8 ways to simplify your life for more time to write

18 September 2017 / Leave a Comment


I work full time and I'm a part-time solo mum, so I'm stretched already. I've been known to fish my underwear out of the dirty laundry basket and clean the bathroom with a used facewasher. I keep my head above water by cutting corners with crocodile scissors.


I'm often asked 'But how do you find time to write?' Well, if I'm working on something I get up at 5am in the morning and I do it. I drink a long black coffee, my head is clear, and I work. I might work intensely like this for three months. At the end of that period I'm worn out. I take a break. I bake banana bread and grow seedlings and I can't stand the sight of my laptop screen. I sleep in. I recuperate.


The more experience I get, the more I know that working intensely is unsustainable over long periods of time. So here are the things I do during those periods to simplify my life for more time writing:


1.  Get less creative in the kitchen and more creative in your mind. Use your freezer, it should become your best friend. I cut up fruit and veg for my smoothies and freeze them - ginger cut into slices, bananas, betroot and kale. I bulk cook meals and freeze them. I find butchers, delis and cafes that have quality homemade meals such as casseroles and curries that I freeze for time-poor nights.


2. Make a master list for jobs to do on specific days. For example, mine is shop Monday, bulk cook Tuesday, budget/bills Wednesday, kids homework Thursday, washing Friday, garden Saturday, slump day Sunday. This clears your mind for other more important things and helps you feel secure knowing these jobs are going to get done, but on a certain day.


3. Know that you don't have to respond to emails or social media comments straight away. If you're feeling overwhelmed, let things slide until you've come up for air.


4. Let your standards drop and don't be a martyr. In an ideal world I like to bake my children's school snacks, but it puts a huge amount of pressure on me when I'm feeling time poor. Recently, they ate Aldi-bought school snacks for a month. I felt guilty. But it didn't kill them.


5. Multitask free time with research. Right now I'm writing a YA novel and the characters are into skateboarding. I'm watching Thrasher magazine's King of the Road with my daughter (foul language ... BLEEP). Sometimes on the weekends we've been going to the local skatepark so the kids can ride their scooters and I can observe the more experienced skaters (more foul language ... BLEEP, BLEEP ...)


6. Only work when you're most effective. Understand which time of the day you are most switched on and write then. For me it's first thing in the morning. If it's not flowing throw in the towel and do some monkey work and come back to it when you're feeling refreshed.


7. Don't be too proud to ask for help even when it feels like a weakness. I now know when I need to ask in favours such as playdates or babysitting for my kids if I have a deadline.


8. Reassure yourself that you have plenty of time. Time is a mindset. I'm often thinking 'I have no time'. But then, when I really think about it, I do. Sometimes I'll print off a monthly calendar and pencil in the hours I have free for a specific project. An hour here and there adds up. After I've done my 'I have time' calendar I rarely refer to it again, but I feel soothed.



I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wife, available as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to find a wife for her husband.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...






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How I got a literary agent - it wasn't easy

5 September 2017 / Leave a Comment

how got literary agent


So this super exciting thing happened. I got sent some paperwork and I hole punched it. It's now carefully stored in a black folder labelled 'Contracts'. Yes - I've finally got an offer of representation from a literary agent. I haven't got a publishing deal yet, but I'm celebrating already because getting an agent is really, really tough.


I'm also really proud because I absolutely love this YA book about a 16-year-old female Melbourne street artist. It's my favourite book child, which is kind of weird, because my main character Ivy feels like her brother is the favourite child and that really irks her!


I started writing Repeat After Me around October 2014. I received so much great feedback from teens on Wattpad about my first YA novel Silver that I felt empty after I'd posted the final chapter. So I wanted to start writing another novel for those readers - this became Repeat After Me. Again, it was awesome to be writing with a team of supporters who I knew were connecting with the story as I was posting it chapter by chapter online.


I spent a lot of time reading and watching YouTube videos about Melbourne street artists. I discovered artists such as Ghost Patrol, Miso and Kaff-eine. I dragged my kids around Melbourne laneways and got excited when I spotted a Tom Civil stick figure or a Two One pasteup. They started whingeing 'not more street art!'

Hosier Lane Melbourne street art


I began submitting Repeat After Me to agents around June of 2016 and I heard back from a Brisbane agent Margaret Kennedy who wanted exclusivity over it for the weekend. It was the most promising sign I'd ever had ... exclusivity sounded very exclusive.


She came back to me ... she liked it, BUT ... she had some ideas about how I could improve the novel and resubmit. I liked her suggestions about changing the ending so that Ivy stays truer to her street art roots and further developing the character of Ivy's mentor, but I chose to ignore one suggestion and explained why. 


