News on Netherworld.

So, if you haven’t followed the saga that is the co-authored novel, Netherworld,  you can catch up here.

Our baby.

Our baby.

For your memory, as well as my own, I’ll tell you that a fellow author friend, Amy Miles, and I decided a few years ago now (wow, time flies) to write a book together. She is a wildly read fantasy author and I am (a lesser read) author human emotions. We thought it might be fun to mix the worlds together. She  would handle the fantasy parts and I the human. The premise was simple:A human teen would run into and see a banshee (a creature from the Netherworld who ferries the dead to their final destination). He would see her when he shouldn’t be able to and they would form a connection and all hell would break loose. So that’s what we set out to write. For a year we worked on this book, she from her state, me from mine. It was done entirely online until Amy surprised  me with a trip to the Bahamas where we finished the novel (yes, we worked while on a cruise. I highly recommend it). We also plotted out the next two books on that cruise.  Fast forward to August of last year, 3 days before it’s intended release mind you, and a promo image for the book caught the eye of an agent at Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management. They wanted to try to sell Netherworld for us which meant we’d have to pull the plug on our release. With three days before release, Amy and I had a LOT of talking to do. We decided to take a risk and see if this could be done traditionally. Once we were settled in with the agency, they had a few suggestions to make to the manuscript, so the once finished book was back in re-writes. It meant I had to read the book again! And edit it. Again! You know how I adore editing.  But we did it. We re-worked it. I flew out to Amy’s for a week and stayed with her family and we hacked the shit out of the manuscript and put it back together, stronger this time. There was a lot of excitement.

The agency sent it out to the Big Six (biggest publishing houses there are) and we all waited. And waited. And waited. Traditional publishing is s l o w. Finally, a reply.

Fantasy was no longer hot, and they didn’t anticipate it being hot again for a long time. However, they did like the human world I had created and wanted me to re-submit the book, without the banshees.

Um. huh? How do I re-submit a book I co-authored on banshees without the banshees?

Needless to say, the agent, Amy and myself all had a long chat. Our agent suggested we split the book. Amy would take all things banshee and tuck it away until fantasy was hot again, and I should take the human element and resubmit to those same publishers who really liked my writing style. Amy and I begrudgingly agreed.

Now, while I’m happy that the big 6 editors like my writing, I am a tad gutted that they didn’t want the baby we’d worked so hard to develop.

The ABC’s of Dee is set to release in mid-April and my agent wants me to focus on this re-re-rewrite as soon as it’s out. A lot to process.

netherworld facelift

This image makes me sadder than it probably should. I won’t say the time Amy and I worked on this is wasted, because I think she will make a kickass banshee novel with what she’s developed without my human world slowing her down. We learned a lot about our writing styles and about each other. Time I wouldn’t trade for the world. No writing is wasted writing. I’ve always believed that. I guess it’s time I put that mantra to the test and rework this book, yet again.

 

Danielle Bannister, author and really bad photoshop editor.

Where oh where did my weasel go…

Oh where, oh where can he be?wheres weasel

For those of you who may be unsure of what I’m talking about, you can catch up here, then come join the wrap-up party.

So when last we left this hairy adventure, I was left alone in my house, surrounded by a 5 foot bank of snow in all directions (still am, with no end it sight) and a white weasel was on the loose. Bloody beaver meat had been placed, all that was left to do was wait.

And wait I did. For days. Nothing. Well, no, not nothing. I did catch two field mice in my trap and release mouse hotel. Now before you ask, they were NOT the same mouse I caught twice. One was big and one was, well, hoarding the food shall we say. My daughter named them Scooter and Browny. Cute little buggers. We released them in our neighbors snow bank, cause that’s the neighborly thing to do, right? (Kidding. They lived closest to the woods and protection. We were not being vindictive.)

But then, where was the weasel? Was he gone? Had he gone back out the way he came in, maybe to go after the two mice I released instead hanging out with the crazy lady with the broom? Or, was I just REALLY smart? (The answer here is: I’m brilliant.)

