A day in the life of… author & writing school founder Chantelle Atkins

 

Today I welcome Chantelle Atkins to my blog who as well as writing books runs a writing school. It’s heartwarming to share Chantelle’s passion for life – she really is living her dreams. Over to you, Chantelle.

Like many writers, I can’t rely on my writing income to pay the bills, but I am fortunate, because my other jobs are just as much fun as writing. I’m a self-employed dog walker and pet sitter, and I also run my own writing based business; Chasing Driftwood Writing Group, which provides creative writing clubs and workshops to adults and children in my local area of Christchurch, Dorset. If you include writing, I technically run three self-employed businesses, and although I don’t think any of them will ever make me rich, I do feel immensely lucky to be doing so many things I enjoy and am passionate about. My dreams when I was a child were to work with animals and be a writer, so to be as busy as I am right now, feels like a dream come true. However, with four children to juggle aged between 3 and 14, I do struggle at times to get it all right! I’d like to tell you about a typical day in my life, which is today, Monday.

Morning. I’m up at 6.45 which is a bit of a lay in, as it’s the summer holidays so there is no school run. I’m actually up before the children, so enjoy breakfast and a cup of tea in peace! I feed my dogs and let the chickens and ducks out, and then I have to grab my 3-year-old son and get him dressed as we have some pet sitting duties to see to. Leaving the other kids asleep, we leave the house at 7.45 to drive down the lane to feed a neighbours guinea pigs. From there we drive further down the lane to pick up a dog for dog walking. After that, we also feed her and the resident cat and drive back home. My almost 15-year-old is up by now so she looks after my son while I take our own dogs out for a walk. There is just enough time for a coffee before my mum turns up to look after everyone, while me and my eldest child go to my writing club at a local hall. I normally do kids workshops every school holiday, but this time I am trying something new with a weekly, pay as you go writing club. So far, we have covered comic books, and using local maps to inspire stories! The next few weeks will also involve FanFiction and poetry and song! I absolutely love working with young people like this. I used to be a childminder, so starting Chasing Driftwood was an amazing way to combine working with kids with my passion for writing. An hour later, we are back home, but I only have time to let my daughter out of the car, while I drive off to another dog walking job.

Afternoon. After a gorgeous walk down by the river, I’m back home for lunch and a well deserved cup of tea with my mum and the kids, and my sister who has dropped by with her bunch. We haven’t seen each other much lately, so enjoy a really good catch up and gossip! They leave around 4pm, and I drag three of the kids out for a walk with our dogs down to the little river at the end of our lane. Bliss. At the moment, I am preparing for the release of my 6th novel (YA dystopian adventure called The Tree Of Rebels) whilst also putting the final touches to another novel. However, every time I leave my house and explore my local area of Hurn, I have another story in my mind. I have a four book YA post-apocalyptic story planned and I am just bursting with it. I can’t write it yet, but it’s just getting louder and louder, and every time I walk around this area, I come up with scenes and bits of dialogue. I am forever tapping into my phone as I walk!

Evening. I don’t usually get to do any real writing until my youngest is in bed. If I am lucky I might get the chance to look at my emails throughout the day, but that will be it. Once he is asleep though, the evening is mine, and I grab it hungrily. Writing is in my head all day, so much so that I am often extremely distracted and prone to making silly mistakes, like turning up on the wrong day for something. I’ve always been like this. My mum used to say I lived in my own world, and my nick-name was ‘cloth-ears’ because I rarely paid attention to anything anyone said to me. Now, I find it a struggle sometimes, to keep the house running and the animals sorted and the kids happy, find a way to earn money AND fit my writing in. I manage to do it all, just! The evening is lovely because I make a nice cup of tea, sit up in my room and let rip. At the moment, I am editing what will hopefully be the last draft of a novel called Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature. I am doing bits and bobs to prepare for the release of The Tree Of Rebels, and I am always planning my weekly blog posts. As a self-published author, I am doing everything myself, so need to dedicate a certain amount of time to building my author platform and networking with people. I have to say, I love every moment of it all! Currently, I am also going through the process of turning Chasing Driftwood Writing Group into a Community Interest Company, so that I can better access funding for all the writing based ideas I have! There is always planning in process for my workshops, which I run for kids and adults at various times, and my clubs. I am strict about actual writing though. Although it is editing right now, I commit myself to four chapters a night, no matter what. I do two chapters before I even look at emails or social media, then have a bit of a break to do other things, and then do the next two chapters. Being strict like this is the only way I get things done. I can’t wait to get these next two books out! They’ve taken two years of working on them simultaneously to get them right. After that, I will go back to another YA novel I have at third draft stage, and once that one is done, it will be time for the four book series I mentioned.

