The Rockville 8 is proud to welcome NYT bestselling author Susan Donovan. She writes contemporary romance with a trenchant wit and a melted-chocolate heart. But even with these two sterling qualities (among the many), she’s learned that the life of a romance writer is not all bons-bons and slavish devotion. And what’s up with that?
I remember the exact moment I realized I’d become “A NOVELIST” – an honest-to-goodness professional writer with an agent and a publisher and an option for my next book. It hit me while attending my first RWA National Convention in 2002. Upon my return home, I sat everyone down at the kitchen table and explained that things had changed. Mommy had a new career. This was serious business, I told them. Someday I would be a New York Times bestseller. I would earn a good salary. I would make a major contribution to our family’s future.
I asked my husband and children to respect this new reality. I told them that when my office door was closed they were to give me privacy to write. I told them I’d display a sign on my office door so there’d be no mistake. The sign would say, Mommy’s Writing.
“Does everyone understand what I’m saying?” I asked.
Two sets of little eyeballs blinked into the overhead kitchen light. My
husband cocked his head curiously. Crickets. . . I got nothing but crickets.
That next day, I taped my sign on the office door and attacked my WIP with a renewed sense of determination. Not five minutes had passed when I heard snickering out in the hallway, which was followed by scratching sounds and more snickering. I got up and opened the door. My kids were rolling around in the hallway holding their sides in hilarity. They’d defaced my sign. The word “writing” had been scratched out and replaced with “farting” – Mommy’s Farting.
Thus began my career as a romance author.
Of course, that stuff happened more than eight years ago. Those little snickering cuties are now a senior and sophomore in high school, respectively. My husband is now my ex-husband. I’ve hit the New York Times extended list three times. I’ve sold twelve novels and four novellas. I’m earning a good salary. Is this where you’re expecting me to say everything has changed? Sorry to disappoint.
I ran into an acquaintance at the post office the other day, someone I used to socialize with on a regular basis. She asked me if I was still writing or if I’d found a job. A relative asked me last week if I were still doing “those sex books.” During the legal proceedings that ended my marriage, my spouse said via his attorney that he’d prefer that I sought employment but that he’d allow me to pursue my writing “hobby” out of the goodness of his heart. (This was after I’d become a USA Today bestselling author and got a RITA nomination.)
And only late last week – oh yes, she really did – Danielle Steele told the world that she was not a romance writer. To an interviewer she explained, “I write about the situations we all deal with. Loss and war and illness and jobs and careers, and good things, bad things, crimes, whatever. And I really write more about the human condition.”
At times like these, a girl needs something greater than herself to turn to. I turned to Rodney Dangerfield. I imagined him in an old black-and-white TV clip, nervously tugging at his skinny necktie, sweat on his brow, his head twitching and his eyes bugging out as he shared his mantra with the world: “I tell ya – I don’t get no respect.” It helped to calm my temper and remind me that I can’t take myself too seriously. The truth is, all any of us can do is love what we do, do it to the best of our ability, and let it go.
Once I recovered from Danielle’s knife in the back, I tugged at my necktie and went back to work. And – is this a coincidence, or what? – the romance novel I’m working on right now happens to be about situations we all deal with, good things, bad things, crimes, whatever. It’s about the human condition.
How about you? What have been your most egregious "Just call me Rodney Dangerfield" moments since you began writing?
Don't forget to mark Susan's upcoming release schedule on your calendars:
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, December 2010, St. Martin's Press
"Gail's Gone Wild!" -- part of the HQN Spring Break-themed anthology THE GUY NEXT DOOR, with Lori Foster and Victoria Dahl, March 2011
THE COURTESAN'S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR MAN, with Celeste Bradley, June 2011, St. Martin's Press