Author Archives: danielledreger

About danielledreger

reach me on twitter: danielledregerb or at danielle (dot) r (dot) dreger at gmail (dot) com

Giveaways!

June is Pride Month and to celebrate it I am donating all sales of SECRET HEART to GLSEN because I am passionate about teens finding a safe space in schools. After June I’ll continue to donate part my sales to GLSEN as I have been since it was published last October. Over twenty years ago when I was in high school (yes, I’m old), my school didn’t have a Gay-Straight Alliance like Lion Pride. Had we had a club or alliance like that, my best friend and I might have felt more comfortable being ourselves because were with peers who understood us.

I’m also giving away copies of SECRET HEART as well! You could win one of three digital copies from Amazon now through June 30th. Also, from June 29th through July 10th I’m giving away two print copies of SECRET HEART on Goodreads.

And a plug (and plea) about leaving reviews on websites. It’s vital for any author’s success (not just mine) to have their book thoughtfully reviewed on websites like Goodreads and Amazon or even though your local library. If you love (or loathed) something, don’t hesitate to speak out about it. Your review might inspire someone else to try a new author (and yes, even thoughtful negative reviews help authors find new readers).

Happy Pride, y’all!

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Writing workouts (with a reading list)

It’s no secret that flash fiction is my first love. I stumbled on crafting short stories as a child and then later in college in two separate short story seminars, but it was always just a flirtation. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s and living alone in Boston (working two jobs and perpetually broke) that I took a class in flash fiction at a local night school. The instructor once had her flash pieces framed and shown in a local tea shop in Harvard Square (still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen as a writer) and challenged us to crate a new story each week which we would then workshop. After that course, life got in the way of writing. I started a new job. I moved to a new apartment. My boyfriend became my fiancé and then my husband. I moved cross country. I started writing novels.

But short stories continued to haunt me. Collections of short stories are my (reading) drug of choice. Elizabeth Crane, Lorie Moore, Simon Rich, and Aimee Bender all inspired me to find my voice and to take risks and try writing my own.

Since I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2009, I’ve completed eight novels (most of them trash) and published one. I’ve also written close to 30 short stories in that time frame. Recently, I’ve invested more time and energy to flash fiction, creating a new story  each month. It’s paid off (literally) as I’ve had four pieces published since last summer.

If writing a novel is my marathon (and finishing it is completing 26.2 miles), I look at writing flash fiction as my speed-training workouts before the big race. Some of these short pieces will never see the light of day, but each time I write one, my writing improves.

You’re probably thinking, but you just said some will never see the light of day. Writing flash fiction makes you a concise storyteller. You can’t afford to waste words. The more you write within a limited scope, the more is caries on in your other work (or at least it does in mine).

Writing short stories is hard. It’s just as hard as writing a novel, only your murky middle only lasts a few pages or a few hundred words. You still have to come up with an idea and follow it through. Personally, I love writing prompts. Give me three random suggestions (shampoo, a seminary, and historical fiction) and I’ll create a story about a female pastor in the 70’s looking to find a husband before she is ordained. I love writing contests that challenge me to write within certain parameters. For example, last year Seattle Public Library held a short fiction contest and challenged writers to craft a sci-fi story in the style of Octavia Butler. Sci-fi isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but I gave it a shot. My end result was the opposite of what they were looking for, but I walked away from that contest with a genderqueer sci-fi rom-com that was snatched up by The Dime Show Review. I’d never have tried my hand at sci-fi (or realize that it could be in my wheelhouse) had I not entered the contest. Writing outside of my comfort zone was the workout I needed.

There’s no shortage of contests or places to find prompts. These days I rarely throw my money at paid contests. That said, I do love the two different contests that New York City Midnight offers each year. The flash fiction contest I entered last year gave me three marketable stories, and I’m currently in the second round of the short story contest.

A simple Google search could yield you lists of contests and prompts, but I like the list updated at Aerogramme Writers’ Studio. Curious to try out a contest for free? Paperdarts has a 200-word micro-fiction contest on cleanliness with an April 17th deadline that’s worth a shot.

And if you’re looking to start reading short stories and flash fiction, I recommend:

Self-Help by Loorie Moore

When the Messenger is Hot by Elizabeth Crane

Monica Never Shuts Up by A.S. King

Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

American Housewife by Helen Ellis

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New shorts!

