A day in the life of this writer

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Working full time, I have to grab my writing opportunities when I can, be it a couple of hours in an evening or an afternoon of a weekend. Occasionally I will have a clear schedule; a solid six hour period to throw myself at my novel. Nothing will disturb me, no one will interrupt me; I will churn out twenty odd pages of brilliance.

Except it never quite works like that, at least not for me.

This is pretty much how it goes.

Fire up laptop.

While it’s loading, time for a coffee.

While the kettle is boiling I notice a few weeds poking up in my pathetic excuse for a garden, well… it’s actually more like a verge. Okay, it’s the area I step over between my front door and the bin. I pour my coffee and head outside to remove the offending items.

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Lola follows, because she is not really a cat, she is a sheep. A sheep disguised as a cat.

She rolls around on her back making funny little whining noises in an attempt to get me tickle her belly. I am a sucker for cat belly so I bin the weeds and give her a cuddle.

Her sister, Ellie, hears the purring and realizes she is missing out. More belly rubs and cuddles. That is another five minutes wasted.

Back inside, I grab my coffee and head back to my laptop, which has switched itself off, bored waiting.

I reboot and drink my now lukewarm coffee. Once the laptop is loaded I quickly check Facebook, Twitter and my email. Because you can quickly do that, right?

Half an hour later, after replying to emails, posting a couple of updates (because you’ve got keep yourself out there in the public eye) and making a Scrabble move or two, it is really time to crack on with writing. I log off the Internet and open up my novel.

First to reread the last few pages I wrote. I like to do this to get myself back into the flow of the story and reacquaint myself with storyland. So I’m up to date and ready to write. I have just typed the first few new sentences when the phone rings.

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It is my mother.

Now I swear that my mother has a magic telephone in her house that is programmed to ring whenever I am about to eat dinner, get in the shower, watch a movie or am working on my book. How else would she have a 100% record of interrupting me whenever I am doing one of these things?

Usually Mum is distressed about something when she calls. This may involve a decision she has made and is now regretting. She does this a lot, and not just with small stuff like agreeing to play golf three days in a row and realizing it is too much for her, but with big stuff too. Only my mum could spend ten years designing her dream kitchen, finally have the money to do it, then realize within a week of it being finished she should have done it completely different. Or spend years living in a house and dreaming of downsizing to bungalow, only to move to a bungalow and complain because she can no longer go upstairs.

If she’s not distressed about a bad decision, it will be about Tesco putting up the price of toilet roll by 15pence or no longer stocking her favorite kind of bottled water. Or it could just be distress because she is knackered. Now don’t get me wrong, Mum is fairly sprightly for a lady in her mid-sixties, apart from suffering from back pain and shoulder pain and headaches, and days where she just can’t put one foot in front of the other. Anyway, you get the picture; Mum has phoned to have a moan.

So I let her have a moan. I join in too, because I am her daughter and I can moan with the best of them.

By the time we are done – usually when her free hour is up – it’s back to the book. I’m thirsty from all the talking though, so first I decide to put the kettle on.


While it is boiling I notice the flashing light on the washing machine and realize I’ve forgotten to get my clothes out. I make my coffee, sort my laundry and nearly trip over Lola lying on the stairs while I have my arms laden with clothes.

Lola wants a cuddle and shows me her belly. I cave and then have to make a fuss of Ellie, because Ellie is a very jealous cat and if she doesn’t get what she wants she might go upstairs and piss on my bed. (She hasn’t done it yet, but I know the threat is there).

S/W Ver: 85.97.F1P

Back to my laptop with my coffee, I reboot, take another quick look at Facebook, Twitter and my email. Lose another half an hour networking, then turn back to the book. I write a sentence, sip my coffee. It’s cold, so off I go to make a fresh one.

This time I will focus. I won’t get distracted by cats, mothers or laundry. I will stay away from the Internet. Well, okay, I’ll just play a quick game on Sporcle first.

Okay, enough. Get back to the book, Keri.

I type a few more lines before needing clarification of something. Being a writer, research can be very entertaining and very random. One minute I could be looking up the year Google was launched (September 4th, 1998, for anyone who is interested), the next I could be finding out how long a person could survive in a buried coffin. (One to two hours depending on how much you’re panicking and using up air).

So I do my research. Just check Facebook, Twitter and my email while I’m back online.

Hello, I’ve had a few new messages. Better reply.

Finally back to my book.

I notice it’s spitting outside. This isn’t good as I have plans for tomorrow. I check the weather forecast.

All this Internet work is making me hungry. I head off to the kitchen for a snack and another coffee.

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And so the pattern continues.

Finally I notice I have about one hour left of my six hour time frame. This is not good. How have I managed to waste my day again? I sit down to write and suddenly, like the man who ate a bad curry and had the whole wide world fall out of his ass, my writing starts to flow.

