Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please Meet My Friend, Donna Patton
Don't forget to leave a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL address for a chance to win a lovely mug filled with delicious chocolates! And who doesn't like chocolate? Hmmm.

I'm so excited that you received this contract. How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?

If a “call” can come as a child, I certainly always knew I would be a writer – even before I knew what writers were! As a little girl, I always thought books were so special they must all come from Heaven. If anyone had asked me, I’d have said that right after God created the world and put all the churches in it, He created libraries!

Much of my childhood was spent reading and inventing my own stories. I loved giving ‘plays’ and lying awake at night imagining my own characters. It never occurred to me that someday I could write books. After growing up, I realized that ordinary people could be writers and I was hooked. In high school, I saw my first copy of Writers Digest.

It sounds like you've been destined to write for children, but I've read a bit of your other fiction too. What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

Although it’s probably a good idea to stick with one genre, my work is all over the place. Most of my fiction at present is aimed at children ages 8-12. It’s an age I feel comfortable with and a genre that I love to read as well.

Mysteries are also my favorite genre to read and write. I love figuring out the clues and trying to weave them into a story so the reader is surprised at the ending. I also write westerns for children (sub-genre mystery!) I’m also working on two adult mysteries and an adult romance.

In my nonfiction writing life, I write educational worksheets and with two other writers, a monthly newspaper page for children. “Cookies and Milk” premiered in The Times Gazette and has gone on to syndication in five other newspaper systems.

You are so talented! How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

Despite my somewhat hectic real life schedule – helping to homeschool one nephew and various volunteer efforts – I try to maintain a disciplined writing schedule. I try to work Monday-Saturday for four hours in the morning on paying jobs. In between housework, errands or outside activities, I also try to schedule at least half an hour in the evening for fiction writing. During the summer, I average more fiction writing time and often write late into the night.

Although I would love to reach a certain number of words per day, it’s just not realistic for me. If I can write for half an hour to an hour, I’m sure to get at least part of a chapter done.

How long does a novel take? I’ve finished six children’s books and rough drafts of three adult and each is different. The first book I ever wrote took ten years in between working two jobs and doing day care. The Search for the Madonna took about eight months to write.

Tell us about your new book. What is the spiritual message in it? What can readers expect to get from reading it? How and where can readers buy your book?

The Search for the Madonna was written primarily for Catholic children as a teaching tool to get across some spiritual truths. However, I think that anyone reading the book would find that the main spiritual lesson is learning to trust in God and how much He cares for even the smallest detail of each of our lives. It’s also a fun mystery with several suspicious characters. The book is set during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, and I hope that readers will also come away with the idea that people don’t need a lot of expensive ‘stuff’ to be happy, that often the simplest joys are the best.

Anyone interested in purchasing the book can find it online at:
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?

Yes, there are many times I feel like giving up. Some days, it just doesn’t seem worth it to send out another manuscript or query letter. I’ve actually had times in my life when I did say, “okay, that’s it, I give up,” and did. Usually, I take some time off, do normal stuff non-writers do and really MISS putting down words on paper! After awhile, I’ll see something that inspires me to start writing again.

One thing that really encouraged me during a particularly bad time in my writing life was, believe it or not, writing fan fiction. I’d gotten really depressed over several things in my life and knew I’d never write again. My prayers at that point were just to survive and to find out what God wanted me to do. One day, I just happened to be surfing the web for anything that had made me happy in the past. I stumbled across a fan fiction website for a very old western I’d seen as a child. To my surprise, I enjoyed writing stories without worrying about publishers or doing it the ‘right way.’ It was very freeing and the perfect way to ease back into the real writing world. As an added benefit, I made many life long friends and writing buddies, several of whom are published.

My advice to anyone who’s discouraged about writing is to try something new. Write nonfiction instead of fiction. Try a poem or a recipe. Write fan fiction or a silly story never meant for publication.

The people who inspire me the most right now are my writing friends – Judy, Kathi, Maribeth and Patty! And the Ohio ACFWers, of course!

