Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gabi Stevens Climbing Mt. Everest

by KJ Howe

The publishing industry is a challenging one during the best of times. In this economy, finding a home for our books might parallel climbing Mt. Everest--a true test of nerves, an endurance event including the risk of life and limb, and a feat to truly admire. Today I'd like to welcome someone who has recently reached the summit! A warm welcome to Gabi Stevens who will tell her tale on the rocky path to publication:

Three weeks ago, my new agent sold my new paranormal series, Time of Transition, to Tor. The first book, THE WISH LIST, is due on bookshelves May 2010. I'd had publishing success in the past, but my career stalled when an editor left my publishing house. Despite having an agent, despite contest wins, good reviews, and a burning desire to succeed, my writing career was going nowhere. And then, as an added insult, I had to get a day job to pay tuitions for twins (yes, I know I was lucky before). When the first two years passed without any nibbles, I thought it was a fluke, but as the drought continued, it became harder and harder to keep going, to keep writing, not to quit. I started doubting my abilities, believing that I didn't have what it takes, that I'd never have another book published. I tried switching genres, switching critique groups, and going through many, many months of utter despair. So why didn't I quit? Here are...

The Top Ten Reasons I am Still in the Game:

10. I already owned the equipment — Computer...check; research books…check; paper...check. Are you kidding? I buy my paper by the case at my favorite office superstore.

9. The lovely fellow writers I have gotten to know over the years — They are a support group. They wouldn’t let me quit. They "get" me.

8. I couldn't turn off the voices in my head — If you're a writer, you know what I mean. Too many characters were demanding life, and every time I considered leaving them behind, they'd protest.

7. Nothing feels as good as typing "The End" — It’s a sense of accomplishment when you've finished a novel. And now I have three completed novels and three proposals that I can regale my agent with.

6. Time means nothing — Time exists, but the way we measure it is arbitrary. Why do we have a twenty-four hour day with sixty minute hours made up of sixty second minutes (I know, I know, the Babylonians)? I read a book once where the calendar was kept with a deck of cards. (Think about it: fifty-two weeks in a year, fifty-two cards in a deck; four suits times thirteen cards equals fifty two, and you have jokers for leap years.) And age is just a number. In my head I will forever be twenty. Only wiser than when I was actually twenty.

5. The importance of teaching my children that having a dream and pursuing it is (almost) as important as succeeding.

4. It's just cool to say you're a writer — the Muggle world...I mean the non-writing world...doesn’t "get" it anyway, but they're impressed.

3. I needed an excuse to keep my book buying habits — I read a lot. Too much. No, really. When I run out of books, I read my husband's robotics journals. I don't understand them, but I read them. I have no TBR pile. Actually I do right now, but it's only three books. Check back in a week.

2. I enjoy it — Yes, writing is hard, yes, it can be frustrating, but I like to play with language and words. I like looking up grammar rules and definitions. Diagramming sentences should be required for all students. It's fun.

And the number one reason I haven’t quit…

1. Embarrassment.

Yup. My prime motivator was not being able to face my family and friends. I couldn't tell them I failed. I try not to care about what others think about me, but this was different. I couldn't quit because I felt I made a liar of myself and disappointed those who believed in me. I wanted to be able to hold my head up, and I couldn’t have done that if I had quit. (Hey, this is about my reasons for not quitting.)

Wiser men than I have written about persistence, so I leave you with these words from Isaac Asimov: If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success—but only if you persist.


Thanks for sharing your story, Gabi. Your perseverence is inspiring and I can't wait to read your novels! If you're a writer, what are you willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true? If you're a reader, do you like hearing "CALL" stories about your favorite authors? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Gabi Stevens was born in California to Hungarian parents. They never understood how she could make up stories and entertain herself for hours at a time. She must not have understood that she was a storyteller either because she waited until her twins turned one and she feared her brain was turning into mush to write her first book.

An award winning author, Gabi now lives and writes in New Mexico where she lives with her robotics engineer husband, three daughters, and a neurotic dog. She loves to play games, has a wicked addiction to reading, and avoids housework and cooking whenever she can. She is the author of a new paranormal series, The Time of Transition, from Tor. The first book, The Wish List, appears in stores May 2010. You can follow her blog at

A special congrats to Bandita Donna MacMeans who is going to be up on stage tonight at the RT conference in Orlando accepting a special award. We're cheering you on, Donna! KJ


sarabelle said...

COngrats. Wonderful news for you. I am so glad that you didnt give up. I love the fact that you kept fighting for what you really wanted. I look forward to reading your first book.

Helen said...

Congrats Sarabelle enjoy your day with him

What a great inspirational blog good on you Gaby for not giving up and thank you KJ for inviting Gaby to the Lair today.

I am not a writer but an avid reader and I love hearing authors call stories and how they got there.

I can't believe you don't have a TBR pile Gaby mine is a mountain and I am always feeling guilty over not being able to catch up on them I spend as much time as I can reading and often forget the houswork because I have my head stuck in a good book heaven to me.

Thanks for visiting Gaby and telling us your story I look forward to seeing your book next years.

Have Fun

Louisa Cornell said...

I really needed to read this KJ and Gabi !! There are times I feel like the success I have had is a fluke and that I will NEVER get an agent or an editor to take me on. I'll be that girl with 50 contest finals, a couple of GH finals and NO CONTRACT, NO LIFE and I'll STILL be working for Wal-Mart. Can you say "Door greeter?" SHUDDER !! You don't get a retirement plan with Wal-Mart, they just make you a door greeter, give you a shopping cart to use as a walker and prop you up in the entrance. And if you don't smell too bad when you die they leave you there until somebody notices !!

So, thanks for taking the time to visit the Banditas and to let me know that even published authors get slammed sometimes and that all of that stuff about sticking with it really works. I needed to know that !

Can't wait to read your books !

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on the GR, Sarabelle. Maybe he'll take you back down to Orlando to the RT convention!

Joan said...

Sarabelle? Really?

Where did you hide (limecello's) body?

Congrats on the chook! (I love speaking Australian :-)

Gaby, you hit the nails on the head. This is twice tonight that I've heard about persevering. Must be a sign :-)

Good luck with all your books!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Sarabelle! He's clearly returned from RT keen on chasing some new chicks. Congratulations!

JT, great deployment of the local lingo!

Kim and Gaby, what a great blog. So inspirational. Gaby, I know exactly what you mean about embarrassment. In fact, at one stage it felt less embarrassing to give up than to continue, at which stage the voices in my head started shouting. So yeah, I think you can say other writers get you!

Congratulations on your latest sale. I'd love to know more about your paranormal series!

flchen1 said...

Hooray, Gaby! Thanks for the post today! And hooray for persistence!

Hang in there, Louisa! NOT a fluke! Your time is coming! (And not as a greeter at Wal-Mart, although I'm sure you'd be great there, too...)

Congrats on the GR, Sarabelle!

Renee said...

Gaby, you've hit on so many valid points. I can never turn off the voices in my head. They are always there.

One thing I've done is fight for my kids to dream. It wasn't until about 2 1/2 years ago that I realized that I had quit. That's when I discovered writing, again.

Thank you for reminding why it is I'm a writer, and why I can't ever quit.


Helen said...


Never give up I am hanging to read one of your books

Have Fun

Authorness said...

Congratulations on your well-deserved sale, Gaby! What an inspirational post. It just goes to show that persistence pays.

I'm willing to sacrifice sleep in order to get my dratted rewrites done.

~ Vanessa

Tawny said...

Oh wow... what a fabulous and inspiring post! Gaby, thank you so much :-) Congratulations, too, on your latest sales!

Congrats, too, to our Donna, and to Sarabelle for the rooster nabbing ;-)

Louisa - Your time is coming!!!

Caren Crane said...

Gabi, I agree with every one of your reasons you are still in the game - especially #1! I can't imagine having to tell my husband I was giving up after all the time and money I have spent on my writing "career". And I could never give up my writer friends!

Really, every time I hear that someone was about to give up when they got The Call, it gives me hope. I have been that desperate before and will be again!

Gabi, thanks for visiting with us. KJ, great interview!

And Sarabelle, have fun with the, if he's back from RT. Any sign of him?

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Louisa darling, you have not yet begun to despair...give it another 8 years and call me!

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Gabi! Thank you so much for the inspirational post *g* Congrats on your sale!

Could you tell us a little bit about The Wish List?

Gillian Layne said...

A great Friday story--bless you, and huge congratulations on your success and on sticking with it. :)

Kim Howe said...

Sarabelle, congrats on nabbing the GR this morning!!!

Kim Howe said...

