Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guest Author, Sharon Donovan

Today's guest is Sharon Donovan, fellow Rose and Pennwriter. I met Sharon at a Pennwriters conference two years ago, and we've kept in touch ever since, and actually get to see each other each year at the Pennwriters conference, something unique in this world of cyberspace where we meet and greet but hardly ever get to actually visit with each other in person. Sharon has an awesome website, designed by the equally awesome Rae Monet, (who also designed my website) and newsletter that is a joy to receive, filled with personal stories and recipes to inspire even the most reluctant of cooks, like myself.
Welcome, Sharon, and here's wishing you many sales of your stories. Check out Sharon's review of Touched by an Angel here.
Hi Liana. Thank you for inviting me to guest blog with you today. I’m Sharon Donovan and my writing career began several years ago after a long bout with progressive blindness. Diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of six, my vision began fading while I was in my early twenties. For as long as possible, I worked as a secretary in the Family Division in the Court of Common Pleas. I spent my weekends riding horses and pursuing my passion—painting with oils and acrylics.
Devastated when I lost my vision and could no longer paint, I spent my days listening to audio books. Inspired by suspense novels, I enrolled in creative writing classes and a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters. I also belong to a local writing group--The Northland Writers—where we have just published our first anthology.
Being a morning person, you’ll find me at my desk with a cup of coffee before the birds are up. Thanks to modern technology, I use a computer with adaptive software which converts text into synthesized speech. Glen, my helpful assistant from cyber space, is happy to recite what I’ve typed, no matter the time. He’s never grumpy and doesn’t bug me for a raise. He also eagerly reads my email aloud as well as whatever research I need on the Internet to create storylines.
Glen is a Godsend to me. Now if only I could program him to go out for coffee, I might consider giving him that raise.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I enjoy writing stories of inspiration to create a sense of balance in my life. However, writing stories of suspense is my true passion. I took a few courses in psychology to better understand the complexity of the mind. Creating storylines based on a person’s background can lead to the many twists and turns to keep readers turning the page.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I love a good romantic suspense with a lot of mystery to add that special something that keeps a reader turning the page. I like when the author throws me with a few good twists—just when I think I have it all figured out. For me, there is nothing better than a intrigueing suspense with a happy ending.

When do you write?

I feel I do my best writing early in the morning after a few cups of strong coffee to get me going. If I happen to be on a roll, I keep going for hours or until my brain simply quits pumping. I seldom write in the evening unless I am pushing myself toward a deadline. I need time to relax and indulge in my second passion…reading.

When do you read? Where?

I generally read in the evening. But in the summertime and warm weather, I enjoy taking an audio book outside to relax in the sun.

Where did you get the inspiration for Touched by an Angel?

Touched by an Angel came to me in a dream. I was having problems coming up with a storyline for a writing contest where the theme was inspiration. I struggled with it and after numerous rough drafts, called it quits. That night, I dreamed of a cemetery with two headstones shrouded in yellow roses. After that, the idea blossomed in my head to write about the spouses meeting and finding a spiritual bond through their departed loved ones.

Where do you go to think?

I do my best thinking in the kitchen while drinking a cup of coffee. But I must admit while writing, sometimes the story will just take off as if the characters have minds of their own, shocking me with a totally different ending than in my original synopsis.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Touched by an Angel stems from the main characters, Charles and Emma, who meet in a floral shop while going to place yellow roses on the graves of their loved ones. When they discover their spouses have died on the same day and are buried in the same cemetery—side by side—a spiritual bonding occurs. Convinced Cupid is shooting arrows of love from the sweet hereafter, they find love and happiness with one another. Charles and Emma strike me as names that remain timeless and romantic—and seemed perfect for the roles of my characters.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

Close to six years. Practice makes perfect. I know I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday…and not as good as I will be tomorrow.

Why do you write?

I write because it’s in my blood. Unless you are a writer, you will never understand the countless hours of frustration and all the edits and rewrites that go into a manuscript. But nothing is better than having all that hard work result in a contract. Receiving that news makes it all worth while.

I would like to close in saying that I have also written a memoir on the loss of my vision. Echo of a Raven is the story of a long and bitter bout with progressive blindness due to diabetic retinopathy. A doctor at Children’s Hospital predicted I would be blind by time I was twenty-five. His cruel words changed the entire course of my life, affecting every major decision I made for years to come. I am active in the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetic Research Foundation) fight for a cure. If I can prevent one child from going through the devastation of losing his or her vision, Echo of a Raven will be a smashing success.


Laurean Brooks said...

Hey Sharon,

Each time I read the story of your struggles and how far you've come, my admiration for you grows. You never cease to amaze me.

"Touched By An Angel" is so beautifully written and a tender, moving story. I would advise anyone who reads this to purchase it on the Wild Rose Press. You won't regret it.

