A Day in the Writing Life of… Maree Anderson

Q: What time of the day do you start writing? Are you a morning, midday or nighttime writer?

A: I’m a morning writer…. If you call around 11am still morning? That’s because I like to go to the gym first thing, which sounds very dedicated but I don’t get there anywhere near as often as I should. And on those days I can’t drag myself out of bed to do some exercise, I get up, see the kids and DH off, then grab breakfast and coffee on a tray and go back to bed for an hour to do all important “research” (which as every author and aspiring author knows, is just another word for reading, LOL). That said, if I’m on a roll and Ms Muse is cracking her whip, I’ll still be up around midnight. I’m flexible! 

Q: Where do you write?

A: I write in MY office. Notice the emphasis? That’s because it was originally supposed to be OUR office, i.e. an office I shared with my DH whenever he worked from home. But the nice big desk is covered with my stuff so it’s now definitely mine, all mine, mwah hah hah! Rather than try and compete with all the aforementioned books, DH uses his laptop in the lounge or the bedroom. Thank goodness for wireless internet.

Q: What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write?
 
A: Check my emails and see how fast I can press the Delete key.

Q: Any preparation rituals you swear by? Any writing tricks to make your writing more efficient?

A: Making myself a cup of coffee in a special coffee mug, and bringing it to my desk in the morning says Now. It’s. Time. To. Write! That’s the theory, anyway. Of course even the best laid plans…

Q: Are you a plotter/planner or do you enjoy the thrill of an unplanned writing adventure?

A: I’m the consummate pantser. Or I prefer the term barnstormer – you know, like those amazing 1920s stunt-pilots? I have a germ of an idea—usually something of a paranormal bent. And that idea germinates (heh heh!) into a character and a scene based around that idea. If I’m really organised, churning ‘round in my rather scary brain will also be a vivid final scene for me to write towards. And that’s it really: I jump right in and write myself silly.

I resort to plotting only if I get stuck, though I am actually capable of writing an entire synopsis before I start. (And gosh, isn’t it sooo much easier to write a synopsis that way? I loathe writing a synopsis after I’ve completed the manuscript but that’s how I usually end up doing it. Mutter mutter, growl growl). But if I’m about a third of the way through a manuscript only to discover Ms Muse—the capricious little madam!—has taken an extended break, I’ve even proven capable of—gasp!—writing detailed chapter outlines. However, although that technique got me over the big writer’s block-style hump, personally I found it very restricting to stick to the outline. For me, at this stage of my career, adhering to plots and chapter outlines sucks some of the pure joy out of my writing process.

I think it’s beneficial to be able to plot and pantser though, whenever the situation calls for it. It gives you more options. And an agent recently told me that she wouldn’t be able to represent someone who wasn’t a plotter and couldn’t provide an outline before starting work on a manuscript. Yikes.

Q: Writing tools? Long-hand, digital pen, computer (Mac or PC), DragonSpeaking/other voice program, etc.?

A: PC. With a reeeeally big monitor. I’m told I’m going to be updated to a Mac in the near future. Unfortunately I have no choice in these matters, hence being stuck with the hell that is Windows Vista. DH still owes me big-time for that!

Q: Do you have coffee, chocolate, fruit or other food and drink during your writing time? 
 
A: Coooooffffeeeee! And sometimes a packet of raw almonds to snack on. Or an apple. Heaven forbid there would be chocolate in the vicinity! Though often a bowl of chips and a glass of wine will magically appear at hand if I’m still at my desk around 7.30 pm. I think that my husband’s way of saying, “Hey hon, any thoughts for dinner?” LOL.

Q: To stretch or not to stretch? Do you exercise at your desk, or elsewhere, between sessions?

A: Definitely stretch. Not that I do while I’m at my desk *hangs head in shame*. But I do frequently get up and wander ‘round the house in search of that elusive “right” word or phrase.

Q: Can you name five objects that are always on, or near, your work desk whilst you write?
 
