Tag Archives: author

Did You Know?

Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time.

British mystery writer Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. It is estimated that she sold over 2 billion works, putting Christie’s books just behind the Bible and William Shakespeare in terms of most sales.

She has sold approximately a billion books in English, and another billion have been sold and translated into around 45 different foreign
languages.

She is the most translated author, and has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare. Since her first novel was published in 1920, Christie’s 80 works have been adapted into film versions 27 times.

Read More:
http://www.wisegeek.com/who-is-the-best-selling-novelist-of-all-time.htm?m

I found this very interesting and did a little more investigating to find out more about Agatha Christie.

She was born September 15, 1890 and died of ‘natural’ causes on January 12, 1976 at the age of 85.

Agatha Christie--Best Selling Author of all time!

Agatha Christie–Best Selling Author of all time!

I wonder if Ms. Christie really knew how much her books influenced the world of literature, plays, movies and television, and even video games, radio and comics or knows that she lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of fans who love and enjoy her work.

My greatest achievement, as an author is being published, but I’m practical. Becoming famous from a few eBooks is rare and ending up on the New York Times best seller’s list is only a dream.

Yet Agatha Christie managed something even more spectacular. Something no one else in the world has: The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time.

One last thing about Ms. Christie, as of 2014 media reports state that the BBC has acquired exclusive TV rights to her works in the UK and plans to air new productions for the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth in 2015.

What an amazing legacy Agatha Christie left for all of us to enjoy.

Thank you for reading my blog. In case you might be interested here is a link to my Amazon author’s page: Donna Jean McDunn’s Amazon author Page

I Don’t Want to be One of Those!

VISIONS book two of THE NIGHTMARES SERIES  Emily must help a murdered child find closure and stop a vengeful ghost from possessing and destroying innocent lives.

VISIONS book two of THE NIGHTMARES SERIES
Emily must help a murdered child find closure and stop a vengeful ghost from possessing and destroying innocent lives.

The second book in The Nightmares Series, Visions, is now available on MuseItUp Publishing’s and Amazon’s websites and also many other places where e-books can be found, but that’s not what this post is about.

I feel as though I’ve neglected my blog the last couple of weeks months okay! Years! I’m a terrible blogger. I admit it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy blogging, because I do. It’s really because I want to talk about my books and seriously, it’s not that I expect anyone to read them. I just like mentioning their titles, Nightmares, Visions and next year, The Rose Stalker and if that should happen to inspire someone to buy, well then that’s great. I’m not trying to force anyone into reading them, I just like telling people what they’re about.

Book One of The Nightmares Series: Emily must regain her memory of the past before a psychopath kills her and those she loves.

Book One of The Nightmares Series: Emily must regain her memory of the past before a psychopath kills her and those she loves.

Take Nightmares for example: It’s a paranormal/mystery about Emily. She’s eighteen and getting ready to graduate high school when a mysterious voice tells her she must remember her past and accept her gift of clairvoyance  in order to prevent her own demise and others.

The really exciting news, Nightmares will be published sometime between now and Christmas as a paperback. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands!

I was talking the other day to another author who agrees with me, that people get tired of always having someone trying to sell them their books. It gets really annoying when that’s all they talk about.

Everywhere you go, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, it doesn’t matter, there are ads at every click of the mouse. Buy My Book! And whatever you do, don’t give them your email address or you’ll come home to find hundreds of “Buy My Book” emails.

I don’t want to be one of those people. If I can’t think of something else to write about…well then, I’m just not going to blog, and I thought I should explain my reasons.

Say! Did I mention that The Rose Stalker will be released sometime in the spring/summer of 2015? Isn’t that exciting? I don’t have a cover for it yet, but I’ll share it when I do. But don’t worry, I won’t mention “buy my book” even once.

Please leave a comment and make some suggestions about what you would like me to write about. I can use all the help anyone can provide.

 

NIGHTMARES GIVE AWAY WINNERS!!!!

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

The giveaway is now closed and the winner on my blog and on Lorraine’s has been chosen.

Drum roll please–and the winner of Donna Jean McDunn’s “Nightmares” giveaway is: Sherri!

And the winner on Lorraine fabulous blog is: Diana Marinova!

Congratulations to both winners and thank you all for joining us.

Find my “Nightmares” and my short story “Trapped” an anthology, Mystery Times Nine 2012 both are found here on Amazon.

Some of my online short stories can be found at these wonderful sights. knowonder! your bedtime story and story time resource – a story a day awaitsStories That LiftNew Bumples Interactive Magazine, Online Magazine for Children.The Pink Chameleon and Page & Spine: fiction showcase – The Front Page.

Please “like” my author page and/or friend me on Facebook.

