A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky-clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writer’s groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter.
A Mommy By Christmas: – A community care center, a calico cat, and Christmas—can a single middle-aged woman bring a town together in time to celebrate the King’s birthday? Can a widowed father find a reason to join in? And can the pair see God at work in their lives?
Do you write in more than one genre? I write both contemporary and historical mysteries, usually sprinkled with romance.
Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I usually write at my desk in my basement office, but at least two days a week, I write away from home. Distractions are many when you work from home: cats, laundry, meals, and my hubby across the desk from me.
Tell us about your writing process: I usually start with a short synopsis. Sometimes I write this by hand rather than on the computer. Then I schedule out the chapters to write and what day that will be. I try not to write on the weekends, but if I get behind…well, suffice it to say, the entire household knows when I fall behind.
What are you currently working on? I am working on a historical mystery, the second in my Mail-Order Romance series, released on December 31st. You can find the preorder here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BLZMWNTD
Do you base any of your characters on real people? I love to base my characters on people I know. I’ve learned that folks love to see themselves in print. Sometimes I use their real names—after asking their permission, of course. A Mommy By Christmas has several examples of real people: the veterinarian is named after a friend; the couple that helps my heroine with the dinner are real names of a dear couple; and the veterinarian’s last name is the surname of dear friends whose son died tragically last year.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Never quit. Let the stories flow. Trust God to get them into the hands of those who need to read them.
Groups I’m connected with:
American Christian Fiction Writers
Writers on the Rock,
Pikes Peak Writers,
Christian Women Writers,
Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers,
Christian Authors Network
How do our readers contact you?
www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, and check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Donna Darling writes short stories and novels for readers of all ages. Her debut novel, an historical fiction titled The Three Marias, is inspired by her Puerto Rican roots. When not writing, she enjoys sketching her characters or drawing a scene from her story.
She is a member of the California Writers Club and belongs to a writer’s group of published authors who meet weekly.
Donna lives in Northern California with her family. She enjoys traveling and weaving stories with history.
Puerto Rico, 1895. Three sisters are embroiled in rebellion, betrayal, and lost love. A secret threatens their bond when caught in a web of murder during the Spanish American War. After the massive hurricane of 1899, the three Marias are faced with the difficult choice to stay and rebuild or leave their home and their land.
Answering a few of George’s questions:
I write short stories, flash fiction, and novels. I’ve tried poems and children’s, but it’s not my “thing.” I started writing when my children were small. I remember writing a story for each one to match their personality and age.
My son cried when he heard The Giving Tree by Shell Silverstein, then saw a gray hair on my head. He thought it was all over. I wrote an additional page for him, with an illustration at the end. Sorry Mr. Silverstein—Then I started coloring my hair.
Subplots are fun for me, and I think they keep the reader interested. Too many, and you lose them. It’s a balance, and you do have to keep the thread going. Remember to tie it all together at the end for a satisfying finish, and it’s a winner in my mind.
Although I do steal ideas from real life, I do not use real people in my stories. In The Three Marias, the characters are fictional, set against a backdrop of actual historical events in Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War.
Research is important, and sometimes I get lost in it. I’m fascinated by history and envision my characters living through historical events. I place them in the setting. What is going on around them? What trees or plants are native to their area? Wildlife? I think about my character’s daily life. What do they eat? What music do they listen to? How do they hear it? Live, or is there a phonograph, radio, or other? How do they speak? Formal or slang? Is there an accent? I research fashion, hair, and anything that might influence my character. What is happening in the world during that time? It takes time, but everything adds to the story.
It took me about ten years to write The Three Marias. Life happened. I took breaks and returned to the project that captured my heart. I hope you enjoy reading The Three Marias, available on Amazon.
Here’s a link to my book, available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0BKXRZH4J/ref=cm_cr_arp_mb_bdcrb_top?ie=UTF8
Link to my Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/
I wonder how I would’ve ever gotten where I am today without mentors. This includes the mom down the street who took me under her wing when my mother struggled with her own demons. Early in my law enforcement career (as a meter maid), there was a motor officer who introduced me to the concept of “badge-heavy” and changed my adversarial attitude with the public while I issued tickets–I didn’t have to be a jerk. Later, Fred, a patrolman, was another crucial association. He invited me to testify to the county grand jury as part of an investigation of our police administration. Standing up for the integrity of the job was a beautiful burden. These people were life mentors who taught me valuable lessons that extend through my life today.
But let’s talk about mentors for writers.
Pat Tyler – In most other industries, colleagues could look upon newbies as potential competition. While I’ve found that all writing teachers aren’t necessarily mentors, I can say I have never seen professional acrimony toward another. My first true writing mentor, Pat Tyler, during her Jumpstart Writing class, encouraged me with provocative prompts. She provided a safe, non-judgmental place to read and hone my stories. Then, she pointed me toward Redwood Writers (a branch of the California Writers Club), where I found much more to learn. The motto of the club is “writers helping writers.” It made a significant impact in my writing career.
