Name Donna MacMeans
Age LOL – Old enough
Where are you from:
I was born in Baltimore, Maryland but I’ve lived in Ohio most of my life.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.
I was the middle child of five. I have two brothers and two sisters, one of which is disabled. My siblings are spread across the eater coast and my nephews and nieces even further. I have a bachelor’s degree in Bus. Admin from Ohio State University and am a licensed certified public accountant with a small tax practice. I’ve been married for 40+ years and have two adult children.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest news is that I’m a grandmom! My first grandchild was born in September. Other than that, I released a novella in October 2016 called Blame the Moonlight which is a contemporary version of Bound by Moonlight. I’m currently working on a historical (Victorian) called To Bait a Rake.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’m not sure exactly when I started writing fiction, but I’m guessing it was in the late 1980s. I’ve always been a prolific reader, but I had never read romance. I was a business executive and we didn’t read “those” kind of books. Then I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I picked it up thinking it was something other than a time-travel. I loved it and noted that the early pages of praise called it a romance. I figured I’d try another romance with a similar setting. I did and was disappointed – not with the romance – but with the solution to the story question. It was like reading a mystery and knowing who the murderer was in the first chapter – then reading all the way to the end to discover you were right. I figured I could do better and so I tried. My first book was a modern, non-time travel version of Outlander where the heroine has to choose between two men.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my very first book was a finalist in The Golden Heart contest run by Romance Writers of America. This was an incredibly big deal, and this was my very first book!! I was certain that a publisher would hunt me down to publish that story. LOL. I was too stupid to know that is not how publishing works. That book is still “under the bed” collecting dust bunnies. One of these days I’ll have to dig it out and revise it for publication. However, being a finalist was validation that I could write. Eight years later, I won the Golden Heart for Best Long Historical manuscript with a different manuscript.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The inspiration to try came from reading that disappointing romance by a NYT best-selling author. However, the people that kept me going and who taught me about story structure, point-of-view, hooks and cliff hangers were my local RWA chapter. They were the inspiration that got me to “the end” of that manuscript. Romance writers and readers are the best and most giving people in the world, I think.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My voice is strongest when I write histoicals. I prefer to write in the Victorian era when there weren’t cell phones or easy ways to get help in a bad situation. Though I came late to the genre, I love romance. As mentioned above, I’ve been married a long time and I know how that relationship changes over the years. My goal is to remind women what it felt like to fall in love, to be pursued, and to have a man sacrifice to win your favor. I also believe in the saving grace of humor so my novels tend to be seductively witty.
I also write paranormals because I love building worlds with slightly different rules than our own. Paranormals are amazingly creative.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I usually make up a boring Work-in-progress title. After I finish the book, I have a better idea of a good title. Sometimes I ask for help from my agent or from friends. Sometimes it takes a village. 😀
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. I simply want them to be entertained. However, I’ve had readers tell me that they loved the message in my story. If it works for them then it’s good for me. 😀
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I try to include a good bit of history in my historicals. I do a lot of research into the time period. But I write for a modern audience, so I keep their sensibilities in mind. My last novel, CHARMING THE PROFESSOR (time-travel), resulted from a trip I took to New Orleans where I discovered the Charm Gates in a hallway in the Court of Two Sisters restaurant. I was determined to use those gates in a story and I love the way it worked out. I’ve used people I’ve known twice in my novels. First, when I wrote THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, I modeled certain attributes of the hero on someone I knew. Then when I wrote THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE which is a marriage of convenience story, I used my oldest brother as a model for my hero. The hero is the oldest and insists he knows the right way to do things whether he does or not. He thinks a lot about family. I gave my hero those same concerns. That worked out well, too. Of course, all my heroes have my husband’s broad shoulders. 😀
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Well…OUTLANDER inspired me to write, so that’s significant. I’ve had lots of mentors that have come into my life now and again. Writing is truly a community practice. I’ve made some fantastic friends through my writing life.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Most of my reading these days are research books, and I have to say that often when I think I’ve discovered a new (as in debut) author, it turns out they’ve been writing a long time under a different name. J I recently read Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye and loved it. She was new to me. As for a favorite author, there are many. However, I’m going to say Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love her humor and the way I simply can’t put her books down – I have to finish them even if I stay up all night. I like as well that at one time she was a high school English teacher in my area. Can you imagine having a teacher with such an amazing sense of humor? My teachers didn’t. 😀
