writing

Mistakes were made…

By me. I’m an idiot.

What’s new there? If you got my newsletter over the weekend, you already know why I’m a moron. And I’m sure you concur with my assessment. For those of you who missed it, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. *a million points for knowing that reference.

I bought 500 bookmarks with all of my books to date on them. Signed them all even.

Then, my publisher decides we need to change the title of one of the books before it releases in April.

*head meet desk.

So… who wants a bookmark or two? Seriously. I need to offload these ha.

If you’re curious as to what title changed, it was for the Yonder platform release.

is now…

The marketing team wanted more searchable words in the title to get as many eyes on the story as possible. Which, I get. I just wish I had known that the name change was a possibility or else I wouldn’t have blown money on bookmarks. ha.

That’s what you get for assuming everyone. 500 useless bookmarks. ha. Grab yours today!

*snort but also take some!


Dani/Danielle Bannister author and collector of bookmarks that are wrong

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writing

New Release, New Contract!

A new contract in February was NOT on my 2023 writing BINGO card, but I’m here for it!

I just signed another contract with City Owl Press for a new project, making this my 4th contract with them. The first project I signed with them was their acquisition of Enigma which was retitled/recovered/re-edited to become Girl On Fire. They later acquired film/TV rights negotiation rights for my book The First 100 Kisses, followed by a contract late last year to sell A Single Step to the Yonder App. That title is aligning for an April 3 release, but stay tuned as that gets closer.

This new project that I just signed for was something I was going to pitch to them for their 2024-2025 lineup. Mostly because I knew their release schedule was pretty tight and I still hadn’t written the book at that time. They had wanted me to write another dark romance/suspense/thriller to jump off the success of Girl on Fire. Sure. Easy. No problem. *panics

Fast-forward to December 2022. I had a rough draft of the manuscript but I knew it was flawed. There were some problematic situations and I was dealing with a subject matter I wasn’t sure would be ‘fit-to-print’ given the taboo nature of what my crazy brain thought up as a story. (Seriously, WHERE did this idea come from????) I presented this conundrum to City Owl Press and they suggested assigning me a content editor of theirs to see if, together, we might figure out what things needed fixing to get it to a project I’d want to pitch to them. I took them up on the offer and was quickly assigned such an editor. They asked the content editor to have it finished by April so they could determine if it would be a good fit for their 2024-2025 lineup.

I’ve never worked with a content editor before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we had until April to figure out the issues, so I sent her the draft of what I had and went about my normal writing schedule, putting that project on the way back burner. It was in someone else’s care now. I had months to focus on other stuff while that draft was ripped to shreds. I gave them the draft on December 28, 2022.

Seven days later, the manuscript came back to me. The content editor devoured it. And had some great suggestions for where to improve the story, but overall, loved what she saw. Twisted as it was. Places I thought they’d ask me to tone down or remove, they said to leave in. She helped me see the places I’d been struggling, and offered up ways to smooth over the rough edges. We bounced back ideas and messages.

Suddenly, that backburner project was bubbling over and needed tending. Not wanting my current writing plans to go off the rails, I did my revisions on this project at night and on the weekends until I addressed all of the issues the content editor had. I sent my final revisions back to her and she, in turn, let City Owl Press know they needed to sign this book right now. An offer came the next day to publish it for August of THIS year.

*gulp

Now what? Now, I come to terms with the fact that this book is going to see the light of day. *double gasp. I can count on one hand the number of people who have read this story. It is NOT a sweet romance. It is NOT a steamy romance. But there is romance. Just not where you might expect it. This one is dark. I’d say it’s darker than Girl on Fire… I honestly don’t know what genre to even call it. Is it dark romance? Is it a thriller? Horror? I’ll let the publisher decide. That will be their headache when they try to market this one. ha.

But… but… WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

I’m not quite ready to say yet. I know that’s a lame answer but this one is going to take some time to carefully explain/promote/discuss. As of now, I only have a draft of a blurb, no cover, and no marketing materials. Just a finished content edit of the book and a signed contract for an August release. I’m not even ready to say the title as it might not end up being that and if it does end up with that title, it will give a big clue as to what the book is about so…

In the meantime, I have to write the second book for it. Currently, this story arc is outlined as a duet. And I’d like to have the second book ready to go shortly after the first book is live because I hate waiting for sequels to come out just as much as you do.

