She’s back! Please welcome Donna Cummings to my blog. This super friendly and supportive author of “humorously ever after romances” was one of the first friends I made online way back in the twilight years of 2012. It doesn’t seem possible I’ve been at this gig a full two years now (gulp!), but what fun it’s been. Not only have I made great friends, but I’ve discovered a treasure-trove of incredible reads, Donna’s among them.
She’s sharing a post today about the early influences that spur us to pursue writing, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her latest releases. For a fun contemporary romance, be sure to check out FALLIN’ IN LOVE, a flirty novella with a lovable pooch as “matchmaker”, the historical romance boxed set, SWEET SURRENDER, and, finally—LORD WASTREL, a Regency romance that will have you alternately giggling and swooning. I do so love Donna’s “rakes.” :)
And now . . .
Who Has Influenced Your Writing?
By Donna Cummings
Have you seen Pigpen, the character in the Peanuts cartoon with the permanent cloud of dust around him? That’s me and all the ideas constantly swirling around my brain. (Okay, the cloud of dust is also because I’m too busy writing to do housework.)
At random moments one of those myriad ideas will surge to the front of my brain, and, for some reason I can’t quite figure out, it’s usually when I’m in the kitchen. Maybe it’s a self-defense mechanism, because I rarely accomplish anything worthy in that room of the house, so the ideas may be trying to distract me from setting off the smoke alarm, yet again.
The other day’s random thought was about who had influenced my writing adventure. I discovered there were more than I realized, and for wildly different reasons. So here are some of the most influential:
Yes, the grande dame of TV mysteries was a huge influencer. Or, to be more precise, the opening credits where she is typing away at her kitchen table is what made such a lasting impression. Each week I experienced a visceral hit when I saw those typewriter keys flying because that was the job I wanted.
I don’t actually have a kitchen table. I definitely don’t have a manual typewriter. But every time I’m sitting on my couch, tapping away at the laptop keyboard, I’m inwardly smiling, knowing I’m fulfilling the dream that started when I saw good ole Jessica writing her mysteries at home.
Mr. Hanson, my high school English teacher
As a teenager, I was more enthralled with reading than writing, and I only wrote things that were required, like papers and book reports. I felt like I had a certain facility with words, but I wouldn’t have called myself a writer, since only people whose books I was devouring were writers.
Mr. Hanson seemed to recognize, and appreciate, how much I loved words, and he continually encouraged me in his kind, patient, and compassionate way.
Whenever I complained about how much work a project required (often), or how it was way too hard (really often), his response was always this: “Do you know how diamonds are made? Heat, and pressure.”
I have to remind myself of that when I’m in the throes of editing and revising, all-too-ready to admit defeat by throwing the uncooperative WIP onto the coal heap. Because if Mr. Hanson thought I had the potential to be a diamond, way back when, I’ve got to believe it too. No matter what I hear from. . .
My muse Endora
I know many of you have heard me whine about mention Endora. She has a knack for disappearing when I need her assistance, and then returning to sniff disdainfully at what I consider my best work.
She actually started out as my Inner Critic, a position she is well qualified for, only somehow she promoted herself to the position of Muse.
So how has this beastly creature influenced me?
She’s impossible to please, so I’ve quit trying. As a result, I’ve learned to write what I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still bounce things off her–er, I’m talking ideas here, not coffee cups. #seriously #notreally
But she’s helped me realize there will always be different viewpoints on a story, and it’s good to carefully consider all of them. But, in the end, I do what I feel is best for the story I’ve envisioned. And I let Endora do what she does best, which is. . .I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
My mom was an avid reader, and thanks to her, I became one too. My sister, who shares the same DNA, is not a reader, and never will be, which completely puzzles me. (When my sister was born, the nurse brought my mom the wrong baby, but after a few minutes realized her mistake and returned with the right one. Still, I’ve often wondered if that other baby was a reader. . .)
Anywho, when I was growing up, being a writer wasn’t really a viable job option. My mom’s parents were freelance newspaper writers, and it was an unpredictable way to make a living, even though they clearly loved it. My mom was always supportive of everything I did, yet I knew she wouldn’t encourage me to go that route, so I chose a more practical, secure career path. I continued to watch the opening credits of Murder, She Wrote, though, pining for that life, all while reading books about the craft of writing.
When my mother was ill, a few months before she died much too young, I told her I was thinking of taking a writing course. I expected her to say, “that’s nice”, but to my surprise, she said, “I think that would be great“. To my further astonishment, she said several times that weekend, “I really think you should take that course”.
So I did. And I’m convinced she’s glad I did.
So these are just a few of the folks who have influenced me. I’m sure I’ll think of more–the next time I wander into the kitchen with the vague notion of “making something besides a mess”.
Now it’s your turn. Who has influenced your writing?
I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.
I can usually be found on Twitter, talking about writing and coffee, and on Facebook, talking about coffee and writing.
When Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, plays matchmaker, true love can seem like a curse. . .
Lord Wastrel–the most notorious rake in London–has a child? Clearly he knows how to sire one, but he has no idea how to actually raise one. He has to learn quickly, since he is the little girl’s only surviving parent, and he’s determined to find a wife who can be a suitable mother. All he needs is someone demure, and biddable, and most importantly, scandal-free.
Lady Felicia Selby is no stranger to scandal, thanks to her numerous failed elopements and Society’s insatiable curiosity about her misadventures. She has devoted many years to finding her one true love, desperate to escape the consequences of the family curse if she fails. But she has begun to give up hope.
Then, one evening, a chance encounter with Aphrodite changes everything.
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