Guest Post: How One Single Mom Claimed Her Own Writing Space

If you know me at all, you know why this author’s guest post spoke to me. Both THE GLASS WIVES and THE GOOD NEIGHBOR feature single mom main characters who, amidst unique and universal struggles, have heart and moxie. Just like the very real author, Tracey Scott-Townsend. 

If you think you can’t find the time or space to write, read Tracey’s guest post again. Then stop kvetching and get back to work.

I did.

Amy xo

A Room of My Own

by Tracey Scott-Townsend

Rebecca Cover ontheway frontWhen I became a single parent my sons were aged nine, seven, and four. My daughter was one. My youngest son was having difficulties and I felt guilty that the marriage breakdown might have made them worse. After an initial surge of euphoria I succumbed to depression, feeling a failure for allowing my marriage to break down and maybe damaging my children. I’d never intended to be a single parent.

Swallowing my pride, I went to the doctor. Within weeks I felt better. Spring came and my kids were brilliant, we pulled together as a team. Their father visited every weekend at first, until he moved too far away, and we often still did things together as a family.

We got used to being on our own more and I was stronger than I thought. But I lived in a crowded house with my children and it curbed my creativity. For a couple of years I had to manage making artwork (I was a visual artist prior to 2010), alongside my toddler daughter, (making sure she didn’t eat too much paint!). I kept my writerly creativity going by making up stories on a nightly basis to my two youngest as I tried to get them to sleep. I also spent hours reading stories and poems to them all when things started to get out of control. It stopped us all shouting.

We moved house and I slept in a tiny room which I had to take the door off due to lack of space. There was only a curtain to hide behind. And nowhere I could leave out work or have any thinking space.

What gave me the idea to get a shed? I don’t really know, but I remember going to view a variety of them at the shed-yard. The smell of sun-warmed wood, the soft silence within the enclosed space as I closed the door. The out-letting of relaxed breath. My own little space. I can breathe now.

My shed arrived in our garden, a superb 8ft by 14ft model with three windows along one side. Somewhere to work. When my daughter was at nursery and the boys at school I constructed and planned and produced. It was hard breaking off at 3 o’clock. I collected them from school, prepared their food, helped with homework, read with them and put them to bed. Sometimes I’d go out to the shed again in the night, a magical alone-ness. It helped me think.

I had to sell the large shed and get a smaller one for the garden of the house we moved to next. 6ft by 8ft, it was barely big enough to make art in but had enough space for a desk and a lamp and a bookshelf. Electricity was run out to the shed via an insulated wire. I had an electric radiator although the shed wasn’t insulated. But I could work out there with a blanket around my shoulders and another over my knees. The kids were slightly older, I could leave them alone in the house for longer; I now had some time to really think.

Because this is the thing: so much about being a writer is to do with thinking, and you can’t do that with a bunch of kids shouting around, fighting and bickering or having noisy fun. I just needed to get out there and insulate myself from the chaos. I started to write seriously because I’d learned by now it was all about setting targets and sticking to them, within constrained time limits.

My latest shed is my forever-shed. When I move house it will go with me. The same size as the previous one; it has an apex roof and a solid front door. I laid lino tiles on the floor and covered them with a rug. It’s insulated and I have Japanese screens and hangings on the walls, and a clock, and a radio. I have a heater and two lamps, and photos of my children, three of them now grown and left. And I do all my writing in there; I set myself deadlines and meet them. It’s a proper workplace that I take as seriously as any that I’d commute to on a train or a bus.

If you have no space in your home for a room of your own, I urge you to consider a shed, it doesn’t matter how tiny, even to get in there an hour a day will really make a difference.

signingTracey Scott-Townsend spends her writing time in her much-loved shed. It’s a world of her own making, like her stories. She says that stepping inside and closing the door behind her induces a feeling like the hushed atmosphere of a church.

She is the mother of four children, three of whom have now left home: one of them particularly far away. Still, she’s sure that Australia will provide as much inspiration for her writing as Iceland has done, (another place she was introduced to by her son). She’s really hoping to witness a full show of the Northern Lights next time she is there.

Closer to home, Tracey enjoys travelling in the bus-with-a-woodstove with her husband and their Labrador, Riley. They are always on the lookout for a scenic layby in which to sleep. Last year they spent time all over the British Isles, including the Outer Hebrides, which will be the setting for a future novel. In a few years they plan to set off on the road (by way of the sea) for an extended period of time: after all, writing can be done anywhere.

Guest Post: Author Andrea Lochen Has A New Baby AND A New Novel

IMAGINARY THINGS.9.28.14I started writing fiction when my kids were junior high and high school, therefore I marvel at the moms who write books with small kids under foot—sometimes literally. And then there’s author Andrea Lochen — who was getting ready to launch her second novel, IMAGINARY THINGS, while waiting for her first baby (I know! I know! How productive can one woman be?). 

Below, Andrea shares with us three important points to remember when you’re expecting a book baby–or honestly, this is good advice at any stage of the writing life.

I have to pay much closer attention to #2, celebrating the small moments. I don’t do it often enough. 

What about you? Share your thoughts in the comments, and please welcome Andrea Lochen to WFW!

Amy xo

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Guest Post: Author Kathryn Craft Asks “Are Likable Characters Important In Women’s Fiction?”

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EDITED TO ADD: THERE’S A GREAT CONVERSATION GOING ON IN THE COMMENTS! CHECK IT OUT!

Today on WFW, my friend, author Kathryn Craft, poses a question that has attracted a lot of attention in recent writerly media. IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE LIKABLE CHARACTERS? Even moreso, in women’s fiction (because that’s why we’re here) is it important for you to wish you could be friends with the characters in the book? This is a question I know the answer to for me. It’s not imperative — but my favorite books always end up being the ones I wish I could step inside, that I wish didn’t end, and the ones where I wish I could have coffee with the main character. That doesn’t mean the book has to be always happy or offer an HEA ending, it just means I have to like the main character and wish I could know her better. I also have loved some books where this isn’t the case, but when I think back on old and new favorites, that’s the prevalent theme. I’ll share some of my personal list in the comments. 

Below, you’ll learn Kathryn thoughts on the subject (a little different from my own), as well as about her new, compelling book, THE FAR END OF HAPPY, which was inspired by real-life events. Kathryn is a brave and talented author. And a real advocate for her author friends (I should know). 

Please welcome Kathryn Craft to WFW—and share your thoughts and favorite women’s fiction books in the comments!

Amy xo

Do You Seek Friends in Women’s Fiction?

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Guest Post: Author Susan Örnbratt Asks: “What is a lucky writer?”

Cover for websiteHere is a lovely reminder from author Susan Örnbratt that we should find inspiration in the everyday as well as in the extraordinary. And, that sometimes things happen just when they should. Even if it’s ten years later. Please welcome Susan to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo

How a Grandmother’s Secret Words Became a Granddaughter’s Treasure 

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Author Interview: Author Holly Robinson Talks About Emotion, Mystery, and Names—Oh My!

Haven Lake_FCSometimes you just click with someone, and that’s how it was for me and my friend, author Holly Robinson. I’m not sure even how or when we first connected, likely due to her first novel with NAL, The Wishing Hill, which was published around the same time as The Glass Wives. TODAY, Holly is launching her third novel with NAL, HAVEN LAKE (and has another coming out in the Fall, OMG). The best part of interviewing an author-friend is learning new things about her, her writing, her stories. They’re not usually the kinds of things that come up in casual phone conversations, but they’re the things I want to know and the kinds of interviews I want to share here.

Actually, that’s the best part of interviewing anyone—quenching my own curiosity by getting the answers to MY questions and knowing what, how, and why those answers would be of interest to others. (Hello, Journalism Degree!!)

Holly’s novels are family dramas strewn with emotion and mystery. Family secrets are woven through each one, as well as vivid settings, and character voices that ring clear and true. You’ll see what I mean when you read the interview! 

Amy and Holly and lots of plates on a wall—September 2014

Amy and Holly and lots of plates on a wall—September 2014

Please welcome Holly Robinson back to WFW!

