A day in the life of….Author Rebecca Stonehill

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The minute I started reading The Poet’s Wife I fell in love with Rebecca’s writing, she has a way of drawing you into each scene with her beautifully crafted sentences. I can’t wait for the gorgeously titled The Girl and The Sunbird to be released on 17th June. After learning a bit more about Rebecca I confess to being a little bit in love with her life. She’s super busy so I really appreciate the time she spent sharing a typical day.

 

I live in Nairobi which many people are surprised to hear rests at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet above sea level, so the mornings are almost always cold and fresh. I tend to start my day with a little yoga before a rushed breakfast, feeding our animals (three chickens, a cat and a dog) and frantic getting-ready to take my three children to school, aged 10, 8 and 5. For the first 3 years of living in Nairobi we had to drive there, but we recently moved house, so now we are able to walk to school which feels like a real luxury. Whether we are traipsing through mud in the rainy season, or just marveling at the odd chameleon or chongololo crossing the road (millipede – our first word in Swahili!) or a mousebird flying overhead, we love being able to stretch our legs in the morning.

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When I get back, I make myself a strong coffee (I’m not a great morning person and need quite a lot of help waking up!) and check my emails. My five year old son finishes school at lunchtime so I have the mornings to myself. I go for a run or do a yoga class (yes, I love yoga!) and then get down to writing, editing or researching, depending on what stage I’m at with my work in progress.

Power cuts are frequent here in Nairobi and can last for anything between five minutes and – the worst we’ve ever had – three days! As you can imagine, we get through a lot of candles…If my laptop runs out of power, I head to the nearest café where I have to fight for space at a table where many others in my area are also charging phones or computers. There is often a water issue as well. We have a big tank at the side of the house and it is filled with rainwater, but if it hasn’t rained for some time, it gets used up quickly and we need to contact somebody to tank the water in for us. If we don’t…well, there’s no water for cooking, cleaning or washing! These challenges used to drive me to distraction in the early days but now I’m used to them – this is Nairobi life!

I also run an after-school creative writing club for children, a story time session for pre-schoolers and volunteer at a girls’ vocational centre where we do creative, life and motivational writing activities. So as well as working on my novel or blog, I am often involved in preparing for these sessions.

The afternoons I spend with my little boy doing library duty at my kids’ school (I set up the library there last year), going to the market, playing games or trying to get him interested enough in an activity so I can continue with my work! My girls finish school at 3.15, and then it’s the normal after-school round of driving them to various activities. The traffic in Nairobi is horrendous so we do everything as locally as possible.

As we’re close to the equator, it gets dark at the same time year round here, at about 6.30pm. Like the mornings, the evenings are chilly so it’s all hot dinners, hot baths etc and sometimes sitting outside at night at the weekends round the fire wrapped in blankets, also to protect us from the blood-guzzling mosquitos (non-malarial here, thankfully.) My husband Andy (whose job in the water and sanitation sector brought us here from London three years ago) gets back before darkness falls. He mostly cycles to and from work because it takes him either half an hour to cycle or – wait for it – up to two hours to drive because of the delightful traffic here (People moan about the traffic here in the exact same way that my fellow Brits moan about the weather!).

By the time we have fed the children, scraped the infamous deep red Nairobi mud off them, helped with homework and music practice, read stories and coaxed them into bed, it’s not exactly rock n roll round at our place. But I always finish my day with searching the cupboard for the dwindling supply of chocolate we always bring back from the UK and then settling down with some books before conking out!

It’s been an amazing, inspirational experience living here in Nairobi. It won’t last forever, so I am always reminding myself to make the most of each and every day of it. Yes, even during a three-day power cut! After all, it’s the perfect excuse to have candlelit meals, get out the under-used guitar and really talk

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Thanks so much Rebecca for sharing.

You can buy The Poet’s Wife here, preorder The Girl and the Sunbird here and find out more about Rebecca here. 

