writing

Catching my breath

The month of April has certainly been a whirlwind of a month. Snowstorms aside, the days have flown by. It’s been a busy spell of signings, working vacations, and catching up with old friends.

First up, in early April, R.J. Keller and I attended the Belfast Farmer’s Market. We spent five hours trying to convince the produce purchasing pedestrians that they needed a copy of our books as well. What trip to a farmer’s market is complete without some good reading material? Surprisingly, the time went by quickly as people darted in and out of the marketplace. And, oddly enough, we each managed to make some sales.

Farmer's Market Fun

The week prior to the event we made some swag up to give away and somehow managed to Tetris-style our dual set up on the small 4-foot table. In the moments we were not engaged with customers, we people watched. R.J. created an entire novel based on a few people milling around. You’re never safe in the company of authors. Fair warning.

The following week, I drove to Boston for the Talkbooks Author Event signing. I picked up Amy Miles from her flight in and we spent the day before the event in a conference room plotting out some of the second book in our Hallowed Realms Trilogy.  Friday night, Randi Cooley Wilson treated Amy and I and a few other authors to a most DELICIOUS meal at her husband’s restaurant. the Coach Grill. Properly stuffed, we were ready to set up for the signing the following day. The turn out was amazing and lots of books were sold and swag passed out. Over 700 pieces! (That means I get to make more now! Yay!!!)

Talkbooks fun

After a hopping after party, Amy and I drove home…in freezing rain…for four hours. That was a bit of a white-knuckle drive for me and my tiny car.

For the next seven days, I had Amy for a write-in. In that week, we got 56,000 exactly done on the sequel. Not a finished first draft but a pretty hefty dent!

I’m still recovering from it all, but had an epic time at each one!

Next week, I’ll be diving into the remaining chapters of our first draft as well as starting draft two of my Havenwood Falls novella.

Until then, I’ll be napping…and doing laundry.

Danielle Bannister, author and exhausted mama.

P.S.  I’ve also started a closed Facebook Reader’s Group if you want to join in. I share fun memes, and book info and such. You can join here.

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writing

To outline, or to fly by the seat of your pants? That is the question.

Ask a hundred authors how they formulate a story idea and you are going to get a hundred different answers. That’s because an author’s process is unique to them. What works for one author won’t work for another. And that’s how it should be.

I’m a firm believer that finding your own author voice is an individual journey and not something that can be found in a single How-To book. That’s not to say I don’t own several of those said books because I do. On Writing, by Stephen King, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, Making a Literary Life, by Carolyn See, and The Pocket Muse, by Monica Wood, are some of my favorites. They each have very different ideas about how writing should germinate.

Do I do everything they suggest? Of course not. Have I absorbed their thought process and figured out ways their techniques might work for me? Absolutely. From Stephen King, I have learned to be more aware of pesky adverbs and have realized that I need to read a lot more than I do. From Carolyn See, I learned about the grace of gratitude, from Anne Lamott, I learned to take it word by word, and from Monica Wood, I learned the stages of my writing process and to create a sacred (if only to me) writing space.

Some authors have a daily word count they have to meet. Some write when they have the motivation/time/energy. Some pull all-nighters, some have set writing hours. Some listen to music, some need the sound of silence. There are authors who outline every detail of a story before they even turn on their computers. Others, like me, sit down at a black document and hope for the best.

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That’s not to say I don’t use an outline. Because I do…sort of. When I first started writing, I didn’t outline at all. Honestly, I didn’t really understand the purpose of an outline. How could you write a story when you already know how it would end? Where was the fun in that? Then I began working on a co-written novel (Netherworld) with my friend, Amy Miles, and we realized, we HAD to have an outline in order to make sure neither one of us went off on a tangent. We were sharing a story. We had to make sure the characters were taking the same journey. We needed a map…and full sunlight to see the way.

During that writing process, I read a few books on outlining and discovered one that worked within my needs. You see, I am a pantster normally. That is, I write my books by the seat of my pants with no endgame in mind. No clue where it’s going or how the characters will play out. As you can imagine, that makes subsequent drafts tricky. You spend a lot of time plugging plot holes or trying to weave storyline all the way through. People who outline, don’t have that problem. They’ve solved the plot issues before they even write. Their characters are fleshed out and not just vague ideas when they start.