I love everything I do, and although there are a lot of ups and downs and uncertainties, I can’t see myself ever doing anything else. I have a lot of plans for the future, and just hope I can hold it all together well enough to succeed!

 

I’m exhausted just reading all that! Thanks so much for sharing, Chantelle.

Chantelle’s latest release, The Tree Rebels will be published on 11th August, you can find it here

Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere, This Is The Day and has recently released a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. Chantelle has had mulitiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine, and is also a reviewer with Underground Book Reviews. Her next novel, a YA dystopian is due for release August 2017.

Website/blog  Facebook  Twitter

B.A. Paris – The Breakdown Launch Lunch at The Ivy Club, London

fullsizerender-6

I had the pleasure of first meeting the lovely B.A. Paris at an author event last year. At that time I had just released my debut, The Sister, while hers, Behind Closed Doors had been out for several months. We bonded over our shared experience, our genuine bewilderment of both finally being published later in life and having No.1 Bestsellers and have championed each other throughout the process of writing our second tricky novels. She was thrilled for me when I published The Gift before Christmas and it shot to No. 1 and I was delighted to be able to join her at The Ivy Club yesterday to toast the launch of her second novel, The Breakdown, which is already soaring up the charts. fullsizerender-5It was lovely to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, over one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten. But first lets talk about the book.

img_9388The Breakdown is good. Not good in a ‘my friend is the author so I’m obliged to say that’ good, but ‘I started it last night, couldn’t put it down and have just finished it,’ good. From the opening chapter I was gripped by the story of Cass, a woman who is driving home late one night and passes a car that has broken down. There’s a raging storm, isolated countryside and I could feel Cass’s anxiety as she tries to decide whether she should stop and help, worried she could be putting herself at risk. Eventually she decides to drive on, a decision that ultimately haunts her throughout the rest of the book as the driver of the broken down car is found murdered and Cass has a creeping sense of unease throughout the story that she might be next on the killer’s list. The tension builds and builds throughout the story and anyone who loved Behind Closed Doors (and with over a million sales there’s rather a lot of people who did!) should love this story too.

img_9378The launch lunch itself was intimate, in a private room at The Ivy Club. I ate mixed beetroots with whipped goat’s curd, mixed seeds and moscatel dressing, followed by macaroni cheese and I finished with a cheeseboard. We drank champagne and red and white wine and chatted about books and writing. Being an author can be such a solitary existence sometimes, I really do treasure the time I get to spend with other writers.img_9380

The Breakdown is the WH Smith Book of the Week which I know B.A. Paris was very excited to discover, her ambition has always been to be able to visit a W H Smith’s store and see a copy of her book. The demand is so high W H Smith’s do keep selling out! As well as in all good bookstores you can also buy The Breakdown on Amazon UK here or Amazon US here and follow B. A. Paris on Twitter here.

fullsizerender-4

Does writing books get easier? Author to author chat with Claire Seeber

writing-tips

 

Writing The Sister was such fun. There was no pressure, no deadlines, no expectations. Signing a three-book deal is something I am still super-excited about and very grateful for, but the prospect of writing two more books to a deadline is a little daunting.

It was with great relief I settled down for a chat with Claire Seeber. Claire is currently editing her sixth (sixth!) thriller and having just devoured her latest novel, The Stepmother, in one sitting, I couldn’t wait to bombard her with questions.

Claire, six books! I can’t imagine. That must be an amazing feeling?

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing it long enough to have written six books! I’m just very grateful anyone still wants to read them!

I’ve found it quite emotional leaving behind the characters in The Sister to begin something fresh. How did you find writing a second book in comparison to your first?

Er..my 2nd book BAD FRIENDS was actually the book I started writing first! I was working full-time as a TV director when I had the idea, inspired by a programme I was making at the time (the book is about a TV producer who gets stalked by someone possibly very close to home). I wrote a few chapters and then left it on the shelf. When I got my first deal with Avon/ HC a few years later, I needed a 2nd book synopsis to prove I’d got more ideas up my sleeve, and BAD FRIENDS was it. Having said that, I remember being taken out to the River Café by my first editor (those were the days! Now it’s a Nandos!) and she asked me what I wanted to write about next, and I said ‘infidelity’. Simple as that, but I think that must have been for my 3rd book NEVER TELL. My books are meant to be in part about things that ‘matter’ as well as being hopefully a bit thrilling.

