Name: Danielle Simone Brand
What you Write: Nonfiction. I’m currently working on my book for Ulysses Press called, Weed Mom: The Canna-Curious Woman’s Guide to Healthier Relaxation, Happier Parenting, and Chilling TF Out.
Agent: Jessica Faust
Why BookEnds? It was clear from my first conversation with Jessica that she gets my book and my vision—that’s why I am so excited to work with her and with BookEnds! She’s got a keen editorial eye and is willing to take a chance on a brand-new author. Plus, she’s not afraid to represent a book that brings together the taboo-filled combo of cannabis and moms!
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
I recently read Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum and laughed out loud while reading her thoughts about how writers are naturally envious and insecure people! (I highly recommend her book to new authors, btw!)
With that in mind, some authors I’m incredibly envious of include Peggy Orenstein, who writes so captivatingly about culture and gender in our world. I also wish I had the research skills and patience for a deep dive into the kinds of projects Michael Pollan takes on, from psychedelics to the industrial food system.
I dripped with envy while reading Bonnie J. Rough’s well-researched and superbly told guide on healthy ways to teach kids about bodies, sex, and relationships, called, Beyond Birds and Bees. Oh, and I’d love to have penned Martin A. Lee’s excellent social history of cannabis, Smoke Signals.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
You know, mom stuff…taking my kids to and from school, folding laundry, kissing ouchies, cleaning, playing board games, going on bike rides, and trying to channel the version of me that makes fun, crafty messes with my kids (that I then have to clean up). Lately, I am very much enjoying my role as taste tester for my husband’s newfound interest in the culinary arts. Yesterday, he made a seared polenta with maple syrup that amazed me.
I was a yoga teacher for over a decade, so you can often catch me trying to work out the kinks of being a full-time freelance writer (aka sitting on my butt all day) on my yoga mat. I like to dance, ride horses, hike, be with friends, travel, and meditate—not necessarily in that order—but do all of those things much less than I’d like. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I use cannabis, responsibly, to help with pain, sleep, and relaxation. After all, I am a weed mom!
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
I’m probably (okay, definitely) way less active than I should be! You can find me on Facebook at @danielle.simone.brand and Twitter at @dsimonebrand. I have various “weed mom” type handles on the platforms, too, that I WILL do something with soon. Promise.
What’s the last book you read?
I tend to read books in groups and am currently paging through a new cannabis title, Finding Your Higher Self, by Sophie St. Thomas, as well as a book about the LSD-microdosing phenomenon, A Really Good Day, by Ayelet Waldman. And Smoke Signals by Martin A. Lee is helping me digest the deep social history of cannabis that’s particularly useful to keep in mind while writing Weed Mom.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
I’m a sucker for bucolic scenes of all sorts and can easily imagine myself writing in an English country cottage overlooking forests and fields—as long as said cottage also has central heat. (I grew up in Hawaii and am what my children call a “coldy.”)
But I’m pretty happy working in a variety of environments as long as I’m utterly and completely ALONE. In fact, while writing, I strongly identify with the misanthropic sentiments of Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: “No thank you. We don’t want any more visitors, well-wishers, or distant relations.” That also applies to my kids and my husband, but not my dog. He can stay.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
A little while back, I wrote a memoir about my family’s failed homesteading experiment. After emptying the contents of my heart and soul in those pages, I queried them and received some interest from agents at the time but ultimately no offers of representation. It was devastating.
But a writing coach I worked with briefly gave me some advice. To paraphrase, she said: It isn’t worth writing the story just because it’s true. Include only what drives the story forward and will keep your reader with you, page after page. In other words, she told me to leave the “A” material and mercilessly cut everything else. I can’t say I always live up to that standard, but I do try!
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
If you can afford it, pay someone who knows more than you to review your pages and help you become a better writer. Be generous about reading and singing the praises of other writers’ work. Meditate, do yoga, and—if it suits you—use a chill strain of cannabis to help ease the existential pain of being a creative.