Gabi Stevens's Blog
April 8, 2016
I just wanted to take time out from my usual blog to thank you. That’s right. You. You who have read this blog, you who have bought my books, you who have reached out to me. It’s nice to know I’m not out here alone.
Look, I’m the first to admit I’m not the most personable individual. Put me on a stage in front of an audience and I can shine. Put me in a room where I have to speak one-on-one, and I don’t ooze friendliness. If I do seem at ease, it’s because I’m forcing myself to overcome my inherent shyness. I can do it here, at the blog, because no one is watching. I can do it on stage because the proscenium is a wall that protects me.
But rest assured I don’t mean to be stand-offish. I do like you. Yes, you. And when I relaunched The Falcon and the Wolf a couple of weeks ago, many of you helped. Thank you, thank you. And I hope for your help later this month when I set my next book free (the big reveal comes next week).
I really was meant to be a writer, wasn’t I?
Books I’m reading now:
The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks
March 28, 2016
In which I look at rebranding, revitalizing, and renewal. Perhaps a fitting post for the day after Easter?
I promised that you’d be seeing changes in me. Well. they are arriving. First, my website is being overhauled. Right now (today) if you visit my website, this, as in this blog, is what you will find. More is coming, but we’re not there yet.
Second, I’ve decided not to let the Gabi Stevens name die. After my three WISH books, it looked like Gabi Stevens was through. Not true anymore. Gabi Stevens writes paranormal (a lighter tone with heavy subjects–the kind of book and stories I like to read) and the voice that I love. I have big plans for her. Starting with …
…(Third) a reboot of THE FALCON AND THE WOLF.
The Falcon and the Wolf
I had released it under Gabi Anderson, but it didn’t fit with the non-magical historicals I’d written under that name. It is now available from Amazon and –this is the biggie–CreateSpace. That’s right! You can order it as a print book. Here is the link (I always find it wierd to create a link with the declaration of a link–it’s so meta.). A bit more expensive than the ebook, but what can you do? The link to the ebook is the caption. And I’m giving you a heads up–the listing hasn’t quite caught up with the changes yet; while, the author is now Gabi Stevens, it still is linked to Gabi Anderson, but you can find it on the Gabi Stevens author page, not the Gabi Anderson author page, but if you look up Gabi Anderson, it will still list it there too (Lots of buts). I figure it will take a little while to catch up. Maybe a few more emails.
And there’s a new cover. Looks much more fantasy, huh?
So keep watching. There will be another Gabi Stevens book before the end of April. Brand new, never seen before. I’m excited about this one.
What I’m reading now:
The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (a re-read)
The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
March 16, 2016
In which I look at bucking the trends and its consequences, especially when it comes to series.
My career took a twist when my agent left me. I took stock of my career, regrouped, and have decided to take the direction I was pointed in. But I still don’t “follow the rules” in a lot of ways. I will be releasing a new book soon (stay tuned–I’m not giving information now because I want to give it a big send off, but here’s a hint: Daylight Saving Time has nothing on this book) and unlike everything they tell you when one self-publishes, it is NOT part of a series. It is a stand-alone novel. A complete story in one book.
I have a lot of stand alone books. It’s not that I don’t understand the appeal of series–I do. I’ve written three trilogies myself (although one only has two books in it because the third book was never optioned. Someday I will write that third.) It seems nowadays every book is the starting point for a series. Heck I have a fantasy making the rounds right now that is the start of a series. But it’s a planned three books and it’s done. I suppose I could continue in that world if it takes off, but this story is three books. I was prepared to continue all my series if they took off, but they wouldn’t have been the same characters, just the same world. And I wrote stand-alones too.
Look, a series is great, but frankly after about three books, I’m bored with reading them. I want to get to the end. Harry Potter is an exception. I loved every one of those seven books and couldn’t wait for the next one to come out when they were, shall we say, fresh (although an argument can be made for Order of the Phoenix as being a bridge book). But, and perhaps this is blasphemy to the Potterheads, I’m glad the series is over. I loved every minute of it, but the story is now told. I would happily read (and have) other works by the author, but Harry Potter has an end and I’m glad for it. It’s wonderful for what it is and more would just ruin the experience (for me, but this is my blog). Frankly, I made it through Chronicles of Narnia only once (re-reading is my metric for excellence) because I didn’t care after about book three. The same is true for many of the ongoing romance series. Love the first few, but then I’d had enough. In fact, sometimes I resent having to read several books to finish a series just because I want to know what happens. I usually end up skimming.