Sharon Hamilton – Sharon is a prolific romance writer I met through the Redwood Writers. Soon after I joined the club, the idea of signing your emails with your author name and including the links to your work. Sharon barely knew me but spent half a day helping me set this up. This little thing stayed with me. She’s a living example of “writers helping writers.”
Marilyn Meredith – Another invaluable mentor is Marilyn Meredith. She’s a board member of the Public Safety Writers Association, who I met in 2014 at the club’s annual conference. Marilyn is an experienced author who helped me navigate small press publishing and writing ethics. She’s a prolific author of over 40 books who gets up in the middle of the night (4 AM) to accomplish her myriad goals. Even with huge family demands, she writes and promotes almost every day. A lady in the most refined sense, she’s also a model of Christianity—not the clichéd version. She walks the walk. She’s unpretentious, accepts people the way they are, and believes in sharing her gifts—as she has with me. I’ll bet she never even considered herself a mentor. But she is. She continually inspires me to be better.
Recently, I was privileged to be offered a contract job for multiple books. I’d be paid a flat rate for each, and the publisher would reap the royalties. It was a dream come true. But the time frame was strenuous-three books in six months. Yikes. With the support of my family, friends, and colleagues, I signed the contract. The colleague who facilitated this offered me one piece of advice. Write the book, then go back and edit.
So, I did that. In all my years of writing, I’d always thought a thousand words a day was optimum. But with the timeline I had, I had to kick it up a notch. I wrote consistently and turned in 2500 words per day. With the aid of a flexible outline, I completed all three before the deadline. Even though I’d signed on the dotted line, I had no idea that I could do that much work. Until I did it.
That one simple piece of advice changed my work habits forever. I look upon that colleague as a mentor, although he’s too modest to agree with me.
How did mentors change your writing? Do you have one or many? Do you help new writers as they begin this arduous journey?
Even if you don’t consider yourself a mentor, I want to suggest why you should consider it.
- It could change someone’s life—really. Think about words of encouragement you heard that motivated you. Be that person. (see above)
- It will take you out of your own world—we create them in our heads, don’t we? Telling another person about your process attaches words to abstract thoughts. Sharing can enlarge thoughts if you listen. For both of you.
- You’ll be building a writers’ community based on the positive aspects we’re talking about here.
- The life you change may be your own. Sometimes, verbalizing the process gives us a clearer picture. Sharing and giving aren’t unique to humans, but we’ve refined it through evolution.
Let’s keep working and helping each other.
Thonie is the author of four police procedural mysteries set in the Sonoma Wine Country. While three of the books are on Amazon now, they will be re-edited, re-covered, and re-published by Rough Edges Press, an imprint of Wolfpack Press. The fifth book in this series will debut sometime in 2023.
Thonie’s website is www.thoniehevron.com
Author Facebook page: Thonie Hevron Author
By Force or Fear
Intent to Hold
With Malice Aforethought
Felony Murder Rule
Jamie Collins’ binge-worthy Secrets and Stilettos series is about four high-profile women who are hired to co-anchor a daytime talk show. Collins infuses her books with grit, sizzle, and heat reminiscent of the talented writers (Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon, and Olivia Goldsmith) on which she cut her writing chops, reading and emulating their iconic styles. As a former model/actress, Collins’ stilettos have been everywhere, from nightclubs in Japan to the Playboy mansion to dinner with a Sinatra. Her aim is to delight and entertain readers of women’s fiction everywhere.
Blonde Up! is the fast-paced first book in this fun, drama-filled series. Casey Singer is determined to shine bright… but keeps getting in her own way. Can she grasp fame before her star burns out? If you like off-the-hook heroines, searches for identity, and global adventures, then you’ll love Jamie Collins’ wild ride.
Start with the prequel, Sign On!, which is available for free download on Collins’ author website at https://www.jamiecollinsauthor.com/free-book-offer.
Collins is currently working on Pretty Sensation! which is the first book in the spin-off Show Series, slated for release this summer.
What brought you to writing? I have always wanted to be an author. Even as a child, I would write stories and poems and keep countless journals. I pursued a degree in creative writing after exhausting most local colleges’ English literature offerings and received a degree in Fiction Writing from Columbia College in Chicago, where I lived. Later, I became certified in secondary education in Language Arts.
How did this series come to be? I had the idea for this series based on the premiere of The View way back when it first aired on television. I wrote the massive first draft on a train ride from a suburb outside of Chicago to my job downtown daily due to a compulsion to live in the story’s world. It took about eighteen months to complete it. Many years later, a writing coach encouraged me to break up the manuscript into four separate books featuring each woman’s backstory, which I did. Thus, the Secrets and Stilettos series was born.
We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? It has always been my aim to write about strong female protagonists. That said, the road to redemption is quite different for each of these women. Strong-willed is an understatement for Casey Singer in book #1, for sure!