After Beaver Meat Man left the house, I took matters into my own hands and reclaimed my sanity. There was only one way the bugger could have gotten in my house and that was via the dryer vent. The insane amounts of snow must have knocked off the dryer vent cover outside leaving a nice open space that they could just walk through and into my house. They didn’t even have to climb to reach the hole because the snow is THAT high.

Not my house, but the general idea.

Not my house, but the general idea.

 

So, I had three options: Cover up the area inside my house that vented the heat outside and never do laundry again (an idea I could really get behind) OR board it up and line dry my clothes in the tub with a wire rack like I used to do growing up as a child and youth. (I can still feel the stiffness of indoor line dried fabric tearing my skin off, *shiver).

Ah, Memories.

Ah, Memories.

OR, I could cover up the vent area inside and just let the hot air from the dryer, vent the air into the house and steam up all my windows until the snow melts and I could actually find the lower half of my house and replace the dryer vent with something stronger, like barbed wire! Of course, I went with the latter since that was the most logical and less scratchy way of doing things. Plus, I can draw things on the windows when they steam up. BONUS!

Since boarding that area up? Not a single patter of a little foot that doesn’t have permission to live here

I done good. For now.

 

Danielle Bannister Author and occasional wild woman

I’m still Chillin’ with the Weasel

People always tell you that truth is stranger than fiction. It is people. You can’t make up the stuff that happens to me. You just can’t.

It all started on Wednesday morning. 6 am to be exact. I remember the time because I didn’t have to wake up til 8am and yet… the sounds of  squeaking and the claws frantic running across the tile alerted me that there was something afoot.

This is not the first time I have been awoken to those sounds. I live near the woods, it’s cold out, critters get in. It is, however, the first time that the critter turned out to be one of these: my friend

Yup. A weasel. Blurry eyed and uncaffinated, I watched as the cat failed to capture the bugger and chase said critter into my bathroom. I did the next logical thing. I facebooked about it.  There were three plans of action that the ever wise Facebook list of friends, that were up at that ungodly hour, gave me.

1. Call the Game Warden.

2. Find a way to shoo the bugger out.

3. Run like hell.

Bearing in mind that I didn’t have any coffee in my system, I went with option 2.

What could go wrong?

What could go wrong?

As my lovely drawing illustrates, there is only one way this could go down once I opened the bathroom door. He would follow my carefully made path and run back outside to tell of his adventures in the big scary house and warn all his weasel friends to never come here.

At first, the plan was working beautifully.

Almost there!

Almost there!

But, just as every plan in my life does, things changed. The little bugger decided to jump the last chair and head to, you guessed it…

 

Smart choice.

Smart choice.

He went right towards the kids room. And the cat. Now, fortunately, the kids were with their father or this could have got messy. I followed after him with my broom to shoo him out the door I had still had open that was letting out all the heat, when he ducked under the door and into the bedroom and my waiting cat. Well, yes, hissing and chasing ensued until I lost the thing again. The hissing it was making indicated it, too, was not happy to be in my house.

 

scary weasle

 

Perhaps it’s time I tried calling that Game Warden after all. When I learned that the Game Warden had called in sick and the alternate was not available, I called animal control who doesn’t deal with wild animals. Of course not. But they did give me a number to a local trapper who could help.

In the meantime, I went back into the bedroom with my broom (after shutting the front door. brrr). That’s when  I saw the bugger run under the door of my water heater tank closet. As fast as I could, I barricaded the door since there is about an inch or so clearance at the bottom. The trapper couldn’t show until later that afternoon, so for the rest of day it was me, the cat and the weasel.

weasle

 

When the trapper showed, he had a trap baited with beaver meat. Bloody beaver meat to be more specific. Those things like blood. *shiver. Then he left the traps to work.

He left his meat then he left me. Story of my life. Hahahahaha! (I kid, I kid)

I had done all I could do, right? Well, I guess I could have tried option 3 and run, but with 5 feet of snow, it makes it hard to run.

There is no where to run to, except into a snow bank.

There is no where to run to, except into a snow bank.

