Friday, February 22, 2019

May This Blog Haunt You Pleasantly - Part 2 (A Seriously Write blog)

In last month’s Part 1 of “May This Blog Haunt You Pleasantly,” I stated how important it is for writers to read about other writers. Whether they were trailblazers or path-wideners, each writer has his or her own story. Being as human as we are, those stories paint for us pictures of triumph and tragedy…two things from which we can learn. 

As I read Les Standiford’s The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits over the holidays, there were some things that jumped off the page for me, and I thought I’d share them here at Seriously Write.

Last time, we looked at Gleaning #1, which was:

Authors have always wished to get their works in as many readers’ hands as possible, sometimes at the chagrin of their publishers (if they are traditionally published) or themselves (if they are independently published). And if not handled properly, it can become an all-consuming fire.

One little tidbit I didn’t mention at the end of last month’s post was how all-consuming that fire had become for Dickens. By the 1850s, his relationship with his wife Catherine had become so estranged, they divorced after twenty-two years of marriage and ten children. Rumors tossed about suggested Charles had been involved in “an illicit affair” (is there really any other type when married?) with a younger woman. Dickens took such offense that he used the front page of his then current magazine, Household Words, to argue to the contrary. 1

As much as this writing life can become a soul-wrenching conflagration on a personal level, this passion we often champion at writers conferences can worm its way into the writer’s business relationships as well, which leads us our next point of interest:

Gleaning #2: The constant tension between authors and publishers will always be a constant. So, get used to it.

For the remainder of the article, click HERE!


1 Standiford, Les. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Broadway Books; New York, NY, 2017. pp. 210-211.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Author Behind the Story - Donna L. H. Smith

Snow is falling in Hawaii. Schoolchildren in Michigan, I'm told, have lost in upwards of sixteen days of school because of the frigid temperatures and dangerous driving conditions. Cars are piling up on the freeways in Wisconsin. It would seem global warming is definitely a myth.

Yet, it's 80 degrees and above here. I was sweating today. The mid-summer, sun beating down, no sweet tea to be found kind of perspiring. We truly live in a wacky world these days. 

However, there's nothing wacky about our next guest. So, without further reports of treacherous conditions, please welcome Donna L. H. Smith!

Donna, give us a quick picture of yourself. In fifty words or less, who is Donna L. H. Smith? 

Hi, I’m Donna L.H. Smith, and I write inspirational historical romance western with a touch of the supernatural in my stories. I’m originally from Kansas, but I live in Pennsylvania now. 

Ohhh, you probably like Punxsutawney Phil this year, eh? 

Has your writing crossed over into other areas? If so, how? If not, will it?

Oooh, well I’ve had people tell me that I should make Meghan’s Choice into a screenplay. I think I would love that. What you don’t know is that I was a broadcast major (TV, radio, film) in college. I wrote a script for a class midterm that got an A++ — so I think I could have been a good screenplay writer. It just didn’t work out that way.

And, it’s entirely possible that I may write a non-fiction book about rejection issues and how to be healed and delivered from them, that would coincide with those retreats I want to hold.

(I don’t have time to retire. I’m just getting started. I’ve been waiting my whole life for right now.)

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

I never had a notion of becoming a writer until I was in college at ORU in the 70s. I was a broadcast major, and for a midterm, we were to write a script for an existing half-hour series. I wrote a M*A*S*H script and got an A++. I’ve been everything from a secretary and word processor, to a marketing assistant/coordinator/consultant for engineering firms, to a certified balloon artist (decorating for special events), to a radio reporter, etc. 

Radio Reporter? Like Les Nessman? WKRP? 

Are you married? Single? Have kids?

Married, no children. Dog and my Mother for an 11-year overlapping period. That was enough.

Do you have a favorite line from a movie or book? If so, what is it and explain why it is special to you?

“If we don’t try, we don’t do, and if we don’t do—why are we here on this earth?” Jimmy Stewart in “Shenandoah.”

Sounds a little like Yoda. "Do or do not. There is no try." Hmmm?

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?

I’m musical and can play (if I were in practice) four instruments: piano (which is the only one I’m in practice on right now), flute, clarinet, and guitar.

I also used to make organic chocolate truffles and sold them on the Internet some years ago.

I found out as an adult I could actually be fairly decent at crafts. My mother wasn’t at all, so I grew up not really knowing how to do much.

Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook?

Well…at one conference, I did run into the keynote speaker (without knowing who he was) in the elevator and struck up a conversation with him, that went like this:

He was wearing a Christian Coalition T-shirt. “Hi, are you here for the writer’s conference.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “So am I.” We got to a floor and the elevator doors open. He gestured for me to precede him. I said, “I think this is your floor.” He smiled and exited. A little later, I discovered who he was, and I felt really silly. (Randy Alcorn at ACFW 2017). 

Tell us about what project you are currently working on.

I’m currently working on my third novel in the Known by Heart series, Hannah’s Hope. It will be the third installment in this series set in 1871 Kansas.

I’m a pantser who needs to know where her story is going to end up, but how it gets there is great fun! I never know what’s going to come out in a scene.

What surprised you the most during the research for the book you are currently working on?

Most of the research was done before I wrote the first book, Meghan’s Choice, but I did find that
something I was putting in this story actually happened. That’s what fun for me. Finding an obscure fact of history and putting it in my story.

There was competition between millers, and some people’s mills got torched to eliminate rivalries and ensure the success of one mill over another. So, I’m putting that in there. I found that fascinating.

I hope none of our readers' last names are Miller... Makes things a little awkward. Everybody will be wondering if their ancestors were guilty of such things. :-/

Knowing what you know now about writing, publishing, etc., what piece of advice would you give to the person thinking about writing that novel they have always wanted to pursue since they were young, or the person who believes they have a non-fiction book in them that would be helpful to others?

Write it. Get into a writer’s fellowship. Learn the craft. Decide to persevere, because you never know what God’s going to do.

Boy, I needed that. "You never know what God's going to do." Amen!

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?

Deborah. How’d she do it? How did Lapidoth allow her in that time period to be a prophetess, judge, and warrior? How did she get that favor to be Israel’s only female judge? I just love her.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone. You have to lean over backwards, then grab the railing. It was interesting, and very unsanitary now that I think about it. Millions have probably kissed that thing. Ew.

Why do you live where you live?

I was born and raised in Kansas, but I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I came because I did a voluntary service term, then stayed. When I was young, I always fancied myself living in the East, because you had so many different big cities to choose to visit: Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, NYC, etc.

The only big city close by (within an half hour of where I grew up) was Wichita. Kansas City. It was at least three hours away. Oklahoma City about the same. Tulsa was four hours away, etc.

When you look for a new car, what are the things that are important to you?

Funny thing. We just got a new car (for us) last fall. The number one thing: it had to be a Prius, it had to be no more than three years old, and of course, have “everything.” It didn’t matter this time, what color it was. We ended up with a silver 2015 Prius C hatchback, and we love it!

When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you?

I read and write in historical romance western. I look for the romance, I look for exciting plot, and interesting characters and situations. I especially look for as much trouble as possible in that back-cover blurb. How much difficulty, especially danger, will those characters be in?

Beyond westerns, I love romantic suspense. Same thing here: the danger. And what must the characters overcome?

Covers are good, but the blurb is what will really draw me in. I’m rarely disappointed.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

My second novel, Rose’s Redemption, was just released late last fall. Pre-published, it won two first place finishes at the Advanced Novelist Retreat contests in 2017. Meghan’s Choice, my debut novel, made the Selah Award and the Will Rogers Medallion Award finals last year after publication.

I am a member of ACFW and AWSA Protégé. I serve as managing editor of Almost an Author and as ACFW Mid-Atlantic zone director.

Donna, it's been a pleasure! We wish you well on your writing endeavors!

And readers, if you're looking to find out more about Donna, here are some places you can go to do just that!

FACEBOOK: Donna L.H. Smith––Stories Are My Passion and Almost an Author
TWITTER: @donnalhsmith and @a3writers

AMAZON LINKS to Meghan’s Choice
Kindle version:

Until next time, may God bless America, and may America bless God!