Today’s guest at An Author’s Desk is Leia Getty who writes historical fantasy as L.T. Getty. Leia’s debut novel, Tower of Obsidian was released this month by BURST Books, the SciFi/Fantasy imprint of Champagne Book Group. Leia used her knowledge as a paramedic and her training in kendo to create realistic battle scenes for Tower of Obsidian which was her 2010 NaNoWriMo project which she’ll explain later. Leia’s peripatetic desk that wanders with her at will is after my own heart. The treats beside it from The Daily Grind are full of love and sparkles.
My writing area is a reflection of who I am – basically, I pick up and go and write anywhere! I’ve never had a ton of support with my writing, so basically I write when people are moving around me, I stop and do chores, and I adapt to any environment.
As for my process of ‘when I write’ – once again, it’s reflective of my pick up and go lifestyle. The only time I had a set amount of writing time was before I graduated High School – I had to watch my younger sisters and make dinner, so I usually wrote for an hour and a half after school until I got a job that took place after school, so then it was when I could fit it in – I wrote on the family computer and I wasn’t usually able to use it whenever I wanted. When University changed things, I was using floppy disks (remember those, kids? Didn’t think so) until I bought my first laptop – an old military unit my dad got me at a deal from his base (I can’t remember how much I paid – I just remember paying more for a battery the following year) which I used until it died. I much prefer the new laptop – even though once my fellow students were making fun of how big the screen was, the teacher included – things get corrupted, but I remember the absolute horror of a disc crashing and losing everything. (And using the family computer without a backup asks for trouble!) I now work as a Paramedic, so now I’m on a pager for four days – there is no ‘I need to get this down, then I’ll come save you’; when the pager goes, we go. We get a lot of down time in the office to chill out and relax, so that’s usually when I’m researching or editing via pen and paper, but when it’s go time we might be gone for an entire day, so while I can jot down an idea or something on a piece of paper, there is no set time for writing. I do it when I can, and down time always comes after I restock the ambulance, any station duties, do my paperwork, and harass my colleagues a little. (Just kidding – I can edit and delight with my terrible puns at the same time).
As for my process of how I write a given manuscript, it depends on how I start – usually I have an idea for a plot or an image, but sometimes, I just sit down and start describing a scene and I let the world build until I know where I am and why it’s different then our here and now (my here and now last week was -43 C with the windchill, if you’re interested). How long it takes me to draft a story depends on how much time I have and how long it is – Tower of Obsidian took me less than four months to draft, but out of 115,000 words, 52,000 were written in the month of November for 2010’s NANOWRIMO, and the only reason I kicked it into high gear was that I was aware that book publishers were going to be coming to a conference in May, so I basically was finishing and editing with no time to spare.
Usually while I’m drafting, that’s when I do my research, but my trump card for Tower of Obsidian was that I’d gotten flack for a previous novel that wasn’t ‘historically accurate’ so I’d done my research on medieval customs and history, and was quite familiar with Norse and Celtic Mythology so I had enough information to start me off. My trick for getting that NANO while I was a student/working was that I always had a pen and paper for ideas – a notepad in my apron, another notebook just ‘for stories’ when everyone else was out smoking during break. I was roughing out different endings of scenes during lunch break or doing character sketches or hashing out background information. I tend to write the scenes I see most vividly in my head first, and then I piece them together. Usually, I’m co-writing two sequences at once, so if I get writer’s block and I’m stuck as to what happens next, I’ll go back and work on a scene for the events leading up to it – at some point, I’ll have the plot in my mind down pretty solid, so I’ll hash out a loose synopsis (which, usually still surprises me while I’m writing it) just to give me focus, and then I’ll write out linear (for the most part – I find that, when I write, I usually have to write the beginning after I’m more or less done the novel because I like action and I need to lead up to it – in my mind, at least, I think I end stories stronger than how I start them). This approach is great for learning about your world – but I’ve also written scenes that don’t make sense later or needed to be scrapped and rewritten.
Usually when I’m about 15,000 words into a novel, I give the first chunk, print if I have the time (email if I don’t!) to my beta reader, R.J. Hore – basically we got paired up via the Writer’s Collective because we were the only sci-fi/fantasy writers, and we just switch work back and forth. When I was a student, I went to various writing circles and groups for feedback, but Hore and I kind of like the same stories and have different strengths and weaknesses so the editing is more focused than if I’m trying to make a table of people happy. We swap whatever amounts we want –usually an entire short story or, if it’s a manuscript we go in order, between 20-100 pages a month, but I’ve given him a short story in the middle of a novel with a ‘the contest is due in two months’ kind of deadline.
After Hore looks at the story – if I don’t have to send it anywhere quickly (I didn’t write it for an anthology or whatever) I like to let the entire story sit for at least a month, and start working on something else from a writing perspective – I draw and paint, but I find that writing is a special beast that requires distance. If at all possible, I like to read a story as a reader, and then I start to go through the manuscript. Usually around this phase, I write out a synopsis. I usually draft three separate versions of a synopsis, and see which one I like the best. If this is for a contest, I usually revisit the publisher page and try to cater the story more towards them if it’s appropriate. After I go through the pages as an edit, I leave it alone for a while, and then try to come back to it with fresh eyes for what I consider a whole, unifying edit – and I use the synopsis to make the manuscript come into focus.
Usually around this point I start looking for publishers – I keep Excel sheets on what story is out where, and some relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) data as well – how long of a response, what kind of response (generic vs. personalized), and I keep track of the comments as a whole – but I don’t agonize over individual rejections unless they specify ‘Add some X and send it back’ or whatever, so long as I feel that I’d still be true to the story, then I usually edit the way they request and send it back.
So basically at this point I let my little manuscript into the world, with only a tracking of Excel to tell me it’s out. I kind of forget about it at that point, because, as said above, I’m already working on the next project and that’s usually the one I’m the most excited about at the time.
That’s pretty much from me – thanks for having me, Rita! As of February 4th, I was officially an author!
When Kale mac Tadhg is betrayed by his Lord’s men, he is sent on an impossible quest: slay a witch in a tower, and end a people’s curse. Both Kale’s best friend and brother-in-arms Aaron Smithson and former betrothed Aoife of Westgate set out to rescue him, but their journey takes them into the uncharted waters and Northwestern Nordic colonies, to a land cursed and all but forgotten. They begin to realize that there is some truth to old legends. Kale’s rescue comes at a price—for by the time Aaron and Aoife know where to search, like so many before him, Kale is bound to the ancient tower’s fate.
Thank you so much for visiting Leia. Click on the cover of Tower of Obsidian to read an excerpt or buy. Visit Leia at her [WEBPAGE] (where you can read about growling deer) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomorrow, A Celebration of President’s Day Rita Bay