Friday, August 5, 2011

When I'm Not Writing + Contest: Claire LaZebnik

It's something we often want to know from authors: What do you do when you're not writing? Sure, some say that's like asking what they do when they're not breathing, but we also know they really do have other things going on. So what's important to Epic Fail author Claire LaZebnik in her non-writing time? Check out the post, because I definitely do similar things when I'm not writing or reading or blogging, and then enter for your chance to win a copy of her book!

Writing is really a very small part of my life--a dear and valued part, but a small one. Most of my time and energy is divided between my four kids and the three furry creatures that somehow ended up living with us. These days, the animals are way more work than my kids, who are rapidly becoming more and more independent.

We have two dogs and a cat. Sometimes I think they chose us more than we chose them. We first spotted my older dog, a good-natured yellow Lab named Harvey, when he was a mellow puppy being passed from arm to arm at a charity auction. We bid on him on a sudden impulse—and to our shock no one outbid us. Ten minutes later, we were taking him home. “Am I dreaming?” asked my son when we woke him up to introduce him to our new pet.

He was wide awake when we got our cat and other dog. In fact, he helped pick them out. We got both (a couple of years apart) at a local rescue organization. We sat down on the floor of this playroom filled with cats, and after we’d played around with a bunch of different ones, this beautiful white Persian made his way over to us, crawled into my son’s lap, and bumped foreheads with him, purring away. So we took him home. The dog was even more determined to come home with us: we had no intention of getting a dog that day, had idly wandered into the dog kennel just for fun, when we felt something swiping at us. We turned around and there was this little matted bundle of fur, reaching out his paw through the bars, trying to get our attention and calling out to us. That, as they say, was that.
So now we have these three creatures running around our house and my days are spent walking them, feeding them, and cleaning up after them. Just yesterday the big yellow dog managed to drag a brand new bag of cat food out into the backyard where he opened it, ate most of it (the little dog probably dug in, too), then spread the rest around the gravel. Have you ever tried to pick out little pieces of pet food from gravel? It’s one of those impossible tasks, like the ones the Greek gods set up to punish people for their hubris.

The little dog just wants to be held all the time. I like to work standing up at a high counter, and I can’t hold the dog in my arms and write at the same time. But he scrabbles at my legs until I pick him up. So I don’t get anything done. I also don’t get any writing done when the cat comes meowing downstairs, because he’ll only eat and use the litter box if I’m IN THE ROOM WITH HIM.
That’s right. My cat can’t take care of any of his bodily needs unless I’m within a few feet of him. It’s not a healthy situation for either of us. And since he has no qualms about peeing in areas that do not contain a litter box, I have to drop whatever I’m doing, grab him, and run when he just looks like he might need to pee. If I don’t—or if I’m out of the house—I’m sure to have a mess to clean up when I get home.

And so it goes, an endless litany of cleaning, walking, training, cuddling, scolding, ball-throwing, food-buying, toy-dangling, combing, brushing, bathing, and feeding. It doesn’t ever end. I wonder sometimes why I got these pets—and how many books I could have written by now if I hadn’t.
And then sometimes I’m lying on my bed and they’re all cuddled up next to me, the cat right on top of my stomach, the little dog curled up with his head on my shoulder, the big dog sprawled at my feet, and I feel such a sense of contentment and comfort that I know why I do it.

Books don’t cuddle with you.

Thank you, Claire, for sharing that. Sometimes I wonder how much more writing productive I could be if I didn't have to drop what I'm doing when the dog even goes near the door, just in case he's actually saying I want to go out. Otherwise, my carpet suffers for it.

So, guys, make sure you check out Epic Fail, but you can enter now for your chance to win not only a copy of the book but a stress ball as well!

Just fill out THIS form to enter!

Contest is US only and ends August 12. No entries will be accepted through comments, but comments are very much appreciated.


  1. LOL, her pets are adorable, and Claire sounds like an animal-lover near and dear to my heart. Great guest post, and thanks for the contest! :)

  2. Awww...I used to have a cat that didn't like to eat alone, or in the dark. Gotta love those neurotic pets :)

  3. Aww, poor kitty! But he and the puppy sound adorable.

    (And to just prove that I know *exactly* what you're talking about, my 14 lb feline fuzzball is licking my arm as I type this, begging for his dinner. So, better go appease the catzilla!)


  4. Awww! I know how it feels, I would do anything for my pets.