I have exciting news to share: I signed a two-book deal with Montlake Romance and the first book comes out next summer.
“Sweet Bliss” is a small-town romance with themes of what it means to be a caregiver — to an orphaned infant and to a small seaside town — and how love brings out our best self. It will be published under my real name, Jennifer Bardsley, as opposed to my pen name, Louise Cypress.
Hearing the good news was thrilling. But once the champagne wore off, I remembered that I was stuck in the middle of 2020 and that my current situation was much closer to a dystopian novel than a sweet romance.
The kids were home, my husband was home, the poodle had separation anxiety if we walked outside as far as the mailbox — life had become weird. I didn’t even have a writing desk anymore because I’d given it to my husband to use for his work-at-home space.
But the great thing about being an author is that I can work anywhere (theoretically). So I set myself up on the kitchen table, opened my laptop and began work on my next book. I got two sentences in before dirty breakfast dishes that someone abandoned bugged me so much that I stopped what I was doing to load them into the dishwasher.
While I was at the kitchen sink, I wiped up the crumbs my son had left from baking bread the night before. Then I cleaned out the water bottle my daughter had dumped into the sink. By that point, Roomba had turned on and scraped across the wood floor. I turned off Roomba, vowed to ignore the rest of the kitchen mess and got back to work.
Starting a new book is hard. That first chapter has to be perfect. The amount of mental energy it takes to invent characters and imagine how their lives intersect is so draining that it often leaves me numb to everything else. But once I “get in the zone,” I’m unstoppable. The ideas flow and I crank out 3,000 words a day on repeat until I finish a 75,000-80,000 word book.
Unless, of course, someone interrupts me.
“Mom, where’s my phone?”
“Jenny, Can you add graham crackers on the shopping list?”
“Where are the chocolate chips?”
“I need toilet paper!”
Working from home is a joy on many levels, except when it’s not. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was four chapters into my book when I figured out a solution to my predicament. I asked my husband to set up our tent trailer in the driveway.
At first, our neighbors were confused. Some of them didn’t know I was a writer, and I think they might have thought that I was moving out of the house. But no, it was just me and my computer in my new office.
Hear that silence? It’s sweet bliss.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at email@example.com.