Profile Page: http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

And please check out my book Nightmares and Mystery Times Nine 2012 both right here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_8?ie=UTF8&field-author=Donna+Jean+McDunn&search-alias=books&text=Donna+Jean+McDunn&sort=relevancerank

ANNOUNCING A GIVEAWAY

Lorraine Reguly

Lorraine Reguly

I met Lorraine Reguly on LinkedIn and discovered her blog. I enjoyed her writing so much I decided to sign up to follow her. Lorraine writes about everything, from very serious and personal life subjects, to topics on writing, social media, blogging and the occasional review and interview.

On one of her posts, (You can find it here) she offered to let anyone include a link of their blog or website in the comments and to be sure to leave a little information about themselves. She encouraged other bloggers to visit these sites. So of course I added my blog and Facebook author page and I mentioned my debut novel, “Nightmares” was published May 8, 2013 by MuseItUp Publishing.

Soon after posting my information on her blog, she contacted me and offered to post a review of my new e-book Nightmares on Goodreads if I sent her a copy.

Of course, I agreed.

A mysterious "voice" warns Emily that she is in danger. She believes she's losing her mind!

As promised she posted this review to Goodreads: “Nightmares” is a well-crafted suspenseful tale that encompasses psychic visions, murderous intent, love, betrayal and acceptance within a captivating storyline. By the third chapter, you’ll be hooked, drawn in by the author to the dilemmas faced by a teenage girl – a young woman – who has a special “gift” of both seeing and hearing things. You’ll join her on her journey of discovery and acceptance while she and her boyfriend match wits with a killer and frequently find themselves in precarious situations. The plot twist will both surprise and satisfy you and leave you wanting more. That is how it was for me – a very good read, indeed!

Hey! She gave it four stars! Not bad for a first book!

The review was great, but she wasn’t done yet, she asked if I would do an interview. Of course I said yes.

If you’re interested in learning more about “Nightmares” and The Nightmares Series, you won’t want to miss the interview on November 1, 2013 on Lorraine’s blog.

It could be your chance to WIN one of two FREE “Nightmares” (The book, not bad dreams) that will be given away to TWO lucky winners.

As I mentioned earlier, “Nightmares” is in e-book format and the two winners will have their choice of PRC=Kindle, e-pub=Nook, PDF=Adobe Reader or HTML=For Web Browser. If you don’t have a Kindle, go to Amazon and get free Apps for your computer, Smart Phone and several other devices. If you don’t have a Nook go here for your free Apps.

This is our way of saying thanks for reading our blogs. All you have to do is post a comment on my blog ON THIS POST and become one of my followers. (If you are already a follower, then you are eligible to win after posting the comment).

If you’d like to double your chances of winning, go to Lorraine’s blog on November 1, 2013 and post a comment after reading the interview and join her followers (If you are already her follower then you are eligible to win, if you’ve posted a comment).

Simple! Right!

The giveaway will run for the first three weeks of November, starting on Friday, November 1, 2013 and ending on Friday, November 29th, 2013. The two winners, one from my site and one from Lorraine’s site, will be chosen randomly using a random generator.

Lorraine and I are both looking forward to seeing you, so please don’t disappoint.

See you then!

Note: We get notifications from WordPress whenever someone follows our blogs via email-not when we gain followers via the WordPress “reader”, so make sure that you click on the button that says: Follow Bog Via and an email will be sent to you. It can be found in the sidebars of our blogs and we will be able to track our new followers and know who is eligible for the prizes!!! Thanks! 🙂

My short story “Trapped” is included in an anthology, Mystery Times Nine 2012 and published by Buddhapuss Ink Publishing on December 6, 2012 and can be found on Amazon. I have had short stories published online at knowonder! your bedtime story and story time resource – a story a day awaitsStories That LiftNew Bumples Interactive Magazine, Online Magazine for Children.The Pink Chameleon and Page & Spine: fiction showcase – The Front Page.

My blog: https://donnajeanmcdunn.wordpress.com/  Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean.

I can also be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Are you excited about winning a free book? Do you like mysteries? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

For additional chances to win, enter your name into the contest by sharing THIS POST on Twitter using the hashtag #NightmaresBookGiveaway. For even more chances, share Lorraine’s post: A Special Featured Friday, Featuring Author Donna Jean McDunn, and A BOOK GIVEAWAY! using the same hashtag! There is no limit on how many “shares” you can earn – so share, share, share! 🙂 (NOTE that the link to this post won’t work until November the 1st)

#NightmaresBookGiveaway

Heroes For When Lightning Strikes

Know the warning signs

Know the warning signs

Sometimes I think this world has gone completely mad. You can’t watch TV without seeing horrible atrocities committed by people against other humans. But then in the same newscast there will often be stories about people coming together and doing some wonderful and even sacrificial things to help others, which in turn, proves that this world isn’t all bad and there are heroes everywhere.

It’s similar to what happens when a personal disaster, one that affects only you and your immediate loved ones. In this case I’m not talking about man against man, but nature against human. That’s when you quickly learn who your heroes are.

I thought I was going to die!

