The Glamorous Life of a Bestselling Author

on March 2, 2006

My day starts at midnight when the littlest Brennan thinks he’s starving to death and wakes up screaming for a bottle. Of course, we need to do a diaper change because this little guy pees more than the first four kids put together. Now I go to bed. Wait, you ask, isn’t this the end of the day?

No, I work on a 24 hour clock so 00:00 is the beginning of my day. I usually stay up until midnight anyway because of my monster child’s bizarre schedule, but I have been known to fall asleep at 9 p.m. on the couch while watching one of my husband’s documentaries . . .

00:05-03:00 Sleep.

03:00-03:10 The littlest Brennan is starving again (I swear, I feed him. A lot.) but being a prepared mommy, I pop a bottle in the microwave (yes, I know you’re not supposed to, but I have this down to a science), take it to him, change his diaper while he drinks (in the dark–I have night vision), all the while listening to Brennan #3 snoring peacefully in the bed. My oldest son can sleep through anything.

03:10-05:35 Sleep.

05:35 The littlest Brennan wakes up, but he’s not crying. He’s singing “e-i-e-i-o quack quack here” which means he’s ready to get up.

05:40 Make coffee and put on Barney for little monster. Sit at computer to check email. Go to Publishers Marketplace to check on-line rankings of my books. (Yes, it’s an addiction.)

05:50 Pour coffee. Switch videos because little monster is bored with the first selection. Give him some toys to entertain him because without coffee, I’m somewhat of a zombie.

05:55-06:30 Relative bliss. Read about a dozen blogs, comment on one or two, respond to email, get second cup of coffee, and proofread my personal blog that went live at 6 a.m. A little late, three typos, but we work with what we have. I only had to jump up six times to tend to the little monster.

06:30 I hear Brennan #4 wake up. She’s in my former den and there’s a window over the door, and I see the light come on. I open her door and say, “Good morning.” She says, “Go away, I’m playing.” Okay. She’s not yet 3 so I try to overlook that she’s sounding snotty and just like her oldest sister does when talking to Brennan #2.

06:45 #4 runs into the room with her arms wide yelling, “Moooooommmmmmmmmy!” and gives me a big hug. Snottiness forgiven. #5, who is happily playing with his farm while watching a sing-a-long video, sees that my lap is occupied and pitches a fit, runs over, and demands to get up, too. I avert hair-pulling and pinching by picking them both up (I’ve GOT to stop doing that, my back aches) and taking them to #4’s room, change #5’s diapers, tickle them both, and distract them. Distraction is good to avoid blood and tears.

06:55 Brennan #3 rounds the corner and says, “Boo! Did I scare you?” “No,” I say. “Awww. Can I play videos?” His current favorite is SpongeBob and he’s gloating because he has more Golden Spatulas than his 9 year old sister.

07:00 Husband comes out of the bedroom, showered, pours coffee and takes my computer. Well, it’s our computer, but still . . . that’s okay, I have morning chores to start, beginning with waking up Brennan’s #1 & #2 to get ready for school.

07:00-7:10 I shower with an audience. Sounds sexy. It’s not. The audience is a 20 month old who thinks it’s fun to open and close the shower door, sending in waves of cold air into my steamy box.

07:10 Wake up #1 & #2 again, this time threatening to let the most distructive of their siblings into their bedroom. Hear moan. Okay, they’re alive. Good.

07:10-07:15 Third cup of coffee for me, breakfast for the kids. Get cereal and see if fruit is still edible. Good. Pour juice and put well-balanced meal on the table. Call the herd. #2 meanders down the hall.

07:15-7:30 Do dishes from night before. I hate cleaning, and I especially hate cleaning during writing time. I also like to multi-task, so supervising breakfast while doing dishes qualifies.

07:30 Pull the blankets off of Brennan #1, the pre-teen, and threaten ice. I’ve only had to actually get the ice one time. Boy, was that effective.

07:30-08:05 Whirlwind. I don’t really know what goes on during this time except by the end of it, two of the kids are leaving with their father–he drops #1 and #2 off on his way to work. I’m usually dressed and marginally presentable, and #4 has gotten herself dressed.

08:05-08:30 Check email (it’s been two hours! Withdrawl!) Get the boys dressed. Look for Lost Object. This is usually a jacket or a shoe. Find Lost Object, or make do with something else.

08:30-8:40 Get three little Brennans into the car and carseats. This is not an easy task.

08:40-9:10 Drop #3 at pre-school. Take #4 & 5 to babysitters (Monday through Thursday. Friday morning’s are cleaning days which means I stay home and clean the house for the cleaners. Seriously.)

09:15-9:30 Home. Alone. Bask for fifteen minutes. Put on fresh pot of coffee. Check email. Blog. Pour fresh coffee and get to work.

