Hi Donna, first, tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Canadian by birth, an American by choice, and I consider myself more patriotic and more thankful for this country than many who were born here. When I was little, I would look at the map of North America, and wonder why my ancestors didn’t stay on the boat for another few months. Then again, when my ancestors came to Canada, there was no America. I am an accountant by training, and tend to be very linear. For that reason, although I’ve always wanted to take painting lessons, I’ve never tried because I’m sure I could paint cubes but not much else.
Lots of writers loved to read as children. How about you? If so, what did you read?
I was an avid reader. I once was so engrossed in a book I was reading on the school bus, I completely missed my stop and ended up at the bus depot about 20 miles from home. The driver had to call my mother who then came to pick me up. I also used to choose my books based on the most number of pages for the price. Scholastic Book Club was my favorite day, and my mother would give me a quarter, and I could usually get two 100-page books for that, plus a little left over for candy.
Why do you write?
I could go all spiritual on you and say because God called me to write. And that’s part of it. And I could go all intellectual on you and say because the stories are inside and they must come out. And that’s another huge part of my reason for writing. But recently, as I have looked back on what I write, I realize they share a common thread: stories of second chances. So I think that’s the reason I write. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, and should have been in prison or dead (that’s a tale for another day), and yet God has been so gracious and merciful in giving me second, and third, and fourth chances, that I want to share that grace and mercy with other broken people just like me who are seeking another opportunity to get it right.
Tell us about your latest book.
The Pony Express Romance Collection is my first traditionally published book, and it contains 9 novellas from different authors about the Pony Express. My particular story, Echoes of the Heart, is about a woman running from her past, and a man who thinks he has no future. Through a series of misunderstandings, they find themselves involved in intrigue and mystery, and must decide whether they will go forward together—or alone.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
My good friend Mary Davis invited me to be part of this collection, and once I did the research, discovered I loved the Pony Express. I could bend your ear with about 3 hours of facts and information, but suffice it to say, I guess I wrote the story because I love the history and the romantic notion of the Pony Express.
What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it?
I love the physical book itself—the cover art, the feel of the paper, the delightful old-fashioned look about it. The folks at Barbour Publishing did a fantastic job! I also love the sense of camaraderie that developed among the writers as we promoted the book. And I hope readers would be able to tell others that our history is accurate, our stories compelling, and our characters are just like them.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
I collect newspaper clippings, photos from magazines, snippets of information I overhear in coffee shops, internet news stories, and interesting stuff from museums and other historic displays. I like to ask “what if” about history, and I love watching videos. In short, from everywhere.
In three words describe your style of writing.
Constantly percolating and evolving
How do you get to know your characters?
Sometimes I spend the entire first chapter or two getting to know them, then I delete that and start where the story should start. Sometimes I already know them, because I’ve met them somewhere.
What themes do you write about?
Grace and mercy through second chances. I also like my stories to brighten the reader’s day, even if it’s a tough circumstance or topic.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I write almost every day for at least some part of the day. I have an office that I share with my husband in our home, and I also love to write at a local coffee shop. In fact, every Monday morning, and many times 1 or 2 afternoons a week, I’m at the coffee shop writing. I find the change of scenery helps me focus more on the writing and less on the laundry.
Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
First of all, I am truly blessed to be a kept woman. I don’t have to work outside the home, and my husband is very supportive of my writing. That said, I try to compartmentalize the other things I do. I edit, ghostwrite, and publish for clients. I also proofread legal documents one day a week. I do some data entry for a company for about a half hour each morning. Bookkeeping, laundry, meals, etc. etc. all have their time and place. Hubby and I are also very active in an international ministry which takes time. So I use a calendar to keep it all straight, and a white board beside my desk that tells me the bigger tasks I have to do each day. Balance it? What’s that? If anybody can give me the answer to that question, I’d sure appreciate it. Although one thing I did this year is hire a virtual assistant to handle most of my social media.
and in Echoes of the Heart on Amazon
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. Donna recently taught the popular Don't Let Your Subplots Sink Your Story, an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers, and will teach another course in May 2018 on The Middle Muddle. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
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History Thru the Ages