By Chanda Temple 
Anne Riley
Anne Riley

Anne Riley amazes me.

For a while, I’ve been thinking about writing a book but haven’t found the time to do it. But here’s Riley, a married mom of two little ones and a high school Spanish teacher in Birmingham, Ala. with everyday demands like many of us. Still, she manages to write books. Not just one book, but several. She wrote her first book when she was 24. Today, she’s 30.

To date, she’s written four books with plans for a fifth.

How does she do it?

“You just pick a time that works for you and you do your best to protect it,’’ says Riley, whose first novel, Shadows of the Hidden was released in 2012 through Compass Press. Recently, she secured a book deal with Spencer Hill Press to publish Pull another one of her young adult fiction books.

Riley will share some of her secrets on Saturday, Feb. 1 during the free workshop “How to Write While Having a Life’’ as part of the Authors Expo and Book Fair at the Birmingham Public Library.

Riley recently took a midday break to do a quick Q&A about writing.

Have you found that it’s hard to write while having a life?

“It’s challenging. I think you have to manage your time extremely well, and writing has to be something you have to work in.’’

What can people expect from your presentation?

“They can expect a couple of tricks to stay motivated. They can expect different methods of having a writing schedule, and they can expect encouragement from other writers.’’

So you have children, ages 1 and 3, at home. How does that work with writing?

“I don’t really do a lot of writing at home. Because I’m a teacher, my life is run by bells. I do know I will have a lunch period every day that should be free of interruptions. And there’s after school,’’ she says, adding that she may leave the house on the weekends to go write while her husband takes care of their children. She likes writing at a library or anywhere she can enjoy a good cup of coffee.

What’s been the worst writing advice you’ve received?

“Write what you know. It kind of traps you in your everyday life, and for me, writing is an escape,’’ she says. “Part of the fun is learning about new things or making up new things.’’

What’s been the best writing advice?

“Write the book you want to read.’’


“Because the more in love you are with the story, the better you will write it and the more fun you will have writing it.’’

To learn more about Anne Riley, visit

The Authors Expo and Book Fair will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. Riley’s workshop, “How to Write While Having a Life,” will be held at 10 a.m. At 1 p.m., See Jane Write will offer practical tips on how authors can use blogging and social media to reach readers and promote works. Both events, which will be held in the Arrington Auditorium, are part of a huge expo that will feature nearly 100 authors selling their books.

For more about the Authors Expo, visit

Chanda Temple is director of public relations for the Birmingham Public Library. Before joining the library in 2012, she worked as a reporter for 19 years. Her last reporting job was as a features reporter at The Birmingham News in Birmingham, Ala., where she covered everything from cops and courts to fashion and elections. She’s received several  awards for her stories and enjoys coaching students and adults on their writing, social media and networking skills. Follow her on Twitter @chandatemple.