How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
I think starting late in life helps here. I write because I enjoy it, not because I have any special expectations of what will come from my writing. If I have a bad review, I chat with other writers and read my good reviews. Not everyone will like everything they read.
I also try to participate in Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (#IWSG) on the first Wednesday of every month. It’s always good to read about other writer’s insecurities and have them comment on yours.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
My first memories of writing are using my little toy typewriter to create a neighborhood newspaper. I typed up each copy and sold them for ten cents. I was in 4th grade. So I guess you could say yes, I’ve always enjoyed writing.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
I think learning to ride a motorcycle at age 55 and then touring the country on it solo the year after my husband passed. My goal was to ride through all 48 states. I managed to make it through 42 and cover 27,000 miles over five separate trips. The longest was ten weeks and during that time I spent several weeks volunteering on the Blackfeet Nation Reservation in Browning, MT, working with Global Volunteers. Two years later I sold everything, bought a used RV, loaded up my motorcycle and became a full-time RVer.
What books did you love growing up?
I read voraciously growing up, anything I could get my hands on. From children’s classics like “Wind in the Willows”, “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little” and “Mary Poppins” to everything in my parents bookcase including all the Readers’ Digest Condensed Version books, “Peyton Place” (when I was really too young to understand it), all of Edgar Allen Poe’s works and on to Ayn Rand in high school.
Who is your favorite author?
I have too many to list but at the top of my list are:
Diana Gabaldon, who writes time travel romance adventure that even men love in her Outlander series. James Patterson, I’ve read every Alex Cross book written and fell in love with Maximum Ride before she was featured in his YA series.Toby W. Neal, who lets me visit Hawaii without ever going there in her wonderful Lei Crime series. Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown are there as well. Two new authors I love are Nick Russell and his “Big Lake” series and Linda S. Prather and her paranormal books.
What book genre of books do you adore?
Five years ago I would have said romance but I’ve found myself reading that less and less while I read mystery/thrillers more and more. I guess that is part of the reason that while I thought I’d be a romance writer, I am really loving writing mysteries.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
She knew that life was for the living.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in a very small seacoast town in southern Massachusetts until 9th grade. Then we moved to an even smaller town in southern New Hampshire. After high school graduation I moved to Florida and have been on the move ever since. Since high school I have lived in eight Florida cities, three Georgia cities, two New York cities, two Iowa cities, two Colorado cities as well as Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
In 2007, after being widowed in 2004, I sold everything and hit the road in my Class C motorhome, pulling a trailer with my motorcycle. I became a full-time RVer, guess my gypsy roots were showing.
In 2008 I met a recently widowed man at an RV rally in Gillette, WY. who was also a full-timer and a motorcyclist. Fate was watching out for us, we married in April of 2009 and have RVed in most of the 48 states.
We live and travel in a 41′ fifth wheel trailer with a 10′ garage at the back end, a toy hauler. We pull it with a small Freightliner, and no, I don’t drive it. For the last year I have followed behind in our pickup which we bought so I would have something to drive when my husband had a double knee replacement a year ago
.We have five acres in rural north central Tennessee and have an RV site set up there. But the big news is that in December we are moving to Ecuador for five years. And yes, I will continue to write.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve spent a lot of years living in small towns as well as larger cities like Atlanta and Miami. I love to people watch. Most of my characters are compilations of the people that I’ve met and/or observed over the years. I especially love small towns and the special relationship between the land and the people living on it. Quirky is good!
Do you plan to publish more books?
Absolutely! I am currently working on book two in the Klondike Mystery Series, titled “Barely a Spark”. I have plans for another six in that series. I also have a romance trilogy in the planning stages, “Chance, Hope, Celebrate”.
Last, I hope to have my first children’s bedtime rhyming book out before the end of the summer.
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
My husband is very supportive and he’s been my first reader/editor of everything I’ve published. Since he is a retired firefighter/paramedic/chief he is also an expert consultant for me.
I have several good author friends who have helped me tremendously through all the trials and tribulations plaguing new authors.
Then toss in my beta readers and proof-readers, I couldn’t do it without their support.
What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time… What other jobs have you had in your life?
