What I Do When I’m Not Writing by Berni Stevens

This week I’m joined by Berni Stevens who writes for Choc Lit and is the cover designer of all of my published novels too! She has recently released Laughing All the Way and It’s Only Rock and Roll. Today she is going to talk about what she gets up to when she is not writing …


I’m thrilled to be here today – and a big thank you to Morton for hosting me.

I always find it difficult to write something when I can write about anything – if you see what I mean? But Morton has given me a few guidelines which has helped hugely. So I’ve decided to write about the things I do when I’m not writing … I’ll try to make it interesting!

My ‘day job’ is book cover design, and has been for a very long time now. I finished art college after a four-year course, and my first job was as junior designer for a small advertising agency in London. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was a disaster. The three designers (all male) had been at the same art college together, and were totally unimpressed to find the boss had recruited a young woman to ‘join’ their team. I was given the worst jobs – and no projects – told to make coffee or otherwise ignored. I was miserable to say the least.

Luckily for me, I saw a junior designer was needed by a small Mayfair publisher, and skedaddled off for an interview one lunch time. I got the job! The company was a lot of fun, they published all the Dr Who books at the time, and we often had fans dropping in – usually in costume – begging for posters and any point-of-sale material we might have. The first Sales Conference I went to even had a Dalek on loan from the BBC. (Yes, I did get inside it).

I’ve worked for most of the large London publishing houses at one time or another. Both as a full time employee and later as a freelancer. It’s interesting how alike they all are and yet how differently the various art departments work. I learned far more as a freelancer than I ever did in-house.

My website shows a selection of my cover designs, but there aren’t too many of the newer ones uploaded yet. https://www.bernistevenscoverdesign.com/

I’ve always been a keen dancer – from the age of seven in fact – I did ballet, tap and jazz and I was a member of the Pineapple Dance Studios for most of the time that I worked in Central London. (And I was close enough to whizz off to a lunchtime jazz class if I wasn’t too busy!) About eighteen years ago I discovered Zumba as well, and fell completely in love with that. The instructors at my local gym weren’t particularly reliable, so I decided to take the instructor’s course in 2019. Now I teach my own class at a different gym. I barely break even moneywise as I have to hire the dance studio, but I was never in it for the money – just for the love of dance. Everyone in my class is there for the fun of dancing too, and we laugh a lot. Sometimes we even sing!

My husband Bob and I go to a lot of rock concerts and always have done. I met him at art college and he was a drummer in a band at the time, so I went to his gigs as well. You can see how Izzy and Seth came to be …

Having already written a couple of vampire books (another passion), music would always have popped up at some point to join the party. There is something about the atmosphere at a live concert that’s always excited me – especially the Bowie concerts we were lucky enough to see. When Bowie died, it felt as if a light had gone out in the world for me. He’d always been there … this amazingly creative, innovative presence. When I read he’d trained in graphic design, I felt sure it was the career path for me and (so far) it has been.

David Bowie live at Hammersmith Odeon on Ziggy Stardust tour.

My love of Bram Stoker’s Dracula led me to the Dracula Society sometime in the late 90s. Since becoming a member, I’ve (somehow) found myself on the Committee and designing their quarterly newsletter … And before anyone asks, we’re a literary society for fans of Gothic literature, film, theatre and art. Oh and by the way, we don’t run around wind-swept hills dressed in cloaks and fangs! Take a look at the website maybe – http://thedraculasociety.co.uk/

Another addiction shared with my husband, is the love of the South-West deserts of North America. Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. We’ve been going out there for twenty-five years and still haven’t seen it all. Bob is a dedicated hiker – I’m just a rookie even now. But the scenic landscapes made by those amazing canyons and deserts have to be seen to be believed. Obviously, we haven’t been able to get out there for some time because of the pandemic; we kept optimistically booking the flights, only to have them cancelled. We currently have flights booked for sometime very soon, and have everything crossed that we’ll make it. But I’m not going to jinx it by saying the date out loud!

My father always told me I had too many hobbies and perhaps he was right, but I’ve never had much sympathy with people who say they’re ‘bored’ when actually I always think there are not enough hours in the day. Even as a child I was writing, drawing, painting or dancing …  until I discovered horse-riding, and then I did that too. My one regret is that I’ve never been able to afford a horse of my own. (But I still want one!)

Goodness, what an interesting post. I do hope you find some time to sit down sometimes and good luck with your new book. Mx

About Berni Stevens

Berni Stevens lives in a four-hundred-year-old cottage in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, son and black cat. She trained in graphic design and has worked as a book cover designer for more than twenty years.

Books and art remain her passion, and her love of the paranormal began when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, aged fourteen. She is now on both the committee and the book panel of the Dracula Society, a society for fans of gothic literature and film.

Berni writes contemporary and fantasy romance.

To keep in touch with Berni you can use the following links:-

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/berni.stevens.5/

Twitter : https://mobile.twitter.com/Berni_Stevens1

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/berni.stevens.5/

About Laughing All the Way

If you received a mysterious invitation for a fun-filled festive train ride the week before Christmas, would you go?

When teacher Dee Nicholls receives her invitation, she isn’t sure what to make of it. Surely it’s some kind of joke to get her out of bed early on a weekend? Perhaps a clever festive marketing ploy?

But as the Christmas countdown begins, it becomes clear that Dee isn’t the only “Jingle Bells Express” invitee. There are other people out there who have received the same invitation: Tom the intern, Rachel the aspiring writer, Dylan the musician and his dog Muttley – and they’re not the only ones!

Could the unusual festive journey they eventually take together, show them all the true meaning of Christmas, and also that happiness is sometimes right in front of you – if you just take the time to look?

You can buy Laughing All the Way here

About It’s Only Rock and Roll

Is the rock and roll lifestyle all it’s cracked up to be?

Being the girlfriend of a rock star isn’t all glitz and glamour – at least that’s what Izzy Grant has found since she started dating Seth Roberts of Scarlet Gryphon fame; it’s actually a lot of waiting and wondering and worrying as Seth travels the world whilst she’s stuck in London. Can she ever rely on Mr Cool to settle down?

But rock gods get insecure too, and whilst Seth is jetting off to far-flung locations to perform sold-out shows, he worries that Izzy will find a “Joe Normal” and opt for a more ordinary life. Plus, he could do with some support when a certain entitled rock star girlfriend gets too big for her Jimmy Choos and threatens to break up the band.

There is a solution, but are either of them willing to take the plunge?

You can buy It’s Only Rock and Roll here

Thank you for visiting my blog – Morton S. Gray – Author. I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Summer at Lucerne Lodge published as an eBook, paperback and audio download too – Amazon Check on my Choc Lit author page for other purchasing options here 

Christmas at the Little Beach Cafe published as an eBook, audio and paperback – Amazon KindleApple iBooksKoboNook BooksGoogle Play and Choc Lit for other options.

Sunny Days at the Beach is now available as an eBook, audio and paperback – Amazon KindleApple iBooksKoboNook BooksGoogle Play and at Choc Lit for other options.

Christmas at Borteen Bay is available as both an eBook and audio download – Amazon KindleAudioApple iBooksKobo and Choc Lit for other buying options.

The Truth Lies Buried is available from all eBook platforms – Choc LitAmazon KindleKoboApple iBooks and also as a paperback and audiobook.

The Girl on the Beach published by Choc Lit is available as a paperback and from all eBook platforms –Amazon KindleApple iBooksKobo, Barnes and Noble and Google Play.

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels. http://mortonsgray.com

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