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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Week Number Four of Richard Lowe’s Round Up – Check out my Response

November 7th, 2018 → 4:44 pm @

My primary goal has always been to entertain my readers and make them laugh, while also making them think. To give them an escape from the troubles in their lives. Based on feedback (and not just from my mother), I am grateful that I seem to be on track with that goal. There is no better feeling than when a reader is genuinely effusive about my work.

When I read this Roundup question, it got me thinking about my goals beyond the readers’ reaction and I realized it’s a very basic goal. I want to enjoy the writing experience even more.

That’s not as simple as it sounds.

I enjoy writing cozy murder mysteries and I enjoy doing the speaking and signing engagements, hell, I even enjoy editing, but all these components can interconnect in a way that makes writing either a joy or an exercise in self-debasement or both – kind of like a seesaw.

To start with I enjoy the writing, but feeling pressure to hurry up can bring that enjoyment to a screeching halt. Once the book is released there’s a huge amount of work to gain any level of awareness. I actually enjoy guest blogging and interviewing, I genuinely enjoy public speaking. But if you’ve ever done an author event to an audience of two, even considering there are torrential rains outside, you know how demoralizing that can be.

Although many of us don’t get into writing for the money (a lot of you are laughing out loud right now) it is nice to actually see some return on your investment. There was a time when I referred to my writing as a “very costly hobby.” Although I still don’t rely on my writing as my livelihood, there’s no denying that monetary gain is a measure of success, and when you’ve poured your guts out to create your masterpiece, any measure of success is a plus.

One day euphoric success, the next day humbling disappointment, and repeat. My great grandmother had a saying that seems to fit “what never makes you laugh will never make you cry.”

My goal would be to see the scales a bit more heavily weighted toward the laughing.

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Check out my answer to this week’s Roundup question

October 29th, 2018 → 8:51 pm @

As a child I was an avid reader and writer of letters. My letters always seemed to surprise people, making them laugh when they needed a laugh, shoring them up when they needed support. The feedback all seemed positive and appreciative that I was able to sense their needs and write something that helped. Whenever their comments focused on my making them laugh, I was in heaven. Even as a child, I fancied myself a cross between Cornelia Otis Skinner and James Thurber – my dreams were big. It was only a matter of time before I penned the great American comedic novel.

A great panel

A great panel

Then life happened. I taught English to high school kids who suffered through my love of literature and taught me new forms of grammar and spelling that haunt me to this day. When the academic life began to pale, I ventured into the world of advertising. Sure I would be a star copywriter, I instead found myself behind a calculator in the world of media buying. It was hard work and it kept me busy. Too busy to write a novel.

As the years progressed, I found myself the owner of an ad agency with one, two or three partners, depending on the year. During one particularly stressful period when the economy was lagging and my CFO partner was obnoxious as hell, I found myself looking for escape. That’s when I started my first novel.

In retrospect, I think I wrote about murder to assuage my desire to commit murder. Killing off people who cause you extreme stress is so cathartic. And when you do it in a novel, you don’t go to jail.

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Thanks for including me in this week’s Round Up

October 22nd, 2018 → 6:03 pm @

Robin Leemann Donovan

Robin DonovanHide things – who me? Hell yes, I’ve hidden a ton. So, you’re asking me to give it all up now? Let’s see where I can begin. Book one, Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?, was written after a small group, lead by one of my business partners, who had a fairly public breakdown, tried to stage a coup and throw the other two of us out of our company. There are numerous veiled references to the details of the coup, e.g. wanting financial gain without having to invest, etc. One of the less savory characters in the book has the combined name of two of the conspirators. I could go on, but that would be too much of a spoiler alert. Let’s just say the murder victim will not be sorely missed. And suffice it to say the coup was unsuccessful.

In book two, I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted, a great deal of the back story consists of true events from my early days in advertising. Although they’re not exactly hidden, the reader would never know fact from fiction. The inspiration for the murder victim actually did all of those obnoxious things. The events leading directly up to the murder, however, are all carefully crafted fiction. The hidden part consists of numerous little character traits and foibles that paint a startlingly accurate picture of my victim, right down to the physical description. Once you know the facts, you would never question the accuracy of the fiction. The portrayal of B.J. comes from years of watching and listening to her inspirations’ unprincipled behavior.

In book three, I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying, the major hidden message lies in the treatment of one of my former partners. He had joined the company shortly after “the coup” and was fine for a few years. Then had his own version of a breakdown. He’s featured in the first two books as my valued partner and legendary smart ass, Donny Miller. He makes an excellent foil to my protagonist, Donna Leigh. By the time I started writing this third book, the inspiration for Donny’s character had exited the company in a most contentious fashion. Throughout the book, there are references to his departure that are in reality private jokes.