This month I have two new short stories up.

You can read “Bulletproof Breasts” in University of Memphis’s Pinch Journal. I wrote this in a flash fiction class I took in 2005. It sat untouched on a floppy drive for ten years before I rediscovered it. I reworked it and worked at finding it a home. 43 rejections later, the fine editors at Pinch loved the humor and “adopted” it.

“Self-Check” is in the Spring issue of Cleaver Magazine. 

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Flash sale: Secret Heart is only $.99!

I’ve been sick with the plague for a month now, but I’m crawling out of my sick bed to alert you the fantastic news that today only, Secret Heart is $.99! (Or free with Kindle Unlimited), so if you were waiting for it to go on sale, now is the time to snag it. Tomorrow the price hikes up to $1.99, Friday it’ll be $2.99, and on Saturday the Kindle price returns to $3.99.

This is like the literary equivalent of the day after Valentine’s Day candy sale at CVS, only you won’t fall into a sugar coma.

And if you’ve read it, please consider giving it an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, or BN.com! Thank you.

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End of the year recap

2016 wasn’t a total dumpster fire on a floating garbage barge. As the year comes to a close I’m ignoring the shitshow and focusing on the goodness that 2016 brought me like:

  1. Keeping and exceeding my New Year’s Writing Resolutions to a) write 1 short story a month and b) submit at least one short story a week. I new end the year with 12 new shorts. I submitted my stories to over 150 contests/ literary magazines/ journals over the last 52 weeks and as a result:
  2. Publishing two flash fiction pieces in August. “Graylight” appeared in The Dime Show Review and “Agenda” appeared in 200 cc’s. I also placed “Self-Check” in Cleaver, but that won’t appear until March 2017.
  3. Writing nonfiction. My essay “Going the Distance” about running the 2008 Boston Marathon appeared on the November issue of The Creative Truth Journal.
  4. Contributing to the Hand2Hold Organization’s official blog Preemie Babies 101.
  5.  Pitching and selling my first freelance piece in eight years to Mom.me. You can read my micro-preemie piece here. This also led me to recording my first podcast.img_3100
  6. Self-publishing my f/f ya romantic comedy Secret Heart in October. The tragic events of last June hit close to home and inspired me to bring something frothy and fun into the world sooner. Secret Heart has sold more copies than I imagined and the feedback I’m getting from teen readers cemented how happy I am with my choice to self-publish. I even visited my first local GSA meeting in December at Shorecrest High School.
  7. My poem “Postpartum” was a finalist in the PNWA poetry contest and four of my short stories were finalists in various contests.
  8. Finding my voice again and starting two new projects: a middle grade novel and a new YA novel.

I’m really proud of what I accomplished this year. I hope to continue to be as prolific in 2017 as I was in 2016. My goals are much the same as they were, although I’d like to finish both of these projects and get them out into the world.

I have two gifts for you. The first: I’m giving away a total of 10 Kindle copies of Secret Heart via Amazon. The first contest ends tomorrow night (January 1st) so enter quick. The second contest ends Wednesday, January 4th. Yes you can enter and win both.

The second gift is this new song by Regina Spektor.

*waves goodbye to 2016*

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Bad news, good news, and a giveaway.

my-two-babes

Bad News: There’s a glitch on Amazon currently and the paperback edition of SECRET HEART is not available, only the ebook version is. Working with Amazon to fix it.

Good News:

 

 

If you live in Seattle (or know someone who does) you can find the book at Third Place Books, University Bookstore (Mill Creek), Secret Garden Books, and Phinney Books.

Not in Seattle? It is available through Indie Bound. You can also order it directly from Ingram or Create Space. Or shoot me a message at danielle (dot) r (dot) dreger (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll send a copy to you.

More good news:

I’m giving away FIVE copies of the ebook  via Amazon right now.

 

 

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A micro(preemie) post

One of the many hats I wear as a writer is talking about premature babies. This is in part because I am the mom of a ex-27 week micro-preemie. As writers were told to “write what we know,” and I know how hard it is to have a sick baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for months.

