My First Month of Being a Full Time Writer

It’s been just over a month since I took the decision to give up my day time job and spend a year concentrating on writing. This wasn’t an easy decision for me. After all, having that pay cheque come in on a regular basis is certainly something to rely upon. But after long discussions with my husband and family, plus some very lovely royalty cheques that came through at the right time, I decided to take the plunge and go for it!

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So what have I learned in the first month? Quite a few things, actually. Here’s a taster of them!

1. You have to have a routine

It’s all about getting your bottom on the seat in front of the laptop. Without a routine, there are so many other things you can do to procrastinate. My routine looks a bit like this:

7am – Get up and get kids up

7:30am – Feed dog, make breakfasts, keep shouting at kids

8am – Kick the kids out to school & take dog for a walk

9am – Make tea, put bum on seat, and WRITE

12 noon – lunch & play with dog

1pm – WRITE SOME MORE

3pm – Social network & Marketing

5pm – FINISH

2. You have to know when to stop

When I used to leave the office, it was easy to climb into the car and leave work behind. When you work at home, it’s not that easy. There’s always the temptation to do just one more thing, write one more chapter, and before you know it, it’s time for bed and nobody has eaten dinner! I’m as strict with my start times as I am with my finish times. I want to make this job sustainable, and that would be impossible if I work 24/7.

3. You have to tell your brain that it’s time to think about something else

This kind of ties in with the point above. I have the tendency to still think about my stories even when I’m not doing them. As well as check in on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. But it’s necessary to turn this off sometimes, and pay full attention to something else. Not only does it mean I won’t get divorced (!) but it should also allow my brain to reboot, ready to write the next day.

4. You have to spend time with your family

One of the main reasons for giving up work was to spend more time with my family. Before, when I had a job, I was spending my evenings and weekends writing, and this meant less time for them. My children are teenagers now, so need less on-time from me, but they still deserve my attention, and damn it, I kind of like them! Same goes for my husband. So we plan out some fun things to do together, like going to the movies or the theater.

5. You have to have a plan

At the beginning of this year I made a 12 month plan. This included all my marketing aims, my writing aims and things I wanted to achieve in my personal life. Each month I revisit this plan, making goals for the following 4 weeks. Each day I know what I’m going to be doing, whether that be writing 3000 words, doing a blog post or formatting my next e-book. This plan means I’ll hopefully be able to achieve my longer-term goals, as well as making my days meaningful.

6. You have to find time to read

This is one of the things I’ve found harder to do since I’ve given up work. It seems like a guilty pleasure, and time that I could productively be spending elsewhere. But this is a fallacy. Reading is one of the most important things a writer can do. It helps with the craft, with seeing trends, and also can help to inspire you. After all, the reason I wanted to be a writer was that I loved to read. I’d hate to lose this love.

After this month I’ll be adding reading into my plan. I’ll even schedule the time in if I have to. What a great job this is!

 

So that’s what I’ve learned over the past few weeks. And I have to say I’m loving being a full-time writer, so far. It’s by far the most enjoyable job I’ve had, and definitely the most rewarding. I can stay in my pyjamas all day (although I get strange looks on the dog walk), I can make a cup of tea whenever I want, and I get to spend time on Facebook and tell myself it’s work! All in all, a total win!

 

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Don’t forget my next book, Canada Square, will be released on 7th April. It’s available for pre-order now, using the following links:

AMAZON| iBOOKSTORE | KOBO NOOK GOOGLE PLAY

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Watching X Files with no lights on… #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jenna Da Sie’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!
This week we’re talking TV and movies:

Fiona Riplee wants to find out some insights into the psyche of our minds by learning about what movie or Network series that we LOVE to watch. What do we think the show says about our creative personalities?

Close up of a hand holding a remote control with a television concept.

Credit: Depositphotos

From the first moment I saw this question, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about the answer. Some of that comes from the fact that I’ve been watching the latest series of the X-Files (and being simultaneously horrified and gratified that Mulder and Scully have aged in the same way I have since the ’90s). But it also comes from the special place that the X-Files holds in my heart. I started watching it as a 21-year-old young woman, working in my first professional job. It was back in the days before the internet, before ebooks, and before all those other things like kids and family took my energy and attention. I was living in a shared house in Liverpool with other young professionals, and when the X-Files came on we’d all gather around the TV and keep quiet for a full hour. That in itself was a minor miracle!
So what was it (or is it) about the X Files that made me fall in love with it? I guess first of all it was the subject matter. I’ve always been crazy about the unexplained, and the fact there was a whole TV series about these types of phenomena stole my attention from the start. It was like watching Charles Fort but on the small screen.
But it wasn’t simply the science-fiction storylines that kept me glued to my seat every Tuesday night. It was the characterisation that made me come back for more. Mulder — like me — wanted to believe, and every time his theories were proved right I found myself giving him a silent cheer. Through the series arc we learned why it was he needed to believe – about his sister’s disappearance, about his father’s involvement in the conspiracy. It made the viewer both empathetic and understanding of his sometimes-wild suppositions.
On the other side of the sceptical fence, Scully viewed Mulder’s enthusiasms with a scientific eye, pulling him back when he was getting too fantastical, raising a single eyebrow when he went too far. But then something happened — or rather lots of things — and we saw Scully’s eyes slowly being opened to the reality of the phenomena they were investigating. She came to believe, too.
Of course the romantic in me also loved the dynamic between the two. I was desperate for them to get together, but also desperate for the UST to remain. In the end I think the writers did an amazing job of skating that line, giving us just enough to fill our desires, while leaving us questioning ‘will they or won’t they’. If I could replicate that in my books I’d be a very happy romance writer.
So to answer Fiona’s final question – what does this love of the X-Files say about my creative personality – I guess it’s that I want to believe. I want to believe in Love, in Happily Ever After and in two souls scouring the world until they come together. And I can’t see much wrong with that 🙂
Now let’s hop over to the lady herself, Fiona Riplee’s blog to discover her TV poison. And don’t forget to check out her story, Love’s Light, in the anthology The Hope Chest.

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Let’s Talk Location #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Teresa Keefer’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!
This week I got to set the question:

How do you choose the location for you books? Do you pick somewhere you’ve already been, or do you research creatively, using Google and other methods to find the perfect spot?

Attractive brunette young woman in futuristic interface sitting in front of world map with glowing hot points location and connection lines.

Oh, the power!

In some of the best books I’ve read, the location is like an extra character, adding a flavour and edge to a scene that allows the reader to close their eyes and picture the scene, allowing it to play out in their mind as if it’s a movie. Without really having to think hard about it, I can remember my favorite books that do this — including Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Cornwall), Wuthering Heights (Yorkshire) by Emily Bronte, and of course, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkein (The magnificently made up Middle Earth).
When I try to imagine any of these books taking place in a different location, it’s almost impossible to do. The setting is woven through the narrative like a silken thread. To pull it out would unravel the whole tapestry.
When it came to my own books, I chose the location very carefully. At first I stuck to what I knew well. Fix You takes place (for the most part) in London and New York, two cities I had spent a lot of time in. Of course I still needed to do research, to find the best part of the city for some of the action to take place, or to find the perfect restaurant or bar for a scene to be set in. But for the most part, luckily for me, I could use my own memory.
With my Love in London series, for the majority of the stories they take part in that city. London is a big place, however, and runs the gamut from very rich locations to extremely poor ones. In this respect I tended to choose the exact location to suit the characters. It would seem very strange for a poor character to be living in Mayfair, but equally weird for a wealthy one to be living in one of the poorer parts of East London.

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Varenna, Italy

It’s only recently that I’ve started choosing locations that I haven’t had the chance to visit. I’m writing a new series (more information on this soon), and the first book is set in a fictional small town in West Virginia, USA. The second book is set in Italy, in a small village called Varenna on the banks of Lake Como. Researching these locations was a really enjoyable part of the whole process. In fact I loved researching about Italy so much that we’ve now booked our summer vacation there. Which means I’ll get to visit the real Varenna, and see if it matches up to the village I’ve created from my research.
We now have a joke in my family that wherever I set the next book, we will have to visit. I’m currently deciding between Mauritius and Koh Samui. Not a bad choice to make, huh?
So that’s pretty much how I choose the location. Now let’s hop over to Leslie Hachtel’s blog to find out why she chooses the locations she does. And don’t forget to check out her fabulous books, The Defiant Bride, The Dream Dancer, Captain Captive and Texas Summer.
 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Cover Reveal – Canada Square

COVER REVEAL

Today I’m delighted to share with you the cover for my next release. Canada Square is the third in the Love in London Series, but like the rest of the books can be read as a standalone novel. Scroll down for the blurb and excerpt, and don’t forget to add to your Goodreads page! The book will be released on April 7th, and I’ll be sharing lots of teasers and excerpts on my Facebook page, so drop on by and say hello!

