Donna wrote her first story when she was eight.
"It was a really silly picture book about a camping trip gone wrong," she explained. "It was probably a more dramatic version of our real family camping trips that never seemed to go so well. I dabbled in writing on and off over the next few years, but it didn't occur to me that I wanted to be an author until I was about thirteen and had written my first full-length novel."
Recently, she's been reading a lot of YA novels: the Matched series, the Uglies series, and most recently Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl, which she absolutely loved.
Donna has written seven published titles. She told me she doesn't now if she can pick a favorite, but the easiest one for her to write was The Guise of a Gentleman. The hero was larger than life and so real to her that not only did she dream about him, she didn't have to develop his character at all. As fast as he revealed his story to her, she wrote it down.
She hasn't had a luck extensively plotting out her stories and doing character outlines. Instead she brainstorms the idea and then pretty much writes organically. She will usually write the first few chapters, let the characters introduce themselves to her, and –if she still doesn't feel she knows them well—then she will do character interviews, write back story, or do something else to get the characters down pat.
"Otherwise, it evolves as I write," she told me, "fixing story/plot/character issues during the revision stage."
Donna seldom suffers from true writer's block—instead, it's usually an overall burnout which means she needs to take a break from writing. She will read, or go on vacation, or do something else she loves.
"Other times, I either don't know what happens next in the story, or I wrote myself into a corner and can't find a solution," she said. "When either of those happen, I brainstorm with my critique partners. That usually reveals the answers."
All of Donna's full-length novels are available in both e-book and print, because most people still prefer print, even though more and more are getting e-book readers and buying e-books.
"From a marketing standpoint, it's just smart to make the same book available in multiple formats to reach all readers," she explained.
"If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you," I said, "what would they be?"
"A bathroom complete with indoor plumbing, a refrigerator, a stove or microwave, a big comfy bed, and a laptop," she told me.
Donna told me that she received the best fan letter ever. It was from a young woman who said that Donna's book got her through her son's chemotherapy. She was grateful for the escape or she might have gone crazy.
"I can't tell you what that meant to me," she said. "I knew then that I was doing something worthwhile."
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Keep at it until the manuscript is finished. If you let life get in the way too much, or you wait until you think each chapter is perfect before writing the next one, you might never finish it. Just finish."
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Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people.
On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.