So how does this shift the 2023 release plan? Not much, actually. Vol. 4 of Where You Left Me came out last week and Vol. 5 is still on track for its May release. The Yonder project in April, which is done except for promotion, then, this new project in August (which is done save for copy edits), and then MAYBE something in November. The bulk of my writing for 2023 is done. I’m working on projects for 2024 because, despite my constant releases, I am a pretty slow writer. It only seems fast because I write my books well in advance of my release dates.

For now, I’m busy promoting Vol. 4 and trying my luck with Facebook ads (it’s so confusing. ha.) *shameless self-promotion to follow:

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 1 (0.99 Cents)
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 2
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 3
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 4 (NOW LIVE)
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 5 (Pre-Order)


Until then, I have some writing to do. 🙂 See ya next week!

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and signer of contracts

writing

In One Week: Release Time-Again!

It feels like only yesterday I was talking about the release day of Waiting in the Wings. And now here I am again talking about a different release! Insanity.

Gulp. In one week (02.07.2023) Vol. 4 of the Where You Left Me series comes out. Vol. 5 is shortly thereafter with a May release. My first series… Nuts!

The tricky thing with a series is trying to promote the books after book 1 until the series is done. If readers haven’t read the first book they aren’t going to care about your subsequent releases. They might perk up once the series is finished but until then, you are basically putting out books a lot of people aren’t reading. It’s a long game and one that can be hard for authors to handle financially. There are still cover and editing costs not to mention marketing expenses, for each release. If readers aren’t picking up those middle books, a lot of authors won’t be able to afford to finish the series.

But there again, that’s the long game for you. Once the series is finished, I will do a bigger market push. For now, I’m just working as fast as I can to get the series done. And your support of these middle ‘Jan’ books is so appreciated. (A million points if you got the Jan reference.)

Haven’t started the series, but want to, and not sure where to begin?

There are TWO places you could start the series. The FREE start is by checking out the prequel chapter that I wrote from the guy’s POV as to how he ends up at the wedding in the first place. It’s not vital to the series, but it is a fun short read that gives you some insight into the character you might not get from the series…

Or you can start with Vol.1 which is only .99 cents. I’m going to be running some promotions on Vol. 1 to try to help get eyes on later volumes. If you see a promo, let me know! I’m curious if these new-to-me sites will be helpful!

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 1 (.99 Cents)
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 2
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 3
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 4 (02.07.23)
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 5 (Pre-Order)

Well, that’s all from me for this week. I’ll be back next week with release news. Eeep! Until then, I need to get Vol. 5 polished so I can send that one to the editor. In the meantime, thanks for being awesome and supporting indie authors!


Dani/Danielle Bannister, author and release of all the books

writing

Vol. 4 Edits Due Back Today!

Getting your manuscript back from your editor is both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, you’re a step closer to release day, HUZZAH! On the other, the editor’s very job is to tear your book apart and highlight, in red, all of your mistakes. Which you then have to accept. Literally. I have to push a button to accept each and every correction. And there are always a lot. Like hundreds. Despite having read the manuscript backward and forwards. Despite having other sets of eyes on it to check for issues. The editor always finds an obscene amount of errors. Some, as you know, will even pass her careful eyes because…

Some authors will choose to hit the ‘accept all’ button in Word which will take all of the corrections and fix them at once. Not me. I’m a glutton for punishment. I want to know what I messed up. what word did I spell wrong this time, how badly did I screw up my commas this time? Will my editor pointing out my crutch words stop me from peppering every subsequent manuscript with them that she has to cut again? Probably not. Will I ever learn how to use a semicolon properly? Doubtful. Will I ever remember what traumatic past I gave my heroine? Unlikely. But the hope that I will retain the knowledge my poor editor is trying to convey is there. And so I look at each mistake one at a time.

Once those errors are all fixed, I’ll do the final format check for the ebook (I do the paperback upload on release day for marketing reasons) then I’ll upload it to all the platforms so it will be ready for its release day on Feb. 7, 2023. (Ack, that’s two weeks from now!)

Because I now have a pre-order link up for the last volume, I’m trying my hand at some paid promotions. Cause let’s face it, I’m not the world’s best marketing guru. And the competition for visibility in the contemporary romance market is no joke. Even with over twenty titles out, I am a drop of water in the ocean of romance books, so I’ll need all the help I can get!

