About Allison Brennan:
Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling author of many romantic thrillers, including Carnal Sin, Original Sin, Fatal Secrets, Cutting Edge, and Sudden Death. A four-time RITA finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Brennan enjoys spending her free time reading, playing games, watching high school sports, and researching her novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Horror Writers Association, and International Thriller Writers. Allison Brennan lives in Northern California with her husband, Dan, and their five children.
Visit Allison online at her website, www.allisonbrennan.com, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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Allison shares some thoughts on motherhood, writing, and not looking back. I'm sure there's a better way of describing her post, but... You just have to read it!
When I tell people I have five kids, their jaws drop and they stare at me in shock. I know what’s going through their heads. The first thing is, “Doesn’t she know about birth control?” Then, “There must be twins in there.” Or, “She must be Mormon or Catholic.”
The answers: Yes, No, Catholic.
The comment I always get is, “I don’t know how you do it. How can you write three books a year with all those kids?” Or a variation on that theme. And I don’t get that.
I used to work full-time outside of the house—a regular 9-to-5 job—and no one ever asked me how I “did it” and raised my family. There are a lot of moms out there who work their butts off and aren’t writers, some of them working two jobs, some of them single moms, some of them with husbands who help a lot, and some of them with husbands who don’t do much of anything.
Before I quit my day job in early 2005, I worked 35 hours a week, had five kids (11 years to 6 months), and wrote every night after the kids went to bed. THAT was hard work. It was especially hard before I sold my first book, because I was writing toward a dream that may never happen. I love writing—but I also had a goal. I was writing for me first, but I was also writing to sell.
Working moms tend to feel extremely guilty because they work outside the house and fear they’re damaging their kids in some way, so they overcompensate and try to do everything. (Yes, I was guilty of that!) Stay-at-home moms feel guilty because they are at home and worry when they don’t do everything from being the team mom on soccer to being the first to sign up to drive on every fieldtrip to making sure their house is immaculate because they’re “at home” and there’s “no excuse.” I swear, the year that I was a stay-at-home mom after I quit my day job and pulled my kids from day care was the hardest year of my life. I couldn’t write when they were running around (at the time ages 4, 2 and 1—my oldest two were in school.) I was physically exhausted when it was bedtime, but I still had to write at night.
Writing is selfish. We do it first for us. When you’re unpublished, no one in the world cares if you sell a book—except you. No one. It’s hard to keep motivated in the face of negative influences, even when those negative influences aren’t obvious.
Sometimes it’s our spouse or parents or kids who think it’s “cute” we’re trying to write a book. Others may complain that we’re wasting money on paper, toner, and a new printer. Others are critical that we’re not spending enough time with the family and meeting everyone else’s needs.
Worse, some family and friends think that writing is a “hobby” something we do just for the hell of it or because we enjoy it, but it’s not a future career and thus can’t be fulfilling like a “real” career, or a “real” hobby—like gardening or scrap booking or whatever they themselves find valuable.
Being a multi-published New York Times bestselling author has some advantages.
People don’t think I’m writing just for the fun of it. People don’t generally look down their nose at me anymore when I decline to drive on the next field trip because of a looming deadline. Most people take my writing seriously—I have credentials now. But I still get the, “Since you work from home, can you just do . . .” fill in the blank of anything that takes more than ten minutes. Add half a dozen of those up and you’ve lost an hour or more of your time. And when you have only the hours when your children are in school to write—and the nighttime after they go to bed—that lost hour (or two or three) ends up hurting.
It took me a long time to minimize the guilt of putting my needs on equal footing with my family. Or close to it. Because I still drop everything when someone is sick, or when there’s a special event at school, and now that my hours are more flexible, I do drive on more field trips and rarely miss games. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love spending time with my kids, but I also love writing, and I can juggle both most of the time.
I “do it” like every other mom out there: I prioritize, I sacrifice, and I don’t sweat the small stuff.
I think back sometimes to how it all started—the early morning and late nights, writing books that never sold and no one will ever read (this is a good thing!), frustration that I was wasting time or not doing enough or doing too much. I remember the three years I didn’t watch television in order to make time to write.
