Purple Prose + the Purple

How I Find Time to Write by Zanna Mackenzie (author of How Do You Spell Love?)

The final installment of 'How I Find Time to Write' is written by the wonderful Zanna Mackenzie! I'm so excited to have her tell you the tricks she uses to write her novels. She also has some excerpts from her new book How Do You Spell Love?


Finding the time to escape into whatever book you’re currently writing can be a tricky business for an author. I’m fortunate in being self-employed, though contracted to work a set amount of hours per week I have plenty of flexibility re when I do work those hours. My day job is also writing related – another plus – as I’m the editor of some business publications for a chamber of commerce. I work from home too, which I love and which saves me having to spend time doing lengthy commutes each day – another positive!
I’ve recently had two novels published by different publishers within the space of a month and have quickly discovered that all of the required promotional activity and social media ‘presence’ is very time consuming, far more than I had anticipated.
All of which means finding the time to edit my next book (I’ve recently completed the first draft of it) and working on the scenes/plot/characters of the book I have outlined for after that is becoming more and more of a challenge.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to have my work published and relish learning all about the promotional aspects of being an author, but as my writing time has now been squeezed considerably I’m having to be more creative about finding time to write and my solution is – write in bed!!
My husband is one of those people who is always awake at about 5am and gets up to do the ‘early morning shift’ in our household - so I have a notebook by the bed and let my mind start working on scenes and dialogue as soon as I wake up and then I start writing them all up ready to be typed onto the computer in the appropriate slot in the working manuscript document whenever I get chance.
I’ve found that I prefer writing in this way rather than sitting in front of the computer and writing straight onto it whilst in ‘the creative zone’.
As the ‘boss’ at my day job doesn’t work on Fridays I try as much as I can to make Fridays my writing day – providing I don’t have design or proof reading deadlines for the business publications – and aim to keep promotion and social media to a minimum then as well so that I can get typing up all those scene notes.
I currently have about 50 pages of notes to type up though – so this plan doesn’t always work!

Many thanks for hosting me on your blog today Kelly!
My latest novel, published by Crooked Cat, is called How Do You Spell Love? Here’s the details:

Make A Wish…
Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?
Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.
When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.
Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.
Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.
Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…

There’s a sneak peak of the book below and it can be purchased in paperback and ebook formats now on:
*Crooked Cat Publishing
*Amazon UK
*Amazon USA

Extract from How Do You Spell Love?
Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen. Plus, of course, it didn’t help that today she was feeling shattered after spending half the night chanting some ridiculous protection spell in the middle of the allotments with Summer.
Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.
Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.
Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.
Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’
Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.
Ten minutes later she pulled into the car park of Printing Phenomenon, hauled some baskets and a box from the van and headed for the reception area. It was getting towards late July and was another one of those blazing hot days that made every little thing feel as though it required a huge amount of effort. The kind of day the people of the UK are so unaccustomed to, where all you want to do is get a large, cool drink and collapse into a deckchair for a long snooze.
Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.
Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.
A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”
“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.
“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”
The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”
Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.
Just as Kat slammed the van doors shut, Alex re-appeared from his office.
“Thanks, Kat. I hope none of them caused any trouble?” he asked, taking off his yellow hard hat and running a hand through cropped dark brown hair in an agitated fashion.
“No, they were all fine.” Kat forced a smile, struggling to tuck an escaped tendril of curly blond hair back into her ponytail. God, it was hot today. “Thanks for being so gentlemanly about their behaviour.”
He grinned back at her. “No problem. I know what they can be like and as soon as I saw you getting out of the van I thought I’d better intervene. I’ve had enough problems getting a company to even contemplate coming to this site without them scaring you off on the first day.”
“Problems? Why do you think that is?” asked Kat, sensing an opportunity to make sure this man was fully aware just how much the people of Luisborough were still against the development.
“Because they hate us around here,” he said, shrugging matter-of-factly.
“And that doesn’t bother you?” Kat was now leaning against the van, noting that Alex seemed, somehow, a bit different to the rest of the team on the site. He had a jaded air about him despite the fact that he was clearly much younger than most of the others. Kat couldn’t help noticing that he was also extremely good looking.
“Yes, it bothers me but what can you do?” He sighed. “A job’s a job in this day and age. We all have to make a living, don’t we?”
Softening a little towards him, Kat nodded and rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it.”
He moved to stand next to her, propping himself against the van. Kat hadn’t realised until that moment just how tall he was. “Take you, for instance. I can’t imagine it was your lifelong ambition to drive around in a van with that name on the side of it. You must get no end of grief.”
“I do but I need to earn some money to get my life back on track, so here I am.”
“Is this your first job?” he asked, setting his hat and clipboard on the roof of the van and looking at her intently.
“Pretty much. I recently finished a degree in environmental science and geography at university.” She added, trying to sound optimistic, “I’m waiting for my dream job to come along. In the meantime I work at the deli for a pittance and spend the rest of my time volunteering in a charity shop in town.”
“Dream job, eh?” He turned towards her, brown eyes looking at her in a genuinely interested way. “What would your dream job be, then?”
Kat smiled. “That’s easy. I’d love to work on a project like a nature reserve. Helping to preserve the environment, look after the wildlife. The charity shop where I volunteer is the Save the World one. My boss there, Summer, is a good friend and a great campaigner against developments like this.”
Aware that she was telling him things that she hadn’t really spoken to anyone about since Nathan, she quickly turned away. He was a complete stranger. A stranger who stood for everything she was against. He was the enemy, supervising the building of a development that she, and many others, had fought to try to prevent.
Reaching onto the van roof to hand the hat and clipboard back to Alex, she said, “I’d better be going.”
“Sure. Thanks for coming out here.” He started to walk away but then paused, turned back towards her and added, “See you tomorrow, then?”
Kat nodded. As she drove off, she felt more flustered than when she’d arrived. Unfortunately she had a growing suspicion that it had nothing to do with the hot weather or having to bring food to the development against her will. Rather, she suspected, it had much more to do with meeting Alex the site manager. Not a good sign at all.

Author Bio and links
Author bio
Zanna Mackenzie lives in the East Midlands in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!
Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme and How Do You Spell Love?

Find out more about Zanna at:
Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/zanna. mackenzie
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10703273-zanna-mackenzie

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How I Find Time to Write by Zanna Mackenzie (author of How Do You Spell Love?) + the Purple