You certainly achieved that blend with The Stepmother. I’m feeling a lot of pressure to produce something that will be as well received as The Sister has been. How hard was it for you to write a second novel.

I think I was lucky that it wasn’t more difficult to find an idea – I certainly know the ‘2nd book syndrome’ can be horrible, and I was definitely worried that I wouldn’t deliver a book my editor liked as much as my first. Luckily she did – but it didn’t do as well as my first, ironically – though then my 3rd, NEVER TELL, did really well thank goodness.

That’s good and now book 6! I keep looking at the paperback of The Sister which sits on my bookcase and I can’t imagine how thrilling it will be to see another cover on with my name on it. Thankfully the idea for book two came to me as I was wrapping up book one but I’ve no idea what will come after this. Do you have ideas for future stories squirrelled away or do you take it one book at a time?

I always have lots of ideas scribbled down – I’ve learnt that if I don’t write something down IMMEDIATELY, I will forget! If I have a cracking idea at midnight as I’m dozing off, and convince myself I’ll remember in the morning – well I won’t!!! Many an idea’s been lost that way. When it comes to a new book, I sift through things in my head and my notes, and see what feels most important to me at the time, most current etc. Usually I will have a discussion with my editor about what I am writing next, and what she thinks is the best plan too – and that will push me in one direction or another. We don’t always agree, it has to be said! So more ideas, yes! Not sure if they’re any good but I’ve got them!

I have scribbled notes but when I come back to them I can barely decipher my writing! So reviews…. Although the reviews I have been sent for The Sister have all been very kind I’m trying to finish a decent draft of my second novel before I dive into Goodreads and find out what everyone really thinks. I’m not expecting everyone to love it, of course, but I’d rather have the second book written before I read anything that will potentially knock my confidence as a new writer. Did you write your second book before or after you published your first and do you think that makes a difference?

I wrote it after I’d written the first book LULLABY. As I’ve said, I’d had the idea beforehand for BAD FRIENDS, but I think I scrapped those early chapters and started over. I was on a tight deadline with Avon, and I remember it as a pretty stressful time; we’d just moved house into a complete wreck and I had two little boys under three at the time. It was pretty tough to find the time to write it!

Wow – when my boys were that age it was a challenge to even get dressed sometimes! Your reviews are brilliant. Do you feel the pressure to keep up the same standard or are you more relaxed about writing now?

Ah bless you! I could find you some bad reviews! There’s always someone out there who will say something bad; but I have learnt to take it on the chin, though that’s been a relatively long process.   It’s too soul-destroying to take it all personally; we have to realise that the internet breeds critics and everyone thinks they’re entitled to their opinion, (which they are, of course, but there are polite ways of criticising aren’t there?!). I’ve also learnt that people have very different reactions to the same book and that’s normal.

A thicker skin is something I’m going to have to work on I think. I feel quite protective of my characters. With The Sister I wrote Grace’s story as it flowed. I never once thought about genre or marketing. I never intended it to be anything other than what it was. Now, I’m aware I have signed a deal to produce two more psychological thrillers. Do you find genre is something you are very conscious of as you write?

Well, I suppose I’d made a conscious decision with LULLABY that I was writing a certain type of book and I knew that ‘crime’ in general was the biggest seller of the time (I needed to make some money, I had a very feckless now-ex husband & a baby I was desperate to stay at home with). Remember though, this was back in 2004 when the ‘domestic noir’ of today didn’t exist. When I was first looking for an agent in 2005, having written LULLABY, I found they were unsure what bracket I fitted into: it wasn’t straight crime as they knew it. It seems really odd now to remember meetings at Harper Collins HQ where they were unsure what readership to market, and had pie-charts and things about demographics! Then Gone Girl came along and the market EXPLODED!! But that was after my first 4 books had been published!

 In answer to your question, I knew I wanted to write what I called psychological thrillers (of course they’re called that generally nowadays), and those were stories with strong female protagonists, who had to deal with some frightening scenario in their ordinary lives, and usually had some kind of relationship issues/ romance thrown in too. So it wasn’t a genre I had particularly chosen, more a type of book I wanted to write, because I liked reading it. The closest contemporary books to what I was writing were Nicci French, when I started out. My ‘genre’ in my mind was a combination of lots of things – dangerous, scary, but a bit comic too, with a hint of romance often (though not always) – and about why people do bad things to each other.

