Who are you?

(Anyone else saying the title like Brian in The Breakfast Club?)

“Who are you? Who. Are. You?”


I found myself asking this question recently when my agent called me to talk about one of two books I have with her that will go the traditional publishing route. (One is done and ready to be shopped around, and the other is still in progress… I can’t talk about either really…but when I can, you can bet you’ll hear all about them.)

The thing that got me pondering was after my agent asked me a very simple question: “How important is the publisher’s name on the spine of your book to you?” I knew exactly what she meant. We had chatted about this before. While the Big Five bring huge bragging rights, they don’t often pay very well or help market the book when it’s out. It’s basically sink or swim. Smaller publishing houses typically offer more royalties and in some cases, help in marketing. So, basically she wanted to confirm with me; did my ego need to be fed, or my belly?

Um, food please. No seriously. I’m hungry and the cupboards are slim.

Grilled cheese it is.

Grilled cheese it is.

We hung up after she’d given me some homework to do and I found myself still thinking about her question. Not if I’d made the right choice, more that she even asked me it to begin with. Why you ask? Because it seems preposterous to me that the Big Five should even be an option I’m ALLOWED to consider. I mean, I haven’t been writing all that long. Only about 6 years…which isn’t that long in the grand scheme of authorship. Sure, I got my Masters in Literary Education, have a few books and anthologies out, but these days, that’s pretty standard in the Indie world, in fact, the number of books I have published pale in comparison by what others in my field manage to do, so why ask me a question about the Big Five when I am barely a blip on the Indie radar. Well, I’m not really a blip, I’m more like the fruit fly on the screen that just won’t stay away.

The fact that I only sell a handful of copies of my books each month has surely got to be proof-positive that I’m not worthy of any sort of traditional book publishing deals. Right? (Oh, inner critic, how you bore your sharpened claws into my flesh at every turn.)

And so, her simple question has got me sitting here asking myself a very deep question (one she had no intention of putting into my head): Who are you? Are you an Indie Author, a Wanna-Be Traditional Author, a Hybrid Author, a (gasp) Vanity Press Author, a When I Have The Time Author, or worse: A Poor Excuse for an Author. The self-doubt I struggle with makes it hard to see straight sometimes.

How about I just leave all those qualifiers off and just say: I’m an Author. Author. Hmmm.

Yeah. I like the sound of that.

Danielle Bannister, Author and ponderer of all the things. 


Blog they said. It will be fun, they said.

p4dpxThey lied. As an author blogging is part of our homework and homework is never fun. (Okay, it kind of was for me. I was the dork who loved getting homework in college…but I’m weird). Blogging is like math homework. There. Better analogy…unless you like math….oh you get the point.

I’m not kidding when I say it’s homework. It is, and I literally gave it to myself, and worse, to other authors!  I’m part of a group of writers who help support, cheer on and problem solve issues they come up with in the writing world. Can’t figure out how to do something in word? To the group! Can’t find a good stock image? Ask the group!  Frustrated by the lack of sales… Well, we all post that. (Sales suck across the board, FYI). So where does this ‘homework fit in’? Well, a few months ago I got the bright idea to assign us all weekly homework. A list of tasks to keep us motivated, not just to write, but to do the million other things we have to do in order to put ourselves out into the world and hopefully into the hands of a reader. Once a month I assign us all to do a newsletter or a blog. We all moan when it comes time to this. Me, probably the loudest. Here’s why. I don’t know what to write about. If I have a sale or a new release or an event I’ve gone to, absolutely, the words flow. But when I’m just in editing hell …I’m left at a loss.

Now, as the assigner of the homework, I am used to there being whining about this very thing: What do we write about? I’m always the cheerleader. Write about your WIP, write a short story, tell them about your weekend, anything, just get it out there! And yet, I can’t seem to follow my own advice. The WIP is sort of under wraps because my agent and I are going the traditional publishing route. My weekend was the same old same old. Nothing blog worthy. It’s not like a Weasel got stuck in my house again or anything.



In the past I’ve been able to blog about my online dating woes. You can find those here and here. But I stopped going to those places. The guys there were a tad…scary. The only thing online dating was good for, was the blog posts.

So that leaves short story. Here’s the thing with short stories. I sense that people don’t really care for them. It feels like people always want novel length or nothing at all, and I get it. A short story is like a chip when you’re starving for Thanksgiving dinner. They tend to be unsatisfying; leaving you hungry for more.

(Just in case there are some that like them, I’ll leave a uber short one. Some may have read this before. If so, apologies)

The Best Man (A story of regret in 52 words)

The words slipped out of his mouth before he could stop them. “I do,” he said to his new wife–the one he was supposed to love.

Behind him, his best-man, Carl, squeezed his shoulder, expertly faking a smile of his own.

Relenting to the obligatory kiss, he evoked Carl’s lips instead. 

Okay. There. I blogged. I hope come next month there will be something more stimulating to blog about.