 

I checked the trap this morning. Guess what? No weasel. The thing has escaped. To where, I have no idea. Today I begin the fun game of Where’s the Weasel?

wheres weasel

Can’t. Make. This. Stuff. Up.

 

Danielle Bannister, Author and unwilling weasel owner.

What to write next?

As my next novel, The ABC’s of Dee starts it’s final stages of editing, I am forced to start thinking about what I should write next.  I know most authors don’t have this issue. Those lucky authors have a whole back log of novel ideas just bursting at the seams.  I am not so lucky (or cursed, as some may think of it)

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve got nothin’ in my noggin,’ cause there are always a few things dancing around, but now is the time I have to figure out what I’m going to work on in May, after The ABC’s of Dee is out.

thinkI know there are a few fans out there who want me to continue the Pulled stories, but I think they are done… Maybe one day I’ll go back and do Janelle’s story, but for now, I think that needs to simmer.

Amy Miles and I still have no word on Netherworld aside for that it is on the desk of several N.Y. publishers. (see history of the novel here). Not to mention that Amy has so many projects lined up that trying to work  on the next in that series won’t happen (unless it get’s picked up) so that has to be on the back burner as well.

A friend suggested I work on a short story collection (cause I so love to write short stories) but let’s be honest. No one actually reads short stories. I’ll still write them, mind you, but they will be more for my writing than for the public.

So I ask you, dear readers, what sort of story do you want next? Leave a comment. Help  me out. What sort of story are you in the mood for?

 

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I got Taylor Swift on my noggin, and you should too.

It happened without my knowledge or permission. A song here, a lyric recalled there, and before I knew it, I became a Taylor Swift fan. Now, I must clarify, I’m not one of her die-hard fans. They have actually given themselves a name, which I’ll admit, I had to Google: Swifties.  Not Swifter, that’s a cleaning thing. I have one of those. Big difference. Swifties are all over facebook, twitter, tumbler and a million other social media that I don’t know how to use, I’m sure.

She was all over the place during the holidays when she bought, wrapped and delivered personalized gifts for fans she’d been facebook stalking (see, even famous people do it). Seeing that video didn’t make me into a fan, I think I already was one, but the video of it did cement the humanity of a young artist who could have so easily gone another route with her fortune. You can catch a bit of that video here, if so inclined. That said, I have done something that I haven’t done in ages, which confirms me as a ‘fan.’ I bought her album 1989! At full price! Gasp!

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So what made me realize that I was a fan of her? It wasn’t her always-put-together look cause I’m always just barely put together. It wasn’t the catchy beat of her songs either, though it didn’t hurt. I mean, come on, try not dancing to “Shake it off.” I double-dog-dare you.

The thing that turned me into a fan was … wait for it…  her writing. Shocker. A writer liking writing.

In all seriousness, it’s one thing to write one song that is deep and means something, it’s another to do it for as long as she has and at her age. I’m almost twice as old as she is and yet I don’t have a tenth of the wisdom to write some of the stuff she comes up with. Not that I’m jealous. Okay. I am.

I snatched a few of her lyrics from Pinterest, yes, there is a whole Pinterest board dedicated to just quoting her lyrics.  Here are some of my favorites:

“And the saddest fear comes creeping in. That you never loved me. Or her. Or anyone. Or anything.” I knew you were trouble

I could write a novel on that line alone! But wait, there’s more!

“Every lesson forms a new scar” or “Now we’ve stepped into a cruel world, where everybody stands and keeps score.”  Eyes Open

Truth, sister.

“I’d go back in time and change it, but I can’t. So if the chain is on your door, I understand.” -December

That whole song guts me, truth be told.

“I’ve never heard silence quite this loud” The story of us.

That’s good, simple prose people. Harder to do than you think.

And then, my recent favorite line, perhaps of all time from her.

“Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” Blank Space

Now, that is a novel waiting to be written. All of these lines could be changed into novels, but at the risk of being sued, I will resist, or at least write them and never show a living soul. In fact, there is actually a list of books that Book Bub Blog actually claims : 13 YA novels that are actually Taylor Swift songs…   Kind of makes me want to go back and re-read The Catcher in the Rye.  Oh fine, read if for the first time.