A: Not counting stacks and stacks of books:

1) iPhone

2) Drink bottle

3) Kiwi toy with a cute knitted silver fern jersey

4) Doctor Who wall-clock – the TARDIS flashes at me every hour 🙂

5) Current NZ Firefighters’ calendar… rawr!

Q: Is your desk messy or organised?

A: Um, of course my desk is beautifully tidy and wonderfully organised. As you can see from the photo. Yeah. Riiiight.

Q: Your favourite form of procrastination, apart from answering fascinating questions for the wonderful and always informative RWA Blog?
 
A: Yes, answering these questions has been an excellent from of procrastination—as is checking out the RWA blog on a regular basis! Otherwise it’s the evil EFT trio: email, Facebook, Twitter. Not to mention reworking old manuscripts, which I personally feel is a brilliant excuse for not getting any “new” writing done.

Q: What’s the last thing you do before you finish your daily writing session(s)?
 
A: Click File, SAVE!

Q: Do you have any writing rewards for achieving goals?
 
A: I crack open a bottle of bubbles when DH gets home, and we talk about him retiring when I become the next J.K. Rowling 😉

To find out more about Maree, visit www.mareeanderson.com or www.WritersGoneWild.blogspot.com.

Maree’s new release, Let Sleeping Demons Lie, is a Red Sage Presents May 1st release. Here’s the blurb:

Naamah’s been stripped of her demonic powers and her memories, and dumped in a savage wilderness. She believes she is human and she has no idea that non-humans even exist—which is just as well, considering she’s got a phobic fear of Lycans and the man who finds her is a Lion shape-shifter!

Brennan is a Lycan Prime, that most alpha of alphas, and he has no time for demon females—not when he can crook a claw and any Lycan female he chooses will come running. Even though he suspects the woman he’s found and nicknamed “Kitten” is not what she appears to be, he lays claim to her body, and her heart.

When they’re ambushed by sadistic Hyenas and Brennan is severely injured, Kitten’s only chance of saving them both is to reclaim her demonic heritage—even if it means revealing her true self and losing Brennan’s love.

Kitty vs Lion. Watch the fur fly in Let Sleeping Demons Lie!

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25 Comments

  1. Ha, I get the Kiwi Adonis! I’m glad he can’t fly – makes him easier to catch. Maree, how utterly fascinating. And I love your office – love all those books. Oh, and the calendar!

    Reply
  2. OMG Maree,
    reading you was almost like reading my own foibles – right down to the getting up and wandering around for that elusive word, and the hubby retiring bit – yep, down to a T =)
    Loved the post!

    Reply
  3. Of COURSE 11:00 is considered morning, Maree! And I’m so with you on the coffee. 🙂 And the EFT problem. Great post. Loooove the cover of Let Sleeping Demons Lie.

    Cheers
    Gracie

    Reply
  4. Mary Curtis

     /  April 27, 2010

    Hi, Maree:

    Great interview. I’m a pantser too and find myself sometimes going round in circles, you never know what interesting stuff you can pick up that way. Whooeee, the firefighter was definitely hot.

    I’m ordering a copy of Let Sleeping Demons Lie.

    Good luck from the east coast of Canada.
    Mary

    Reply
  5. Maree – love the cover and the blurb of Let Sleeping Demon’s Lie.

    Reply
  6. Awww… you guys are so wonderful to me! And here I was, getting all frantic because I might have no visitors *slaps herself upside the head*

    BTW, you should see this month’s Firefighter. All smudged with soot and oiled up for our delectation, with a big grin on his face, like he knows just how gorgeous he is. Outstanding!

    Sandra & Gracie, thanks for the cover-love. I really love this one, too!

    Mary — all the way from Canada? Brilliant! Waving right back atcha, and I do hope you like my Sleeping Demons and their Lies . It’s being released May 1st, but I’m giveaway an ARC a couple of days early, so if you’re interested, check out my website: http://www.mareeanderson.com

    Mel — even though the book I just sold was plotted, I’m still a pantser at heart. I love the thrill of not knowing exactly what’s gonna happen until you write it!

