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!
Anyone else having an insanely busy November? (Drinks all the coffee.)
Mine kicked off with a 5 day trip to Denver for work, and while it was fun and educational, I was more than happy to leave behind the bloody noses and altitude sickness. Now, I’m gearing up for another big work project this weekend that will surely leave me drained and in need of several days of sleep to catch up, but there will be no time for that! There are lines I need to learn for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a book I need to finish editing and, oh yea, Thanksgiving food to prep. (Shut up. I can cook..like two things.) Mercifully, filming has taken a bit of a hiatus but that is still ongoing as well.
So while I know I haven’t posted here on da blog in awhile, it’s not because I have dropped off of the face of the planet, but rather up to my eyeballs in deadlines. I’m in the final round of my personal edits of my next book which I’m going to reveal a cover for sometime in December or January with a February anticipated release date (unless the editor finds fatal flaws that is.) What I can tell you about the book is that this is another ‘Later in Life’ romance that takes place in the same fictional town of Bucksville, NH which is where Doppelgangeris set. There will be a few tiny crossover characters for those that read them all. Little Easter eggs planted here and there. So far, there are four planned for this series, the notes for all, live in this handy, dandy notebook.
On top of that, I’m still working with Amy Miles on the sequel to Netherworldas well. We have the cover and outline done and are hammering out chapters as quickly as we can. We don’t like to wait for sequels any more than readers do!
As a final note, before I dive into my edits for the day, I wanted to point out that Facebook is cracking down on ‘business-like’ posts on your personal pages, so if you want to be up to date on all things books from me, be sure to follow my business page: https://www.facebook.com/BannisterBooks/
While Amy Miles and I wait for our beta readers to finish with their first look at Netherworld,we thought it might be fun to share a short interview we did with each other about what co-writing a book together was really like. We tried to think of questions people might want to know.
First things first…how did the two of you meet? You’re not even in the same state!
Danielle: It was back in 2011. I had just released my first book, Pulled and I was looking for bloggers/readers to read and review it. I came across Amy’s blog. At that time, many moons ago, she used to do reviews in addition to write. She liked the book and we friended each other on Facebook. We started chatting about writing, and it turned into daily conversations.
Amy: Man that was a LONG time ago. I can’t believe we’ve been friends since 2011. Time sure flies by! Now we can’t go a day without gabbing to each other.
Amy writes primarily fantasy books. Danielle writes primarily real world, romance driven novels. What made you think to combine the two genres?
Amy: Most fantasy books contain romantic elements. I’ve read and enjoyed all of Danielle’s books in the past and knew that she’d be a huge asset when it came to creating that romantic thread that I sometimes overlook because I’m too amped up to jump into a suspenseful battle. Netherworld is a great blend of both of our skills.
Danielle: Even though we write in different genres, we’re in a lot of the same circles just because of being indie authors. I’ve always wanted to try fantasy, but I really didn’t have the courage to try it. Sooooo much world building and coming up with ridiculously massive back stories. That was a skill Amy had with her books and I wanted to yolk some of her skill that way. I’m not sure which one of us suggested that we should try working on a book together, using each other’s strong suits, but we decided to give it a whirl. I don’t think either of us thought it would take us as long as it did to happen, but that’s another question haha.
What has the co-writing process been like since you live so far apart?
Danielle: Amy and I both have very different ways in which we go about writing, as all writers do. We find what works for us and go with it. So trying to figure her process and blending it together with mine took some getting used to. Add into the fact that we weren’t often in the same room together at the same time when writing. Often we’d be writing at different times from the other, on different chapters within the same document so our outline became a HUGE piece of what we used. I had never outlined prior to this book but when you have two different authors, you HAVE to know where the story is going.
Amy: We spend a LOT of time on Facebook Messenger hashing out ideas. A lot of times I would come up with some brilliant plan that would leave Danielle banging her head on the desk because I was creating ripples that flowed over into her chapters, but it worked…eventually. I MAY be part of the reason why Netherworld went through seven rewrites haha.
Danielle: So many ripples…She’d get this crazy idea that totally worked, but it meant going back and changing five other chapters! This book took a very unique way of coming to the finish line.