When I make a list of my favorite books, many are stand-alone : Ready Player One, To Kill a Mockingbird (look at the controversy its sequel started–I ignore the sequel), And Then There Were None, Dandelion Wine (although there is a sequel, but it’s not as good, so I ignore it as well). Some are part of a series: Huckleberry Finn (but it is so different from the first book in the series, and nobody reads the Tom Sawyer Detective novels), Bewitching (but the second book didn’t make nearly the impact). I would say the one area where I am willing to read more than three or so books is mystery. Agatha Christie is wonderful, and although she hated Poirot , I enjoyed the character, but each story was its own and there wasn’t a never-ending story arc.
There is a famous fantasy series that I have never started because it’s too long–too many books. I’m sure they’re fun, but really, I want a story to end, and then I want to move on to something new.
But that’s me, and that’s what I write. I complete a story and move on. If I like an author I will try their other books. It’s the voice that draws me in, and the voice will appear throughout the author’s body of work. I don’t need the same story dragged out. And if stand-alone books is the reason I don’t become huge, I can live with that.
I break other rules too–like being almost impossible to market (look at the covers of my last series)–but not writing in one series is the biggie.
What I am reading now:
The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
The Mast Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
February 23, 2016
In which I tell you about of my collection of stories.
Yes, I’ve mentioned these stories here before, but they’re available again, this time under my name. Preternatural is now available as an ebook (sorry, digital only), but at a reduced price ($0.99-how much of a bargain do you want?).
What’s so special about these stories? Well, they are a departure for me. I’ve been published in romance. These stories are definitely not romance. Their mostly science fiction, but a couple are horror, and there’s a little fantasy in there too. The stories are short–I mean really short, and for whatever reason, my brain goes to really twisted ideas when I write short.
One of the stories is I think the best piece o writing I have ever done, and originally I wrote it in German. And it’s only two lines long. We had an assignment in college to write a fable and I did. The professor must have agreed with my opinion of the piece because I got an “A.” I threw it into the collection because I do like it, and I really like the moral. Heck, As You Wish explores the same theme.
The rest? A couple of them I wrote when I was teaching a unit on Edgar Allan Poe and short stories. Each year, I had my students write their own short stories, and I contributed one as well. We collected each story and I copied off a “book” for the class. I still have those collections. One I wrote several years ago, that always made me smile at the end (but in a wry way, not because it had a happy ending) Many I wrote in the space of a couple of months when I was encouraged to get a slim volume together.
In any case, they are re-available. The first time they appeared, I used a pseudonym because the stories are so different from my romances, but it didn’t get much traffic. Now they’re under my woo-woo name. (Anything paranormal will be under Gabi Stevens)
I hope you’ll try these tales if you haven’t already. And if you have, I’d love a review at Amazon or Goodreads or where ever.
Books I’m reading now:
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
February 5, 2016
…in which I lament my taste in books.
I finally found a book I absolutely loved last year. It was THEFT OF SWORDS by Michael J Sullivan. I blasted through it and then snatched up the next two in the series and literally cried at the end for having such a wonderful experience. Okay, the tears might have been a little insane, but it has been so long since a book/series has swept me away. I have recommended this book to a close friend and my daughter, and turns out they have felt the same way. In fact, my daughter told me she hasn’t been able to read another book since because she’s afraid it just won’t live up to the experience. I know what she’s talking about. I have since read a book I enjoyed enough to follow up on the series, but not with the same enthusiasm. But the series has to wait until I finish reading some required reading. And I’m not enjoying these books at all.
My Harry Potter Shelf–books in German and English
Yes, they are fiction, and they are in a genre I supposedly love, but they are nothing books. Nothing about them makes them stand out. One was readable; one was riddled with errors a good editor could have easily fixed (other than the weak protagonist); the others have been, well, nothing books. Nothing about the stories was original. If one subscribes to the theory that no plots are original, then nothing about the books was fresh. It’s not that they were bad; they were all forgettable.
It must be my taste. It seems like every book I read in this particular genre these days are the same. Not the plot; just, forgettable. I don’t know who’s to blame. Is it the editors in charge of buying books and who are afraid to take a chance on something different because something unproven is risky? Is it the readers who glom these tepid books because they’re comfortable? Is it the authors who are writing to what they think the audience wants (and apparently the audience for such books is huge because they are selling)? As I said, it must be me.
HARRY POTTER blew me away. READY PLAYER ONE blew me away. BEWITCHING blew me away. THE LOST DUKE OF WYNDHAM blew me away. I, ROBOT; DANDELION WINE; THE MARTIAN; TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD; these all blew me away.
Then there are the next level books that I enjoy enough to be glad I found, and if they’re series I will continue with them. Heck I even re-read some of them. But for the most part, I end up with forgettable books. Nothing books. My taste. Then again, what do I know. It isn’t as if I have “best-seller” after my name. In the meantime I search for the next book that will blow me away.
Because being blown away is absolutely the best experience in the world.
Books I’m reading now:
The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron
February 2, 2016
. . .Or the big fail. At least for me. In which I look at networking.
I admit it. I suck at networking. After twenty plus years in this business, attending major conferences almost yearly, having been published by some of the big five in NY, I should have contacts out the wazoo. I should have lists and lists of author friends, sheets and sheets of readers’ information, editors and agents I can call by first name or just call on the phone. The fault is mine. It isn’t that I haven’t met these people–I have–and they were all very nice (with the exception of one agent I met early in my career before my first sale, who shall remain nameless but basically told a group of us that if we weren’t Nora Roberts, he wasn’t interested in us). I’ve been on panels with big name authors, had lunches and dinners with editors, always behaved professionally and politely, and I can boast that I have NEVER missed a deadline (the latest I turned in a contracted novel was the day before it was due). My novels have required little revision (seriously, two scenes in ten books), I’ve had more than one copyeditor say that mine has been the cleanest manuscript they’ve ever seen and more than one write me a special note that they loved my book, and, for the most part, I’ve received positive reviews (There would be something wrong with my writing if everyone loved everything I wrote.)
So what’s the issue?
I am hopelessly shy.
Who could be afraid of this face?
Put me in front of a room of people and make me speak, and I do great. In fact I love it. I love to teach, elucidate, share my knowledge. But I don’t know how to reach out one-on-one to the people who could forward my career. I don’t want to “bother” them. This is the special dichotomy many writers share. I KNOW my stuff–grammar, story structure, formatting, etc.– and because I do, I tend to go it solo. So because I’m competent, I don’t bug people. Yet I am filled with self-doubt. I really crave recognition, acknowledgement, and frankly, if I’m so good that I don’t get editing, why am I not on the best sellers lists? Something is missing and I think it’s personality.
I know authors who are people magnets. They walk into a room and make everyone feel as if they are their best friend. I walk into a room and try not to feel uncomfortable. I try to push myself into talking to people, but that’s an almost insurmountable obstacle for me. It’s rare that I can bubble in front of my close friends, much less in front of strangers. If however anyone comes up to me and starts a conversation, I am so grateful. My readers have no idea how much their reviews or emails mean to me. I do enjoy learning about the daily lives of editors and agents. I just suck at initiating such conversations.
So here’s my tip to you. If you ever meet me somewhere, come up and say, “Hi.” Please. I will love you for it. Or just drop me a line. Or review one of my books (Even if you hated it–one of my favorite reviews was one from someone who didn’t rave but wrote a thoughtful account of my novel that she enjoyed, but didn’t love. But the review was so fair and well thought out, I had to reach out and thank her.) The same is true for any author. They will probably appreciate it.
Remember: I am more afraid of you than you are of me.
Books I’m reading now:
Can’t say. It’s RITA time again.
January 14, 2016
In which I look at how much is too much and what to share.
