Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guest Blogger Kate Hardy

Kate blows me away... (and once you see how many books she writes a year, you'll know one reason why!) She's also fab and funny and full of good advice. Welcome Kate back to the Playground!

Refilling the well

PC reminded me that I was coming over to play today... and I was in panic mode. (Hey. This is an author who has revisions due and whose chocolate stash has been raided. Of course I was in panic mode.) What on earth was I going to talk about?

Well, I have two books out in March. I could talk about disability (the heroine of my Medical, The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal, is deaf – like me), but I’ve talked about that elsewhere. Or I could talk about gorgeous men (the hero of my Modern Heat, Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh, is Modern Heat’s very first Sheikh), but I did that last time I was here.

So I went to refill my chocolate stash. And that gave me an idea. What have I been doing, this last week? Refilling... not my chocolate stash, but my creative well.

This is an important lesson for writers – you need to take time out just to think and gather ideas, otherwise you’re heading for burnout, and that scary moment where the ‘girls in the basement’ (as I believe the fabulous Jennifer Crusie calls them) go on strike. Actually, I guess it’s like anything else: your income needs to match your outgoings. If you write a lot of books but don’t spend time doing things that inspire ideas, you’re going to end up with an empty ideas account. (And I speak as one who writes six books a year for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Rule one is to pace myself, and rule two is to take time out.)

It was half term, which I’d intended to spend with the kids anyway; and my husband took the week off with us, as he needed to use up his annual leave before the end of his holiday year. And we did things that we don’t normally get to do during the week.

We took the kids to London for the day and walked 27,000 steps (hey, I didn’t say this ‘refilling’ thing was restful, did I?) while exploring the British Museum in Bloomsbury and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. (This also involved people-watching, a fair bit of ‘what if?’ in the back of my head, and walking hand in hand with the love of my life: soppy, perhaps, but it keeps me grounded.) All the different sights and smells and sounds of a different city can be inspiring: not to mention touching a 4.5-billion-year-old meteor. How cool is that?

We also went to the beach and listened to the waves roaring onto the shore, walked along the pier and ate ice cream. (You have to eat ice cream on an English beach. Doesn’t matter if it’s winter and the wind blows straight from Siberia across the North Sea. You still have to eat ice cream.)

We went to the cinema. Admittedly, we saw a kids’ film rather than one of the dramas I’ve been itching to see since catching snippets from the Baftas, but it still left me with plenty of what-if moments.

We got up really late. (No sniggering at the back, there. I wasn’t asking my (ahem) research assistant to help me with plot points – two kids plus a dog means that THAT kind of research happens when they’re not going to walk in *g*.) So instead of getting up for the school run, I had time to read in the mornings before breakfast. Bliss. And, again, lots of lightbulb moments.

We visited bits of our home city that aren’t often open to the public, as part of the city’s first ever Dragon Festival. (I also write local history, so I admit that it was some very sneaky work. But it also gave me a few lightbulbs.)

And we played a lot of games, from Guitar Hero on the Wii through to Scrabble and Monopoly and Boggle: not competitive stuff, but spending time together, talking and laughing until our stomachs hurt.

And I’m ready to go back to work now, with the well refilled and my mind refreshed.

What’s your favourite way of refilling the well? I’m giving away a copy of The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal and Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh, and lovely Problem Child is going to select a winner from among those commenting...

Thanks for having me over to play today!

Kate’s website: http://www.katehardy.com/

Kate’s blog: http://katehardy.blogspot.com/



P.S. Playground Monitor's winner from yesterday is Claire. Send your snail mail info to PM to claim your prize. Prizes not claimed in 7 days will be re-awarded.

35 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

Welcome Kate! First off let say that I LOVE the Playboy Sheikh cover. Yowsa! And I adore sheikh romances so I'll be looking for this one but oh rats I have to wait until July.

Now... refilling the well. I went to a small Caribbean island last month and refilled the well. I read 4-5 books between sunning, beachcombing for shells and eating. Unfortunately I came home and woke up the next morning with a nasty cold and filled my wastebaskets with tissues. :-(

Reading seems to refill my well best with old episodes of Law and Order SVU coming in second place. Wierd, I know.

Lisa said...

Just a big pile of books will refill my well. Iovely covers.

Avi J said...

A long bath in a hot tub would do the trick. And as said before a book on hand only enhances it

Laurie said...

I relax from work and family with swimming, walking on the beach or in a park, reading and knitting. I also like to browse through thrift store for buried treasures!!

Both of your books sound great!

As a retired nurse I enjoy the medical dramas...deafness must be a challenge to cope with. We do take things for granted. I love sheiks too!! Best of luck with your writing!!

Gina said...

