Danica Winters's Blog
May 14, 2016
Along with the release of Smoke and Ashes my life has been humming along in the background, busier than ever. In the many events, signings, travels, and interviews I’ve been involved with lately, I had loads of wonderful questions, but one really great one… a question about my that has stuck with me over the weeks and helped me to objectively evaluate all life’s exquisite motion.
The question was simple: What motivates you to keep pushing forward?
At the time it was just a question about writing and in that case the answer was simple. I write because I’m drawn to it. It is my passion. It is just as [image error]much a part of me as the air I breathe. There are days in which I don’t write, in which life steps into the way and blocks me from my passion. Those are the days I feel lost, adrift in a world that is moving fast, changing, and evolving under my fingertips. In a way, writing is the way to experience the changes, the evolution of life and feelings, and the way to process all the information that barrages my thoughts and actions.
I’ve been writing forever. Since I was a child. I didn’t know I was destined to be a writer. I had MANY moments in time in which people pushed me away from writing, even though I had a strength for it (ask me about being falsely accused of plagiarism in high school, but be ready for an earful). So when it came time to decide where I wanted to focus my attention in adulthood, writing wasn’t an option. In my very sheltered and rural world I felt I had only two viable options: 1) Teaching (which would have been great, but I have the patience of a lion trying to peel a banana—a HUGE thank you to all of you out there who have become teachers. NO seriously. Thank you.) or 2) Going into the health care field (this I tried, turns out I also have terrible patience for undeserved whining—yes, please tell me how bad that sliver feels while I’m sitting with a sick child or an elderly woman with two broken hips who is so tough that she refuses her pain meds… please, I dare you).
Eventually I became a mom, focusing on the family and the needs that went along with being an island. I was a safe haven. I supported others around me as they followed their passions and found their callings in life. And I looked at my own, I reflected, I thought of the toughest moments of my short-ish life and analyzed my soul.
I’m adventurous by nature, one of those people who will try anything once—even when fear tries to hold me hostage. Writing was like that. I knew I liked it. It made me feel something beyond being an island. It made me dig at those sore spots, the ones that everyone has—those moments in time that you make the wrong choice, or embarrassed yourself, or made yourself act in a way that was for the sake of others rather than for yourself… there are a thousand of them. And I drew off them. I drew off my fears. I drew off my past failures. And I set pen to paper. Literally. The first novel I tried to write was five pages on a yellow legal pad. I gave up. I was afraid. I was afraid I didn’t have talent. Heck, I hadn’t taken a creative writing course since high school. I was too old and too young to have such frivolous ideas of writing a book. I mean do you know the odds of being published? (That was before I knew anything about the world of Amazon.) No one I knew had the freedom to be a writer—except journalists. And well, frankly I didn’t know any of them either.[image error]
All I knew was that I needed to keep pushing. So I started out small. Writing little, unpaid pieces for a small, local startup magazine (which is now not a small magazine, rather a magazine with world-wide circulation and one heck of an editor).
These little things empowered me to finally start and finish my first real novel. It was terrible. (I looked at it the other day and saw some redeemable qualities… a few random gems in a dump of words.) I sent it in to publishers and received the almost obligatory rejections that all first-time writers get. After a few months. I saw it for the massive sinkhole it was. I cried. I picked myself up. I joined a writers group. I finally recognized that I had an obsession a passion for the creative process, and I was going to dive in head first.
Fast forward a few years… There has been ample struggle. There is always the fear of rejection. There is always the fear of being judged for your passion (someone refused to come to an event I was hosting recently because as a ‘romance’ author I wasn’t a good example for their child). Needless to say, there continues to be struggles. The battles change from where they started at the beginning, but day-to-day you must fight. You must dig deep and often sacrifice for your calling. When people try to strip you of your passion, or marginalize it, you must have the strength to carry your head high and let their acidic words drip from you without letting them leave you with too much of a scar (I’d love to tell you to simply let them roll off, but the truth is that we’re human. No matter how old you are, male or female, rich or poor, words will always carry the vitriolic power to leave a mark.)
When you look back and are asked what motivates you the answer must always be simple: it must be the power inside you. It must be the passionate fire that burns away the negative and even in the darkest moments lights your path.
Wherever your passion lies, hold on to it with both hands. Passion is power. And power will always lead to success (often not the kind that you were seeking, but the kind of success that rests in the heart).
The post Just Keep Swimming: Finding Passion and Motivation appeared first on Danica Winters.