Heavy outlining like that, while seemingly wonderful for someone who likes organization, just doesn’t seem to work for me. I like to have the freedom to let my mind wander when I write. That said, I can spend a LOT of time meandering and getting off track that way, which makes the editing process longer than it needs to be.

I’ve since learned to compromise. I make a simple outline. I figure out who my major players will be and a rough idea of what will happen. Like, Chapter 1, I write a chapter about what the normalness of that particular character’s day. Chapter 2, I introduce the inciting incident (the thing that changes the norm and starts us on our journey) and so on and so forth. This helps me figure out the ‘what’ my chapter needs to be about but allows me the freedom to fill in the details however I want. It’s an outline I do in pencil so if my inciting incident ends up taking three chapters, then so be it. If my character needs to change jobs/age/eye color, so be it. Erase the journal entry and move on.

In this way, the writing remains fluid but contained to the road, hopefully. It allows me the freedom to wander while at the same time gets me to my finish line without so many wrong turns. That said, this is what works for me now. I reserve the right to change my process. Afterall, the Muse is a fickle creature.

Danielle Bannister, author and muse chaser

writing

Happy book birthday, Must Love Coffee!

It’s Release Day for Must Love Coffee!

Avail now FB MLC

Blurb

A later in life romance about a coffee shop owner and the barista who loathed it.
Must Love Coffee. That was the first requirement coffee shop owner, Finn Allen, insisted upon in his ad for a new barista.
He wasn’t expecting his valedictorian, coffee-hating nemesis, Samantha Whitman, to answer the ad, or for her to look smoking after all these years.
It was too bad she was married because that’s a line Finn, a recovering playboy, wouldn’t cross. Things get muddy, however, when Sam turns to him for comfort during a crisis.
Can Finn keep his emotions in check or will he screw things up yet again?

Reviews

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“An amusing, yet touching story from a male’s point of view! Finn and Sam’s hate to love romance transpires while helping each other mend their hearts.” ~ Josie Bordeaux, Author of Alluring Promises series

“I loved this book. It’s different. The characters felt real. He is not a 20 or 30-something man with abs of steel. She isn’t a model type of woman with sultry moves. Now, don’t get me wrong I do love those characters. What I am saying is Finn and Sam are different. I need and crave different once in awhile so I am glad I read this book.”  Sandra Shipman ~ Two Book Pushers

“You don’t need to love coffee to love Must Love Coffee! I love the tender and honest presentation of his feelings as he rediscovers what is important to him. The transformation of all the characters is both beautiful and believable. I highly recommend reading “Must Love Coffee”, even if you don’t. “-Jeanne McCartney

Quotes

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“Let me guess, you’re a tea lover?” They were the worst sort of person. I felt myself shiver.
“I do drink tea, yes.” Her voice was strong.

“I should have waited for you to avert your eyes. No one needs to see this body sober.”

“How exactly did I ruin your plan to become a crazy cat lady?”

Links

MUST LOVE COFFEE (A Later in Life Romance)

Amazon  Smashwords   iBooks   Nook   Kobo   Paperback

Companion Novel Sale

Must Love Coffee takes place in the same fictional town of Bucksville, New Hampshire. This is just one of several Later in Life Romance stories planned for Bucksville. The first stand-alone book I wrote in this town was Doppelganger. It’s currently on sale for .99 cents if you want to find a few Easter Eggs in crossover characters!

dopp and mlc

DOPPELGANGER (A Later in Life Romance)

Amazon  Smashwords   iBooks   Nook   Kobo   Paperback

 

writing

Chapter 1 of Must Love Coffee

Must Love Coffee releases Tuesday, so I thought it might be fun to share with you the first chapter of the book! So without further adieu…

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MUST LOVE COFFEE. I frowned at the words on the screen. Those three words were the only ones I could think to list in my “wants” section of this stupid online dating site. For the last half hour, I’d been staring at the screen, trying to come up with something better. Apparently, having an addiction to caffeine was the only thing I wanted.

