Saturday, August 18, 2007

Welcome to the Weekend :: Writing 25 books!

This weekend we are celebrating Kate Hardy's 25th book! Kate writes for both Medicals and Modern Extras and has written her 25 books in such a short time we all pretty much want to either keel over and faint or shackle her for it ;). So to tell us how she did it, here's Kate!

I’ve recently reached a bit of a milestone with the publication of my 25th Harlequin Mills and Boon romance, Breakfast at Giovanni’s, and when the Pink Heart gang worked out it was just under five years since my first hit the shelves, they had one question for me: how do you do it?

I put it down to being a planner. I write for two M&B lines, Medicals and Modern Extra and, as my editors like me to write three a year for each, that means writing six books a year – which works out at two months a book. Which gives a pretty good structure to my working week, because if you break that down a bit further it means a week’s thinking time, six weeks to write the book, and a week to clear my head.

So if we say 5 working days per week - that’s 50,000 words in 30 days, or roughly 2,000 words a day (building in time for slippage - because there will be days when I’m up to my eyes in family stuff and won’t be able to write as much as I’d like). Broken down like that, it isn’t so scary. Especially as I’m a planner rather than a pantster, so I know at the beginning pretty much what’s going to happen all the way through the book. I also have a spreadsheet (a bit like one of those wordmeter things) that tells me how many words I need to write per day to hit my deadline and it keeps me on track. (Especially on those days when it’s sunny and I think: work or go to the seaside with DH and the kids, paddle in the sea and eat fish and chips on the harbour wall? … easy choice, that. Seaside.)

The only problem with being a planner is that sometimes my characters rebel. The one I’m writing now is a case in point. I was on chapter three when the heroine informed me that she wasn’t a junior doctor, she was a nurse practitioner and part of the senior management team – so I had to go off and do some extra research. And then my hero pointed out that, coming from Barcelona, he regarded himself as Catalan rather than Spanish, so I’d have to change all those pretty Spanish phrases into Catalan, thank you very much. (More research. Sigh. Characters!)

Two thousand words a day is doable for me – and it means I get plenty of time to spend with my children. Though I do admit that sometimes real life gets in the way (Tuesdays are a wipeout because I have a guitar lesson and then put the world to rights with my teacher over coffee, and then when I get home it’s time for lunch with the dog, a walk, and then oh no it’s the school run), I get behind, and then have to write a ridiculous amount to meet my deadline. (That’s when a note that goes up on my door every so often: ‘Do not disturb unless dire emergency or bearing chocolate…’)

So to celebrate being a planner (note I didn’t say ‘neat and tidy’ – my office is a tip except the week I’m between books and have time to tidy up!) I’m giving away a copy of my latest Medical Romance, The Italian GP’s Bride (there will also be a copy in the August PHS hamper).

Question: what keeps you on track?

Check out Kate's blog and website for more about her upcoming books, her current works in progress, and her life and times as a working mum with a love of books, music and, ahem, a certain brand of handbags I'm afraid to meNtion in case it makes her go buy another!


  1. Congrats on the accomplishment! Life has been getting in my way lately...I need to borrow your note now that I am back home!

  2. Six books a year! That's amazing. Congratulations, Kate! What keeps me on track, somewhat surprisingly, is being busy. With 3 small children and a lot of ensuing responsibilities--Girl Scouts, soccer, 4-H Club, etc..-- I have to really carve out time for writing. I know if I don't, it simply won't get done so it becomes a priority. When I was less busy, I actually wrote less. Go figure.

    Kate H.

  3. Working to a deadline keeps me on track, especially if that deadline is given to me by someone else, like an editor for example!

    Funny how we breach our own deadlines but strive to reach them for other people, isn't it?


  4. Kate-- you're amazing. Not only for finding time to write 6 brilliant romances a year, but also fitting in all the other stuff you don't mention here, like the excellent non-fiction books, copyediting, school governor stuff, and holding the hands of nervous novice friends and providing them with endless support, encouragement, advice, laughs, music and chocolate!!

  5. Me too; the more I have to do the more I get done. If not too busy I seem to procrastinate but if busy, busy I 'get things done' because who knows when I might get some time again.

  6. Congratulations, Kate. You are amazing and inspiring. Bron.

  7. Six books a year is an wonderful accomplishment. I am one of those people who get more done when I am working like mad to finish any project.

  8. Congratulations Kate!

    I'm still pretty new at this but I too am more planner than plotter. I write the first few chapters with no plan but then I have to stop and write out my characters' bios as well as a synopsis before I can get any further.

    And to keep myself on target and motivated, I use a spreadsheet for tracking my word count, as well as one of those pretty little counters on my blog that makes me feel as though I'm making progress.

  9. Congrats Kate ~ what alot you've accomplished!