It wasn’t easy. But nothing worth having is easily achieved. When I quit my day job, we didn’t have a lot of money and I had to be exceptionally frugal with my advance so that I could make it last. I pulled my three youngest from day care, we refinanced the house, I lived on a much tighter budget—with the added stress that if my books failed, I’d be crawling back to my old boss begging for my job back.
Was it worth it? If I had never published, or hit a bestseller list, would the time spent writing have been a waste?
I don’t like to play the “what if” game with my past life. Or think about what I wish I could change. I believe that when we make a decision that is by default life-changing at that moment—such as which college to go to (or whether to go at all); what job offer to accept; who to marry or where to live—it happens for a reason. If we make a bad choice, we learn from it. But to play the “what might have been” game can drive you crazy.
I’m sure I could have done things easier. I made a lot of mistakes. But would I be the same person today if I didn’t make those mistakes? So I look back at the beginning and realize that if I changed anything, I might not be who I am today. If I made different choices long, long ago I may not have met my husband and had my terrific kids. If I listened to person A instead of person B about how I should approach my writing career, I may not have even had a career . . . or maybe I would have had a better career. I simply don’t think about it.
I try to instill in my kids that they are responsible for their own happiness. That if they want something bad enough, and work hard enough for it, they can achieve their goal. No one promised it would be easy.
A month after I quit my day job, while we were struggling and juggling, my oldest daughter—then 11, said, “Mom, I’ve never seen you so happy.”
And ultimately, that’s a lesson I’m thrilled to teach my kids.
I love your perspective, Allison, and I'm glad you shared it with us!
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Six years ago, Lucy Kincaid was attacked and nearly killed by an online predator. She survived. Her attacker did not. Now Lucy’s goal is to join the FBI and fight cyber-crime, but in the meantime, she’s volunteering with a victim’s rights group, surfing the Web undercover to lure sex offenders into the hands of the law. But when the predators she hunts start turning up as murder victims, the FBI takes a whole new interest in Lucy.
With her future and possibly even her freedom suddenly in jeopardy, Lucy discovers she’s a pawn in someone’s twisted plot to mete out vigilante justice. She joins forces with security expert and daredevil Sean Rogan, and together they track their elusive quarry from anonymous online chat rooms onto the mean streets of Washington, D.C. But someone else is shadowing them: A merciless stalker has his savage eye on Lucy. The only way for her to escape his brutality may be another fight to the death.
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Random House Publishing, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Random House Publishing
Love Me to Death is a page-turner that will suck up your time, so don't pick it up unless you can finish it--or you'll be ignoring everything else going on, so that you could finish it. Gee, that took quite a few words, didn't it?
Character: Lucy Kincaid is a strong woman. She has to be, to get through her past and keep moving forward with her life. At times, though, Lucy needs to admit that she cannot do it all herself, and she can rely on those who love her, without it looking like weakness. Allison Brennan does a wonderful job in her portrayal of Lucy Kincaid here... Seth Rogan is the perfect leading man for Lucy, and at times I wanted more of him than I got. Good men are hard to find! *grin*
Pace & Plot: This is a believable story that I could see unfolding in my head as I turned the pages. Where's the screen version? The bad guys are deplorable, even if some of 'em had more altruistic reasons for their actions. But, bad is bad. So there. Anyway, back to the story. The pages turn quickly, you root for the good guys, and there's a happily-ever-after. What more could you ask for from a romantic suspense novel?
drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good! If you're a fan of the genre, you should pick this up! OR, try to win it in my giveaway... *grin*
Thanks to the publisher, Random House, I can offer up one copy of Love Me to Death for you! US and Canada only, no PO Boxes, please. To enter, comment below with your actor suggestion for the role of private security firm owner Seth Rogan. He should be fit, yummy (of course!), just a touch broody, wicked grin... Oh, and don't forget tall, dark, and handsome, too. I'm thinking Josh Duhamel would be awesome. *grin*
Don't forget to include your email address. Do it before 6pm CST February 13th. Good luck!
Have you read Love Me to Death? What did you think?
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