Monday, August 10, 2009

The Wandering Writer

To catch a wild gentleman,
a woman must be
bold, brave, and very brazen

My guest today is Historical Romance author Tessa Dare. Her bold debut is a trilogy released July, August, and September.

As with all writers juggling their passion of writing with and busy home life; for Tessa, finding quiet time to meet her deadlines isn’t an easy thing to do. If you can’t write at home in your own office what do you do?

Tessa tells us how she handles the juggling act of author, wife, and mother:

I have a very small house. I have two very young children. I have a very big dog, and a very talkative husband.

For me, writing at home is nearly impossible.

People are always asking me, “Gee, how do you find time to write with two young kids in the house?” And my answer is always, “Uh…I don’t.” Even if they’re not home, I never get much writing done in my house. There’s always some household task to distract me—like that ever-growing laundry heap that seems to be a sock away from gaining sentience and taking over the world. In order to write, I have to leave the housework behind and the darelings at preschool or with my wonderful husband—and then go far, far away.

Or at least, to the nearest place with comfortable tables and coffee. Starbucks, Paneras, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Borders, Corner Bakery, McDonalds…all my books have been cobbled together during visits to these establishments. It’s a wonder I don’t gain twenty pounds with each manuscript! I’m a painfully slow writer. A good writing day for me looks like this: 3 hours at a cafĂ©, 1 large coffee, something indulgent and chocolate, and 1200-1500 words to show for myself at the end.

When I get behind on a manuscript and really need to focus, I wander even farther afield. I use Priceline to get a bargain rate on a nice hotel, and I leave the kids with Mr. Dare for the weekend so I can write, write, write in solitude. My two accommodation musts? An in-room coffeemaker and no free Wi-Fi.

It’s funny how I can look at my books now and remember where and when I wrote the key scenes. “Awww, I remember writing this scene while I ate that awesome caramel-chocolate bar in the lobby of the community center.”

What lengths will I go to next? My critique partner, the soon-to-debut Courtney Milan (www.courtneymilan), once spent a week in Costa Rica in order to work on a manuscript. I’ve got a book due on October 1st, and a tropical getaway is sounding pretty good right now….

How about you?

Are you able to concentrate on writing (or studying, or other work) at home? If so, please tell me how. Really, I beg you. Please.

Tessa Dare is a part-time librarian, full-time mommy and swing-shift writer living in Southern California.

Tessa lived a rather nomadic childhood in the Midwest. As a girl, she discovered that no matter how many times she moved, two kinds of friends traveled with her: the friends in books, and the friends in her head. She still converses with both sets daily.

Tessa writes fresh and flirty historical romance, a blog, and the stray magazine article. To the chagrin of her family, Tessa does not write grocery lists, Christmas cards, or timely checks to utility companies. She shares a tiny bungalow with her husband, their two children, a dog, and many dust bunnies.

Tessa enjoys a good book, a good laugh, and a good long walk in the woods, a good movie, a good meal, a glass of good wine, and the company of good people.

Tessa's Website:

Coming August 25, 2009:

Desperate to escape a loveless marriage and society’s constraints, pampered heiress Sophia Hathaway jilts her groom, packs up her paints and sketchbook, and assumes a new identity, posing as a governess to secure passage on the Aphrodite. She wants a life of her own: unsheltered, unconventional, uninhibited. But it’s one thing to sketch all her wildest, most wanton fantasies, and quite another to face the dangerously handsome libertine who would steal both her virtue and her gold.

To any well-bred lady, Benedict “Gray” Grayson is trouble in snug-fitting boots. A conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for pleasure and profit, Gray lives for conquest—until Sophia’s perception and artistry stir his heart. Suddenly, he’ll brave sharks, fire, storm, and sea just to keep her at his side. She’s beautiful, refined, and ripe for seduction. Could this counterfeit governess be a rogue’s redemption? Or will the runaway heiress’s secrets destroy their only chance at love.


Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Tessa,

I hear you girl! I also have 2 young children along with a husband. There are times, although they are few and far between, when I can tune them out and get some writing done. But before long I feel guilty and neglectful. I thought for sure I would get a lot of writing done this summer. I still work a full time job but I don't have to drop them off and pick them up at school. Hence, more time. I was so wrong.

My best writing days are Mondays during the school year. I have the day off and 3 hours to write at Caribou Coffee before I have to pick up my son from pre-school. I'm always, always astonished by what I accomplish in those three hours.

So as much as I love the hot weather, I'm thrilled that September and school are right around the corner!


~Sia McKye~ said...

Tessa, I made a run to get Starbucks just for you, :-) I have fresh muffins, bagels,scones, and for those addicted to chocolate chip cookies.

Welcome to Over Coffee. I glad you're here. I love your book covers and the blurbs to your three books. They sound like lot of laughter and heroes that don't know what hit them as your heroines go into action. What fun!

Anonymous said...

It gets better as they get older, really it does. They start sorting their own laundry and bringing home all kinds of interesting things that spark the muse. But man, a week in Costa Rica and/or the beginning of school is sure sounding good right now!

Judi Fennell said...

Oh, Tessa, I soooooo hear you on getting away. For major writing blocks, it's Borders or B&N, but now that B&N is doing free Wi-Fi, I'll have to stay away!

Tonya Kappes said...