That's great advice. Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

Picking a publisher for this book wasn’t too hard. I pretty much knew it had to be a Catholic publisher who’d print children’s fiction. Although that doesn’t sound like a narrow field, it is. Christian children’s fiction of any denomination seems to be the ‘stepchild’ of the publishing world. I’ve found that it’s almost easier to find a secular publisher than one who is interested in publishing Christian children’s fiction, which is sad. That’s my own experience, others might have better stories to share!

I found Behold Publications via their website. I was familiar with their programs called, “Little Flowers,” for girls and “Blue Knights,” for boys. When I saw that they were looking for fiction set in different historical periods, I knew I’d found a match.

There is no sitting back and relaxing once a book is published! That’s when the real work begins – making bookmarks, doing interviews and blog tours, promoting the book. Behold Publications is a small publisher so it’s up to me to help promote the book in anyway that I can.

Promoting is something we all have to do as writers. Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?

My likes are:
  • Gardening,
  • flowers,
  • weeding (honestly),
  • scrapbooking,
  • reading,
  • entering contests and fairs,
  • cross stitch,
  • sewing,
  • cats,
  • children,
  • having dinner with my friends,
  • meatloaf,
  • hot tea,
  • family reunions and
  • visiting historical places.

My dislikes are:
  • poison sumac (don’t ask me how I know this),
  • really really hot weather,
  • or really really cold weather,
  • fantasy.
I’ve been blessed to travel extensively throughout North America. But if I could travel anywhere, I’d love to go back to California and visit Bodie, the ghost town, and some of the old Missions. One of my favorite places to go is Gettysburg.

Wow,  you have been around and have an extensive list of likes. I "like" that! :) You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

Gladly! The Search for the Madonna is a mystery set during the Great Depression. Times are hard for eleven-year-old, Maggie Brandenburg and her twin sister, Em. Since losing their own farm, the twins and their parents have traveled like nomads finding jobs whenever and wherever they can. Although Maggie keeps hoping they can someday have a real home again; the prospects don’t look too hopeful until a providential letter arrives from Aunt Sophie.

The twins are anticipating a peaceful summer helping Aunt Sophie save her farm from foreclosure but they get more than they expected! Mysterious lights in the haunted woods, ghostly intruders; a family lost in time for over a century . . .

Can Maggie solve the mysteries in time? Or will her hope of having a real home again be lost forever? Will Maggie find the courage she needs to overcome her fears and find the missing family treasure?

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information? The book will be featured on as well as my blog: Readers who comment on this blog will be entered in a drawing for a gift bag featuring a cute mug filled with some strawberry and chocolate flavored goodies!

Thanks, Carole for having me!

The book sounds interesting. Thank you, Donna, for visiting us today. I'm so excited for you and hope you do tremendously with your book!

Blessings, readers. Please leave your comments for a chance to win the mug!


Patty Kyrlach said...

What a great interview! I'm cracking up over the part about God created libraries. I'm sure that's true! Can't wait to read The Search for the Madonna.

Patty Kyrlach said...

Great interview with Donna Patton. I especially like the part about God creating libraries. I'm sure that's true. What a lovely blog, and I can't wait to read The Search for the Madonna

Donna Alice said...

Thanks again Carole for having me! You are my first blog tour stop. Hope I can return the favor when your books are published.

You did a lovely job at making me look good!

God bless, Donna

Kathryn Page Camp said...

I love reading children's books, and this one sounds intriguing. Count me out for the chocolates, though. (My scale would yell at me even more than it does now.)

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a really interesting story.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Caroline said...

And Donna is such a sweet person. I value her highly!

Thanks for all the comments, ladies.

Roseanna White said...

Okay, you hooked me with your first answer, about thinking books were straight from heaven. So adorable!

Great interview, ladies!

Mary said...

Very thorough and sweet interview, Carole. Donna, God's best be yours.

Stephanie Morrill said...

As an 8-12 year old, mysteries were my absolute favorite! I'm horrid and writing them, but they're so fun to read! Congratulations, Donna!

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