How to Juggle Writing With Raising A Young Family: YA Author Keris Stainton Reveals How She Does It!

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The wonderful Keris Stainton is the author of three published YA novels with a few more to come this year. She home educates her two young sons and is addicted to tea and Twitter.

I had one question for Keris;               1600313_10152211160060972_2118264409_n

“How do you juggle writing with raising a family?”      

Here’s what she had to say…

” Writing and having children are, for me, inextricably linked. I’d always wanted to write and had dabbled for years and years, but it was having my first son, Harry (now 9) that made me finally decide to go for it. The full story involves a job in accountancy, a Paul McKenna book, a life coach, and Starbucks. But basically all you need to know is that I became horrified at the idea of one day telling my child that I’d always wanted to write, but had never really been brave enough. And so I started to write. At first I wrote for magazines and online, but when I was pregnant with my second son, Joe (now 5), I got a book deal and have subsequently had three young adult novels (and one New Adult novella) published, with another three due out this year. But I am always – always – looking for excuses not to write. The only time I ever willingly do housework is when I know I should be writing. I will phone annoying relatives. I will sort my receipts. I even, recently, googled how to fix a dripping tap (I didn’t go as far as actually fixing it though).

 

 

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I annoy myself. I can fill days with ‘busyness’ or ‘research’ while fretting constantly about the fact that I’m not writing. This also involves telling the boys I can’t take them to the park, we can’t make biscuits, no I can’t help you download yet another Minecraft mod – I’M WRITING. But I’m not. I’m avoiding writing. I learned recently that if I write first thing – very first thing – then all of the above can be avoided. A few weeks ago I dreamt that we were burgled and so I started taking my laptop up to bed with me. One morning, I sat up in bed, opened up the laptop and started to write. After half an hour or so, the boys got up and joined me in bed with their own technology. By 9am – AM! – I had my words for the day. The rest of the day was so easy, so breezy, so much fun that I keep wondering if I’d forgotten to do something important. But no, I’d just got it out of the way. (I just read this article by Merrill Markoe, which may explain why it works).  I will probably always avoid writing to some extent – I think it’s just human nature that if you know you have to do something, you’ll do all you can to put it off – but getting it out of the way early seems to be the key. Then you have the day free to be a parent, plus you also get to feel smug that your writing is done. Win-win.”

Thanks Keris!

Birthdays, Elephants and… No Writing?

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Hi All,

It’s been a great few weeks… 

I spent my birthday in Goa, India and it was amazing.

Elephants are some of the most beautiful and gracious creatures (in my humble opinion) and I had the privilege of spending my birthday  with them, ElehugCutbefore some birthday cake, lobster on the beach and partying the night away. A great birthday. I will confess that I did not write AT ALL on this trip- didn’t even make any notes… Total relaxation.

Now, I’m back  and the writing continues.  

And next week I have a lovely treat for you all, so stay tuned!

 

Lola

Lola Interviews Blackhair magazine editor Keysha Davis……. about her favourite book of all time (and not one question about hair!!)

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I promised you interviews and here’s one with the wonderful Keysha Davis! She’s an editor, blogger and freelance writer who specialises in hair & beauty, culture and women’s interest writing. Over the last four years Keysha has been at the helm of hair and lifestyle magazine, Blackhair, where she edits the magazine and is a very public face of the brand.  A magazine veteran, previous to this position, Keysha was the features and entertainment editor of Pride magazine for four years.  

Keysha

I just had ONE question for her…

“Keysha, tell me about your favourite book.”

“THE COLDEST WINTER EVER- THE BOOK I LOVE, BUT ASSUMED I WOULD HATE!
It’s taken me three days to confirm what book has had a profound impact on me. Three looong days. There were a few top contenders of course. Alice Sebold’s, The Lovely Bones, with its insightful narrative on death, loss and grief, touched me deeply when I first read it, but yet I’ve never had the inclination to pick it up again despite it being a beautifully written and poignant read. The same rule pretty much applies to other heartwrenching books such as V.C Andrews’ Flowers In The Attic and Constance Briscoe’s jaw-dropping memoir, Ugly.
 
But I had to think long and hard: what book rocked me to my core, forcing me to to look at the world through a different lens? What story presented fully fleshed out characters causing me to wonder how their lives panned out after I turned the last page? The answer was unexpected, but came to me after pondering for those few days. Wanna know what did it for me? It’s the best-selling novel The Coldest Winter Ever, written by former rapper, turned activist/writer – Sister Souljah. First published in 1999, the book is set in the projects of Brooklyn, New York and tells the story of Winter Santiaga, the teenage daughter of a notorious drug kingpin, whose stunning looks and substantial wealth acquired through her father’s illegal dealings, make her one of the most conceited, morally debased female protaganist’s I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.
 
The books I enjoy the most are stories that transplant me into a new world and The Coldest Winter does this superbly. Through Souljah’s raw, authentic prose and vivid descriptions of inner city depravity, we are placed right alongside Winter as her world of privilege implodes when her father is arrested and sent to prison. Using her beauty, ruthlessness and street smarts, the feisty anti-heroine has to navigate life in the projects of Brooklyn on her own terms, which is done to often shocking, brutal and catastrophic consequences.
 
Sister Souljah exemplifies the type of courageousness in her writing that I could only dream of acquiring. There is no subject off limits, no situation deemed too risque to steer away from. The book tackles teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, using sexual currency as a means of financial gain, colourism, HIV and AIDS, family dysfunction, the failings of social services. And that’s just for starters. But what I absolutely admire is that these subjects aren’t just written about for sensationalism, entertainment, or to appease our voyeuristic curiosity. Through clever use of character placement, Winter falls under the tutelage of a wise, older sister type who gives voice to Sister Souljah’

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s socio-political ideals, offering solutions on how to cure the social ills that plague disadvantaged black communities.

 I think one of the main reasons why the book has had such a profound effect on me is it goes against pretty much everything I believed a book had to be in order to be successful. First of all,  how many books have you read where the protagonist has zero redeeming qualities, absolutely nada? And yet by the end we’re rooting for Winter… we may not like her, but we certainly wish her well. That surely takes some serious talent to pull off such a tricky feat. Secondly, my love of this novel reminds me of one of the most frequently peddled cliches, and I’m actually chuckling as I write this, but you really should never judge a book by its cover. I read this book almost six years after its release, despite it being highly recommended by several friends, and critically acclaimed. Although I don’t regard myself a book snob, I certainly couldn’t see the appeal of spending my precious reading time immersed in the world of black, inner city criminality, it’s not like the subject hasn’t been explored ad nauseam. But on this occasion I am happy to say I was wrong for pre-judging. Intelligently written, impactful, cinematic, insightful, honest and downright unputdownable – Sister Souljah has written a modern classic that will no doubt referenced and studied for years to come. “

Read Keysha’s blog atcocoadiaries.com

Thanks Keysha!