That’s something that has always fascinated me too. I’m not very good at planning, I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch. Working to a deadline I think I need to be more organised. Do you outline your plots?

Yes and no. It’s a good idea to, I think, if you are on a deadline, because it can be easy to go all over the shop if you don’t. I did with my first, because I’d never written a whole long book before, and it meant I knew what was coming next. I did with THE STEPMOTHER, my new book, because I was under a lot of time pressure. In between, not always!

Planning is something I want to explore. I feel it has been a massive jump, writing for fun in my bedroom to writing to a deadline. How do you feel the writing process has changed for you from your first book to your sixth.

It’s definitely not so much fun, to be honest, once it’s a ‘job’ – as you’ve found out! Though the paradox is that you know someone wants it at least! My first book was very much escapism: I used to disappear into the world and it was a break from washing dishes and changing nappies.   I still do disappear into it, to an extent, but with a different mindset eg knowledge of deadlines/ realities of knowing I’m not the next best-selling Agatha Christie etc!

I think Agatha Christie is definitely in a league of her own! There’s plenty of books around on how to create a good thriller. Is there a formula?

I always write the best book I can; I want to write to a certain standard and to keep the pages turning for the reader, that’s the key to thriller writing, in my mind.   Not too ludicrous a plot, and page-turning! With characters the reader can believe in, if not necessarily like.

 Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me Claire.

You can find out more about Claire’s (6!!) books here.

51sAbVRBwDL

 

A day in the life of……author Steven Kedie

Writing full time is a luxury many of us dream about and although I fitted writing The Sister around a family and working part-time I’m always in awe of those who hold down a full-time job too.

Today, Steven Kedie, author of Suburb, shares with us how he juggles a career and two children under five  with the burning desire to write.

 Headshot_1

Like many people just starting out in this game called Writing, I am not full time. I have a job, a 9-5, that pays the mortgage and nursery fees. Most of my writing is done in short bursts: 500 words before work, editing at lunchtime, plot problems thought through and sorted out on runs I do after the kids are in bed. Every once in a while I get a full day where writing can be the priority, where my focus can be absolute. It’s one of those days I’d like to tell you about.

Wednesday

 I wake up tired. As always. Two kids under five will do that to you. It’s not just the kids today though. Yes, it’s not six o’clock yet and the youngest is crying, so that’s not helping. But they are not the full reason. There’s last week’s family holiday to Centre Parcs that none of us seem to have recovered from, the Stag Do in Leeds on Saturday night – that definitely hasn’t helped, the unexpected (unwelcome), hour long, night feed on Monday. But the main reason it took me ages to get to sleep last night was The Reader feedback.

Every writer has their Reader. That one you go to first with new work and say, What do you think? The one you know will be critical, insightful, brutal. The reader who helps makes you a better writer. Mine is my wife. Last night I gave her a draft of Ben, a short story I’ve been working on. I went out in Manchester to watch an open mic night and she stayed in and read my work. When I got home, feedback was waiting. Not your usual style, too much detail about things that don’t matter, boring. She’d only read four pages. There were some positive bits, but writer brains don’t tend to focus on the positive do they? So, instead of sleeping, I spent some time lay in bed running through every little bit of Ben’s opening.

Which brings me to this morning. I’ve got a full day of writing/ editing planned in. And, following last night’s conversation, more work to do than I thought. So as I get our two boys ready for nursery: encouraging breakfast down them, making sure swimming stuff is ready, putting shoes on, my mind is on Ben. How to fix it, what to change? And somewhere in all the early morning chaos, something clicks.

            What if… I say to my wife.

            Could work better, she says.

And the day ahead becomes less daunting. There’s a plan. Something to work towards.

I drop my wife at the tram station, the kids at nursery. Then home. Kettle on, empty the dishwasher. I eat breakfast in front of the computer. My draft is in front of me, my red pen ready. And I work. Cutting, moving sections, drawing lines through massive chunks of work I thought were important. The feedback from last night has convinced me it’s not. How right she was. I see it all with clear eyes on this read through. Something begins to take shape in these early hours of the working day. Ben no longer seems boring. The early drama of the story has been pushed further towards the start. Two characters’ stories were sitting in different chapters. They now sit side by side in the opening section. I’ve been at it for an hour and a half and I have progress.

