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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Amazing Sharon Donovan - What inspires her to write!

Hope inspires me to write. I don’t plot, outline or suffer from writer’s block. I just write. After my near fatal heart attack in August, my heart echoes the quote of Isaac Asimov.

“If my doctor told me I had only six months to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

I’d like to share with you my journey to publication. My life has been a long and winding road, full of challenge, heartache and passion. I’ve been blessed with the gifts of faith and hope. Faith in myself and hope for a brighter tomorrow. I’m Irish, highly emotional, stubborn as all get up and fiercely determined. What didn’t kill me made me stronger.

After a long bout with diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes leading to progressive blindness, my life took a complete 180. I went from being a legal secretary where I prepared legal document for judges to not being able to see the paper, let alone the print. But worst than that, I could no longer pursue my passion of painting. I battled the retinopathy for two decades. Vision came and went. After undergoing twenty painful surgeries, I lost the battle and am now totally blind.

With a strong creative muse and nowhere to channel it, life became as dull as my existence. I was introduced to the world of audio books and fell in love with romantic suspense novels. The more I listened the more I began writing one in my head. But how would I put my words to paper if I couldn’t see what I was typing? Refusing to give up on the idea, I explored other options. If there’s a will there’s a way.

When I heard about a computer with adaptive software, converting text to synthesized speech, hope soared. With a new outlook and a new direction, I challenged myself to write a romantic suspense. How hard could it be after all.

Once I’d written my first full length novel, I envisioned agents and Hollywood movie producers beating a path to my door. Humming a happy tune, I whipped out twenty-one submission packages to top New York agents. Then I sat back, waiting for the phone to ring off the hook. It never rang. But slowly but surely, all agents responded to my romantic suspense, each a rejection letter. The worst of the lot said simply, “Your project does not excite us.”

With that little devil perched on my shoulder once more, my first reaction was to fire back an email of attack. Everything in me wanted to scream they’d be sorry when what they so carelessly pitched in the trash wound up a New York Times bestseller. But my psychology classes kicked in, and Freud’s ego component mediated between the devil and the angel. I orchestrated a new plan of attack, enrolling in creative writing classes, critique groups and attending conferences. It didn’t take long to realize why my novel was rejected. Using knowledge as power, I learned to accept criticism from group members. And while attending a conference, The door to Wild Rose Press was opened.

One more grain of knowledge to add to the list. I was marketing my novel in the wrong genre. While it had elements of romance, it did not fit the standard romance category and was rejected once more.

Unwilling to ditch the dream of having my first novel published, I set it aside on my hard drive. For the next two years, I focused on short stories of romance and had several short stories published by White Rose Publishing. Looking back now, I view the petals of the white roses as snowflakes from heaven. They were sent to me as messengers, reminding me that writing is a gift that takes time to craft. The old saying came to mind. “Stop and smell the roses.” Before my rosettes could blossom into full-grown roses, I needed to nurture them with tender loving care.

After more writing classes and critiques, I felt ready to move onward to a mission near and dear to my heart. I wrote Echo of a Raven, a book about my struggles with diabetic retinopathy, donating a percentage of proceeds to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) fight for a cure. More confident in my writing skills, I wrote a full length romantic suspense. Her Biggest Fan was contracted by Wild Rose Press. A month later, the same publishing house contracted Charade of Hearts as one of the books in their Jewel of the Night series.

It was time to tackle my first novel, still collecting dust on my hard drive.

While polishing it to the best of my ability, I recalled the words of a teacher in my writing class. She said the first book written is rarely the first book sold. Truer words were never spoken. After twenty-one rejection letters, three title changes and numerous rewrites, Mask of the Betrayer has a home with Whimsical Publications.

Rejection letters hurt, but for every rejection there is acceptance. The secret to all of this is faith. Faith will open doors. What’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned through all of this? I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow. Final words of wisdom for all aspiring writers. Never give up on a dream.

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream rose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.

Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven is a CTRR recipient, and The Claddagh Ring is a CAPA nominee. Lasting Love earned readers pick of the month at Find a Great Romance. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:

www.sharonadonovan.com

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win Sharon's book!

10 comments:

Miss Mae said...

I always love reading and learning more about Sharon. This gal has spunk, and let me tell you, she can write!

Love ya, Sharon, and I'm so glad to know you! :)

*please do not enter me in the giveaway* Thank you!

Gail Pallotta said...

What a wonderful interview. Sharon, I'm so happy that God has given you the gifts of writing and perseverence. I wish you much success with your writing and many blessings.

Celia Yeary said...

Lovely story of your journey through trials and tribulations, and on toward a bright and shining goal. I do applaud you from the depths of my heart. I cannot imagine. I read every word of your interviews, and I clearly remember first hearing about your stroke and all that followed, and prayed along with everyone else. God bless you...Celia

Diane Craver said...

Sharon and Anne,

I enjoyed this interview so much.

Sharon, I loved what you said about the petals of the white roses being like snowflakes from heaven when your short stories were published with White Rose. You accomplished so much already with your writing career. I wish you continued success with all your wonderful books!

Anne Patrick said...

Hi ladies! Thank you all so much for dropping by in support of Sharon. Isn't she just the greatest?

Sharon, it has been an honor to have you visit my blog. I enjoyed learning more about you and your wonderful works, and I wish you much success in all you do.

Hugs!
Anne

Sharon Donovan said...

Miss Mae, you are such a doll. Your friendship and encouragement mean the world to me.

Love and hugs,
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Gail, thank you so much for your lovely words. God has further writing plans for me, I guess.

Hugs
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Celia, did I ever tell you how much I love your name, so pretty. Thank you for your lovely words and thoughts and prayers.

Hugs

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you so much Diane. Those words echo my heart. If not for my little budding blossoms, the seeds to bigger flowers would not have been planted.

Hugs

Sharon Donovan said...

Anne, parting is such sweet sorrow. Oliver and I had a fabulous time all month on your blog. We love you~! Thank you for being such a wonderful hostess.

And the winner of all comments is Celia. Congratulations! You win an autographed book of your choice. A warm thank you to all. Happy reading.

Love and blessings

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith