Top 3 Things Gabi Stevens Has Learned From Writing Novels? Find Out, and #Win One

Today, please help me welcome fellow Tor author and agent-mate Gabi Stevens! Gabi has stopped by today to talk about the things she has learned from writing novels and perhaps inspire some of you to do the same. Wishful Thinking, the third book in her Time of Transition paranormal romance series, was published in last spring by Tor Books.

Gabi was born in Burbank, California, the oldest child of Hungarian immigrants. She has lived mostly in the San Fernando Valley. At fifteen, she attended boarding school. Then came college in New York and California, with a year long stint in Göttingen, Germany. She met her husband at UCSD, graduated, then he took her to Illinois where they both continued their graduate education—hers in German, his in robotics. Now, they live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Gabi had twins and a spare. They’ve been there ever since. During the day, Gabi teaches eighth grade gifted languages and literature; at night, she writes the stories that live in her head. You can learn more about Gabi by visiting her website, on Facebook, or by following her on twitter. 

ABOUT WISHFUL THINKING:  Free-spirited artist Stormy Jones-Smythe was raised by two talented Wizard fathers but never showed the slightest hint of magical abilities. Which is why she’s totally surprised when three famous fairy godmothers show up at her door to tell her she’s one of them. Surprised, and none too happy.  The godmothers are fugitives, framed for treason, and the last thing the magical Council wants is another fairy godmother going rogue. Hence Stormy’s new full-time Guard, Hunter Merrick. Stormy quickly realizes she’s not going to escape Hunter’s watch…and before long, she’s not sure she wants to. But her freedom depends on her ability to expose the plot against the godmothers, and that means getting control of her magic. Despite the growing chemistry between them, Hunter is fiercely loyal to the Council—and duty-bound to keep Stormy from doing either of those things. But he didn’t count on Stormy’s irrepressible exuberance and passion for life. Before long, even Hunter isn’t sure which side he’s on, and he can’t contain Stormy either way.

And now, let’s hear from Gabi…and read on to win your choice of her Time of Transition books!

The Top Three Things I’ve Learned from Writing Novels
By Gabi Stevens

1. Simple perseverance will take you further than talent. 
We’ve all heard the quotes about quitting: Winston Churchill’s, Thomas Edison’s, Theodore Roosevelt’s. We’ve seen them on mugs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and greeting cards. That’s because the desire to quit is a feeling we have all experienced at one time or another. Sometimes, quitting is the right thing to do. You have to be able to recognize when that option is the best choice, but for the most part just hanging in there will bring you closer to a goal than you expect. Oh, sure, no amount of practice will make you an NBA star (unless you are one, in which case ignore this example), but just playing will improve your game and may even give you a lifelong love of the sport. Taking art classes won’t turn you into a Picasso, but if you enjoy painting, why deny yourself of that pleasure? Writing is filled with rejection and criticism, but by simply writing eventually you will produce something that’s pretty good or maybe even great. The odds are with you. And if it was bad luck that kept you from achieving your goals, then you want to be ready when your luck turns.

My husband’s favorite saying is “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” Writing isn’t easy. Quitting is. Most people quit, but you can’t succeed unless you stick with it. Which brings me to my husband’s other favorite saying, “Accept the futility and do it anyway.” So I accept the pain and reap much pleasure. And the occasional success.

2. I have no idea what success is.When I first started writing, I attended a conference and heard the brilliant Dean Wesley Smith speak. In his workshop he said that the writing profession was like a ladder. When you’re unpublished, you want to be on the ladder. When you’re published, you look up and see others ahead of you. At every level there are problems, but the problems are different at every level. The problems of unpublished are different from those of the published; the problems of the newly published are different from the problems of the multi-published; and the multi-published’s problems are different from the best sellers’ problems.

And then he said, “I’d like to have Tom Clancy’s problems.” (Dating myself?) I have been published, and I’ve heard comments from unpublished writers who wish they were in my position. They think I’m successful. Heck, I don’t think I’m successful. I have stories about my journey that would frighten the uninitiated. (Let me tell you sometime about being orphaned.) I see other authors who seem to be on a higher rung than I am despite starting later. I’ve met best sellers, and first-timers, and all levels of writers in between and when I feel myself sinking into envy or jealousy, I remember what Dean Wesley Smith said in that one lecture. The problems change, but we all have problems. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what success means as a writer. But (see point No. 1), I plan on sticking around to experience more of this ride.

3. Learning never stops.Oh, the glorious research. In the writing of my fourteen novels (ten of which are published, with one more coming up as a self pub before the end of the year—I hope), I’ve had to learn about the Archimedes screw (not a sexual position), beer brewing (which required tasting, of course), animal communication, weaving, botany, folksongs of England, medieval peasant life, codes, Middle English, and so many other fascinating facts. I can now name the order of nobility in England and how to address them. I learned how long it took for a ship to sail around Cape Horn in order to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There was actually a ship that carried brides from New York to Washington after the Civil War to help settle the West, just like in the old TV show “Here Come the Brides.”

So many fun facts to learn. But the learning isn’t exclusive to research. I’ve learned so much about language. I was a language fanatic before writing. I’m fluent in three languages and know Latin, but I couldn’t believe how much I learned just by writing. I love grammar and I love looking up obscure grammar rules and proper usage. The saying really is, “If you think x—” and it’s wrong, the saying concludes, “—then you have another think coming.” The phrase “just deserts” is not “just desserts.” The archaic word desert comes from the same word as deserve and the only time we use it now is in this phrase. I lament the losing of the subjunctive, I love knowing the proper cases of words, and one of my biggest pet peeves is the misuse of fewer and less (It should read “15 items or fewer” at the checkout stand. Ugh.)

And I’ve learned about the business of publishing. What role does an editor play, a publicist, an agent? Now with the advent of self-pubbing, I’ve had to learn a whole new set of information regarding the business. The learning never stops. In fact, that’s pretty much one of my life credos: Keep learning. If you stop, what’s the point of living?

So writing hasn’t been easy. It’s broken my heart more times than I care to remember, but I’m still at it because for me there is nothing like it. It allows me to grow as a human, revel in achievement, and accomplish something most people haven’t.

Thanks, Gabi! Ditto from me on all points, although, uh, I’ve done that deserts/desserts thing wrong my entire life–yikes. And I can tell you so very, very much about Jean Lafitte, gallowglass warriors, the Battle of Kinsale, and salvage diving than you could ever want to know.

Leave a comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy of Wishful Thinking or one of the first two books in Gabi’s Time of Transition series. What’s been the greatest thing you’ve learned from your job? I think my biggest lesson from my day job career has been not to worry about what hasn’t happened yet. Give yourself five minutes to worry, then put it away. I’m not always successful, but I’m a lot better at it than I used to be. How about you?

14 thoughts on “Top 3 Things Gabi Stevens Has Learned From Writing Novels? Find Out, and #Win One

  1. Not entering, as I have already read and loved the three books. The biggest thing I have learned at work, is a big negative. Nobody is indispensable.

  2. I have yet to read any of these books, but I would LOVE to! They sound great! What I have learned in my job is determination pays off!

    ChaoticKarma23 at gmail dot com

  3. Learning is a life long process both professionally and personally. And be patient with yourself.

    Your books sound wonderful. I will add them to my TBR pile. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. I’ve worked retail all my life so I’ve had to learn patience and to not take things personally. Also to bite my tongue. There has been more than once where I’ve had a customer who’s come to me with problems that I had nothing to do with and made it sound like every problem in the world was due to Me where I worked.. ect.. So yea patience. 🙂 Thanks so much!

  5. The greatest thing I’ve learned from my job is how much of a relief not having a demanding and stressful job is. After working that way for most of my life, it’s so awesome to have a non-stressful job with a great boss and nice people to work with.

  6. I agree with Gabi about the loss of the subjunctive! It drives me crazy when people say “I wish I was.” Argh!! As for the not worrying, I try, but I admit that I am not very successful.

  7. I haven’t worked since I had my last child, but when I was working with my first two kids, I learned how precious my time was with my kids when I was home. Dishes, housework and laundry will always be there, but the little things that they do and the times that they ask me to play and read to them would eventually stop. It made me realize that they are only little for so long and I need to be there for as many as their firsts as I could