RIP RWLS

Some of you may know that 6 months ago (or just a bit over), I headed down a new fork in the road of life. With almost 10 years experience of editing and fact-checking, and 15 years of CV writing, I set up RW Literary Services, offering these (and other) skills for a price. And for the past 6 months, whilst not wholly successful, I have been happy with the way things have been going. However, 2016 has bought a whole series of new challenges and something has to give. Unfortunately, it is a case of last thing in, first thing out, and so it is with a sad heart that I say RIP RWLS, and close down the business.

However, this is not the end, simply a junction with a ‘Give Way’ sign. 2016 will see one, if not two or three, new books being published, and I need to give my previous books some much needed love, marketing and promoting. I am studying for an English Lit & Creative Writing degree, which requires me to study for an exam in June. My photographer husband needs some with a creative mind and flair for the dramatics (can’t think why he chose me…) to help design and style his models as he embarks on a new project. I volunteer for the Girl Guides, and am studying to become a qualified leader for Brownies. I run blogs and websites…

And more than that – much, much more than that – my children need me. My daughter has minor health complaints. I say minor, because it is nothing serious, and something she will grow out of eventually. But until she grows out of them, she needs GP & hospital visits and regular medication. My son is a typical boy, but struggles with hyperactivity and attention problems. With so much energy to burn, he needs a mum who isn’t sat on her backside editing someone else’s novel saying “in a minute sweetheart.” On top of that, I am a full-time housewife, mum and pet owner – a 24-hour job in itself!

Something has to give before I burn out. I’ve already given up article writing and freelancing. I’ve already given up my paid job and several volunteering bits and pieces. I now have to say goodbye to RWLS.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey.

The Surreal Life

Two days ago I was schmoozing, networking, and meeting celebrities. I was drinking champagne, eating delicious food in a 4-star hotel, and enjoying the company of some amazing people. I was discussing my latest novel, book signings and tours, and organising a book launch. I was going to the theatre followed by a concert at a local church.

Today I’m cleaning up cat wee in the shoe cupboard, ironing school uniform, and wondering how I’m going to cook a gluten-free spaghetti bolognaise and get my daughter to swimming classes in the space of an hour. I’m vacuuming bedrooms, walking the dog, and clearing out hair from the plug in the shower. I’m standing in the playground discussing the bowel habits of children whilst trying to stay warm and dry on a foggy morning, and stop my son from throwing his hat into a tree.

This is the surreal life of an author who also happens to be a housewife and full-time Mum.

My brain is literally all over the place. One minute I’m trying to figure out how to fill in that rather large plot hole I’ve just discovered, the next I’m throwing old food into a compost bin. I’m filling out forms and speaking to companies about which systems would be best to use in the bookshop (should it EVER open), and then I’m talking to the school about volunteering to help children with reading and writing. I’m emailing publishers, booksellers, and agents. I’m emailing the PTA. I’m booking hotels for an upcoming romance festival, and figuring out the logistics of being in two places at once to do a reading and a signing. I’m ringing up the vets to book the cat in for their vaccinations.

I’m editing manuscripts, proof reading projects from friends… I’m helping my daughter with her homework. I’m organising blog tours (and trying to encourage people to email me back with their filled out interviews – eh-hem…), I’m wondering if a twentieth takeaway this month would really be such a bad thing… I’m giving advice to other writers, I’m getting advice from other parents. I’m creating a believable main character who is sexy but not overly beautiful, powerful, but with weaknesses. I’m dressed in jeans (wet from walking the dog) and a man’s hoodie.

I’m ordering flyers, business cards, posters, and trying to find somewhere cheap that does bookmarks. I’m proof reading catalogues and promotional material for my husband. I’m creating promotional material for myself! I’m marketing and advertising. I’m washing clothes and trying to understand why there are so many pairs of boxer shorts just floating around the living room.

I’m cooking everything from scratch since my daughter is currently being tested for coeliacs disease. I’m going backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards to the doctors with her. I’m reading 5-star reviews on my book. I’m discussing figures and finances and getting quotes from a PR consultant. I’m gardening and wondering if we’ll ever get round to fixing that piece of decking that’s rotten through, and when would be the best time to buy a greenhouse and set out the raised beds? I’m talking with my husband about looking at properties that would best suit the bookshop and photography studio.

I’m tapping away at the computer in an attempt to create the next Sunday Times / New York Times bestseller. I’m traipsing around Tescos wondering if 1000 teabags is enough.

And then someone asks me if I’m going to get a real job now my son is at school…

A single book does not a million make

Seven Dirty Words was published in January 2013, Four Letter Words is due out in January 2014, and April’s Baby (working title) is currently at 31,000 words. Writing is a full-time job. Unfortunately, one published book does not pay the bills. Why am I pointing this out? Because I’ve started filling out job application forms.

Our local school is looking for a mid-day supervisor (that’s Dinner Lady to anyone over the age of 30) which would be an ideal job for me. 12 – 1 pm a day, Monday – Friday, during term-time only. No childcare required (they’re at school), and the dog only has to be alone for an hour and a half at the most since it’s a 15 minute walk to the school from our house. So I’ve applied. Not sure I’m in with a chance since they’ve had so many people apply, they’ve run out of forms, but if nothing else, it’s great form-filling experience.

I mentioned this to a few of the mums in the playground, and have had quite a few ask “Oh, are you not writing anymore?” Yes, I am. But sadly Seven Dirty Words has not hit the best-seller’s list (yet), and is not earning me thousands and thousands a month (yet). Perhaps once I have a few more books published it will pay the bills, but right now it makes enough to pay for a night out every now and then.

keep-calm-and-drink-tea-4022

Tea solves everything

 

Diary of a workaholic part 2

If you follow my blog (and if you don’t – why not?) you’ll know that eight days ago I took part in the Mum’s race as part of Sports Day and fell with magnificence, resulting in a busted foot. Official diagnosis (after two trips to A&E) is torn soft tissue. But, if you follow my blog you’ll also know that I am a self-confessed workaholic. So how do the two combine? Not well, let me tell you!

Sat on my backside is not easy. Especially when all the TV offers is Jeremy Kyle (I swear I met some previous guests in A&E), Murder She Wrote, Father Dowling, Diagnosis Murder and antiques after antiques show. Thankfully, I am surrounded by gadgets. I have my laptop, iPhone, tablet and Kindle sat by my arm. So you’d think relaxation would be easy. Yeah… You’d think…

Firstly Kane & Ellie’s story, “Touch of Silk” has come to a standstill. 45,000 words and I’m stuck. So, I started writing a new novel, entitled “Past Lives”, about a woman named Amy who is can’t seem to shake the feeling of being haunted. 500 words and it’s stopped. I know where both books are going, I just can’t seem to get there. Perhaps it’s the painkillers – blocking my mental capacity.

So I’m concentrating on my bookshop. It now has a name: R W Books, named after my children Rebecca and William. The business plan is coming along nicely, and I’ve spent the past week contacting distributors, publishers, estate agents, and suppliers. I’ve even got a very rough estimate of a cash flow forecast! But it is very rough and needs ironing out.

I started on a website yesterday, and plan on buying the domain name tomorrow (payday!!), and have begun planning how I want the bookshop to look as well as drafting out my expansion opportunities. Writing this plan, analysing my SWOT and drafting up finances has made me appreciate all those years in business and maths lessons. Suddenly 2 years of Maths A-Levels, wistfully watching Mr Cotton, and hoping it would rain after he’d left the roof of his car down doesn’t seem like such a waste!

Somehow I also managed to find the time to weed my garden – a task which inspired the opening scene of “Past Lives”. I hate gardening, but I love the idea of being self-sufficient and am very proud of my little veg and herb pots. Unfortunately the slugs and snails like them almost as much as I do and have devoured two pumpkin seedlings, a sunflower, and all my coriander.

Being a housewife and mother hasn’t been forgotten either. I’m not as active as I normally am because of my foot, but I have still managed to gut my son’s room. And found 2 boxes of pineapple juice under his bed. Or rather, they used to be boxes of pineapple juice. I thought it highly coincidental that as soon as these items had been removed the odd smell that’s been bugging me for weeks has dispersed.

Poor dog needs a good walk… I can’t wait to be able to trek through the fields, iPhone in hand talking into it and looking odd as I come up with inspiration for my novels. On the other hand, she’s had lots of fuss in the house and has been racing circuits around the garden, upsetting the cats and rabbit.

The doctors think I have another 5 weeks of not being able to do anything, but if they can be as productive as the past seven days have been, then perhaps this RICE thing isn’t such a total loss.

How difficult is it to find a bookcase?!

With forced rest thrust upon me by my competitive nature, and with ‘Touch of Silk’ being stuck at 45,600 words, I decided now would be the best time to make a start on the business plan for my bookshop. Oh how I laugh at myself sometimes…

It’s been ten years since I went to college and completed my course – which while it had a business element to it was equine related. (Horse Management – Equine Business Management) This is never more evident than when I open up an Excel spreadsheet and attempt to put numbers into it.

I wasn’t doing too badly. I’ve found the shop that I want, at a modest rent, I know the average business rate for the area, and I have a list of stock items that I want to buy. But then my husband pointed out – what am I storing these books on? Oh yes… Bookshelves… They might be necessary. So the pricing up of my start-up costs began. And ended.

Of course I could go to a local DIY store, but surely it would make more sense to get all of my retail supplies and fixtures from one place? You’d think… But no. I cannot find a single B2B supplier that provides good, solid bookcases. Cheap, crappy, MDF ones that I could buy cheaper from B&Q – yes. Proper wooden ones? No. And as much as I would like to have them, I cannot afford £500 for a bookcase from the Old Creamery.

And so opening a bookshop comes to a standstill. Again.

One day I will get there. Just not today.