March 30, 2016
I’m thrilled to announce that I will be hosting a benefit for the Missoula YWCA through the Smoke and Ashes Launch & Benefit Raffle. My novel, Smoke and Ashes, delves into a relationship in which the heroine feels trapped in an unhealthy and abusive relationship. I felt a special need to raise awareness and funds for this organization because not only have my character’s lives been affected by domestic violence but mine has as well. This is my chance to make a difference in the lives that are still in jeopardy.[image error]
Many of my friends and family members have also benefited from the YWCA—finding housing, jobs, and the support they needed to leave abusive relationships…and make sure they and their children are safe.
All money raised will go directly to the Missoula YWCA. YWCA Missoula is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
They will provide services that will change lives (including transitional housing, emergency housing, and rapid re-housing), services that will help end domestic and sexual violence (through emergency shelter, services for children, support groups, and sexual assault services), and transform our community (through GUTS—Girls Using Their Strengths), summer outdoor adventure camps, after-school groups, and community action projects).
Domestic violence is a silent epidemic. Women all over the United States, in all socioeconomic brackets, are suffering.
By donating today, you will be helping women break the cycle of abuse and find a place where they, along with their children, can start fresh.
You can change a life. To donate to the YWCA directly, click: Missoula YWCA.
[image error]Smoke and Ashes will land on store shelves on April 19, 2016! It will be available at all booksellers.
I’ve started to receive donations for the Smoke and Ashes Launch & Benefit Raffle. The raffle tickets will be offered at all Missoula book signing events: April 23 @Barnes and Noble from 1-3 p.m., April 30 @Hastings from 1-3 p.m., and the final day (in which I shall pick winners) is May 7 @Fact and Fiction from 11-1 p.m. I would love to see you there! (I will also be signing at several RT events in Las Vegas.)
Feel free to check out the event’s page on Facebook!
Raffle items include books, promotional materials, wine and spirits, household goods, Baskin Robbins gift cards, a variety of awesome prizes! Thanks to Janie Crouch (a Harlequin author from Germany) we even have donations coming from across the world! J Cash donations have started to arrive including Rocky Mountain Dental Lab and Kohl’s of Missoula (who has stepped up and donated $500 for the event—thank you Kohl’s)!
If you’d like to donate items to the raffle, you can contact me directly: DanicaWinters (AT sign) DanicaWinters (Dot) net. (Sorry for the wonky spelling of the email address, but I get A LOT of spammers.) You can also get directly to me by tweeting me @DanicaWinters.
ALL donations are welcome.
This is your chance to make a difference.
*If you or someone you know needs help escaping domestic violence, you can call the Domestic Violence hotline (1-800-799-7233) or check out the DV website: http://www.thehotline.org/blog/get-help-today/
March 20, 2016
This has been a wonderful couple of weeks. Just when I thought things couldn’t get better (or crazier, depending on the angle you looked at it), I received the advanced review copies (ARCs) for Smoke and Ashes. [image error]
Hands down–not including the birth of my children–this was one of the most amazing moments of my life. For nearly a year, I have known the day would come in which I could hold the book in my hands, smell the mass market paper and ink, stroke the cover, and drool over the artwork. It was surreal when that day finally arrived.
I’m not one who cries (and I’m not really a hugger–though I make exceptions), yet this week I have been spontaneously bursting into tears and hugging strangers.
I can’t express how much it means to me that I get to hold my literary baby in my hands. I have sacrificed more than most know to make this dream a reality–friends have come and gone, my social life has its own headstone, and my family members knows that whatever “vacation” we take will likely revolve around a conference, book signing, or convention. And, just like any small business, I really don’t have days off. There is always something that needs my attention, or word counts that are breathing down my neck.
Yet, it always has been a labor of love.
Through it all, the sacrifice, the writing time, the exclusion and tedious schedules, it all comes back to the reason I will always write–I want to make a difference. I want my readers to put my books down and feel uplifted–and to walk away with a feeling of hope.
In writing Smoke and Ashes, I spent a great deal of my time researching the events that transpired between the pages. Want to know about chemical oxidizers and arson? How about how fires affect fingerprints? Ask this girl. Or, more accurately, ask me because I spent many an hour talking to firefighters and police officers within my community.
Thanks to our men (and women) in bunker boots!
This book (really all of my books, but this one in particular), wouldn’t have been possible without their support.
As a thank you to my local fire department, as soon as I received my ARCs (and a bunch of swag), I bought a cake and a thank you card and made my way to their doorstep once again. I was given a gracious welcome and “How did the book turn out?”
I have never had a bigger smile on my face as the moment I handed them the book that they helped to create. Up until that moment I had kept the secret… a secret a year in the making… a secret that I had been dying to tell them–They had helped to make my dreams of becoming a Harlequin author a reality.
I cannot express my thanks enough to the men and women who serve our community. Not only do they put their lives at risk, but they open their hearts and their doors in doing community outreach–like helping crazy blond writers who have nothing more than a dream and a pen.