I thought I was going to die! It was Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:17 am

I heard the rumbles of thunder while I was still in the shower and I hurried to finish, worried that the power might go out before I removed all the shampoo from my hair.  (We live in the country and have to depend on electricity to pump water into the house, no power, no water.) I managed to finish showering and drying my hair before it happened.

The whole place shook and the noise was sharp and deafening and I could smell something burning almost immediately. I had no idea what the lightning struck, but I thought it was the house. I put on a bathrobe, picked up my little dog, Annie, who was as terrified as me and looked out the front door. I could see my car beside the house and from the doorway, it looked like the car’s passenger side was on fire. My heart plummeted a my knees almost buckled.

I knew I had to do something, even if it was to just get out of the house, because if my car was burning, then it would explode and the house would go too. Shaking so bad I could hardly walk, wearing only a bathrobe and no shoes, carrying Annie and my cell phone, I ventured outside, feeling guilty because I was leaving my four cats in the house. 

The tree was split from the ground to almost the top!

The tree was split from the ground to almost the top!

It was apparent right away that lightning had struck the large cottonwood tree on the other side of our driveway. The tree was badly split and still smoldering  in spite of the rain. I made my way behind the car and that’s when I saw the flames coming from the driveway. The ground was on fire. The only source it could be coming from was the propane line that ran from the tank,  in front of the tree and into the house.

My first thought was to move my car away from the fire and I started to go back inside to get my keys. I realized there wasn’t time…I had to shut the propane tank off now.

Only one problem, I had no idea how to do it. My husband always did that sort of thing, but I’ve seen enough explosions on TV to know that if I didn’t, it would probably explode either the furnace or the tank or maybe both and I wouldn’t be able to outrun it. Besides, I would be sentencing the four cats inside to a sure death. I had to do something, even if it was wrong.

I opened the lid on the top of the tank and chose the knob that looked like a shut off valve and twisted. The flame made a sucking noise and went out. I held my breath for a few seconds, praying it hadn’t sucked the flame inside the tank or sent it into the furnace. When nothing happened, this gave me hope that I had done the right thing.

I went inside the house and I could still smell something hot. The smell was stronger now. I had to call 911 in case there was a fire inside the walls.

But there was another problem.

In my own defense, I was home alone, my husband had already left for for his job. I was shaking so badly I could hardly stand and my mind would not focus. I still had enough wits about me to know in an emergency seconds count, so I grabbed my cell phone again, but…

I have to explain that I had just gotten a new smart phone about a month or so before. It was the first of it’s type I had ever owned and I had been slowly learning how to use it.

Well, and I know this is going to make it sound like I’m really just nuts, but I couldn’t remember how to make an outgoing call. I’d only done it once before. Everyone I call are in my contacts and I did remember how to get to them, so I pushed contacts, then favorites and hit the first one at the top.

Again, in my own defense, seconds count in an emergency. I still wasn’t sure the house wasn’t on fire because the smell of something burning had grown stronger. I had read of peoples houses smoldering inside the walls before igniting. I couldn’t take the time to explain what was wrong. So when my daughter, who lives forty-five minutes away, answered the phone, I said, “Jamie, call 911 for me”, and I hung up.

I then called my husband, Pat, he’s programmed too and I told him what had happened and that I had called Jamie to call 911.  He works more than 50 miles away and I was worried he’d drive too fast coming home, but he had to know and I needed him at home.

By now I had calmed enough to remember how to use my cell and I called the power company and they said they would be right out.

Because I didn’t tell Jamie why I needed her to call 911, they sent a deputy sheriff who showed up about ten minutes later. As soon as I saw him, I felt better, I was no longer alone, but then I had to confess why I didn’t make the call myself. He was very nice and understanding. He asked me if I wanted him to look around or he said he could send the fire department. I told him about the fire in the driveway and that I had already put the fire out and he laughed. I really wasn’t trying to be funny, but I do see the irony in it now.

It wasn’t long after the deputy arrived that our long time neighbors and friends (they are both retired) drove in. I hadn’t even thought about calling them, but Pat had. The deputy was just about ready to leave by then and that’s when, Jamie and her husband David arrived and of course Jamie chewed me out about how I called her and then hung up. According to her husband, she was almost in as bad a shape as her mother.

Our son-in-law, David brought us a generator to use until we could get the power back on. It worked great.

We had to replace the breaker box inside the house and many of the outlets, which meant we needed an electrification to replace the box. We contacted several, but they were all to busy and then our son-in-law David said he knew someone and he called him. The guy couldn’t come that day, but promised he would be there the next day and he was. By the end of Thursday, one day after the lightning strike, we had electricity again.

We needed to have the furnace checked out and because of the circumstances of a lightning strike, the guy made a special effort to come out right away. The temps were only in the forties during the day.

He had bad new for us. The furnace was completely ruined. He told us if we wanted to get a second opinion, he didn’t mind and when we declined, he said he could be there the next day with a new one.

