Journeys of the Heart

An author's journey

Meet Tina Gallagher

As my special guest, I have author, Tina Gallagher whose book Tupelo Honey was released by Phaze ebooks today.  Congratulations on your latest book, Tina.  I know I was fascinated learning about how the title came about and I bet my readers would love to know the story too.  So tell us how you came up with the title.

Thank you so much for having me, Kathleen!

When I wrote Tupelo Honey, the story didn’t have a name.  This is strange for me, because titles usually come to me pretty easily.  But this one was tough.  Since my hero, Tim O’Brien is a hockey player, I tried to think of something along those lines, but nothing came to mind.  I finally asked for help from the women in my writers’ group 

I believe it was my friend, Terri Prizzi, who said, “Tupelo Honey.  Oh my God, you have to name it Tupelo Honey.  It’s perfect!”  I mention in the story that Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison was Tim and Cassie’s “song”.  After Terri’s statement, I agreed.  Tupelo Honey was the perfect name. 

So now the story is named I have people asking, “What does that name mean?”and  “Is the girl from Tupelo, Mississippi?”  Telling them that it’s name of a song doesn’t usually cut it, so I’ll go on to explain that Tupelo Honey is actually a type of honey.  Since I’m from Northeast Pennsylvania, most of the honey we see on our shelves is Clover honey.  And I suppose unless you’re a honey connoisseur, you might not realize that there are different types of honey and that they’re named based on the type of tree or plant from which the bees draw nectar.  I only knew this because it saw it in a movie years ago. 

Out of curiosity and also so I’d have some information to give people who ask about my title, I did some research on Tupelo Honey.  Here’s what I found out.

 Tupelo honey is produced from the Tupelo gum tree which grows along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers of northwest Florida. This river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially. 

Real Tupelo Honey is light amber in color with a greenish cast. The flavor is delicious and distinctive.  Good white Tupelo Honey, unmixed with other honeys, will not granulate.    

In order to get fine unmixed Tupelo Honey, bee colonies must be striped of all their stores just as the white Tupelo bloom begins.  The bees are then given clean boxes with combs in which to place the fresh Tupelo Nectar.  When Tupelo production is over this new crop must be removed before it can be mixed with additional honey sources.  The timing of this operation is critical since the Tupelo bloom is short, lasting as little as five days or less.  Like any other specialty honey, Tupelo Honey sells at a premium price. 

But like I mentioned before, my book doesn’t have anything to do with the actual product Tupelo Honey, the story was named after a song.  But now you have a little honey trivia in case you’re ever asked. 

Author Bio:

In-between softball, basketball, and music lessons, Tina Gallagher and her best friend would create their own “happily ever afters” for their favorite soap opera couples. After a while, the soap operas lost their appeal, but the writing never did. She continues to use her imagination to weave stories about heroes and heroines who share deep, lasting relationships and hot, steamy sex lives.  Visit Tina’s website to find out more about her available and upcoming work.


Cassie Evans never got over her high school sweetheart, Tim O’Brien.  She thought they had the perfect relationship and even when he received a professional hockey contract, she believed things would be okay…until she decided to surprise him one weekend on the road and got the surprise of her life.  She found him in his hotel room being serviced by a “puck bunny”.

Fifteen years later, Tim gets traded to his hometown team and has made it clear he still wants Cassie.   She tries to stay strong, but it’s hard to resist a hottie hockey player who has love on his mind, especially when she still has feelings for him.

This story is available at


May 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Drop Anchor!

I noticed something recently, first in my spring novel writing course and then again at a critique session at the writer’s retreat I attended in early May.   Since it cropped up more than once, I think it deserves mentioning.  The scenes I was reading had fascinating hooks, snappy dialog and engaging characters.  But something was missing.  They were all lost in space.  Despite all the positive attributes, it was a struggle for the reader (me) to figure out where or when the scene was taking place.  In writing terms, the scenes needed to be anchored. 

