Wordy wednesday with Mary Kendrick

Today's Wordy Wednesday is with my friend Mary Kendrick, aka @mamacrow. Mamacrow is a busy mum and home educator of 7 children. So the fact she finds time to write as well is pretty impressive and testament to her organisational skills! Mary is an as yet unpublished writer, so I was intrigued to see how her answers to my questions differed to other. Is success all down to biscuit choice? Well let's find out.

When did you start writing?
I have always made up stories - I remember long times spent in front of my mother's full length mirror, being different characters and carrying on long dramatic adventures and I would make up magic spells which were essentially short rhyming verses. I was a massive bookworm and learnt to read before I went to school, pretty much by osmosis I think, and as soon as I could write words down I was writing stories- I still have an exercise book from primary school somewhere with a long involved story in it about a family of potatoes who lived in a vegetable rack! I would write poetry too, or rather, attempt to, and the one class I would always win at the local annual Schools Arts & Drama festival was the story making class.

I did English at GCSE and A-Level and both involved creative writing, then I ended up doing a Library and Information degree and working full time for about six years, before becoming the stay at home parent. I carried on writing stories down now and then when the urge took me, and started blogging when we started home educating. I ended up taking a second attempt at Nanowrimo in 2013 and triumphantly completing it! That was such a turning point for me, I realised I could write something of length after all, and got the book writing bug after that - I've just completed my fifth. I can't NOT write really, it's a compulsion more than anything else.

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
Uninterrupted time is good, not always easy to find with seven children! A decent chair - my pelvis doesn't like sitting on the floor any more. Music is important too, but I more use that when I'm not writing, to think to and work out plot ideas. I pick really carefully for each new project then I can whack it on when I do write and it's easier to slip into that particular world - its not essential though, I can do without it if I have to. Really I just need my laptop, enough charge in it, and a decent chair.

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
When writing a book I try and only take one day off a week, two at the most. Writing time is essentially in the evenings, after about 8 or so when the younger ones are all happily in bed. I also take my laptop along to me to various sports that the kids do - yes, it's only an odd hour here or there but it all adds up plus in many ways it's easier to get the words in then because I have no internet to distract me!

The money question, as I know that you are as yet unpublished, I assume you don't live from your writing earnings!
No, I make no money yet. I'm working on submitting my work to publishing agents and plan to self publish. When I can I fit in part time work to help keep our collective heads above water. I would LOVE to make enough money from writing to live - mainly so that I could spend more of my time writing! At the end of the day it's almost immaterial because I'd write anyway, paid or not.

What are your favourite biscuits?
I'm not actually that fond of biscuits, but you can't go far wrong with a bourbon, and I do quite like a pink wafer biscuit from time to time... Oooh, and anzac biscuits! I love those! (don't like biscuits, names three...hmmmm a secret biscuit eater?)

Where do you do most of your writing?
Upstairs in the bedroom, at at desk in the corner. It's a really nice little corner actually, the windows to one side so I can have fresh air but not be distracted too much and I have a notice board on the wall in front of me with various pictures and things out of National Geographic mostly, that I've been inspired by, and lists of things and also a huge pile of CDs. My darling husband (also an author) got me a commemorative glass book ornament with my first three book titles (a trilogy as it happens) engraved on it, and that's on my desk too.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Book? Singular? *manic laughter* I nearly always have several on the go. Currently I'm mainly reading Elsa Shciaparelli, a biography by Meryle Secrest, and Memories of Old Sussex by Lillian Candlin. I'm also picking my way through Hanging out with the Dream King, conversations with Neil Gaiman and His Collaborators but it's slow going because I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought I would, and I'm also labouring through The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge which is AMAZING but very DENSE if you know what I mean, in a thinky, layered kind of way.

Do you use social media (facebook, twitter, instagram etc) to engage with your audience, do you think it helps sales and do you find it fun or a chore?
I've been on twitter for ooh, about seven years now I think. Whether it helps with sales or not we'll have to see but the support of other writers and artists is wonderful, and it's helped me find some volunteer test readers too.

Do you own an e-reader? and do you prefer to read digital or paper copy?
I'm the proud and happy owner of a kindle. Not only did my husband buy it for me, but he replaced it when the first one died AND he has it linked up to his amazon account so he can keep on buying books for me! Genius! I LOVE it. Not only is it instant - buy a book and PING! it's there, but you can switch between books and carry HUNDREDS around in it in this light little thing you can hold easily in one hand, perfect for reading in bed or while breastfeeding. I still love paper books - you can leaf through them more easily, and the smell - the feel! The touch! I love both, they're both good for different reasons. Funnily enough, my dissertation was regarding paper versus electronic books.

Do you dream in colour?
Yes. Do people really dream in monochrome? I'm so intrigued by that! I have really vivid, involved dreams and often write them down and turn them into stories.

If reading and writing were banned, what would you do instead?
Um, I'd break the law a lot?! (you could join Andy Stanton and his secret band of underground writers) I love music and singing, and used to play the violin so I suppose I'd take that up again and maybe learn the cello too, I've always wanted to. I could practise the piano more as well, and do more art... I like watercolours, and boy do I need more sketching practise. And I dance - I do a couple of adult ballet classes, which I love. So long as I can do something expressive. I'd still want to read and write though, and no one could stop me making up stories in my head, I'd still do that.( a rebellious streak, I like that)

What is your ideal holiday?
We've had a couple of very happy family holidays to Cornwall, I'd always be pleased to go back there. Mine and my daughter's current 'when we win the lottery!' dream is two weeks in Disney Land!

Here's hoping then that your writing brings you the riches required for your Disneyland trip! Thanks for the answers. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for publication dates!

Wordy Wednesday

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