Danielle Bannister, author and blogger failure 

penned my table

Penned Con 2015 (the aftermath)

My dear friend, and author, Amy Miles, and her husband Rick Miles, put together a signing in St. Louis last year to help raise money for autism, a cause close to their heart as their son, Landon, (an awesome kid) also has autism. I went to their first signing last year, and when they decided to host another this year, of course I had to go.

Penned Con is the only signing that I will fly out to. As you can imagine, a trip like this is pricey. Air fair, hotel, food, then purchasing the swag and books …it’s not the sort of thing you plan to make money back on. It’s a trip to meet readers, network, hug authors you’ve only met on facebook, go to panels and have fun. Which is just what I did.


One of our speakers, Author Denise Grover Swank, urging us to take RISKS!Gandolf

This was the ball that happened on Saturday night. This is just a few of the authors that were at Penned that were also represented by Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.Julie and JDMy table neighbors and pals, Julie Cassar and JD NelsondanceThis is a few of the authors practicing for a secret flash mob of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off. It was our way of surprising the readers and giving back some of the love that we feel for them! We all practiced for months in the comfort (and embarrassment-free) homes to a tape Amy Miles had put together for us. We had one block of about 30 min to practice it all together. It went off flawlessly! Everyone was surprised and had a great time!
supermanOne of the event coordinators, Rick Miles, even volunteered to dress up as Superman if we raised an additional $1,000 for Action for Autism. Well, we did that, in the first day of his challenge, so he had to up his game by adding first a Tutu, then a Tiara for $2,000. All in all, they raised just over $10,000 for the cause.  the galsThis is me with pals, JD Nelson, Julie Cassar and my roommate for the event, Casey Peeler. Much fun (and booze) was had by all.penned my tableSo will I go to Penned Con again? You betcha. I already booked my table. :D


Danielle Bannister, Author and sometimes boogie down dancer.



Enigma coverf

Let the fun begin…

Today’s post will not be about my dating woes (there goes half my readers). There is literally nothing to report there. It’s not like doctors where no news is good news. No news means simply that I’m unpacking that crazy old cat lady starter kit later today. (Now, where did I put those scissors…)

No, today I dive into day three of editing my latest book: Enigma.

Enigma coverf

Fun promo image

This is the book that I started to write some time ago. You may remember this was supposed to be the human side of the now defunct Netherworld. You can read about what happened with my co-written novel, Netherworld here. I started working on that ‘human’ version as soon as The ABC’s of Dee was released.

The plan had been to take the human I had created in Netherworld and have him not meet a Banshee but to just meet a mysterious human instead. Not paranormal, just mysterious. Fantasy isn’t selling like it once was, so I was tasked to write my own genre. Should have been easy, right? Well, I tried. I really, really tried. I got out about 50,000 words of trying. You know what I found? I didn’t like my character outside of the world I had already put him in in Netherworld. I tried re-naming him, changing his location but it just didn’t help. My character lived in Netherworld, not anywhere else. I didn’t like the character I created.

So, I started over. Filed it away as a project that taught me about what forced writing looks like.

Does that mean Netherworld can be released now to the indie market since the traditional book market didn’t bite and I didn’t re-write my half? Well, not so fast. My co-author of the book, Amy Miles, and I have put that idea on a WAY back burner. She has noticed that fantasy isn’t really moving in the indie world either, so it wouldn’t be smart to release it now, especially since we haven’t written the other two books to go with it. When we wrote the first book, our schedules were open enough to fit the other two books in fairly quickly to satisfy readers. However, time has moved on. Amy is a full time writer and is now booked solid for the next two years with contractual projects. I have none, for the record. *cough.

So, on a dusty digital shelf it will sit, where it may or may not ever see the light of day.With two years of writing, editing, tweaking, I just couldn’t bring myself to pull one of the characters out of that world. To do that, guaranteed not only his, but the book’s death. I’d rather have him remain whole, in the world he was born in, even if that world goes unread.

The only thing I retained from the first re-write was a female character. She became the real voice behind Enigma. And she has a lot to say.

I have no idea when it will release as I have promised this one to my agent to shop out in the traditional world, and one thing I’ve learned, the traditional world moves much slower than the rest of the world.

Until then, I have Penned Con to prep for and a book to edit. A book which will go to some pretty dark places that I’m still debating how much of that darkness I want to share with readers. Editing is where I get to learn what writing the book is trying to teach me. It’s the hardest part of writing for me, and also the most rewarding. Diving in. Head first.

Danielle Bannister, Author and red pen holder.


Time for Plan B

Well, I’m sure you all are hoping for another post about the joys of online dating, but sadly, there is nothing new to report there. Just the same crop of guys kissing their snakes, or licking their guitars, or sending creepy messages like this:

“Great individual,,,honestly if I get a chance to live with u rest of my life den I will never miss dat :)” 24 • Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This site is THE place to go if you want to lower your self esteem like 10 notches. I even labeled the bookmark for it: ‘Ugh’ because that’s how I feel going to check on the latest crop of ‘matches.’ Really? That’s the best that’s out there? Guitar lickers or guys that like my profile that live nowhere remotely near me?

