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.

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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.

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Danielle Bannister, author and feline friend (achoo!)

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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.

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

ha

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.

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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.

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(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.

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

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I’m abnormal. Nothing new there.

So as many of you know, I went in for the dreaded colonoscopy on Friday. You can read about more of that here: It’s going down…and then back out.

The morning of the procedure I tried to sleep as late as possible since I didn’t need to be there until 9:15 and I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink. Not even water. I couldn’t even take my morning meds but were told to bring them with me, as they didn’t want that water in my belly. Now, remember, the day before, was only clear liquids, so let me tell you, I woke up hungry and really wanting a big glass of water. To add insult to serious misery, my body decided I needed to start my period 4 days early, cause honestly, what’s one more fluid coming out of me? (Yes, they can still do the procedure. You just need to wear a tampon.) Joy. Fine, whatever. I was too drained to care anymore.

Kari, my savior, showed up, and tried to hide the coffee she brought with her. Did I mention the massive caffeine withdrawal headache I had too? Yeah, I was a pleasant person. Anywho, Kari brought me to the hospital where they took me into a room that had a sign saying: Welcome Danielle! They were far more excited about my being there than I was. (They were all really sweet. I dropped off a set of my books the following day as a way of saying thanks.) They brought me a nice warm blanket, which, when you are dehydrated, is like heaven.

Everything was great, until they came at me for an IV. Sigh. Let me preface here by saying that I am a “hard stick” (their term, not mine.) This means that on a good, hydrated day, I’m a challenge to put a line in. I’ve had them eyeing my jugular before. Not even kidding. So, naturally, I’m nervous. Not to worry, I’ve got a nurse who has been deemed the ‘one stick wonder.’ She is known in the hospital for getting it right the first time, and she told me that starting IV’s was her favorite thing to do. She wasn’t even kidding! As though to calm my fears even more, she got a call before she began working on mine to start another IV on Monday. They were booking her out specifically! That’s how good she was! I started to calm down. Until she started looking at my hand.

I have never had a successful IV start in my hand. I have had several failed attempts and lots of large bruises as a result of those attempts, but never a successful hand IV. I nervously asked why she couldn’t do it in the crook of my arm, like the labs do when I go in for lab work every 4 months. Apparently, they aren’t supposed to do it there. My procedure is unique and they need to position my arms and they don’t want the IV in such a bendy place. Well. Might as well pass out now and be done with it. (I didn’t pass out, but I sure wanted to.)

So they started prepping me and wiping my hand down, pulling out needles, all that jazz. But I felt okay, my one hit wonder was going to get it right the first time. When I saw my hand puff up with fluid from her failed try, I wanted to cry. I probably would have if she tried the other hand.

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My lovely bruise

Seeing my apprehension and knowing how utterly dehydrated I was, she went against protocol and placed the IV in the crook of my arm and nailed it on the first try. She was willing to take the heat from the docs for the comfort of her patient. For that, she is a rock goddess.

They wheeled me into the procedure room where they put me on oxygen, now, I’ve had oxygen before, those little tubes that go up your nose. Easy, right? Well, this one had a flap at the end that covered your lips. WHY? Then they try to talk to you. I have a flap of plastic over my lips, I can’t talk, people. It’s like being at the dentist and trying to have a full blown conversation when my mouth is full of cotton. It can’t be done without looking like a moron, which I’m sure I did.

I did learn that both the nurse in there and the anesthesiologist had both written non-fiction books. Authors. We’re everywhere.

After they got that in, they placed me on my side and that was it. Lights out for Dani. No countdown, no nothing, just gone. After I woke up, they gave me toast and ginger ale so I could take my meds. Ahhh, food, glorious food! A few moments later, the doc came in and said my colon looked abnormal, just as to be expected for someone with Ulcerative Colitis. Apparently my chronic illness had not miraculously gone away. Bummer. He did say it didn’t seem to have progressed further up my colon, which is the good news. They did take biopsies as that’s what they do and I’m still waiting to hear on that.

Shortly after he left, Kari brought me home where I slept the afternoon away while she worked at my desk. After I woke up, she went to the store to buy me a chocolate cheesecake to “bind me up”. That’s what friends are for. I also got some rum balls later that night from another friend. I’ll keep them around.