She got a reader in for a second opinion. They both liked the new draft ... BUT ... Ivy's new installation artworks were too 'tacky' ... could I rewrite the ending?!


They were right. I'd gone off on an unlikely tangent with installation artworks I'd discovered in Presgrave Place by artists such as Kranky and Tinkysontag. I rewrote the ending again, trying to make the artworks more 'Ivy', but keeping the inspiration of my new favourite Melbourne laneway.

Presgrave Plc Kranky Melbourne street art


I was told the story was now good, BUT needed some final polishing. I needed to pull back on my 'trademark metaphors' and 'make every word work harder for having the privilege to be in your story'. I liked the way Margaret communicated with me and I liked that she appreciated my writing style. Yes, she was making me work hard, it was tough love, but I could see she was trying to make me make this story the best that I could.


I've never worked so hard on an edit before in my life. I read every sentence and thought 'is this the very best way I can express that?' I took out commas and put them back in. I fixed up sloppy metaphors. And then I sent it back to her with my fingers and toes crossed that I'd done enough.


So, after some 14 months of developmental work, it seems as though she now thinks it's ready to submit to publishers. And I feel very lucky. It's definitely a far better novel because of Margaret. I liked it already, but now I really love it. 

Hosier Lane Melbourne street art


Hi! I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. 

Subscribe to my newsletter to find out my latest news about my YA novel about a Melbourne street artist!

Also receive tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...





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8 steps - How to create Instagram stories for writers

27 July 2017 / Leave a Comment
8 steps how to create instagram stories authors


Ever wondered what all those profile circles are doing up the top of your Instagram feed? They're Instagram stories and they disappear after 24 hours. They are short videos or photos, overlaid with simple typefaces and silly stamps, and I've become addicted to looking at them.


Yes, these self-destructing images and videos are frivolous, but perhaps that is the beauty of them. Whereas one often agonises over the styling of a long-lasting Instagram post, Instagram stories can be lo-fi, providing a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a writer without destroying the overall presentation of your Instagram feed.

How authors can create an Instagram story in 8 steps: 

(a big thanks to my 9-year-old daughter for teaching me this!)


1. Click on the home icon down the bottom of your Instagram screen


2. Click on the camera icon in the top left-hand corner, this will come up with a few different options down the bottom including Live, Normal, Boomerang, Rewind and Hands-Free (Live will broadcast straight to Instagram, in what is known as Instagram Live, similar to Facebook Live). Experiment with these. The Boomerang is a fun way to get movement into your stories, great for recording a short snippet of something moving or film a still object but move the camera!). The trick to filming is to hold your finger on the circular button.


3. Alternatively, you can swipe the tiny white arrow down the bottom up to select an image or vid from your photo library, but only the ones taken in the last 24 hours will appear! It has to be Insta remember ...


4. Once you have your video or picture on the screen you can overlay it with text and stickers. The Aa option allows you to write text, change the type size and choose different colours. The pen option allows you to draw on the image/vid and the smiley face gives you stickers and emojis to bling it up.


5. Once you’re happy, choose the + symbol to add it to your story and you can also save it to your photo library.


6. Preview your Instagram story by clicking on your profile icon.


7. If you’d like to add your story to your feed click on the three small dots in the bottom right hand corner of your story and select share as post.


8. Like anything, see how others are doing it. Click on those profile icons up the top of your feed for inspiration!


Follow me on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/rowena_wiseman





I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wife, available as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to find a wife for her husband.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...





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Recharge your batteries with the things that give you joy

6 May 2017 / Leave a Comment

I've got a new crush - Theresa Loe of Living Homegrown. She's a podcaster, TV producer, canning expert and homesteading guru. I've been listening to her podcast series Living Homegrown religiously about how to live farm fresh without the farm. 


Last Saturday I faced one of my greatest fears. I spent three hours in my two scary, spidery garden sheds clearing them out so I can use one shed for housing chickens. Yes chickens. I've been inspired by Theresa Loe. (My very kind father helped me out, I couldn't have done it without him ... suddenly huntsman spiders dangling from cobwebs near head ain't so terrifying if my dad is there with garden gloves giving up his Saturday afternoon to help out ...)


The fear of spiders gave me no joy. But the two clean sheds gave me loads of joy. 


So back to Theresa Loe. Now that I listen to all her podcasts I feel like I know her intimately. She ferments foods, makes her own yoghurt and cheeses, she cans her homegrown produce, she makes rosemary salt, grows blueberries, parents her teenage kids and is the producer of a leading garden TV show in the US. She's organised, friendly and she has the silkiest smooth voice; I just want to sit at her table, taste her homegrown food and listen to her talk about manure tea.


In episode 64: 7 Steps to getting more done in your farm fresh lifestyle she answered listeners' questions about how she is so productive in her waking hours. Among other life-changing tips, she recommends that people write down what drains them of energy and what gives them joy and recharges them. Then people should avoid the drains and make more time for the joy.