What has been the best and worst thing about writing Netherworld?
Amy: For me, the best has definitely been seeing first hand what it’s like to compromise and work through varying ideas on a book. I’m so used to just being a panster when I write my own books that plotting in advance and making not only two different POV’s but also two different worlds blend has been amazing to watch. The worst part is definitely going through so many rewrites. Even though I’m thrilled with the end result and all of the added layers of depth that we have added, it becomes difficult to remember which details remained to the final cut. Danielle and I will message each other saying “didn’t we write this already?” only to remember that was three re-writes ago. Book 2 and 3 will definitely be a smoother ride for us now that we’ve got this process down pat.
Danielle: I agree with Amy on the ‘worst’ element. Having to stick to an outline made the desire to follow a road that I normally would follow something I couldn’t do. It forced me to be disciplined. The other negative was the multiple revisions…We had a version of the book done in 2014, but then it got picked up by an agent…the agent wanted revisions…then we parted ways with the agent…let it sit dormant and said, you know. We have this book done and waiting. Why don’t we publish it? When we re-read it, however, we saw ways we could improve upon the original 2014 version (we had both grown as writers) and so that meant yet another round of revisions! Hahaha The best thing has been being collaborative with Amy. I think we’ve both learned so much about each other’s writing style and method and learning how to incorporate those styles into one project has been eye opening.
Who is your favorite character from Netherworld and why?
Danielle: I get to write the humans for this book so I tried to make each of them different from the other in honest ways. I love to write characters that are broken, if only in their own eyes. Some people think of characters that start a book as such are weak. What’s fun for me, as a writer, is to help these characters find their strength throughout the course of a novel. I want to go on their journey of self-discovery. This book focuses mostly on Devlin’s journey after some tough news in his life. Other humans will get their turn as the trilogy continues. Having said that, the most fun one to write so far has been Seamus. He’s Devlin’s side kick. He’s a bit of some comic relief but also has a troubled past so he’s fun to write. Amy: That is a really hard question to answer since I have the pleasure of writing both Taryn, our heroine and Aed, our cocky prince of the Netherworld. Both have strong personalities, are fiercely loyal and are totally badass. Those are the three things I love most in fantasy based characters. But I’d have to say that I really love Taryn. She’s going to go through a pretty major character growth process over the span of this trilogy and it’s going to be fun watching her realize that letting herself love doesn’t make her weak. It actually makes her stronger.
Netherworld will be releasing in October. You can pre-order at ibooks here.
I’ve got a secret to share! One I’ve been holding onto for about a year now. Today I get to spill the beans. I have a new book to do a cover reveal for! One that people who know me thought was long dead and buried. Confused? Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Back in 2013, my writing friend, Amy Miles and I were ready to release a book into the world that we co-authored. We had spent about a year or so, working on making this book work. Not easy to do when you live several states away. We were determined to do it though. We had an idea. She wrote fantasy then and I wrote romance. Could the two worlds collide? Could a human fall in love with a fantasy character? Why not? The story was born.
About a year later, we had everything set to release. Some of you probably remember reading about said book way back then. It was during a Facebook release party when we were approached by an agent. They wanted to represent our book, but only if we pulled it from release. Apparently, publishing houses don’t want to release a book that is already out. Go figure! So with three days before our release, Amy and I had some tough choices to make.
In the end, we opted to pull our release and give the agent a try. After all, we wanted to dream a little. Fast forward several years and even more re-writes, (7th times a charm?) we thought the book was dead in the water. We both left the agency and so the title reverted back to us.
Then, last year, we thought maybe we should give it one last go. I mean, we had a finished novel. It seemed silly to just let it sit there unpunished.
Remember when Amy came to Maine for a week to ‘visit me’ in February? We were working on Netherworld, though we didn’t want to reveal it just then. (This was before that ugly couch and coffee table were carried away screaming into the night.) That magical piece of paper Amy is holding was our outline. The sanity that kept two very different minds on track.)
Today, we are thrilled to show you the cover reveal of the new and improved: NETHERWORLD: The Hallowed Realms Book 1.