These amazing men and women risk their lives to help others, and my sacrifices pale in comparison. I have no room to complain. I don’t have to hold the hands of the dying or run through a burning building. I simply get to mark down the stories of those who do. They are the men and women who live through real life danger… they are (the often unsung) everyday heroes.
I tip my hat to those who serve. Thank you.
March 9, 2016
The other day I sat down and wrote the best little blog about how writing is just like renovating a house… and I promptly lost it.
I keep asking myself how… How could I do something so dumb?
I write for a living. How can I, a person who lives in neatly categorized files and spreadsheets, lose something I spent hours conceptualizing, writing, and editing?
The answer is simple. I’m losing my mind.
Instead of trying to recreate what I doubt was a masterpiece rich in allegorical wealth, I am going to give you a quick snippet into the how and why I lost my stuff.[image error]
The truth is, I’m elbows deep in renovating my house. (Like the prison bars?)
Last summer, my husband convinced me that we should move into a house with a shop (that included a car lift… We bought a house because of a car lift… *Shaking head* I am still confused at how he convinced me this was a good idea).
He’ll be the first to admit the house needed entirely too much work for our own good (but, on a side note, our kids are learning how to remove trim and spackle). Or, maybe it is for our own good—we have come together as a family through this journey. We regularly have painting dance parties–last night it was to the song “Get Low.” Regardless, when I’m not writing, I’m renovating… and sometimes one thing just bleeds into the other. Things aren’t saved (like blog posts) and paint makes its way onto things (my computer has a nice new speckled pattern).[image error]For your viewing pleasure, here’s another pre-reno picture of our house so you can see it in its full glory. This puppy hasn’t been touched since 1979.
I wish I could kid around about loving the orange carpet, but I hate it so much that even the thought of saying I love it makes me want to rip it out. It’s end is near, my friends, its end is near…
[image error]On a positive note, the orange-beast carpet does work well for a painting drop cloth. So far we’ve gone through twenty-five gallons of paint. I’m not kidding. Twenty-five. And I’m not done.
I went out of my house this week for McDonalds, while there I had a conversation with one of my friends about how my nails are whatever color I’m painting in my house. I love getting my nails done, but I am living in a reality in which that kind of frivolity would last about ten minutes. I long for the days in which my fingernails were a nice pink color, or better yet, red… I love red.
The only place that isn’t covered with paint are my fingertips… I have been rubbing that paint off thanks to the hours I’ve been spending on the keyboard working on the books—but that’s another blog post (needless to say, I’m LOVING the upcoming releases).
Okay, I’m rambling. See what I mean? I’m so losing it. I feel like the dog from Up when it sees the squirrel. My mind is awash with long to-do lists and the desire to be done with all things orange and smothered in paint.
So… What do you recommend I do to come back to center (i.e. my spreadsheets and calendars)? What about you? What do you do when life is pulling you in a million directions? What do you do to escape? I can’t wait to hear!!
**Oh, don’t forget to stop by my contest page… There’s always something fun happening there! [image error]
December 14, 2015
Thank you for another wonderful year. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season, spent with the people you love and cherish and may you receive the gift of a wonderful book!
I know I’ve said it before, but thank you for all of your ongoing love and support. You are the reason I write.
May you be blessed this season and in the year to come!
November 12, 2015
Exciting things are on the horizon and this is your chance to be involved.
You may already know, but earlier this year I signed a three book contract with Harlequin Intrigue. (So cool, right?!) This awesome sauce would not have been possible without the support of you, my fans! After wracking my brain to find a way to thank you for all of your support and kind words, I decided to give back in a way that would give you the chance for your vote to be counted, and your voice to make it onto the page.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m super stinkin’ excited about this, and I hope you are too.
So, here’s the deal. Over the last few weeks I’ve been hitting my Facebook fan page and asking you guys to come up with the next heroine’s name (for book 3 in the Montana Heroes Series). I have picked the top names and now it’s your chance to pick the final name! Pretty cool, huh?
So, here’s your chance to make your mark in the world of romantic literature! Feel free to cast your vote!
Loading…*If you are having trouble seeing the form you can click on the link to the Google form and submit your vote : http://goo.gl/forms/Nv9TBJUxos
A Little Extra Awesomeness
The first book in the Montana Heroes Series, Smoke and Ashes, is already available for pre-order on Amazon (to be released May 2016). Don’t forget to snag your copy!
Also, for those of you who will be attending the RT Convention in Las Vegas in 2016, I will be there and will be signing books. Hope to meet you there!
July 14, 2015
I hope you are off to a great summer! Here in Montana, the heat is climbing and breaking long-standing records. I hope wherever you are, you have air conditioning and a steady supply of Mai Tais (or at least a cabana boy named Sven to bring you a cold drink)!