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Much like the paperback tomes that I loved to read as a young adult, I most enjoy storylines that involve multiple threads and plot twists, which serve to ramp up the drama. Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone and contain many plot layers and compelling minor characters. All of these components will be brought forward in the second tier of the series as well to keep the delicious excitement going and pages turning.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? While I started out as a pantser, my writing method is more intentional today. I have a background in education, so I adhere to the benefits of using character sheets, outlines, and note cards to keep things from running off the rails. This, blended with the thrill of discovery when the spirit moves me, keeps the writing fun, fresh, and authentic.
Do you base any of your characters on real people? Yes. Each of my characters has a unique and lifelike existence. I utilize traits and personality types compiled from people I know or have known. So, my characters are a mix of real-life people and my creation. I find character building to be one of the strongest pillars of storytelling and the most enjoyable. I am fascinated by human nature and psychology. Having realistic and compelling characters helps to amplify the stories and creates a connection with the readers in a way they love.
Do you have any advice for new writers? I would encourage anyone who feels the passion to write—to do so much and often. Writing is a skill that one can learn but also needs to be nourished. There is no fast track to success; only you can define what that means for you. Take advantage of all the support and information that is out there for authors at all stages. As an author, you get to make up people, worlds, and stories for a living. It’s the perfect job. I could not think of a more perfect gift to share with others!
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Plans are in place for the completion and successive launches of all four books in the next tier, the Show Series, starting with Pretty Sensation! This is followed by additional series projects with even more heat and sizzle to include gorgeous male protagonists, a nod to the sexy senior set, as well as a foray into the paranormal/historical realm with some exciting new titles. Jump onto my mailing list to stay in the know regarding news and new releases at https://www.jamiecollinsauthor.com. I would love to connect with you!
Follow me on social media, and feel free to reach out.
My books are available on all retail platforms including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Click here to buy https://www.jamiecollinsauthor.com/copy-of-books.
Marcia Rosen (aka M. Glenda Rosen) is the award-winning author of eleven books, including The Senior Sleuths and Dying To Be Beautiful Mystery Series and The Gourmet Gangster: Mysteries and Menus (Menus by her son Jory Rosen). She is also the author of The Woman’s Business Therapist and the award-winning My Memoir Workbook. For 25 years, she was the owner of a successful national marketing and public relations agency.
An Agatha, Raymond, Sherlock, and Me Mystery: Murder At The Zoo, will be published on March 14, 2023, by Artemesia Publishing.
March 2023: When she was a young girl, Miranda Scott read dozens of mystery books by authors such as Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler, and she loved characters like Sherlock Holmes. Then she began hearing their voices in her head suggesting what she should and should not do. After a body is tossed into the lions’ habitat at the Zoo where she is the senior veterinarian, Miranda and Detective Bryan Anderson find themselves investigating several murders and dealing with a group of bad guys, while gangster friends of her father’s are trying to protect her. Miranda and Bryan alternate between flirting and fighting off romantic feelings. Murder seems to keep getting in their way! “An Agatha, Raymond, Sherlock and Me: Murder at The Zoo” is hard to put down! You’ll enjoy getting to know the characters as you read this engaging mystery.” Cat Harper, National Steinbeck Center
I start writing on blue, pink, or purple lines paper, then transfer what I like onto the computer. I realize it would probably be cumbersome to many, but I write, rewrite, write, and rewrite many times. Then it goes to my editor. Once she has done her magic, I still review the entire book and usually accept about 80 percent of her suggestions. I do accept all her corrections regarding punctuation, spelling, and grammar, aware that is not any part of my skill set.
I’m currently working on the first book in my new cozy mystery series:
An Agatha, Raymond, Sherlock, and Me: Murder At The Zoo, will be published March 14, 2023, by Artemesia Publishing (www.apbooks.net)
After a body is tossed into the lions’ habitat at the zoo where she is the senior veterinarian, Miranda and Detective Bryan Anderson find themselves investigating several murders and dealing with a group of bad guys, while gangster friends of her father are trying to protect her. Plus, Miranda and Bryan alternate between flirting and fighting off romantic feelings.
A clever, intriguing, and gripping new cozy mystery filled with exciting twists and turns, bizarre murders, and fascinating characters, including several dead authors who seem to speak to Veterinarian Miranda Scott. A fan since childhood of Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Sherlock Holmes, their voices seem to live in her head frequently telling her what to do…and not do. Especially when it comes to solving mysteries. Murders, deceit, revenge, a gangster father, and a godfather also often get in the way of a fine romance!
Yes. Association memberships have been very helpful to me many times and in a number of ways. There is support, friendship, good connections, and opportunities to promote a book and publish articles on Association sites. They are an excellent resource for information on some murder/police details. I’m a member of:
Public Safety Writer’s Association
Sisters-in-crime (Croak&Dagger) New Mexico
Women Writing the West
National Association of Independent Writers & Editors
My advice for new writers, even old ones who have been writing for quite some time, is the same I give to myself when I have a moment of faltering. Believe in yourself, listen to your own voice, not others, be willing to ask for help and get good help, and even be willing to pay for it. Be persistent. Know you have the right to be a writer!
March 14, 2023 Murder At The Zoo will be available at the above plus www.aptbooks.net