In the meantime, if you haven’t picked up Vol. 1 and wanted to, it’s on sale for. 99 cents now. Or you can always read the prequel chapter for free right on my blog. It’s only 15 pages but it gives you some insight into what happens immediately before the series starts and gives you a sense of my writing voice.

WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 1 (.99 Cents)
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 2
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 3
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 4 (02.07.23)
WHERE YOU LEFT ME, Vol. 5 (Pre-Order)

Now that Vol. 4 is basically finished, I will be starting my third draft of Vol. 5 in February to get that ready for its May release.

What am I working on until then? That’s a secret… for now. Hope to have some news to share on that soon. That’s all for now!


Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and maker of typos

writing

So… How did the signing go?

Glad you asked! 😉 As I prepped for the First Annual Bangor Area Maine Author’s Book Fair, I wondered one, if anyone would come since it was the first year, and two, if they did come, would they want romance books?

In my experience, Maine readers tend to be looking for coastal covers, stories told on the ocean… lobsters and lighthouses. All of the things that I do NOT write. I went into this signing knowing I’d be the odd duck out but hoping for the best.

Upon set up, I quickly realized I might be a tad over the top for this event. In romance, your table HAS to be flashy because there is so much competition in the genre, but here, I kept looking around at the tables that just had books and a few bookmarks on an empty card table, and here I was setting up this elaborate display. I kept wondering if I was coming off as a showoff? Was my book display overt? Was the bedsheet I used as a tablecloth too obnoxious. Was my swag over the top? I was almost embarrassed by my table.

There wasn’t much time to fret though because once I had finished setting up, people were already coming in the door. And they kept coming. Steady from 11- to about 3:30. When the sun started to set, so too did the foot traffic. But in that time, I remained busy. I sold 22 books, which was way more than I thought I’d sell!

When things had died down, a few of the authors approached my table to inquire about where I got my stand, how I made my swag, and to just ask marketing questions in general. Me, the one who has felt like a fraud her whole writing life. Oh, irony. I happily answered their questions as best I could and I left the signing thinking, maybe I had learned a thing or two over the years. Baby steps. Even after 11 years at it.

Now, what will I do with the money earned? Replenish my stock for one thing, ha. And the rest will go into the account to pay for future edits/covers/swag/marketing etc. And maybe some Chinese takeout for the author. 😉

Until next week, friends!

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and local signing seller

writing

Needed by November…a project update

In early November, I shared a post about some exciting news. I’d lined up a project that would pay me my first-ever advance. Well, that project needed to be turned in to my editor by the end of November. 80,000 words. Obviously, my Nanowrimo project was kicked to the curb to make room for this very large and looming deadline.

To be fair, I didn’t have to write all 80,000 words in November. I’m not THAT fast of a writer. I have a day job, after all. Even pulling off 50,000 for Nanowrimo is a struggle. And those words aren’t great. They are mostly word vomit. I couldn’t turn in word vomit on this. I needed to turn in as polished a manuscript as I could.

What I had was about 56K words of a third draft. I tend to do 4-5 drafts. My original plan with this book was to add an additional 10K words, then send it off to City Owl Press for a 2023 or 2024 release, and work on the next in the series in the meantime, so that I’d have something to follow it up with. In other words, this project wasn’t on the front burner. I’d planned to send it to them in February of next year. I had a whole different project in mind for Nanowrimo. That plan was tossed to the curb the second I got the offer to turn that manuscript into a longer piece.

Suddenly, I had three weeks to make 24,000 words appear. That may not seem like much, but when you have already completed the story arc, it’s a little trickier to find new plot points. To that end, I had a beta reader read my draft to let me know what she wanted me to expand upon. She gave me some great feedback and I ended up pulling in a plot line I’d been planning to introduce later in the series. Her feedback showed me it would be beneficial to add it now. It helped to round out an otherwise 2-dimensional character. Thanks, Cassy!

It is now November 29th. One day before the deadline. Did I make it?

I did! I even had time to do a final read-through of it before I sent it along. What happens now? Well, I’ll be getting a contract very soon (and then I can tell you more about it) but until then, it will be edited by City Owl Press, sent back to me for approval, and then sent off to where it will eventually be distributed. The when and where of that will be in the upcoming contract, so stay tuned!

