How to be a Fabulous Mum!
Grace Saunders has worked in fashion for many years, first as press officer and buyer for Whistles, then as a Fashion journalist at Elle. She is now a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a huge range of national papers, as well as leading women's and parenting magazines.
Brimming with practical advice, useful tips and tricks of the trade her new book - The Fabulous Mum's Handbook is a must-have for motherhood.
The author lives in Muswell Hill with her partner and two children aged 5 and 3.
Grace tells us about her writing and career plus some Fabulous Mum tips!....
What is your background?
I studied anthropology at Manchester before going into journalism. My career started at The Sunday Times Magazine followed by a brief diversion into fashion pr (as a buyer and press officer for Whistles) and then as a fashion journalist on Elle where I stayed for six years.
How did you get into writing?
Fresh from university I was covering the post of fashion assistant at The Sunday Times Magazine. My passion had always been for writing and I was never short of ideas so I bombarded the editorial team with proposals and feature snippets. Luckily the magazine was launching a supplement called 'New London' which was a great show case for some of my first articles. It was these published works that formed the basis of my first writing portfolio and lead to bigger articles in The Sunday Times Style, The Independent, Elle and Glamour.
What inspired you to write The Fabulous Mum's Handbook?
As a young (ish) working mum of two toddlers I noticed a huge gap in the market for an up-beat, modern, inspiring let attainable hand book which focused on the mother instead of just the child. It seemed there were endless books on weaning, nursing, developing and potty training your children yet nothing on how to keep yourself sane, stylish and spirited throughout the madness of sleepless nights and mayhem! I wanted to read this book (as did most women I met) so I felt it had to be written!
If you could sum up your three top tips for mums to be fabulous - what would they be?
Set aside some time to formulate a practical yet stylish pregnancy and post-pregnancy wardrobe. Items that will flatter your changing shape yet still make you feel lovely are ideal.
Don't neglect those close to you (partner, girlfriends, family members). You may not have eyes for anyone but your bundle of joy but you still need a banter with your best pal or a night of romance to boost your self esteem.
Eat well and be nutritionally aware throughout. Eating for two during pregnancy is a myth eating a balanced, fresh , healthy diet (with some treats thrown in!) is a rule we should all follow.
Oh and number four, laugh. A lot.
Do you think that there is too much pressure on Mums to be able to 'do it all' these days? We are expected to be perfect Mums, great wives, look wonderful...and be able to work..
Yes I certainly agree with that! Just getting up in the morning (after feeding a newborn sixty five times in the night and dealing with a toddlerâ€™s night terrors) feels like a huge feat never mind looking glam and vying for that crucial work promotion! Give yourself a break!
Which section of the book was the most fun to write?
I honestly adored every part but if I had to pick a section I'd say the chapter on grown-up time was pretty hilarious. Just remembering all those compromising (and defiantly pretty unromantic) situations us new mums get ourselves with our partners made me chuckle throughout the day!
How does being a writer fit around having young children?
Wonderfully. I find I can write whilst they go to nursery and school and finish to give them quality time in the evening. I love being here for there supper time (5pm) and being around to help with reading/homework or just free play. I also treasure the fact I can take a day 'off' if they are sick or have half-term. This is when they really seem to need mum the most.
Do you write at home? If so where?
Yes, I have a study which lights up with sunlight in summer. My haven.
How do you manage to be disciplined about writing a certain number of words a day...is that how you work?
When I was writing FMH I would have breakfast with the children at around 7.30am and then I'd lock myself away for most of the day. I'm very disciplined and don't even answer the phone or e-mails during this writing time, I even take up water and snacks so I'm not drawn to the kitchen as an escape! I do this 3-4 days per week and I seem to accomplish huge amounts very quickly.
Has it been hard getting published? How have you gone about it?<p class-"answer="">My idea was incredibly formulated and specific when I found my agent. I'd written a very descriptive proposal, a sample chapter and had researched the market well. I'd also packaged it with a portfolio of my existing journalism to show case my existing style and written voice. My agent was brilliant at targeting the right publisher was invaluable in securing my first book deal.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Mums who would like to become writers?
Take some time each week to write up in magazine/newspaper form a feature idea that interests you, be it a parenting, political, fashion or even travel issue. This will fine tune your writing technique and get you thinking about your style and what you really feel passionate about. If you fancy writing for a publication why not start with the Internet or your local paper? You could approach the features editor with some of your example work and pitch a few ideas. By building up a portfolio of journalism or even examples of your writing you may firstly find a book idea that you feel you could carry off successfully and secondly you'll have some examples of your work to show perspective agents.
In celebration of the publication of The Fabulous Mum's Handbook, Emma Bridgewater and Grace Saunders have collaborated to produce the Fabulous Mum's mug. The perfect Mother's Day gift, relax with a cup of coffee as you read The Fabulous Mum's Handbook or give it to a fab mum in your life!