Today I have the pleasure in interviewing fellow Perth girl, Renae Kaye. We all know Renae from her best sellers, Loving Jay, The Blinding Light and more recently, You Are the Reason. All of Renae’s books are set in Australia which is just one reason why readers love her.
Renae has been a prolific author for the past year or so and I had the pleasure in meeting her just before her debut novel was released. At the time I hadn’t started writing myself and I found it fascinating to hear the trials and tribulations she had gone through to get to that point. I remember thinking “I’m never going to start writing. It’s too bloody stressful.” Now look at us!
RJ: Hi Renae. Welcome to my blog. *hands over coffee* (Now you may have heard Renae isn’t a hugger. She usually waves hello from a safe distance. I try not to be offended. LOL)
Renae: **waves** LOL. **Accepts the coffee gratefully** What? No cake?
**Disappears to order cake**
Sorry. I need the sugar. I mean, yes – authoring is really stressful and I use sugar to keep from bouncing off the walls. Thank you for the welcome and the “prolific” bit. I have to laugh, because I don’t feel prolific.
The hugging thing? Eh. I think I just have a large personal space. I grew up in the country and I get a little stressed when I’m boxed in.
RJ: I touched on how stressful writing and publishing can be. How do you handle it?
Renae: Lots of sugar! I’m the mother of two young kids, and my first “job” is seeing to their well-being and keeping the house. On release week, or on the week where I have first edits, the washing seems to pile up, and the floor doesn’t get done (I’m planning on buying a robotic vacuum with my royalties).
I have to admit I’m getting better at handling the stress. Or perhaps I know I’m going to be stressed, and therefore make room for it.
But in a way, the stress is good. The stress means I care about my work. I don’t want to stop caring, or else that means I will be producing sub-standard stuff.
I think you also need friends you can chat with. **slurps coffee and salutes RJ** You need someone who has been-there-done-that-got-the-t-shirt. They understand the flip-out over the unfair review, and checking your Amazon ranking ten times an hour and all those other things we don’t like to admit to. You need a valve you can blow off steam with.
RJ: You had 4 full novels published in 2014 and 2 novels and a short story published so far this year. How do you manage your writing schedule? Do you plan ahead or just write and see where it lands on the publishing timeline?
Renae: Umm – four full novels AND a short story in 2014 **winks**
I really just write what wants to come out. I have stories I want to write, and sometimes I sit and force myself to write it, but other times I take a left turn and just write what I feel like.
I don’t have a publishing deadline, although I should be more professional about it and have one going. Truthfully, I’m just winging this new career at the moment!
The four novels in one year thing probably won’t be repeated, because all of those novels were written before I received my first edits, or my first book was released. Just little things that take up your time that you didn’t realise – like today I realised that my website doesn’t have the latest link to my audio book. I think, going forward, two novels and a smaller story per year is a much better thing to aim for.
RJ: And you manage all that with two small kids? Wow. Okay tell me what a typical Renae day looks like. If you’re like me, you don’t do anything until after the first cup of coffee.
Renae: I actually have two alarms on my phone that go off, because I’m always snoozing the first alarm. So I have my phone dinging at me at least four times before I find the energy to rise.
I’m a very punctual person, and I have things timed down to the minute. I’ve “trained” my kids well, and others are amazed at how we function in the mornings. Between 7am and 8am the kids need to eat breakfast and are allowed TV. I make school lunches, coffee, make my own breakfast, check the news on the internet, check my email, check my Facebook.
At 8am we all stop what we’re doing and it’s a flurry to get ready for school. Dressed, teeth, hair, mum-where’s-my-library-book, I-don’t-want-a-ponytail-today, no-I-don’t-know-where-your-shoes-are, pack bags, grab everything. And at 8:30am on the dot we walk out of the house to go to school.
For me, from 9am to 2:30pm is my time to “write if I’ve done everything else.” Some days I have to do things such as the grocery shopping and attend assemblies. At home there’s washing, gardening, cleaning to be done. I try to balance it by writing for 45 minutes, then putting the washing on the line. Write for another 45 minutes, then stop and clean the bathroom. And in the day there is lots of coffee.