Since I’m retired, these two questions kind of go together. In my younger years I did the usual babysitting and waitressing (from carhop to diner to 4 star restaurants). I discovered an aptitude for accounting and spent time as a bookkeeper as well as a ward clerk in a hospital, general clerk in a doctor’s office, grapefruit packer, and long distance operator. Once I discovered computers around age 30, I found my career. Starting in data entry, I worked through programming, operations management, software specialist, consultant, all the way to VP of Client Services. I formally retired from my IT career at age 50, when my late husband and I sold it all and became underground construction utility inspectors. We lived and traveled in a 36′ motorhome. For the last twenty years I have always done work on the side, website designing and freelance writing.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I suppose you mean besides reading and writing? I’d have to say riding my motorcycle is the best way I can relax and unwind. I’ve also recently started Yoga, mostly stretches and some basic moves. I really enjoy it.
How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I always keep a notebook and pencil handy (I love soft lead in a good mechanical pencil) for notes. I write with my laptop…in my lap or on a table if not at home. I don’t do well at a desk, probably due to living in an RV and “making due” with furniture.
What is your favorite food?
I’m definitely a comfort food kind of gal with lasagna and meatloaf at the top of the list. Snacks are Twizzlers and anything salty/crunchy in the chip world. (From the Admin: Make sure you bring some Twizzlers with you when you come to Ecuador)
What is your favorite color?
I grew up wearing red, my mother said it was a good color. I loved blue. In my 20’s and 30’s, I loved blue, avoided red and hated orange. Yellow made me look like a seasick buttercup. In my 40’s I fell back in love with red as well as earth tones. I had my colors done and found out that I needed orange (warm) reds, not blue (cool) reds.
At age 50 I let my hair go gray and the grayer it got the worse my old colors looked on me. I still love red and wear it, the warm reds, but have fallen in love with orange and yellow. I don’t think I’ll ever lose my love of earth tones though.
Do you find the time to read?
It’s not the time so much, it’s the fact that when I’m writing I just CAN’T read. I lose interest. Maybe because when I read a book, I don’t want to stop until I’m done. I’m trying to get better at this bur right now not much reading is getting done.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
For me that’s an easy question – the editing, especially the proof editing. I do make a first run through, then pass it to my husband for the second. Back to me, then off to several others for input and editing. Sometimes they make good points and I make changes; they always find error, typos and missing words. My brain just seems to ignore them.
Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it – What keeps you going?
That’s easy – my readers. That’s the hook – you write, they read, they like, you write, they read. You get the picture. When no one likes what I’m writing, I’ll stop. Otherwise, I’ve found that I work better under a deadline. That’s no different than I was with assignments in high school. I wrote 80% of “Not a Whisper” during Camp NaNoWriMo last August and I wrote all of “Home Again” during NaNoWriMo in November.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
When I started writing my blog in January 2012, I was terrified the first couple of times I wrote some flash fiction for public consumption. When no one panned me and a few congratulated me, I continued. Flash fiction is great for immediate response and I really enjoy writing it. I spend so much time on my novels that I got away from the flash and am just now getting back to it.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
“Not a Whisper” is the first in the Klondike Mystery Series. Set it a small fictional town in north central Pennsylvania. A group of mostly retirees form the Klondike Breakfast Club or KBs as they like to call themselves. When one of their members goes missing after a suspicious fire, they join forces to find him and prove him innocent of arson and murder.
How did you come up with the title?
I honestly don’t remember but it came along with the dream that became the prologue. There is one place in the book that the title is used in dialogue. I intend to do that with all the titles in this series.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
I was surprised at the amount of research I had to do – forensics, fire patterns, state laws and jurisdictions to name a few.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
When I started outlining “A Montana Chance” about fifteen years ago, I was positive that I’d be writing romances. After finishing that outline and writing the first few chapters, it got put on the back burner for Camp NaNoWriMo. For that I had a location, a few characters and a dead body. I didn’t even know who the killer was myself. By the time “Not a Whisper” was finished, I had two dead bodies, two kidnappings, a heart attack, an auto accident and multiple villains.
It was official, I had fallen in love with writing mysteries!
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
If you would like learn more about the characters in “Not a Whisper”, you can download the free “Klondike Kompanion” [pdf] from my website. It has interviews with all the main characters in the series. http://donnamcnicol.com/books/KlondikeKompanion.pdf
You’ll help others find and enjoy the good books and the author will love you for it!
Donna B. McNicol
These are some wicked questions Donna sent me and some even better answers. I can´t wait to meet Donna when she comes to Ecuador. We will do a follow up on the blog. Read my review of Not A Whisper and Barely A Spark
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