That wasn’t totally true, but it’s not like you can say, I’m looking for someone with big tits and who’s great in bed. Women don’t care for that. I had to be serious. I needed to list things that reflected who I was. What was I besides a coffee shop owner?

Therein was the problem. No chick in their right mind was going to love a balding, four-eyed guy in his mid-forties, who had no aspirations outside of waking up in the morning without a hangover.

Twenty years ago I could have bragged about my dreams of starting a band and traveling the world. But now, my guitar sat collecting dust in my perpetual bachelor pad. I was no longer the sort of guy a girl would be jumping up and down to meet, let alone date.

That’s not to say I was this hideous creature from a horror movie. It’s just, over the last ten years or so, I’d become…average—nothing to write home about. The sort of person you’d pass on the street and not even notice.

Somehow, I’d become an adult who couldn’t even keep a house plant alive. A few years ago, that idea didn’t faze me in the least. Staring down the barrel of middle age terrified me. I was going to die alone if something didn’t change.

Hence the dating sites. I needed to branch out of my tiny town of Bucksville, New Hampshire. Because, as my sister, Jackie, had so eloquently put it: “You’ve slept with every woman in a ten-mile radius over the years. Online dating is your only option left.”

That wasn’t true. Well, not really. I hadn’t slept with all the women in this town, just a dozen or so…several times over. That wasn’t my fault, though. There weren’t a lot of options in a small town.

Maybe that’s what started this sudden mid-life panic. The old standby girls just weren’t doing it for me anymore. I was craving…I don’t know, something more.

“What’s wrong with one-night stands, Finny, old boy?” my pal Joe had asked one night at the bar, wiggling his thick eyebrows. Joe had been my dad’s best friend and was in the pub more often than in his day job, it seemed. His face was always red from drink, which stood out against a bad bleached-blond hair dye. It was a look that may have made him attractive back in the day, but now made his bloated face stand out like a stop sign.

I’d known Joe since I was a kid. After Dad passed, Joe sort of stepped in, thinking I needed a father figure. Or maybe he just wanted a drinking buddy. Dad had never been a big drinker, but I sure was after his death. Joe had seen some of my darkest days. He cleaned up my drunken messes more times than a friend should, I’m ashamed to admit.

“Finn, you’re in the prime of your life,” Joe had said the other night. “This is when you should be going out and buying a convertible, banging some college chick, or moving to Paris. It’s not the time to settle down!”

Joe was talking out of his ass. He was happily married, and as far as I knew, as faithful as they came. Still, he was getting older and likely wanted to live vicariously through my bad life choices. And boy, oh boy, did I make a few of those.

“I gotta grow up sometime, Joe. I’m not in college anymore,” I said, nursing the last of my beer.

College. Man, back then, there had been no shortage of women vying for a spot on my arm. All the sorority girls wanted to date the hunky grunge rocker who played free gigs at their parties. It didn’t matter they didn’t know my name or even what my major was. The truth was, I didn’t care about theirs either.

After college I had plans—epic, backpacking through Europe plans—except, I didn’t have the cash to do it. So, I’d decided I’d earn my way there by taking on a few shifts at my folks’ shop, Must Love Coffee. A summer job. That turned into working just a few months after the season ended. Then, months turned into years, and all my grand aspirations of a better life outside of the snore-inducing Bucksville faded away, right along with my hairline.

Things were monotonous until Ma was killed by a drunk driver, and I went into a tailspin when Dad died of a heart attack three months later. From that point on, life pretty much sucked.

I was thirty-five when they passed. A full decade had slid through my fingers…and what had I done in that time? Other than keeping the shop open? Nothing. I hadn’t even moved out of the stupid little apartment above the shop I’d had when I was in college. I had made no attempt to better my situation, so it was my own fault. And yet, I was still bitter with the universe that my life hadn’t magically morphed into something meaningful all on its own.

“You just haven’t found your purpose yet,” Jackie had told me one morning over the phone.

“My purpose?” My eyes practically rolled out of my head.

“Yes. That thing, or person, who’s going to make you want to be a better man.”

I snorted. “You don’t think I’m a good man now?”

Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I think you have the potential to be so much more than you are.”