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Christine Stahurski. She’s not an author, but she could be.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I came to writing fairly late in life, and I already had a successful business that provided the funds for my writing. If I were a younger woman, than it would be a career. For now, it’s more of a mission. When I first sold to New York I envisioned making writing my one career. Now I’m glad I kept a small part of my tax practice as the money isn’t flowing the way it did back then.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
To my latest book? No, not really. The books I’d like to change would be my early books. I’ve learned so much since I wrote those.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always been a reader and a decent writer. My inventory memos were to die for J. I remember telling my little sister made up stories to put her to sleep when we shared a bedroom. I remember one night when I could tell my sister was asleep, I rolled over to do the same and my brother, who slept across the hall, called out “Don’t stop! I’m still listening!” Telling stories just evolved to writing them.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Nope. My first draft is an ever-evolving process. I write to get words on a page and then go back to edit, to change the phrasing, to add setting details and character mannerisms. I’d feel terrible about sharing something from my current work in process – but I’m happy to share something from my latest novel – CHARMING THE PROFESSOR. The story is about a woman from 1853 whose essence and very being is trapped by a vindictive queen in iron gates that were then sent to America. She is released 150+ years later when the hero, a physics professor at Tulane University, touches the gates. She’s released into modern day New Orleans. This is the “first meet” of the hero and heroine. It opens in the point of view of the hero who was thrown across a hallway when he touched the gates.
SOFT LYRICAL PHRASING IN sweet feminine tones drifted about his head like a distant lullaby. He was content to listen to the melody until a light tap on his cheek interrupted the dream. Forcing his unwilling eyes open, he discovered the blurred, unfocused image of an angel with troubled green eyes, fringed by thick lashes and pale creamy skin. Exuberance filled his heart. Could it be? Her name slipped past his lips like a prayer. “Carolyn?”
The angel slapped him, jarring him fully awake.
“Monsieur, rèspondez-moi! Où est la reine? Que s’est-il passé à la fonderie? Où sommes-nous?”
Every nerve ending immediately exploded in protest. This was more than a slap. Pain racked his body as if minute shards of glass had been driven into every inch of his skin. His eyes squeezed shut. “What the devil?” He arched against the wall to push back the sensation. “What just happened?”
“Il faut que je retourne à la Reine…”
“In English, dammit!” The flash of light, the searing pain…had he been struck by lightning? He’d been touching metal.
The angel reared back with an audible strange swish. Her expression shifted from shock to indignation, although it could be his vision was shifting as well. The worst of the sizzling burn passed, allowing his chest to relax with a fading tingle. The angel wasn’t Carolyn. That disappointment hurt more than the residual throbbing in his head. He took a deep breath then glanced at the woman.
Shoot! He hadn’t meant to scare her. She hovered about a foot away, posing in some frilly, tiered period costume straight off the set of Gone With The Wind. Some sort of black lace veil framed her face then rose high on her head before falling to the back, almost as if she were a medieval princess. She brandished some fancy do-da umbrella like a sword, twirling the pointed end in tiny threatening circles. Definitely not Carolyn.
“You some kind of tour guide?” He asked, rubbing the tender spot where his head had met brick. A wet viscous substance coated his fingertips.
The sky rumbled softly with retreating thunder. Rain continued to fall beneath the swinging door, but without the earlier intensity. The storm was passing.
“I won’t hurt you.” He held up his hand like a policeman directing traffic to ward off the threatening umbrella. “I haven’t the strength to battle a fly at the moment. You needn’t be afraid.” Using the brick wall for support, he pulled himself slowly to his feet. “Was it lightning? I saw a flash right before I hit the wall.”
Her lips parted as if to reply, but then she hesitated. She frowned, then tried again as if her lips wouldn’t mold the word. Her umbrella pointed from the floor to his chest. “Who?”
“Who am I?” He tapped his shirt. The woman’s face eased in relief. You’d think a tour guide would be a bit more communicative.
“I was about to ask you the same question.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m Grant Stewart.”
He extended his hand in greeting, but as she didn’t advance he used it to brush the dust off his pants. “Who?” He said gruffly, pointing toward her in a similar fashion.
She straightened, lowered her weapon to her side, then curtsied in a simple yet elegant bend.
“Je m’appelle Mamoiselle Madeline Rosette Allegra Charlebois. Je suis une demoiselle de la cour d’Isabella.” She hesitated, cocked her head then continued, as if testing the sound, “Queen of Spain.”
“Queen of Spain, huh?” Yeah, right. He glanced to the floor for his fallen cell phone. “Sounds like someone else took a blow to the head.”
Her face brightened, her smile adding kilowatts to the dingy hallway. The phone lay at the base of the iron gate, its digital display shattered. He reluctantly retrieved the useless device and crammed it in his pocket. “A lot of good this is in emergencies.”
“Monsieur. The queen? Nous avons visité…” She stumbled for the word, opting instead to puff out her cheeks and swirl her arms in wide arcs.
Just his luck, he meets an angel and she turns out to be on permanent Mardi Gras.
“We need to get you some help.” His head throbbing, Grant moved to the connecting door of the restaurant. He pulled on the handle. Locked. Why had they locked the door? He knocked on the glass and tried to peer through the lace curtains. “Can anyone hear me?”
Her fingertip, clad in a leather glove, tapped on his shoulder with a soft chiming such as that from a child’s charm bracelet. He turned, expecting to see the crazy woman’s admittedly attractive face, but she stared not at him, but at the Charm Gates. Her eyes wide, her lower lip quivering, she pointed toward the wooden sign.
“Yes, those are the Charm Gates.” He said, noting that her skin seemed more pale than it had just a moment before. He certainly didn’t need a fainting woman on his hands, especially one wearing twenty pounds of clothing. That concrete floor would be hard on her head should she fall. He gently pushed on her shoulders, backing her up till the brick wall offered support.
“Perhaps you should just sit down here till help arrives.” He returned to the connecting door, pummeled the wood with his fist, rattling the windows. “Hello? Is anyone inside? We need an ambulance here.”
“Where is Isabella?” The woman asked slowly, every word spoken with careful enunciation. Concern darkened her eyes. “She is injured?”
“If she’s injured, she’d be at a hospital…just where you should be,” he said.
Something moved behind the lace curtain covering the glass. With renewed urgency, he pounded until a waiter responded. Finally! As soon as he could turn the distressed damsel over to the waiter, he could return to Tulane with just a throbbing headache as a souvenir. The connecting door opened, sending a refreshing current of air-conditioning into the humid corridor.
“There’s been some sort of accident,” Grant said. “Could you call an ambulance? I think the lady has a head injury.”
The waiter looked past him into the hallway. “What lady?”
Grant turned. The swinging door at the far end of the hallway slowly closed.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Promotion. Anymore, writing a book is not enough. You have to promote it. This is simply not natural to me. In fact, it’s one of the things I appreciated about selling to a NY publishing house – they would do all the promotion. Not anymore. But it’s necessary to promote in order to be discovered in the huge ocean of books out there.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
At the moment, I’m the treasurer for Romance Writers of America. That position requires a bit of travel for board meetings and the annual convention, of course. Other than that, I do try to travel , or have traveled, to the setting of my books. When I wrote THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED, I told my husband I had to go to Scotland – and I did for a week. I drive to local conferences and I fly to meet my plot group twice a year. I certainly travel more now than I used to.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My early books were published by Berkley, so they did the covers. They hired an artist to paint covers for my first three books. When I self-publish, I like Lyndsey Lewellen as a cover designer. She’s the one that did the cover for CHARMING THE PROFESSOR. I have used other people for other covers, but Lyndsey is my favorite.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I tend to be way too easy on my hero and heroine because I like and love my characters. But that doesn’t make for an interesting story. Conflict is what makes a story work. I have to go back and rachet up the conflict and make both of them suffer. It’s what makes the ending worth a satisfied sigh. 😀
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
When I began my first book, I thought all I had to do was pick up a pencil and write. I learned that there’s more to it than that. You have to craft an opening that draws a reader in. You have to weave in back story very carefully and keep dialog pertinent and entertaining. And you have to cut everything that doesn’t move the story forward. There’s a lot of invisible writing that goes in to make a story great.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I have no idea. New actors come on the scene daily. I’d be over the moon that someone wanted to turn my story into a film. 😀
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. You learn and get stronger with every book you write. Write what you love. If you just follow trends in the hope of being published, it will show in your writing. Find a community of other writers that can help with the journey, and support your efforts. It’s a journey I truly love and recommend.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. I hope you enjoy the books – and if you do, please consider leaving a review. Those things are far move important than you know J. Thanks so much. You’re the reason I write. 😀
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m very quickly reading a J. D. Robb novel, Death in Salvation, as I’m judging the RITAs this year. I’m anticipating receiving a box of books to read within the next week.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope. I remember reading books about dragonland (a place of blue and yellow dragons), and a number of biographies that had black silhouettes on blue covers, Oh, and National Velvet very early in elementary school. I remember reading Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Edgar Rice Burroughs and tons of comic books before fifth grade.
But I honestly can’t remember what I read first.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The unexpected. If it’s an unexpected complication in a funny situation, or great dialog in a funny situation – I’ll laugh. If it’s an unexpected sad consequence – like the death of a parent before their time – then I’ll cry. When people are cruel to animals, I get angry, but when I see the animals – I cry. There’s a television commercial that runs every year in December to raise funds for the humane society that I simply can’t watch because I’ll cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Too many to list.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
She was loved. Because that’s the most important thing.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I paint when I can. I’ve won some local awards for my paintings. I just finished a counted cross-stitch Christmas tree skirt. I think it might have ruined my eyesight so I have no plans to do anything similar. I love to dance (rock and roll) and will do that whenever I can.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Big Bang Theory, People of Earth, Game of Thrones, Billions, Downtown Abbey (and historical dramas), Old movies, and sitcoms.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Chocolate, Peacock teals and blues, The soundtrack to Hamilton (my current fav)
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have liked to be a famous painter. In fact, I was a painter before I started writing. Writing is cleaner. J However, my husband and I recently went to France to take a tour called “Following in the footsteps of the Impressionists.” That trip has me wanting to break out my paints and pastels again.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I used to blog with Romance Bandits but I stopped in 2016. I’m afraid it was just too much work for little reward. I’d rather use that time on my book. My website is www.DonnaMacMeans.com. I answer all letters sent through my website. I have a monthly newsletter. Anyone who signs up for it gets a free short story and is entered in my monthly drawing for free books (Not mine necessarily, but books by other authors.) Just go to my website and sign up. I’m also on Facebook as Donna MacMeans.
All my books are on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ibooks.
The link to my Amazon Authors page is https://www.amazon.com/Donna%20MacMeans/e/B001R8BMVU/ref=la_B001R8BMVU_pg_1?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB001R8BMVU&sort=author-pages-popularity-rank&ie=UTF8&qid=1484110247.
Here’s a complete list:
“Blame the Moonlight” a paranormal novella in WELCOME TO HAVEN HARBOR, October 2016
IN A HEARTBEAT, (Romantic Suspense), July 2016
CHARMING THE PROFESSOR, a reverse time-travel, December 2015
THE MOOR’S TEAR, short story (Prequel to Charming the Professor) November 2015
SCOTLAND CHRISTMAS REUNION, short story (A Rake Patrol short story) October 2015
SMOKE AND MIRRORS, short story, September 2015
THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED, Berkly Intermix, June 2014 (A Rake Patrol Book)
BOUND BY MOONLIGHT, (Paranormal Historical), April 2013
THE CASANOVA CODE – Berkley, June 2012 (A Rake Patrol Book)
REDEEMING THE ROGUE – Berkley, August 2011
THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE – Berkley, April 2009
THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT (our of print) June 2008
THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY – October 2007
Buy Links to Amazon Kindle
Charming the Professor http://bit.ly/charmingprof
The Moor’s Tear (Prequel – short story) http://bit.ly/MoorsTear
The Whisky Laird’s Bed (Rake Patrol Series #2) http://bit.ly/WhiskyLaird
Scotland Christmas Reunion (Rake Patrol Series) short story http://bit.ly/ScotlandChristmasReunion
The Casanova Code (Rake Patrol Series #1) http://bit.ly/CasanovaCode
Redeeming the Rogue (Chamber Series #3) http://bit.ly/RedeemingTheRogue
The Seduction of a Duke (Chamber Series #2) http://bit.ly/SeductionOfTheDuke
The Education of Mrs. Brimley (Chamber Series #1) http://bit.ly/MrsBrimley
Tails of Love, “Lord Hairy” Chambers Series short story http://bit.ly/tailsoflove
Bound by Moonlight (Historical – Invisible Heroine) http://bit.ly/BoundByMoonlight
Welcome to Haven Harbor, “Blame the Moonlight” (Contemporary Invisible Heroine) novella http://bit.ly/HavenHarbor
Smoke and Mirrors, Contemporary Magic, http://bit.ly/SmokenMirrors