Monday, December 18, 2006

A Romance Author’s Glamorous Life

Ever seen pictures of Danielle Steel's Pacific Heights mansion? Or heard about Nora Roberts' indoor swimming pool? I'll bet many readers believe that all romance writers live the life of luxury. We sit around in our boas, sipping champagne (Dom Perignon, of course!), eating chocolate-dipped strawberries (the big sweet ones from Godiva that sell for $5 a piece), and tap out our books without a care in the world because we have a personal assistant to handle all the "little stuff." I wish. It’s a week before Christmas and all through the house the chaos is multiplying exponentially. Here are but a few of the highlights of the last few days:

The car died. The furnace died. Both within an hour of each other. No heat for nearly 24 hours in 20 degree weather. And I couldn’t seek out a warmer clime because being the only member of the family who works at home, I was the designated wait-for-the-plumber person.

And no, he wasn’t anywhere near as sexy and studlicious as Mike the Plumber He was more Joe the Balding Beer Belly. You’d think that if I had to stay home freezing my patooties off while Joe did his thing for several hours, he’d at least qualify as hero material for my next book. No such luck.

In-between trying to write (that is what we authors are supposed to do, right?), I braved the crowds at the mall (yes, the family expects gifts, and some of them couldn’t be purchased online) and baked cookies (because I’m a glutton for punishment.) And because no good deed goes unpunished, I somehow managed to drop an eggshell into the bowl as the mixer whipped around at mach 10. Ever try to pick infinitesimal pieces of eggshell out of cookie dough? Someone slap my hand if I venture near any kitchen appliance other than the microwave until after the holidays!

Trust me, you don’t want to know what else happened over the past 10 days. Makes the car and the furnace look like a day at the spa. Suffice to say I now have rows of square indentations permanently pressed into my forehead from beating my head against the keyboard. (I would have used a wall, but since I’m also the designated -- albeit, quite reluctant -- house painter, I figured it was cheaper to replace a keyboard than buy another gallon of paint, not to mention the time involved in spackling the holes my head would have produced from all that pounding.)
Yes, it’s Manic Monday here at 2B Read. Except lately it seems like Manic Everyday to me. ‘Tis the season for Murphy’s Law. What can go wrong, bah humbug, will go wrong. And there’s never a personal assistant or Santa’s elf around when you need one.

So do you think Danielle and Nora ever have weeks like this?


Nancy Morse said...

Shortly after my first book was published, my husband and I went over to our friends' home to hang out, something we did on a regular basis. When we walked in, we were greeted with "Here come the rich Morses." I turned around to see if some other Morses had walked in behind us because she surely couldn't have meant us. But, sadly, she did. I say "sadly" for 2 reasons. One, that their perception of us had changed overnight, creating a tension that had never been there before. And two, that we weren't rich at all. We were the same old Nancy and Tal, still living our middle class lives on the same old income.

If you think people have a distorted view of the unglamorous life of the average romance writer, imagine what they think of someone in the film business, like my husband. Yes, he gets to work with celebrities, but so far, not a single one of them has come over to my house for dinner. We're apart for weeks and sometimes months at a time. Oh, and did I mention the 18 hour days?

Right now we're in the process of having our roof replaced and it's been raining like crazy, which means the ceiling is leaking. My dog(aka Money Mutt) has had diarrhea for several days and a visit to the vet set us back by $110. The usual havoc my dysfunctional family members wreck is upped at Christmas time. My refrigerator is on its last legs and making threatening sounds. The rats who were setting up camp in our garage a couple of years ago are back. Snow birds are one thing, but snow rats?

Glamorous, huh?

JoAnn Ross said...

Hugs to both Lois and Nancy. Poor babies! I'm sending you lots of positive vibes and white light from my mystical, magical Great Smoky Mts while sipping my morning mimosa and being fed those scrumptious Godiva strawberries by my Cajun dacing boys, who live to fulfill my every need.

Hey, someone's gotta keep up the image! LOL

CJ Lyons said...

The most funny thing about Lois' post, is that those of us who know her know that this chaos is her everyday life--she writes to escape!

And remember, Lois, egg shells are fibre and roughage, an important part of any nutritious diet, lol.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Lois Winston said...

LOL, CJ! For those of you who don't know, CJ and I are part of the same critique group. She knows about the "other stuff" that makes the car and plumber look like a day at the spa.

Terry Z McDermid said...

My life suddenly seemed rosier, Lois, thank you! We only had the roofer finally show up after promising for weeks, possibly months; the screen door guy pop in after his hunting session was over (for deer, I can only hope!), and semester end for our university student. Because I'm now working at home, they all assume I'm available for whatever: scheduling doctors' appointments, answering doors and questions for the repair guys; chauffering the youngest when needed.

I need manage to eat a couple of Hershey's kisses that were left from Halloween (again, my hope!) while working on my edits. Now, if I can only get these chapters off to my editor before the Christmas fun begins. . . did someone say I have to buy presents?!?!?

Aleixs Morgan said...

Lois and Nancy,

I've been whining to myself for days about how much I have to do to get ready for the onslaught of relatives ariving later this week. But after reading your posts, ladies, I've stopped. I hope everything gets fixed and settled so you can relax and enjoy the holidays.

Speaking of images, here's one for you. My son and his buddy (both 20) are taking me and a writer friend (both WELL over 20) to the firing range today to teach us how to shoot pistols and a rifle. I told him I'd been practicing my Miami Vice moves--he was not amused. Oh, well, anything for the craft, I say.

Joann, those Cajun boys sure do treat you right!

Take care, everyone--

Anonymous said...

LOL, Ladies.

And here I was thinking that the eternal barking of the dog across the street was the worst level of hell a writer could experience. *g*


JoAnn Ross said...

Oh, poor Faye! We had a neighbor whose huge Bouvier woofed continually for three years. Day and night. I had to buy one of those sound machines to sleep at all and as for writing, well, it definitely is a very low level of hell!

I used to fantasize about recording it, going to his office when he was with a patient (he was a cardiologist), and hitting play, then saying, "See if you can work with that racket!"

In fact, the two-doors-down neighbor who shared a back lot line with him got into a huge feud. This second neighbor was a neonatal neurosurgeon, so obviously he needed his sleep or little babies could die! Every attempt to get them to do something about the dog was met with "Dogs bark. That's what they do." They did get a companion dog for it -- because it was obviously lonely and bored -- but all that happened was it taught the Lab to bark, as well.

The neurosurgeon actually bought two lots around the corner and built another house. We were seriously thinking of moving, too, but couldn't figure out how you could possibly sell a house with a dog that barked 24/7. I could also never comprehend how the stay at home wife -- who was inside with her two shih tzus - could stand the constant racket.

Then one day we returned home from a month in South Carolina to discover they'd moved away. Seems she was tired of everyone being mad at her, so they bought a place in the country. I feel terribly sorry for their country neighbors, but, wow! the writing sure got easier once they were gone!!

Michele Dunaway said...

I live next to a woman who raises dogs. I'm on five acres and she's on 11, but it's still noisy sometimes.

My life: this insurance nightmare isn't over. By the time it is, I'l have forked over $3,000 in deductibles and repairs that must be done when the other work is.


Amie Stuart said...

Ok I'll quit moaning about a deadline and a step-mother who can't make Christmas plans ahead of time (and the dirty house). I'm on a diet so NO BAKING! Upside anyone =)

Anonymous said...

LOL, JoAnn, that is awful...but also funny. (But then, aren't most things funny in retrospect?)

The problem with my neighbor's dog is they put the dog outside and he, naturally, wants to be inside. (I don't blame him, either. The excitement is inside, after all. lol.)


Samantha Hunter said...

OMG, this was priceless, Lois! Not that I'm relishing your pain, but relating completely. It's always a little weird when someone asks what I do, and I tell them, and then they ask what it's like. . . well, the parts that are really cool, like getting a new cover or a reader email are hard to explain, and a lot of the rest of it is sitting alone in a chair and staring at a computer all day. Not much exciting there to talk about. People are often non-plussed by that. Or is it plussed? Either way...

As far as baking, your battle with the eggshells in the batter did it -- yes, 9pm last night for me it was cursing madly at my chocolate filled cookies because the dough was too thin and broke a lot, but I made it work. I always think of the Julia Child's quote that cooking is about having the courage of your convictions... I will not be defeated by dough, though it does lead to sticky circumstances and lots of cursing. ;)

This is the toughest time of year to write, hands down. However, having those cookies available makes it a little easier...still, all the confectioners sugar down the front of my shirt and on the keyboard...

That's about as glamorous as it gets around here, LOL.

Merry, merry,