I guess my rest period is over. Back to the keyboard and the novel I’ve been avoiding.

Danielle Bannister, author and cheesecake-for-breakfast-eater.

Mmmm. meat.

It’s Going Down…and then out

As many of you know, I have Ulcerative Colitis. It’s a chronic illness that attacks the good old colon. Because I have this lovely illness, I get to have a Colonoscopy every 2-5 years. My number is up, people. I have to have a full Colonoscopy this week. For those of you young enough to never experience the joys of this yet, this blog is for you.

Some of you revel in my misery, so this should be enjoyable for you.(See Chillin’ With The Weasel and Where oh Where did My Weasel Go? for proof).

Two days before the procedure the rules are easy. No nuts, raw fruit or veggies or popcorn. Chinese it is.

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Mmmm. Meat.

The day before is when it gets interesting. No solid food of any kind. Cool. Ice cream and pudding? No. CLEAR fluids only. But, but… Okay, fine. I can live on Jello (even though I hate it) and Chicken broth. I’ll be okay. The hunger pangs can be pushed aside because the beauty of this process is looming at high noon. That’s when shit get’s real. Literally. You see, in order to have a proper colonoscopy (one that you don’t want to have to repeat) you have to clean out all six FEET of your colon so they can snake a camera up there and have a good look see.

With what shall I cleanse it? Dear, Doctor, Dear Doctor? They gave me these bad boys.

This is going to hurt.

This is going to hurt.

That there is an 8.03 oz container of Mirliax that needs to be mixed with 64 oz of see through fluid (no red or purple) and 4, yes 4 Dolcolax. My colon actually cried when I picked that up.

The  real ‘fun’ starts with two of the pills at noon with water…then two hours later the Toxic Gatorade. One glass every 10-15 minutes! It will take about 2 hours to finish the drink they say. AFTER that is done, then I take the other two pills with more water. Drinking that much, that fast, makes you sick. Like wanting to vomit sick. Add the ‘movement’ issues that the are the end result of the Toxic Gatorade and you can be assured a very miserable day.

How do I plan on getting through this hell? With a good book and a lot of ultra soft Charmin.

Mmmm. meat.

The day of the procedure you can have nothing. Nada. Zip. No soup for you! On the plus side, they MAKE you have someone drive you to the hospital, because A. Your weak with hunger and loss of body mass but more importantly, B. you will be going under and you can’t drive home after cause you don’t remember who you are or what planet you are from. True Story.

Thank GOD I have a great friend who will help me in this most humiliating time. She alone will get to witness the joy of Danielle waking up from anesthesia. (I’ve told her I’d kill her if she posted any pics or videos. Only I am allowed to make fun of myself). She’s going to be my brain when mine won’t be working.

Then, after it’s done and you finally get to crawl carefully into your bed, you get to deal with a day of tremendous gas and cramps. You see, they fill your colon with air in order to get that camera up and around the 6 FEET of your colon, and all that air needs to come out. Oh, she is such a good friend to volunteer for this miserable job. Thank you Kari!

I’m hoping to have no complications and that the procedure will give me a positive outlook on my illness, but In the meantime, wish me luck. It’s going down…and then out.

Danielle Bannister, Author and colon cleanser. Ew.

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Surviving the Purge.

No, I’m not talking about the movie that came out recently; The Purge. I haven’t seen it. And not just because scary movies aren’t cool to watch when you live alone where every shadow tries to kill you after said movie. Okay, mostly for that reason.

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Um, nope. Not watching that.

I’m talking about surviving a different sort of purge. There has been some talk among writers in the indie world that a great purge is coming. A cleansing of the market of indie books. A cleaning readers sorely need.

When I started writing back in 2010, the indie market was fairly new. Vanity Presses like Createspace were considered a pathetic way to get published, but I still did it. I sent out a fair share of queries, don’t get me wrong. I just felt I had a story worth sharing and didn’t want to wait around for some person behind a desk to find me, so I swallowed the Kool-aid and hit publish.

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Nowadays, being self-published is common place. Even some big names opt to go on their own and skip the middleman who wants them to change their title, get a new cover or even turn their western into sci-fi. Some indies made a fortune going it alone! Everything changed when those dollar signs showed up. Everyone wanted to be the next Amanda Hocking. 

