Some people ask me how I manage to fit so much in – writing 6 romances and a couple of nonfiction books a year, copyediting/project-managing for a London publisher, being a parent, being a school governor, and staying sane (!). This might give you an idea as to why my dear friend and colleague Presents author Kate Walker calls me ‘scary Kate’…

6.30. Wake just before alarm goes off. Get up, switch on computer, switch on kettle, let dog out, take husband cup of coffee. Check emails/sort out blog post for the day/tinker a bit with the current book.

7.30. Get children up and ready for school. Put washing machine on, make packed lunches, check they both have their PE kit/violin/swimming stuff, breakfast, nag about teeth, nag again about teeth. School run. Lots of traffic because back roads closed due to floods. Switch radio to classical station to chill out, and use time in queue to think about book. Weather forecast: sigh, it’s rain again. Where’s summer?

9.30. Get home, switch on computer and kettle, put washing in tumble dryer. Explain to dog that I am on deadline so no, we’re not going out for a walk in the rain and no, he’s not going to bounce round the garden woofing at the birds/hunting under the shrubs, getting thoroughly wet and then dry himself off on me, either. Make coffee. Dog, doing the ‘big sad spaniel eyes’ thing in the hope I might change my mind, follows and curls up on the rug next to my chair. Soon there is the soft rhythm of doggy snoring: my background ‘music’ is in place.

Check email. Decide which book I’m working on (I normally have a local history book on the go at the same time as a romance – so if I get stuck on one I can switch to the other). Very tempted to sneak in some time on the history book, but the romance has a fairly tight deadline and the history book isn’t yet agreed with publisher, so promise self half an hour of history when I’ve made today’s wordcount. (I have something like those wordmeters you see on blogs – except mine’s not for public consumption! It’s a spreadsheet, which shows me each chapter’s wordcount, the total wordcount, how much I still need to do and how much per day I need to write in order to meet my deadline. That way I can see if any of the chapters are particularly short or overlong and need more balance.)

Read the last chapter and tinker with it. Back in the flow of the story and my characters are talking to me. Except they’ve decided that they’re not who they were in my outline. And they’ve changed their occupations. Fine, it’s a medical so the actual cases aren’t going to change… but my heroine is now a nurse practitioner so her part in the treatment will change. And my hero is very proud of being Catalan, so all the Spanish phrases I had sorted out will have to be changed because he speaks Catalan rather than Spanish! Do some extra research to sort out stuff characters just threw at me.

Post arrives. Greek translation of The Cinderella Project and US version of Mistress on Trial, next month’s Promotional Presents – yippee. Set of corrected proofs from proofreader (part of project management – as soon as I get corrections from author, can collate these and send to typesetter). Couple of letters. Tax bill. Put bill on my ‘to be done this week’ pile. Look at desk. Is utter mess. Will tidy it when I’ve finished this book. Look at desk again. Actually, can’t work in this mess. Need clearish desk. Sift very quickly through papers on desk. Put ‘to be done’ pile on top of printer. Put rest in empty A4 paper box to be filed. Promise self will keep on top of filing in future.

Check emails.

  • From publisher: can I do a book signing, plus an interview which means going to the local radio station, and write an article? Email back – yes, yes and yes, let me know dates and deadline.
  • From school: governor meeting has had to change date. Email back – yes, can attend.
  • From lovely ed at local paper: do I have jpeg of photo on p124 of my history book in colour, can he use it, and can I give more information? Dig out information, quick conversion of measurements from metric to imperial, email back with jpeg and other information requested.
  • From friends, and I can’t be rude and ignore them, can I? (Deadline guilt…)
  • From people involved in a joint present which I’m coordinating – everyone agrees with suggestion so flick into internet and order pressie.
  • From people doing my blog party to celebrate my 25th Mills & Boon – email back to say thanks and confirm which date they’ll be appearing; also filch pictures from their websites and Amazon ready to go with blog pieces).

Phone call from lovely agent: local history publisher likes the new outline, can we firm up delivery date and how many pics we’re going to use. Quick update on the other projects (one book in, awaiting ed’s verdict; another due in week after next, going to schedule; not had my author copies of last nonfiction yet, and she will chase for me; and yes, I really am taking a whole week off in a few days).

Feel all inspired and raring to go. Think about whether I need to buy a better camera for new nonfiction book (which is agreed do I can work on it officially now). Do some research. Once online, get distracted by just a quick game (or three) of WordMine… (Console self with fact that word-games are good for limbering up the brain. Perhaps less limbering-up needed tomorrow.)

Look at clock. Is practically lunchtime. Might as well spend ten minutes practising the Sor piece for guitar lesson next week and ten minutes practising ‘Yesterday’ for piano lesson; pleased with self as the left hand on the piano is better than it was yesterday. By lesson it might sound half decent and then we can add in some chords.

12.30. Lunch: chicken salad, shared with dog (the ‘big sad spaniel eyes’ thing works, this time). Read cookery book and decide to cook something different for dinner tonight.

1.00. Check emails. Typesetter wants to confirm specs for project A, author replies to my copyeditor queries for project B, different author sends me proof corrections for project C (to go with proofs received this morning). Good, all going to schedule. Reply accordingly; will do proof collation tomorrow morning and post to typesetter on way home from school in afternoon.
1.10. Go back to book. Characters are behaving now I’ve let them have their heads. Write happily.

2.45. School run. Meet littlest in playground, walk down hill to meet eldest. Chat to children about their day; go home.

4.00. Nag eldest about homework; listen to littlest read; neighbour’s children come round to play; kids busy so decide to be Bad Mummy and sneak into office (opposite living room, both doors open) and do some work with one ear on the kids.

5.30. Husband comes home; check if kids’ friends staying for dinner or if it’s just the four of us; cook dinner (while thinking about book); call troops to dining table; family time.

6.30. Back to work for me while husband plays with the kids and sorts out bedtime. Get very lost in book.

9.00. Husband walks in and reminds me it’s time to stop for the evening – this is our time together. Yay, it’s House (which counts as research because it’s medical drama). Feel horribly guilty as dog missed his walk (but am not doing it in torrential rain). Promise dog Will Try Harder tomorrow…

Kate Hardy’s Web Site

The Reviews are in:

His Honorable Surgeon

Her Honorable Playboy


Kate has her 25th book with Miles & Boon out and wants to give you a copy of your very own.  If you would like to win, Breakfast at Giovanni’s please enter below to be added to the drawing.


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