I think I’ll stay single. Or at the very least switch dating sites. Shivers. (Not for awhile though)

As of this post, I am logging off the site I had been using, and at least for awhile, will focus my energy onto something more productive, like my writing. That always has my back. I’m never alone if I have my words to keep me company. Hell, if I want to cuddle, I’ll do it with a good book and a glass of wine.

Not to worry, folks. I’ve already ordered the crazy cat lady starter kit so I’ll have someone to talk to when I stop listening to myself; it should arrive Tuesday, along side the mega box of allergy pills cause I’m allergic to cats.


Danielle Bannister, author and feline friend (achoo!)

pick up lines

Dear online dating dudes…

*This post shall serve as a public service announcement for men on dating sites.*

Since my online dating post reached more viewers than my colonoscopy prep (but only barely, which is kind of scary how many people care about the inside of my colon) I thought I’d do a follow up post. It’s now been few days of this ‘experience’ and I have a several friends going through this journey with me on their own sites and they all concur with this list. So with that in mind, we bring you online dating do’s and don’ts.

We’ll start with the don’ts.  Men, please don’t:

*Stick your tongue out in your profile pic. No one wants to see that.

*Have a blurry picture. That’s sideways. OR Have NO picture or just a black square. That’s creepy.

*Have wonky facial hair. A trimmed beard or goatee is perfectly fine, but anything beyond that, no. Just. No.

*Start a conversation with a gazillion typos. One here or there is fine but try not to be drunk when you make that first impression.

*Have a hat on in every picture. If you are bald, just show us. It’s fine, really. Just be honest.

*Hold a beer in all 62 of your photos.

*Call me beautiful, sexy, gorgeous on a first message. You don’t know me well enough to say those things. It just feels pervy. Save that for later, m’kay?

*Say you’re 40 when your profile picture is CLEARLY 50, 60.

*Be a player. Two of us going through this hell are on the same site, and we compare notes.

Now, having said all of that, please do:

*Smile in your picture. (Yes dating can be hell, but no one wants to date Davey Downer)

*Post a RECENT and REAL picture of you.

*Respect the profile our profile requests. If we say no 20 year olds, that’s what we mean. If we say we are looking for men in the AREA, it means in our same State and not like, the UK for instance.

That’s it. Easy, right? So easy I need this glass of wine to check my account.


Danielle Bannister, Author and wine drinker (this week especially)


Why, just why did I sign up for an online dating site? Again?

So last year, after the divorce, my roommate at the time bugged me to start checking out an online dating site. One too many glasses of wine in, I did. And it sucked. Hard. I went on a LOT of bad dates (Some elements of them are in The ABC’s of Dee, though I’ll never tell which ones.) I did NOT want to go through that experience ever again. Sure, I met a decent guy and we dated almost a year but that ended and now I’m suck back in the talking to people thing. People I don’t know and don’t really know if I want to know, ya know? (See what I did there with the knows? Hehe)

Time passed. More wine was consumed and no single guys crossed my path, sigh. So I am at it again, only this time, you get to share the pain with me. I’m going to blog about my process so you too can live the horror that no single woman wants to face:

Online dating.


Apparently I was that desperate, I logged back on with the same sort of feeling one has knowing they have to prep for a colonoscopy. You know it has to be done, but the process sucks. I blame Outlander for making me believe there is a Jamie out there for me too, just waiting to come through some rock. What? It could soooo happen.

But I digress (I do that a lot). As I’m updating my info from a year ago on my profile, I get my first message of the evening. Oh boy. Here we go. I was hoping to ease into this, but I guess head-first is the only way this pool party works.

He seems harmless enough, not bad on the eyes presuming the pic is real, but then I look at his profile. He likes, gasp, nature. Like all kinds of nature. He goes out there. Into nature! On purpose! I know! Clearly he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. I kindly told him that the outdoors was trying to kill me and the conversation sort of fizzled from there. Not to worry, I had another message waiting.

A 28 year old. Really? Dude, just no. Call me in 10 years. I think young guys don’t really understand what a woman’s body looks like. They have these ideas from the media, but a real mom doesn’t have photoshop. We have lines, sags and bumps. I was tempted to just take a picture of my stretch marked belly, complete with a now outty belly button (thanks boy for giving me a herniated belly button when you dropped) and be done with it all, but I was nice and shooed him away.

After that came messages from guys I didn’t want to answer. Why not? Scary profile pics. I don’t want to see you flexing your bicep or in your swim suit trying to look buff as your profile pic. I’m not that kind of gal.


(Me thinks I’m sensing why I’m still single now….)

Anywho, I went about my evening, playing on facebook, doing some writing, and checking back with the site every now and again when, well, then nothing happened. Then there were no more messages. Not that I was expecting more, necessarily, it just felt weird that I was looking and waiting for more. Waiting for that person just meant for me. Just waiting for me to upload my profile. On a dating site. At my age. In my area. (Yes, you can start laughing now while I grab a doughnut and cram it into my face.)

Tomorrow is a new day. Perhaps I’ll check the site again, or perhaps I’ll check out what’s in the freezer.


Danielle Bannister, Author and online-dater-horror-story-teller