    Anna — any time you want to borrow my Kiwi Adonis, just drop me a line 😉 And you should see all the books in my other bookcases. We need some serious storage, LOL.

    Reply
  7. giovanna Lee

     /  April 27, 2010

    Hi Maree

    Loved the post too.

    Great cover and title. I look forward to reading it.

    Great bag in the office!
    You’re doing so great – keep them coming.
    See you at conference
    Giovanna

    Reply
  8. Hi Giovanna! Thanks sooo much for stopping by to say “hi!”

    And good spotting with the bag! It’d my “Romance, what a novel idea!” bag that I always tout along to meetings and conferences.

    And speaking of conferences — looking forward to seeing you, too!

    Reply
  9. Maree,

    Doctor Who clock and Fireman calendar should be considered essential for every writer’s work space.

    Jen.

    Reply
  10. Oh, Jen, you are soooooo very right! Where would I be without my flashing clock and my, er, flashy firemen?

    Reply
    • What is it about firemen? DH’s best friend is the chief at a fire house on the Sunshine Coast. He said most women wouldn’t give him the time of day…until he puts on the uniform! He goes to fires and has women give him their phone numbers! Seriously! And he’s not even one of the ripped ones!

      Reply
  11. Hey, I have one of those fireman calendars to – inspiring, huh?! I really enjoyed your interview – you make writing sound like fun instead of hard work!

    Reply
  12. Sandra Harris

     /  April 27, 2010

    Hi Maree,

    I’m glad to hear there are a few of us who seem to work in the same way. It usually takes me twice as long as it should to do the ironing because for some reason the task always lets my hind brain think up great phrases and scenes, which I then have to slip into MY study and enter on the computer. My calendar is a Queensland Firefighters, and oh dear me, is Mr April ever so inspiring! 🙂 Do you think muses go to some sort of bootcamp training school on how to drive their victims – oops, I mean proteges to the very edge of sanity? Thanks for sharing.
    Sandy

    Reply
  13. Loved your post Maree!! And the picture of you and the office. It’s so lovely. 🙂

    BTW – you will love a Mac!

    Congrats on the upcoming release of Let Sleeping Demons Lie, and of course you know I love that cover!

    Reply
  14. Jen, How does that Air NZ ad go? Oh yeah: “Oh, I do love a man in uniform!”

    Was at the gym a few months back, and the alarm went off. We had to file out and wait for the local firemen to arrive — they’re about 5 minutes away. Great eye-candy. Much more pleasant than doing a workout, LOL. In fact, I have a story in mind based on that very scenario. Go figure.

    Sandra, my Mr April’s cute as, too! Though he’s so very very young I’m almost embarassed to look. Almost, LOL.

    And my Muse is torturing me at the moment. There’s a story she insists I write, but it keeps getting shunted aside in favor of more pressing matters. So she’s making me an insomniac — which I’m sure she learned how to do in Bootcamp for Muses.

    Leigh, thanks! And writing IS fun…. when it’s not damn hard work and I’m hating every minute of it, LOL. There are days when the absolute last thing I want to do is open up that darn ms file. But I usually find that once I do, it gets easier from then on in. Now, if only I could remember that, huh?

    Eleni — thank you, sweetie! The pink wig and the book for props were a definite must. Otherwise I need the sunglasses so I don’t blink and look like I’m drunk or something, LOL. It’s true!

    And DH hearts his Mac. So I guess it might be pretty cool…. if I can’t talk him into an iPad instead. Mwah hah hah!