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A day in the life of…Book Publicist Kim Nash

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Kim Nash – aka Kim the Bookworm – is Publicity and Social Media Manager for fast growing publishers, Bookouture, a fairy godmother to the authors she represents, book blogger and all round Wonder Woman. On top of her daily commitments, Kim has just completed her annual charity walk for The Hibbs Lupus trust, with her son Ollie. So what does a book publicist do all day? Let’s find out…

 

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I get up early, to try and squeeze in some work and social media activity before my 8 year old (Ollie) wakes up. We’re all early birds at Bookouture so from around 6am we’re checking Amazon rankings and sharing the news on our internal system.  Then I do the school run and get back to my desk.

Each day is different and I love that. Some days I have skype calls with my authors, some days I have to contact loads of press, some days I’ll be parceling books up to send out to press contacts, some days I’ll be contacting reviewers etc, organizing blog tours, organizing features and question and answer sessions.  There are days when we have cover reveals and NetGalley uploads to do and publicise so I have to prepare for those and then get chatting about in on social media so people know what to expect and when.

If I remember to eat during the day, I grab something quick and work through till it’s time to pick Ollie up from school or after school club. He normally sits at my desk with me and does his homework while I carry on and do a bit more work or if the weather is nice he makes me go outside and play football (he’s football mad!) He’s golden though and puts up with his mom working and constantly on the phone and only tells me off occasionally!

Then we cook tea together and settle down for the evening, me normally with my phone in my hand tweeting or facebooking one handed while watching a film before we settle down for bed with a story. Then I either get back to work after he’s in bed, or that’s my reading time.  I’m not a big TV watcher so am not one for sitting watching the soaps.  I find them a total waste of time and I have the attention span of Dory anyway!

I’m also an independent consultant for a skincare, make-up and health and well-being business too so I normally squeeze in a bit of contacting people about that, or watching podcasts or soundcloud audios and training for that, when Ollie is in bed.

I run a book club locally, so make sure that everyone knows about that and organise our guest authors. And I organise author and blogger meet ups in both London and Birmingham, so am busy with sorting stuff out for those too! All great fun though and keeps me busy and out of mischief.

 

Thanks so much for sharing Kim. You can listen to Kim speak more about her day on her Thankbookfor podcast and hear her unique way for teaching her son his left and right here, and find Kim’s blog here.

 

 

A day in the life of…Author Louise Walters

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If you haven’t read Louise Walter’s heartbreakingly beautiful debut, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase, where have you been?

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The story of Dorothea and Roberta stayed with my long after I’d finished reading. I can’t wait until Louise publishes the gorgeously titled A Life Between Us in February 2017. 

Despite being one of the busiest women I know Louise spared some time to share how she spends her days. I was exhausted just reading it!

 

My days begin either with my 6.30 alarm, or my seven year old coming into my room for his early morning hug – whichever comes first! I get myself and the children ready for the day, and then I drive my eleven year old to school. Home around 9.15 and time to start the day’s work which for me means home educating my seven and six year olds. Some days we go off out for the day, or we go to a home education event, or we meet friends for a play. On those days I get no writing or editing done. If we are having an at home day, we tend to do the “school” work in the mornings, for an hour or two. After that the boys choose their activities and I can sometimes sneak in some writing or editing, or composing blog posts, or catching up with Twitter… whatever I can fit in! It’s back to school in time for 3.15, home around 3.45 then it’s making tomorrow’s packed lunch(es), sorting out the evening meal, getting the laundry in…

If I am on any kind of deadline, or just keen to get some work done, I will start my writing or editing straight after tea, so usually between 6 and 7pm, and my husband takes over with the boys and gets them bathed and to bed. I manage a couple of hours before my concentration wanes. Then I have to stop. I work at weekends too sometimes, usually on Sundays.

It can be hard to find the writing time, which is one of the reasons I decided to give myself a year to bring out my second novel. Writing is time consuming and my time is in short supply. But I know how quickly children grow and my time will come back to me, bit by bit. I actually worry that having too many hours on my hands will be counter-productive, as I am so used to making the most of any time I have and not procrastinating! Even a ten minute stint is useful and can result in maybe 200-300 words. The truth is I will always write, and always find the time to write, no matter what else goes on in life.