And of course “writing” is not necessarily putting words into a story. There’s blogging, reading contracts, research, talking to people, organising blog tours, posting books off, keeping track of expenses, updating websites, considering covers, reading reviews, and even reading other people’s work.
Once the kids are home from school, until they go to bed, I may sneak in a couple of emails, print off a review, etc, but not always. When the kids are in bed, from 8am to 11pm is back to me writing.
I don’t watch TV – I gave it up in order to fit in writing time – so the writing is my evening’s entertainment.
RJ: For me the writing has to come by itself, I can’t force myself to write something that isn’t in my head. How do your scenes work? Do you sit down and think I’m going to write blah blah today and then I’ll work on blah tomorrow” Can it really be that easy?
Renae: Yes, and no. (See? Easy.) **slurps coffee**
I don’t plan my writing in the terms of “in this chapter, this will happen, then next chapter, this will happen.” I may have an idea of where they are going (ie first date, then meet the parents, then disagreement over that thing), but I just let the writing take me where it wants to go. For example, in writing the story I just finished, I had the idea of “and then they make love.” It ended up being a huge long scene, because there was lots of emotional stuff that happened in the MC’s head while the scene was unfolding. In the end, it took me three days to write.
YES – I had to write sex for three whole days! (My MCs were exhausted!)
So I don’t plan to write a particular piece in a day, but I do try to write every day. I keep a track of my work, and attempt an average 1200 words per day. For example, my word count yesterday was 168 words. The day before 2095, and the day before that 3635. So my average is over 1200 for those days and I’m happy with that.
BUT – and this is my advice to authors who ask – there are times you don’t feel like writing, or you don’t know what to write. Write anyway. If I’m stuck on a particular storyline, I either leave it and pick up another piece of writing, or I force myself to write. Limping along at 200 words a day will soon get you over the hump. So yes, forcing the writing is what you should do.
RJ: So what’s next? You’ve just had the release of You Are The Reason which is a follow up from The Blinding Light. Is there another series coming, or are you working on something completely different, and when can readers expect it?
Renae: I have to admit—I don’t know.
Nothing dries up my creativity more than the word “deadline.” So I haven’t given myself any deadlines with my writing. A lot of work goes into a story, even after the “writing” bit is done. So writing is just part one.
I do have a lot of ideas and I’m working on several projects at the same time. Not very time effective, I admit, but I hope that it may mean several projects are finished all at the same time.
This is a round-up of what I have going:
The Tav Series: I have at least two more books planned for this series, but I don’t want to ruin it by saying who. I’ve started the next book, and it’s in the very early stages of writing.
Loving Jay: There are two spin-offs to this book I wish to write. I have 30k written on the first spin-off, and this is the WIP I’m concentrating on now.
Safe in His Arms: There are two spin-offs to this book too. Lon’s friend Paul (and his married lover, Andrew) have a story. The story is finished and waiting to be beta-read. I will then send it to Dreamspinner to see if they like it. Then I plan to write Ash and Devon’s story.
The Shearing Gun: Mickey Ryan has a story to tell, and so yes, I want to write it. I’ve also had a request for more of Hank and Quackle, and I think a small “what happens next” can be arranged.
As a side-line, there have been a number of storylines pop into my head that have nothing to do with my current publications. Actually they are not even contemporary. I’ll see how those pan out. Two that are going strong in my mind at the moment, one is set 400 years in the future where humans are dying out due to global warming, and the other involves an alternate reality with a serving of paranormal.
Something that you may not know is that I also write M/F. I have yet to publish them yet, because I’m working up a backlog of manuscripts to release, but about 30% of my time is spent on these stories. I’m hoping to find a good M/F editor to work with and self-publish these stories.
RJ: Thanks for taking the time to visit me today, it’s been a pleasure as always. Where can people contact you?
Renae: Thanks for having me! **finishes coffee** You feed it, it never leaves…
But yes, thanks for the coffee and thanks for being interested in the writing that goes on behind the scenes. I think a lot of people don’t realise how much work and effort can go into a single book.
For those who’d like to check out more of my writing, or say hello through social media, I can be found:
RJ: I’d hug you goodbye but, you know. I’ll just stand over here and wave.
Now for those of you that haven’t met me yet and will be at GRL in San Diego in October, here’s fair warning. I will hug you.