she was completely, utterly asleep.  He had found himself a little enchanted by her complete surrender to him.  As her muscles had relaxed and her blood pressure dropped, her pulse calmed and her breath deepened, there had been pleasure in her ease.  The fleeting glimpse of her as child had returned.  His intent had been to do no more than hold her, calm her down, relax her with the warmth of his contact.  The stroking, the singing, had surprised him.  He rarely sang his loves to sleep.  Not at this stage.  He pulled his arm free, settling her back into the bed in a more comfortable position.  It would have been useful to have examined her, checked for any serious injury, but the pain killers were giving her respite; it was a natural sleep, unlike the one induced by the sedative. A healing sleep.  She might awaken and he wanted rest for her more than he needed to check her condition.  Besides, that she was asleep naturally so quickly, suggested all was well.
He climbed off the bed carefully, pulling up the covers to protect her.  It took moments to clean and refresh the bathroom.  He tiptoed past her with towels and supplies.  He took the tray back to the kitchen, returning with an insulated jug of iced water and a large bowl of fruit, which were carefully placed on the vanity unit in front of her bed.  The final touch was a plain white towelling dressing gown, which he hung up on the back of the bedroom door.  

Thursday, 10 February 2011

How I Write - Stitching

I’m starting to get a feel for the social media aspect of this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not new to da internetz. I go all the way back to good old fashioned Usenet, in the early 90s. I'm a battle scarred veteran of the early days, when you never let anyone online know you were female, and when trolls had yet to be named. 

A survivor of the Great Flame Wars. Youse lot are amateurs, mostly, nowadays. I've been blogging, with a substantial following, for several years. But that's another story, and another me.

The bit I'm getting used to is being on here as a writer, promoting my fiction, my work and craft; even just talking about! It's not something I'm used to, and am only doing, prior to the run up of Changeling being published on April 10th.

But I'm finding my feet, so to speak. And one part of that, was deciding that this blog was also going to include snippets of How I Write. It's something that can be useful to other writers, and something I find I like to share, as I'm talking about something that is such a part of me, and I usually don't talk about it at all. It's also idiosyncratic, as we all write in so many different ways.

So, without further ado... How I Write: Stitching

Stitching is an awful thing. It's the worst thing about being a writer, if you write the way I do. I do not create full blown narratives, from the beginning, and work through them until the end. Far from it. I start with one scene in my head. One idea, usually an interaction between characters. Full formed, and usually high tension.

From there, I get to develop a sense of character. And snippets of a story line. Everything I see and do, plays into this. I watch a documentary on Ancient Rome, a snippet of info comes my way from it. I think "Oh that would be useful for..." None of it builds logically, or sensibly within a narrative structure per se. I have a set of scenes, a set of characters, and a sense of where I need to get to. 

Therefore,I end up with a narrative written in starts and fits. The first written page of Changeling appears in the first chapter. That was a good one. The next main written section was the ending. Oy vey!

Of the middle sections, most of the last half of the book, was written first. In fact, the second half of the sequel, Lucifer's Stepdaughter, was written before most of Changeling was. I always knew I was writing to one crucial scene, in the last narrative section of Lucifer's Stepdaughter.

Go figger.

This is not without its problems. Whilst the golden moments of a new idea, a new scene, a new character interacting with my hapless heroine are... well, wonderful. (And make no mistake, those muse ridden moments of inspiration, when you start writing and fall into the hole in the page, emerging many hours later to find you've burnt the dinner... are hugely wonderful. And satisfying. And sexy.)

They are also few and far between. Mostly, it's hard slog. Mostly, it's sitting there, gritting your teeth and making yourself Write. One. More. Word. 

And that's stitching. When you have to sit and slog and slog and slog. Each word literally pulled out of the you, and stitched onto the page in front of you. And another word, and another word. And then it's a sentence. And. You. Keep. Going. 

Eventually, you have a paragraph, then a page. Then a chapter. And when you started at the end of Scene A, you have finally written your narrative out Word. By. Bloody. Word. to meet the beginning of Scene B. You have stitched the two together. Then you move on, and start stitching that bit, to the next one.

Sometimes it's not so bad. Scene A and Scene B turn out to only be a chapter apart. Sometimes, it's half a book. Between Chapter 1 of Changeling, and what was a main narrative sequence later down the line... I had to stitch 8 chapters. One. Word. At. A. Time.

Hell on Earth. Nothing is more hard work, more mind boggingly, painstakingly awful, than crafting out a story cold. No muse, no inspiration, no hole in the page to jump into. Just sheer, hard slog.

But you keep at it. You keep going. The story has to be told, the canvas has to filled. The needle of your mind, has to keep pulling the threads through your sections, and stitch together whole cloth.

Seamlessly. There's the rub. Nothing more fun than writing an opening chapter, a decade after you wrote the ending one! 

I often envy those who write in linear flow. I hesitate to think it must be easier, as I don't think any one of us, can ever know what another writer is going through, when they craft a narrative. But when I'm faced, as I am now, with one half of a chapter and then the last third of a book... and I have to stitch the entire next two thirds of a book... I think there must be easier ways to go stark staring mad, than being a writer. 

So there you go. Now you know what I'm doing, if you see the hashtag #stitching.

And. It's. Bloody. Hard. Work.