Until then, I find that I have a few days ‘off’ from my writing schedule. A first for me in a very long time. Not to worry, a new project kicks off on Thursday. 😉 No rest for the wicked!

Until next time, friends!

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and crusher of looming deadlines

writing

A week after release: The numbers

As an author, I’ve always tried to be transparent about my process, my success, and my failures. It’s just who I am. Well, it’s been a week since Waiting in the Wings, my 19th romance novel dropped. So…how is it going?

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BH1C2BKF
All Platformshttps://books2read.com/WITW
Paperbackhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BM87FT8C/
Snag your copy!

As of this writing, I have sold a grand total of 25 copies. That’s all she wrote. I ordered myself more paperbacks than that. What does this number tell me?

  1. Making back my ROI (return on investment) is going to be tricky. Not impossible, just really hard. See, you have about 90 days from release to earn back the money you spent on the book. (editing, cover costs, etc.) After 90 days, the book drops off algorithm radars. Hell, with so few sales it has probably fallen off already. But the rule of thumb is 90 days.
  2. This is the second book I’ve released since starting the new day job. And it shows. Not in the quality of the books, mind you. Both releases were written prior to starting the day job. What has changed is the amount of TIME I can devote to marketing. I used to have time to email bloggers, make a ton of graphics. Post on social media, experiment with ads, do fun giveaways, create engagement, buzz. etc.
  3. November might not be the greatest month for a release. With Midterms, Nanowrimo, and the holidays, people are not thinking about books. I know I’m not. I like to release books quarterly, but maybe that will mean October instead of November. Cause December is totally out. Nope. No way. Lessons learned the hard way.
  4. First in a series books are always a harder sell. No one wants to start a series that isn’t finished yet. Most readers are binge readers. And since this is part of a series, (of how many books even I don’t know yet) there is some hesitation. I get it.
  5. I picked a pretty niche place to hold my romance. At a theater. A theater-focused light romance is not exactly the same thing as a steamy billionaire bad-boy troupe.
  6. It’s written under my pen name, Dani Bannister, which, let’s be face it, isn’t well known. Not that Danielle Bannister is mind you, but that one has been around longer.

What does all this mean? Is it time to throw in the towel? Pat yourself on the back and say you gave it the old college try?

Tempting. Very tempting. That inner critic inside of us all is loud. Persistent. And persuasive. That voice makes it so easy to believe that you’ll never be good enough. That you’re a hack. That no one will ever read your books. You’re no writer. You should give up.

At some point, you are faced with the question: Is this writing thing just an expensive hobby?

*ouch

Look, inner critic. I hear you. I do. Trust me. But I’m choosing to ignore you. I am choosing to believe that these last eleven years have been

Instead, I’m focusing my energy on the deal I just landed that will more than cover the lost sales of one book.

Take that, inner critic.

But also, I won’t be made if you want to buy Waiting in the Wings. *cough


Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and defier of the inner critic

writing

TWO Big News Items To Share!

I know you’re probably sick to death hearing from me lately what with Nanowrimo, the book signing I have going on tomorrow, and my release Tuesday, but I have news and I need to share it!

One is of a personal nature and one is a writing-related one.

On the personal front, MY SON GOT INTO COLLEGE! Now, that may not seem like a huge deal. Kids get into college every day. It’s a huge deal for us because up until a few weeks ago, my son had ZERO interest in any additional education after graduation. No trade schools, no community colleges, and definitely no universities. He wanted to just start his life already. He was sick of school.

Then, came a mandatory college fair at school. He picked four schools literally at random. He wasn’t going, so what did it matter what he picked, right? Well, one of the schools he picked was CMCC. He didn’t even know what the letters stood for. Turns out it stands for Central Maine Community College. A school about an hour and a half away from his parents.

As he was at the CMCC session, not really paying attention to any of it, he heard the recruiter say the words “Esports and gaming.” They have a college Esports team. With tryouts, uniforms, the whole 9 yards. Suddenly, he was all ears. He came home with a pamphlet and we jumped on the chance to go on a tour. Maybe if he could SEE what college would be like, SO NOT like high school, he might change his tune about wanting to go.

The next week, on a gorgeous fall day we toured the campus. He thought he might like to look into graphic design, cause he has some mad drawing skills. No clue where he got that from. While on the tour, we stopped at the Esports section.

