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Danielle Haas

Mother of two, Writer of romance novels, Lover of wine

Month

December 2016

To Blessed To Be Stressed

Today has not gone exactly the way I planned. I woke up and helped my husband get the house ready for company, and then I planned on taking my daughter shopping. I wanted to get home with enough time to make sure the house was in order, get a little work done, and possibly relax a bit before the crazy New Year’s festivities. You know, the kind were you hang out with your in-laws and watch football. Well, I guess if OSU loses, things could get a little nuts in this house.

But, I guess that you can see where this is heading. My plan did not work out. Well, it did up until the point that Tootsie and I put our treasures from Target in the back of my car, and I closed my trunk before I grabbed my keys. Yep, that’s right, I locked my keys in the car. I have never in my life locked my keys in my car! I called my husband, but you see he was home with our sleeping little Spud Muffin. And even if Spud was awake, my husband had no car seat with him to bring Spud to Target with my keys. Tootsie immediately freaked out, tears gathered in her eyes, and she of course assumed we were, “Never going to be able to go home, ever!”

Really 2016? This is how we’re going to go out? You’re going to leave me stranded at Target with my dramatic four-year-old who thinks we never again see her beloved home. I took a breath, forced a smile, and told her I’d buy her cake pop. Magically, the tears disappeared. We walked back in to wait for back-up, and I promptly bought a cake pop, one juice, and one very large coffee. We sat down and waited. And as we waited, I looked at my daughter and realized how incredibly blessed I am. As I was told recently, I’m too blessed to be stressed (Shout-out to Lauren here!) I had been given a rare opportunity to  sit down with my daughter and just enjoy her company. I had no where to go, no work to be done, and my phone was pretty much dead. We sat and we talked and we laughed.

I thought back on where 2016 had led me, and I realized that this has happened a lot. I’ve had plans that haven’t worked out, and the disappointment and rejection  has led me to some amazing places. I planned on starting a new hobby and 2016 saw me completing my fist manuscript. I didn’t get an agent after months of submissions, and my eagerness to learn led me to RWA and NEORWA, which has shown me new friendships and a support system full of fellow writers I never knew existed. I didn’t get into PitchWars, who cares! Instead I found an amazing critique partner who has to be better than any mentor I could have ever imagined, and has become one of my closest friends. I didn’t get a contract from a publisher, but I ended up receiving the most amazing feedback that not only improved my first manuscript, but my second one as well. And I still have another opportunity to impress the editor and hopefully get published in 2017.

So, when I look back over the last  year, it’s amazing to see how bad I am at making plans. Okay, so that might not be exactly true. But I have learned that it’s true what they say, when one door closes another one opens. Or, as I personally believe, God has a plan and all I have to do is put in the work and follow the path He has opened for me. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in 2017!

Happy New Year everyone!!

 

 

 

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The Greatest Gift

Once again the holiday season is upon us. I must admit, whenever Christmas starts showing it’s shiny, white head I get as giddy as my two-year-old when he sees Thomas the Train. I just love it, love everything about it! I always have, and I’m pretty sure I always will. I have about a dozen movies that are brought out and dusted off every year, and I’m the annoying person who wants to put up the tree and decorations long before Thanksgiving. I love how the snow is still magical and everyone seems a little bit nicer. Now that I have kids, Christmas is even more amazing. There are even more movies to be watched and traditions to be started. One of the best ones we’ve started is every year on Christmas Eve, we bake a birthday cake together. It’s so easy for the kids to be sucked up into the presents and looking forward to  Christmas for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, presents are awesome. But, so is cake. And if you want two small children to pay attention to something other than presents, putting a homemade cake (ok, so it’s from a box) in front of their cute little faces is a pretty good way to do it. We sit around the table, lights blazing on top of the cake, and sing happy birthday to Jesus. It’s a wonderful time together, and that’s what Christmas is all about.

Even though the cake is delicious and our traditions are plentiful, presents are what my kids can’t stop talking about. Seriously, if I have to hear, “Mommy, look at that. I want that for Christmas!” one more time I just might scream. Every commercial, every toy in the toy aisle, every playdate…these are the words that pour out of my daughter’s mouth. It’s getting old. We’re trying to explain to her that the best gifts aren’t the ones that you get at the store. They are thoughtful gifts that money doesn’t necessarily buy. My mom gave me one of these gifts over the weekend. My mom has read all three books that I have written (ask and I’m sure she will tell you how great they all are, ha!)  Unbeknownst to me, she printed off several pages from each manuscript and used the pages to make beautiful, homemade ornaments. I was floored! These ornaments will hang on my tree for years to come, and they will always remind of me of how I got started writing romance novels. These three manuscripts will always hold a special place in my heart, and now on my tree as well. She went a step further and made a homemade doll house out of an old dresser for Tootsie. She was a living example to my kids of how using your heart rather than your wallet is the best way to show people how much you love them.

