A Little About Me
By Donna Jean McDunn
This is my first entry in my new blog. My goal is to blog at least once a week. I’m going to choose Thursdays for now, until I figure out what day is best. So please check back on Thursday. As you can see from the name of my blog, I’m Donna Jean McDunn and I write fiction. I write short stories for children and adults and maybe the occasional essay. I’ve recently finished writing a paranormal novel for teens (no, it’s not about vampires, it’s about ghosts and psychics and a serial killer in training).
As a child, my older sister and my mom used to read to me, so I grew up loving books. I couldn’t wait to go to school and learn to read and write and before long, I began to dream of becoming a writer. I started out like so many others, writing stories for my friends to read. The stories were always about us, me and my four best friends. Of course they loved them. Who wouldn’t? They were the stars in the stories. But I knew, deep down, the stories really sucked.
Many years went by and during that time, every once in awhile, I’d pull out my paper and pen and write, but gradually that became less and less until one day I woke up, and I was a grandma. (It really did seem like it happened that fast.)
It was June 2008 and I heard my biological, writer’s clock ticking. I realized if I was ever going to be a writer, I needed to begin now. I thought I’d start with a story for my grandchildren (at that time there were six, now there are eight). My first idea was to use one of my old stories, so I pulled them out…and laughed. I couldn’t give such horrible stuff to my grandkids.
I needed to learn to write for real. I decided to take a writing course. That first writer’s course was the beginning of a long and wonderful journey. Since then I have completed two other courses and I’m in the process of completing number four. I now have several short stories I’m proud of, a teen novel, the beginnings of another novel for women’s fiction and I’ve started planning another teen novel. I’ve also learned a lot from reading books and exploring websites about the do’s and don’ts of writing life. On the Internet, one of my favorite places to hang out is with Kristen Lamb www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com where I found the books “We Are Not Alone The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer”. They helped me create this blog.
From that first writing course, I found I had a lot to learn about accepting criticism with a smile. I believe this is what really held me back all those years ago. The first few times my instructor told me to rewrite my story and “show, don’t tell” I cried and then I got angry. My stories are my babies. I care about the characters and listening to someone say I’ve done something to hurt my baby…well it’s very hard to accept, but accept it, I had to, if I ever expected to be published. And I wanted that more than anything, so I did as she asked.
It made my stories so much better and I couldn’t begin to thank her enough. Editors have no time to worry about a writer’s feelings or care about a writer who refuses to change what needs to be changed. There are plenty of writers out there who will do whatever the editor asks of them without question. So, if I was ever going to have a prayer of being published, I had to be professional and treat my writing as a business, not my child. It’s critical to continue reading, writing and learning, as much as possible about writing, and the life that goes with it. That’s why at least one critique partner is important and writing courses are a must. They both helped to toughen me up and get me ready to submit and deal with editors in the real writing world.
Rejections are another part of writing that’s hard to accept. I began sending children’s and adult short stories out to online sights and print magazines. I’ve gotten a ton of rejections and I’ve saved every single one. My head said it wasn’t personal. Nevertheless, my heart was still broken. But, I kept submitting and eventually I had a couple of short stories for children published.
Here’s a direct link to my story “Pack Leader” at Knowonder Magazine. http://www.knowonder.com/2011/11/03/pack-leader-short-bedtime-stories/
I also have a story, “The Golden Stallion” online at www.storiesthatlift.com. (Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories).
In June I’ll have my first adult short story, “Saving Katie” published at www.thepinkchameleon.com.
Short stories are fun to write and writing for children is even more fun, but I wanted more. That’s why two of the classes I took were designed to teach me how to shape, write and sell novels. I will be submitting my YA paranormal novel to publishers soon. I’ll be sure to keep everyone informed.
In the other novel class designed to teach writing for adults, I’m learning how to write women’s fiction with a little romance, mystery and stalkers added in for flavor. I’ll let you know what happens with it too.
You may be wondering if I ever wrote that book for my grandkids and the answer is a yes. The story is about a stray mama cat (Belle) and our big red dog (Little Red) and how the two of them became friends. Belle produced several kittens before I was able to capture her (feral cats are smart). I finally managed to trap her and the kittens to get them all spay and neutered. I even used real pictures of the animals and the grandkids in the story. They loved it (the kids, not the cats). But like I told my oldest granddaughter when she asked me if it was a true story, she was twelve at the time, I said, “I write fiction. The story was based on real animals and people, but Little Red never rescued Belle from the creek across the road.” How about you? Are you a writer or a reader or maybe both, like me? I will reply to anyone who comments. How else could I get to know you?