Life, writing

I have to do what? Author tasks.

I posted a funny graphic on Facebook a few days ago about what it takes to be an indie author. If you missed it, here it is.

And the headbanging

While I laughed at the statement, it’s 100% true. This indie author thing isn’t simply putting words to the page and hitting publish and the cash flows in. If only. The writing is the easy part. It’s everything else that is hard for me to maintain.

For fun (or torture,) I thought I’d go over the list of things mentioned and let you know how much (if any) I do of each of the tasks assigned to an author (whether we want them or not.)

  1. Read-Yes, authors need to read. Not just their own books, but others in their genre to make sure they are on target with what readers are expecting, but also books outside of their genre to expand the mind and provide fuel for the muse. It’s hard to make time for it because so many other things are on the list, but I always try to have at least one fiction book by my bed.
  2. Write-That’s a no-brainer. A writer needs to write. Seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how hard that can be. Because I work a full-time job, I have carved out one hour a day before I log into work to write/edit, whatever needs to be done. An hour might not seem like a long time, but when it is focused and planned, I’ve found I”m able to keep up with the goals I’ve set for myself. Which is four book releases a year.
  3. Edit-While I do hire an editor for my books, I also do self-edits in the 4-5 drafts of a manuscript before it lands in the hands of my editor. As an indie author, you’ll read your own story so many times that you’ll get sick of it. That’s usually when I know it’s time to send it to the editor… before I delete the entire thing.
  4. Proofread- Once the editor is done with your book you still have to look over each and every suggestion they make to see if you agree or not. Simple punctuation may be an easy thing to accept, but oftentimes, editors will make suggestions about the dialogue or the plot, and you, as the author, have to decide whether to take those suggestions or not. Even if it means a substantial rewrite.
  5. Format the books-If you have a Mac, this is pretty easy, as there is an auto-generated formater you can use. If you’re stubborn or poor and can’t afford a Mac, (like me) you can pay for other services, or go old school and format it yourself in Word. Which is what I do. And that takes time. A good chunk of it. You have to format the ebook and the paperback because each of them have different requirements. Of course they do.
  6. Make Ads-Admittedly, this is where I suck. I know what I need to do, but it’s so time-consuming. I have the books, and I know about the courses, but making an ad shouldn’t be that hard on Facebook and Amazon! If you want people to pay for your services at least make it user-friendly and not this big mystery you have to figure out. Then again, I’m sure they make a decent profit on the idiots like me who don’t know what they are doing.
  7. Maintain Social Media Accounts-This was easier to do before the day job. At the end of the day, all I want to do is be a couch potato. So, another marketing fail. I know I need to get better. I’m trying to make a better plan for that. When I can find the time. Ha.
  8. Blog-What you’re reading right now. I tried for a while to do two posts a week but that has turned out to be too hard to maintain. Blogs are a good way to keep readers in the loop of weekly stuff that comes up, both with writing but also personal stuff. Blogs also serve a functional purpose. It keeps my name active in a search algorithm. It’s a necessary evil for me.
  9. Newsletter-A vital tool for the author. Newsletters can be sent monthly, weekly, or whatever you decide. I aim for 2-3 a month. Content for my newsletter is mostly book-related. Releases, sales, member perk stories, etc., but each author needs to decide for themselves how they want to utilize their Newsletter. Great. More things to think about! Ha.
  10. Graphics– You want to make ads for your books? You want to market them at all?Then, you need to learn how to do graphics. There are several places to use. PicMonkey, Canva, BookBrush… Find one and start practicing your graphic design. For each book release, I make anywhere from 50-100 graphics. No joke. That takes time to create, time to learn the platform and time for mistakes. So many mistakes.
  11. Craft books-An author essential. Writing is something that can always be improved. When I look back at my first suspenseful romance and compair it to my most recent suspenseful romance I can’t believe it is the same writer. The voice is still in both, I think, but my skill as a writer has only grown. That skill comes from practice, sure, but also the lessons I’ve learned from books I’ve read on the craft. I try to get in at least one or two craft books a year. These are the two I’ve been working through this year.
So far, both are solid reads.

