1/13/14, YOU!!!

Hi Everyone,

I just read the comments on my blog, and I have tears in my eyes. You are so kind to me, so generous, so full of praise, so compassionate and caring about the things I do or that happen to me. Rather than follow some other topic, I wanted to respond to all of you today, to thank you for the lovely messages you write to me, and to tell you what it means to me. I write the stories that come to my head and heart, some inspired by my own experiences, some not, I write and edit them for at least two years, and then they get published and go out in the world to you, and I have no way of knowing what they mean to you, until I see comments like the ones you leave on this blog. So it is so heart-warming to me to know that you love the books, and enjoy them, and they are either helpful or meaningful to you. Thank you with all my heart for your comments. Truly, you warm my heart, and make the long, long hours of hard work late into so many nights worthwhile!!

A few of you asked direct questions. I felt terrible about the lady who got a very old paperback book of mine which was defectively printed and had about 20 missing pages, and wanted to know what to do about it. Since it’s one of my early books, there’s not much anyone can do about it now, although it’s good for us to know. Hopefully, you can find another copy of the book somewhere. I’m REALLY sorry that happened!!!

Someone else asked if I work from an outline. Yes, I do. I get an idea, I scribble notes about it on a big notepad. The theme of the book starts to come clear, and then I start outlining the characters, who would be in that story, what would they bring to it, why are they in that situation, what is their background. I need to ‘know’ who their parents and grandparents are, how they grew up, to make them react the way they do and who they are. I outline all the characters in the book, and then I spend hours figuring out the right names for them. I have a whole shelf of “What to Name the Baby” books. And then when I really ‘know’ my characters, I outline the story, broadly, and then finally chapter by chapter. The more detailed the outline is, the clearer the story will be to me when I actually write the book. If I’m too vague, it slows me down later on, so I have to figure it out. I discuss it once or twice with my editor, and she makes comments about the direction I’m going. Sometimes I agree with her, and sometimes I don’t, and she’s very, very good at what she does. I always have some kind of message I want to share with you, in addition to the story. For instance, in my newest hardcover “Winners”, each of the people involved in the story have had some very bad situation in their lives: a divorce, breast cancer, a failed business, the loss of a loved one/spouse, as well as the heroine’s accident who becomes paralyzed from the waist down at the beginning of the book. Her life was ski racing, as a member of the US Olympic ski team. She is 17 years old in the book. In fighting to get back her life after the accident, her courage inspires each of the other people in the book, and helps them fight the good fight against what has happened to them. We all face those challenges in different ways. We EACH have our challenges, the loss of a job, or someone we love, a failed marriage, a failed business, loss of a career (getting laid off), a sick child, a discouraging time, financial worries, the loss of a friend, family troubles, or kids acting out and out of line, our spouse or partner having an affair. Stuff happens, as they say. This book is about courage, and fighting against the odds to get our lives back in a good place again. It’s never easy, but in almost every situation, we can turn it around in some way, maybe not in the way we originally thought, but sometimes even better than before. Anyway, once I get the story outlined in detail, and I know my characters really well, and the ‘message’ of the book is clear to me, then the outline is done, and I can start the book. The outline can take me a month if the story is very clear to me, or up to a year. And the book takes about 2 years, allowing time for about 5 or 6 re-writes on it. It’s a long process, which is why I work on several books at once. So that’s how I do it.

Have all the stories in the books happened to me? No. Some have. Some haven’t. And sometimes I take an experience that did happen to me, and use the emotions of that and apply them to another situation. I have to write about things I care about, so I can make the story real. We all deal with different variations of the themes I write about, the challenges, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the hopes, the joys. Things happen in all of our lives. I’ve been married, I have a lot of children, I’ve been divorced, I lost a son, as most of you know. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to have life experiences and learn from them. We all have. Our humanity and what has happened to us is the bond we share. The emotions in a book have to be real to me. And I try to write about things I know. And even about places I know. When I don’t know a place, an industry, or a time in history, I research it very, very carefully, and I have a wonderful researcher I have worked with for my whole career, so she teaches me about the places, industries, and periods of history I don’t know. The whole process is a labor of love.

And for those of you who want me to sign your books, I wish I could. But it would be too complicated to send them all back to people all over the world. I get fan mail through the website of my publisher at daniellesteel.com and if you ask for a signed photograph, I can send you that, autographed to whoever you want. I’m sorry I can’t sign your books!!