Our New Furnace

Our New Furnace

How often do contractors actually show up when they say they’re going to? He was a man of his word! He brought everything needed for the repairs. He even brought a trencher, something he doesn’t normally do, to put in the new propane gas line and regulator to the house. By the end of that day, Thursday, only one day after the strike, we had a new working furnace.

The telephone box outside on the opposite end of the house from the lightning strike.

The telephone box outside on the opposite end of the house from the lightning strike. Pieces of it were found in the middle of the yard.

The phone lines throughout most of the house were also melted, which explains what I had smelled burning. The main line from the basement was melted into the carpet in the living room.

The phone company sent someone that day and the guy went out of his way to fix what he could, even doing a few replacements he wasn’t supposed to do, but by the time he left, we again had a land line that worked, only one day after the lightning strike.

The phone line that was melted to the carpet.

The phone line that was melted to the carpet.

In the basement, besides the furnace, the lightning split the water pipes and Pat replaced the pipes Thursday morning.

Our TV in the living room and the DirecTV receiver, were ruined. The satellite on the roof was fine. We had just gotten a new box about a month before, because our old one had quit working. When I called, I explained to the girl what had happened to the new one and she said we were covered under an act of nature clause, which meant it was replaced for free. We didn’t even have to pay the technician that came and installed it on Friday, two days after the lightning strike.

The lightning also destroyed my computer in my office. I’m posting this from my work computer. The good news…my files were backed up.

The cottonwood tree after the lightning strike, was split almost to the top. It creaked and twisted in the wind. It was another disaster waiting for a strong wind to make it happen. The thing had to come down and soon.

Pat, two of his brothers and a brother-in-law spent the weekend taking it down. Not an easy task with a tree that size, while it loomed over the top of our house, but they managed it.

The offending tree is now gone.

The offending tree is now gone.

It has been almost a month since that day and we are almost completely back to normal. Although I will never hear another rumble of thunder and not think about that day and what might have happened if I had still been in the shower when it struck, I am happy to be alive today.

Someone was watching over me that morning and I feel blessed that so many people went out of their way to help us, going above and beyond of what they had to do. They didn’t risk their lives doing it, but they saved ours and for that they are my heroes.

What kind of personal disasters have you faced? Were there heroes who came to your rescue? Tell me about it.

My Young Adult debut novel is now on Amazon: Amazon.com: Donna Jean McDunn Nightmares: Kindle Store

MuseItUp Publishing’s website Nightmares

 

Working With An Editor

This is a depiction of my mood when I opened my manuscript after my editor was finished with it the first time. Please notice the sun just beginning to come through the clouds after the storm. Yeah, I got over it too.

Working With An Editor

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

If you are a traditionally published author or a self published author who hired an editor to look over your manuscript, then you have worked with an editor. You know that feeling of seeing the email come in with your work attached after the editor has gone over it. Part of you is excited and can’t wait to open it and learn what she thinks of all your hard work, but then there’s the other part of you that’s scared to death. What if she hated it and has changed her mind or wants you to rewrite the entire book.

That’s how I felt anyway as I stared at the email with my manuscript, Nightmares in the subject line, for five minutes. I couldn’t bring myself to open it, so instead of facing it right then, I washed the dishes, sorted the laundry, fed the cats, cleaned the cat pans and finally worked up enough courage to see what she had to say.

The first thing I saw in the body of the e-mail, after the greeting of, Hi Donna, were these words: “Okay, I’ve gone through the first four chapters. Now is the moment where you take a breath and relax. When you open the attachment you will see many, many things. Don’t panic. Have no fear. :o)”

Let me tell you, the happy face at the end did nothing to squelch the growing panic in my stomach. I literally had to close my eyes, afraid to read any further. My first rational thought a few minutes later: Was my story really that bad? My second: Is she going to make me rewrite the entire first four chapters of my book as I had feared earlier? My third and final thought: What are my choices?

I could delete the whole thing and pretend I never received it and never see my book published or I could keep reading and find out exactly what she wanted.

I chose to continue reading and my fear began to subside as I read. She didn’t want to be my ghostwriter; all she wanted to do was spruce up my words a little. She wrote that she had made a few adjustments and offered suggestions, all of which I had the choice of accepting or rejecting or simply changing to something I thought might work better.

Then she went on to explain how to accept or reject the edited material and how to add my own comments, plus she recommended a course on sentence structure and longer sentences, put out by www.thegreatcourses.com and is called Building Great Sentences. This was exciting; I’m always open to learning more about writing, but then I realized this was her way of introducing her first big complaint and she thought most of my sentences were too short.

I’ll admit it irked me a little, because I had also read that a variety of sentence lengths are important and I’ve read where other big name authors have recommended short sentences because it kept a story moving along and young adult readers liked it that way.

So what do you do? I believe mostly it’s a matter of preference and because she’s the editor, I’m not going to argue. As long as it doesn’t damage the content or change the message of what I want the reader to get from the sentence, I’ll do my best to revise it to her liking.