Gourmet food and or chocolate is my way of just relaxing

Kate Hardy said...

PM - thank you :o) I love the cover and it's so accurate. Yippee.

Beachcombing, eating and reading - sounds WONDERFUL. Especially in such an exotic location. Sorry to hear about the cold, though.

Lisa - with you there. I've just ordered a pile (bad me). Thanks for the compliment re the covers :o)

Avi J - an uninterrupted long bath... maybe when my kids are a bit older. Soon as I'm settled, there's a knock on the door. 'Mummeeeeee...' :o(

Laurie - a family swim is great (haven't done that for ages - and I'm being nagged by littlest). Knitting: I admire those who can, because I can't! Glad to hear you enjoy the medical dramas. Deafness - it's OK as long as I can see people's faces and lipread. But in a meeting with people who have soft voices and cover their faces with their hands... then I'm in trouble and have to admit to the problem. And THEN I have to explain it's physical, not mental. (Am so glad I work for myself, now!)

Kate Hardy said...

Gina - we cross-posted! And food - oh, yeah. I love cooking. Which is why Lily has the job I would love if I couldn't do this (i.e. she's a cook).

LJ said...

I love both covers. Relaxing involves watching anything with Antonio Banderas in it and a big bowl of popcorn.

Veronica said...

a hot bath with scented candles works wonders for me, vanilla and rose are my favourites.

Betty said...

Swimming then curling up a book is how I relax

Kate Hardy said...

LJ - thank you. And I'm with you. Anything with Antonio...

Veronica - vanilla's one of my faves, too!

Betty - you're in good company :o)

Kathy said...

Thanks for coming to play, Kate! You always have such great covers for your books? How much input have you been given into them?

I like to refill my well by watching movies, especially movies from the genre I write in, historical. Lots of ideas flow from there and from listening to historical movie soundtracks. Reading, of course, also invigorates the idea box. ;)

Angel said...

I like several of the above ideas. A long, hot bath (after the kids are abed) always relaxes me. And reading. Sometimes I get on a scrapbooking kick. I'm way behind, but love it when I have time to indulge.

Kate, how do you balance family life, writing, and refilling your well? Where do you find the time? :)

Angel

Christine said...

I plan lots of time with friends I haven't seen in a while after I finish a project or reach a goal.

I also have champagne or sparkling rose...

I read a lot...

I play...

Anonymous said...

Kate,
I just love your writing and enjoy keeping tabs via your blog. My way of refilling my well ususally involves sinking into a thick comforter in front of a fire with a thick book *bliss*
it's that, or spending the weekend out on the dive boat with my DH, exploring the sea life and wrecks just off Virginia Beach, Virginia. something about floating beneath the waves...

DebH

Problem Child said...

Hi Kate!

I think I spent too much time refilling my well. I'm feeling sluggish and uncreative and writing is like pulling teeth. It's like I overate and now need to sit on the couch and groan for a while. :-)

But this weekend is going to be both refilling the well *and* research, so I'm hoping to be in rare 'riting form Monday morning!

Instigator said...

Snuggling up in bed with a good book is my best way to refill the well. Although, lately, after I get done with my stint at the gym I feel pretty darn good too. Or just spending time with my girls. They always make me smile...well, as long as they aren't bickering :-)

Instigator

Anonymous said...

Gosh Kate! Six books a year for HM&B and local history books - not to mention all your family commitments - I'm not suprised you have to refill your well! How on earth do you do it? I'm lucky if I churn out two books a year - although my only caveat is that I do work full time (although that's probably not much of an excuse!). To refill my well I love to read, read, read and read. HM&B - all genres - but I do like Historicals, and Medicals and Modern. And to help fill the well when it is really empty I scour magazine's and newspapers for tidbits of info which I cut out and stash in a box - for my "what if?" ideas- and lot's of chocalate and copious amount of tea! Luv Caroline

Kate Hardy said...

Kathy - sadly, I get very little input into my covers. (Otherwise I would've had Mr Banderas as my cover model for about 20 books, by now *g*.) I do get a bit more say in my nonfiction covers, though!

Kate Hardy said...

Angel - I'm an uber-planner, so I know how many words per day I need to meet my target (factoring days off with the kids etc). And in school holidays I am Bad Mummy and let the kids watch a film while I get some words down/work late in the evenings. It's a bit of a juggling act, and it doesn't always work (today is one of THOSE days, and I may have to raid my children's easter eggs), but it comes with practice :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Christine - a meet-up after target/goal is a brilliant idea. (Hmm. Must schedule in some lunches...)

Deb H - nice to see you, and thanks for the compliment! Diving sounds really interesting: not something I've ever done (nearest I got to it was going out in a glass-bottomed boat in France - which was fine until we sailed out of the sheltered bay and the water was c-h-o-p-p-y) but I bet it's fabulous: a whole new world.

