Wednesday, June 24, 2009

GENA SHOWALTER ON WRITING, DISTRACTIONS, AND BEST FRIENDS

New York Times Best-selling author Gena Showalter is my guest Over Coffee. Gena writes Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary Romance.

I’ve read and enjoyed her
Atlantis series and am looking forward to reading Alien Huntress series next. She has written four series and assorted novels. I think what impress me most about Gena’s writing, aside from her vivid imagination and prolific writing, is the way she builds her worlds. They’re worlds that are so complete that the reader feels as if they could book a flight to them. I also love her strong characters and the research she’s done to make the characters and her worlds believable.

Gena also is a warm and genuinely funny person. I love her sense of humor. She also has a sometimes-mean Muse, who has its work cut out to keep her from being distracted, and thankfully, best friends who work their magic to get her over the 'stupid moment' humps.


Today, she shares with us a typical writing day…


I’m always asked how I write so quickly. So, I thought I’d share a typical writing day for me to better explain my . . . process.
  • 7:00 am – Wake up. Wish I could sleep a little more, but drag myself out of bed anyway, threatening to kill all the characters in my book to make myself feel better.


  • 7:10 – Drink coffee. It’s either that or send a family member to the hospital to patch abrasions caused by a flying . . . anything I can get my hands on. Respond to emails.


  • 8:00 – Close email. Drink more coffee. It’s either that or yell at every member of my family for an imagined infraction. Open current Work In Progress document, realize that killing all the characters does not fit the current plotline, grumble about it, accept it, and start writing. Goal: write an entire chapter.


  • 8:30 – Become distracted by thoughts of new emails. Check emails. Respond. Panic that I won’t reach my writing goal. Start writing again.


  • 9:00 – Hit brick wall in plot. Start cutting spilt ends from hair to “think about the plot problem.”


  • 9:35 – Realize the brick wall can be used in plot. Call best friend and fellow author Jill Monroe to tell her how brilliant I am.


  • 10:00 – Check email. Respond. Take picture of myself making a face and email it to other best friend and fellow author Kresley Cole. Panic that I won’t reach my goal. Start writing again.


  • 11:30 – Aching back convinces me to take a break. Go for a walk and – on the special days -- rescue some type of animal who jumps out from behind a tree and scares the crap out of me.


  • 12:30 – Get home. Eat lunch – always the leftovers from dinner -- and check email.


  • 1:00 – Decide I can’t write while I am a sweaty pig, so take shower. Come up with another brilliant idea and leap out of bathroom.


  • 1:10 -- Start writing while dripping wet from shower because I am in a rush to write down this new, brilliant idea.


  • 2:00 – Hit another brick wall. Call Jill Monroe again, this time to tell her how stupid I am.


  • 2:15 – Laugh. Monroe has worked her magic. Check email. Respond. Panic that I won’t reach goal. Start writing again.


  • 3:30 – Finish writing chapter, thereby reaching goal. Luxuriate in feelings of happiness, knowing I can relax for the rest of day.


  • 3:35 -- Answer door. See that a manuscript has arrived for edits. Cry a little.


  • 3:40 – Pick myself up and start editing.


  • 4:30 -- Really feel like I am in a zone. Nothing can distract me.


  • 4:35 – Check email. Respond. Feel guilty for slacking while a stack of papers that literally has my name on every page beckons. Panic that I won’t reach tomorrow’s Work in Progress goal because I didn’t edit enough on this second manuscript. Get back to editing.


  • 5:30 – Wrists and back start to ache, along with brain. Decide to take break and eat a snack. Vacillate between Cheetos Puffs and Wheat Thins. Puffs win.


  • 6:00 – Panic kicks in, demanding (loudly) that I return to work. Get back to work.


  • 7:00 – Decide enough has been done for one workday because, well, the brain has been tapped dry. Collapse on couch. Wish the Puffs had not been devoured earlier.


  • 7:10 – Panic kicks in again, demanding (even more loudly) that I return to work to get a jump-start on tomorrow’s goal. Resist. Or not.

And there you have it. A typical workday for me. I do get distracted easily, and I do panic often. But as strange as this sounds, I really do love the process. I love creating. I love watching a story take shape and the characters grow and change. I love twisting the plot so that even I’m surprised. But most of all, I love holding the finish product in my hands, as it’s a culmination of the blood, sweat and tears I poured into it. I hope you enjoy the results!


***
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy. Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine, and on MTV. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise."

32 comments:

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh lovely. I'll grab another coffee and check emails. There's sure to be something I need to respond to. But you make me feel like maybe I might one day write something worthwhile... one day. Meanwhile, I'll have to look out for your books.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Gena, I do want to welcome you Over Coffee and am so glad you are able to visit.

Knowing how your mornings are, I have several blends of rich coffee just for you. * sliding a cup of coffee over to Gena* Cream and sugar?
Black, an IV perhaps?

I have to tell you, I watched a YouTube video of you and Jill, uh, Author talk? You guys cracked me up. Are you always this way when you get together?

Kat Sheridan said...

Gina, I've been a fan for ages and just love the twists, turns, characters, and worlds you create! And now I get a glimpse into how you do it! I don't know if I'll ever have that kind of discipline! But aren't supportive friends just the best? Second only to coffee! Why yes, Sia, I do believe I'll have another cup! What a great guest!

Gena Showalter said...

Thanks for having me!

I will take my coffee with cream and sugar, please.

Jill and I always have fun when we are together :)

Thanks so much, Kat!

Leah Braemel said...

Oh, geez, that sounds like my day so far. Up at six, it's now nine, I've just finished my first cup of coffee and Word's not even open yet. Makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one struggling with all these distractions.

Paula R said...

Wow Gena, a typical writing day for you is a job...all I can say is thank God for coffee, Cheetos and friends...lol...

I am a big fan of yours, and to see you typical day mapped out makes me wonder how you write as much as you do...I am very grateful for the time and effort it takes to produce one of the best series I have read LoTU...thank you, thank you, thank you...

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Terry said...

Your schedule makes me giggle!! It sounds like what I would do, if I were a writer. :) How do you turn your brick walls into parts of the plots, however? That's what makes me stumble right now (I'm attempting to write after a nearly-20-year hiatus!). I'm stuck in the very middle of a WIP - and nothing.... :( BTW, love the animal rescue part of it, too! LOL

Diana_Duncan said...

LMAO! Hey, your work day sounds exactly like mine. Except I like to vary my routine. Sometimes I have Mountain Dew and Cheez-its instead of coffee and cheese puffs! *G*

Girlfriends are the glue that hold our lives together, aren't they? I have had a best friend for 32 years, and she's the sister of my heart. I don't know what I'd do without her.

And thank God my writing friends are always there to talk me off the ledge!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Or kill off Doubt Demons, eh, Di? Have boots will travel, lmao! We can't have you on any ledges, we enjoy your books too much! :-)

Susan Gable said...

LOL, Gina. It's so good to know that many writers share the same sorta schizo tendencies that I have. Jill's cool. :-) (You can tell her I said so. lol.)

Diana, I'll talk you off the ledge any time. I know you do the same for me.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I just heard from Gena via her blackberry. She apologizes,her computer is on the fritz and is being worked on as we speak.

She will be stopping by again, once she's up and able to get online.

Gena Showalter said...

Thanks so much, guys!

With brick walls, I just play the what if game until I find a solution that works.

Awesome to know I'm not the only one :)

Gena Showalter said...

Dug out the old laptop. Haven't used it in forever.

Friends are indeed the best!

Hopefully next time I log on, I'll be back at my station.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Hilarious! And very encouraging.

Tawny said...

LOL - what a great peek into your writing process. Its amazingly inspiring to see your schedule, complete with split ends and great friends! Thanks so much for sharing. Now I have the urge to get to writing *g*

How long does it take you to complete a book?

Nienke Hinton said...

If I do all that except the writing part, does that still qualify me as a writer?
This was funny - thx for sharing!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I was curious about that too Tawny. :-)

Also how in the world do you keep up with as many series as you have going, Gena? How do you keep them straight? Any tips you'd care to pass on?

Tawny said...

Oooh, tips on series. I love reading anything organizational, Sia LOL.

Gena, do you keep a binder for your series or do you use a computer program?

Gena Showalter said...

Takes me about 3 months to write a full length novel.

I didn't used to keep any kind of notes for the series, but now each one has so much going on that I can't keep up LOL So I'm in the process of making notebooks for each, as well as word documents with character descriptions and things like that.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Gena, I can see where having notebooks or word docs would be helpful. I keep word docs, and back them twice on everything I write. I have a memory stick with several GB storage and another portable storage HD. I had a bunch of problems with my computer a couple of years ago and learned the importance of safe storage. I got a new computer but the lesson...sheesh, you don't forget them.

Barbara said...

Fascinating glimpse of your writing day, I loved it. I guess the distractions are part of the "creative process," right? Must be, because you manage to create magic despite the distractions.

Netti said...

LMAO! I love the bit about the coffee, you are speaking my language, except I'll be snarking at people until at least 10 w/out coffee *G* Thanks for sharing your day... though I do think you should share w/ all of us the funny face photo... just sayin' ;)

Sisters-in-Sync said...

So enjoyed a peek at your writing day, Gena. Inspiring that, in spite of all the distractions and panic, you STILL get those pages done. A novel in three months? Impressive to say the least.

Question: Do you find it hard skipping from one sub-genre to another?

~Beth Ciotta

Gena Showalter said...

If there were a way to post a picture in the comments, I would absolutely show you one.

I'm now using my new computer. Yea!!! Life is worth living again :)

Thank you guys so much for the kind words.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hey Beth, good to see you. Thats a good question.

*Snork, Netti.

Gena, if you want to have me post in the article, I could, lol!

Oh and yay, on the computer!

Gena Showalter said...

Email me, Sia -- I lost all of contacts with the computer switch and I'll send you the pic and you can post at will :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Got it up there, Gena. Oh god, you guys crack me up! lolol! I was laughing so hard I like to never get it posted. I'm still giggling.

Netti said...

LMAO! OK, LOVE the picture!!! Just what I needed to start my morning... well that and coffee ;) OK, mostly coffee, but the laugh started my day right *G*

Gena Showalter said...

My darling Kresley has hundreds of those :) I take pictures of myself on my walk, at my desk, in the kitchen . . . you name it, she gets it LOL

~Sia McKye~ said...

It would certainly make the work day go better. Laughter always helps.

SueO said...

Puffs Win! Puffs Win!


I think it's amazing that you're even catching yourself piddling some of your time away. Usually I look down at the clock in the corner of the screen and yell "Crap!! It's 5:00! Where did the day go!" and I've not gotten through a blogwrite, much less a chapter!

Loved the article! Made me laugh.

Cheers! SueO

~Sia McKye~ said...

Gena, I want to thank you for the fun article and the laughter shared here. The day started out a bit awful with your computer woes, but turned out well.

Thanks for sharing a personal glimpse of your humor and whimsy. It makes it special. I am so looking forward to reading your next book--you are a very gifted writer!

Thank you to all who came and shared their bits of laughter, questions, and comments. It was fun to read!