 

Thanks so much Louise.

You can follow Louise on Twitter here.

Or read her fabulous blog here.

A day in the life of….Author Sue Moorcroft

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Sue Moorcroft is a super busy lady. Author of contemporary women’s fiction (currently signed to Avon) Sue’s next book is The Christmas Promise and is available to pre-order now. Sue also teaches creative writing, mentors and writes short stories and columns. I didn’t think she’d actually have time to cram anything else in to her super busy days but I was wrong. Read on to find out more.

 

A writing day sees me at my desk pretty early, generally between 7.15 and 7.30am, a cup of tea beside me. I work through my emails, fetch my second cup of tea and a bowl of porridge, then spend a while on social media. Twitter and Facebook are particularly interesting and useful to me, allowing me to connect with readers, other writers and all kinds of fascinating people.

Breakfast over, I’m ready for the real work.

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‘Real work’ can encompass a variety of tasks, though. Planning, research, writing a first draft, editing, talking over edits with my editor, more research, more writing, more editing … You get the picture. Writing a book is a big project and a range of skills are involved. I usually make time to read newsletters about publishing, too, as I think it’s important for me to keep some sense of what’s happening in the industry.

Then there’s all the business side – it all has to fit into my working day/week/year somewhere. I generally work 50 or 60 hours a week. I’m lucky that I seldom have a problem with motivating myself or prioritising tasks. I enjoy my work! (If you’d like to know more about why I think being an author is the best job in the world, read this post on my group blog.

I like to write in my study with nobody else in the house. This isn’t always possible and around courses or at conferences I sometimes end up writing on trains or aeroplanes, in coffee shops or in hotel bedrooms. When I am working from home I like to stop for a couple of hours to do something else: Monday Piano, Tuesday Zumba, Wednesday yoga, Thursday FitStep and Friday Zumba again. I think this programme attends to my mental and physical health.

Otherwise, I don’t stop for long for lunch (except on Wednesdays when lunch is at McDonald’s, after yoga) and drinks are taken while I work. I sigh and swear at interruptions from the phone or doorbell and the hours seem to disappear from under me.

I finish about 6pm to get a meal, and any further work, such as answering emails or messages on social media, I do from my after-dinner iPad/armchair combination. A favourite way to spend the evening is reading (unless there’s something to do with Formula 1 on the TV, as I’m an avid fan) but I’m pretty sociable and love to be out with friends, chatting over a meal. Then I just read before bed.

 

Thanks so much, Sue for sharing.

 

Award winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

 

Website: www.suemoorcroft.com.

Blog: https://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/sue.moorcroft.3

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor

Twitter @suemoorcroft

Google+: google.com/+Suemoorcroftauthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suemoorcroft

Instagram: suemoorcroftauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/862993.Sue_Moorcroft

Take Five Authors: https://takefiveauthors.wordpress.com

 

 

 

A day in the life of…author Renita D’Silva

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If you’ve never read a book by Renita D’Silva you are missing a treat. Renita writes beautifully. Her stories draw you in and each sentence is packed with evocative words that tantalise the senses.  I stumbled across The Stolen Girl a couple of years ago and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Her latest offering, A Mother’s Secret, is full of intrigue and mystery, her descriptions so rich I really felt like I was there. Renita really inspires me as a writer and I felt a little bit in awe as I asked her how she spends her day.

 

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My typical day starts at 6 am. I never used to be an early riser, but since having the kids, I can’t have a lie-in even if I want to – somehow, the habit of waking up with them, (they were both early birds, still are), has stuck and I wake at six now, or earlier, whether I want to or not.

My husband makes me my morning cup (it’s actually a huge mug) of tea before he leaves for work, without which I cannot seem to wake properly or start my day, be productive. I wake the kids, make sure they get off to school okay, then go on social media for an hour or so before settling down to write.

I try and write until noon every weekday. I tutor kids every evening, starting at half past three, so after lunch, I prepare for the evening’s lot of tuitions. From 3:30 to around 8pm, I teach, in between picking/dropping off my kids to their various activities. The time after is for my family and for reading. I don’t write at night unless I am behind with my deadline.

I love working with kids. They spark off ideas. While I am teaching, the solution to a particularly difficult plot hole will arrive in my head, fully formed. I also get my best ideas when washing the dishes, for some reason.

I tutor at a school on Saturdays, so I don’t get any writing done then. Sundays are for family, so no writing then either. As a rule, I try and write each weekday morning. Unless of course I am struggling to meet deadline – then it is every spare minute.

What I found hardest with working from home, initially – and I still struggle with it – was guarding my writing time. It is hard for people, no matter how well meaning, to understand that, despite the fact that I am at home, I still have to write, otherwise it will impact the balance I strive so hard to meet, so nothing is neglected – family, my tutoring – and so I get some time to indulge my hobby: reading. I tend to be something of a hermit now, when I am working to deadline. My friends understand that once I send the book off, I will contact them, and meet up for coffee and a catch up. I am quite a social person, but I do enjoy burrowing down with just my story. It is my time to be creative and productive and I have become better at defending it. Most of my friends understand, although they don’t realise just how many iterations and edits a book goes through. ‘I thought you had sent it off,’ is something I hear often.

I am so lucky to be doing what I love and I am grateful for it every day. However hard writing can be – and there are days when the words just won’t come, or when everything I write will not make the cut, when I wonder why I do it at all – there’s nothing else that gives quite the same satisfaction as putting the story that has been dogging my waking hours onto paper.

 

I agree. Thanks so much, Renita for sharing your routine with us. 

You can find Renita here and order A Mother’s Secret here.

 

A day in the life of…Crime author Jane Isaac

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An Unfamiliar Murder is Jane’s latest book (actually a rerelease of her debut). Anna Cottrell arrives home at her flat from work, expecting just to have a quick change of clothes before going to her parent’s 30th wedding anniversary celebrations. Instead she finds a dead body in her lounge and is then arrested and questioned for murder. This books is pacy, twisty, everything you want a crime book to be. DCI Helen Lavery is so relatable I was gripped from beginning to end.

Not only does Jane churn out good quality books at an alarming rate she also has a family, a job and a rather bonkers labrador. So how does she fit it all in? Let’s find out. 

 

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I still feel the bounce in my stomach when I receive an email offering me a contract for a new book. I still pinch myself to believe that it is all true. I’d dreamed of the day I would get published, the day I would see my book on the shelf in Waterstones, receive feedback, reviews, do book signings…

Book promotion is an ongoing basis and something I’ve had to fit into my already hectic daily schedule. Once I’ve bundled my daughter off to school in the mornings I spend half an hour on the computer dealing with emails, answering messages, tweets etc. Then it’s off to the day job for me. (Like many writers I squeeze my writing into my marginal time.) I usually return around three and run around the field with my incredibly naughty, but wonderfully lovable Labrador, Bollo. Then, back onto the PC to catch up again with social media, whilst welcoming my daughter in from school and cooking the dinner, occasionally to disastrous results (luckily my guys are very easy going)!

The evening time is when I start to think about the real love of my life: my fiction. A few evenings a week, around 8pm, I sit at the PC for an hour or two, gather my thoughts, and spend some time either researching, editing, or writing a new stretch. I don’t give myself a daily word count – if I manage 1000 words it’s a bonus – but prefer to write in scenes. Depending on their complexity I can research for hours, days, sometimes weeks before I am ready to get the words on the page.

For me, one of the most interesting elements of novel writing is research and it’s incredible what direction that can take. Some days I’m meeting interesting people like a former homicide detective to discuss police procedure, others I’m listening to some rare music or sitting outside a café filtering my thoughts and people watching. For my second novel, The Truth Will Out, I spent hours watching episodes of Top Gear and listening to rap music on YouTube, all in pursuit of my goal.

