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Danielle Haas

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

Category

parenthood

New Beginnings

Spring is finally in the air here in NE Ohio. Well…kind of. The sun is out at least.  We have had nothing but cold and rain for the last week. It’s still pretty cold out, but sitting at my dining room table and seeing the sunshine pour through the winow, I’m pretending it’s warm outside. It’s a beautiful, Spring day! And beautiful Spring days just scream new beginnngs.  That seems to be a theme for me this weekend.

Another thing that screams new beginnings…literally sreams… is a brand-new baby. Yesterday we welcomed my perfect, little nephew ino the world. Mr. Lewis is a blond bundle of cuteness. He’s the perfect size for cuddling, and the best part is that once I’m done cuddling him, I can give him back to his mother. Tootsie and Spud might be past that tiny baby, cuddle all the time phase, but they usually sleep through the night at this point and I have no desire to go back to that stage. Hopefully Lewis will be a considerate little booger and sleep like a champ from the beginning! And if he’s a handful, well then Aunt Danielle can swoop in and hold him (during the day of course) while mama gets some rest.

The other new thing in my life these days is my WIP. I finished book #3 in my series a couple of weeks ago, and couldn’t wait to dive right into something new. I already had the major plot points of the book worked out, and had written out some charcter sketches for my main characters. I knew exactly how I wanted the book to start, and when I sat down to write the first chapter it just poured out. My heart pounded with excitment as I sent it to my trusty CP to see what she thought. She LOVED it! And she agreed with me, this feels so diffren from what I’ve done and it could really be something special.

The only problm is, it’s REALLY new and different. I mean, my last series took place in a small NW Ohio town loosely based off my hometown. The jobs and social habits of the characters were all familar to me. I knew the setting like the back of my hand. I had to look little things up here and there, but not much research had to be done to give the books the feel I was aiming for. My WIP, on the other hand, isn’t straight contemporary romance. It has a lot of suspensful elements to it, but I don’t know if there are enough elements to label it strictly romantic suspense. Is that okay? Can I have a contemporary romance with suspensful elements, or do I need to twist the plot and beef up the suspense?

My WIP is also set in Chicago. I wanted to step away from the familiar and write something completely different. That meant leavig the small town setting. I’ve been to Chicago several times and love it, but it’s not the most familiar place in the world to me. I’m looking up cab fare and romantic restuarants and different areas of the city. Luckily my cousin lives there, and if I can’t convince my husband to take a trip or two to the windy city, at least I can hassle her into answering my questions. I just hope I’m able to paint the scene well enough to give the reader an accurate vision.

As exciting as new beginnings are, they are often scary too. There’s a lot of sceond guessing and wondering if you’re heading in the right direction. I’m just taking comfort in the fact that figuing out where to go with my WIP isn’t nearly as scary as bringing home a new baby. But just like baby Lewis is in great hands with his loving parents, I know my WIP is in good hands with me. I will figure out all my questions as I go along, and in the end, the right stoy will be told. It just might take me a little longer to get there.

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Lessons In Time

Today is finally Friday, and I’m so excited for the weekend. All weekends are highly anticipated, but this weekend is a little more special than most. This weekend is my sister-in-laws baby shower, and I can’t wait to celebrate my newest little nephew! I already have two handsome nephews and one gorgeous niece, and being an aunt is one of the best things. I get to love and spoil these little peanuts, but I’m not in charge of daily discipline and making sure they don’t turn into assholes one day. And with my little love bug Marvin, I’m not in charge of nightly feedings and explosive diapers. Thank God I’m pretty much past that stage with my kiddos. But there’s just something so amazing about preparing to welcome a new addition to the family, and we cant’ wait for baby Lewis to make his debut in a couple of months.

Tootsie is just as excited, the girl loves babies! We are going to have a small girls outing later today , and head out to the mecca of baby world to pick up some essentials for the baby and parent’s to be. I pulled up their registry earlier, and it all came flooding back to me. All the crap you need to have a baby. And more importantly, all the crap you don’t need to a have a baby. I remember standing in Babies R Us with the fun little registry gun, feeling like a kid in a candy store, while my husband was completely overwhelmed by everything that store told us we just had to have. It was a lot! And being first time parents, we had to have it all! We were there forever, the gun beeping away while we added item after item after item to our ever expanding list. I think my husband was sweating by the time we left. We were lucky enough to get almost everything on that list, and then we laughed when we didn’t end up needing half of it. So much preparation, so much anticipation of what we would need, and so much wasted on a baby who hated being a swing and never wanted to be in a stupid bumbo seat.

This week on Facebook, a memory popped up (I just love those memories!) showing how one year ago I was declaring to the world how I was finally ready to start looking for an agent. Posted was a picture of my yellow legal pad, and all the names and notes I had searched long hours for. I couldn’t help but think back to how I was feeling at that time, and all the hard work that went into preparing my agent list. And again, I was forced to laugh at all the preparation and all the anticipation…and how much time I wasted on things I didn’t need. I remember looking up hundreds of agents in a copy of Publisher’s Marketplace and not knowing the different between upmarket fiction and women’s lit. My book was fiction and meant for women, so why not send a query? And the query letter I wrote, oh boy! But I’d read countless books and articles that gave specific instruction as to how to write one…it had to be good, right? The pile of rejection letters I got would say otherwise!

Both parenting and trying to break into the publishing world have both shown me that time and experience are the most important tools that I need. A baby book might tell me the best way to clean out my kids snotty nose, but nothing but experience could teach me how to hold Spuds arms between my legs while I shoved a little rubber aspirator up his nose and sucked out his snot. And just like writing a query letter and getting published, books could only explain so much. I needed practice and the help of others to show me a better way to do things.

It’s funny to look back on where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come. I’m not published yet, but I’m getting closer. I have an agent, and I have interest in my MS from a couple of publishers. And even if those fall through, there are still countless opportunities out there waiting for me. I attended my NEORWA meeting last weekend, and this same feeling of satisfaction…of knowing how far I’ve come…washed over me. I wasn’t a quivering ball of nerves when I stepped into the room, and I didn’t sit quietly by myself and wait for the meeting to start. I talked to other writers about their work and about their lives, and I told them where I am as well. In our small group, I volunteered to go over the scene in my WIP, and then preceded to answer questions about how I’ve gotten to the point in my writing I currently am. It felt good to know that I can now offer a few words of encouragement to others who are sitting where I was a year ago. And it felt even better to know there were so many women in my group who have gone much farther than I have, who are willing to offer me support and encouragement.

So a year has gone by since I sent out those first query letters, and I’m happy with where I am. Beyond happy! I’m thrilled! Time seems to go by so slowly until we realize who quickly it’s really gone, and we think we need to have everything figured out before we take that first step. But it simply isn’t possible. We never know where one step, and then the other, will lead us. We can only prepare the best we can, and then look back and laugh at how little we really knew. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that time and experience will always hand us our most important lessons.

 

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