It was here that he learned he could not only try out to be on their Esports team, (yes, you have to try out to be on an online gaming team) he could also major in Esports Management. Managing tournaments. Who knew that was a thing? Apparently, it is a growing market that has some pretty good salaries the longer you’re at it. His eyes lit up. He could major in the thing he loves? Get out of dodge! He applied the second he got home, and we just found out, he was accepted into the program!

And to think, all from choosing a recruiter at random to listen to. To that woman, I say, THANK YOU!


The second bit of news happened the same day that he got accepted. And it’s kind of bizarre how it happened. For the last year or so, I’ve been working on manifesting things that I wanted into my life. I wanted to get a better job with benefits. I got one. I wanted a very particular blue couch. I got the couch. I wanted a car that wouldn’t slide all over the place in winter and constantly be in the shop. I got my first 2019 Jeep with 4WD in the spring. Ask it, believe it, receive it. That is my routine.

When I manifest, I try to picture myself in the moment of the change I want to see. For instance, with the couch, I imagined myself sitting on the couch in my living room, curled up with a blanket and a good book. I tried to feel how comfortable it might be. That sort of thing. For this book-related manifestation, I imagined I’d be at my desk grinding away at the day job. Things would be going nuts. I would be stressed. Out straight. But then, I’d get a call from my publisher with some sort of a deal. I didn’t even care what. I just wanted them to call and offer me something. That would be validation that I was on the right path. That was the manifestation. Let me know that I shouldn’t give up on writing. For months, I replayed that moment when I got the call in my head. Months!

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, I was in the middle of a high-stakes task at the day job. Rush tasks were piling up. E-mails and notifications kept pinging. I could feel the stress building up. Then, I get a notification on my cell phone. I almost didn’t look at it because I was so busy. But I checked in case it was one of my kids. It wasn’t them. It was my publisher, saying, ‘I know you’re working but do you have time for a quick call?’

Holy shit. My manifestation was happening just as I imagined it would. I took the call, obviously, and an offer WAS made with a nice advance (for me.) I can’t tell you the details yet as the contract is currently being drawn up, but once it’s signed, I’ll fill you in! Validation. The message was clear.

Don’t you dare give up writing. I have plans for you.

-The Universe

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do some more manifesting. And some writing. I need to submit the book they want by end of the month. Nanowrimo who? Sorry, you have been kicked to the curb. Mama needs to focus on something else!

Dani/Danielle Bannister, author and manifestor of all the things

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NaNoWriMo Begins Again! *yikes

Today’s the day, November 1st. Time to write with literary abandon.

Say what now? Let me explain. No. There is too much, let me sum up (*million points if you got that reference.)

For the last several years, I have been participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) NaNoWriMo is a personal challenge you make to yourself to write 50,000 words in the month of November, or 1,667 words a day.

Ready or not, here we go!

Usually, I have a project planned out months in advance for what I work on for the month of November. It’s always a first draft and I almost always just barely make my daily word count. This year, however, my plan for NaNoWriMo was tossed out of the window. Instead, my publisher has encouraged me to focus on beefing up a story that was at 55,000 words and bring it up to 80,000 by the end of November.

Now, even those poor at math know that 80,000 minus 55,000 words does not equal NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 words in 30-day criteria. Noted. However, time is of the essence for this request, so I’m putting the project I had planned for November’s challenge and putting the addition of these 25,000 words as the priority as a necessary evil.

IF, I hit that 80,000-word count by mid-November, then I will shift gears and focus on adding 25,000 words either on the original project OR another project that also needs some heavy revisions. So, there is a plan, just not a liniar story, which is a first for me.

What’s also a first for me is that I’m at a new day job so the hours I used to devote to NaNoWriMo in the past will not be the same as it was. On the surface, 1,667 doesn’t seem like much. But trying to write 1,667 words in my one power hour each day… Might not happen ha. BUT, I should still make the 80,000 goal if I keep on target which means maybe I won’t win NaNoWriMo, but if all goes well, I’ll still meet my goals. And that to me is a win.

Oh, and also, I have a book releasing in 15 days, and I have a book signing I’m going to be at. Um… when am I supposed to write all these words again? I guess it’s a good thing I have no social life. 😉 But like, seriously!

That’s all for now. Apparently, these words won’t write themselves.

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and attempter of NaNoWriMo

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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.