Check Out My Top Wire Interview

May 22nd, 2019 → 6:37 pm @


Don’t say it, do it. If you don’t like it when you’re done, put it away and take it out again when you’re ready to rewrite it until you do like it
-Robin Donovan

Today’s Author in the Spotlight is Robin Donovan. Author of the Donna Leigh Mystery Series, stories about an owner of an ad agency. Check out her interview below!

TW: What is your writing process?
RD: I break each novel into four parts. I do not allow myself to write anything directly connected to the ending until I begin writing the fourth segment. I keep a notebook of people and occurrences in each chapter to ensure that I don’t leave any gaping holes or red herrings in the plot. I allow myself some flexibility, e.g. I got halfway through my third book and put it aside to edit my second book. When I went back to it I realized it wasn’t good. As I was contemplating what to do, the perfect ending occurred to me, so I went ahead and wrote it. Once finished, I went back and edited the first half to make it fit and it all came together beautifully. I believe having the ending, in that case, made all the difference.

TW: How difficult was it to write your story?
RD: My first novel virtually wrote itself. It was as though someone said “go” and I did. Writing a series makes writing the rest of the books a bit more difficult. There have to be enough similarities in characters and occurrences to create a common thread without making the books seem formulaic, and in the case of comedy, without using the same comedic mechanisms over and over. Although Evanovich manages to make a car either blow up or catch fire in every Stephanie Plum novel – and she makes it work.

TW: What are your hopes for this project?
RD: My hope is that I will start seeing more regular sales so that I can focus less on promotion and write another in this series and possibly even start a different series. I spend an enormous amount of time promoting my three existing books and the fourth one is sitting in my head waiting to hit the pages. Just last week I received a wonderful compliment from a TV writer and author in LA. Up until that note, I was just enjoying the writing and the speaking engagements, not to mention the written interviews, blog posts, occasional TV and radio interviews… I was surprised at how much the validation from a bona fide celebrity writer would mean to me. I guess I was hoping for that without even realizing it.

TW: Do have plans of writing more books?
RD: My fourth book is starting to hatch without much prompting from me. I’m not really sure that I have a choice in this whole thing. I want to be careful to end this series before it does start to feel formulaic. If I feel that this series has reached its natural end I have no idea what my next series would be. Maybe when that time comes I will know.

TW: What is your favorite genre of books and do you plan on venturing in those areas?
RD: Any kind of mystery is fascinating to me. Scott Turow is one of my favorites. He creates a true mystery that holds together until the end and writes it beautifully. I’m less inclined to enjoy a mystery that involves gore and/or torment. For now, I’ll stick to cozy mysteries laced with humor. The comedic element seems to come naturally from me, although I take my cozies very seriously. I make sure they are edited extensively and that the focus is as much on the mystery as the humor. I try to avoid the clichés of “light” mysteries, i.e. someone constantly yelling at the amateur sleuth for sticking her nose into police business, having a protagonist who is willing to meet any stranger alone in an alley at midnight, etc.

TW: What do you want readers to know about you?
RD: I spent years wanting to write a book and making excuses for not getting started. I worked as an English teacher and then in advertising and never had time. A series of occurrences made me realize it was ‘now or never’ so I got started. I had no idea how much absolute fun I would have doing the actual writing. And the speaking engagements..are like catnip.

TW: Do you have a favorite author or book?
RD: Aside from Scott Turow, I have always loved Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier and I can’t get enough of Jane Austin’s humor. Charles Dickens is another favorite. But I tend to pattern my writing style after a combination of James Thurber and Cornelia Otis Skinner.

TW: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
RD: The fact that I have to put my whole heart and soul into it – and my work is not for everyone – so that comes with some rejection. In the beginning, a bad review was devastating. One reviewer actually commented that mine was the worst book he/she had ever read. That’s when it starts to become comical – but there is still that initial little arrow stab at every harsh comment. I do wonder why folks who clearly don’t like my genre still choose to read and review my book – but I guess that’s the age-old question for authors

TW: What does literary success look like to you?
RD: Apparently, getting a complimentary and encouraging note from a professional TV writer and author. While I’d like to see a lot more sales, I am grateful that my sales are considerably above average based on studies I’ve read – the average is surprisingly low. I am getting invited to speak at author and library fairs and book clubs, I wouldn’t mind more invitations of that nature. I think success is writing a book, and success is publishing a book, and success is getting opportunities to promote a book. I think success is tiered and there’s always the next level.

TW: How has this book changed your life?
RD: There are extremely high highs and some seriously low lows. One moment you feel as though you ARE a celebrity and at the next event no one shows up and you’re just sitting there among all the books you lugged in along with your posters, bookmarks, etc. all by yourself. I read a book by the author of a well-known book turned movie. She commented that at one of her book events so few people showed up that the bookstore owner made all of his employees stand on line and pretend to buy a book. She didn’t find that out for several years – and it was a blow when she did – but it made me feel as though I’m in good company.