I follow some authors on social media who put their political and social viewpoints out there for the world to see without qualms. I admire them for that. Many of them are popular, successful in their careers, and have continued success after airing controversial opinions. I have strong opinions about politics and society, but I’ve limited my sharing to clicking the “like” button and the occasional link to Snopes to counter sheer stupidity. I’ve never been comfortable sharing information about many aspects of my life or my views. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had security in my chosen career–I can’t afford to offend potential readers. Of course that hasn’t garnered me best-selling status either. Maybe it’s because I don’t do confrontation well. Of course, who does, and that really is a ridiculous excuse. Maybe it’s because I can’t express my thoughts clearly, and one can’t do rebuttals well on social media (comment sections aren’t conducive to civilized debate or discourse). The world is not made of sound bites. Of course, I do enjoy the sound bites and memes that make the rounds and reflect my views.
So I struggle between the what to tell you and what to keep hidden. In person I am very open about what I believe and what is happening in my life. That’s because I once heard a wise woman (Jennifer Crusie) tell a roomful of people at a conference the reason she doesn’t let her workshops be taped: (paraphrasing here) If it isn’t recorded, I can claim you all were high on mushrooms and don’t remember correctly what I said . (She is welcome to deny she ever said this). I’ve used that line more than once in teaching (toned down for my eighth graders to omit the drug reference) and also at our local sci-fi, fantasy conference, Bubonicon. If I say something and you don’t have it recorded, you can’t prove I said it.
Which leads me to this blog and social media. Here, I am writing down my words. Here the words are etched in stone (figuratively). Here, I can’t escape what I’ve said, and I have been smacked down more than once for something I’ve written and I don’t have the power or influence to combat negative repercussions. I still want to attract readers; I still want to be “popular”. I mean, they still invite Mel Gibson to the Golden Globes after some of the things he’s said. Brad Pitt is still listed as one of the world’s sexiest men and his social leanings are out there for the world to see.
So I don’t know whether I’m a chicken or if I’m cautious. What do you think?
Books I’m reading now:
The Ryria Chronicles by Michael J Sullivan (I mention this one again because it’s spoiled me for other books at the moment. I loved this series. Which is the reason I’m reading …)
Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Azkaban by JK Rowling (rereading an old favorite, albeit in a different language, because I know its good and won’t disappoint me after the above series.)
December 24, 2015
In the meantime, Happy Holidays. May the new year bring us all the joy we seek.
And stay tuned. Because I’m serious. Change is brewing.
Books I’m reading now:
Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Azkaban by JK Rowling
(I had started reading The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, but then I decided this was the wrong time of year to read such a book)
December 14, 2015
In which I look at the magic that happens when one is transported into another world.
The longer I write, the harder it is to find books that will carry me away to another world. I don’t know whether I look at the text too clinically, or if I’m automatically deconstruct the novel’s structure in my mind, but most books don’t carry me away to that magical place where you are in the story. Movies do that easier for me maybe because the visual is so overwhelming I can turn off the rest of my brain.
But when a book succeeds, the experience is so much richer than a movie.
Harry Potter did that for me. So did Ready Player One. Courtney Milan, Jill Barnett, and Julia Quinn have written books that had the magic for me. I just finished The Riyrian Revelations by Michael J Sullivan which swept me away into another world. I cried at the end because I was so happy to have experienced it. (Seriously.) Unfortunately most books leave me feeling meh. Not that they were bad, but that they didn’t spark the magic.
The odd thing about the magic is that it doesn’t work the same on everyone. I have a friend that raves about two best selling series. She loves the books,is a megafan, and talks about the experiences all the time. I read one of the series and wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t even finish the first book of the second series. I believe it comes down to subject matter. In one book, the premise calls for the heroine to do something the heroine that for me is unforgivable, but for her it was so casual and never caused her to even hesitate.
We all bring different baggage to our reading experiences. Don’t expect the magic from the books that transported me to do the same for you (although I’m pretty good at leading people to the right books even if they didn’t work for me). And don’t be surprised if what you love doesn’t impress me. Within my family alone, I know that I can’t share my book magic with everyone.
I can only hope that one of my books has created magic for someone else.
Books I’m reading now
Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan
Rise of Empire by Michael J Sullivan
Heir of Novron by Michael J Sullivan
Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Azkaban by JK Rowling