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Danielle Donaldson blogs here. What I'm reading now. What I'm writing now. My various thoughts about romance novels, publishing and writing at large and the sexy stuff that comes to mind! 

Beyond The Friend Zone - Story Spotlight!!!

Danielle Donaldson

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 "A Weekend at the Lake" by A.E. Snow

 

Meet the Story:

Alison lives in a tiny apartment in New York with her roommate, a reality tv junkie. As a writer and freelance juggling projects, she’s pushed her novel aside to do work that actually pays and she’s stuck in a rut. When she gets an invitation to a weekend-long birthday bash for a college buddy, she accepts, hoping a few days at beautiful Lake Tahoe will inspire her. But instead of being inspired, she just feels like a failure, being surrounded by her friends whose lives seem so perfect. She begins to wonder where she went wrong with her life, but could Daniel, an old friend, help her see that the key to her success has been in her all along.

Meet the Author:

A.E. Snow writes MG, YA, and the occasional essay. She’s a Potterhead (Ravenclaw) and spends too much time reading about Duchess Kate. She loves all shades of blue and doesn't go anywhere without her kindle. Nowhere. Sometimes she takes a book too.

Catch her online!

http://aesnowauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/aesnowauthor/

https://twitter.com/aesnowauthor 

 BEYOND THE FRIEND ZONE is available on Amazon! 

5 Reasons Why Being Married Young is Great

Danielle Donaldson

 

This past weekend we were on a rare kid-free weekend away. We sat to have brunch in a relatively quiet restaurant with not a kid in sight. We people watched and drank hot coffee. While basking in the rare glory, I watched a table of young women (late twenties/early thirties) beside us. They were celebrating a friend's new engagement. They all looked hip and fresh faced. Their nails were neatly polished and they all seemed like they were sleeping for a solid six hours every night. For a moment, I wondered what their lives must be like. They were just getting engaged, many sported bright diamonds on their left hands. Some were talking about promotions and new apartments and considering adopting a puppy but fearful about the responsibility. For a moment, I wondered what I would do if my life looked like theirs. I wondered if I would be happy. Would I have a career? Would I look like I walked out of a J.Crew catalog? Would I spend my money on farmer's market bouquets and bi-monthly blow outs? To be fair, my life will never looked like theirs and I'm happy that it won't. 

My husband and I met when we were 15 years old. Spanish class. He was a Sophomore. I was a Junior. It was like something out of a YA novel. Things weren't easy. There were a few rough months of a "break" when I went to college, but we hung tough. We made it through high school, my undergrad years, his years of military service to today.

We had our first date in December 2004 (My age: 16. His age: 15). We got married in July 2008 (Both 19). We had our first son in August 2012 (Both 23). And our second in January 2016 (Both 27).

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We are "young" parents. We are "young" married people. Most of our parent friends are ten or fifteen years older than us. When we celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary, we will only be 39 years old. We were are 32, we will have been dating for more than half our lives.  

Here's a note: Marriage is not for everyone. I frequently encourage my friends to take their time. There is no hurry. I have been known to yell "Don't do it!"  At passing groups of bachelorette parties. There are valid and valuable relationships beyond heterosexual monogamous marriages. This is just our story and what works for us. 

Here are some great things about being married young. 

1) We Grew Together

People are growing and changing every day. We did that side-by-side. Those awkward haircuts (him), those years of experimenting with blue eyeshadow (me), the growing pains of learning how to budget or pay bills or grocery shop or cook meatloaf, we've done it all together. We've learned how to draw boundaries and ask for what we need and take care of ourselves together. We've been each other's benchmarks and cheerleaders and teammates. 

2) Safe Place to Land

Inevitably, life knocks you on your ass. You bounce a check. You forget to turn off the car lights and kill the battery. You burn the turkey. You get fired. There's car accidents and broken legs and loss of family members and miscarriages and falling on your face. But, we have each other. We are a team, partners in life. When crappy things happen, we can cling to each other, talk it out and make a plan while holding hands. I know that he is in my corner and I am always in his. That safe place to land makes us more likely to take measured risks and we know that, at the end of the day, someone will still love us and cheer for us. 

3) My Golden Years Will be So Kickass

When my oldest child is 18, I will be 41. (Right? I don't know. Math is hard.) Doesn't matter. I'll still have plenty of good years ahead of me. We can send our kids into the world and take Caribbean cruises and enjoy the empty nest while we still have the energy to make the most of it. I joke that 35 will be a killer year for me. I'll finally figure out my personal style and I'll be done with having kids so my body will no longer be wrecked by child bearing and breastfeeding. Our kids will be old enough to babysit our friend's kids. When our friends are wiping asses and vetting babysitters, we will be like "Peace losers! We're going to the movies!"  

4) There's No Secrets  

I don't have to explain to him why I hate Burger King with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. He remembers the time I got food poisoning. He doesn't have to explain his affinity for whiskey because I was there the first time he tried it. We were both there at high school graduations and that amazing pub in San Diego and the first snow in Northern Virginia. We have a long line of shared history. We understand the deeper workings of each others' minds because we were there as they were formed. The scattered history of our family trees, the strained tension or dramas or good times were experienced by the both of us. Much can go unspoken between us. He gets me. I get him. 

5) Best Friends Forever  

I'm not disillusioned. Life isn't perfect. Relationships are work, but I'm happy to say that we have more fun than work. We genuinely enjoy each other. I confide in him. He leans on me. He knows exactly how to make me laugh and I know exactly how to make his eyes roll. Love is wanting the other person to be happy. We truly want that for each other. At the end of the day, my happiness comes from his and vice versa. I am lucky to have him and I hope he is lucky to have me. 

Nothing is perfect. I have seen a lot of things recently that discourage young people from entering long term relationships so I wanted to show the other side of it. 

Being Busy and Creativity

Danielle Donaldson

I've been busy. My older son's 4th birthday was this past week and so I've been running around trying to make sure he had a memorable birthday on top of all the normal madness including my son having a huge reaction to a bug bite on his forehead, him having a fever and describing a headache as his brain feeling "wobbly," and the normal everyday home stuff that needs to be completed. Because my energies and attention was drawn in a million other directions, I wasn't able to focus on my writing as much as I wanted to. That doesn't mean that I wasn't thinking about my stories, but it means that I was tapped out and I couldn't be creative. 

 

I am a big believer in the idea that you only have so much space in your life. I don't mean it in the way that you have a overflowing closet and should probably stop stalking the clearance section in Target's Women's clothing kind of way. Okay, imagine that you have a series of buckets. Each bucket can only hold so much stuff. Each bucket has a label: Emotional energy, brain space, physical energy, creativity, family, self, etc. They are fuel markers. You can take brain space fuel and pour it into your creativity bucket, but then you have less brain space fuel for emotional care or family time or physical energy. Life is about finding the balance everyday of where you "spend" your fuel. 

 

Last week, most of my fuel went into the family and life buckets. That's fine. My creativity bucket is still hanging around, ready for its turn. I hope this week can be a creativity week. Most importantly, I'm not going to hypothetically beat myself up about my lack of creative output last week. I'm going to accept my limitations and move forward. Maybe this is a sign of growing up. 

 

Reading List: Did Not Finish (Why I Would Mark a Book DNF)

Danielle Donaldson

Recently, I was reading a hot erotica paperback that I picked up at The Ripped Bodice, a bookstore dedicated to romance and erotica titles. The writing was great. The sex scenes were hot. I was invested in the characters, but as the timeline flashed forward and readers were filled in with what had happened to the characters in the years since we last saw them.  

Like a great writer, the author didn't give the readers an info dump on what had happened in those 10 years. Instead, she was feeding us cookie crumbs of information. From the first little bit, I had an uneasy feeling. She mentioned that the character had nursed a baby, but there was no baby in the story yet. That was around page 20. Around page 35, we learn that she has bullet wound scars. Oh, no. That doesn't bode well. Around page 45, we found out that the female main character had panic attacks and four locks on her door. Okay.... Around page 50, I had to put the book down. I realized that the heroine had lost a very young child or baby in some sort of gun fight/crossfire situation. 

I couldn't do it. No fault to the author. It was all on my emotional mentality. I'm not in a good headspace to handle reading something like that at the moment. My anxiety is too great.   

It's Me, Not You

It's okay to break up with books that you aren't feeling. Maybe you don't connect with the characters, maybe the word choice is driving you bonkers, maybe the subject hits too close to home. It's okay to stop watching tv shows that are boring to you. (I'm look at you Fear the Walking Dead.) It's fine to donate clothes that no longer suit your style. Stop eating food that makes you feel crappy or tastes bad. Stop listening to music that you don't actually like just because an old boyfriend tried to convince you that the Violent Femmes were, like, the best band ever. You don't owe anything to anyone. 

Maybe I'll pick this book up again. Maybe I won't. It won't stop me from reading. It might not even stop me from reading something by this author again. But, I am not obligated to finish something that doesn't serve me.  

Know Your Why

If you stop doing something, it's always healthy to know why. As a writer, it is important to me to know why I stopped reading a book or why it feels like such a burden to bear when I should be excited and entertained by a book. It informs my own work. If I am bored as a reader, chances are that if I do something similar to my readers, they will also be bored. 

Know why you're doing something. If you are finding yourself grinding your jaw and powering through something (ahem. Season 7 of Gilmore Girls), you should also know why you can't give it up. I find that I keep hoping that something will turn a corner. That it will finally get better. But, most of the time, ain't nobody got time for that.  

 

We Can Do Better

I find myself coming back to this thought since I put down that book. As writer, as story creators, we can do better than to give our heroines an overused, lame storyline. We can do better than to rest on the violence against women trope to give our characters conflict (I'm calling you out: Outlander the TV series). As women, we have more internal conflicts than child loss/miscarriage, sexual assault, abuse in relationships, or infertility. Black Widow is rich and dynamic character. We don't really care about the active state of her uterus and she didn't seem to either until that disaster of a movie. 

Yes, those issues are intense and demand a lot out of a person. But, we lean on them too hard. Women have other issues. People have other issues and conflict and desires. Let's look at those. Let's tell those stories. The story of the accidental mother who regrets having children would be a harder story to tell. The story of abusive (but not abused) female is harder to tell. The story of the sociopathic female is harder to tell. The story of the career driven, child free by choice, female is harder to tell. The asexual or transgender or pan sexual or gender fluid or.... Those stories are harder to tell and can be rich and dynamic in their own right. 

I know that I'm going to challenge myself to write better stories, to read better stories. We should expect more.  

 

What is something that you have started but never finished? Why? Let me know in the comments.  

Cover Reveal! Writing Wenches Anthology

Danielle Donaldson

 Cover Reveal! The cover for the upcoming Writing Wenches anthology which will be featuring my novella, "Just Like You" is slowly being undressed on all of the featured authors blogs! 

Cover Reveal! The cover for the upcoming Writing Wenches anthology which will be featuring my novella, "Just Like You" is slowly being undressed on all of the featured authors blogs! 

My novella, "Just Like You," will be included in the upcoming Writing Wenches anthology later this summer. Follow the trail to see the entire cover revealed!  

The next part of the cover will be revealed at Suzie Jay's blog. Check it out! 

To see the final reveal, pop on over to the Writing Wenches blog at 5pm EST! 

Available for pre-order here!