If you’re writing anything that requires research, like historical fiction, or you’re writing about a character who is say, a doctor, but you don’t know anything about what it’s like to be a doctor. That means you need to research that stuff. What hours would they work? What does their environment look like? How much do they make, ect. All of this stuff factors into the character and the world you are creating. And that research takes time. You guessed it.

There is also something missing from this list. And that is taking the time to live your life. See family, go out to movies, have dinner with friends… time to experience things so that you have some real-world experience to draw from. The pressure to do everything on the list can easily overwhelm you which can cause you to think that you’re failing. I’m a painful introvert, and even I know I need to get out of the house every once and a while.

Over the weekend, I’ll be losing an admin day (to write blogs, newsletters, make graphics, etc.) so I could take my daughter and her friend out to see a movie and grab dinner, then back here for a sleepover. The writing tasks will fall behind as a result of that outing. But that’s okay. Making memories takes priority. There will be time to write newsletters next Saturday.


Until next week, friends,

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and seeker of experiences

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So… When’s the next book coming?

Valid question. Very soon! I’ll be releasing a full-length contemporary romance this November! More details will follow, fret not, but this will be the book that I worked on with fellow Maine playwright/Actor, Randy Hunt. I wrote the novel, and he wrote the play that my characters are rehearsing in the novel. How meta! Stay tuned for interviews and more details about how this book came together in the coming weeks.

Title and Cover reveal also coming soon!

For those of you reading my Where You Left Me series, you might be saying, but what about Vol. 4 and 5 of that series? Is that still happening? YES. Vol. 4 has gone through 2 drafts and Vol. 5 is being written at this very moment.

There is a grand writing plan, that is written in pencil in my handy-dandy notebook (20 pts if you get that reference.) In fact, the next three years have been roughed out.

My precious

Now, even with this detailed writing plan, sneaky stories find their way in. This morning, for instance, I was supposed to be writing a post for my newsletter but instead, my fingers, of their own accord, opened up a blank word doc and typed out a chapter for a new suspense story that was not on the 3-year-plan. I write things down in pencil for a reason. I need to be flexible with this muse of mine. She has a mind of her own, and I want to know where she goes, I have to be willing to pivot. (You all yelled “Pivot!” didn’t you?)

Well, that’s it for now. In the meantime, know that I am hard at work on several projects at once and publish them as soon as I am able within the confines of a day job! Until next week!

Danielle/Dani Bannister

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The GI Update

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve had Ulcerative Colitis for about 16 years. It’s a fun little autoimmune illness that decides to attack your colon. Good times. To combat this, I take a handful of meds every day and have to limit my fiber intake (narrow colon + ulcers = a lousy place for roughage.)

Because of this diagnosis, I have to get a colonoscopy every 2 years. You may have read one of my blogs on the adventure. Thanks to the pandemic, my routine procedure was pushed, leaving a 4-year gap. Not to fear. I was doing great. I was having normal (for me) trips to the bathroom, no cramping, and short-lived flare-ups. When they had me do a stool test to check for active disease, I was like “I’m gonna pass with flying colors.”

I did NOT pass. My stool sample showed I had active disease going on. What? Really? But I felt great. How can that be? A colonoscopy was pushed up the schedule, which I had recently, and yep, the colonoscopy said the same: Active disease.

Well, shit. Literally.

The good news, the biopsies they took show that the illness hasn’t progressed any further up my colon. No polyps needed to be removed. All good things. Today, I went in for bloodwork to see if the meds I’m on are still working. If they are, great. But we’re gonna bump up my dose. If they aren’t? Well, it will be time to try out new meds.

In the meantime, I’m on my flare-up meds (even though I don’t feel like I’m flaring) another stool sample had been ordered for a month from now, and I’m upping the dose of one of the two meds I take to control this, and I have to take fiber gummies. Since I can’t eat fiber the normal way without hurting my plumbing, the gummies are going to help make it so there are, er, no clogs in an already fragile system. I hate the texture of gummies, so this will be fun.