So I did this. My drains are things like social media, certain people, alcohol, sugar, bad food and not enough sleep. My joys are gardening, good conversation, baking, yoga, napping, sharing unique experiences with my kids and friends, spending time alone and eating overpriced Kimchi from the overpriced grocery store. 


According to Theresa Loe the joys recharge your batteries giving you more focus and energy and the drains suck you dry. So ditch those bloodsucking friends and vices that drain your energy and nourish yourself with those joys.


Theresa also talks about decluttering your mind for less distracted thinking. Do a brain dump of what you want to do for the next week or the next year by writing those tasks down. This works amazingly well. All those 'must do' thoughts that cloud your head dissipate - leaving space for calmer, more creative ideas.


You too can become a raving fan of Theresa Loe by tuning in here.


And here's a pic of my spider-free sheds. Chickens coming soon to the shed on the right ...




I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wifeavailable as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to exit an unhappy marriage, happily.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...





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How to nurture a writer

28 March 2017 / Leave a Comment

I came across M. Molly Backes's blog post How to be a writer a few years ago. I was incredibly moved by her post on how to raise a writer and I often want to re-read it, having my own children. But I keep losing the post and then I have to find it again by typing in weird google searches such as: 'daughter wants to be a writer a bit of neglect'.


Anyway, I just found it again, and now I'm writing a blog post about it, because once I publish this post, it's a way of me saving the link to Molly's post forever! And it's a way of me sharing it with all of you ...


If you have a daughter (or a son) and they're keen on writing, you must read this. It's not going to tell you that they should grow up reading the classics or studying books on writing. It's going to tell you how they should have the space to daydream as well as a healthy dose of teen angst for the ideal artistic upbringing.


And if you're a writer yourself, maybe you're going to go, oh yeah, that's how I grew up ...


This is the perfect blueprint, I think, for any writer's childhood.

Best tips from Molly's post on how to raise a writer (but please read the whole post on her blog):


Let her be bored. Let her have long afternoons with absolutely nothing to do.


Let her be lonely. Let her believe that no one in the world truly understands her.


Let her work long hours for crappy pay with a mean employer and rude customers. If she wants to be a writer, she’ll have to be comfortable with hard work and low pay.


Never take her writing personally or assume it has anything to do with you, even if she only writes stories about dead mothers and orphans.


Let her find her own voice, even if she has to try on the voices of a hundred others first to do so.


Keep her safe but not too safe, comfortable but not too comfortable, happy but not too happy.


Now, read M. Molly Backes's whole post here: http://mollybackes.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/how-to-be-writer.html and save it to Evernote, or the notes file on your phone, or tattoo it on the inside of your arm.
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Create a free ebook cover in under 10 minutes

28 February 2017 / Leave a Comment
use canva to create wattpad kindle ebook cover


Canva has recently launched ebook cover designs - for Wattpad and Kindle - and it's super easy to create eye-catching ebook covers in under 10 minutes!


Canva was founded by Melanie Perkins from Perth. She is the great Australian startup story. At 19 she was trying to explain to her university buddies how to use Photoshop and other design software and she started thinking there has to be an easier way to do good design in under 20 clicks!


She set out to create a platform that is stylish and simple to use. Real designers must hate it! Because now literally anyone can create beautifully designed material without going to university to study design for 3 years. As the Canva motto says, they are 'Empowering the world to design'.

How to create a book cover 

1. Go to Canva and register, if you haven't already: https://www.canva.com/


2. Go to https://www.canva.com/create-a-design and scroll down until you find the section 'blogging or ebooks' - select either Wattpad book cover or Kindle Cover


3. Scroll through the layouts and select an ebook design template. There are totally free versions of paid ones starting from around $1


how to free book cover canva


4. Now you want to select an image. In the left size toolbar select 'Elements' - 'free photos'. You can start scrolling through the free images or use the search bar for something specific (some images may cost $1).


Alternatively you may like to choose a royalty free image from awesome free image sites such as Pexels or LibreStock. Use the 'Uploads' button in the left bar to upload any sourced images.


create free ebook cover on canva


5. Add your own book title, author name and short blurb or endorsement by over-typing in the text boxes. You can adjust font size, type and colour and reposition the text boxes. I tend to stick close to what the Canva designers have templated, as hey, they're the designers, I'm not!


canva free ebook cover


6. When you're happy with the design, click the download button in the top bar and save as a JPG or PNG.


Voila! You have your own awesome, eye-catching ebook cover! Now just load it to Wattpad or Kindle or wherever you want to snag those readers ...


I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wife, available as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to find a wife for her husband.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...





Read more »
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