Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Day In the Life Of A Romance Writer or My Cup Runneth Over...With Cat Vomit

My guest today is a Romance author of six published books, Diana Duncan. She makes her home in Portland, Oregon with her “long suffering, patient as a saint hubby.” She has two daughters and has help raise a foster son and daughter. Diana shares with us the glamour of being a romance writer…

Ah, the idyllic life of a romance writer. At 9:00 a.m., the sun peeks through the curtains, nudging me awake to the twitter of birds. Eager to greet the new day, I leap out of bed. After a brisk morning walk, I enjoy a heart-healthy, energizing breakfast of oatmeal with skim milk and fresh fruit. I luxuriate in a leisurely shower, fix my hair and makeup and dress in a flattering, but comfortable silk pantsuit. I then stroll to my organized, creatively inspiring home office to spend the next few hours in writing bliss.

Yeah, right.

At 6:00 a.m., the alarm assaults my eardrums, jerking me out of a fitful five-hour sleep. I pry open my swollen eyelids to peer at the clock. Ugh. There ought to be a law against getting up this early. Howling wind pounds raindrops the size of beach balls against the windows as I grope for my glasses in the darkness and stagger to the bathroom. I swipe a toothbrush across my teeth, and run a hairbrush through my tangled mop in an attempt to tame my Don King-sized bedhead. A quick grope through the Mt. Everest of dirty clothes in the hallway turns up a wrinkled gray sweatshirt and fuchsia sweatpants with raveled cuffs and white paint smears across the butt from my time-before-last decorating spree. Mom's Taxi ferries Daughter #1 to her school in the predawn gloom and pouring rain.

Fifteen minutes later, after battling morning rush hour, I return home and fend off three cats that fight over the honor of who gets to sit in my lap while I hurriedly inhale a microwaved cup of lukewarm coffee. I have fifteen minutes to shower and find clothes - a clean sweatshirt and ratty jeans with a hole in the knee and blue paint streaks across the butt from my last decorating spree. No time for makeup. My hair dries on the vine as I throw dishes in the dishwasher and towels in the washing machine. Daughter #2 stumbles out of bed and the daily pre-departure hysteria ensues.

"Where's my science book?"

"Where are my shoes?"

"I need a note excusing me from PE."

"Sign this field trip permission slip."

"Where's my backpack?"

"Where's my coat? AHHHH! We're going to be late!!"

I chew four Ibuprofen dry, and Mom's Taxi ferries Daughter #2 and two neighbor kids to their school (which begins and ends at a completely different time from D1's school) in the early morning gloom and pouring rain.

Twenty-five minutes later, after again battling morning rush hour, I return to the cats, who express their extreme need for nourishment by climbing my pants legs. I fling food into their dish, transfer the wet towels from the washer to the dryer and toss in a load of jeans. The living room rug gets a fast vacuum as I simultaneously wolf a nutritious breakfast consisting of stale Cheez-Its and a "tall" Mountain Dew. Not bad. Three out of the four food groups ... salt, fat, and caffeine.

Time to work! I head to my office where I remove a pile of clean laundry, D2's science book and snoozing cats from the chair. Booting up my computer takes a mere thirty minutes today, and I fold towels while I wait.

Email check - can't start the day without it. Begin work. Uh oh. I can't locate my saved manuscript. A heart-pounding hour and one frantic phone call to hubby later, I find it in an obscure data file titled WINX4567.29Z. Re-read my output of the day before, consisting of two pages. Decide they are total crap and delete.

Just as the most brilliant sentence I've ever composed forms in my brain, the phone rings, forever erasing it from my consciousness. Maybe it's an editor! I snatch up the receiver.

"Good morning!" a perky female voice chirps. "How are you today? This is Nuisance Telemarketing Company, and we're taking a survey about whether you want the governor to raise your taxes, or whether you'd rather have the state legislature raise your taxes."


I stare at the blank screen and blinking cursor and can't think of a single word. I must need a snack. Might as well check Facebook while devouring a prescription strength Hershey bar with almonds. The fourth and most important food group...chocolate.

Time to get serious about working. Did I mention how much I hate that blankety-blank blank screen and blinking cursor? Two hours later, I've typed one page of less-than-sparkling prose, but at least it filled up the **&^%$ white space. I'm finally making progress! Now, for the most intimidating, challenging part of the entire book. The love scene. Three pairs of inquisitive cats' eyes watch from the windowsill as I insert a Dido CD into the player and attempt to dredge up an amorous mood.

Gabe smiled wickedly as he slowly began to unbutton Tessa's blouse...

The phone rings. Again. Maybe this time it's the editor!

"Hello, this is the principal of D2's school. D2's teacher was ecstatic that she finally did her oral book report, but felt that Why Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus was inappropriate for seventh graders."

Humph. I don't see the problem. There's no species more akin to Martians than thirteen year-old boys. The principal doesn't appreciate my enlightened viewpoint. Click.

Dido croons in the background. Gabe smiled wickedly as he slowly...

The front door slams. "Moooom! I'm hoooome!" D2 hollers out. Not only do I know she's home, but so does the entire block.

"What are you doing here? It's only 12:30."

"Teacher planning day this afternoon, we only had to go half a day. Awesome, huh?"

Yeah, I'm thrilled. "Keep yourself entertained for a while, I'm writing."

The aroma of microwave popcorn drifts down the hallway, as enticing as a $2.00 hooker to a sailor on shore leave. No. Stay strong. As Sponge Bob Square Pants' teeth-grating screech blares from the living room, I wrench my focus to my computer. The cats leap from the windowsill, following the lure of a forbidden snack.

Where was I? My brain finally shifts back into sexy seduction mode. Oh yeah. Gabe smiled wickedly...

"Moooom! One of the cats just barfed on the rug."

Oh good grief. "You know you're not supposed to give them popcorn, no matter how much they beg. I'm busy. You deal with it."

Gagging noises. "Ewww! It's like totally gross! If I haveta wipe it up, I'll barf too."

That's all I need. I desert Gabe in his hour of need for cleanup detail.

Nothing like kitty vomit to throw cold water on a sexy seduction. When I trudge back to my computer, I decide I might as well check email again. Afterward, it takes thirty minutes to reorient myself. I punch the button to start Dido on her second round. Gabe...

"Moooom. What's for dinner?"

Teacher planning day? What, the teachers planned to gift me with a nervous breakdown? Gabe and his wicked smile are almost as frustrated as I am. "Dinner is too far in the future to worry about. Please be quiet. I'm writing."

Back to my screen. Gabe, take my advice. Remain a bachelor. You'll get way more accomplished. Especially if you want to succeed at sexy seductions.

Another hour and two pages later, Gabe manages to get Tessa undressed before the front door slams again.

"Moooom, I'm home," D1 announces, though not nearly as loudly as her sister. "What's for dinner?"

Argh! "I have no idea. Why don't you cook tonight?"

"I can't. I have play practice. I'll need a ride there and back."

D2 chimes in. "Yeah, and tonight's my youth group bowling trip, remember? I need a ride there and back, too, and $5.00 admission fee and snack money."

Mom's Taxi, on duty. There goes any possibility of working this evening. "Fine, whatever. Start looking under the couch cushions for spare change. I'm writing in here."

Gabe and Tessa, I don't know about you, but I am so not in the mood anymore. Maybe you should just bag it and go take a cold shower. They vehemently protest, so I proceed. After two hours of wrenching words from my soul with pliers, three measly paragraphs come together. Unfortunately, Gabe and Tessa don't.

The front door slams for the third time. "Honey, I'm home. What's for dinner?"

Snarling, I stab the power down button, realizing too late that I forgot to hit save first.

"Hey everybody," I yell. "Guess what's for dinner?"

"What?" three voices chorus in unison.

My smile is more wicked than Gabe's.



Forever In a Day Series—a few hours can change your life, has won Romance Top Pick Awards.
1. Midnight Hero (2005)2. Truth Or Consequences (2005)3. Heat of the Moment (2006)4. Lethal Attraction (2008)

Her Website is Stop by and say hi.


Diana_Duncan said...

Hi, Sia, thanks so much for letting me stop by and share my glamorous life with you. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

It cracks me up, Diana! I loved your humor here. Oh and how many times I've been hot and heavy into a scene and have interruptions like you describe? Too many to count!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I have no idea what glitch is happening with the comment section of the post. I went back and checked and everything should be hunky dory now--I hope.

Netti said...

HA! OK, so it seems you actually have to be logged into blogspot to be able to view/leave comment...

I LOVED this post, cracked me up completely. I feel your pain Diana ;)

Anonymous said...

This sounds all too familiar. Even better? I woke up to kitty vomit under my desk. Really. LOL

aries18 said...

I have been working on a romance novel and come to think of it... the interruptions haven't ceased. Perhaps it's the genre?? LOL Thanks for the morning laugh. Truly great comedic writing!

Terrie said...

Goodness! Diana. that is more daily lives we have now. I couldn't stop laughing so hard as I read it. Your sense of humor writing brighten my day!..

Susan Gable said...

ROTFLMAO!!! Di, as usual, you crack me up.

Ummmm...I kept reading the name of the music disk as dildo, which should tell you where my mind was. In the love scene, with your poor tortured characters. lol

~Sia McKye~ said...

Terri, thanks for the comment. Diana has a way of brightening the day!

Wanda, could be the genre... didn't you just love the asides Diana made to her characters--"stay single" ect?

Diana_Duncan said...

I do actually talk to my characters when I'm writing and wandering around the house brainstorming.

Luckily, my dh got used to it and stopped suggesting medication.

And Sherilyn, under the desk...ew. But I got up one morning and stuffed my right foot into my slip-on shoe, and guess where one of my furry darlings had chosed to upchuck during the night?

~Sia McKye~ said...

ewwww! That's gross Diana. I have cats and dogs.

Note to self, check shoes before slipping them on...

Nancy J. Parra said...

HA! This is strangely familiar, she thinks as she looks down at the sweat pants she is wearing and picks at the swipe of paint across the thigh from her last foray into decorating...

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, Di. You should post that to your website.

Diana_Duncan said...

Well, about time to go fix dinner for today. Now, where did I put that box of Cheez-its?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Di, this will be up tomorrow too, so don't go too far....lolol!

Anonymous said...

A good love story never runs smoothly. Must be because authors' days are so filled with frustrations! If we are frustrated, so must our characters be.

Hey, it makes for compelling stories.

Thanks Diana and Sia. This was a great chuckle.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Cute :-) I hear you though. Even though I have no kids or pets, I do have a husband " honey, where's my navy fleece? Do you know long to warm up a muffin? Do you think I need to scrape ice from the windshield?" :-) It's noon now and I've typed two sentences. Livin' the dream baby! :-)

Diana_Duncan said...

My favorite is: "What is there to eat?" or "Are there any more apples?"

Like he can't look in the cupboards or the fridge and check for himself?

Somehow, he thinks I keep a running mental inventory of the food around here. *G*

Diana_Duncan said...

If ya'll are having trouble commenting, I get an error message the first time I hit "post comment," but if I press it again it posts. Technology. Go figure.

gNat said...

ROFL! Great post, Diana! Man, I hate that "what's for dinner" question. Even more popular: "Mom, I need on your computer for my homework tonight." Aaarrrrggghhh.

Thanks for the giggle today!

Anonymous said...

I was there at 'cat barf' in the title. :-) Do 13 cats even come close to two daughters?
I'm thinking not...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana, at least you don't have to discuss the birds and the bees...but at least kids don't try to lay on the keyboard. Oh, there is that whole mom I NEED to do my homework and check my email and this hot girl wants to chat...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Di, I have no idea why the comment thingie is giving us fits...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Diana, I want to thank you for being my guest today. I loved your article. I loved the laughter. I will be inviting you back, guarantee I will be asking you back.

thank you all for taking the time to leave a comment and share experiences with us Over Coffee.

Pat Bertram said...

Now I know why I don't write romance. I don't think I could handle such a "glamorous" life.

Diana_Duncan said...

Thank you, for having me, Sia. It was great fun. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

lolol! Pat. No you just hang out with infectious diseases and such. I think we're only required to put out glamourous material, cause honey if we had to live to write it there would be waaaay less Romance writers.

Thanks for sstopping by Pat. :-)

Unknown said...

Good post..
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