And thanks to self-publishing, they could try their hand at it. Money could be made! Fame obtained! “It worked for her, it will work for me!” became the mindset.

A great flood of ‘writers’ emerged. I place the word writer in quotes because not everyone who self-publishes a book really deserves that title. If you’ve read any of these ‘writer’s’ work then you know what I mean.

Now, I’m not trying to say that my work is any better than those ‘writers,’ in fact, for some, my style is probably the worst shit they’ve ever laid eyes on. I am not a perfect writer. I haven’t been doing it that long. Hell, I wrote PULLED before I ever took a writing class or read anything besides children’s books to my kids at night.  Since PULLED came out, I’ve gotten my Masters in Literary Education, written four novels, tons of short stories, read a small library of books about the craft and have committed myself to the art in the same way I pursued theatre when I was in college; with everything I have.

The Great Purge (as I understand it) is that readers, who have had to endure the tidal wave of shit authors these last few years, are finally growing weary of us. Readers are holding fast to those indies that have proven their worth or going back to traditionally published books where the work tends to be stronger, cleaner and well edited. (Good editors in the indie world are REALLY hard to find by the way. Just as the flood of ‘writer’s came out, so too, came the flood of ‘editors.’ I know. I’ve used a few of those ‘editors.’)

The market is saturated with shit books. Visit any facebook page that does indie book promotions (and there are a ton of those, too) and you will see the mass of bodies trying to be seen. Cap locks shouting how their book is the best ever, that you NEED to buy their book. Everyone is vying for a spot on your kindle or added to your Goodreads TBR pile. I include myself in this unfortunate mix. What else can we do but hope someone will choose our work over the millions of books out there? It’s kind of sad, actually. Not only do we have to put our heart and soul on the page, but we have to ‘sell’ ourselves as well in the marketing arena. Not an easy thing for typically introverted artists to do. (The flood of PR companies for indie authors has tried to ‘help’ in this area but I’ll save that for another day)

Facebook has changed how the game is played, too. It used to be you posted something, and those that followed you saw it. Brilliant design. Now, you have to pay to play. Posts need to be boosted, there have to be enough likes or comments to reach others, things need to ‘go viral’ to be seen. Gone or the days that people who wanted to see your posts actually will. It’s hard to play a game when the rules keep changing.

I have spoken with a lot of indie authors this year. Sales are down with everyone. New releases don’t get the purchases they once used to. Bloggers (many who have turned into writers) don’t have room on their pages for your books anymore, reviewers schedules get crammed with new releases that aren’t yours. The marketing options dwindle. It leaves the struggling author in a state of utter disheartenment. Full Disclosure: When I released The ABC’s of Dee, I was actually really excited. I thought I’d done everything right. I thought people were generally excited about the release. All the feedback I got from my beta readers and Advanced Copy readers said ‘this is the one that was going to make some noise on the charts!’  I thought people were ready for a funny romantic comedy, that people wanted a good laugh. That I’d be the little book that could. I was wrong. I’ve barely moved 100 copies. Yeah. That doesn’t even come close to covering the costs that went into publishing it. I’ll be honest, I took that release pretty hard. Just ask those close to me. It’s challenging not to feel like a failure when a book you had so much faith in just falls flat.

But then I started hearing the same thing from every indie I spoke with. Their pathetic sales mirrored my own. (Unless you write erotica, sex will always sell) Update: I’ve been contacted by several Erotic authors. They too are feeling this wave. You know it’s bad if you can sell erotica!). Authors were desperate. Many were giving up. They were discouraged. I get it. I am too.

I think that may be what the purge is. This wave of too many bad books is overwhelming the market. Readers are tired of buying crap. They long for the good old days of when indie writing was at it’s best: Passionate writers who needed to share their story with you, not just make a buck off you.

I don’t think this will be a quick purge. It may take a few years to starve out those ‘writers’ who think they can vomit words on the page and get a movie deal out of it. In that process, I fear, we will lose a lot of the great indie writers, too.

There are some dark days ahead, I fear, for the indie world. The test will be to see what indies are still floating when the storm subsides. As for me, I’ll be clutching on to my life jacket, and keeping my fingers on the keyboard, waiting for the tides to finally shift.

Danielle Bannister, Author and doggie paddle extraordinaire