    Reply
  15. Great interview, Maree. I was giggling the whole through. Totally digging the calendar and the Dr. Who clock, too!
    I have to say about pantser vs. plotter, I find hybridization seems to have creeped in to my own work. I have to plot to a certain extent, but if I go one iota overboard, the whole story gets ruined for me. Where’s the surprise, the spontaneity? It says in chapter 5 it’s supposed to be right HERE!
    LOL
    Congratulations on your May 1 release!! It sounds purrrr-fecct!
    Jen

    Reply
  16. Hiya, Jen! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad I could make you smile — what more could any writer ask for, huh?

    I have to admit, I spent two weeks plotting a 60,000 word story–just to see if I could actually plot–and I hated every single minute of it. OMG, the pain! Excruciating, much? Couldn’t wait to get into writing it.

    And then, about a chapter into it, my heroine decides she wants to be an interior decorator ilo of a lawyer! Grrrr. All that wasted research and carefully planned GMC. But I went with her preferred career choice and it seemed to be working just fine. Then 5000 words into this story, my editor approached me for a novella. Like, a completed one? Yikes! And I decided I’d go for it, and see if I could pull this plotted novel back into a novella. I wrote 25,000 words in two weeks. And that novella’s just been bought by Red Sage for their Secrets Vol 30 anthology.

    Was it fun to write? Yep! Mainly because certain things changed from the original plot outline, and that kept me interested and excited in the story, despite the killer writing routine. And I know I couldn’t have done it so quickly if I hadn’t already plotted out a story.

    Will I do it again that way? Dunno. Maybe. Probably. Depends…. LOL. Regardless, it’s a skill I didn’t have before, and now it’s something that I’m confident I can do again if it’s required. It’s all about giving yourself more choices, I reckon!

    Reply
  17. Hi Maree, late as usual, but I have an excuse! We’re on holidays in Margaret River in WA. Have just spent a lovely morning checking out the lads riding the magic waves off the river mouth. Men in uniforms are all well and good, but blokes in their mid-thirties with board-paddler’s shoulders wearing wetsuits dragged down around their hips kept me entertained for several hours! Now I’m sat back in our little studio apartment wishing I could weave a surfing scene into the latest WIP…

    Am very jealous of your lovely desk and office. I think I need to get one of those!

    As always, a lovely interview that made me smile the whole way through. The cover for Let Sleeping Demons Lie is gorgeous!

    Reply
  18. Okay, I’ll join Helene in the Lateness department but I have *such* a writerly excuse… I’m chasing 28K and my deadline is by the end of the week!

    Great interview Maree! I had a NSW firefighters calendar as a website contest prize a while ago…. yum! I should’ve bought more coz it went to a US reader 😀

    Reply
  19. Helene — now I’m totally jealous! Those shoulders sound verrry nice indeed. Hope we’re gonna see some photos on your blog? No pressure, mind 😉

    Paula — that’s a most excellent excuse, indeed! And I’m feeling very rapt that you stopped by to say “hi” despite such a horrendous deadline. Thank-you!

    You ladies are totally awesome, BTW. Just sayin’! Muwah!

    Reply
  20. Okay – I win the late, late award. But what a giggle. Great interview.
    “Hey hon, any thoughts for dinner?” LOL.
    That’ cracked me up. What a sweetheart. Hipe you are buying him a cook book for Chrissy LOL

    Reply
    • Jenn, you should never admit to being late, just say you’re making an entrance, LOL!

      And as for my ever hopeful DH…. would you believe the first time he asked me out he cooked me beef strogannof from scratch? His mum is a gourmet cook and he had more cookbooks than I did at that stage! So he really has no excuses. Not to mention we both share a huge big shelf of cookbooks, so inspiration shouldn’t be a problem. Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  21. Hey Maree,

    Sorry for being REALLY late to this post, but thank you so much for participating and appearing on the RWA blog. Your answers were lots of fun. I love you desk as well, and that book cover is very hot!

    Best of luck with sales of Let Sleeping Demons Lie.

    🙂 Mon

    Reply
  1. A day in the writing life of… | Maree Anderson | Author
  2. Release day for Let Sleeping Demons Lie! | Maree Anderson | Author

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