If you’ve never stopped to listen to the lyrics in a Taylor Swift song, I suggest you try it one day. Are some of her songs pure bubblegum?Sure. But I am willing to wager there is a hidden gem or two stuck inside even the peppiest tune, because the writer in her wouldn’t be able to resist it.

One of her song lyrics jokes: “Got nothin in my brain.” I beg to differ, Ms. Swift. I think you got a lot in that noggin.

Danielle Bannister, Author and new Taylor Swift Fan.

 

When love hurts

When people ask me what PULLED is about, I tell them it’s about Twin Flames–two halves of the same soul that had the fortune to actually find each other in this world. So, paranormal romance, right? Well, kind of. If you don’t believe that such a love is possible, then yes. If you do, then it isn’t paranormal at all. So, just Romance, well … maybe not that either.

You see, PULLED is also a novel that has a very real, and present danger. I don’t often talk about the dark underbelly of PULLED, because I want the reader to discover it. I want readers to see not only the beauty of what love can be, but also the down right horror that can become. Maybe the time has come, however, to put the spot light on the darkness, if only as a way of reaching out to a person who needs to see it.

PULLED starts out very innocent. A college girl ready to start her life over. A coming of age story. But very soon, it takes a turn that many are shocked by. Often they’ll have to re-read to make sure they didn’t skip a page. ‘Where did that come from?’ some say. Which is good. That’s how I wanted it to feel. Like a slap in the face. A betrayal, almost. For others, they saw this coming from a mile away. They saw the warning signs that I snuck in there and couldn’t do anything to stop it.

****SPOILER ALERT****

If you haven’t read the novel yet, and don’t want a spoiler, DO NOT FINISH THE BLOG. Come back to it later if you want, but don’t read this section if you hate spoilers.

Pulled Final Fixed ecover brighterPULLED is FREE (fyi)

Last chance to miss the spoiler…

 

Okay, a tiny bit of back story to understand the passage: Prior to this chapter, Naya, an orphan at the age of 13, had just started her first year of college. She didn’t believe in allowing herself to feel love since her parent’s death. She’s dating a guy named Seth who she started dating shortly after the accident that took their life. He followed her to college to be close to her. While in one of her acting classes, she meets a sophomore named Etash. He has a large scar on his face and keeps to himself, but there is an undeniable pull between the two of them. Naya, confused by these feelings has a panic attack in her room. One of many that she’s had since her parent’s death. She balls herself up in her closet and breaks down.

Here, after the attack has run it’s course, our chapter begins.

Naya

Somewhere during the night, between the anger and the anguish, morning arrives.

It’s the annoying chirping sound of my dorm phone pulsing obnoxiously against the wall that finally forces my eyelids to open. Still securely confined inside my darkened prison, I moan. How long had I been asleep? I shift my weight slightly, pushing away a dress dangling in my face. My head throbs and my muscles are stiff. My eyes are puffy and swollen and feel as though I have been crying for hours. I probably have.

A phone rings again, but this time it’s my cell. I don’t move to answer it though. It’s Seth’s ring-tone. He’s called countless times during the night. I know I’ll have to pay for not picking up, but I just don’t have the strength to move right now.

A small beam of light comes in through the space at the bottom of my closet door, and hits me square in the eye. There’s a boot jamming angrily into my back, and that tiny pressure against my spine brings with it the unnerving reality of last night’s episode. And I feel ashamed: ashamed that I’m going through this, again.

And that does it. I’m now pissed at myself for allowing the depression to suck me under. I stand up, ignoring my protesting muscles and open the door, letting the morning sunlight blind me; awaken me. I take in a deep sobering breath. It’s okay; you’re safe now. You’re not alone. You have Seth.

His ring tone goes off again. Knowing it’s dangerous to put him off any longer, I pick up my cell.

Hello. I’m fine,” I say quickly, trying to put him at ease. My voice is weak and hoarse.

Where are you?” he demands.

I clear my throat. “I’m in my room.”