I regularly contribute to Preemie Babies 101, the official blog of the Hand to Hold Organization and last week I published an article, “9 Things No One Tells You About Giving Birth to a Micro-Preemie” on mom.me. That article led me to something super cool: my first podcast.

You can now listen to the (slightly awkward) podcast I did with Common Sense Pregnancy and Parenting. I talk about HELLP Syndrome, micro-preemies, and my now rambunctious tiny toddler tornado who can be heard running around the house making as much noise as possible.
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NaNoWriMo Advice

Here we are nearly 1/2 of the way through NaNoWriMo. I’ve given advice in the past and you can read about it here.img_3379

Mostly I just want to cheer you on and say, “Look how awesome you are! You’re writing a book-shaped thing! Keep it up!”

November is an awful month to try and write a book. This month was especially bad. The election was super distracting and for many like myself, it derailed their motivation. I’m currently at 7,411. Ideally we should all be hovering at 15k if we’re writing 1,667 a day. This brings me my first piece of advice:

SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND WRITE

Words don’t count if they aren’t on the page. The only way you’re going to catch up is to put your butt in the chair and go at it. There’s no magic solution. Just start typing or writing.

What works for me might not work for you. I know this draft will be COMPLETE AND UTTER SHIT and I try my damnedest not to self-edit. Characters change names. I change POV and tense. When I get stuck I write dialogue and make my characters talk it out. Or I write kissing scenes. I open windows and doors whenever I can. My current WIP now features a high school radio station, fake Buzzfeed quizes, some Clueless fan-fic, Settlers of Catan and now Scientology. It’s one giant WTF gif. This draft is a SHITSHOW and I love it.

The only other piece of advice I’ll give (Please note I’m a 5x winner of NaNoWriMo so I’m totally qualified to give such advice):

DON’T COMPARE THIS FIRST DRAFT TO THE LAST BOOK YOU READ

There are many drafts between your NaNoWriMo book and what you see in a bookstore. If you do you will become paralyzed with fear and self-doubt and you will never finish your book. Fun fact: My novel Secret Heart was a NaNoWriMo novel. It took almost four years of drafts to get it right. I completely rewrote it from scratch twice. It went through self-edits, beta readers, my agent, publishers (one had me revise and resubmit), more self-edits, and a copy editor before it was published.

STOP OVERTHINKING AND START WRITING. Don’t forget to have fun. Even if you never look at it again you can say you once wrote a novel. If anything it’ll give you bragging writes at boring dinner party.

But seriously, IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT.

You’re amazeballs. I’m proud of you.

*add me as a NaNoWriMo buddy: nanowrimo.org/participants/drdspice

 

 

 

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Saturday Roundup

The next track in the Secret Heart Playlist will be up next Friday.

My essay on running the 2008 Boston Marathon, “Going the Distance,” is now out in The Creative Truth Volume Two. You can download the PDF for free.

nano

It’s day 5 of NaNoWriMo and I’m already ridiculously behind on my new YA rom-com. I’ll have some NaNoWriMo advice next Wednesday as well as an excerpt from my WIP. In the meantime you can read about my past NaNoWriMos here. Yesterday I kept it classy and wrote during happy hour in an oyster bar. Not gonna lie, my novel took some weird turns. You can add me as a buddy and follow my progress.

And I can’t stop listening to Kelly Clarkson’s cover of “It’s Quiet Uptown”

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Secret Heart Playlist Track 7: Stadium Love

I don’t remember the first time I listened to a Metric song but I remember instantly falling head over heels with the Canadian band’s 2008 hit “Help I’m Alive.” If watch movies (and pay attention to the soundtrack/ score) they might be a familiar sound. Their music has been featured in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Fantasies (2009) is my favorite of their albums. I love the song “Stadium Love” which pits animals against each other and the melody is so infectious it’s dangerous.

Wanna make a bet
Odds are neck to neck taking off the gloves
Spider versus bat
Tiger versus rat, owl versus dove

Every living thing pushed into the ring
Fight it out to wow the crowd
Guess you thought you couldn’t just watch
No one’s getting out

Without stadium love
Without stadium love

“Stadium Love” felt like that kind of song Avery’s band Detonate the Gazelle would cover during one of their shows and I had to include it in the playlist.

Want more of the Secret Heart  playlist? You can find the songs here.

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