TW: What advice do you have for an aspiring writer?
RD: Don’t say it, do it. If you don’t like it when you’re done, put it away and take it out again when you’re ready to rewrite it until you do like it. Some authors take months to write a masterpiece and some take decades – just get started and see where it takes you. And don’t expect overnight stardom – or most likely ANY stardom. Do it because you love it.

TW: Do you have any future events or updates we should know about?
RD: My focus recently has been on promotion in the form of interview and guest blog posts. I have some local author fairs and as many interviews and I can fit into my schedule – but nothing particularly noteworthy at the moment – except, of course, for this interview.

TW: How can we contact you and purchase your book?
RD: Web site:
http://www.rldonovan.com/

Books (Can all be found under Donna Leigh Mysteries on Amazon):
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=donna+leigh+murders
Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?
I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted.
I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying.

Book Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmgkpYPi5q8

Best to message me on Facebook:

Author’s pages on Facebook:
Author’s Page:
https://www.facebook.com/rldonovanauthorpage/

Donna Leigh Mystery Series page:
https://www.facebook.com/Donna-Leigh-Mysteries-279477928760374/

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This Week’s Author Round Up: Writing Difficulties

February 25th, 2019 → 6:53 pm @

My Donna Leigh Mystery series revolves around a menopausal ad agency owner in Omaha, Nebraska. Although each book encompasses the murder of someone known to the protagonist, the books are actually comedies. With three books in the series, the challenges have been in finding credible enough yet over-the-top comedic events, without an over-abundance of similarity, and in keeping the plot fresh enough overall that the books don’t start to feel formulaic.

Evanovich’s protagonist, Stephanie Plum, pretty much always sets a car on fire, it’s her signature comedic move. Perhaps I should have set a precedent like that, because creating new and outrageous scenarios is increasingly a challenge.

Each book requires approximately six comedic events to keep things moving at a fast pace. I realized this would be a daunting task as early as my second book, and the third book was that much more intimidating.

Along those same lines, it is a genuine challenge to keep my plots from becoming formulaic. The same characters want to say and do the same things. It is imperative to find ways to pull them out of their comfort zone without pulling them out of character.

Folks have suggested that I move on from Donna Leigh and start a whole new series, but my gut is telling me to stick with her for at least another book or two. And if I’ve learned one thing in this whole experience, it’s to trust my gut.

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This Week’s Round Up Question, What Was Surprising in My Writing?

January 2nd, 2019 → 5:30 pm @

When I first decided to write a book, I selected a painful topic, the story of how three colleagues and I bought an ad agency back from a major international holding company. It was a fascinating time. We were assaulted by all around us, the executives selling the company, the other potential buyers, the colleagues who opted not to be involved in the purchase and the staff who desperately wanted details we were not legally permitted to share.

I didn’t get very far in writing this book for two reasons, a nagging fear that I would get sued by one or more of these miscreants, and the fact that every sentence was painful to write – it was not a joyful time.

When I asked my future publisher if he thought I would get sued, he said probably not, but he agreed to show his attorney. About a week later he came to me with a question “My attorney wants to know, are many of these people dead yet?” Answer “Not enough!”

That publisher suggested I backburner the book, but he also asked me what was my passion. I told him comedy. He suggested I write my comedy and send it to him. In a blink, I had the first three chapters of Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? I forwarded it to him for an opinion, and the rest is history.

What took me completely by surprise was how much fun I had writing. After my first attempt at what would undoubtedly have been a drama I expected to be suffering and hating every session with my reward being the final result, assuming I made it to the finish line.

What I found instead was that the writing itself was a sheer delight. I would wake up on a Saturday and start writing at 8 a.m., working practically non-stop through the evening cocktail hour. Then I’d wake up Sunday and do the same all over again. I couldn’t wait for my fingers to hit the keyboard. And when the manuscript came back after each edit, I swore at one or two irritating comments and then I got down to business and happily wrote again. I loved comments like “you’re in a restaurant but I don’t know what it looks like,” because that gave me license to write some more. It was not only fun, it was improving my masterpiece.

After the pain of that first failed attempt I never expected that the writing could possibly be this much fun. Now, if I should ever get the guts to go back and finish that first book, I think it would make one hell of an action-packed movie.

 

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This week’s author Round up Addresses the Difficulty of Writing Characters of the Opposite Sex

December 17th, 2018 → 4:16 pm @

I killed a woman in each of my first two books. They were intimate and personal murders and the details revealed themselves easily.

No women were killed in my third book, only men. I won’t mention the number (you know, spoiler alert), but suffice it to say that there has been nothing personal and/or intimate about how I have murdered men.

It’s not something I’d ever thought about before answering this question, but the facts are undeniable. I kill women more elegantly than I kill men.