9:30-11:50 Ideally, this will become my main writing time. But I’m still getting used to this new schedule which I started only a month ago. I’m not used to writing when the sun is out. So I start with writing a blog for Murder She Writes. Then I pull up one of my favorite research sites and read about the results of suffocation on the human body. That reminds me that I need to get going on my WIP. It’s already nearly 10:30. Where did the time go? I open the file and edit the scene I wrote last night. I end up losing two pages because I cut so much. Then I have an idea and go back to chapter two and insert a short scene there. Much better. Go back to where I left off and figure out where all my characters are. Who’s doing something interesting? Start into the scene, not sure this needs to be on-page. Writing is slow. At 11:30 I start watching the clock. Have to leave by 11:50 to pick up the three littlest kids. Once you start watching the clock, writing is impossible. So I close the WIP (net 2 new pages plus a lot of information about suffocation) and check my email again. Check my blog and respond to people who have commented.

11:50-12:40 Pick up #4 & 5. Go to preschool for #3. #4, who is potty trained, insists on trying out every potty we see, so she uses the one at the school. Wait, wait. #5 has fallen asleep on my shoulder. He’s only 29 pounds. Feels like 50. #4 is done, we leave, but she decides to make a detour to the play structure. I attempt to bribe her to get down. Fails. I put on my stern mommy voice and face. Fails. I threaten to take away Dora the Explorer DVD. Fails. I yell. Fails. I put #3 and #5 in the car and run back for #4. Spank her and feel like a bad mommy. She pouts. I put her in the car and talk sternly to her.

12:40-13:15 Carry sleeping #5 into his crib. Put #4 down for her nap. Make lunch for #3 and insist that he eat before playing SpongeBob. Check email (did I tell you that it’s an addiction?) Check PM numbers on my books. Open up WIP.

13:15-14:50 Interspersed with #3 asking for help (okay, okay, I offer. What can I say? I like video games. He really doesn’t need my help except to read some of the rules. But truth is, I only have to read it once and he remembers. He can also count up to infinity (at least he tries, I usually stop him before he reaches 5,000 . . . ) and he can add, subtract and do basic multiplication. He can read any number up to 999,999,999. He’s having a problem recognizing 1,000,000,000. Should I be concerned?) . . . where was I? Right. Naptime. I’m fortunate that 4 out of 5 days the two littlest Brennan’s nap for at least 2 hours. If my editor and I plan a phone conversation, this is usually the time for it. Ditto agent. So now, I look at what I wrote this morning. Ugh. Crap. Delete. I don’t even save it to another file. But I have an idea . . . an hour later I look up and see I wrote six pages and they don’t seem to be garbage. Oh, no, I have to get the girls! I wake up the two sleeping Brennan’s (I HATE waking up sleeping kids) and usher all three into the car. Drive to the school to pick up #1 and #2.

15:20-17:45 Home. Whirlwind. Snacks, television, fighting over who gets to play the Nintendo first. Fighting between #1 & 2 over everything. Threaten to 1) take away phone from #1; take away television from #2. Usually works. Check homework to see if #2 has time for video games. On Tuesdays #1 & 2 have Catechism; on Wednesday’s gymnastics. I remind kids if they want their allowance, they need to do their chores. If it’s not a big-kid activity day, we play at the park or in the backyard. (I don’t know what I’m going to do when #3 is five and starts sports!)

17:45 (ish)-18:45 Dinner. Making it and eating. Hubby usually doesn’t get home until 6:30 and the little kids can’t wait that long to eat, so family dinners are reserved for the weekends. Meal time can be totally fun — or a total nightmare. I usually start a fresh pot of coffee . . . or break out the chocolate covered espresso beans.

18:45-19:30 While big kids do homework, I bathe little kids (well, almost every night), get them ready for bed, and put on short video.

19:30-20:30 While #3 plays video games, I read to #4 & #5 then put them to bed. We have a huge ritual for this, but they’re usually asleep by 8 so I’m happy! #3 then has his mommy time and book and goes to bed at 8:30. I usually warm up leftovers for hubby.

20:30-21:00 Check email, pull up research, get into writing mode. Tell big girls to get ready for bed.

21:00-23:59 Writing time. It usually takes me about thirty minutes to get back into my story. At 9:30 I tuck the big girls in and turn off their light, and then really start. On an average night, I’ll write 10 pages. On a really good night I’ll write 20-25. On a poor night I’ll write less than 5. And that’s usually garbage.

Glamorous? No. But sometimes I feel like a celebrity. Like when I went to my local Borders Tuesday morning and signed THE KILL and sold five copies to employees . . . or when I was on a local interview show . . . or during my launch party in January when my friends and family came to share my excitement. When I get a fan email and know someone loved my book enough to tell me.

Difficult? Sometimes. There are nights I can’t write and fall asleep at 9. But it all works out in the end . . . I hope.