Our cleaner arrives (I know, how middle class). I don’t like being in the house when she works. It’s awkward for both of us. So I print off the morning’s work and drive to my favourite local café. There’s something cliché about writing in a coffee shop but, as I don’t get these opportunities for full days of writing very often, I embrace it. The place is very quiet, which is unusual as normally there are kids (including mine) running madly round it. It’s an art café, aimed at families, so it’s to be expected but today it’s nice to enjoy their coffee (which is excellent) and read in peace. I study my work and then begin editing the rest of the story again. I’m more brutal now, killing those darlings with a swift flick of my red pen. Boring sticks in my mind so anything I think hints at that goes.

I go home for lunch. The house is empty and clean. I set up at the dining table again and eat as I work. I know if I stop to watch something on Netflix for half an hour I’m going to lose half an afternoon watching Californication for the third time and feel annoyed at myself later. I work until three: editing, editing, editing. I get up to change the CD every 45 minutes or so but other than that I stare at my words and try to improve them.

At three I put my running kit on and go running down the canal. No music, just the low engine noises of canal barges and the odd tram passing on the other side to soundtrack me. It’s nice, again a luxury, as ordinarily at this time I’m at my normal desk, doing my normal job.

Back at it after showering and hydrating, I work against the clock. Nursery pick up time approaches and I want to finish an edit of the whole story before I go. My leaving time gets put back by ten minutes three times.

And then it’s done. Another round of editing over. Ben and his world are saved, printed, ready for The Reader to cast her eye over and give more feedback. Feedback which again I know will improve it. Feedback I think you have to learn to take.

The whole family returns and the house fills with noise. The table that was my work station becomes a place to eat again, with the boys filling up with a post nursery snack to see them through until bedtime. Toy aeroplanes sit where the computer was, a child’s guitar rests where my notebook has been all day. There’s no sign to point to any of the work I’ve spent the day doing apart from a neat pile of A4 paper, waiting to be read, the top sheet reading: Ben. A Carl Stone Story. Steven Kedie.

 

18631633

Wednesday was fuelled by tea and one massive Latte. It was soundtracked by The Shadow Puppets, Bruce Springsteen and Brian Fallon.

Ben, is the second story from the world of Carl Stone. The first story, Carl Stone’s Girl, is available on Amazon, along with my other work, including my novel: Suburb.

Thanks for reading.  Steven

20501882Thanks so much Steven for sharing. You can find out more and buy Steven’s books here. 

 

Behind the scenes with Bookouture Publicity Manager – Kim Nash

 

Kim-Nash-picture-2wq9vkb9kym2ndw75rqozk

Kim Nash is Publicity and Social Media Manager for fast-growing publishers, Bookouture. An impressive title, but what does it actually mean? As I writer I’m eager for a glimpse behind the scenes and super busy Kim was happy to answer my questions.

 

Kim, when Bookouture takes on a new author at what stage of the process do you get involved?

An interesting question and lots of answers! Some authors that we have taken on have come to Bookouture because I have introduced them. I’ve read their work and loved it and passed it on to the editorial team for them to make a decision. Some we’ve taken on and some we haven’t.

That must be fabulous to play an active part in making someone’s dream come true.

It is and sometimes the editorial team get a book that they ask us all to read for our feedback. This is really exciting!

So an author signs a book deal. What happens next?

When we decide to take an author on, I introduce myself and we ask them to fill in a questionnaire so that we can learn more about them and look at potential PR opportunities. I try as well to have a skype call with the authors quite early on, so that they understand the process of how I work and when some of the things that I do happen.

Running up to pre-release, how do you get the book out there?

I share the cover reveals on social media which I love doing. It’s so exciting listening to everyone’s reactions and seeing how much they want to read the book, just from seeing the cover. And when the book goes onto NetGalley, I announce that on social media too.

And readers can request a copy of the digital book via Net Galley?

On NetGalley we are really looking for committed bloggers and reviewers to feature our books on their blogs. Reviews are so important to an author.

Do you read all the books that come through Bookouture? 

I’ve always tried to read every single one of our books before they go out to reviewers but with the amount we have out all at the same time right now, sometimes the reviewers get them at the same time as me. I would find it very difficult to promote a book that I hadn’t read and always find it easier if it’s a book that fits into the genres that I like reading. As I’m a blogger too, I hope I understand the pressures that bloggers are under and publishers have to understand that blogging is a hobby not a job!

How do you structure your time, particularly as social media posts are sometimes done in the evenings?

