SMP: Donna, welcome! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
Donna: I’m a mom, gramma, and a wife (of course in no particular order as that changes daily, lol). My husband and I own a motorcycle repair shop. I love reading my romantic suspense and paranormal romance (and of course Stephen King too).
SMP: Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
Donna: I wish I was born with it. That would make me a natural. Nope, I became interested in middle school after my English teacher assigned us to write a short story and I’ve loved writing ever since. I enjoy coming up with ideas for books and seeing where it will lead me (and my characters).
SMP: When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
Donna: Four years ago when I finally got the nerve to show my first to someone. I wrote before this point, but never really finished one or dared to submit one.
SMP: How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
Donna: My actual first one has taken me four years and lots of edits and huge revisions. The first one I’ve published, The Swan Cove Murders, only took me 2 ½ months including edits.
SMP: Tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
Donna: I usually can write anywhere and at any time. I just need to be in the mood (which is almost always – my mind is constantly on the go) and the words will flow.
SMP: What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Donna: None thankfully. I’ve had weird paranormal things happen (lights/tv/electronics turning on and off, shadows, moved objects, etc. Nothing like my heroine, Lena, has in The Swan Cove Murders. I think I would have a heart attack if a ghost talked to me and I could actually hear them.
SMP: Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that….”
Donna: At first Stephen King. I soooo wanted to be just like him. Then, I realized there is only one Stephen King. There’s no way I could even come close to tapping into my imagination like he does. And everyone has their own individual talent and strengths.
SMP: Let’s talk about romance. How do you set the mood for your characters, what do you draw from that helps your H/H achieve oneness with each other? And how much conflict do you give them, along the way?
Donna: My heroes and heroines are so easy to get together, at least for me. They draw one another to the other all on their own. I give them lots of conflict. I give them a few hoops to jump through before they can achieve HEA. It’s well earned by the end.
SMP: What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
Donna: Being published, no doubt. I didn’t think that would ever happen, but here I am.
SMP: Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
1) My dad’s picture. He passed away 15 years ago, so I feel he’s watching over me, pushing me along when I want to stop and give up.
2) A cup of coffee or Pepsi. I need my caffeine.
3) My two book covers, full page printed hanging on the wall next to my computer. To remind myself that I’ve already accomplished a lot in those two books and they push me to keep going with my writing.
4) Pink Sugarplum hand lotion. It’s got a great smell, helping me tap into my romance side, and my hands dry out so easily.
5) My writing guides ie thesaurus, Forensics for Dummies, Webster’s Dictionary and a medical dictionary, Voodou Priestess, etc. They are within easy reach when I’m stumped.
SMP: Writers face many challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Donna: The dreaded writer’s block. I will usually go for a drive or run on my treadmill. The distraction seems to allow my mind to wander and I’ll eventually get back on track.
SMP: What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Donna: Fleshing out the story. I get so excited when I get an idea for a book and can’t wait to sit down and see what I can come up with. And developing my characters – I love getting to know them.
SMP: What aspects of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Donna: Making everything work and flow together. That wasn’t an issue with The Swan Cove Murders. It flowed almost naturally. With Secrets of Jenkins Bridge, I hit snags where the timing of an entire scene wouldn’t work out with the rest of the book, so I had to rewrite the entire scene – as in completely scrap it and come up with something new.
SMP: How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
Donna: When I have an idea, the first thing I do is write a couple of sentences about it and stick it near my computer so it’s always in my face. I do have to write a rough outline and basic character info (and I go hunting for pics of them and print them out). I will usually research as I go along. If the research takes longer than 15 minutes, I’ll make a note of what I need for that particular part and continue to write. I find that if I just write without getting completely bogged down in research, I can write my first draft within 5 weeks. At the edit stage, I can go back and fill that all in.
SMP: Who or what sparks the ideas for your stories?
Donna: It could be a commercial on TV or a woman standing in line at the grocery store or even one of my ghostly encounters (see above). Almost anything will spark an idea with me.
SMP: Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
Donna: Bonenapper is a paranormal romantic suspense. It’s about my hero, a doctor named Trent, who has a Voodoo curse placed on him due to a small boy’s accidental death and Trent couldn’t save the boy’s life. Enter my heroine, a detective named Ciarra, who investigates when local graves are desecrated, including Trent’s father. In each of the four graves, a pinky bone has gone missing. Trent and Ciarra are thrown into the world of Voodoo as Trent only has about a week to save himself from certain death.
SMP: We asked Donna to Spill It and tell us some Donna-secrets. She gave us five!
Donna: How about 5 things most people don’t know about me?
1) I am deathly afraid of snakes. This comes from a certain boy who liked to chase me with garden snakes.
2) Everyone has their ‘adrenaline rushes’ ie rock climbing or bungie jumping. These are certainly not mine! Nope, I like speed – as in driving fast. If race cars were automatic, I’d be in Nascar.
3) I am the youngest of 9 children. Yup, we have a pretty large family and for the most part is I love the chaos.
4) Someday, I would love to go on a ghost hunt. I’d be freaked out, but it would be awesome.
5) I think I’m addicted to Words With Friends on FB. But, what a way to stretch my brain and learn new words!
Hunting down a dangerous mob boss has brought FBI agent Mitchell Donovan home, reawakening an old flame, resurrecting a dead best friend, and discovering fatherhood. As if those aren’t enough, his new case will push everything else aside: finding the kidnappers who took the daughter he never knew he had.
Katherine Delaney never forgot the heartbreak Mitchell had caused with his abrupt departure all those years ago. With her dead ex-husband accused of murder and her daughter kidnapped, she will place her trust in the one man who could trample her heart again if she gets too close. But, will the resurrection of Katherine’s ex-husband and Mitchell’s chase for a killer destroy their second chance at love and happiness?
SMP: Donna, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Donna’s intriguing novel, SECRETS OF THE JENKINS BRIDGE, is coming soon to Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon and Barnes Noble!
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/shieldsdonna
On Twitter: @Donna_Shields