I am typing faster than my brain can engage, my characters coming alive and doing their own thing. I’m just documenting it and all of it is good stuff. I can’t stop and I overshoot my six hour window, working into the evening, forgetting to stop for dinner, for a shower or for sleep. Sometimes it’s ten pages, other times as many as twenty to thirty pages.

Eventually I stop. Usually I have to force myself to stop because I have a day job to go to the following morning, but I don’t want to.

I could write all night.


Say hello to the people who live in my head

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Characters to me are the single most important thing about a book. Of course your plot is relevant; you need to have a decent storyline, but unless your characters are leaping off the page, no one is going to want to read it.

The characters are going to be on the journey with you and they need to be interesting, if not always likeable, for you to want to spend three or four hundred pages in their company. This is why I put a lot of time into developing mine before committing them to paper.

It is not just a physical thing. Yes, of course you have to know how they look, but you also need to get to know their personalities. Are they confident or shy? Perhaps they are mean or selfish or have a kind heart. Where do they come from, do they have an accent, what was their family life like growing up? Then there’s things such as relationships, tastes in food, music or television, the way they dress, the little personality quirks that make them individual.

Build your characters on paper and in your head. Have conversations with them; get a mental image of how they look and the kind of thing they would say or do in certain situations. It is up to you to breathe life into them, otherwise they will come across as one dimensional and no one is going to want to read about them or care about their fate.

I can’t speak for other writers, but my characters are never based on specific people. Sure I may take a personality trait or two, but in my head they are entirely my creation. As the author though, I am sure each of them has a little bit of me in them.

For example, Angell is a cat lover with a fondness of pizza. Hmm… sound familiar? I could also be accused of sharing Hickok’s direct approach at times. I’m not very good at pussyfooting around an issue. I am a little more polite, but if I want an answer I will ask the question, and I definitely have his sarcastic streak. As for Vic, well he’s a bit clumsy, likes sitting on his ass and has a fondness for stuffing his face with junk food.

Nah, that doesn’t sound like me at all.





Am I the only writer who does this?


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1/ Uses every excuse going not to sit down and write, from cat cuddles to Googling to ‘I’ll just make another cup of coffee first’, but then when I do start writing, sometimes get so caught up I forget to stop for dinner.

2/ Has characters living and breathing in my head before I can commit them to paper. Sometimes I will hang out with these people for months beforehand. Their name has to be right, I have to be familiar with their look and mannerisms, know their history and what makes them tick.

3/ Likes to people watch.

4/ Gets irrationally mad if someone disturbs me when I’m in the zone.

‘Do you want a cup of tea, Keri?’

‘Fuck off!’

5/ Has such an overactive imagination I suspect everyone of everything. My neighbours are doing a bit of DIY: Well actually they might be having a fight with a chainsaw. The guy in the white van: He’s a serial killer on the lookout for a new victim. The posh guy at work: He keeps his mother’s corpse in the attic and has a fridge full of eyeballs and brains. Seriously, when my cat went missing, I managed to convince myself that a giant eagle had swooped down out of the sky and grabbed her from the garden.

6/ Obsessively watches my Amazon rankings. When they are good, so is my mood. When they slip, I get a full on black cloud over my head.

7/ Sometimes writes drunk.

8/ Test reads bits of the book to my pets.

9/ Lies in bed at night having whole conversations between my characters in my head, which I then have to try and commit to memory or get up and write down.

10/ Gets over excited every time someone says something nice about my book.



A writer needs companions. Meet mine.

Ellie and Lola raiding the fridge

Ellie and Lola raiding the fridge

I was tricked into these two by a crafty rescue centre person. I had just moved into my bachelorette pad and wanted a cat for company, so rang a local shelter to enquire about a sweet little three year old tabby who’d had a traumatic life, thinking I was doing a good thing by wanting to home an adult cat.

‘Oh no’ said the lady, having never met me. ‘I don’t think she’s right for you. However, I have two five month old kittens here who I think would be perfect.’

So off I go to meet Tiger and Angel (as they were originally called), “sucker” written on my forehead, and yes, they were super cute little balls of fun, so I foolishly handed over a donation and brought them home.

Two days.

Yes, two days is how long it took for those fluffy little bastards to destroy my house.

Favourite vase – Crash!

New sofa – Scraaatccchh.

Carpet – ‘Well hello new litter tray’.

They had to go back, I knew they had to. But then they looked at me with their big dark eyes and I realised in that moment that I was stuck with them for good.

So we have learnt to live together with a little compromise.

Lola jumps on to the kitchen worktop, I shout at her and put her on the floor, turn my back and she gets straight back up there. I buy a new rug, Ellie pisses on it. I shout at her and she defiantly pisses on it some more. The rug moves out.

My clothes are a magnet for cat hair and have holes from their claws, the towels are shredded and my glass dining room table has become their race track. Ellie on top of the table, Lola underneath as they chase each other round in circles.

And when they’re done playing they eat me out of house and home.

Whiskas say eight out of ten cats prefer their food. Well, mine are apparently the two who don’t. In fact, cat food goes out of the window the second human food comes into play and I have had to lock myself in the bathroom before just to get away from the little vultures so I can eat my dinner in peace.

Ellie is a weirdo who runs to the car to greet me each night I arrive home, chattering about her day so loudly that sometimes the neighbours stare. She wakes me up every morning at 6am by meowing the house down, is obsessed with Austrian smoked cheese and hiding my hairbands and thinks the hoover is an evil monster that is out to gobble her up.

Lola is a weirdo who like to get on top of my wardrobe and jump Indiana Jones style on to the bed. She spends much of the day hanging half out of the cat flap, much to the amusement of the people in my cul-de-sac, likes to have a five minute snuggle under the duvet with me the second I wake up and insists on drinking the glass of water I take to bed rather than the stuff in her own bowl.

We have been together for six years now and would I change my monkeys?

Never in a million years.

Do I look like a writer?

Can you guess which one of us is a writer?

Can you guess which one of us is a writer?

When it was announced I had won a contract to have my first novel published, a colleague at the day job informed me he wasn’t surprised, as I “looked” like a writer.

Now this colleague did work in our finance department and accountant types do tend to be a strange breed. It got me thinking though, what exactly is a writer supposed to look like? I did ask him to elaborate, but he was a bit vague, muttering something illegible under his breath in that way accountant types do.

Was it my clothing? I tend to mostly go for comfort when getting dressed. Maxi dresses, flip flop type sandals, pretty little cardigans… I can do glam, but walking in heels is an art and when I do it, I look a little like I’ve crapped myself, so I tend to reserve this kind of outfit for special occasions. Was my casual hippy chick image one of a writer?

Perhaps it was my physical appearance. I am tallish, blonde (from a bottle), with brown eyes and a continually expanding chest. Seriously, I think my boobs are on a mission to take over the world. Was this it? Did all writers have big boobs? Was writing somehow synonymous with blond hair? I thought of Stephen King. He was a successful author and yet he had neither.

By now I was truly flummoxed. I guessed it could be my expressions. Is there a special writer face? Given that I pretty much have three expressions; the deep in thought frown, which tends to scare most people away, even though I am usually thinking about something as inane as what I want for dinner, the dozy, far away, half smile, where yet again I am usually thinking about dinner, and the goofy over excited grin, which is an expression I am normally wearing when it is dinner, I discounted this idea.

Maybe it was in the way I move. I have two left feet, routinely trip over stuff that isn’t there and have the grace, co-ordination and rhythm of a drunk hippopotamus. No, it wasn’t in the way I moved.

So that pretty much left accessories. What accessories come to mind when people think of me? Cats? I tend to be covered in a layer of their fluff even when they’re not present. Glass of red wine in one hand? Are these the trappings of a true writer?


Cat bottoms, expensive toilet rolls and a beaver called Alan

S/W Ver: 85.97.F1P

I am not gonna lie to you; there are times when I get totally distracted from writing. Some days I am caught in the zone and can churn out page after page, but there are other days where stuff just gets in the way. These are five things that distract me.

1/ Cat bums. Usually my kitties can be found snuggled up against my feet, far too exhausted to move after their busy days eating, watching moths, eating, sleeping, eating, walking round in circles meowing, trying to break into the fridge and plucking the sofa, but you can guarantee the second I start typing (including right now) there is one swanning about in front of me, tail ramrod straight, purring and kneading at the computer keys – I blame them for all my typos – going ‘look at my lovely bum’.

2/ Rightmove. Well, okay, Facebook, Twitter and Sporcle can also be quite distracting, but Rightmove offers us the chance to see inside other people’s houses and rate how bad their taste in home décor is on a scale of one to ten. It doesn’t matter that I’m not in the market for a new house; the temptation to snoop is too great.

3/ Phone calls from my mum. Now it’s a universal fact that mums like to chat, and I swear that my mum has a magic telephone in her house that recognizes when I am mid-sentence working on a blog or book and automatically dials my number. Now I love talking to my mum, having a gossip about stuff, venting our frustration about how Sainsbury’s have put up the price of loo rolls by a whole 12 pence and listening to how she walked round the golf course and could barely put one foot in front of the other, but it is not conducive to my writing.

4/ My OCD need to know pointless stuff. I blame my dad for this one, as he was the king of useless trivia and I appear to have inherited from him the need to know everything. Now, as you can imagine, “everything” is a lot to take in, but I can’t stop myself. So far my compulsion has led me to have to know every single country in the world, what the capital city is of every country in the world, the national flag for every country in the world and the entire periodic table, among other things. Why do I have to know this stuff? And to make it worse, as I get older my memory gets worse, so I have to keep testing myself to make sure I don’t forget. Yes, Beev is a full on geek. Don’t hold it against me and please still buy my book. I promise you it is more fun than I am.

5/ Watching cute videos on Youtube. Oh come on, we all do it. Personal favourites are Christian the lion, the dog being teased with stuff in the fridge and the talking animals video with the beaver calling Alan. http://youtu.be/RFhNJ8ozDBk