What was I thinking?

August 30th, 2004 · 22 Comments
by gena

What was I thinking. . . well, I think we can all agree there was absolutely none of that going on. Images of my name of the cover of those books got in my way. No, I honestly love having so many books due. I’m time obsessive, so deadlines work well for me.

Here’s the breakdown of books: When I signed my first contract with HQN, it was a two book contract and both books were written. Next up was a two book contract with Pocket. Only one book was written. Right away, I signed another contract with HQN, this one a three book contract — and none of them were written.
Thankfully, I write fast. I’ve already finished up my second book for Pocket, and one of the books for HQN. Only two more left, and then it will be time to start all over again! Having so many books due creates pressure, yes, but it’s a good kind of pressure — if you’re neurotic and masochistic like I am. My advice is to take a break between each book (I usually take 4 weeks), otherwise your characters will start to sound alike. And when you make your deadlines, allow yourself enough time for unforeseen problems. Life sometimes tries to get in the way.

File Under: Wrapped Up In Books

22 responses so far ↓

  • Jill Monroe // Aug 30, 2004 at 5:15 am

    Gena – when you signed the 3 book contract with HQN, did you have ideas already, a brief outline?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 5:22 am

    I had an idea for the first one, but nothing for the other two. In fact, those books didn’t form in my mind until after I’d written the first. Now I have ideas for the next five. The problem with that is some want to be written more the others. But they need to be written in a certain order so I have to remain strong.

  • Debbie Behrens // Aug 30, 2004 at 5:59 am

    Do any of your characters ever go in a different direction than you intended, and do you change your plot to accomodate them?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 6:10 am

    I admit it. I don’t like to plot out my book before I write them. Why? You’d think I’d say it stifles my creative spirit. The truth? I’m very lazy. However, to get my ideas approved, I have to write a proposal: three chapters and a synopsis. Now, here’s where the truth hurts to admit and I pray my editor doesn’t read this. After I turn in the synopsis, I toss it and just start writing the
    book. My characters are very good (at that point) about leading me where they want to go. We very rarely fight. Well, perhaps “rarely” isn’t the right word. The male characters are pretty forceful about getting their way when it comes to women.

  • Kelli // Aug 30, 2004 at 7:20 am

    First of all, to call you lazy is like calling Brad Pitt homely. It isn’t true – and I know having critiqued with you for 4 years now – has it been that long?
    Now my question: Is it true that all your male heroines are really Brad Pitt in disguise?

  • Betty Sanders // Aug 30, 2004 at 7:28 am

    How long have you been writing?
    You look like such an overnight success.
    I can’t wait to read your books.

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 8:03 am

    As some of you know, I adore Brad Pitt. I think he is God’s greatest gift to women. Truly, he if played the part of a lamppost in a movie, I’d leave the theater smiling. In appearance — and completely unintentionally, I assure you — all of my heroes have something in common with him. From those sexy blue eyes, to that I-want-to-gobble-you-up smile.

    I’ve been writing for five years now, but love the title of overnight success. I call dibs!

  • booksquare // Aug 30, 2004 at 8:35 am

    So, getting deeper into the masochism thing, what is the process for managing your workload? How do you juggle books to be written with books in the editing process with books in the promotion process? Is it just a matter of sleeping less or there is a more scientific method?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 8:46 am

    I give myself time limits. When edits come in, and I’m in the process of another book, I give myself 2 – 4 days to do the edits then jump right back into my current project. Perhaps I should take more time — in fact, moments after I mail in the book I think of a thousand things I need to change. But I can’t allow myself a lot of time on edits because I will labor and worry over every single sentence. And sleep? Lord I wish I knew what that felt like. Part of being an obsessive personality is that whatever book I’m working on constantly fills my mind and I don’t rest until the rough draft is done. For the few weeks/month(s) it takes to write it (the rough draft, that is) it’s all I can think about.

  • Betty Sanders // Aug 30, 2004 at 11:31 am

    Do you keep regular work hours each day?
    Or do you just write when you can fit it in each day?
    It seems to me that you would have to be very organized to accomplish all that you have.

