So last year, around May, my husband and I talked about having another baby. Nothing happened, and we figured, “Whew, dodged that bullet, we’re so busy that we don’t really want another baby right now. What were we thinking?”
Fast forward to June 29 of last year, when I was standing alone in my bathroom at 11pm, staring at two pink lines. My husband and kids were all at the beach, but I’d driven home because I had to go to ALA the next morning, and I had a 6am flight to catch. (I did not sleep at all that night. If you met me at ALA and you thought I was vaguely nuts, now you know why.)
Now, if you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook or if you know me in real life, you may know that I used to do the majority of my writing in the middle of the night. I would get the kids to bed, start writing around 9pm, go to bed around 1am, then get up at 5:30(ish) and start the day. I couldn’t do that every night, of course, but a couple nights a week, no problem.
Guess what pregnancy does? It makes you tired. Especially when you already have two young children. Especially when you have a day job. Especially when you’re promoting books that have already been published. First baby? People pamper you. I remember a girl in my office would come around and rub my shoulders. People would offer to make me tea or bring me lunch so I wouldn’t have to get up. Third baby? People wonder if you know how to use birth control. (That’s not a complaint. It’s just reality. It affects the baby, too. I mean, with my first, he got a clean blanket every time I laid him on the floor. Zach gets put straight down on the carpet half the time. :-D)
For some reason, I thought this pregnancy wouldn’t be a challenge when combined with the writing. I’ve done it before (I was pregnant with Sam while writing Spark, and I wrote Elemental in the first month after he was born), but that was before Storm was even published, when all my writing activities were solely focused on actually writing, and nothing promotional.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Writing Sacrifice kicked my ass. My editor and I had a few inside jokes about how we never should have chosen this title, because it was really a little too close to the truth. It doesn’t help that I started the book several times and kept scrapping it, because it just wasn’t right. Michael Merrick wouldn’t cry in every chapter! Michael Merrick wouldn’t say that! Ugh, I have to delete this scene because Michael Merrick isn’t a frigging moron!
Then the baby was born early. That meant I was writing Sacrifice like this:
Or like this:
Or like this:
They say that when you’re nursing a newborn, you should sleep when the baby sleeps. I couldn’t do that because I was writing when the baby was sleeping. I think I put Michael Merrick through hell just because I felt like I was going through it myself. (“You think a little smoke inhalation is bad, Michael? Try picking up a screaming 35lb. toddler while wearing a newborn in a sling. TRY IT.”)
I finished Sacrifice through the eternal patience of my amazing editor and my amazing agent. There were tears involved. A lot of them. But I got it done. In looking back, I wouldn’t give up one minute of the experience. It was the biggest challenge I’ve faced in quite a while, and I’m proud of myself for getting it done. Baby Zach is by far my most cuddly, snuggly, happy baby, which helps. I’ve been up since 2:30am (it’s 5am now) because his belly was upset, and I can’t even be irritated with him, because I just love him so much. I don’t mind the missed sleep or the spit up down my shirt or the fact that I’m going to be a zombie by lunchtime. I love how one day I’ll be able to show him those pictures and show him the book and say, “You were a big part of this.” Part of being a parent is the sacrifice, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So here’s the contest. I’ll give away a signed copy of THE ENTIRE SERIES to two winners: one in the USA, and one international. All you have to do is leave a comment about what sacrifice might mean to you. There are no wrong answers. This contest is open to everyone on the planet, even if you’ve won something from me before. The contest will be open until Wednesday, September 10, at 9am Baltimore time.