Sharing ideas

Sharing ideas

LaVista Author Talk

 

I’ve read about how men tend to murder in a more gruesome and personal way and women prefer a cleaner, poison-based crime. In examining my work, I would have to say that I’ve murdered women in a more gruesome, close up manner (none of which have not been graphically depicted because they are cozy mysteries) and the men in a more distant method with less explicit details that are abruptly glossed over.

Get a jump on your Christmas shopping

Get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

Why that is remains unclear to me, although as I unpeel the onion the women have been murdered for bad behavior in personal relationships, that caught up with them. My men, on the other hand, have been murdered for acts far more public than personal. This leads me to believe that I am may not be comfortable addressing men’s private feelings and related actions, so I build a layer of separation between their feelings and the motives for their murders.

Perhaps, it’s merely because my third book is my first experience with murdering a friend. Could it be as simple as that? Murdering a friend was definitely more difficult than murdering those hateful, shrewish women. It was a genuine challenge to find the right balance between expressions of grief and sadness without completely killing the humor.

When I review the question about the difficulties of writing for the opposite sex I have more questions than answers. Who would have guessed that with all my focus on writing mysteries, I am the real mystery?

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This Week’s Round Up Question: What is the Most Difficult Part of the Artistic/Writing Process?

December 5th, 2018 → 8:54 pm @

My Donna Leigh Mystery series revolves around a menopausal ad agency owner in Omaha, Nebraska. Although each book encompasses the murder of someone known to the protagonist, the books are actually comedies. With three books in the series, the challenges have been in finding credible enough yet over-the-top comedic events, without an over-abundance of similarity, and in keeping the plot fresh enough overall that the books don’t start to feel formulaic.

Evanovich’s protagonist, Stephanie Plum, pretty much always sets a car on fire, it’s her signature comedic move. Perhaps I should have set a precedent like that, because creating new and outrageous scenarios is increasingly a challenge.

Each book requires approximately six comedic events to keep things moving at a fast pace. I realized this would be a daunting task as early as my second book, and the third book was that much more intimidating.

Along those same lines, it is a genuine challenge to keep my plots from becoming formulaic. The same characters want to say and do the same things. It is imperative to find ways to pull them out of their comfort zone without pulling them out of character.

Folks have suggested that I move on from Donna Leigh and start a whole new series, but my gut is telling me to stick with her for at least another book or two. And if I’ve learned one thing in this whole experience, it’s to trust my gut.

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Check out my “hardest scene to write” in this week’s author Round Up

November 26th, 2018 → 4:24 pm @

Question: What Was Your Hardest Scene to Write?

In my first book Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? I wrote a scene featuring a remodeling contractor from a small town in Nebraska. I wanted to change his pattern of speech from the arguably more urban patterns of the characters residing in Omaha. I wanted there to be a distinction.

I wasn’t trying to make this character sound distinctly back woods, rural because that’s not really a thing in Nebraska, so finding a distinction was challenging. He wasn’t uneducated, so giving him bad grammar was not the solution, and we tend to be accent neutral in Nebraska so I didn’t have much with which to work.

Bookdisplay

Bookdisplay

I wanted this character to be sweet and just a tad naïve. How does that sound? As I wrote, I found myself slipping into the cadence of a southern twang – NO! edit, edit, edit.

A great panel

A great panel

 

After finishing the book it officially went into editing. On the fourth round, my editor commented “you have this contractor who starts out talking like a hick and almost immediately evolves into having the elocution of a Harvard grad. Fix it.” Wow, how I not see that?

So, I was back at the drawing board. That short scene was the hardest I’ve ever written or rewritten – before or since. I labored over every word he spoke. In the end, I had to invent some speech patterns based on imagination and fleeting experience with folks in rural areas either through road trips across the state, or films about the Midwest. I think it works – but even now I’m not positive. In fact I can feel myself starting to perspire as I write the response to this question.

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Thank B2B For The Great Article!

June 7th, 2016 → 6:33 pm @

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Another Council Bluffs Author’s Fair

November 23rd, 2015 → 9:59 pm @

It was the first Author’s Fair for Book 2: I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Shortsighted – and it was fun to share the limelight with Cedric and his first novel – here we are at the Council Bluffs Author’s Fair:

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Council Bluffs Public Library

Council Bluffs Public Library

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I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Shortsighted is Now on Amazon!

October 24th, 2015 → 5:52 pm @

The second book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series is now available in paperback on Amazon – Kindle is soon to follow.

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Didnt-Shortsighted-Donna-Leigh-Mysteries/dp/1943976007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445709551&sr=1-1&keywords=robin+leemann+donovan

Available NowBackCoverCheck

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Checking Copy for Book 2 Has Finally Arrived!

October 14th, 2015 → 3:40 pm @

I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted is days away from being available on Amazon!

BookCheck1 BookCheck2 Bookcheck3 BackCoverCheck

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