Tootsie must have been taking notes. She has been talking non stop about what gifts she can give to her friends. She can make a finger painting for our neighbor lady, she can give her best friend one of her teacups for her to use with her baby doll, and she wants to write a book for her mommy. I don’t think my heart could have possibly gotten any fuller when she told me this. One of the hardest parts of writing for me hasn’t been making sure my word count is high enough or my plot moves along seamlessly. It has been getting past the mommy guilt that rears its ugly head every time I sit at my computer while my daughter is left to her own devices. Writing has affected my life greatly, and in extremely positive ways, but it’s also affected hers. Before I had my son (and started writing) my days were dedicated to her and only her. Now, please understand that she’s an extremely independent child who likes to have her own space and time, so this didn’t mean I was glued to her side all day every day. It did mean that we had a ton of one-on-one time filled with fun activities. Then came baby brother. We both had to navigate the murky waters of learning to go from a one child household, to one with two kids. She’s been amazing with her brother from day one, and I have made sure to dedicate nap times to giving her that special mommy/daughter time we both needed.

Enter writing. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Words just poured out of me when I sat down at my computer, and I craved the time to sit and write. Now, with two small kids time is very limited for a mom to do mom things. This time was, and still is, carved out during my sons nap time and when the kids go to bed. Good for Spud and Mom, not so much for Tootsie. I’ve struggled to find a good balance between giving her the time she needs and giving myself the time  I need. I know this isn’t a new struggle for a mom to have, but it’s been a new one for me. And I’ve feared that it’s been a struggle I’ve been failing. So when Tootsie told me she wanted to write me a book, the guilt I constantly carry with me melted away a bit. It melted even more when she sat down with a blank piece of paper and drew an amazing picture and told her dad what she wanted her book to say. When she said she wanted to learn to write so she can write her own words, I almost cried. When she said she wanted to be a writer when she grows up like mommy, I did cry. To be fair, in the same sentence she said she also wanted to be a teacher, a ballerina, and a nail designer. What can I say, the girls got gumption.

So, it turns out that my teeny, tiny little girl may want us to buy her every toy ever created for Christmas, but she also knows exactly what giving a gift that truly matters really means. It means she uses her heart to figure out what would mean the most to the people she loves in this world. It means giving selflessly of your time, and your things, for the benefit of others. Sure, she might be getting too many presents this year, but I’d like to think I’ve given her something special this year as well. Something that she will carry with her for years to come and always remember. I hope I’ve shown her it’s important to make sure she tries her hardest to do her best for the people she loves, even if she thinks she’s failing. I hope I’ve given her the knowledge that it’s always important to be true to herself and the talents God gave her. Even if that means she’s teaching writing while dancing ballet with her pretty nails.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Milestones and Margaritas

Today marks a huge milestone in my professional life. I was asked to give my very first interview as an author. I was nervous, I was convinced I would have nothing worthwhile to say, and when the time came I nailed it.

At least I’m sure that’s what all the kids will tell their parents when they go home from school today.

You see, my friend asked me to talk to her fourth grade class about my writing and my journey to publication. She said her class was really excited to talk to a real author. I wasn’t sure how to respond. What in the world would I have to say to a bunch of nine-year-olds? I haven’t accomplished anything worth talking about. I have no wisdom to impart on the youth of America. These kids were going to be extremely disappointed when they come to class and have me waiting to answer their questions.

But, one of my best friends had asked me to do her a favor and, I have to admit, my feathers were preening a little at being referred to as a real author. So, I agreed. We set up a time, I got a sitter for my kids, and I waited for her call. (She lives in sunny Southern California, I’m currently freezing my butt off in Ohio.)

And do you know what? It was one of the sweetest, cutest things I’ve been a part of. I sat in the comfort of my own kitchen (kid free to boot) and watched as kid after kid walked up to the screen and asked me a question. I saw silliness, nervousness, and excitement over reading their questions off their sheets and getting a chance to talk to me. And the best part, I was actually able to answer all of their questions. I have come a hell of a long way from where I started and I’ve learned a ridiculous amount. I might not be the most accomplish author they could have interviewed (ok, so I’ve never even been published), but they could have cared less. I was still able to share my story, impart just a wee bit of knowledge , and hopefully show at least one kid today that if you work hard and follow your dreams, it can lead you some place really special.

My big important first author interview might not seem like the biggest feather to place in your cap. But for me, it was a milestone worth celebrating. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year and a half, it’s that you need to celebrate even the tiniest of victories. So tonight, when the kids are snuggled in their beds, this book writing, interview giving, mama of two is going to settle back and toast those pint sized little boogers in California who helped show me that I do in fact know my shit. Margaritas on the rocks for everyone. (Ok, so it will probably just be drinking one, but I’m completely alright with that.)

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