I became aware of how vital anchoring is when I attended a workshop by Alexandra Sokoloff.  After years as a successful Hollywood script writer, she changed direction and turned to writing thrillers.  Her earlier years writing for TV and movies weren’t wasted.   She shared a lot of writing tips she learned as a script writer that now help her to craft her novels.  One of them is to make sure each and every scene in your novel is anchored.  Anchoring is akin to the establishing shot film directors use to let viewers know when and where the action on the screen is taking place.  Often it is an outside shot that moves inside or a distance shot that moves closer to the action.   Sometimes text is added, such as: two hours earlier or 1 week ago to further clarify the time of the action. 

Writers need to do the same thing when starting a new scene, without the benefit of a camera to do the work for them.  The trick is to do it smoothly without interrupting the pacing and without allowing too much description to creep in.   There are several ways this can be accomplished. 

  1. Use a date/place line like they do in movies and on TV.  Something like: New York City, 1898 or Philadelphia-July 4, 1776-12:00 noon.  Datelines work well in thrillers to show how the clock is ticking.  Jonathan Maberry uses this technique to great effect in his most recent novel, Dragon Factory.  An extinction clock is set at the opening of the novel and as each scene progresses the tension builds as the clock ticks down to the zero hour.  The TV show Fringe uses this same device to good effect.
  2. Tell the reader in the first 1-2 sentences where the scene is set.  In Dan Brown’s, The Lost Symbol, Chapter One starts with the sentence—the Otis elevator climbing the south pillar of the Eiffel Tower was overflowing with tourists.  Clean and simple and no room for confusion in the reader’s mind about where the action is located.
  3. If starting with dialog weave 1-3 sentences into the narrative portion to ground the scene as soon as possible.  Again, using Dragon Factory as an example, Maberry first uses a date line at the top of the page.  He plunges into the story with dialog and action showing Joe Ledger right in the middle of being accosted by four government agents of the NSA.  He then anchors the scene again by the use of 1 sentence — “We were in the parking lot of Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Baltimore.” Adding a few more sentences he makes it perfectly clear to the reader where and when and even why he is at this particular place. 

Learning to do this with the ease and craftsmanship of a popular author may take some practice.  After taking Sokoloff’s workshop I began to pay particular attention to how different authors anchored their scenes.  Try it your self with the book you’re reading now.  And the next time you begin a scene, don’t let it drift away—toss that anchor overboard.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Why Romance?

I can think I can safely say that for those who attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Conference last month that a good time was had by all.  I’ve included a few photos to prove the point. 

 Contrary to what most of the pictures show, RT is about a lot more than just fantastic parties.  It excels as a place to network with other authors, readers, agents, editors and booksellers.  And the workshops aren’t too shabby either.  So what did I glean from this year’s conference?  Well here goes… 

Carina Press is the place to be.  Harlequin’s ebook arm launches this month.  At the moment, they are seeking everything except YA.  As they like to say “”no great story goes untold.”  With the power of the Harlequin machine behind it, authors can expect good editing and strong company promotion.  Although a digital first company at the moment, I have no doubt that it will shortly go to Print on Demand. 

Swag’s purpose is not to sell books.   So why should we invest in all those bookmarks, key chains and post cards?   It’s all about branding.  We need to get our name out there in as many ways as we can so that readers begin to connect with our name and the sort of stories we write.  Once they do, they will seek us out.

 Men are invading.  More and more male authors from mystery, to thriller to science fiction are beginning to attend RT.  Why?  Well, it seems, some of them at least, have figured out that women make up the biggest market share of readers regardless of genre.  Where else to connect with this market than at a romance conference?  Successful and savvy male authors have also caught on to the fact that romance controls the largest market share of books sold each year.  These men are coming to find out how we do it and why romance consistently sells.  So what’s the answer?  There were a great many reasons proposed for romance’s continuing success.  I have a theory of my own… 

Romance is about hope.  It comes as no surprise to any of you that life is difficult.  Jobs come and go, children grow up, friends move away, loved ones die.  But pick up a romance and you can be assured that despite all of this anything is possible.  Love does indeed conquer all and happy endings are possible—for all of us.


May 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments