Mae Clair Presents: Donna Cummings on “Who Has Influenced Your Writing?”

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:

FIL_medJessica Fletcher
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. . .

SweetSurrender_200My 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.

LW_medMy mom
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?

Welcome Page PhotoBio:
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.

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.

Look for Donna at the following haunts:


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.


Purchase LORD WASTREL from:
Barnes & Noble 


Donna Cummings Talks Writing, Regency England, and Lord Rakehell’s Love

Welcome Page PhotoIf you like humor and flirtatious fun in your romance reading, you’re going to love today’s guest! Donna Cummings is known for writing humorously ever-after  romances. And when she delves into the rakes and scoundrels of Regency England — oh my! *fanning self* Lets just say its easy to become besotted with her characters.

The first time I encountered Donna, I was a greenhorn newbie poking around on writing blogs. SHE was being interviewed *gasp* about LORD MIDNIGHT, a previous Regency release. Besotted by the sound of the book, I immediately hopped over to Amazon and bought a copy.

Later, I found Donna on Facebook and timidly sent her a friend request. When she friended me back, I was in awe — I’d been friended by an actual author who’s work I loved (Donna, I’m not sure I ever told you how stage struck I was, LOL).

Anyway, our friendship grew from there, and I’ve found her to be amazingly supportive, friendly, and helpful. She always makes me laugh with her light-hearted blog posts, and her novels are guaranteed to satisfy with a blissful HEA. Anything she writes is an automatic must-read.

Please welcome Donna as she celebrates the release of her new novella, LORD RAKEHELL’S LOVE, the first in a promising new series!


What attracts you most to your chosen genre?
I love laughing, and hearing people laugh, and even better, making them laugh. My characters bring a wild assortment of personality quirks that make comical things happen, and it’s fun to see how humor helps them fall in love. So I guess I’ll always want to write humorously-ever-after romance.

You do those so well! I’m constantly delighted by the humor you weave through your romantic stories. Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?
I’m definitely a draft writer. I feel like every book is a new variation of “just put it there for now — we’ll figure out where it goes later”. In Lord Rakehell’s Love, I knew the hero would be trying to win back the heroine after being late to their wedding. But after auditioning and rejecting several potential Chapter Ones, I decided to forge ahead with another section, and all of a sudden this scene appeared in my mind that showed the couple’s first meeting. It shows why they fell for each other, and I think made their breakup more poignant. I guess this “messy draft” method works best because the story is really in charge of everything. I’m just here trying to get everybody into their places before the curtain goes up!

A director’s, er…author’s job is never done 🙂 Which do you develop first, characters or plot?
The characters always seem to show up first, like they’re an advance team checking me out as a writer, to make sure we’re a good fit. LOL They show me a little “highlight reel”, which is usually one scene that depicts them interacting with each other, and naturally I’m intrigued and want to know more. So then I have to figure out a plot for them, and where this scene fits, and it all kind of grows from there.

I love the “highlight reel!” My characters do that too. Hmm.  They must be taking lessons from yours.

Now please tell us about your new release.
Lord Rakehell’s Love is a novella that commences The Curse of True Love series, where Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, decides to play matchmaker in Regency London. Unfortunately, she seems to put a curse on the lovers instead. In this story, Simon and Georgiana fall instantly in love, thanks to Aphrodite, but then Simon is late to the wedding, and, even worse, accompanied by ladies-of-the evening. So he has to win Georgiana back, not exactly an easy task after that kind of scandal!

Originally the series was supposed to start with the next in the series, Lord Wastrel, a full-length novel, but this novella decided it should be first. And while I grumbled about it, I have to admit it was right!


I love this flirty cover!

I can’t wait to see that wedding scene. How did you choose your title?
This book went through about forty-eleven potential titles before this one clicked. I must have used the word “bride” and “wedding” in every variation possible, and was beginning to wonder if I’d ever find the right title. Fortunately it came together right before Carrie Spencer started working on the cover. I don’t think I could publish something titled “WIP With No Name”. LOL

Ah, so I’m not the only one who struggles with those pesky titles! Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I actually had a lot of fun with Hugh, the hero’s best friend, who will be the hero in the next book, Lord Wastrel. I enjoyed it because I know what he’s going to encounter soon, but he has NO idea that his playboy lifestyle is about to change in so many ways.

And I can’t wait to meet the lady who’s going to change things for him, LOL. I’ll be looking forward to that one as well. Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene in Lord Rakehell’s Love.
One of my favorite scenes is between the heroine Georgiana and her best friend Felicia. It’s a “girl talk” scene, where Georgiana is trying to explain how Simon made her feel during their romantic interludes. Felicia is the heroine in Lord Wastrel, and there’s a sequel of sorts between Georgiana and Felicia in the upcoming book that also has me chuckling.

Ooh, so it’s Felicia that’s going to be Hugh’s undoing. I love when characters continue from book to book and get their own time in the spotlight as H/h. 🙂 Share one sentence – – yes, only one! – – of dialogue or description you love.
Eeek! Okay, I’m partial to this line, which the hero says to the heroine: “When your heart is ready for that leap of faith, know that mine will be there to join with it.”

I’m melting. *wisftul sigh* If you couldn’t be a writer, what else would you choose to do?
I don’t know! I really love being a writer, and interacting with other writers and with readers, and spending time with my characters. I just wish I could do this job all the time. It’s better than any of the other jobs I’ve had.

Wouldn’t full-time be awesome? I’m with you on that! If someone gave you a working time machine tomorrow, where would you visit and why?
I’d definitely go back to Regency England, so I could gather some first-hand research, and flirt outrageously with those sexy rakes and scoundrels. On my way back to the present, I’d probably stop by to say hello to my younger self and say, “Quit worrying so much and have some more fun. You don’t have any juicy stuff to put in your memoirs.”

But you would if you went back to Regency England and did all that flirting 🙂

Now some quickie questions for you!

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: A secluded beach with endless coffee drinks and a cute barista/masseur — oh, and in addition to perfect temperatures, time moves very slowly, except when I’m writing. 🙂

Favorite season: Summer — okay, let’s be honest — every season BUT winter!

Favorite time of day: Quittin’ time!

Favorite color: Red

Food you never grow tired of: Mashed potatoes

OMG, I love your answers…especially the first three! You always make me laugh, Donna. 😀 Thanks for visiting with me today. As always it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog and I wish you gargantuan success with Lord Rakehell’s Love!

Connect with Donna at the following haunts:

Purchase Lord Rakehell’s love from:
Barnes & Noble
Available soon from iTunes and Kobo

The Curse of True Love Series
Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, is attempting to play matchmaker in Regency London. . . only she’s placed a curse on the lovers instead.

Lord Rakehell’s Love

He was late to his own wedding

Simon is known as Lord Rakehell, so any sane woman would be wary of wedding a man of his reputation. He truly loves Georgiana, and is determined to prove it to her, but how can he convince her after his wedding-day blunder?

She was heartbroken by the scandal  

Georgiana knew the dangers of falling instantly in love with a celebrated rake, but even she had not expected him to show up for their nuptials with ladies-of-the-evening in tow. Now she must determine whether Simon’s protestations of love are genuine, or if she is being led astray by the passion he continues to incite in her.

Author 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, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

I can usually be found on Twitter, chatting about writing and coffee, or on Facebook, chatting about coffee and writing.