Amy xo

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Dating

…in book publishing.

Don’t roll your eyes. It’s not THAT kind of blog. But if you are here looking for a match to keep you busy at night (or in the morning), why not look through some of the books I’ve featured on WFW since 2011—and take your pick?

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***THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED BECAUSE THESE ARE NOT GLADIOLAS (as I said they were) BUT GERANIUMS! THANK YOU BETH HAVEY. As evidenced below, I am NO gardener! 

As most of you know, I was able to share the cover of my second novel last week, just a day after my birthday.

The Good Neighbor boasts a beautiful teal door (no, it’s neither gold/white OR blue/black) with an endearing mail slot and blossoms of fuchsia geraniums poking in from the side. I can just imagine the rest of the scene (of course I can!) — but can’t you? And when you read The Good Neighbor I hope you’ll picture Izzy Lane and her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Feldman, when you see this cover.

I hope you’ll imagine stepping inside their homes and lives.

What you can’t imagine though, is that until a few days ago, the pub date for The Good Neighbor was not mid-October, but the end of December!

I’d gotten used to the idea of a holiday book launch, except for one thing.

How on earth was I going to have fuchsia geraniums at my book launch at the end of December? Yes, folks. This is what plagued me. So, not only am I thrilled that now I almost taste my launch date (8 months is NOTHING) I now only have to keep geraniums alive through the fall! If I can write two novels (and I’m working on the third) I can certainly do that. Right? If I can raise two kids into adulthood on my own, as well as four dogs, I can certainly keep plants alive, right?

Don’t count on it.

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But I’m going to be determined with the geraniumss. (I’ll keep you posted!) I’m also considering painting my front door teal. And if you know me at all, you know, I’m not kidding.

I guess what I really want to share here is that there is so much about publishing that is out of the author’s control. Like a publication date.

You think that one or two people wave their publishing wands and the decisions are made. It’s more like forty-seven people, their marketing teams, their financial gurus. And their mothers. Not to mention some folks who actually sell books and have opinions. (YAY for them!)

I lucked out with this switch-up. I’m thrilled. Giddy. But had the pub date remained in the midst of holiday season, I’d have made the most of that as well, alas, without gladiolas.

People ask when is the best time to publish a book? Is there a benefit to summer, spring, fall, or winter? Perhaps. Or maybe not. I think the best thing to remember is that we can only control our own writing and then, how we react to and capitalize on EVERYTHING ELSE THROWN OUR WAY.

Including that pub date.

I’m ridding my thoughts of holiday tie-ins (and there’s a big one) and coming up with all the long-lead time publications that might be interested in a story set in Philadelphia. Or about blogging. Or a single mom. Or about lies, as the consequences of secrets and lies are a big part of The Good Neighbor.

As is hope. And friendship. And love.

Seems to me those could possibly be things people would read about any ol’ time of year. Don’t you think?

But mid-October sounds especially good.

Unless it changes again! ;-)

As things move along with production and promotion for The Good Neighbor I’ll keep you updated.

And yes, it’s just as exciting the second time.

Amy xo

PS I’ve had fuchsia geraniumss on my FB author page for months. I saw the cover ages ago but wasn’t allowed to share. Now I have new FB cover photo. What? You’re not part of my author page? You can fix that by clicking here: OMG I’M GOING TO FIX THAT NOW! 

 

Author Linda Pennell Writes History Fiction, Embraces Social Media, And Laughs At Those Who Belittle Women’s Fiction

Confederado-Soulmate 105_105x158As an author of contemporary fiction, I always jump at the chance to ask questions of historical fiction authors. To me, the research process seems laborious and daunting—but to them, it drives the story and fuels their creativity. Today, author Linda Pennell shares with us a little of her inspiration, method, and how she combines her love of the past with the social media frenzy of today. I also love her attitude toward the scuttlebutt surrounding the women’s fiction label. 

Please welcome Linda Pennell to Women’s Fiction Writers.

Amy xo

 

Author Linda Pennell Writes History Fiction, Embraces Social Media, And Laughs At Those Who Belittle Women’s Fiction

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