You have all proven to me that why I did this website originally was a good idea. Because I do so few interviews, and like keeping a low profile, I felt that I had so little opportunity to ‘chat’ and connect with you on a more personal level, to share my thoughts, and personal experiences with you. It is so wonderful to know that you enjoy sharing that with me, that you enjoy this blog, and that what I write is meaningful to you. thank you for your wonderful comments, for your kindness to me, and for being part of my life. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me, and how much YOU mean to me. I am sooooo grateful for you!!!

love, danielle

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14 Comments so far
  1. Julie January 13, 2014 11:45 am

    I have been reading your books for years. However there is something really special about following your blog- you come over as such an incredibly warm and friendly person. X

  2. mary January 16, 2014 11:16 am

    Hi Danielle!
    It was so nice to read this, your ability to connect with all the people you do amazes me. I am greatful that you have shared your personal experiences and even your renching heart aches with all of us giving us all the knowledge that this human experience is universal and that if we connect on a level of love,honesty and kindness like you do maybe just that gesture can make this world a better place, even if it is for a brief moment. keep going!!! and thank you for touching my life.

  3. Janet January 16, 2014 5:13 pm

    I am a skier and Winners is so good. The chairlift accident is what every skier has thought about at least once.

  4. c white January 17, 2014 7:38 am

    The SF Chronicle is small minded and narrow. Nevius and King I regularly dislike. I love your hedge.

  5. Laurie January 17, 2014 11:08 am

    Reading your words from the heart rekindles my awareness that we’re not alone, and everyone has a lot more in common than we think. Thank you so much, Danielle! And yes, hedges are healthy edges.

  6. jean January 18, 2014 6:47 pm

    jUST CHECKED ON THE HEDGE BIT!!! KEEP IT!!!
    WAS SO NICE TO KNOW YOU ENJOY OUR BLOGS ALSO-

  7. Bernadette January 25, 2014 2:46 am

    That was reaslly so sweet of you..I am a big fan of yours from the Philippines..I just love your books and i love the person that you are..keep the books coming and have a great year ahead..take care and God bless.

  8. raffaella January 29, 2014 7:34 am

    ciao Danielle,
    volevo solo ringraziarti perchè grazie al tuo fantastico modo di scrivere i libri io ho scoperto la lettura. fino a poco tempo fa io odiavo leggere, poi per caso ho trovato un tuo libro in una libreria, ho iniziato a leggerlo e non ho potuto farne a meno. ora ho comprato altri libri e sono tutti fanstici e spero di riuscire a leggere tutti i libri scritti da te. ancora GRAZIE per le emozioni che mi fai vivere attraverso ciò che scrivi

  9. Carin January 31, 2014 1:40 pm

    Dear Danielle,
    I have been reading your books at the age 0f 19 anf I still read them (51 now). It’s a pity that it allways takes some time before your books are avalable in Holland!
    The last year has been very tough for me. I lost my son of 11 to his father after a lot of ugliness and I hardly see him now. Lost my mother, friends and my job.
    The last few months you have helped me immensly: I have re read all your books again and they give me peace , hope and serenity and have gotten me through the last months. Right now I am re reading the last one…….
    Love, Carin

  10. Theresa Brown February 1, 2014 12:24 pm

    Hi, I have been reading your books since my teenage years I have always loved your books. My favourite book is Wonderlust I loved the herione of the story and how strong she was in the story you take us to times and places we will never visit. My second favourite book is Family Album followed by Thurston House. Please keep up the great work you’re doing you’re books are greatly appreciated thank you.

  11. Madeleine Tiktin February 3, 2014 2:35 pm

    I just LOVED the part of this message that said how one can view things in 2 different ways….because i too believe that. i had some experiences which were difficult for me at the time, but got through them, and were i to NOT have had THOSE experiences, i would not have gotten to the place i am in NOW, which is FAR better that where i WAS!! So THAT came out pretty darn good!
    The point is, i guess, that at the end of every BAD experience, something GOOD is waiting…The HARD part is that is is G-d’s Timetable, not OURS….and oftimes, we “have” to wait so interminably LONG for that Special Something to happen…and it does….but oh! The WAITING!
    Thank you, Danielle for all you have given so many of us….I hope my words have touched something within YOU.

  12. Laraine February 3, 2014 11:01 pm

    Just finished reading, FIrst Sight. I couldn’t wait each day to read more. I’m hoping you’ll make a sequel to this one! It was interesting to read you watch Downton Abbey – it is so well done and the characters are just perfect. Thanks for your books I’ve been reading them throughout my life.

  13. Diane Semans February 6, 2014 11:46 am

    My grandson, Michael, is bipolar & has been in/out of hospitals. It is so sad! I could feel your pain as well as mine.

  14. Lorraine March 1, 2014 5:22 pm

    Thank you for connecting with us and being so down to earth! Can’t wait to read Winners!