Reading through my response I arrive at two conclusions: I have actually hidden quite a bit (and this is only the tip of the iceberg) and it’s unhealthy to be my business partner if you’re a man.

https://www.thewritingking.com/secrets-books/?fbclid=IwAR3F_vhNDIaNQUDm28fotuhdM1hKDJeGWIj-znKbA9ZI6Vr30QO-9ZdJUl0

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How Has Writing Changed Your Life? Multi-Author Interview by Richard Lowe

October 15th, 2018 → 5:42 pm @

So appreciated being included in Richard Lowe’s multi-author interview:

https://www.thewritingking.com/writing-changed-life-roundup/

Robin Leemann Donovan
I’ve always been a control freak, working hard to maintain a tight reign on as many aspects of my life as possible. When I started writing my first novel, I designed a process and built a timeline, allowing myself little leeway. As the writing progressed it became evident that I was not controlling the process, rather the process was controlling me.

I would often find myself at points in the plot where I didn’t know what would happen next, yet I kept writing. I would often look back and be surprised at what had been written, sometimes an event that didn’t exist a few minutes earlier, and sometimes a memory from deep within my brain that found its way out and onto the page. That is probably why writing novels is one of the most relaxing things I do. I let myself go and let my subconscious take over – and I love the freedom it gives me.

 

 

 

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Check Out My Writer Spectacle Interview

October 8th, 2018 → 8:05 pm @

Writer Spectacle #4 Featured Writers

Writer Spectacle
Featured Writers

 

Robin Leeman Donovan

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What kind of content do you mostly write?
humorous cozy mysteries

How long have you been writing?
novels – 8 years

How many hours do you dedicate to writing per week on average?
8 hours on Saturday and Sunday – when I’m writing a novel

Do you have any formal education, mentoring, or experience related to writing?
I was an English major and took creative writing classes

In one sentence, what motivates you to write?
I have a huge amount of fun when I’m writing comedy.

Do you have any funny or unusual writing habits?
When I was working with a publisher and I would get the manuscript back all marked up, I would have a have a one-sided dialogue as I read through manuscript. If I disagreed with the comment i would become indignant and sometimes yell my objections, and when I felt the comment was an improvement on my work I would complimemt the manuscript graciously. I often wondered how entertaining a video of me reading my manuscript comments would be.

Pick an excerpt from any of your writing that you’re really proud of
“You mean Donny was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time? A victim of circumstance?”

“That’s about it.”

In all the years I knew Donny, through all his bark and bluster, I knew the one thing he would hate about this was the fact that he was insignificant in his own death.

What advice, if any, would you give to a fellow writer who has just been rejected by several large publishers and told he or she has zero chance to make it as a writer?
If you are certain that the work has merit there are other avenues than the large publishers. You owe it to yourself to investigate another way to get your work out there.

What is the most important tip that you can offer other writers?
Manage your expectations. If your work is great and the feedback you get is consistantly positive, that still doesn’t mean you’ll ever be Janet Evanovich. You have to understand and be okay with that. Even if you don’t make millions from your work, there are moments that will make it one of the top 5 (or even 3) experiences of your life.

What would you say are some common traps that aspiring writers should avoid?
That the work is so good they don’t need an editor or a proofreader.

That acclaim will come to you and you won’t have to work your butt off for everything you get.

That you HAVE to take every piece of advice from your editor.

Have you had any adversity or challenges surrounding your writing career? If yes, what?
I wrote the first half of my third book while I was getting ready to edit my second book. When I went back to it after two years, it was just awful. I honestly didn’t think it could be salvaged. I spent some time thinking and came up with an ending that wouldn’t have been possible two years earlier. Once I had that ending, I was able to go back and edit the first half. Then I absolutely loved it and finished the second half of the book with relative ease. I never expected to like that book – and I love it. It would have been extremely defeating to have had to abandon all that work.

A direct link to your most proud of written work
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=donna+leigh+mysteries&sprefix=Donna+leigh+m%2Caps%2C159&crid=2AVA1BUQ9T752

Amazon link to: Donna Leigh Mysteries

Your website or blog
www.rldonovan.com

If a new writer asked you what you thought was needed to become an internationally famous and successful writer, what you would say or recommend them to do?
Have someone you know well get murdered, and then write a book about it. I have found that there is one absolute besides death (no pun intended) and taxes, if you are personally involved in a murder and you write a book about it – you WILL get a book and movie offers – no matter how badly you write. The more gory the murder the more celebrated the fame.

You are tasked with cleaning up and organizing a dirty, junky 10,000 sq. ft. mansion within 24 hours. The owner of the mansion hasn’t made an attempt to straighten the place out in 3 years. You are given $3000. What would you do to get it as clean and organized as possible for its happy owner?
I would find an OCD therapy group and invite them to a party at the mansion. I would use the money to for food and party favors, you know, Swiffers and windex. All of the party games would revolve around getting an area the cleanest and most organized. Bonus points would earn them extra areas to clean.