I wasn’t convinced of the potential part, but I did feel like I was stuck in a rut. For the last ten years, I’d been on autopilot, surviving from day to day. I woke up, went to work, headed to the bar, and then back home. That was it.

There had to be more to life than that. Right? I found I was craving someone to come home to at the end of a day—someone to talk to, to hold, and grow old with. It was sappy, but it was the truth.

I suppose that’s why I relented to my sister’s endless suggestions of online dating. So far, however, no one was turning my eye in the surrounding towns.

I deliberately left out the area I lived in on my search because besides knowing everyone here, there wasn’t anything exciting about Bucksville. We had a population of just over a thousand people. There was one grocery store and one fast food joint but three gas stations. Why we needed so many, I had no idea.

About the biggest excitement we had in Bucksville was that we had a movie star who vacationed here from time to time. She lived up in a big-ass mansion on Miller Street. The town went nuts when she bothered to show her face to the locals, but thankfully, that wasn’t often. My staff still liked to talk about the day she had come into the shop for coffee. I definitely didn’t want someone as high-maintenance as her. I wanted a woman who’d look hot in both heels and sweats and who’d steal a slice of pizza out of my hands. It wouldn’t hurt if she loved hockey, either. Could I say that in the ad? Probably make me look like a jackass.

I shook my head at the waiting cursor on my computer screen and blew out a breath of defeat. This was getting nowhere. I closed my laptop and focused on the waiting pile of bills on my desk. I shouldn’t really call it a desk. It’s a card table tucked into the former walk-in pantry I’d converted into an office. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the trick.

As I cut checks, I fought off a yawn. It was late. The shop had long since closed. I wanted to go home, have a beer, maybe watch some porn, and go to bed. That was the sucky part of being a shop owner. Bills had to be tended to regardless of what I wanted.

I spent several aggravating minutes shoving paid invoices into the overstuffed filing cabinet in the corner. I cursed myself for not going digital. One of these days, I’d take the time and do it, but I didn’t have the patience to learn a new way when the old one worked just fine.

Christ, I’m starting to sound like my dad.

When I reached the bottom of the waiting envelopes, I noticed it wasn’t another bill but rather a letter. The envelope only said “Finn” on the outside.

Tearing it open, I adjusted my glasses to read the small handprint, which looked like it was scribbled down in haste.

I recognized the writing as Kenny’s. Kenny was my only full-time barista. He was the real reason the shop did so well. That man knew how to make a mean cup of coffee. Kenny trained all the other part-timers how to use the machines, but none of them were particularly good at it. I knew I should give him a raise, but the funds weren’t there.

Curious about why he’d write me a letter versus talking to me in the morning, I tore it open and skimmed over his words. I clutched my stomach as it rolled over. It was his letter of resignation. He’d taken a better paying job at a shop the next town over. It was closer to his daughter’s school and offered him medical coverage.

“Shit.”

I couldn’t counter that offer.

The letter was his two-week notice. I had fourteen days to find a barista willing to work full-time for a measly minimum wage job with no benefits.

Opening my laptop again, I went to our community bulletin board website to post a help-wanted ad. I began it with the line MUST LOVE COFFEE.

generic MLC promo

Want more? You can preorder it here!

And don’t forget, Doppelganger (another love story set in the same town is on sale!)

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Danielle Bannister, Author, and chapter sharing fiend! 

writing

I walk alone

…and other fun, moody and broody song lyrics.

I’m in research mood and I need YOUR help! For what, you ask? For a novel that is several books away from being written, but I’m already collecting inspiration for when this book is ready to be birthed. Part of that ‘research’ is creating a playlist on Spotify. While I don’t write with music on (I’m a write in total silence kind of girl) I will listen to a playlist as I’m doing other tasks in the months leading up to starting a first draft. Music helps set a tone for my muse.

That said. I’m looking for some musical help from you. What are some songs that resonate a sense of solitude for you? The book will be the last in the Later in Life Romance series and will about a woman coming to terms with her newly single status.  So the songs could be bittersweet, angry, or, like Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day, contemplative.

Here’s what is already on my list:

Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me (ugh, what a gut wrencher!)

