Mountain Laurel

I'd like to welcome the very successful Donna Fasano onto my blog today...

About Donna

Donna Fasano is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold 3.5 million copies worldwide. She also writes romance novels under her pen name, Donna Clayton.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I came to writing through reading. Most writers know they want/need to write from a very young age. I became enraptured with reading. Books were an escape for me, and I loved being able to travel to exotic places and meet interesting people while never leaving my own back yard. Books became a voracious habit for me.

Jump ahead to when my children were starting school and I had enough free time to think about taking a part time job. My husband took one look around at all the piles of books and said, “You’ve read enough of these, why don’t you try writing one?” I thought he was nuts, but he planted a seed that grew.

What is your latest novel? 
My latest novel is actually a re-issue of the very first book I wrote. Over the past 20+ years, I’ve sold 34 romance and women’s fiction novels under my own name and my pen name, Donna Clayton. I recently acquired the publishing rights of the first eleven books I wrote. After updating and expanding the first one, entitled Mountain Laurel, the book is now available for Kindle, Nook and in paperback.

That's fantastic! What inspired you to write the book?
My husband and I used to take family vacations in Western Maryland. We’d stay in a cabin in the mountains and I found it very romantic. That’s where the idea for Mountain Laurel sparked to life.

What’s your favourite part of writing a novel?
I love the very beginning stages—the time when ideas flow freely and characters start whispering in my ear. At that point, a story can go anywhere, and I get very excited over working out the most powerful means for a story to unfold.

Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
Now that I’ve slipped into my ‘independent author’ shoes, I find that writing is the easy part. It’s the marketing that difficult. Getting my books into the hands (and e-readers) of people who would enjoy them is sometimes an overwhelming task.

I'm totally with you on that, Donna! It can be an all-consuming job! Where do you get your ideas from?
I find ideas everywhere, in people I meet, articles I read, conversations I overhear. Sometimes characters will dance into my head and whisper, “I have a story I want you to tell!” And for me, those usually turn into the best, most vivid books. 

How long does it take to complete a novel?
Between three and four months.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before self-publishing?
I currently have both and agent and an editor. As soon as I get my eleven back list books up for sale for Kindle and Nook, I hope to write up a few new proposals that my agent can shop around.

How did you handle the rejection letters?
Sometimes I handled them better than others. You cannot survive very long as a writer if you have thin skin because critics abound.

What’s your writing process?
I usually spend days—sometimes weeks—letting an idea take form in my mind. I’ll think about it, make notes, jot down scenes and/or conversations that float through my brain. Then I’ll write an outline. I think of an outline as a map, of sorts, that’s intended to get me from beginning to end. Once I have my map and I know where I’m going, I’ll begin the journey.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
My father was very ill and I was his primary caregiver, so it was very difficult for me to create new characters and stories. However, I had these publishing rights that had reverted to me, and putting those books up for sale seemed like a good idea. I also had a completed manuscript, The Merry-Go-Round, that my publisher had purchased; however, before the book go to print, the line the book was intended for went defunct, so the rights were reverted back to me. I thought it was silly to let this perfectly good romantic comedy gather dust under the bed. This is the first self-published book I offered for sale.

A blessing in disguise maybe? I've read Merry-Go-Round and it's a fab romance! Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
My first advice is to read. Read all the books in you can get  your hands on. Decide which writers ‘do it right,’ and take the time to figure out why. By doing this, you’ll learn a lot about characterization and story development and hooks and dialogue and a million other concepts that successful writers use to create a great book.

What's next in the pipeline? 
More back list titles. I’m working on formatting Taking Love in Stride and Return of the Runaway Bride, both romance novels.

You're going to be a busy girl! Do you think your books would translate well to the big screen? If so who would you like to see play your lead characters ?
Of course! Romance and romantic comedies make for wonderful movies. For Mountain Laurel, I would choose Deborah Ann Wolf to act as Laurel, Chris Hemsworth as Michael, and Ellen Page for Laurel’s teenaged sister.

The characters of The Merry-Go-Round are a bit older, so I’d choose Sandra Bullock and Matthew Fox (yum!) with Danny DeVito as the crusty father. 

Great choices! Tell me three random things about yourself.
I like to cook (and eat!).
I love to laugh!
I met my husband when I was just 15 yrs old (he was in college—talk about my father’s worse nightmare!) and we will be celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary this week.

I can totally relate to the eating and laughing part! Congrats on your wedding anniversary, too! What do you do when you’re not writing?
Cook and eat (see random facts above *grin*), read, hike, travel, socialize, oh yeah, and market my work.

Do you write in just one genre?
I write romance novels and romantic comedies. I have dabbled in writing for children. And I used to write newsletters for churches which I found quite fun. Coming up with short, factual articles on spirituality was a refreshing break from writing fiction.

Do you use Social Media for marketing your novels?
Yes. I can be found at Twitter and Facebook. I am on the Kindle forums daily, and I often visit at GoodReads and the Nookboards. I also reach out to readers and friends via a blog.

Who are your writing influences?
I stay away from romances when I’m reading for pleasure. I enjoy reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz, Helen Smith and Beth Orsoff, and if I’m feeling nostalgic I’ll read Agatha Christie or Catherine Cookson. I really have too many favourite authors to list.

If you weren’t writing, what would be your favourite job?
I would love to teach elementary school. I love children.

Which five people would you invite for dinner?
Betty White would be a hoot, no doubt. Colin Firth, so I’d have someone nice to look at. Jaron Lanier would be an amazing person to talk to. Lady Gaga fascinates me. Sarah Palin’s crazy thinking makes me laugh myself silly, and poet Nay Phone Latt—oh, wait…I need a larger banquet table.

Lady Gaga and Colin Firth would definitely be interesting! Describe your latest novel in fifteen words or fewer. 
Mountain Laurel - A young woman kidnaps her teenaged sister and ends up finding love.

What are you reading at the moment?
Beyond the Snows of the Andes by Beatrice Brusic

What three things would you add to your bucket list of things to do.
See the Northern Lights
Live in another country for at least a year.
Climb to Machu Picchu.

Do you write full time? If not, how do you balance writing with another job?
While my children were in college, I wrote full time. One year, I had five books published by a NY publishing company. Now that money isn’t so crucial and I have aging family members, I write part time.

Do your characters talk to you?
Yes, and I am so glad they do!

Have you ever used a friend or foe as a character?
I often use compilations of people I know or have met. 

About Mountain Laurel

So what if Laurel Morgan hadn't had a date since the senior prom? If all it would take to convince her teenage sister to consider college was to go on a few dates and have some fun, it was a bet she could beat. And before she could change her mind, sexy forest ranger Michael Walker agreed to play the part of her ardent admirer!

Laurel never expected Michael's acting abilities to be quite so convincing. Whenever her sister was watching, Laurel found herself wrapped in a heady embrace with a passionate kiss on the way. Her captivating cohort promised a performance that would win her the wager, but when the curtain closed, would she lose the only man she would ever love?

You can find out more about Donna on her Webpage. 

Mountain Laurel is available from B&N Nook, and it's also available in paperback at Amazon.
You can also win a copy of Donna's Merry-Go-Round in my fab chicklit book giveaway this month. I can definitely recommend it! 

Happy Reading!

Sibel XX