It is hard to write with a housefull. I have four active boys ranging from 16-10 involved in sports. I write at their practices either in my van or under a big oak tree.
I love the idea of gettting away to a hotel...with a SPA! LOL!!
With school starting next week, I will be able to get a new novel started. I try to write during the school year and edits during the summer b/c of the distractions.

Kat Sheridan said...

Um, I'm retired, have a quiet hubs, and no children or animals at home. Can I still go to Costa Rica for a week or two to write? LOL! Honestly, I don't know how you do it, but clearly, you did, and what a wonderful debut! I love the covers of your books and am a big fan of historical romance. I'll be sure to add you to my TBR list!

Tessa Dare said...

Good morning!

Just cracking my eyes open over here in California. Sia, thank you so much for inviting me to blog with you today! I am now craving a Starbucks run myself! I loved this:

They sound like lot of laughter and heroes that don't know what hit them as your heroines go into action.

LOL, that's a pretty accurate description, actually!

Barb, it sounds like we have similar situations. And boy do I understand that balance between getting stuff done and feeling guilty for leaving the kids! It's so hard.

AnnMarie, I'm sure you're right--the older the get the better they are at entertaining themselves. Already my kids are spending a lot more time doing creative play together. Of course, this usually involves rearranging the entire room full of furniture to create a clubhouse or doctor's office or movie It's cute, though.

Tessa Dare said...

Judi, I *know* about the B&N!! Once I heard they were adding free wifi, I sighed and crossed them off the list.

Tonya, wow! FOUR school-age boys? Honey, you deserve a spa weekend just for that. I'm ealous that your school starts next week! We have three weeks yet.

Kat, I think you *should* go to Costa Rica!! What better time? Thanks for your kind comments about my books. I hope you enjoy them!

Anonymous said...

I love Tessa's run for the hills solution.

Jessa Slade

Laurie said...

My kids can amuse themselves now but I still feel guilty over the summer that I'm not doing enough "mom" stuff with them (except sending them to camp,which they love). I get a lot more done when they're in school and I can pretend I'm doing this as a full-time job. I have to stay off email and Facebook though - the biggest time-wasters there are - although they're also the most fun!
Congratulations, Tessa, on your debut. These look like just the kind of historicals I love...and loved to read when I was younger. :)

Tessa Dare said...

jessa, LOL at "run for the hills". Yep, that's pretty much it!

Laurie I hear you. That's why I have to go places with no wifi. I just can't stay off the Internet otherwise. It's such a seductive form of procrastination!

Sheila Deeth said...

Now I know why I didn't write anything for all those years. But the kids are grown, the job's been outsourced...

Congratulations, on the writing, and on not gaining too many pounds in those wonderful writing locations.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about it being very difficult to do anything at home, besides kids, laundry, cleaning, etc. LOL I was in school a couple of years ago, I normally did all homework and studying in the student union or library. But, on occasion when I did need to study at home, I had to just take everything to the bedroom and lock the door, unplug the phone, and the t.v. :) The kids would be in the questionably capable hands of their father, lol. And even then I would sometimes have to put ear plugs in !!! Good luck with your future books and thanks for sharing today.


Anonymous said...

Hey Sia,

Thank you so much for coming by my blog, your perspective on my ramblings have been a great help and I appreciate your comments very much my friend. :)
I truly love your blog and I will try to get by here way more often ! Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Hi Tessa!!!

I don't work at home either. Inevitably people will talk to me. What is about headphones that suggests you want to have a conversation? Or make dinner, clean, etc. So, I do as you do and write mostly at Starbucks and B&N... (I actually should be writing now, but have been sucked into the blackhole of said mentioned free WIFI now at my favorite place to write.

Another reason I love to write at B&N is that I can go straight to the romance section and be inspired after I've written (Or on a break). I look at all the books and know that one day, I'll be in there with those glossy covers.


Houston A.W. Knight said...


I tried to write from didn't work. You can't get anyone to take you seriously about your work as a writer if you don't punch the clock or leave your house; or I couldn't anyway.

So, I gave up working at home. I leave in the morning as if I'm going to an office. Same time everyday. I go to the library and I work there all day until it's punch out time....5 or 6 p.m. This is how I get work done.

I hope once I'm published, I can stay at home to work, because maybe then my family and friends will see I do work.

Hope this helps.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Julian, I enjoyed your 'ramblings' and I enjoy your blog. :-) Thanks for stopping by Sweetie.

Tessa Dare said...

Sheila - Sounds like this is the time for you! Good luck with your writing!

Julian-Oh, that must have been soo hard, being in school with little kids around! When I just don't feel up to going out, I do something similar. I go to the spare room and shut (sometimes blockade!) the door and tell everyone to pretend I'm not there. Sometimes it works. :)

Maire - I love to write in bookstores for the same reason. I feel more "literary', and I can treat myself to a new book if I've earned it with that day's writing!

Hawk - I like your philosophy of treating it like a job and "punching in and out"! That's the way I plan to handle it once my kids are both back in school/daycare.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


I think to keep everyone in the right frame of mind (and happy) you have to treat it like a business...otherwise they think because your home, your time is free. I use to get so worked up about the lack on consideration, and I spent hours trying to get people to listen to me...all for one ear and out the other...I finally realized, I HAD TO MAKE THE CHANGE. So I did. Now everyone has to respect my work hours, like it or not. ;-) and now I'm a happier writer, who is getting a lot of work done!