My editor’s other complaint was about repetitive words, which is pretty much universal with everyone. Even I get annoyed when I read books that continually use the same words or phrases multiple times and especially in the same paragraph.

A few months ago, I read this great young adult novel series that I loved. I can’t wait for the next and final book to be published, but there was one thing that started to bug me. The author used the phrase: “He shuddered” or “She shuddered” all the time and in all four of her books and multiple times on the same page. It started to wear pretty thin, but not enough to keep me from finishing the series, yet some people may not be as forgiving as I am about repeats.

The problem is, when it’s your own work; it is SO much harder to catch. I realized when I read my own manuscript silently to myself or out loud, I still couldn’t see or hear all the repeated words, but believe me, an editor will and your manuscript will come back to you with a bunch of highlighted words all over the place.

The way I have solved that problem, okay solved might not be the correct usage, but I have managed to find so many more duplicates by going over each line in a paragraph and comparing it to all of the other sentences, deliberately looking for one word at a time to see how often I had used it.

The first time I wrote the paragraph above, I had repeated at least two or three times the following words; book, catch, repeat, repeated and duplicate. I corrected the problem by thinking of synonyms. Example: Book, replaced with manuscript, catch, replaced with find, repeated, replaced with duplicates so that in the end I used each word and the synonym only once.

So do yourself a favor and look for duplicate words in all of your work before you submit the manuscript to any publishers or agents. The publisher will still have their editor look over the manuscript and there will be changes, it’s inevitable because much of writing is subjective, but in the end you’ll be glad you did.

What do you think, do repetitive words bother you? And which do you prefer, short sentences, long ones or a verity of lengths? Do you believe much of writing is subjective?

Here’s a link for anyone interested in a contest for young adults. It closes October 31, 2012 so get your story in soon. It pays $500 for 1st prize. Check it out: http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/af627/

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

When I started writing at a very young age, I did it for myself because I had something I wanted to say. I never thought about getting published or who might want to read my stories. I just knew I loved to write.

Looking back at that time, I didn’t have a fear of being laughed at or criticized at least not until someone said, “I thought you had a better imagination than that”. Those words were spoken by my older sister, who is nine years older than I am, after I foolishly let her read a short story I had written. I was fifteen.

I put that short story away and didn’t look at it again for many years, but those words echoed in my brain for a long time whenever I was writing and I’d feel that same squeezing pain in my heart and wonder if I could ever be good enough.

I continued to write back then though, but my readers consisted only of my close friends, who I knew would love my stories, because they usually had the leading roles.

Of course I finally grew up and would write sometimes, but with a husband, three growing daughters, a full time job as a short order cook and livestock and gardening, I didn’t have much time or energy for much writing. But as the saying goes, “Nothing ever stays the same”.

Our daughters grew up too and finally moved out of the house. I still work full time, but now I work in an office that allows me to use my free time for whatever I want. We no longer have livestock, but we do still garden. I just don’t freeze and “can” produce as much as I used to.

By the time 2008 rolled around, we had six grandkids and I began thinking about writing a story for the two oldest granddaughters. They both loved to read, but then while reading a storybook to two of my grandsons, I suddenly saw something in my grandkids I hadn’t seen in anyone in many years; a safe audience. I could count on them to like what I wrote and not criticize.

I pulled out my old stories. I hadn’t read any of them in years and now I could see how lame they were. As for the story I had my sister read, well it wasn’t the gem I had thought it was all those years ago. My reaction wasn’t even as nice as what my sister had said to me. I didn’t know why I felt that way. I just knew they sucked and I needed help.

I decided right then, I had to write a story all the grandkids would love, starring the feral mother of five new kittens we found in the woodpile a few weeks before. I already thought of a title, “Wild and Free”.

But first, I had to take a writing class and boy did it open my eyes. I had the answer to why my sister thought I had no imagination and why I knew all the stories I had written as a kid sucked.

I had made the same mistakes almost all new writers make. I used a lot of dreams and the protagonist’s memories to fill in back story I felt my readers needed to know. But in the story my sister read, I had made the biggest mistake of all, I had my protagonist wake up and realize the entire story had only been a nightmare.

At the time, I thought it was clever and original and maybe it was when the first few hundred writers used a dream to end their stories back when they first invented the alphabet, but even in 1965, an ending like that was pretty lame.

All the new knowledge about “how” to write led me on a new mission. I wanted to fix the mistakes I had made in that short story my sister read. I worked on it for over two years. The story grew from a short story, to a young adult paranormal/mystery novel. The story changed so much it doesn’t resemble the original at all. The title, “Nightmares” and the fact my protagonist has nightmares are the only things I didn’t change. In fact I can guarantee Emily the protagonist, will not wake up and find she’s only had a nightmare.

Muse It Up Publishing will release my book “Nightmares” in May 2013. I’ve started working on the sequel.