Louisa, definitely hang in there, you're almost at the summit! Contest accolades are a fantastic support when you start to despair. Strangers are reading your work and giving it high marks...let that propel you up the final climb (along with the Banditas support!).

sarabelle said...

I cant wait to enjoy my day with the GR I hope you ladies at the RT havent completely worn him out.

Donna MacMeans said...

I'm not sure whether or not to congratulate Sarabelle on nabbing the GR or not. The poor chook has such a hangover. I'm afraid RT's fairy ball will never be the same after he tried to enter the competition. He figured he had wings - who needs a costume?

Gabi - I'm glad you never gave up. I'd have to wear the kevlar to protect me if I decided to stop trying. The banditas would tie me to the laptop.

Thank you KJ on the congrats for the RT award. Picking it up tonight. Still haven't figured out to say.

Kimber Chin said...

SO inspiring!
I'm glad you stuck it out!
I think anyone can call themselves a writer when the going is good. It is when it gets challenging that you find out if you really ARE a writer.

On the other hand,
entrepreneurs usually joke about being too dumb to quit. LOL We keep going well after a 'reasonable' person has quit.

Gabi Stevens said...

OK, you guys are up way too early. :) It's only 6:45 AM in New Mexico.

Thank you, all of you, for saying I'm inspiring you. Really I'm just plodding along doing my thing. But I do believe in not quitting.

THE WISH LIST is a contemporary set in San Diego, California (where I went to school,where my husband grew up, and where my father-in-law still lives so I get to visit all the time. Lucky me.) When CPA Kristin Montgomery finds out her three aunts are the three fairy godmothers and she's next in line for the job, her life changes like magic. No, not *like* magic; it *is* magic. Add a surly arbiter, a selfish sprite, and a suave sorcerer and she has her hands full. Especially when one of them turns out to be the bad guy.

I'll be popping in throughout the day to read and get inspiration from you all.

Remember the words of Winston Churchill: Never, never, never quit.

Anna Sugden said...

What timely visit, Gabi and thanks to our very own inspirational Bandita KJ for inviting you.

Your story gives us almost-pubbeds a really good boost. And, we can repay the favour by nodding our heads at your top 10. Every time I try to give up, two things happen. The Bully Girls (you know who you are *cough* Tawny *cough* Beth *cough*) refuse to let me ... and I come up with a killer scene or story idea that forces me back to my computer!

Louisa sweetie - you are preaching to the converted here! That could be me - apart from the Walmart thing *g*.

Anna Sugden said...

ROFL Kimber - you are clearly a Bandita soul sister!

Donna - too bloody right we'd never let you quit! (and they'd scare me into not giving up too!)

Gabi - love the sound of The Wish List - it sounds like my kind of book!

Love the Churchill quote - though I like this story about him better.
I can't remember who the lady was (some titled lady), but she bumped into Churchill one evening and was disgusted to find him slightly tipsy *g*.

"Sir, you're drunk," she said.
"Madam, you're ugly," he said. "But, in the morning, I'll be sober!"

Louisa Cornell said...

LOL Vrai Anna !! I love that story about Churchill ! The man had an uncommon wit in addition to being a great statesman.

So, yes, we will keep climbing because we have Bandita Backup, are too stubborn - dumb or worried about embarrassment to quit !!

Thank you all for the kind words. I feel much better today.

And Caren, honey, I know it is just around the corner for you!

sheley said...

This just goes to show if you are tenacious enough, angry enough, motivated enough, you can climb that mountain. I will follow your path... lead away. You are half way there.

Teresa Medeiros said...

You sound like a writer after my own heart, Gabi! I've always said that there's talent, luck and persistence and persistence is the most important quality a writer can have. I have a feeling yours will pay off! :)

Jenn Stark said...

Gabi, what a wonderful story, thank you for providing exactly the kind of reminder I needed today!



Kirsten said...

Gabi, thanks for hanging out in the Lair, and thanks so much for the inspirational post! There's definitely a perception out there that you sell one book and you are guaranteed success -- unfortunately, it isn't that easy. But giving up isn't an option. I don't write because I want to -- I write because I HAVE to. :-)

Donna's right -- the Banditas are a tough crowd. No giving up allowed. That goes for our BBs as well. No one gets out of the Lair without a keyboard attached to their fingers! BWAHAHAHAH!!

(That goes for you double, Miss Louisa! Back to your keyboard! Back! Back!)

Anyway, the Wish List sounds like exactly my cuppa. I'm rather enamored of fairy stories, and am THRILLED to see a light paranormal making a sale. HeeHaw! Congratulations!

Nancy said...

Sarabelle, congrats on grabbing the rooster!

Gabi, I salute your persistence. Keeping your head in the game after being orphaned has to have been hard. I'm so glad it paid off for you! I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy and will be looking forward to your books.

Nancy said...

Helen, do ever feel guilty about adding to that mountain? I do. Every time I find a new author or new book and look at the one I haven't read, I just cringe. There was a time when I had read every book I owned.

A long time ago. *sigh*

But I'm out of school soon and hope to catch up. Or at least make a dent.

Nancy said...

Louisa, hang in there! Contest success can be a huge boost, but it can also set you up for disappointment if those books don't sell. Don't let it do that. As KJ said, take the part about strangers loving your work and hold onto it. Meanwhile, keep writing and subbing!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Lair, Gabi! What an awesomely inspiring post. And a lot of your top 10 reasons are on my list, too!

Sleep is one of the things I tend to sacrifice when it comes to writing. I'll write until I want to fall over. In fact, I was off last night. Went to bed at 3 am and when I crawled in beside him, my husband said, "Why so early?" I whispered...I finished the scene. :)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Gabi, what a wonderful & inspiring story! I love it when persistence pays off & true talent is rewarded. Can't wait to snap up Wish List once it hits the shelves.

Susan Sey said...

Anna wrote: "Sir, you're drunk," she said.
"Madam, you're ugly," he said. "But, in the morning, I'll be sober!"
I love that story, Anna! Wasn't it also Churchill who had the following exchange?

Angry Woman: "Sir, if you were my husband, I'd put arsenic in your tea!"

Sir Winston (after what I presume would have been a long, insolent look): "Madame, if I were indeed your husband, I'd drink it."

Hee hee. I love that guy.

Gabi Stevens said...

Churchill was also the guy who said, "If you're going through hell, keep going." He is quite the source of inspiration.

Louisa, hang in there. I'm proof that it's worth it.

Renee, I'm a big believer in dreams (not the sleeping kind, although I can enjoy those too). They are a motivator.

Caren, the desperation that goes with writing is one of the things they don't tell you about when you start. It feels like hell, and hurts too. The only way to get over it is to keep going. (Back to Churchill again.)

The bumps are what make the smooth times so much sweeter.

Joan said...

My Mother had a T-shirt with a saying from a basketball coach named Valvano (?first name)

"Don't Give Up. Don't Ever Give Up"

It was a motto she lived by and I inherited.

Off to send more queries...

jo robertson said...

What a delightful and inspiring post! Thanks, Gabi, and welcome to the Lair.

As a reader and writer, I adore call stories. They have a shimmer of magic to them, no matter how pedestrian. I think they have that whole "impossible dream" thing going for them.

Susan Sey said...

Joanie wrote:
"Don't Give Up. Don't Ever Give Up"

It was a motto she lived by and I inherited.

Off to send more queries...
Go, Joanie, go!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Gabi, thanks for visiting the Lair and delivering a truly inspiring message! And congratulations on your new series. It sounds great!

Kim, welcome back!! Great post today!

Hang in there, Louisa! Persistence is the key. You WILL make it. And trust me, that really is the best revenge! :-)

Congrats, Sarabelle!

Cassondra said...

Hi Gabi, and welcome to the lair!

Thank you for telling us the story of your climb. It IS inspiring to see people who had every "reason" to give up, but didn't. I struggle with it for real. I'm often caught standing in the door, holding the towel, on the verge of throwing it in. Then I think of all the time, money, time, my husband's belief in me, time (starting to see a pattern here?) and especially the friendships (Banditas who would kill me) and the characters who would never have a life if I don't write it. I've come to love those dusty people under my bed and in my brain. *sigh*

I appreciate your sharing your story and struggles with us.

KJ, welcome back to LAND!

Sarabelle, what are you doin' with the hungover chicken for the day?

Okay, off to mow the yard.

Kim Howe said...

Everyone is giving up sleep...okay, that's the one thing I can't sacrifice because if I did, I wouldn't be much good to myself (writing) or anyone else. Sometimes I feel very guilty getting that 8 hours, but I desperately need it. I will sacrifice anything else...does anyone feel the same way???

Gabi Stevens said...

Me. I can't give up sleep. I barely function with less than eight hours. I wish I didn't need sleep quite so much.

Tawny said...

Anna wrote: Every time I try to give up, two things happen. The Bully Girls (you know who you are *cough* Tawny *cough* Beth *cough*) Awww, you know you love us ;-)

Isn't it great to know that people have your back, though? Like Donna said, friends who'd tie you to the laptop and refuse to let you quit. I know that's what's kept me going so many times!!

terrio said...

I always know a stop in here will give me that shot of inspiration and motivation I need to keep going. (And a much needed laugh.) Thanks for this great blog, Gabi, and congrats on the new sales. Here's to many more!

KJ - I'm with you. Can't give up the sleep!

Louisa - Hang in there, lady! It WILL happen for you.

terrio said...

And Caren and Joanie and Anna and Jo and all of you. With a group like this, how could y'all not hit it big eventually?!

Joan said...

And Caren and Joanie and Anna and Jo and all of you. With a group like this, how could y'all not hit it big eventually?!Awwwwww...Terrio....that's so sweet!

MsHellion said...

Embarrassment. That's a GOOD one. I'll have to use that. I can't quit because I told everyone I was a writer....

Great blog! I really enjoyed it...and it was really timely as well. *LOL*

Helen said...


I just ordered 13 books from Rendezvous here in Australia and 2 from Amazon. But they are all books that I really want to read (Actually I must read LOL) and I know that I will get to them at some stage but I have a hard time deciding which one will be next LOL. But I am totally addicted to books I love finding new authors it is always so exciting for me

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Gabi, welcome to the lair! KJ, thanks for inviting Gabi to inspire us. I loved the list!

I feel like there's very little I haven't sacrificed to be a writer--a well-paying job, television, social life, time with my kids and husband, sleep, exercise, a decent, up-to-date wardrobe, sanity. You name it. The only thing I haven't sacrificed (unfortunately) is food!

And I wouldn't give up this career for the world:)

Woohoo, Sarabelle, congrats on the Golden Rooster!

Pissenlit said...

Congrats Gabi! Embarrassment really is a great motivator, isn't it? :)

Virginia said...

Congrat sarabelle on nabbing that rooster!

Nice to meet you Gaby. I also love hearing call stories. Just hang in there. You have talent so stick with it. I don't think you will ever give up and this is a great thing. I know I will be waiting for your new series!


Molly Evans said...

great blog. Usually when I see "the end," it's unfortunately the bottom of the ice cream bucket or the end of a chocolate bar.
Writing the end is a great feeling, too, and fewer calories.

Gabi Stevens said...

This group is amazing. With a network like this, you'll all achieve great things. Thanks for letting me be part of it for a day.

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, you're HeeHaw reminded me of George's friend Sam Wainwright in 'It's a Wonderful Life'! I love that movie. Talk about never giving up. What would have happened to Bedford Falls if George had given up and killed himself. That's right! They would have lived in Mr. Potter's slums and the town would crumble in Potter's wicked claws!!

Sorry, I got a little carried away. I think Churchill inspired me. Plus, I just saw 'Bedtime Stories' so I'm all about the good guys winning. Never, never, never give up!

Caren Crane said...

Joanie T, that quote was from Jim Valvano - Jimmy V as he's known around here - who was the basketball coach at NC State. He was much beloved and he lost a courageous battle with bone cancer. He gave his "Don't give up" speech when he was accepting an award shortly before he died in 1993. He also started the V Foundation, which is still going strong, that raises money for cancer research. He was quite inspirational while alive and continues to inspire lots of people even now.

Caren Crane said...

KJ and Gabi, I'm glad someone else said they can't sacrifice sleep. I am SO useless if I short-change it! Plus, my immune system gets compromised pretty easily, so I have to make sure I sleep. Conference is always great, but I have to leave the partying early and get to bed or I would be completely non-functional the next day.

Hey, when you're repping the Banditas, you gots to stay on toppa yer game!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, we cannot say often enought that WE ADORE YOU!!!

And Terrio, thank you for the lovely words. You're right, of course. We will ALL get there someday!

Joan said...

Joanie T, that quote was from Jim Valvano -I couldn't remember his first name! I remembered he was a basketball coach.

Shortly after he died, his brother came to Louisville and was coach for a local college Bellarmine University

Anna Campbell said...

Gabi, thanks for being a really inspirational guest. I wish you a world full of success with the second chance career!