In a month or so, I’ll have a better grasp on what’s going on, but my new GI doc seemed confident he could get me back into remission easily enough, so I’m holding onto that. Perhaps my ‘normal’ doesn’t need to be quite so annoying? Wouldn’t that be lovely?


Until next time, friends!

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and hater of gummies

writing

How much spice do you like?

In your romance books, that is? Now that I’ve split my books into Dani and Danielle Bannister, Dani for the romance-heavy titles, Danielle Bannister for the suspense/romance, I’m trying to figure out what readers of mine prefer.

Some of you have been with me for the last ten years and have read all the MANY genres I’ve written from YA, to fantasy, to rom-com, up to and including my spicy and suspense titles.

Now that I’ve narrowed myself to romance and romantic suspense, I wonder about heat levels and if readers are anticipating a consistent level of heat from me, or if they prefer variety. Hence, asking you!

Any feedback on this topic will help me with future books because I want to give you what you want (That’s what she said.)

Until next week, friends, stay golden!

Dani/Danielle Bannister, author and spice questioner

writing

Paperbacks are IN: Order yours today

The road to publishing a book on your own is long and winding. There are covers to have designed, editors, to tear apart your work, formatting for ebook/print (because of course they are different( and marketing plans to create (and implement *cough.)

Typically, I like to have paperbacks on or as close to release day as humanly possible, but trying to time out how fast your distributor will get them to you is a crap shoot. Such was the case for Where You Left Me, Vol. 3.

It may have taken a hot second to get them but they are finally here!

They’re so PINK!

I do have a few back titles on hand of this series and others in my backlist if you want to get a jump start on holiday shopping. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge.


Until next time, friends!

Dani/Danielle Bannister, author and paperback pusher

writing

Writing around the day job

Six months ago I started a new remote day job with set clock in/clock out hours. My previous job was more fluid. As long as I got the work done, it was all good. I held that job for 16 years, so switching to a more rigid schedule was new for me.

At first, I worried that this new job would be the end of my writing. I wouldn’t have my normal mornings of writing/admin time (choosing to do the day job later in the day and focusing on my writing in the early hours.) So, before I even accepted the new job, I planned out (of course I did) what my writing year might look like given these new time constraints. Bear in mind that I’d already started publishing my series, Where You Left Me, and had teased out the fact that it was going to be a rapid release.

Once I started a new job, however, how would my prior writing plan change? I sat down one weekend and mapped out lots of different release dates. What was realistic? What needed to be pushed back? And the big one; did my plan of four releases a year (one per quarter) need to shrink back to two? Not if I had anything to say about it.

Noted.

I’m a morning writer, so I decided to lean into that. But, I also need to get my yoga in, and that ever-important first cup of coffee before the brain can go. I log in at 8:30, which means, waking at 5:00. Coffee and contemplation until 6:00. Yoga, shower, etc, then 7;00-8:00 am writing all the words. Or editing them. Or formatting them. Whatever the day calls for. And yes, I have a plan for what I’m working on each day. It’s what keeps me on track. I have a yearly plan, that I break down into monthly goals, that I then transfer to my daily planner. Meet the daily goals, you meet the monthly ones. Meet the monthly ones and you have your yearly goals.

an example of a mock writing plan for the year/month.

Is it time-consuming to plan in that way? It can take the better part of a Saturday morning, but so worth it for me to know I’m working toward a goal. It takes the stress off wondering if I’ve done ‘enough.’ If I meet my daily goal, I’m golden. If not, I’ve built in buffer days each month to catch up. This sets me up for success, even if it only feels like tiny moves at the moment.

4 releases in 1 year

Originally, the plan had been to release all 5 volumes of Where You Left Me back-to-back. But then, I lost a large chunk of writing time, which meant I need more time to finish those two off. That means for November, I’ll be releasing a project that has been on the back burner for a LONG time. One that’s written, just needs the editor and cover done. So, in order to keep that release plan going strong, I’ll push that one out into the world, and then early next year, Vol. 4 and 5 of Where You Left Me will drop.

That means my 2023 writing plan only needs two more projects. And yes, I already know what those will be. Because, of course I do. I have until 2024 mapped out. ha. Beyond that, however, the plan is a little fuzzy. As it should be.


Until next time, friends!

Life

It’s about to go down: literally

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you’ll remember that I have Ulcerative Colitis. I’ve had it for about 16 years. There have been many ups and downs, medication switches, trips to the hospital, and, yes, colonoscopies.

Because of my illness, I have them every two years. I know. I’m lucky like that. And instead of having 4 biopsies done, I get about 40 which makes my recovery time all that much more enjoyable. But, due to the pandemic, the last one I had was in 2018. They pushed them back, and rightfully so.

It is now my turn to get the once over. A recent test indicated my illness might be active again (though I feel okay.) The meds I’m currently on are only usually good for about 10 years before their effectiveness wanes. It’s been twelve. There are other medications, but they are a higher class of drugs and come with more side effects, blood tests, etc., so we’ve been trying to stay on my current meds for as long as we can. This colonoscopy will determine if that course of treatment is over. If it is, a whole new treatment (and potential rough few months as we try doses out.)

For those of you who have had colonoscopies, you know that the prep is the worst. But up until this one, it was a prep I knew well. Miralax mixed with Gatorade and a 4 dose of Dulcolax. And then, get comfortable in the bathroom. I had a system. This year, however, I have a new GI doc, with a new prep.

If it’s lemon, why does it have a green label? I got excited that it was lime. The jerks.

Drinking this much fluid isn’t daunting to me. I drink a LOT of water usually. It’s the speed at which you have to drink it that is challenging. If it were just water, no problem. I drink water fast normally, but this is gonna have a flavor. Probably a strong one to cover the taste of the med. I mean, lemon’s okay, but THAT much lemon? With the old prep, I could change up the flavors so it wasn’t so gagging at the taste. This time, it’s all lemon, all of the time. I should be grateful it wasn’t pineapple like my mother’s was. *shivers. (Update: I did half the prep last night. There was NO lemon taste. It tastes like watered-down salt water. Nasty.)

My son will drive me to the procedure where I hope things go as smoothly as one can expect. Mercifully, I have the day off and work from home, so my week-long recovery from so many biopsies should be as comfortable as it can possibly be. (Yes, I have a donut pillow and a sitz bath. This may be part of the reason I’m still single…)

Afterward, it’s a waiting game to hear from the doc about what the future holds. She’s guessing it is gonna be a monthly iv medication. Oh, joy. Stay tuned.


Danielle/Dani Bannister author and drinker of all the gross stuff

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Thor: Love & Thunder-Some thoughts

For those of you who follow my blog, or my social media, you know I dig the MCU. They raised my eyebrow with Iron Man and sealed the deal with Avengers. In all the movies that followed, have they all been winners? No. Not by a long shot. But their track record is pretty good in my book. With top-tier gems like The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarock, Infinity War, and Endgame, they are entitled to have a few duds. (I’m looking at you Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.)

Of the (up until now) trilogies, Thor’s movies had been the weakest entry. Until Ragnarok. That completely changed how I felt about Thor. The once bland, boring, 2-dimensional beefcake character now had depth, humor, and heart. They’d finally figured out Thor. Or so I thought.

I was so ready to be entertained!

My daughter (whom I’ve proudly introduced the MCU to) and I went to see Thor: Love & Thunder on opening night. Each of us was pumped to see the Thor from Ragnarok once again. And then, before our eyes, Thor turned back into the bland, boring, 2-dimensional, even bigger beefcake who was forcing out dialogue that was trying really hard to be funny but just wasn’t. Thor was working so hard for laughs that he lost his heart. His humility. He felt more like a caricature rather than the fleshed-out character we’d seen change and evolve over the movies. He’d gone backward in development.

Now maybe that is some bigger arc for him. That he’s attempting to use humor to hide his hurt, which we saw a tiny glimpse of but it was quickly rushed over in favor of a weird battle with bird aliens?

(Spoilers Ahead) But the biggest issue with this movie for me was the warring tones. On one side, you have this colorful, humorous (or attempting to be), song and dance vibe, and then on the other, you have a dark character of Gorr the God Butcher played brilliantly by Christain Bale, a terminal breast cancer diagnosis of Jane, and a forced rekindling of a romance that never had any chemistry from the start. The two tones did NOT play well together so it felt like you were watching two different movies. As a result, the stakes never felt real. The ‘sacrifices’ didn’t feel earned. I was being told a story instead of feeling the story.

That said, was it as bad as Multiverse of Madness? No, that was just awful in my opinion. Love & Thunder I’ll watch again. But it will hold the same weight as the first Thor. Which ain’t saying much.

If you want to hear more about my thoughts on why tone matters so much in writing, check out the podcast I did with writer, Tina Moss, on our podcast Bound By Books.


Until next time friends,

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and still lover of MCU despite some not-so-great recent entries.

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Well, that was unexpected: New Contract

If you’re in my reader group, Write all the words, Danielle, then this isn’t news. I’ve been wanting to talk about it sooner, but you know… life.

Recently, City Owl Press (the press that published Girl on Fire) has been pitching for film/TV for that book hard, because they love it, but they were hearing that what a lot of studios were looking for was diversity. The subject of one of my characters being an undiagnosed adult on the spectrum came up. I gave her the elevator pitch of the plot and she said, ‘gimmie.’

I sent her a copy of the book to read, and a day later, I had a contract in hand.

eeep!

That’s right, The First 100 Kisses is now in their hands to shop around for film/TV projects. This doesn’t guarantee anything, but it is a step in a great direction. Not to mention that it’s nice to have a company that believes strongly enough in my work to even attempt to get either this title or Girl on Fire onto a screen.

How cool would seeing this on a screen be?

I mean, it was kind of wild to daydream a little when she asked me to compile who my dream cast would be so she’d have some names to mention when she went in to pitch. Naturally, I had my own answers to give her because, as you know, I make book bibles for my stories. I rattled off Anna Kendrick’s name lightning fast. She has always been my Chloe, but I’m not so sure she’d be down for all of the, er, ‘action’ this book has. Though, I could totally see a TV/Film project taming some of those scenes anyway so… maybe? Come on Universe, make it happen. 😉

Liam was harder for me because the actor I had in mind is now far too old for the part of a man in his mid-30s, so I went with a blonde Cole Sprouse. (And yes, I know his brother Dylan wears his hair blond normally, and while they may be twins, their acting is not at the same level. Sorry, Dylan.)

I’m curious, however, if you’ve read The First 100 Kisses, who would you pick to play Chloe and Liam? I’d happily toss other names her way!

Until next week, dream a little dream with me!

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and dreamer of all the good things

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The reviews are starting to show!

If you missed it, Where You Left Me, Vol. 3 was released on Tuesday. Reviews are starting to trickle in as later books are known to take longer to get reviews for, but I wanted to highlight those that have come in so far.

Up first, was my very first review from one of my ARC readers which she posted over at GoodReads.

Can you tell I use a blue light blocker? Ha.

Then, on release day, a few more came in, including a 5-star rating only over on Goodreads.

The few but mighty

Getting reviews for the middle of an unfinished series is HARD, people. Readers tend to not want to start a series until it’s entirely done. Which can put a considerable financial strain on the author/publishing house to support the series in those writing months/years. In a world of binge content consumers, getting anyone to give their time to review an unfinished series is rare indeed. So, while there may only be a few up currently, I feel so grateful to have those!

Reading Order
WHERE YOU MET ME (Free prequel chapter)
https://daniellebannister.wordpress.com/free-story/
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 1
https://books2read.com/WYLMV1
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 2
https://books2read.com/WYLMV2
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 3 (NOW LIVE!)
https://books2read.com/WYLMVl3
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 4 (Pre-order)
https://books2read.com/u/b6Rd6M
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 5 (Coming Soon)

Now, these reviews could shift the other way tomorrow. I’m aware of that. This is a fickle industry. But for now, I’ll use these reviews to fuel the writing needed to complete my first ever series!


Dani/Danielle Bannister author and collector of reviews