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 11:37 am

    When I’m writing a rough draft, I write constantly. All day, all night. Once that’s done, I’m able to relax and will work on the book about 5 – 8 hours a day.

    To be honest, I’m so not organized. I’ve always wished I were, but again, that laziness comes into play. What’s a girl to do? There’s no fighting the laziness. It always wins.

  • booksquare // Aug 30, 2004 at 11:44 am

    Okay, so you’re not organized (welcome to the family!), so how do you keep it all straight? I live and die by my calendaring system (which hasn’t been made since 1996 — I’m dead if Windows changes so much that I can’t access Ecco), but do you map anything out or do you keep a mental list? Yes, we’re secretly probing your brain now.

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 11:53 am

    I write everything down in notebooks — but the real magic happens if I’m able to find the notebook again and retrieve the brilliant, my-story-can’t-survive-without-it idea. If I can’t find the idea notebook (which is more often than not), I just make something else up and try to keep a mental list of what I’ve done and want to do. Also, I write all my rough drafts long hand, so will sometimes scribble notes in the margins and pray I can read those later. Does this method suck? You bet, but it works for me so I won’t complain too much.

  • Natalie Damschroder // Aug 30, 2004 at 12:31 pm

    So, Gena, what are the books about? Is the second HQN book connected to the first? Are the three (and more) after that connected as well? Or are you doing all stand-alone books? How about the Pocket books? Do you anticipate selling more to Pocket? And what are the release dates of all the books that have them so far?

    Sorry, I’m making you work hard today. 🙂

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 12:48 pm

    Natalie, you certainly picked my favorite topic so it’s not work at all! My books for HQN are all paranormal/fantasy romance. The first two have alien heroes, and that second book is titled The Pleasure Slave, due out February 2005. The third has a dragon changeling hero (due September 2005), the fourth has a human (gasp!) hero — the heroine is not quite human, however — and the fifth is a secret — but let’s just say I’m very excited to write that book. All of the above mentioned books are connected slightly through secondary characters, though absolutely stand alone. My books for Pocket are part of an Alien Huntress series. The first is due June 2005 under a promo called The Bad Girls of Downtown Press. I’m so excited about all of these books that I almost can’t wait for the release dates to get here!

  • Natalie Damschroder // Aug 30, 2004 at 1:31 pm

    They sound excellent, and I can’t wait for all of them. 🙂

  • Kate Rothwell // Aug 30, 2004 at 1:33 pm

    Holy MOLY. Wow. Gena! You’re amazing.

    I whined endlessly (yeah, still doing it) when I had to write a book in five weeks. I’m a pantzer too, but I had some trouble keeping my characters and sub-plots straight when I was “rushing” that book and copyediting another. How do you keep your civilizations and their rules straight? Do you refer to those notebooks?

    So. . . what about that secret handshake?

  • Kate Rothwell // Aug 30, 2004 at 1:37 pm

    whoops sent too soon. . .do you have characteristics of the secondary characters memorized or listed somewhere so that when they get their own book they’re consistent? Charts? Folders? The notebooks? Or just your head?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 1:48 pm

    You know, when I’m writing that rough draft, I hate to take time to look something up (damn laziness!). So if I can’t remember someone’s hair/eye color, I’ll just write something like this and I know to look that up before I type it in the computer. The civilization rules are pretty much drilled into my brain. And I must say, when I mess something up my critique partners are great about catching it. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    And I’m still trying to learn that secret handshake. The moment I have it memorized, I’ll post.

  • Natalie Damschroder // Aug 31, 2004 at 6:26 am

    How do your publishers feel about each other? Do they take the other house’s release dates into consideration when they schedule your books? I think I recall that you’re agented…if so, does your agent help with your calendaring for deadline dates for contracts and stuff, or is it all up to you to remember that maybe you can’t write two whole books in six weeks?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 31, 2004 at 6:37 am

    My publishers work very well with each other — they’ve been amazing about the whole thing, in fact. We’re even doing some cross-promotion.

    Here’s how it goes: My agent and I work up deadline dates, and then she lets each publisher know when the other will be publishing what. I’m pretty much on a schedule with HQN, having a book out every Feb. and Sept. Right now with Pocket, I’m scheduled for June 2005.