I find myself stuck inside and dreaming of cooler days and maybe a few hotter nights… (With said cabana boy, maybe?) To help you get through these hot days, I have worked together with my publisher to offer a once in a lifetime sale! Together, we have put ALL of my Nymph Series novels into one HOT collection, for one COOL price of only $0.76 for Kindle (or $0.99 for Nook)!!!
That’s so awesome, I’m beading up with excitement! Holy buckets, Sven, bring me a towel![image error]
OMG, can someone say #HottieMcButterpants!
If you are interested, you can also find The Nymph’s Curse in the following locations:
And all other major retailers
Hope you have a great summer and may you have many hot nights while reading The Nymph’s Curse collection!
July 1, 2015
[image error]I’m so excited, I can barely contain myself. The time has come, the ink is dry, and I can finally share my secret. I’m proud to announce that I have signed a three book deal with Harlequin Intrigue!
The first book will hit major book distributors in both mass market paperback and e-book, May 2016.
This is a wonderful day in my writing career, one that I have been dreaming of since I first picked up the pen (or rather, the new laptop) some years back. Writing has always been a labor of love for me. Anyone who has met me, or seen me speak at a public event, has probably laid witness to the passion in which I carry for this sometimes daunting, and sometimes joyous, profession.
There have been days in which I have laid on the floor in a heap of messy ugly tears just hoping and praying that someday something resembling this would come. It is beyond my wildest dreams that it has finally arrived.
That being said, this day would have never arrived if it hadn’t been for the wonderful support and love that I have received. With every book and every story, I have received kind words, letters, and notes from fans at home and across the world. Many of my biggest fans have even played major parts in shaping my books and the character’s lives within their pages.
To my wonderful fans, I’m humbled by your generosity of spirit. So, though this simply cannot be expressed adequately through a few simple words… Thank you. And please know, I write to bring you the happiness that you have brought me.
February 13, 2015
[image error]I would love to send you flowers and chocolate, but that would be an impossible challenge; so instead, as a gift to you, I have lowered the price of the first four books of the Nymph Series to $1.99 for Valentine’s Day: The Nymph’s Labyrinth (also available for a limited time in a $.77 bundle), Montana Mustangs, Winter Swans, and Savannah Sacrifice.
In addition, I’m excited to announce that the fifth and final book in the series will be released Fall 2015!! So, this is a great chance to read and enjoy the series just in time for the final book’s arrival.
As always, thank you for loving my books!
Happy Valentine’s Day,
February 6, 2015
I am often asked what is like to write a novel. On this journey of the mind and soul, I have learned a variety of often painful and sometimes pleasant lessons. So I decided to share a few of my gems in case you are tempted to think about writing a book or if you are just an author looking for a little laughter!
If you are stuck and can’t decide what to write, drink anything highly caffeinated—don’t worry about the pain in your chest after your fifth espresso, that’s just ideas being born.
Ergonomics is for wimps. If your neck, back, wrists, and eyes don’t hurt after a long day of writing, you are doing it wrong.
Coffee shops are your mecca. Once you accept that you are the stereotype of a writer, you can make great use of any place that has quirky people and uppers floating in the air.
Not talking about your story until it is complete is impossible. It’s like talking about your children, sometimes you just have to share. Your friends are just going to have to accept that your life revolves around little souls and souls that exist nowhere else but in your mind (don’t worry when they call you a border-line schizophrenic, take it like a compliment).
In your marriage, killing a character is an acceptable rule for being in a bad mood; unless it is an antagonist, which is reason for jumping around the house like a mad woman/man.
Sickness will come to the household whenever you are nearing the end of a book deadline. Make sure to get your work done early because nothing promotes a peaceful and harmonious writing environment like the soft scents of Lysol and a child’s feverish face.
Putting your kids to bed early because you have a revelation about your current WIP is not only acceptable but almost required as there is nothing worse than forgetting/not utilizing the muse.
Ideas only come after all of your pens are lined North to South and your chair is tilted in an exact 10 degree angle from your computer screen (or when you are trying to go to sleep and have somewhere to be early the next morning).
It’s normal when you are having a conversation with one of the few friends you have left (after months of being in your writing cave) that everything they say relates to something that you have written. In fact, if this is a true friend, they will love you more for it (even if they are rolling their eyes).
Every character in your book is based on someone you know. We are creatures of habit, why create a character when you have a well-known acquaintance that (not so secretly) loves to dress in drag and only eats yellow food on Wednesdays? HELLO, character quirks!
What about you? What gems have you learned along your journey?
*Danica’s next novel, The Curse of Zeus, Book 5 of the Nymph Series will be out Fall 2015!