Flatline. The moment when one life ends and the next begins. That’s my cue. And I hate it. Being a banshee is a right pain in the arse. When I’m not ferrying manky old blokes or mental cat ladies through the veil between Earth and Netherworld, I’m training in secret for a war our King denies is coming. But I know better. An army of Lorcan monsters stands ready to breach the walls. If they succeed, the destruction they seek will not be contained to just our world, but to the human world beyond. My only hope is to rely on the aid of a cocky prince with his own agenda. But after a human man captures my interest, will I be able to accept the terms of the prince’s aid?
Our paths were never meant to cross. I’m meant to live my human life, unaware of the world that exists beyond the veil. I know about death, sure. My own sister’s life hangs in the balance, holding my own happiness with it. But when Taryn and I collide, my world flips upside down. Nothing makes sense anymore. There are things I shouldn’t be able to see but now can’t escape from. Logic tells me to run as far as I can from Taryn and the horrors of her world but my heart screams at me to follow her to the literal ends of the earth. Even if it means my own damnation.
(As of this posting, the only live pre-order link is on ibooks, but have patience. More platforms are on the way!)
Amy and I are busting but to have these to the printer for our signing at Penned Con. If there are some left, I’ll bring some to Books in Vacationland. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until October to read our labor of love.
Once Netherworld is live, Amy and I will be hard at work writing Book 2. The last two books have already been outlined. Now we just need to write them. That’s the easy part! Haha
If you wanna find out more about Amy and what she writes, you can find out more about her here.
You can follow me on the blog or find me on social media to discover teasers and other fun things leading up to the release in October.
Work is done for the day. The kids are at their dad’s. The house is quiet. The perfect time to write. Instead, I’m stuck in editing hell. Wait, isn’t that the same thing as writing? It’s attached to writing sure, but it’s the ugly underbelly of the beast.
For me, writing comes in stages. The first stage is the best. When I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just GO. This is the Magical time of writing (as one of my guest teachers at UMO, the great, Monica Wood, shared with us.) During the Magic phase, NOTHING I write is bad. It’s all gold. Every word is birthed from my imagination and as beautiful as a newborn baby.
It’s only when I hold that baby up close, that you start to see some of the kinks in the armour, shall we say? During the second round of edits, I quickly discover that all that gold I wrote is not, in fact, without flaw, and I begin to question if this story can even be salvaged or not. I mean, sure, I typed 55 thousand words, but if 45,000 are shit, is it worth trying to save? Sometimes yes, sometimes not. It’s a painful edit to do because there is just soooooooooooooooo much to clean up. This draft takes the longest for me but it does still have room for more magic to happen. Once I start to clean up the mess my word vomit made, I can see spots where I can add a new scene, or rewrite something a different way. Both sides of my brain are (or attempting to) work in tandem.
The third draft is where I’m at now. The story is probably about 75-80% the way it will be in the final draft. By this round, most of the plot holes have been discovered and either fixed or removed or will be soon. This draft, admittedly, takes less time then the dreaded second draft, but is no less fun.
Draft four is where I start to get bored with my book. I’ve read over the same passages and nothing feels fresh anymore. It all feels stagnate. I start to second guess myself and my skill as a writer. I call this the self-loathing phase, so naturally, after this edit, I send it out to my beta readers. Glutton for punishment.
The fifth draft edits are the ones given to me by my beta readers. This can take a few weeks depending on how many I’ve solicited. Then, when I’m feeling good about the book, I send it off to the editor thinking, secretly, that she’s not going to find much at all to fix in this book. She’s gonna be so impressed with my awesome writing skills!
I’m wrong. So wrong, every single time. Edits for days! It’s at this point, I really start to hate my book. I’ve read it so many times, and checked and checked for errors and fixed so many things, I’m just DONE with it!
That’s when I know it’s ready to publish. When I hate it. haha. Publishing begins the whole marketing phase of a book (my lease favorite part), but it gets me closer to the Magic phase again when I can start a new book.
So you see, the actual WRITING phase of writing is just a sliver of what makes up the vast amount of time that goes into my books. The time spent editing it is the real time suck.
If only I could learn to get it to come out right the first time, then I’d be onto something!
Well, it’s that time of year again, where we as a human race sit back and take stock of all of the things wrong about ourselves and vow, THIS year, to finally fix it. Except, I’m not doing it this year. I’m putting my food down.
2017 will likely NOT be the year I eat better and lose the muffin top I got when I was in college and haven’t been able to part with, especially after kids. What can I say? I’ve grown fond of it. It can hold my ice cream bowl quite well now.
It will probably also NOT be the year that I become more physically fit. Why? Because I hate exercise. There. I said it. It hurts so I don’t wanna. That said, I may occasionally walk the indoor track at the YMCA because I have a memebership…that I got last January when I resolved to get more fit…
And finally, it will probably NOT be the year that I win the Mega Bucks. Mostly, because I don’t play it.
This year, I’m not making any resolutions. Instead, I’m going to keep on keeping on. Keep working, keep loving, keep failing (because how else do we learn if we don’t fail first?) I’m going to continue working on the four books I have that are in varying stages of completion, I’m going to keep reading, both for pleasure and for professional development. I’m going to try new things, see if they fit, and learn from them if they don’t. I’m going to make new friends and reconnect with some old ones.
But above all of this, I’m going to be there for my kids as they enter their 11th and 13th years. They will have a lot of emotional and hormonal changes ahead and I will be ready for the slammed doors in my face or the hug that comes from out of the blue. That’s probably how 2017 will be as well. Lots of change, ups and downs. There is no way to be prepared for what you can’t see, but here I stand, arms outstretched, ready to welcome the New Year.
On June 21 of this year, I must have read an article or saw a comment on social media, maybe a friend said something about my self-deprecating demeanor that made something click, but on that day, I began a gratitude journal.
I dug out an old, yet pretty, flowered journal that I’d bought years ago. A few random notes lay inside, but the rest of the pages were pathetically bare. It had three sections to it; three areas of potential self-reflection lay in wait.
Expressing My Gratitude
The first section I set aside for being grateful. I tasked myself with coming up with at least three things in which to be grateful for on that day. Even on the most horrific of days, there should be, at minimum, three things to be grateful for. This was not going to be a journal where I bitched about my day or rattled off the boring details of my daily life, or lamenting the things I didn’t have. No, this journal was to force my brain to see the blessings I already had.
To be honest, I didn’t hold much stock that the idea would last. I tend to go full force on something new for a few weeks, and then it sort of fizzles out, or I lose the drive to keep going. Journaling has never been my ‘thing’ as I always found it to be a waste of my time. This journal, however, has stuck around for a few months. A record for me. I do it at night, just before bed.
My 10-year-old daughter has taken to joining me in this process. I can’t seem to convince my son that a gratitude journal is worthy of his time, but maybe someday. In the meantime, it is so wonderful to watch my daughter writing down her items before bed, scribbling madly while trying to remember all of the wonderful things that happened to her that day. I hope she never loses that sense of joy and gratitude about her life.
Cataloging My Goals
The second section is for listing the things I did each day for my business. Did I get in 1000 words? Did I get any edits done? Post to social media? Write a blog? Make swag? Interact with a reader? What things did I do to help me further my career? I do this, not to brag or show off since the only person who sees this list is me. I write these things down so I can’t be so hard on myself. I can’t say I’m not trying. I can look back and literally see all the things I’ve accomplished while reaching for my goals. The entries hold me accountable; keep nudging me to work on my business.
Dreaming About My Future
The last pages are reserved for my hopes and dreams. What are the big goals I have for myself? What are the things I might not even dare wish for out loud? These goals can be career based or personal. They are a place to start visualizing what I want to achieve in life. The journal has helped keep myself in check. It lifts me up and reaffirms that I am not a failure. I’m going after my dream, entry after entry, and for that, I am truly grateful.
(This article originally appeared September 19, 2016, on Venus Scribe.)
For the last few months, I’ve been working with a recording artist from ACX to prepare an audio book option for The ABC’s of Dee. This was my first time using ACX so I had no idea what to expect.
At first, I thought, well, I’m an actor, I can record it myself. I even bought a nice shiny mic. Then I realized: I have no idea what I’m doing. Which is often the case where I’m concerned. Sure, I may have the acting chops to read my own book but did I have audio editing equipment and knowledge to cut the track together? Did I have a sound proof room and hours of recording time to spare? Um, no. No, I did not.
