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Interview with Sharon Donovan: ‘It’s a tough journey that can only be achieved through blood, sweat and tears’
Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she worked as a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began taking creative writing classes. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words. Mask of the Betrayer is her latest book. Other books by Sharon are Echo of a Raven, The Claddagh Ring, Touched by an Angel and Lasting Love. Her Biggest Fan and Charade of Hearts are coming soon. You can visit Sharon at her website at www.sharonadonovan.com or connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/sharon.a.donovan.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Sharon. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Raptured was the first book I wrote, but certainly not the first book published. It went through several years of revisions, rejections and title changes before it was published as Mask of the Betrayer.
My first book published was Touched by an Angel, a short story. It was accepted the first time but went through three revisions.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Raptured is the first book I received the most rejection letters for. Sadly, the count was 21. The first rejection letter felt like a stab in the heart. After the first string of rejection letters poured in, I took a long, hard look at my manuscript. Deciding I needed to better learn the craft of writing before attempting to submit again, I enrolled in creative writing classes, learned how to take constructive criticism, joined writers groups, attended conferences and read all that I could in the genre of which I love. Suspense.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
The Wild Rose Press published my first book and I chose them because I met a contact at a writers’ conference. It really pays to network.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It was like receiving a reward after a long, hard battle. My family took me out to dinner to celebrate.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
Had a website built and a blog. A website showcases my professional side, my books, reviews and videos. My bio and contact information is also listed here. My blog is a personal side of me, listing my interests, things I’m doing as well as author interviews to promote fellow authors. I joined every networking group that I could, did guest blogs and interviews to get the word out.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
No. Looking back, there are always things I might have done differently, but for the most part, it’s a tough journey that can only be achieved through blood, sweat and tears.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I always remember the words of my first writing instructor. She said that the first book written is seldom the first book sold. It made no sense to me at the time, but it does now. My first book wasn’t published for so long because it lacked the skills necessary to make it acceptable. My first book was rejected 21 times and went through several rewrites and several title changes before getting published. I grew as a writer over the years because I learned how to take criticism. If a reader is confused or is dozing off at what you consider a pivotal point in your story, something is wrong. Ultimately, the goal of an author is to please the reader and make them want to read more. I learned that I’m a better writer than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
Know everything about the genre in which you want published. Read it, research it, live it. I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to sell my book to literary houses that were not a good fit for my book. Know precisely what your genre and subgenre is and take all the guidelines each publisher writes seriously. If one thing is the slightest bit off, it will be rejected.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Being called an author, receiving rave reviews, being nominated and receiving awards, and book signings.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I didn’t choose writing as a profession. Contrary to most authors, I never enjoyed writing. I loved to paint and painting picturesque scenery was my passion. My career was as a legal secretary where I prepared cases for judges in the Court of Common Pleas. In my early twenties, I developed diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to progressive blindness. For the next two decades, vision came and went. After one fateful surgery, I lost all vision and all hope. But when I attended a program for the blind and learned how to use a computer with adaptive software, converting text to synthesized speech, a new dream arose. Needing to channel my creative muse, I decided to try my hand at writing. And after a long and winding road, it did. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I would say I made lemonade from lemons.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
That’s up to God. I’ve learned the hard way to live each day to the fullest and make each day count. We never know what the morrow will bring.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Never give up on a dream. Decide what you want and go after it. Reach for the stars.
Special Note: Sharon, unfortunately, won’t be here with us today because she had a heart attack and is still in the hospital but is on the road to recovery. If everyone would please keep her in your prayers, we would greatly appreciate it. We at Beyond the Book wish her a speedy recovery! If you wish to leave a comment, please do so at www.sharondonovan.blogspot.com. Get well, Sharon!