Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Guest blogger: ANNA HACKETT

Please welcome guest author, Anna Hackett. Anna is a mining engineer by day and a writer by night. She loves combining action, adventure and a healthy dose of romance in her stories. Her latest release, Taken by the South Wind is available from Silhouette Nocturne Bites and all online booksellers.

Leave a comment and you will be entered into a drawing to win a free download of one of Anna's stories!

Q: Welcome Anna! Please tell us about yourself and what you write.

A: Thanks Kelly for having me here. I’m married to the love of my life, Karl and we live in an isolated mining town in northern Australia (beautiful beaches but lots of crocodiles, sharks and killer jellyfish.) I’m a mining engineer by day and writer by night. I spend my work days in a hard hat and boots and my weekends hunched over my laptop lost in my own worlds.

If I’m not writing I have my nose in my Kindle. I’ve always been a reader and it was that love of reading that sparked my interest in writing. That or the creative side of my brain needed an outlet since my days are mostly numbers and calculations!

I currently write paranormal romance and have several short stories published with Harlequin’s Silhouette Nocturne Bites line. I also write action-adventure romance. I love combining adventure and my love of history with a happily ever after. That’s why the paranormal and suspense genres suit me so well.

Q: How do you manage your time to ensure that you will write consistently?

A: For me, not writing isn’t an option. I have this obsessive/compulsive urge to write. If I’m not writing I’m pondering plot problems, brainstorming my next scene or thinking about my next story idea. I am fairly disciplined and do treat writing as a job. I do the bulk of my writing on the weekend.

I have an office…and have to force myself to sit in there sometimes. I can write on the couch, out on the patio, at the kitchen table and at the coffee shop BUT I’m more productive at the desk in my office. What I did was track how many words I wrote at all my various locations and the numbers don’t lie! I’m working hard to get into my office more.

The most important thing for me in finding the time to write is my supportive husband. Sometimes he chases me to my desk! And he’s a fiend at putting visual reminders up about how many words I said I’d write today or how many chapters I said I’d revise. Then he checks in every few hours to see how I’m going. I think writers need to set some “rules” with their families and carve out some writing time where the family knows they can’t disturb them. Get your family involved in helping you succeed – make them a part of it too.

Q: Some writers believe in writer's block, others don't. What's your take on it? Can you give us a strategy that's worked for you?

A: I try not to think about writer’s block too much. I moved country and jobs a year ago and my writing certainly suffered until I was settled and back in a routine. I think writer’s block is probably a reflection of what’s going on in your life at the time. I don’t think there’s a magic pill to solve it except hard work and perseverance. Try not to dwell on it and get down. Make yourself write, give yourself permission to write crap and keep pushing until the words flow again.

Q: Can you tell us about a time that you got a great idea at an unusual time-- say when you were in line at the grocery store or when falling asleep-- and how you incorporated that into your work?

A: I get ideas all the time – usually in the middle of a movie (action movies are my favorites!) My husband’s accustomed to me saying “Press pause, I just got a story idea and have to write it down.” I keep a list of ideas and reread it every now and then when I’m thinking about my next story – it varies from a couple of words to a half page on a premise, character or setting.

I also keep a notebook beside my bed. Falling asleep or waking up are good times for ideas to strike. As I’m falling asleep, I often think about the next scene I’m going to write and it often heads in a different direction than I had planned.

My first Bites, Savage Dragon is about modern-day dragon knights who hunt down dragons turned wild. It was when I was falling asleep one night I had the idea to have different types of dragons with different powers (based on the ancient Chinese elements of earth, metal, fire, wood and water). I was thrilled with how my dragons turned out.

Q: Some writers use daily statements like "I write easily and well every day" as a way to stay motivated and keep creativity levels high. What do you do?

A: I have a list of affirmations that I look at when I need them. I have one I think of every day “I am a #1 NYT bestselling author” – why not aim high! To stay motivated, I love to read and watch movies. Reading a brilliant book or watching an exciting movie motivates me like nothing else and helps my creativity.

Q: Which do you like better: first drafts or revisions? Why?

A: Gosh, this is a hard question. When I’m doing a first draft, I like revisions better. When I’m revising, I like first drafts better. The grass is always greener! When the story is flowing, the first draft is wonderful. On the flip side, my engineer brain feels quite happy with a list of revisions. I start at the top and work my way through them. I do find it a little easier to make myself sit down and revise because I know what I need to get done.

From Kelly~

Thanks for being here Anna!

