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.