I look back now and realize, even though it hurt, my sister did me a huge favor by telling me what she really thought. It was something I needed to hear. It’s true she could have done it in a kinder way. I’m still grateful though because it turned out to be the worst and the best critique ever for me. It sparked the motivation to take those writing classes forty-six years later just so I could finally prove her wrong and write a great story for my grandkids.

 

 My grandkids benefited too. In the picture above, all six of them received the story “Wild and Free” for Christmas that year. It has pictures of the real animals the story is about and there are pictures of them in it too. They loved it or at least that’s what they said. Now I have two more grandkids. I guess it’s time for a new story for them.How about you, what was the best and/or worst thing someone has said about your writing?As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

Twitter is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

Claim This As Your Motto: Let It Be Me

Become everything that God wants you to be. It is within your reach!

Claim This As Your Motto: Let It Be Me

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

What do these three things have in common with writing: Taekwondo, Weight Watchers and Mary Kay Cosmetics? If you’ve read my bio, then you know I became a third degree black belt in Songahm Taekwondo at the age of 58. During my years of training and teaching Taekwondo, there were several recurring themes for students and teachers alike and I soon learned that was also true for Mary Kay and Weight Watchers.

For Taekwondo:  Commit to goals, Keep promises, Persevere through challenges, Honor those who surround you and Be loyal

For Weight Watchers: Set goals, Stay motivated, Make smart choices, Learn the program, and Learn to overcome obstacles

For Mary Kay Cosmetics: Set goals, Follow the Golden Rule, Pursue your dreams, Enthusiasm propels you forward to meet challenges and Have a “sharing and caring” attitude

Do you see the similar theme running throughout all of these as I did? Each set was designed to educate, encourage, motivate and overcome challenges. When the leaders talked about reaching goals, they would often ask, “What is your dream? Where do you want to be in five or ten years?”

My answer for Taekwondo was easy. I wanted to be a black belt and an instructor. The answer for Weight Watchers was also easy; I wanted to lose 40 pounds. But when it came to Mary Kay Cosmetics I wasn’t sure and I didn’t quite know why.

During my training for Taekwondo I set goals, persevered through the challenges, reached my goals, set new ones and kept my promises to myself never to give up. I honored those around me by showing respect, helping in whatever way I could and by doing this I brought not only honor, but also loyalty to the dojo and sensei. I worked hard and I am a black belt.

During those years of learning Taekwondo, I also needed to lose weight and I wanted to be sure I was as healthy as possible. I wasn’t getting any younger, you know. Taekwondo is a great exercise, but for me it wasn’t enough to lose all the weight I needed too.

Weight Watchers moved in next door to the dojo and I thought why not give it a whirl? So I joined. I began hearing a very familiar theme from the first day I attended, “set goals and with hard work and perseverance you’ll realize your dream.”

I already knew how to set goals and I knew it took work to reach them. I already understood I had to keep learning. The only difference now was instead of learning forms and free sparing; I needed to learn how to be a Weight Watcher.

Instead of breaking boards and side kicks, I needed to learn how to make smart choices, stay motivated and how to overcome obstacles in real life situations. I had to learn about nutrition and diet and exercise and how they go hand in hand with one another. Diet and nutrition without exercise or exercise without diet and nutrition, just doesn’t work for me.

After two years and oh so many obstacles and ups and downs, I had lost forty-five pounds. I worked hard, reached my goals and I am a Weight Watcher.

My oldest daughter introduced me to Mary Kay Cosmetics. She convinced me and my youngest daughter to join her in Mary Kay. I loved the product and I enjoyed the other women who attended the meetings and by selling it, I received a discounted price. So I was hooked and now I was hearing the same familiar tune of set goals, follow the golden rule, pursue your dreams, enthusiasm propels you forward to meet challenges and have a “sharing and caring” attitude.

The recurring theme of “Pursue your dream” first with Taekwondo and then with Weight Watchers and now with Mary Kay, always made me think of writing. When I was young that was my dream, but life got in my way and I thought I had missed my chance so I would push it out of my mind. I told myself I wasn’t any good at it anyway and no one would want to read anything I wrote. I told myself I was too old and I’d die before I ever got anything into print.

So whenever I heard someone say pursue your dreams (you hear it a lot more at Mary Kay meetings and seminars than you do anywhere else) I would ignore the hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach and continued pursuing my goals in Mary Kay. I thought I could make enough money to quit my day job, set my own hours and still have time to write. But even though I loved the product and the people and Mary Kay Ash is someone I wish I could have known (she passed away in 2001), my heart wasn’t in it.

I didn’t need to quit my day job to be able to write and as it turned out, it was Mary Kay Ash who convinced me I should pursue my real dream.

I was watching a special on TV about her life and they showed her talking on stage to a huge audience at a seminar in DallasTX. These were her words:

“Do you know that within your power lies every step you ever dreamed of stepping and within your power lies every joy you ever dreamed of seeing? Within yourself lies everything you ever dreamed of being. Become everything that God wants you to be. It is within your reach. Dare to grow into your dreams and claim this as your motto: Let it be me.”

Of course she was talking about Mary Kay and becoming an Independent National Sales Director and earning a free pink Cadillac, but that’s not what I thought about when I heard those words. My head said, don’t be a fool, but my heart was screaming be a writer.

I still am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, but I don’t pursue it the way many do. I love and use the product and I know a few ladies who use it too. I put an order in once in awhile, just enough to stay active.

I’m also still a member of Songahm Taekwondo, although I no longer teach. I’m also a member of Weight Watchers, but instead of attending meetings. I attend online.

In my heart, I’m grateful to all three for everything I’ve learned. I don’t believe I’d be pursuing my dream today if I hadn’t been part of each one of them. Everything I’ve learned about pursuing writing as a career, I’ve already learned from Taekwondo, Weight Watchers and Mary Kay, well everything that is except how to show don’t tell.

When I need a dose of encouragement or want to tell someone about my newest writing project, I turn to the Internet and go where the writer’s are, in blogs, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and a dozen other sites. There’s no shortage of good advice, words of encouragement and best of all when I see the words “Pursue your Dreams” I can say, “I’ve worked hard and I am a writer.”

How about you? Are you pursuing your dream? Have you always had the same dream? How did you decide what your dream would be?

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address or where you can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter I will like, follow you, or Tweet in return.

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

I was recently chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of the nine winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at: (13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update you then.

My first adult short story, “Saving Katie” has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story “Pack Leader” can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

In May 2012, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between the ages of 4-10, it might be worth it.

Proactive Means Taking Charge

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Did this guy learn to do this by simply reading about it? Or did he become proactive, take charge and just do it? 

 Proactive Means Taking Charge

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

I have a habit of saving things I read on the Internet. Little scraps of ideas or sayings, quotes or names I like and may use in a story someday, sometimes its web addresses of websites or blogs that I liked and want to remember. I’ll copy and paste them into a word document so I can read it again later.

Of course after I do this, I promptly forget about them. Then weeks or even months later, while trying to clean up my computer from all the stuff I’ve saved over time, I’ll come across one of those rare ones I should have been reading everyday.

I really need to apologize to the author of this little gem I found, because I didn’t save her (I say “her”, but it could have been a “him”.) I didn’t save her name or even where I found the original article. So if anyone reading this recognizes the words and knows the author’s name please let me know. I want to give her the credit she deserves.

I had no idea in January of 2011; I would start a blog in 2012 and want to pass on some of the great stuff I’d saved. Now when I find things, I do save the authors’ names and where I find the information, but it’s too late for this particular article to get her consent.

The author starts out with: “Fate does not run your writing career. You do.”

Then she lists ten things she believes anyone starting out in the writing business should be prepared to do. Most of what she listed, I now do and some I had to modify to fit my goals.

  1. looking for new markets…check
  2. finishing a novel and starting a new one…check
  3. beginning a blog…check
  4. finding the perfect agent…working on it
  5. landing a publisher…working on it
  6. establishing your writing career…check
  7. attending a conference to find your footing…someday
  8. locating or starting a critique group…working on it
  9. publishing in that magazine you’ve feared for too long…This one I would change to “sending queries/manuscripts to various markets”…check
  10. finding a writing mentor/partner…check

The list may not apply to you if you’re not a writer. And even if you are a writer, there are many different kinds of writers. Some writers write news stories, articles for magazines, short stories of fiction and/or nonfiction, books of fiction, and books of nonfiction…well you get my drift. Some of the list may not apply to you either and that’s okay, just modify the list by setting your own goals and work toward fulfilling your dream.

So what is your passion? Maybe it’s photography or painting beautiful portraits or starting your own business. Whatever we aspire to do or become can only be accomplished if we take charge and press forward toward a specific goal.

In this same article, the author goes on to further state: “Proactive means taking charge instead of waiting for events to find you.”

I think, to put it another way, if we’re still “dreaming” and wishing for something to happen, but not working toward a goal, then we’re not proactive. We’re not moving forward. We’re stagnant. Have you ever seen stagnant water, it’s not a pretty sight and it smells bad too. Are you stagnant?

What are ten things you should be doing to move forward toward your dream? Have you set reachable goals?

It takes more than just setting goals though. The article goes on to say: “being proactive and taking charge would help you fare much better, appreciate yourself more, and open new doors of opportunity by grabbing 2012 and molding it to your desires”.

I began taking charge in 2008. Not by “trying” to reach my goals. The article said “taking charge”, because by taking charge I’m no longer giving myself permission to be excused if I fail. I’m doing the things that make me uncomfortable, like blogging, socializing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, branding my name and sending out queries and manuscripts, searching for markets. I could just write and not do any of the other stuff, and I could say I’m “trying” to be a writer. I’m writing, aren’t I, and learning, but who’s going to read my work if no one knows it exists. Are you really a writer if you don’t have readers. I tried for forty plus years for fate to make me a writer. It never happened and it wasn’t going too, because all I did was “try”. Trying is not doing.

So if trying isn’t the answer, what is? I decided to become proactive, take charge and make things happen. It’s taken time and effort, but I’ve already won; I became a writer and an author in my own eyes that day. And that’s where it has to start. The author of the original article made one final, but important point in her article. She wrote: “If 2011 wasn’t to your liking, make a change. No one else can do it for you.”

Just like the guy in the picture above and the quote here; you’ll never know what you can do until you do it, take charge…and be proactive.

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretsky

As always, I appreciate your opinions or questions. Please, leave a comment. If you leave your blog or website address or where you can be found on Facebook or Twitter I will follow you, leave a comment, like, or Tweet in return.

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

I was recently chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at: (13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update you then.

My first adult short story, “Saving Katie” has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story “Pack Leader” can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

.In May 2012, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between the ages of 4-10, it might be worth it.

The Many Blogs and Facebook Pages I’ve Visited

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It’s definitely not Iowa!

The Many Blogs and Facebook Pages I’ve Visited

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time on social networks. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are places I used to be afraid to explore. I don’t know why or even what I thought could happen if I did. Steal my identity I suppose or make fun of what I had to say. But then someone encouraged me to try and I have met some very nice people.

The one thing I couldn’t quite understand about some of these sites is why so many don’t want to have their names on the site or if they do, I still had to spend a lot of time figuring out where it was. What are they hiding or trying to hide?

Many are promoting their books on their blogs, websites, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Well, okay, I don’t mind, I’ll be doing the same when I have a book to promote, but it’s still nice to know whom I’m talking too. Are you a real person or a clever machine? Without a name or a picture of a human face, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Of course, there are certain personal things I would never put on any of the sites. My home address is one and I would never give out any of my phone numbers. The closest I would come to saying where I live is in Iowa. I know that’s not exactly an exotic place to live, but I like it.

I am a writer. An author. I write short stories and books. Someday, I even hope to get paid for writing my stories. So that means I’ll need readers, people who know my name. If they like me as a person, they’ll be more willing to read what I write. If, as a writer, I stayed anonymous and no one had ever heard of me, how could I ever expect to have anyone searching for me or my stories? If I wanted to stay anonymous I’d use a pen name, but at least it would be a name people can relate too.

I started this blog to let people know what kind of person I am. I hope in doing so, they will like me (and I don’t mean only on my Facebook page “like”) and hopefully they’ll be willing to at least check out my books when (notice I said when, not if) they are published.

Something else I’ve noticed about many of the sites I’ve visited, is the branding of the book titles. Some of the stories haven’t even been published and that’s okay if I’m self-publishing. But what if I want to find a brick and mortar publisher? Many times a publisher will change the name from the original one the author gave it and then what?

I’d have to either refuse letting them change it and possibly lose a contract or I’d have to start all over with a new blog. If I had branded my name instead of the title and gave the domain my name or a variation of it, I wouldn’t have to worry. I could add as many books as I could write to that one blog and promote them right there.

I also started wondering if I did brand just my book and story titles, how would anyone searching on any of the search engines know they’ve found the author who wrote the book they wanted to read.

Titles are not protected. Domain names are. There could be a thousand books with the same title. My name could be the difference between the reader giving up and settling for someone else’s book or blog with the same name or finding me.

Another problem I could see with branding only the book title is; how many books am I going to write. What if I write 20 books or more, am I going to brand each book separate and have a blog or author page for each one. The truth is, I couldn’t keep up with that many promotions. I’d go crazy trying. I do have a life I want to keep along with my writing.

And what if I’m lucky enough to find a traditional publisher to do the marketing for me, all I’d have to do is sit back and rake in the money. Yeah! Right! The traditional publisher is no longer so traditional. Many of them expect the author to have a presence on the social media sites, just as the not so traditional publishers do and self-publishing is an option now too. It’s becoming more and more accepted, but who’s going to take a chance and buy my book if no one has ever heard of me and the only image of me is of an avatar? They probably won’t because they will go to the person they feel they know and have a connection with.

That’s why politicians spend so much time and money on letting the people meet and greet them. If the potential voters feel they know and like the candidate, they are more likely to vote for them.

Here’s someone else’s opinion on this subject. Explore Kristen Lamb’s blog and read what she says about branding. She’s a best selling author. She’s also very honest about how she first started out and what her expectations were. She’s funny, smart, a great teacher on writing and she says she learned the hard way and felt very alone and that’s why she wrote these two best selling books. Her website: http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com

Her books: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media

Are You There Blog? It’s Me Writer

As always, I appreciate your opinions or questions. Please, leave a comment. If you leave your blog or website address or where you can be found on Facebook or Twitter I will follow you, leave a comment, like, or Tweet in return and do my best to get to know you.

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

I was recently chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at:

(13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update you then.

My first adult short story, “Saving Katie” has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story “Pack Leader” can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

In May 2012, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between 4-10, it might be worth it.