No Doubt’s Don’t Speak (Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!)

Natalie Imbruglia’s  Torn (“Nothing’s fine…I’m torn.” Torn, indeed!)

Matchbox Twenty’s Bent  (“Can you help me I’m bent I’m so scared that I’ll never get put back together.”) How can you not be inspired after a lyric like that?

The Killers- Mr. Brightside (“She takes off her dress now, letting me go” Guy’s point of view, but still hits the mark of feeling of being discarded)

Pink- Try (Because no playlist is complete without her)

Janet Jackson’s If (How is THAT song for a woman wronged? Tee hee)

As you can see, the playlist is far from complete. I need some help rounding it out. So, what do you suggest? If you found yourself newly single…what sort of songs would help you get through it? Sad ones? Raging ones? Ones of acceptance? Comment with a song you think should go on my list!

 

Danielle Bannister, Author and playlist maker

 

writing

Get by with a little help from my friends

When an author types those two wonderful words “The End,” it’s a euphoric and daunting feeling. Relief that phase 1 is over, dread that the journey to the finish line is still so very far away.

For my latest release, Must Love Coffee, I am in the finale and hardest part of the book’s life: the marketing end. For many authors, this is where we flail around on the ground like a fish out of water with no idea what to do now that the words are done. I am no exception. I want to get back to the water. Back to the keyboard to create more stories.

Or maybe that’s just me as the introvert wanting to hide in the writing cave. Marketing, for me, is an extroverted task. It’s the time where you have to say, “Hey, look at me and my book! Buy it, buy it!” *shivers. That kind of stuff makes me feel slimy.  And yet, it’s a necessary evil.

Which is why I put out a plea to friends. I’m getting a list together of people willing to share the release day information on March 13 on whatever social media outlet they want. Willing to help? Fill out this super quick form HERE.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve put Doppelganger on sale for 0.99 in anticipation of this release.

dopp and mlc sale and pre order

The plan right now, is to have four books in this Later in Life Romance series. None of them need to be read in any particular order, but they all take place in the same town of Bucksville, New Hampshire so there will be some Easter Eggs for those that read them all. 🙂  These are light-hearted romance reads.

While Must Love Coffee is in marketing mode, I’m in writing mode for two other titles. I’m working with Amy Miles on the sequel to Netherworld and my novella for the Havenwood Falls series. The final two books in the Later in Life Romance series are in first draft and outline formats so stay tuned there.

And finally, I’ll be doing a LIVE broadcast with my writing pal, RJ Keller, Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7pm EST for our Valentine’s Special of Between Two Couch Cushions.

Feb 13

Okay, that’s all for now. Remember, if you wanna help spread the word about my next release I’d be super grateful. You can commit your support  HERE.

Danielle Bannister, Author and book pusher

 

writing

Let’s go crazy!

Let’s get nuts! (Pause for a Prince dance break…)

So I’m going to be doing something crazy tomorrow (2-6-18.) I’m going to be taking to Facebook and doing my first solo LIVE broadcast. *gulp. I have done Facebook Live broadcasts before with my author pal RJ Keller, but this will be my first solo outing. Hence the nerves.  I haven’t cemented the time, as it may take me all day to build up the courage to do it (and maybe some wine, too.)  I’ll be doing these LIVE broadcasts every Tuesday until the release of Must Love Coffee happens and maybe after that depending on how things go.

dopp and mlc sale and pre order

I also wanted to let you know that in anticipation of Must Love Coffee‘s release, I have put Doppelganger on sale for 0.99 cents.

Finally, I wanted to invite you to a private group for anyone that wants more Danielle insanity in their lives. If you want to join in the fun. Just click on Write all the words, Danielle and I’ll let ya in!

Okay, that’s all for now. Perhaps I’ll see some of you tomorrow on the LIVE broadcast. *gulping again.

Danielle Bannister, Author and Facebook LIVE person-thingy

writing

Today, I take it all off…

The wrapping of my cover reveal that is. What did you think I meant? 😉

Over the last year, I’ve been working on a book that is set in Bucksville, NH. This is the same fictional town that Doppelganger took place in. I’m working on a series of books that will all take place in this same small town. They will all be stand alones but they will have some small crossover characters that act as Easter eggs for those that read all the books.

This will be the second book in this Later in Life Romance series. Today I reveal not only the cover but the actual name of the book too! Eeep!

must love coffee mk1

World, I introduce you to Must Love Coffee.

Here is the blurb in a bigger font.

Must Love Coffee. That was the first requirement coffee shop owner, Finn Allen, insisted upon in his ad for a new barista.

He wasn’t expecting his valedictorian, coffee-hating nemesis, Samantha Whitman, to answer the ad, or for her to look smoking after all these years.

It was too bad she was married because that’s a line Finn, a recovering playboy, wouldn’t cross. Things get muddy, however, when Sam turns to him for comfort during a crisis.

Can Finn keep his emotions in check or will he screw things up yet again?

The book is set for a March 13th release but you can pre-order it here:

PRE-ORDER
Amazon
iBooks
Smashwords 
Nook 

Kobo

dopp and mlc

If you missed out on Doppelganger, you can find that here:

The Power of Positivity

Start Where You Are…

For Christmas, my sister got me a gift certificate to Amazon. My intention had been to buy some much-needed clothing, or some novels I’ve been dying to read, but instead, I purchased something my soul was hungry for: Positivity.

You see, over the last several years, I’ve noticed I’ve become more cynical than I used to be. I blame the horrific dating scene for the beginning of that downward spiral, but I digress.  At work and with friends, I would tend to get hung up on whatever bad thing was happening: car repair, a sick child, more snow…you get the point.

how could

That’s when it hit me: I was turning into a bitter old lady.  Snarky, I was okay with, but whoever was emerging, I was not. How could things possibly get any better if I never took my eyes off the ground to look for the rainbows? This realization hit at the start of the New Year. A good a time as any to make a change.

Thus began my hunt for some books on the topic. There were several self-help and how-to manuals on positivity, but I knew myself. I wasn’t going to read them. They’d sit on the shelf and collect dust. No. I needed something less passive. Something that demanded something of me. That’s when I stumbled upon these beauties. (Note: Maine doesn’t allow affiliate links so I don’t make a cent if you buy these.)

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These were the two I got. The positivity kit is just for fun, as you’ll see below. Something silly (yet reflective) for me to do at the end of a stressful day.

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The second book takes itself more seriously. It is filled with inspirational quotes and is designed to make you do some hard work. The tiger one has been my favorite so far.

Start Where You Are

When the pages of these fill up, I’ll be on the hunt again for things to help, but for now, these workbooks are keeping me focused on my goal; challenging me to look at what I DO have and not what I don’t. And that can’t be such a bad thing.

Danielle Bannister, Author and colored-pencil fiend.

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And now for something completely different…

Some of you may remember me talking about signing a contract a few months ago to write a novella for the shared world called Havenwood Falls. Well, now that my next release is in ‘Marketing Mode’ that means this is next in the queue.  This novella of roughly 20k doesn’t release until November, but I need to put fingers on the keyboard, stat, but I’m terrified.

Why? Three reasons.

  1. This is fantasy. Not my genre. But wait, you say. You wrote Netherworld with Amy Miles. Surely you can write fantasy! It was about Banshees! Well, yes. And also no. AMY wrote the fantasy elements. I wrote the humans. I dipped a toe into fantasy but didn’t get in the pool.
  2. It’s a shared world. That means there are many different authors writing characters all in the same town.  A supernatural town that has lots of supernatural beings. Each with their own lore. There is a new novella EVERY MONTH in this world so that’s a lot of new data. We use an online bible of information to help us all get it right, but trying to wrap all this information around my noggin is challenging.
  3. It’s about ghosts. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I’m terrified of ghosts. Things that go bump in the night do not make me a happy camper so WHY oh WHY did I pick ghosts???shadows-of-hands-and-humans-in-gloomy-room-USE Photo Credit

So what’s a romance author to do when challenged to write fantasy? Pour herself a bowl of BBQ chips, turn the coffee pot on, and write. (During the day, with all of the lights on.)

Danielle Bannister, Author and fraidy-cat