I just found out something new about you. That you are a morning person. Not me. I write mostly in late afternoon and at night. Sometimes after my hubby goes to bed, when the house is quiet. But, I don't dare edit at night. If I do, I find that I've made more bumbles than corrections. Ugh!

Liana has a beautiful website. I have been reading her exciting excerpts of "Jake's Return" for months. Tell her that she is the reason I changed my hero's name in my next book from Jake to Clint. (LOL) And still may change it from Clint. I need a strong cowboy name, if anyone can think of another.

God bless you, and you go, Girlfriend!

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Sharon,

I'm not much for writing in the morning either, unless you count early, early morning. Congratulations on the wonderful review. Hope to meet you in May.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Sharon

What an uplifiting and inspiring story yours is. I love horses and taking in the beauty of the countryside from horseback and I can't imagine what it must be like not to be able to see - and to paint,which is something I also enjoy, but I love the way you remained positive and found a new outlet for your creativity in writing.

Oh, I am so not a morning person! (Although I could happily stay up all night and write until the early hours.) I always admire people who are 'larks'.

I am going to put 'Touched by An Angel' on my 'wishlist', it sounds such a beautiful story.

All the best to you and 'Glen' - now I'm going to check out your website!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Sharon. You have an amazing personal story. Your strength and courage really shine through in all you do.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sharon.

Lovely interview. You are truly an inspiration, the way you have overcome such obstacles in your life. Touched by an Angel sounds like a wonderfully sensitive story, I wish you the best of luck.

Kind regards

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Sharon,

I checked out your myspace page. Loved the song you chose, and because it's one of my favorites I had to stay and look around until it was finished.
I was also thinking you could probably offer the rest of us writers tips on how to incorporate other senses into our writing.
And thank God for technology. Glen sounds amazing. I never knew there was such a device.

Ann_Campbell said...

Wonderful interview

Sheryl said...

Sharon, you truly are an inspiration. My son has a progressive eye disease. He's had a bit of a downer lately, but mostly, he's up there and directional. WELL DONE TO YOU on being more directional that so-called "sighted" people are sometimes. Off to get your book!

Laurel Bradley said...

I like how dreams can be and are the inspiration for novels. Touched by an Angel sounds like a winner.

robynl said...

hi and welcome Sharon; what a touching story. You are indeed an artist in every way - pictures and now words.

I must read this story to find out what all happens. The best in your future writing.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Laurean, Kathy, Lyn, Debra, Margaret, Ann, Sheryl, Laurel and Robynl:
Thank you all so much for your warm and encouraging words. You give me the strength and courage to continue my uphill climb. If it's one thing I've learned, it is that accepting one's fate is a bitter pill to swallow. I had to hit rock bottom before I reached out for help. And once I did, the opportunities available to the blind and visually impaired astounded me. When one door closes, another opens. Truer words were never spoken. Until I draw my final breath, I will long to paint and see the beautiful scenery I once painted. But we don't always get what we want. I made a choice nine years ago. Either sit in the house the rest of my life and feel sorry for myself--or stand up to the challenge. The sixteen week program I went through was the most challenging thing I've ever experienced. We laughed and we cried. We bonded in a way words cannot describe. We had to deal with anger issues during group therapy, learn mobility with a white cane-and take it into a busy intercession. It was a journey filled with heart-wrenching pain. Some had the extra burden of facing marital problems because a spouse simply couldn't deal with the pending blindness. I came out of it a better person. What didn't kill me made me stronger.
Echo of a Raven goes into explicit detail of my sixteen weeks inside what I initially viewed as an insane asylum. But as time went on, I took advantage of the help that was offered in order to survive. So many people facing an eye disease are simply unaware of the advances in modern technology. Sometimes Glenn gets on my nerves with his monotone disembodied voice from cyber space, but without him, I wouldn't be able to use a computer or write. I thank God for modern technology--and I thank God for you!

Each of your names have been put in a drawing. The winner is Margaret Tanner. Congratulations, Margaret! You win a copy of Touched by an Angel. Please contact me by email and I will send it to you.
I'd like to close in thanking Liana for interviewing me as her guest. I look forward to the Pennwriters conference and will be attending another one of your fantastic workshops. Flag me down, Kathy. I'll be the one flying around on a white cane (still not my best friend) lol
Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith
Touched by an Angel
Available Now!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sharon,
Thank you so much I am honoured to have won a copy of touched by an Angel.
Liana you must be my lucky omen,
I won a copy of Jake's Return, ages ago, the first thing I have ever won. Now I've done it again on your blog. Loved Jake's Return by the way.

liana laverentz said...

Thank you, Sharon, for being such a wonderful guest and holding down the fort while I was out of town. It was a pleasure to have you here and to learn more about you. Congratulations on your latest glowing review for Touched By an Angel.

And Margaret, I'm so glad you liked Jake's Return.

lastnerve said...

Hey Sharon!!!! Just got done reading your book, LOVE IT! But you already know that!

Have a great day!