I am excited to introduce to you Donna Dawson for this week’s Readers Write to Know Wednesdays! Donna was a freelance magazine writer and has written five novels. The one she is premiering here today is called Rescued. It is a suspense novel with a FASCINATING plot. You have to read on to see how she came up with the idea. This is definitely a book I look forward to reading!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been telling stories since I was old enough to read. I am married with three children, two children-in-law and seven grandchildren. I have written freelance magazine for fifteen years and have five novels published. Two of my novels won Best Contemporary Novel in the Canadian Christian Writing Awards and I still marvel at that. I am a conference speaker, a singer/songwriter and I have taught creative writing at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario until this past winter when I retired so I could spend more time writing. I also teach an online course off my website at http://www.donnafawcett.com
2. Tell us about your current release.
Rescued began 20 years ago with a magazine article that I read. The article talked about transferring the embryos of expensive racehorses into the wombs of retired brood mares. The brood mares carried, delivered and raised the foals of the race horses while the racers kept on running. I got thinking ‘why can’t that be done in people?’. It started a journey of discovery. I began asking medical professionals how it could be done and, bit by bit, they piece together a method that would take the rejected embryo from the woman who wished to abort and transplant it into a woman who couldn’t conceive but was otherwise healthy. I knew that I couldn’t do it as a non-fiction piece because I’m not a doctor or nurse. I gathered as much information as I could find and wove it into a contemporary suspense novel. I tried to throw in every possible problem I could think of and a possible solution to the problem. While I did want it to be a captivating read, I also wanted to inspire readers to find a way to stop the abortion war and the death of so many embryos. The cool thing about this book is: every person who has read it, with the exception of two that I know of, has said that it is a great compromise. I figured we’d never get people to stop aborting babies because we can’t make everyone believe the same way so the next best thing was to simply rescue the embryos that were being aborted. What better way than to adopt them out to women who want more children?
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block?
That’s easy. I stop working on the piece that is giving me writers’ block and I find something else to write about. Most of my magazine articles come from times when I’ve faced writers’ block in books I’m writing. It completely clears my mind of all pressure to perform. I try for the most outlandish story I can think of, do the research, write it and then try to find a market for it. By the time I’m done all of that, my mind is ready to go back to the sticky manuscript that blocked it in the first place and away I go.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write?
I can give all credit to my Grade 12 English teacher who told me that if I did nothing else in life, I should write. She had just finished marking my English project which was a murder mystery screen play. I still have that play and I take it out, read it, laugh, shake my head and get back to work.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
I have done both. This is a tough question to answer because each method has a purpose. Since I am a conference speaker, I like to self-publish because I don’t want a print run to end and I want to be constantly updating my work. When I didn’t have a speaking platform I was blessed enough to find a great publisher to take on my novel Fires of Fury and publish it. I already had one award-winning self-published novel at that time so they were taking a risk (many publishers don’t like to take on self-published authors). It’s really important to find out the benefits of either kind of publishing and compare them to your circumstances. If you need broad distribution then a standard publisher is likely your best bet. If you do a lot of speaking and want to continually update your book to stay with the current status then self-publishing might be the right method. The key is in not jumping into either until you know all you can about both.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write?
Yes, I do. I have the whole book in point form done before I ever start writing the silly thing. It allows me to keep my eye on the ending. It’s too easy to veer off on a tangent half-way through writing a manuscript. When reading a book, one can often tell whether the author has used an outline or not. Books that meander and backtrack show signs of no outline. Books with a clear flow and all detail being relevant to the story line indicate an outline was used.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book?
Yes, I do. Books under 50,000 words are very difficult to sell. Likewise, books over 100,000 words are difficult to sell–not impossible–just difficult. The ideal is between 50,000-100,000 so I try to target 70,000. I don’t always succeed.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Learn as much as you can before ever trying to submit a manuscript. Go to conferences. Ask questions of other writers. Learn to embrace the edit or critique. I have said many times, “It is better to look foolish to one editor than to look foolish to a bunch of readers.”
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.)
I prefer computer because I can organize my thoughts better than on paper.
How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them?
In spite of all my rantings about needing an outline, I started my first novel simply by sitting down and writing it. And it shows. Remember those meanderings and backtrackings? Yes, well…that was my first novel. My biggest roadblocks involved research. I love it–and tend to get lost in it. I had to learn to sift through what was important and what wasn’t. Now, when researching, if the website isn’t either a university site, a medical site or a governmental site, I tend to skip it. I want as accurate information as I can get. That’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.
What is your inspiration for writing?
God inspires me to write and it is a very humbling realization that he has not only asked me to write but given me the tools to do so. The day I no longer have ideas floating through my grey matter is the day I will assume God has a different task for me.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done?
I never thought I would see myself writing a ’how-to’ book about writing which included the wisdom of an ornery and almost toothless Chihuahua named Duke. Yet, I have just completed the book entitled ‘Duke the Chihuahua Writes!’ and am beginning the search for a publisher for it.
Thank you Hallee for a fine interview. Blessings. Here are the links for my books.
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