I’m a social media addict so I’ve always got my computer, my iPad or my iPhone close to me at all times. I have had many times when I’ve been out at the park with my son, or playing football in the cul-de-sac where we live, while doing a cover reveal. As long as I have wi-fi nothing stops me.   A lot of our work happens in the evening though, that’s the nature of our business and when readers/bloggers are at home and working on their blogs.

Do you instinctively know when a book’s going to do well.

It’s another great question. I know what I like to read and I know what a lot of bloggers like to read. As a HQ team, we watch chart positions constantly and send messages to each other from 6am to 11pm and are chatting all the time about books on the move. We normally get a sense through pre-orders and how many people are talking about our books and what they are saying about them, to see how they’re going to perform. And sometimes you just read a book that you KNOW is going to be a massive hit!

Exciting times! Thank you so much Kim.

Bookouture are currently open for submissions. 

12833189_10153911739193376_1269548836_n-300x268

 

A day in the life of…Author Louise Walters

tumblr_inline_nlcvomRuVo1s61f2g

 

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

51xYdDDpD1L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

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.

Author chat with crime writer Jane Isaac

jane

 

Since writing The Sister I’ve become a little bit obsessive about quizzing other writers, hoping to glean a nugget of wisdom that will bring some structure and sense to my somewhat disordered days. Jane Isaac has written four books, her latest release Beneath the Ashes is available to preorder now. Jane kindly found time to chat over coffee and cake.

51ZDpwCgyTL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

 

– Jane, I managed to write The Sister without it impacting too much on my family life and business, but now I’m writing book two and navigating the edits and marketing for book one I’m finding life quite frantic. How do you structure your time?

 Ha! I’m not sure my life has a structure at all. I write part time and fit it around the day job, my family and a very naughty Labrador.

– I find writing at home quite distracting. There’s always the temptation to put a load of washing on or stare aimlessly into the fridge. Where do you write?

I work from home, mostly. We have a family PC in the lounge and I also have a laptop which I use on the sofa, at the table, in bed, or out beside the pool while my daughter has swim class. Most of my writing is done in the evenings and weekends.

– I try to aim for 1000 words a day. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Do you have a minimum word count you try to achieve?

I don’t worry too much about daily word counts. I tend to work in scenes, usually a few at a time, and slot them into my script as I move forward.

– That makes sense. I think I put myself under too much pressure to force words out sometimes rather than stopping at a natural break. Some writers I’ve spoken to have schedules to ensure they keep to deadlines. Is that something you do?

A schedule? What’s that? I do try to set myself deadlines, e.g. I want to be halfway through my current book by the end of…… , although life does have a habit of getting in the way sometimes.

– I know what you mean and sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. My ‘researching’ often ends in my buying something from Amazon. Do you research before you start writing?

When I’m writing, what I concentrate on at any one time depends wholly on my mood. If the words aren’t flowing, I’ll do some research. If I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll put it to one side, work on another and come back to it later. Failing that, I’ll relax and read someone else’s book!

– I’m loving the publishing process. Seeing the stages a book goes through before it hits the shelves. It was daunting at first to be utterly absorbed in book two and have the edits for book one ping into my inbox. I put aside book 2 completely while I edited book one but I think next time I might try to write a small amount of new material each day to keep the flow going. How do you approach it?

 I find edits all consuming, so I tend to take a break from writing new work, focus on them until they are finished, then clear my mind and get back to the script I am working on. It’s the only way I can cope with them!

– I’m organising a launch for The Sister, and the thought of doing a reading, public speaking in general, terrifies me. Is it something you enjoy?

Naturally shy, I dreaded events in the early days. I still suffer with nerves, but do really enjoy getting out, meeting people and talking books. It gets easier with time and book people are so lovely.

– Perhaps I’ll have a large glass of wine first!

 Haha, you’ve caught me nursing a sore head this morning after the village book club last night. Wine and books are the perfect combination, sometimes too good!

– I feel I need a drink before I go on Goodreads! My reviews have all been so lovely so far and learning what people like about The Sister is proving really valuable in helping me shape book two. I’m steeling myself for the inevitable bad reviews that will come though. How do you cope?

Don’t dwell on them. (I’d love to say don’t read your reviews, but nobody does that). Some people will love your book, some won’t. Every writer gets bad readers. Glance at them if you must, then move on and work on something new.

Thanks so much Jane. It’s been lovely chatting.

IMG_5832