There’s a silence on the end of the line. “Are you alone?” he asks.

Seth…I…” I’m so focused on trying to explain why I hadn’t called, that I don’t really hear his question until a moment later. Wait. Did he just ask if I was alone?

I’m coming over,” he says, then the line goes dead.

Okay. I wasn’t planning on having to talk to him, or anyone, quite so soon after my breakdown. His dorm is only about three blocks from mine, so that gives me about seven minutes to think about what I’m going to say to him.

I briefly contemplate telling him the truth, but that will show weakness, and Seth hates weakness. Which means I’ll have to lie.

I have just enough time to run to the bathroom and wash my tear-streaked face, pull a comb through my hair and brush my teeth before he is pounding on the door. So much for getting out of my pjs.

I only open the door a crack; afraid to look in his eyes, not sure how angry he’s going to be. He misinterprets my hesitation to let him in as something else completely.

Naya? Is someone in there?” His eyes are hot.

My eyes widen with shock.

What? Seth, no. There’s no one here,” I reply.

Then why aren’t you opening the door?” He is positively fuming now. He pushes past me before I can get a word out and storms into my very empty room. His bloodshot eyes scan the room, hunting.

Happy?” I ask through my teeth, put off by his accusation. I assume that no warm bodies in the room will appease him, but it doesn’t. He marches over to my messy bed and throws back the covers. Finding it empty, he searches underneath it before he whirls around, glares at me, then heads for my closet.

He catches a tiny shift in my eyes and his fists clench. Pushing me aside he rips open the door and I hold my breath. When he doesn’t see anyone standing inside, he hesitates for a second before going in. He then proceeds to tear my closet apart.

The clothes stop flying after a few crazy seconds and then it gets very quiet. The look on Seth’s face as he emerges from my closet shakes me. His large chest is heaving in frantic jolts. One of his hands is pinched to the bridge of his nose. He’s crying.

Guilt takes over and I rush over to him and lace my arms around him, trying desperately to soothe him. His strong arms wrap around me and hold me tight.

Naya, when you didn’t answer your phone last night, I thought something happened to you.” He kisses the top of my head softly and strokes my hair, the way my mother used to as a child. “Then when you answered my call this morning, I thought you’d be in the hospital or something, but you were in your room … I guess my mind jumped to the wrong conclusion. I’m sorry.” He pulls my face back to look me in the eyes. “Forgive me,” he whispers.

There’s nothing to forgive.” I reach up and kiss him softly. “If anything I should be asking you for your forgiveness,” I say, pulling gently away from him. Seth grabs my hand before I can break away.

Where were you?” His eyes are pleading with me.

Here,” I say, simply.

His eyebrows pull together. “Then why didn’t you answer your phone? I called your room and your cell at least a dozen times!”

Here it was, the moment of truth, and I was going to lie through my teeth.

I had a tough rehearsal last night and I ended up with a migraine,” I whisper, not able to look him in the eye.

A migraine?” He doesn’t sound convinced.

Yeah, I haven’t had one this bad since … the accident. It hit hard and fast. So, I came home, downed some Tylenol PM, turned off all of the lights. I just needed it dark and quiet.” I bite my lip, hoping he’ll take the bait.

His eyes lighten a touch. “You don’t know how worried I was.” He pulls me tight against his arms. The worst of it is over, I think, so I allow myself a small grin.

I know. And I’m so sorry.” He lifts my feet off the ground and kisses the nape of my neck. “Thank you for being so understanding,” I say into his chest.

He pushes me back down and looks me in the eye. “Just because I understand, doesn’t mean you’re forgiven. You should have called me. You should have answered your damn phone! That’s why I bought it for you.” Seth walks over to my door and locks it, then closes the blinds. “Now take off your shirt,” he orders, slipping off his belt.

My eyes glaze over. My body shifts into auto pilot. I pull my shirt over my head causing my dark hair to cover my face. The warning crack of his belt sounds so I sink down to my knees and grab onto the handles of my bureau. Shifting my weight to find my center of gravity Etash’s smile flickers once against my closed eyes, and I gasp.

