Gail Z. Martin: My So-Called Writing Life


So the prompt says “how you live and write and stay sane.” Hmm. I’m not sure that I do. (Stay sane, that is.) Reign of FINAL

This year, 2014, is turning out to be a happy and challenging year. Happy because I’m fortunate enough to have two new novels out—Reign of Ash from Orbit Books (April) in epic fantasy, and Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books (June) in urban fantasy. A new steampunk novel is under contract with Solaris, due out in 2015. I’m in at least seven anthologies (!) and more seem to keep cropping up. I bring out a new short story on ebook each month and I’m working on a novella. These are all good challenges to have and I’m grateful for the opportunities, but you know what they say—be careful what you wish for!

If there is a secret to staying relatively sane, I’d say it’s “ask and accept help”—and be able to delegate!

I’m fortunate that my husband has joined the writing team full-time, so he is very involved in editing and manuscript clean-up as well as plot brainstorming. That’s essential when there are so many different stories going in divergent directions and occupying different time periods. He also formats the ebook short stories and creates the covers for them. It requires a lot of trust and coordination, but it works for us.

I also have a part-time virtual assistant who helps me with things like Facebook ads and graphics, posting the content I write to my blog and some of the Twitter tweets, updating my newsletter and website and uploading interviews on my podcast. Without that help, I’d lose a lot more writing time.

I learned the hard way that skipping gym time is not good, and that goes for yoga too. So getting a workout in several days a week is up at the top of my must-do list. I stay happier and healthier. And because my hands and arms are my livelihood, I make sure to see my chiropractor regularly and sneak in a massage whenever I can. Every now and then I celebrate by taking a day off and not doing anything related to writing. (That’s OK—there’s more than enough housework waiting for me that’s been put off far too long!)

I also work with my publishers to see where they can help with promotion, arranging signings, setting up guest blogging opportunities—anything. If they can do it, I don’t have to—and it lets me focus on writing.

My dogs also help. They are wonderful stress reducers (most of the time), and when I’m stuck or feeling blue, giving them hugs and getting some puppy love is a real pick-me-up.

It also helps immensely to have a network of author friends, people I can talk shop with at conventions and connect with on social media, who share the same interests and frustrations. Sometimes just sharing a funny writing-related photo brightens the whole day! Meeting readers at conventions and signings is also a big sanity-saver. It often feels like we writers send our words out into the void, headed toward the end of the universe. It’s wonderful to hear from people who have read and liked what I’ve written—that makes all the late nights and rushed dinners worthwhile.

Oh, and did I mention a crockpot and a pizza delivery place on speed dial? Absolutely essential!

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, 2014), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread) from Orbit Books. Gail’s new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, debuts from Solaris Books in June, 2014. Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, will be published by Solaris in 2015. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Find her at, on Facebook as Winter Kingdoms, and on Twitter @GailZMartin.



4 comments to Gail Z. Martin: My So-Called Writing Life

  • Thanks again for the great advice on keeping sane (I guess that it is relative since all writers have to have a small bit of craziness). hehe The part about asking and receiving help is a real challenge for me since I try to be an independent person. Thanks for the ideas!

  • […] Hey, check it out–Gail Z. Martin has a blog post over on Magical Words – My So-Called Writing Life. […]

  • NewGuyDave

    That’s a hefty schedule. Exciting. I find eating healthy and exercising very important. It’s easier to concentrate on writing when I’m taking care of the physcial side of life. Runs and walks are a great place to brainstorm (except on a treadmill) 😉

    Also, excited to be in Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens with you.

  • Gail, that’s an impressive workload. I admire your production and wish you luck with all your projects. I would love to do more short fiction. I seem to write stories in spurts, but when I have lots of novel deadlines to deal with, the short stories slide. Maybe when I’m done with the current books. See you at ConCarolinas.