Danielle Hanna

Hearth & Homicide Fiction

Category: Daughters and Dads (page 1 of 3)

Running Toward Fear

2015-07-13 DragonPerhaps one of my greatest strengths – and the chief reason why I’ve been able to move toward recovery from a life of emotional abuse – is because I have the ability to take a hard look at my life, identify the things that scare me … and run straight toward them, sword drawn.

It dawned on me a long time ago that if you keep running from your dragons, you’ll always be afraid of them. You’ll never have the opportunity to find out if they’re are as scary as they seem, or if they’re really stronger than you are.

But if you rush your fears head-on, in full battle gear, you create the opportunity to challenge your dragons – and destroy them.

2015-07-13 Dragon PlaqueThe greatest test I’ve ever endured was my fear of family. As far as I knew, family were people who used you – who drank you like a glass of wine – until you were empty, then wiped their mouths and called for more. After I’d escaped my past, I vowed to never let family near me again.

Then, in a numbing twist of irony, life offered me a surrogate family. My first instinct was to run. But this new family offered me the one thing I’d never quite had before; the only thing I’d ever wanted my entire life: a dad. My own father had died when I was two, and I had no memory what it felt like to be loved and protected by a strong, gentle father.

2015-08-24 Daughter and dadIt was the greatest dare of my life, in exchange for the greatest reward. And after weeks of dragons breathing down my neck, keeping me penned into a corner of fear … I accepted the challenge. I rushed it head-on … and asked these new people to be my adoptive family.

The fact that they are still my family speaks volumes. Ever since my adoption, I’ve been battling dragons one-by-one, sometimes on a daily basis. But the dragons are growing smaller in number. And I never would have thinned their ranks if I’d run from my new family, instead of towards them.

The entire story is included in journal excerpts in my book for writers, journal keepers, and anyone looking to live a deeper life: Journaling to Become a Better Writer: Seven Ways to Practice Fiction Techniques. The ebook is available now at the links below, and the print edition is coming out in September. (Click here if you want to know when the print edition becomes available!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Blio | Smashwords

I also recommend these informative articles on facing down your fears. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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Face Your Fear: The Result Might Be Amazing by Amy Rees Anderson

“I don’t think I have ever stopped being afraid of things – but what I did was stop letting my fear stop me.”

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Why It’s Essential to Face Your Fears

“The process of facing your fears in an effective, systematic way is called exposure therapy.”

“For an exposure to be effective you have to be in the fear-inducing situation long or often enough that you experience firsthand that nothing bad will happen, so your anxiety dissipates.”

– – –

Wear It Like Armor and It Can Never Be Used to Hurt You by Craig D. Marker, Ph.D.

“[T]he biggest fear for many people with social anxiety [is] showing their true self. If they show their real selves, they feel the world will hurt them. However, if people with social anxiety ‘own’ who they are, without fear, then the world, in most cases, does not hurt them.”

– – –

Journaling to Become a Better Writer: Seven Ways to Practice Fiction Techniques 

Book Cover: Journaling to Become a Better WriterYour life is not boring. It is the key to great fiction.

How do you capture authenticity in your novel? That nameless spark of life that lifts your words off the page and resonates with readers in their very soul?

You delve into your own soul and learn how to pour it out onto the page, that’s how. And the best way to do that is to keep a journal. Seven techniques for your journal will help you marry the authenticity of the real world to the imaginations of your story worlds:

  • How do you recognize a story worth telling?
  • How do you bring structure and power to a story?
  • How do you tap into your own emotions to fill your novel with heart?
  • How do you hone your observation skills?
  • How do you engagingly describe your world?
  • How do you make your characters real?
  • How do you find your unique purpose as a writer?

Not your average book on the craft of writing, the author bares pages from her own journal to illustrate her techniques and the level of storytelling skill that can be achieved in your journal. These same excerpts share the story of the most traumatic plot twist of her life: the stripping away of her family and her search for someone to finally call “Daddy” – a quest which almost claimed her life.

Part writing how-to book, part memoir, part self-discovery guide, this volume will show you what the everyday events of your life have to do with great fiction. Your life, after all, is a story.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Blio | Smashwords

Coming to print 2015.

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A Letter to My Father

My Daddy, Dan Hanna, on his 30th birthday


Last Saturday would have been your birthday. You would have been 77 – can you believe it? When I was a little girl, growing up without her Daddy, the day was never mentioned. I don’t think I even thought about the fact that one day out of the year would have been your birthday. I think I learned the date from the back of a photo.

What would you have liked to do for your birthday this year? Would you have liked it if your four kids and four grandkids came over? Would we have grilled on the back porch and served up watermelon and ice cream? Or would you not have wanted to make a big deal out of it? My mother says, for your last birthday, you insisted on no cake. So she got you cupcakes. You were 51. A month later, I turned two. A month after that, you were gone.

Could I have talked you into going sailing with me for your birthday this year? You loved sailing. It was one of the few stories I heard about you when I was little. I used to stare at all your beautiful sailing trophies on the shelf in the basement. Did you know that out of your four children, I was the one who would have wanted most to go with you? I got your adventurous streak.

DSC00398 (640x473)

Did you love me, Daddy? My mother didn’t talk about you much. It was like you’d never happened. I want to know everything about you, but it’s hard to talk to the people who knew you, because just thinking about you makes me cry. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to ask the questions swirling around in my mind. Maybe one day, I’ll be ready to hear the answers.

Did you know I was “adopted” last year? All my life, the only thing I wanted was a father. It took me until I was 26 years old, but I found him. He’s not exactly perfect, but he’s good enough for me. It was so strange, how we met. He even said once that maybe you were watching and had some part in bringing us together.

My father, my brother, and me.

My father, my brother, and me.

I don’t remember you, Daddy. Not in the part of my mind where I can pull up pictures and replay special moments. But I think there’s a part of my mind that holds my very earliest memories. Only, it’s under lock and key, and I can’t open it. But I can hold it close, and press my ear to the side, and I think I can feel what’s in it.

I feel big arms around me, and my head resting on your chest. I feel safe and at peace, because Daddy is here.

I didn’t know this memory box existed until I found a new daddy and felt, for the first time again, big arms around me and my head resting on his chest. Here I am, a full-grown woman, and he holds my head against his chest as if I were a baby. But this is exactly the thing I’d been craving my whole life, and he understands.

No, craving isn’t a strong enough word. I was shriveling up inside from madness and starvation. The little girl inside me was trapped in a never-ending tantrum because I had no father to wrap big arms around me.

My father reading to me.

I think some part of my little baby mind knew, when you died, that I’d lost something really important. And that I needed to find it again. And I think that memory was locked inside the memory box. Because when I found those big arms again and that broad chest … it was the strangest feeling. Like a memory, but one I couldn’t picture or replay – only feel. And I wasn’t all shriveled up inside anymore. When I get hugs from my new Daddy, it feels like someone filling me up with sweet spring water. And I drink, and drink, and drink, and it soothes, but I’m still not full. Not yet. Maybe I never will be. I have an entire childhood of lost hugs and kisses to make up for.

I miss you, Daddy. I wish I could say it was because I remember you and the time we had together. Instead, all I can do is miss you because I’ve been so thirsty for everything you would have given me as a little girl. I know you didn’t want to leave. Maybe you’ve been worried about me.

Don’t be anymore. I’ve been lost for a long time, but I’m finding my way. And if you had any part in sending me a new Daddy … thank you. I couldn’t have gone on much longer without him.

Happy Birthday. I love you, Daddy.

Thanks to my sister Sandi for the photos of our dad. 

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