Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Source of Inspiration

Today is March  20, 2012, the first day of Spring.  A thunderstorm is passing through SW Texas today, a welcome sight.  We need all the rain we can get to tide us over in case our summer is as dry as last summer.  Texas was not a pretty sight when the first rains began to fall.  According to those who should know, it isn't looking good for us again this year.  However, this may be the last of the bad summers due to ever unpredictable climate changes.  Either way, we'll hold our breaths and pray for every drop of rain.

On the upside, our wildflowers are absolutely beautiful this Spring.  A sight to behold.  Photographers, get your cameras and start snapping before they all wilt away in the heat. One of our family's most priced photos is of my mother kneeling in a sea of bluebonnets and grinning like a cheshire cat.  How she loved this time of year when all the flowers burst forth.

I want to report that my book is selling slowly.  Since this is my first experience with eBooks, I really can't compare my sales with others.  I am pleased with the results so far.  Because I am not a celebrity, I can't expect a jillion books to be sold overnight.  I was secretly pleased when my husband put my book on his Kindle.  Whether he will read it or not remains to be seen.  He's heard all the ins and outs through the years and thinks he knows all about it.  My daughter, too, has downloaded it on her iPad.  She wants to read the final, final, final, final product.

One of my neighbors stopped me in the street to say that he had read it.  He talked about the descriptive detail and the different plots intertwining.  He never said whether he liked it or not.  He did say it was a bargain at $2.99.  I shouldn't quibble.  After all, I made a sale.  He also said that his wife has urged him to write but admitted he could never write anything as complicated as my book. 

Through my years of years of writing, I have often heard people say that they would like to write a book.  Actually, they would like say that they have written (Havin' Writ) a book.  When I first walked into this dizzying world of words, I heard a famous story.  I have never learned who the writer is that is the main protagonist, but I'd certainly like to because we don't appreciate people who sneer at us for being mere writers.  This is not word for word, but a paraphrase.  So forgive me if I don't tell exactly what occurred.  (If you've heard this, just go on to the following paragraph.)

One evening, a famous writer attended a cocktail party.  As people do, they walk around being introduced or introduce themselves to others.  After meeting one of the guests, a prominent brain surgeon, the writer when asked what he did said that he wrote novels.  In a very imperious manner, the doctor responded, "Yes, I plan to take a year's sabbatical one of these days and write a book."  Having heard this on many occasions, the writer responded, "It's interesting that you say that.  I have thought that one of these days, I would take a year's sabbatical and become a brain surgeon."  The doctor sputtered.  "You cannot become a brain surgeon in a year.  It takes years of study."  The writer casually answered, "Precisely."

Now some people spring from the womb and publish a book.  Unfortunately, I was not one of those writers.  I don't write what they write nor care to because I know my limitations.  Poetry.  I write it badly.  Childrens' books.  Nope.  Criticism.  Definitely not.  Short stories.  I just can't shut my mouth that soon.  A dismal failure at all.  My high school creative writing teacher didn't think much of my work.  I'm not one of the those people who when given an assignment must produce something in an hour.  The only piece I received a grade of "B" on was an iambic pentameter poem called, "The Ballad of Roger La Dan."  This despicable bloke met his demise by being weighted down and tossed in the river.  She probably marked the paper with a weak smile.  I now believe she wanted something more inspiring, more flowery, more emotional, more passionate.  In high school, I was still a tomboy.  Good luck!

The catalyst of my fascination with writing stories was my father.  He was born of solid German stock, raised in Fredericksburg until the age of six and taken to San Antonio where he grew up in a boiling pot of humanity.  His escape had been books.  Every night when we were young, we would get in bed with him and he would read us an age appropriate book.  He would take us to the city library in Washington, D.C. to pick out two or three each.  Mine were Dr. Seuss, AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET and BARTHOLOMEW CUBBINS AND THE FIVE HUNDRED HATS were my two favorites.  I checked those out many times.  We could never afford to buy them.  For a long, long time, these treasures were never seen in bookstores, but they appear to be making a comeback.  Those and his other creations have a lot of wisdom in them.

My father came from people from The Old Country.  His grandparents were farmers.  Listening to stories was his entertainment when he was very young.  On our vacations, he continued that tradition.  He didn't tell original stories but he read adventure books to us.  He had a divine baritone voice.  Being an attorney, he spoke slowly and precisely, making each word sound like music.  We sat mesmerized.  When alone, I played by myself and made up stories.  When I couldn't fall asleep, I would make up stories.  Today, that is how I work through scenes in my books.  I run the scene as if it were a movie, feeling each emotion, visualizing each character's face, setting the scene.  I wish I could type faster so I could duplicate what I see.  I work on several books at a time.  Books to come.

I hope all your parents and grandparents read to your children.  It is so important.

If you want to be a writer, learn the basics and develop your own tricks.  I have never met a writer who does it the same way as another.  Each must develop his/her skills.  Write, write, write.  Read, read, read.  For some, it is easy.  For most writers, it is hard work.  Persistence and practice are needed.  My books may not be on the bestseller lists, but I hope whoever reads them will enjoy the stories and love the characters.

Also, I hope you will curse me because my story has kept you up all night.  It is my gift to you.

I want to send a message to Tony who goes to school in Maryland.  He is majoring in English and Psychology.  I met his father on the plane from Houston to Chicago and we got to talking.  Tony is an aspiring screenwriter.  I recommended two books for Tony.  The first is by Syd Field, HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY.  It is the definite book for beginning and aspiring screenwriters.  The second is, and one every writer should have in his/her collection, A WRITER'S JOURNEY, MYTHIC STRUCTURE FOR STORYTELLERS & SCREENWRITERS by Christopher Vogler.  I didn't get the father's name, but you know who you are.  I hope you will read this. Tony has a fire in his belly.  I wish him every success.  If it is meant to be, it will be.

Until next blog, friends.  Thank you buying my book.  If you enjoyed it, tell a friend, or two or three.


  1. Ms. Donahue,
    Thanks for the postcard regarding your book. Are you on Facebook, Twiiter, any other sites? I'm part of a Posse of writers who share interesting websites and networking sites and support one another in our writing. I also have a blog where I interview authors. I promote the interview on several sites. Check out stephenlbrayton.blogspot.com for past interviews and my new blog at stephenbrayton.wordpress.com. If you are interested in being part of the Posse or doing an interview or guest blog let me know at slb@mahaska.org.

    Thanks and congrats on the book.

  2. Hi Mary Ellen, I received your post card (mumble-mumble) days ago and checked Amazon for your ebook listing. Congratulations on publishing The Pearl Affair.

    @Stephen, I will check out your websites next. The idea of a Posses of writers fascinates me!