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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Blog: Leigh Michaels

A Day in the Life of Leigh Michaels

Every now and then a high school student who wants to be a writer asks if she can job-shadow me for a day, and I never know what to say – because honestly, a day in the life of Leigh Michaels is usually pretty dull.

I start out the day with coffee, the newspaper, and a bit of TV news with my husband, and I often check my email from my minicomputer while he’s watching the Today show. (I purposely don’t own a smart phone, so I can’t be quite as tied to the Internet.)

Once in my office, I look in on my classes and respond to students. I teach romance writing online for Gotham Writers Workshop (, so I may have as many as 30 students posting assignments and giving feedback to each other, though fortunately not all on the same day. I answer any crucial email and take care of any pressing business matters – setting up blogs, answering fan mail, writing speeches or making notes for upcoming appearances.

Then I retreat to the little book-lined room next to my office, where my laptop is set up, and write, taking a quick break for lunch.

The best a job-shadower can hope for is that my story is moving along so well that I have a Romancing the Stone moment (remember Kathleen Turner sobbing, “This is so good” as she finishes writing the last page of her novel and tries to find something to blow her nose on? Happens once in a great while in real life.)

After a few hours of writing – it might be just two or three if I’m only starting a story, six or eight if I’m finishing one – I break again and take a long walk, do some housework, pay the bills, and cook a decent dinner. Cooking is therapeutic for me, and I sometimes get my best ideas while chopping veggies for a stir fry.

In the evening, I check my classes again and often do research, or relax with a movie, or finish up all the business stuff that didn’t get done in the morning. Though I love to read, I’m careful what I pick up while I’m writing – because it’s so much easier to get lost in someone else’s world than it is to create my own.

At least, that’s the ideal day – when all the threads get tied up and I get at least a thousand words written.

But then there are days like today – when I started out with only a few things on my to-do list, and I was determined to polish those off quickly and then dive back into my new story so I could spend all day with the six main characters and three separate romances which weave together to form each of my books.

I intended to finish up a critique I started yesterday,assemble a basket for the literacy raffle at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta so it’s ready to take with me on the plane, check on my students, write a thank-you note to the bookstore manager who hosted a book signing and program for me over the weekend, and then go hide out in my sitting room with my laptop and write.

Of course the moment I decided that, the day began to unravel.

The phone rang while I was still drinking coffee. My son in law and two granddaughters were in town, just finished with a dental appointment… so of course I suggested they stop by so I could get my fair allotment of hugs, and I ended up making pancakes and sausage for five.

When they left, I went back to my critique, and I just managed to finish it up and send it when the phone rang again. My handyman carpenter was working for a neighbor today, but he was at a standstill with that project till the paint dried, so did I want him to take a look at my honey-do list in the meantime? Since he’s hard to get, I grabbed the chance. Before he was finished with the first two projects, I’d added three more to the list – which is how things usually go when he’s here. By the time he went back to his first job, it was time for lunch. Then I had to do some prep for the contractor who’s coming next week to pour a new patio, and call the plumber to move a hydrant that’s in the way of the new patio. Then classes… and more email… and thank-you notes, and finding things I plan to add to the literacy-auction basket…

And here it is almost bedtime. The basket isn’t finished, and I still haven’t managed to get myself back to 1816 and the three couples who are waiting for me to tell their story.

But I did get this blog post written. :)

What’s your ideal day like? Mine has nothing on the calendar – at least no appointments and no commitments, just a big span of blank time so I can truly wallow in my work!


You’re invited to the wedding of the year!

The Duke of Somervale, whose sister’s wedding is the event of the ton, is fighting off debutantes and desperately needs help from beautiful, stubborn Olivia Reyne. But she is engrossed with problems engulfing her dearest friends and family. The last thing Olivia needs is to be embroiled with a duke whose dark gaze makes her forget herself entirely...

Discover a new side of a beloved author as Leigh Michaels draws you into the glittering, glitzy world of Regency England and an affair you’ll never forget.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leigh Michaels is the author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels, more than a dozen non-fiction books and three Regency romances from Sourcebooks Casablanca: TheMistress’ House, Just One Season in London and The Wedding Affair. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published by Harlequin. A 6 time RITA finalist, she has also received two Reviewer's Choice awards from RT Book Reviews, and was the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award. Leigh also teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Ottumwa, Iowa. For more information, please visit

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for one of two sets of Leigh’s trilogy: The Mistress’ House, Just One Season in London and The Wedding Affair. US and Canada residents only please.


Maria D. said...

My ideal day is a day where I start out with my to do list and actually get at least 3/4 or all of it done. I easily get distracted on the computer and find myself hours later wondering where time has interesting post....I know no one would want to follow my day at work because it is terribly

Thanks for the giveaway

Lexi said...

I like your ideal day. In reality I am busy with the kids till my husband and I are out the door, work, kids and supper/mass chaos (three kids under the age of two, yes there is a multiple). So I guess if I get an hour of peace and quiet at the end of the day to curl up with a good book that is truly an ideal day =)
good thing there are great books out there to live vicariously through!

Na said...

My ideal day would be spent reading to my heart's content and surrounded by some of my favourites food. The weather would not be too hot or cold but cozy and no noises. I also like to have to-do lists, not long but a few simple items that needs to get done and after that I can relax. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

Linda McDonald said...

My ideal day would be taking my dog for a walk in the morning, then packing up a beach bag and heading for the beach (or the bay...just someplace near water) and setting down in a chair with a great novel. After my alone time, then I'd get back home and spend time with the hubby and some friends/family that have come over for a visit. Then a soak in the spa, and back to the novel before getting a great night's sleep!
Oh, and if sometime in my day I could borrow your handyman to fix some things at my house, that would be great!


winnie said...

Thanks for sharing with us Leigh! My ideal day would be to be able to just be lazy at home so that I can read and watch tv all I want!