Kate Hardy said...

PC - LOL at overeating! What you do now is go for a nice long walk. No paper or pens or mobile phones or PDAs or anything you can write on. Betcha when you get back, you're raring to go...

Instigator - gym? Am impressed. (I used to, in my ratrace days. A step class at lunchtime, twice a week. But now... it's me, the dog and the Wii Fit.) And definitely spending time with kids. Mine has her best friend home with us for dinner tonight, and I was just itching to record their conversation. Hilarious, and full of lightbulb moments! (I swear I'm going to use the quote about bogeys, but shhhh, don't tell my editor.)

Kate Hardy said...

Caroline - let you into a secret: I'm not sure how I do it, either... (But then again, in my ratrace days I was writing four books a year, and studying for professional exams as well. Did I mention that there's a workaholic trait in my family?)

Magazines: now that's a brilliant idea. Snippets to make the lighbulbs glitter.

I do get some from online news stories, though my editor has slapped a ban on snakes. My reindeer were almost banned from the one I'm revising right now, but I wore her down. And I'm taking up her suggestion of using them in my Christmas medical later this year. (!) There was this local story about someone proposing in a shark tunnel (he got divers to swim out with a banner popping the question), and that's so tempting...

catslady said...

I have two favorites - getting together with friends and/or family to play games - love boardgames, cards, Wii - you name it. The other is my quiet time of cuddling up with a good book and surrounded by purring cats.

Smarty Pants said...

Wow, the Playground is hopping today. Welcome, Kate! Sorry I'm late. Dumb work stuff. :)

I used to refill my well by reading, doing some sort of art or craft thing, cooking, shopping, baking... but anymore I'd just rather hang out with my people. They're always good for ideas and plot problems, they're funny, there's always good food and fun to be had.

I have been working out a lot, though. I hardly consider that well filling time, although I do let myself watch the Food Network while I'm at it...

Lois said...

Well, one way to refill that well would be to be in that hot tub with that sheikh. . . with chocolate would be even better. But alas, since I guess that's not possible. . . well, for me, the best way, though so rarely able to occur, is sleep. Sure could use a nap now actually. LOL :)

Lois

Kate Hardy said...

Catslady - boardgames are a definite favourite, here, too! Especially Scrabble, Boggle and Monopoly (ot to mention the Wii...).

SP - hope you had a good day at work :o) And kudos to you for keeping fit.

Lois - ah, yes. My Sheikh and the bath. (The shower in that book is amazing, too. I did ask DH if we could have a wetroom - he loved the pictures I showed him of said shower. Then he saw the price. As in the same amount of money as a small car. New. Oops...) Hope you get a nap :o)

Angel said...

Did I mention refilling the well through lunch with a friend? That's what I did today, which was a nice oasis in between work and running errands. Especially with a friend I can talk writing with. Is that cheating? :)

LOL on the movie for the kids, Kate. Thanks for admitting that. I often do that too, but find many mothers disapprove of it. Personally, I don't think my children are being harmed. Computer is the same way. The stuff they watch now is less educational than when they were younger, but I won't tell if you won't. :)

Angel

Katrina said...

Kate to jump in here I soooo would not mind seeing Antonio Banderas in the 20 or so covers (lol)
Both books sound amazing.

housemouse88 said...

Enjoying family and friends will refill my well. I also enjoy books and just having quiet time is a plus. Have a great day.

Dina said...

Reading or just going for a walk with my dogs is so relaxing after a hard day at work.

Playground Monitor said...

I posted my comment at 12:21 AM and at 3:03 AM I typed "THE END" on my very first romance novel.

I had lunch with friends and then treated myself to a pedicure. I have pretty dark pink toenails and smooth heels. That's refreshing and re-filling.

Marilyn

P.S. I vote for Mr. Banderas too.

Kate Hardy said...

Angel - ohhhh, lunch with friends. One of my faves. (I did a lot of that, the week before last. Even better when it's another writer, because you come away full of good ideas.)

And I agree with you: the odd film or an hour's playing computer games does not hurt children - all day, every day, would be a different matter, but kids need time to chill out, too. And there are studies showing that computer games are good for developing motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and the ability to develop strategic thinking.

Kate Hardy said...

Katrina - oh, yes. I'd be there drooling with you :o) Love your name, btw - same as my heroine's in The Children's Doctor's Special Proposal!

Housemouse - quiet time is a definite plus! Hope you're having a good day, too.

Dina - dog-walking's good, too. (Though I have the laziest spaniel in the world...)

Kate Hardy said...

PM - congratulations! Go, you! :o)

And I reckon you celebrated in the best way, too.