Anything else you’d like to say?
I’m kind of a ham and I like to make people laugh. That said, my mysteries hold together. I don’t believe that I can phone in the clues and leave red herrings all over just because my focus is humor. I also don’t believe that smart sleuths will deliberately paint themselves into a dangerous corner – like almost every brilliant, young and gorgeous sleuth tends to do (sure, I’ll meet the heavily breathing, disguised voice creep that calls and invites me to a dark alley at midnight). My sleuth is smart but imperfect, menopausal but cool and she’s a whole lot more relatable than a lot of today’s amateur sleuths because she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

 

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Check out my guest blog on Jerrica Reads

October 2nd, 2018 → 2:40 pm @

Why Do You Write About Murder?

That’s a question I get asked all the time and the answer grows as I add more books to my Donna Leigh Mystery series. At first, I thought it was because my mom got me hooked on Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes from a very young age, and that’s part of it. But another very real reason is that I get to kill people I’m not allowed to kill in real life.

I’ve always wanted to write and I’ve always preferred to deal with issues through humor, but I never put the two together until life got really hard. Owning a business and losing a business partner is, I’m told, a lot like a divorce – only it’s a lot more public. During the months, and even years, leading up to the split, there were some tense times. I might even have had some murderous thoughts about the partner in question. Although, I wouldn’t allow myself to realize them until after his departure.

In the meantime, I was able to escape the tension by looking back on those people who had garnered the bulk of my murderous thoughts in the past. Killing them was pure catharsis. Not to mention that I was able to create fictional characters who readers would want to join me in killing.

Read the rest here:

https://www.facebook.com/rldonovanauthorpage/

 

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Check out my interview with Richard Lowe

September 12th, 2018 → 8:10 pm @

Interview with Robin Donovan

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Interview by J.E. Feldman of Into The Mind of the Writer

September 10th, 2018 → 9:35 pm @

Into the Mind of the Writer

J.E. Feldman’s Exploits

Author Interview with Robin Leemann Donovan

 

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Brand New Review from Chick Lit Cafe

April 5th, 2018 → 4:48 pm @

Robin Leemann Donovan – Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?
by Robin Leemann Donovan
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Humorous
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Alt=”Robin Leemann Donovan”Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? (The Donna Leigh Mysteries Book 1) by Robin Leemann Donovan

Synopsis:

How does one react to the shocking news that a former colleague has been brutally murdered? Worse yet, you realize that your vitriolic relationship with the victim could land you squarely on the suspect list. That’s exactly what happened to Donna Leigh, a menopausal ad exec, who jumps right into the investigation in order to keep the wolves away from her door. She manages to amuse, as well as impress with her effective but unorthodox sleuthing.

Review:

Witty, hilarious, mysterious.

Donna Leigh is the co-owner of the Marcel advertising agency in the Midwest. One day while at work, she is informed that her former colleague, Claire Dockens, has been brutally murdered while leaving a charity dinner. Donna and Claire have always had a caustic relationship, so Donna begins to think that she could become a suspect. And, she’s not the only one at the agency that fears being a suspect. There are others. Due to Claire’s insulting, rude behavior, she had many enemies. There could be several of Donna’s coworkers and friends that could be on the list of suspects. So they decide to take matters in their own hands and solve the murder themselves with Donna leading the investigation. With the menopausal unlikely sleuths on the case, things get crazy and out of control. But in the end, the women turn out to be better sleuths than the professional investigators themselves. Will they solve the case?

Is it Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch is a hilarious, engaging mystery story about a smart, witty, menopausal woman that gets pulled into investigating a murder in order to keep herself from becoming a suspect. Out of fear of being accused, Donna and her friends become amature sleuths. They decide to do the detective work themselves. They are rash and clumsy and fumble around while they are investigating. All kinds of things go hilariously wrong, but in the end they do a better job than the investigating officers. Meanwhile Donna is struggling with hot flashes, memory problems, clumsiness and all kinds of thoughts running rampant in her mind. But, even though she struggles, she is never without an entertaining response.

Author, Robin Leemann Donovan, has done a great job of writing a funny mystery filled with wit, humor and twists and turns. She takes readers on a roller coaster ride of clues, mishaps and triumphs. She writes comical dialog, engaging characters and amusing scenarios and scenes with precision and skill. There is a lot going on in this well written story. I loved that Donna and her friends are devoted followers of fashion but are always ready to get their hands dirty, they are bold, daring and impulsive.

I love cozy mysteries, and Is It Still Murder If She Was A Bitch is right up there with my favorites. It has all the components of a riveting perfect cozy mystery.

The descriptions are well composed, and a delight for the senses. I could picture everything vividly and felt like I was there. The characters are hilarious and well developed. One of the things that I liked about it, is that there are just the right amount of characters to keep track of. Especially since I am over 50 and menopausal myself. I could totally relate to the characters and scenarios as well.

I couldn’t put the book down. It kept me engaged and up late at night. It’s a quick, easy light hearted, yet mysterious, read. Robin Leemann Donovan is a fabulous writer, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in her series, The Donna Leigh Mysteries.

Reviewed by Chick Lit Cafe

Purchase Is It Still Murder Even if She Was a Bitch @Amazon Today

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