And if you would like to receive an email when the pre-order is live, please click here

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Title: Canada Square
Series: Love in London #3
Author: Carrie Elks
Genre: Adult Romance
Release Date: April 7th, 2016
Cover Designed by: Sylvia Frost

SYNOPSIS

Secrets have a way of coming out…

Amy Cartwright isn’t sure who she’s supposed to be anymore. Her family thinks she’s flighty, her ex believes she’s a walkover (the bastard) and her friends think she’s plain crazy. But there’s a different side to her that nobody sees, nobody but the cool, sexy Scotsman who just happens to be her boss.

Callum Ferguson isn’t looking for excitement; he’s had that and it almost ruined him. He likes things calm and predictable – everything that his new PA turns out not to be. But from the moment she walks through his office door it’s as though the light has come back into his life, and he can’t get her out of his mind.

Fighting against the inevitable, they both try to ignore the attraction, but the flame of desire is too bright. They’re soon drawn into a steamy love affair that they have to hide from everybody, knowing the revelation could cost them everything they’ve worked so hard for, including each other.

Author note: Canada Square is the third in the Love in London series, but can be read as a standalone book.

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EXCERPT

“I’m the youngest of three. Nothing’s ever just about me.”

He blinks slowly, eyes heavy lidded. “Something should be.”

The moment twists, the humour dissolving in the frisson that grows between us. I feel it crackling and buzzing against my skin, and all I can think about is that kiss.

Soft, sure. A brief moment of everything.

“Something?” I ask, a little breathlessly.

He catches my gaze, holding it without trying. In that instant I know for sure that whatever I’m feeling for him isn’t one-sided. It weaves between us, soft as silk, unbreakable as iron. It makes me feel delighted and downright scared. I can cope with a crush, enjoy it even. Treat him like the eye-candy he is, a piece of deliciousness to look forward to when I enter the office. But mutual attraction? That’s dangerous. It’s a lingering force that threatens everything; my job, my degree, my hopes for the future.

Here be dragons, but rather than run away from the flames, I’m letting them consume me.

IN THE SERIES

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Elks Headshot

Carrie Elks lives near London, England and writes contemporary romance with a dash of intrigue. At the age of twenty-one she left college with a political science degree, a healthy overdraft and a soon-to-be husband. She loves to travel and meet new people, and has lived in the USA and Switzerland as well as the UK. An avid social networker, she tries to limit her Facebook and Twitter time to stolen moments between writing chapters. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found baking, drinking wine or working out how to combine the two.

Why I *LOVE* to write romance! #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jenna Da Sie’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!
This week the fabulous Leslie Hachtel asks us this question:

How did you pick the genre you write? Or did it pick you?

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Photo Credit: Depositphotos

It’s no secret that I love being a romance author. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day than writing about two flawed characters who fight against the attraction, trying to resist, yet find that the draw of love is too powerful to ignore. Even better when they hit bumps and dead-ends, leading to bigger problems that they have to overcome.
I didn’t always want to be a romance author, though.
Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Back when I was younger, I pretty much wanted to be Enid Blyton, and write about boarding schools and midnight feasts, and magic far away trees. Then as I got older I wanted to be JRR Tolkein, and write about rings and hobbits and epic journeys that became fights between good and evil.
It was only when I was in my 20s that I discovered romance, and even that was in a roundabout way. Being a voracious reader, I’d pretty much grab anything in my local library, devouring the pages like a starving man would grab hold of food.
I’d read thrillers and historical fiction, contemporary fiction and horror. As I said, pretty much anything I could find. But as I read them, I found myself looking for the same thing over and over again. Some kind of romantic pull between the main characters.
That was when I started to read romance, and I’ve never really stopped. From there it was a no-brainer to start to write the kind of stories I loved, and today I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I chose romance, and romance chose me; it was pretty much a mutual attraction! And neither of us are ready to let go of each other any time soon.
So that’s why I write romance. Now let’s hop over to Xio Axelrod’s blog to find out why she writes the things she does. And while you’re there, check out her book, Falling Stars – the first in her new series!

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink