Smoke and Ashes Launch & Benefit Raffle

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.YWCA-Transparent-Logo

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.

Smoke and Ashes_thumbnailSmoke 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/

 

Our Boys in Blue (and Bunker Boots)

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. arcs

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.

Frenchtown Fire Department

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.

DIY and Losing Your Mind

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.Reno 2
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).Sorrel Springs_Pre Reno 1For 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…

end is neearOn 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! 🙂

Top Ten Truths About Being an Author

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!

coffeeshaking

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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).
  10. 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!