was it really less than 3 months ago that we were in London, elbow-bumping at the RNA Awards? And cheering for Jenni Fletcher, winner of the Betty Neels Rose Bowl and the Libertà Books Award for the Shorter Romantic Novel?
Seems more like a lifetime, doesn’t it?
However, to cheer us up, and remind us that life really does go on, even in lockdown, we welcome Jenni to our blog this weekend.
Jenni is actually another Scot (yes!) from Aberdeenshire, though she now lives in Yorkshire with her family. She has published nine historical romances with Mills & Boon, ranging from the Roman to Victorian eras, and is currently finishing her thirteenth. She says that when she’s not reading or writing, she likes baking, eating the results of baking and cycling.
Judging from that willowy figure, she must do a lot of cycling 😉
Welcome to Libertà, Jenni, and congratulations again on your win. Over to you…
Jenni Fletcher remembers and reflects
A magic night…
The RNA Awards in March seem a really long time ago now. It was a wonderful night.
I was honoured when Libertà books invited me to write a guest blog, but at the time I was feeling a little too anxious to write anything upbeat.
Obviously a lot has changed for all of us since then. We’ve all had to adapt and find a new kind of normal.
For me, trying to write alongside homeschooling has been the biggest change of all, but it’s led to some positives, too.
Writing? Or schooling? Juggling priorities
Fortunately, I’m a lark so the first part of my day, which involves writing in bed with a giant mug of tea, is pretty much unchanged. I actually have longer to write without the school run, but after 8.30am, everything is different.
I’ve learned from school holidays that trying to concentrate in the same house as children isn’t the best plan — the interruptions alone are sanity-threatening — so now I try not to think about word-counts. I focus on schooling instead. A friend and longtime homeschooler told me that you don’t need to do too much: just a few hours of concentrated work a day, plus an hour of reading.
Indulgence: Reading Hour
Which leads me to the best part about homeschooling — reading hour!
It’s not at any fixed time of the day, although it’s usually in the afternoon when maths is over with.
There are only three rules:
- Tea/juice and biscuits are mandatory. I know this looks a lot like bribery, but a bit of positive association never hurt.
- No phones or social media. After losing pretty much all my ability to concentrate at the start of lockdown, I’ve found this really helpful.
- The kids can read whatever they like, but I’m not allowed any historical romance. This is my genre and I love it. But since I’ll probably read it at bedtime anyway, days are strictly for the present or future tense.
Because of this, I’ve found lots of new-to-me authors. At the moment, for example, I’m reading The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew (a copy pilfered from the free table at the RoNAs) and loving it. And before Milly Johnson comes to get me, I’m going to make a solemn vow right now to buy and enjoy more of her books.
Jenni Fletcher rediscovers reading? And a new normal?
So ironically, because I can’t write, I’ve rediscovered my love of reading. Even better, my children are enjoying it, too, or pretending to.
Okay, so it took a few weeks to get past the ‘how much longer?’ phase, but now it’s a kind of tradition.
I’m not saying that homeschooling is easy, and doing any kind of job at the same time definitely isn’t.
I get back to writing after 3pm and I know there’ll come a period closer to my next deadline when I’ll actively encourage PlayStation and iPad time. At the moment, things are manageable, thanks in large part to reading.
I intend to keep up reading hour after schools go back because I feel better and calmer for it. So I guess that’s my conclusion — life in lockdown is hard, but life without books would be even harder.
More about Jenni Fletcher
Juggling priorities must be hard for Jenni, and for all the other parents in the same position. Many thanks to Jenni for sharing her experiences and her advice. Made me even more grateful that my own children are grown up and gone 😉
Jenni’s winning book is still available in paperback and ebook
Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess
When Amelia Fairclough had sought refuge in a blizzard, a brooding stranger gave her warmth and shelter. She’d even tried to soothe him of his demons in return. But as she scurried home at dawn she was spotted!
Now he’s in the parlour, offering to do the honourable thing. Surely she’d be a fool to turn down the new Marquess of Falconmore!?
You can find out more about Jenni Fletcher and her books on her Facebook page
or her Amazon author page or you could follow her on Twitter
The next Jenni Fletcher story — Redeeming her Viking Warrior — will be published in August 2020 and is available for pre-order at Amazon UK
Thanks so much for your post, Jenni. My daughter is home school her three and, like you, has learned to be a little more relaxed about it. So glad that you’ve discovered the joy of reading contemporary romance and are spreading the love to your little ones.
Thank you 🙂 The danger is that I might get a little too relaxed! But it’s lovely to be able to talk about books with children. My son is just getting into Terry Pratchett and it’s such a nice change to talking about Minecraft!
Well, that looks so intriguing, I downloaded a sample! Glad you’re managing to get writing done through lockdown. My life is much the same, to be honest, even busier than usual even though I have no kids!
Thank you 🙂 I hope you enjoy it. I can’t believe how busy life in lockdown is and I haven’t even started any DIY yet. Of course, I’d rather be reading anyway.