Nor did I have the piles of cash needed to hire a narrator up front. Which left the Royalty Split option. This means that you, as the author, get half of all the sales (after ACX’s cut) and the narrator gets the other half. They do the work without pay, with the promise of royalty payments in the future. Sounds GREAT from a poor author’s perspective, but not so ideal for a narrator’s. Think about it: they have to devote weeks to recording/editing your work without seeing a dime and hope that it sells once it’s done. Naturally, there aren’t as many narrators willing to take that option as I learned when the auditions for Dee trickled in. I listened to auditions for months, more horrified by each one that came in. My favorite was a woman in her late 60’s that sounded like a sweet grandmother even while reading the foul things that come out of Dee’s mouth. Priceless, but not so great for this book. I was starting to lose hope.
At long last, I found a narrator who had risen above the others. We chatted, made arrangements, and a few months later, an audio book was born.
I broke up with my agent yesterday. It was something I’d been mulling over for months. It just wasn’t working. It was the whole ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ scenario. There were a lot of reasons for the split but the biggest one is I wanted to be in control of my publishing schedule again. The traditional book world moves far too slow for my impatient brain to handle. Perhaps the slow turn around is on me and my work. It probably is. I am a writer who writes outside of the box and, therefore, is probably not very bankable to publishing houses. Sure, I could probably conform to what is a more ‘sellable’ writing style, but I have no desire to change my voice in order for a bigger pay day. So that left me, this square peg in a relationship made up of round holes. I just didn’t fit. So I moved on.
What does that mean for readers? Well, I do have a finished work that had been with my agent and was being around and now, well, it’s not, but I’m still mulling over what to do with that one. Stay tuned. I’m going to need a few days to get used to being at the wheel with this story. It needs to tell me what road to go down now.
I hope you’ll be patient with me as I adjust my mirrors and start my creative engine back up. (Okay, I’m done with the driving metaphors now.)
(Anyone else saying the title like Brian in The Breakfast Club?)
“Who are you? Who. Are. You?”
I found myself asking this question recently when my agent called me to talk about one of two books I have with her that will go the traditional publishing route. (One is done and ready to be shopped around, and the other is still in progress… I can’t talk about either really…but when I can, you can bet you’ll hear all about them.)
The thing that got me pondering was after my agent asked me a very simple question: “How important is the publisher’s name on the spine of your book to you?” I knew exactly what she meant. We had chatted about this before. While the Big Five bring huge bragging rights, they don’t often pay very well or help market the book when it’s out. It’s basically sink or swim. Smaller publishing houses typically offer more royalties and in some cases, help in marketing. So, basically she wanted to confirm with me; did my ego need to be fed, or my belly?
Um, food please. No seriously. I’m hungry and the cupboards are slim.
We hung up after she’d given me some homework to do and I found myself still thinking about her question. Not if I’d made the right choice, more that she even asked me it to begin with. Why you ask? Because it seems preposterous to me that the Big Five should even be an option I’m ALLOWED to consider. I mean, I haven’t been writing all that long. Only about 6 years…which isn’t that long in the grand scheme of authorship. Sure, I got my Masters in Literary Education, have a few books and anthologies out, but these days, that’s pretty standard in the Indie world, in fact, the number of books I have published pale in comparison by what others in my field manage to do, so why ask me a question about the Big Five when I am barely a blip on the Indie radar. Well, I’m not really a blip, I’m more like the fruit fly on the screen that just won’t stay away.
The fact that I only sell a handful of copies of my books each month has surely got to be proof-positive that I’m not worthy of any sort of traditional book publishing deals. Right? (Oh, inner critic, how you bore your sharpened claws into my flesh at every turn.)
And so, her simple question has got me sitting here asking myself a very deep question (one she had no intention of putting into my head): Who are you? Are you an Indie Author, a Wanna-Be Traditional Author, a Hybrid Author, a (gasp) Vanity Press Author, a When I Have The Time Author, or worse: A Poor Excuse for an Author. The self-doubt I struggle with makes it hard to see straight sometimes.
How about I just leave all those qualifiers off and just say: I’m an Author. Author. Hmmm.