I should give you 12 lashes,” he whispers, hot against my ear, “One for each call you didn’t answer.” He straightens up and takes a deep breath. “But since it’s a school day, I’ll only give you six.”

I know I should be scared, but I’m not. I’m just … sad. The first lash comes without his normal warning and I have to hold back a scream that almost escapes. There is just enough time to shove a pair of socks into my mouth and hang on again before the next one comes. By the fourth lash, he’s found his rhythm, and so have I. My back has gone numb, along with my mind, so by number six, I don’t even flinch.

 

The book goes on to talk about what love is, and isn’t. For some, the abuse plot line is merely a side story, secondary to the true love theme. For others, it is a trigger book, a book that brings back horrible memories, which is why I include a warning. For some, they can’t finish the book after this section. It’s too close. Too personal. For those who have no experience with abuse, the character of Naya can seem incredibly weak. It’s very easy to scream at a character to just ‘get out’ of an abusive relationship, but for those who are in them–the mind games have already taken root, and the belief that they can escape is no longer alive in them.

Although I have had no personal experience with abuse, I have several close friends who have. I wrote this story for them. I wanted them to see, if only in a book, that love did not have to hurt. That’s the reason for this post, actually. It has been brought to my attention, by a fellow author, LK Griffie, that I have an obligation to provide information about abuse in my books and on my website for those who may find my books on accident, find themselves in a similar relationship and need a place to turn. Accordingly, I shall be modifying my web page, print and e copies to include abuse information. I’m a little slow on the web page knowledge, and have a book to finish editing, but I’ll get it up there.  In the meantime, remember: love shouldn't hurt

 

Danielle Bannister, Author and editing procrastinator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring it, 2015.

The holiday madness is just about over. There are still boxes full of things that need to be put away and pine needles lurking underfoot, but most of the insanity has died down. Oh, sure, there is still New Years Eve, but let’s be honest. I’m 39. I have two kids. I will be crashing at the same time and will have only watched a few lame kid movies to see the year out. As I said, the craziness is basically done. With it, however, comes the promise of a new year. A chance to kick ass and take names.

The first name I’m gonna kick: Dee, as in the ABC’s of Dee.

The ABCs DEE promoThis is the first book that I’ve put up for pre-order (aside from Netherworld–which got pulled three days prior to because an agent happened to see a promo imaged we had for it on facebook and wanted to represent it. You can read that whole story, HERE. Netherworld is sitting with several NY publishing houses as we speak, awaiting word in the new year….)

So what is a pre-order? A pre-order means is that you are promising to have a book done by a certain date, which means you have to have all your ducks lined up nice and neat. My ducks like to run around and fly away, which is why I was hesitant. See, if you have a pre-order, you need to get your beta readers, your editor and your formatter lined up way in advance. Your cover needs to be done,  your marketing in place, your calendar organized, and oh, yeah, your book on target to be finished. It means you can’t wait around to become inspired, you have to plant your butt in the seat and write, because the pre-order deadline waits for no slackers.  So, while an April 12 release might seem like eons away, it’s not. I need time to finish it (about 1/4 or less left, I think). Then I need to edit it. My beta’s need a few weeks to read it. I need at least a week to go over their comments. Then re-edit after that. Then the editor needs a good chunk of time 2-4 weeks, depending on the size and her schedule, then the formatter needs at least a few days, then you need to load it to the bookstores about a week prior all the while having all your marketing lined up for the actual release…. that leaves very little wiggle room. That said, Dee… you’re going down.

 

The other name going down is: Doubt.  Yeah, that pesky little dude that likes to tap you on your shoulder every now and again and try to convince you that you can’t reach your goals. That guy. He’s going down in 2015.

 

The last name (for now) that I have a bone to pick with is: Social Media.

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You, time suckers of the universe, have been put on notice. My plan (should I choose to follow it) is to put you on a strict diet. Balance needs to be restored to the brain.

Who is going down in your new year? Let me know in the comments.

 

Danielle Bannister, author and  name kicker.