About Donna Barker:
I write quirky women’s fiction and rebel romance. Why rebel? Well, because ‘proper’ romance writers bristle at my heroines’ paths to happily ever after. Honestly, why is okay for heroes to explore their options but when a heroine wants to make sure she’s fallen for the right guy she’s called… bad names?
In my real life, I love men, which may not be apparent in reading my creative writing. I’m a volunteer firefighter with a pathological fear of spiders. I became a vegetarian in 1985 and only recently caved to my unholy love of bacon, which I now eat unapologetically. (Well, not quite true. Being Canadian, I have to say “sorry” for still calling myself a vegetarian and for being responsible for the deaths of so many delicious pigs.)
My debut novel, Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers, was a 2014 Chanticleer first place category award-winner, taking home the coveted blue ribbon for best Mystery/ Suspense/ Thriller Romance.
What inspires you to write?
For the most part, I do my best writing when I’m mad. Being in a good mood tends to suck away my creativity since conflict makes for good stories and I can’t seem to make it up without feeling it.
So, writing is a love/hate thing for me. If my husband has pissed me off – I run to my office and write about a character who can kill with her mind… or a character who is single and exploring the inside of a scotch bottle while she waits to find Mr. Good Enough For Now.
Tell us about your writing process.
I wrote my first two novels as NaNoWriMo efforts. No plan. So I’m a pantser naturally.
But the editing process was so brutal I thought that I’d try plotting my next novel. So far that approach has resulted in a big, fat, empty page. Well, at least as far as the novel is concerned. I do have a gorgeous outline that I developed while taking a course with the exceptionally talented and generous Laura Baker over at WriterU. If you’re looking for an excellent course, take ANYTHING that Laura Baker is involved with. Seriously.
My plan for the follow-up to Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers is to use NaNoWriMo 2015 to puke out the first draft and just keep my gorgeous plot outline in the background.
Now all I have to do is get my husband in a bad mood… which will happen around November 5th since I’ll be locked in my office every night, ignoring him.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters talk to me. I talk back. I often lay in bed having heated conversations with my characters. I wish I could record my mind chatter. It always sounds so much more interesting in my head than it does the next morning when I go to type up what we were talking about.
What advice would you give other writers?
Trust your gut. Yes, you want advice from experts and beta readers but at a certain point you have to stop seeking input and just publish the damn book!
It took me three years between finished and published. I kept thinking, “Well, maybe it could be better. Maybe I should get one more opinion.”
Of course whatever you’ve written could be better. That’s why you send it into the world and start working on your next project, because your next book will be better than your last one.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had my manuscript professionally development edited to make sure it was something I could be proud of putting my name on (I did have a nice pseudonym lined up and if you ever see a book by Gabrielle LeJappeur, that’s me, afraid of standing behind my work).
After I made the suggested revisions I started to pitch the book to agents. I pitched and got requests for partial and full manuscripts. For a whole year. Fifty rejections later I put the novel away. I gave up. But, during those months of subbing to agents I’d also sent the manuscript to a contest, which I forgot about.
Over a year later I was mentioned in a tweet. My novel had won a Best Of Category. What the?? That contest win gave me the confidence I needed to open up the file again and start to think of myself as an author. But this time, I wasn’t going to wait for the elusive agent contract. I was going to do the work myself.
And here I am… doing the work myself and loving every minute of it!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m an optimist. I think that people who need to write will continue to do so and we’ll have more and more ways to share our work. I don’t worry about the business of publishing. I don’t think about whether or not I’ll be able to quit my day job on my royalties or be invited to share my story on Ellen. I used to think about those things but I believe that all the future needs to make me happy is websites like this one where I can put my words into the heads of people who want to read them.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: chick lit, women’s fiction
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.