Hello, and welcome to another Author Spotlight. Today, I’m welcoming author, Donna Cummings, to my blog. I first discovered Donna’s writing when she did a guest post on another blog discussing LORD MIDNIGHT, a wonderful romantic escapade with a dashing highwayman and a feisty, yet beguilingly innocent heroine. When I finished reading Donna’s post about the book, I immediately jumped over to Amazon and purchased it. Donna has a wonderfully engaging style of writing but I’ll let her tell you about that.
Welcome, Donna. I’m delighted to have you here.
I so loved LORD MIDNIGHT, I had to share my thoughts: 🙂 Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what prompted you to start writing?
Donna: I’ve been writing since the dawn of time, although I took a ten-year “leave of absence” from it when I couldn’t seem to get my books where I wanted them to be! I spent a lot of time reading books on how to write, but never quite feeling like I could do it–because I had this wrongheaded notion that a book had to be perfect once the words appeared. Plus a lot of the writing advice said outlining and plotting ahead of time were required. Once I learned I could just sit down and write by the seat of my pants, figuring things out as I went, revising them later–I wrote and wrote and wrote. And I’m still writing.
As a panster myself, I can definitely relate to that style of creating. I understand that you just signed a contract for a new manuscript. Actually, you signed two . . . one with Samhain and one with Crimson Romance. Talk about being on a roll! Would you like to share some details about what readers can expect when it’s release time?
Donna: I’m still a little dizzy about all of this happening at once! Both are contemporary romances, filled with kooky situations and lots of humor. BACK ON TRACK is a novella with Samhain, and it came about because of several authors talking on Twitter about a picture of a hot guy on a train. Somehow it morphed into, “let’s each write different stories with different couples falling in love on different trains”. There are five separate stories that are linked as Strangers on a Train. Mine is set on the Napa Wine Train, and involves a hero and heroine getting to know each other by telling lies as an icebreaker. One of the lies the heroine tells is that she used to date a famous baseball player, who just happens to be the hero, and she knows who he is, but he doesn’t know she knows it. The book with Crimson Romance is a romantic comedy/mystery titled I DO. . .OR DIE which starts out with gunfire at a wedding. The heroine is a commitment-phobe, thanks to her gigolo father, and she manages to fall in love with the detective who is her bodyguard while they try to find out who keeps shooting at her.
Okay, so I have to ask: LORD MIDNIGHT is about a highwayman, and your new releases (plus SUMMER LOVIN’) are contemporary romances. Do you have a preferred time period when it comes to setting and heroes? Is one easier to write than the other?
Donna: I really love both genres, and I’ve been given the advice, many times, to pick one and stick with it. But my contrary nature won’t allow that! I started with Regencies, and then they kind of died out, so I switched to contemporary, and then when they waned went back to Regencies. Each time period has its own built-in humorous situations, and I love exploring those. I can’t imagine being forced to only write one genre.
I love that you inject humor into your writing. You make it seem so effortless. What would you say is the hardest element to write (i.e, description, action, dialogue, etc.).
Donna: The characters really do all the heavy lifting when it comes to the humor! Sometimes I feel like I’m sitting at my laptop, recording their conversation as it happens, like a court reporter. I really love writing dialogue, and when I start writing a story, that’s about all there is on the page. I have to go back in and flesh it out with description, adding information about the setting, and what they’re doing while they’re being witty and hilarious.
I know a lot of authors (myself included) who have to meter out time to write. Because I work a full-time job, I try to grab a few hours in the evenings and/or, most especially, on weekends. What about you? Set hours for writing, or whenever you can fit it in?
Donna: I work full-time too, and even though I’m not a morning person, I try to write in the mornings, since my muse Endora is more cooperative then! I also like to do the #1k1hr word sprints with other writers on Twitter, since it gets me started, which can often be the hardest part of writing. When I’m revising, I tend to spend 12 to 14 hours at a time, to keep the continuity going with the story. That’s when a day off doesn’t seem nearly long enough! But my brain is always working on a story, or coming up with new ideas — when I’m commuting, when I’m doing mindless tasks, etc. So I think writers are always writing, even if we can’t put words onto a page at that particular moment.
Great observation and so true! What do you find the easiest to write—the beginning, middle or end of a novel?
Donna: Definitely the beginning–because I’m excited about the new story and eager to see where it’s headed. Sometimes when I get to the middle, I stop, hands on hips, looking around, muttering, “Why isn’t there a map for me to follow?”
LOL! Aside from writing and reading, what do you like to do when you have free time on your hands?
Donna: I am a total social media addict! So I spend way too much time on Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook. I hope they don’t invent any more new ones, or I’ll never get anything accomplished!
What is the current title you’re reading on your Kindle/Nook or in print right now?
Donna: Right now I’ve got two books waiting for me, both from fellow Six Sentence Sunday participants: BRIDGING THE GAPS by Kate Warren, and GAME PLAN by Karla Doyle. I’m looking forward to adding your book to the Nook soon too.
Aw, thanks! I’ll give a plug and remind everyone the release is scheduled for October 8 😀 How/where can readers find you?
Donna: I can be found at my blog (www.AllAboutTheWriting.com), on Twitter (@BookEmDonna), Facebook (www.facebook.com/Donna.Cummings.Author), Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349107.Donna_Cummings) and Pinterest (BookEmDonna). I told you I’m a social media addict! I also blog at http://www.HeroesandHeartbreakers.com, so feel free to stop by there too.
Donna, thank you again for being my guest author today. It was a delight to have you and I hope you’ll be back, especially as your new releases roll around. I can’t wait to read them! Before we go, do you have any advice you’d like to share regarding your philosophy on writing in general, or breaking into publishing.
Donna: I’ve had a ball, Mae, so thanks for having me. I’d love to come back! As for my philosophy on writing, here it is: tell the story that only you can tell. Each of us has different specialties, and we need to embrace that, even if it’s not a popular trend. Also, tell the story the way YOU want to tell it. That’s where your author voice is — and it will set your writing apart from everyone else’s. I think too many stories get the life choked out of them when writers try to follow all of the current “rules”. You might need to experiment, but you’ll know when you’ve finally found your storytelling sweet spot.
And there you have it, lovely readers! Be sure to check out Donna’s buy links, and pop by her blog for all the latest news and tidbits she’s sharing on her books and more. From highwaymen to contemporary heroes and heroines, you won’t be disappointed!
Donna Cummings Bio: I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances. Currently I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, consuming mojitos for breakfast and wearing flip flops year-round.
A contemporary novella, Back on Track, will be published by Samhain in April, 2013. A romantic comedy, I Do. . .or Die, has just been contracted with Crimson Romance.