Please leave a comment if you want to be entered into the drawing for a free story. For more about Anna, check out her website and blog: and


  1. Hi Kelly,

    Great post, Anna!

    I was just thinking about the last question - my response would have been unequivocably: I enjoy first drafts more. Then I realised that's because I'm revising at the moment! Hehe.

    Isn't Karl a sweetheart? There would be writers out there thinking they might like to steal him, I'm sure!

    I also get ideas at night, or especially just waking up. Unfortuntely, I'm too lazy/sleepy/non-compus to write them down and I lose the, That's annoying. Sometimes, they come back though, thank God!

    Great work, ladies! Em.

  2. Hi Anna and Kelly, great post!
    I agree that perserverance is definately the key to writing =)
    As for stories coming to mind at weird times, I was half asleep in the bathtub the other night when a short story - from start to finish - flowed in my mind! Gasp!! I'm a pantser LOL!! I guess remembering the story is the hardest, hence your notebook!

  3. I really enjoyed these questions and answers, especially the answer to the daily motivational statement. I have a very similar one, jotted on a piece of paper, in with my make up, so I see it every day, usually in the morning! Thanks for another great interview, Kelly!

  4. Hi Em --
    I'll fight for Karl to the bitter end (-: He is a sweetheart. Even comes to writer's conferences with me.

    Sounds like you need to put a notebook beside your bed. I believe the ideas that are meant to be will always come back. Good luck with those revisions!

  5. Hi Mel --
    Hello to my soon-to-be fellow Nocturne Bites author!

    I'm laughing over your story flash in the tub. I LOVE relaxing in the bath and if I'm not (riskily) reading my Kindle in there, I'm thinking about my story.

    You're right, perseverance is key. Good luck getting that new short story written.

  6. Hi Becky --
    Glad you enjoyed the Q&A! Excellent idea to put your motivational statement right where you'll see it every morning.

    Hmm, I might have to borrow the idea and tape mine to my mirror (-: My makeup bag wouldn't work since I work at a mine and refinery (not to mention the tropical environment) and I have the luxury of not wearing makeup every day.

  7. Hi Anna! Thanks for responding! You are certainly welcome to borrow my idea! There are days I don't put any makeup on, too, but I also have my combs in the same little treasure box, so I still see it every day, and make myself read it! :)

  8. Becky --
    Good for you for reading your affirmation every day. Us writers need to find those things that keep help us motivated and our creativity pumping.

    Since my hubby likes sticking visual reminders up, I might enlist him to help me...except I might end up with a whole wall of them (-:

  9. Anna --

    So cool that you tracked your productivity in various rooms. Smart! I'm adding that little gem to my DEFEAT SELF-DEFEATING BEHAVIORS lectures, and crediting you.

    I can see Karl posting your word-count goals and checking on your progress. Knowing Karl, I'm sure he nudges you in positive ways. It takes a special guy to nudge, not harass.

    Karl is special. ;-)

    I'm looking forward to the on-line class you're teaching next year on writing short stories. What's that catchy title?

  10. Hi Anna,

    Geez, did I need your post right now! It's so great to hear about how another writer writes. Sometimes it's a very lonely pursuit! I echo Em, you are very lucky to have such a supportive hubby :)
    I find I have no trouble with motivation, my problem is self doubt. I think I really should follow your example and gather a list of positive affirmations or stick some inspirational quotes to my computer.
    ps. love the idea of giving ourselves permission to write crap too :)

  11. Hey Margie --
    Thanks for dropping by. I loved your guest post here at Kelly's blog and your fantastic How To interviews on your blog. And you take anything you want for DSDB.

    Karl is special and I'm lucky to have him (-:

    That title is Short Story, Big Impact and don't forget you're doing a lecture for it!!

  12. Hi Rach -
    Yep, I'm lucky to have my hubby. And I also love hearing how other writers write.

    Good luck with those affirmations. They are a great idea and will help wither that self doubt (and Margie's DSDB will help too!)

  13. Thanks so much for being with us today, Anna, and to everyone who posted such lively comments. Like Margie, I like that idea of tracking word counts in various rooms to determine productivity; I will give it a try too although I already have a hunch that writing in bed won't be as productive as sitting at my desk. :)

    Look forward to seeing who wins the free download.


  14. Thanks for having me, Kelly --
    It was great to be here talking about creativity.

    You won't know which location is more productive until you track it (-: Good luck.

    Thanks again.