It may seem that I don’t have much time to write, but my characters are never far from my mind and often in the supermarket queue, or by the pool during my daughter’s swim class, I’m jotting down notes that will later form some prose in my next novel.

One of the wonderful things about becoming an author and sharing your work are the lovely people that you meet and messages you receive from readers. They still both surprise and thrill me, and I’m so touched that people take the time to get in touch.

The day my books landed in my local bookshop was a very exciting moment for me. Seeing one of my books sit on the shelf above one of my favourite crime authors, Peter James, is still an exhilarating moment, every time I visit the store.

 

 

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Thanks so much for sharing, Jane.

You can buy Jane’s books via Amazon UK here or here for the US, and visit her webpage here

A day in the life of… author Carol Wyer

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I’m so pleased continue my ‘Day in the Life of…’ series by welcoming Carol Wyer onto the blog. From the moment I first laid eyes on Carol’s fabulous blog Facing 50 with humour (He who laughs…lasts) I knew I’d love her books and I was right. Life Swap, the story of Polly and Simon is hugely entertaining and there’s a brilliant, unexpected twist, but as well as the quirky humour there are also moments that made me think about my own life and realise how grateful I am for what I have. The grass isn’t always greener. So how does Carol spend her days? I was expecting something a little bit bonkers and I wasn’t disappointed!

 

 

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My life is a little odd as I am somewhat reclusive and live in the country on a windy hill with my retired grumpy guts.

We travel a lot but when we are at home, life begins in the grumpy household as soon as Mr Grumpy gets up, usually about half past five or six o’clock. The chances are I’ll only have had a couple of hours sleep as I suffer from insomnia but he is mindful of that and tiptoes about trying not to disturb me, clutching his clothes and creeping downstairs to get dressed. Of course, I wake up and my brain goes straight into plot mode. I use the time in bed to “get into character” if I am writing a book. Like method acting, I try to imagine all my characters lives and their backstories. I want them to be as vivid or real as possible. It occasionally gets me into trouble like the time when I was trying to get into the mind of a psychotic husband murderer who was plotting to kill her husband by putting glass in a McDonald’s Happy meal.

After half an hour, Mr Grumpy will begin whistling tunefully downstairs which is actually code for “Are you going to lie there all day” so I get up and after a cup of tea with Grumpy, I’ll spend time on marketing and media. That involves scheduling tweets and blog posts and answering my emails or organising radio interviews. If I get through them quickly enough, I’ll begin working on my book.

Mornings are given over to housework, washing, ironing and housewifely duties. I’m ridiculously house proud and can’t bear clutter or mess so the house gets cleaned every day whether it needs it or not. My writing desk is the same. I can’t write until I have cleaned it and lined up my notebooks. I even line my pens up in order of size. I think I might have a slight OCD problem.

In spite of me being rude about him, Grumpy and I spend a lot of time together and we go out every day, whether that’s walking, taking up a new activity or trying out something new such as racing cars around a track. I always try to experience the things I write about which explains why I dived with sharks, ate locusts, went zorbing, took up stand up comedy and had a go at a zip wire and have been on television game shows. My writing has certainly led to some interesting times.

What’s left of the afternoon is always used for writing and I shut myself away in my office typing furiously until it is time to cook dinner. I’m not a great cook but I love my slow cooker. I throw in a load of vegetables and a piece of chicken equivalent and six hours later I have something that Mr Grumpy likes to eat with the minimum of effort.

Mr Grumpy goes to bed at about nine o’clock to listen to the radio and I head back to my office where I’ll hunker down for the night. This is my time. There’s no noise to disturb me; only the odd owl hooting and I can work until I am ready to grab some sleep. My office is on a separate staircase to the master bedroom so I don’t disturb him with my typing.

I’ll work all night or until I feel my eyelids drooping. When we are away I don’t use my laptop at all. I stick to the tried and tested method of writing all my ideas in my notebook. They get transferred when I get home.

I love writing. It keeps those little voices in my head quiet!

 

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Thanks so much for sharing, Carol.

You can buy Life Swap from Amazon; here in the UK and here in the US.