Visit Booth #541 at the Big “O” Show on Wednesday, Oct 17th!

October 14th, 2012 → 8:38 pm @



Wednesday, October 17th I’ll be at the WriteLife booth #451 from 10:30 – 12:30. Come on by and chat and see my book trailer.

Visit with me and all of the other WriteLife authors – up close and personal. This is a great chance to get to know who’s writing what you’re reading.

I look forward to seeing you at the Quest Center and chatting about the first book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series, I might even be persuaded to share some details on book #2:  I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Short Sighted.



Review of The Percussionist’s Wife by Monica Lee

September 19th, 2012 → 7:56 pm @

The Percussionist’s Wife is a simple story of betrayal. The author turns an all too familiar tale into a fascinating and complex examination of an intelligent woman’s journey through a dark, life altering, episode. By sharing her thoughts and her thought process as she navigates this unbearably painful sojourn in her life, the author reveals the nuances that plague a woman during times of intolerable strife. Put simply, sometimes she’s brilliant and insightful, sometimes she’s into self-blame, sometimes she’s deep into denial and rationalization, almost sounding childlike in her naiveté.

Percussionist's Wife

Percussionist's Wife

Who among us has not wondered at our own level of intelligence when faced with a painful dilemma that would hurt far less were we to succumb to denial and rationalization? The author’s brutally honest portrayal of her daily mental climate is all too familiar. It is the most honest accounting of the disparity in our thought process as we move in and out of despair, hope, fury, relief and virtually every other emotion that plagues us as we work our way through life situations that make us feel frightened, insecure, self-doubting, angry and often worthless.

The author put herself out there so we could learn from her experience. She put herself out there so that we can feel worthwhile when we’re feeling worthless, and we can feel as though we’re not alone when we’re most alone.

If I were forced to find fault with The Percussionist’s Wife, it would be that the author, and protagonist, is clearly an intelligent and well-balanced individual, yet we only see the paranoid or rationalizing sides of her, and we don’t get very much information about the parts in her life that are working and wonderful. I think the dichotomy would be even more appalling were we to see how truly successful she is in other parts of her life.



Monica Lee is a personal historian, blogger and writer. A former reporter and newspaper copy editor, she also worked for years as a marketing executive with Creative Memories and Homemade Gourmet. A native of Minnesota, she blogs about her everyday life at and writes about writing at She lives in northern Illinois with her second husband.


Check out my book trailer

September 13th, 2012 → 6:47 pm @

My book trailer just went up on the WriteLife YouTube channel today. Check it out:




A Huge Thanks to The Lit Coach for including me in her post: Blogs That Work and Why!

August 24th, 2012 → 4:27 pm @

Blogs That Work and Why

by | on August 23rd, 2012 | 4 comments


Tuesday, I shared the Five Pillars of Effective Blogs as I shared with the LARARWA group this past weekend:

Compelling Content, Consistent Posts, Fresh Ideas, Engagement, and Share-ability

Today, I’d like share with you some of the blogs I discussed and why they work.

Yarnagogo – The blog that launched Knit Lit Romance author Rachael Herron’s career. Rachael shared with me that not only did her blog come before she scored an agent and a three book deal, it pretty much sealed the deal. Her agent and editorial team loved her authentic voice and how she connected with her audience.

Girlfriends Book Club – This collaborative blog featuring Women’s Fiction heavy hitters Ellen Meister, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Marilyn Brant, Maggie Mar (who I had the great pleasure of meeting at the LARA event) and many more, is a prime example of great content, consistency, fresh ideas, robust engagement with the audience and a community of sharing between most involved on the blog.

I asked Ellen Meister about how the blog began and how they’ve found success as a popular blog. Here’s what she had this to say:

The Girlfriends Book Club blog rose from the ashes of The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, which was a group of commercially published women authors who posted about each other’s books. That went on successfully for a number of years and eventually just burned itself out. Author Karin Gillespie deserves some kind of medal, because she not only ran the GCC but continues to coordinate and schedule the group blog.
It’s a tremendously effective way of reaching people, because there’s strength in numbers. With 40 writers as part of the group, the blog pulls from a vast network.
As it turns out, the majority the blog’s readers seem to be aspiring writers. Recognizing this, we post a lot of writing and marketing tips for aspiring authors. My most popular post was 20 Social Media Tips for Writers. Other favorite posts include 16 Tips for Writing Sexy Scenes, 18 Novelists Share Their Writing Routines and Girlfriends Share Tips on How to Be a Productive Writer.
As far as promoting our own books, it’s clear that the most popular posts are the ones that offer giveaways.
Importantly, the women in the group are tremendously supportive, and we help spread the word about each other’s posts with Tweets and Facebook status updates.

Menologues – Robin Donovan, author of Is it Still Murder Even if She Was a Bitch?, began blogging about menopause “because stumbling blindly through menopause is less funny than it sounds.” She wanted to reach a community of women who were going through what she was going through and it worked. Robin had a clearly defined audience, wrote specifically for them and soon, her blog was picked up by Vibrant Nation.

Twinfatuation – Twins expert and author Cheryl Lage has a world-wide audience, has written for an impressive array of national and local magazines, and ezines, has appeared on Martha Stewart Live Radio, has been called by The Today Show and so much more, mostly because of her blog. But like many bloggers who author books, she didn’t begin with a blog. Cheryl contacted me when I was a literary agent and she, a mother of adorable toddler twins and a writer with a great idea about a book for parents of twins and multiples. Cheryl’s story is very special to me and I was delighted to share it on literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog (another fabulous blog!). I encourage you to read the short post on how we started building her platform as a twin parenting expert before we sold her manuscript. You may see some of your questions and concerns answered in the robust comment thread.

A Walking Carnival – This has got to be my favorite slice of life blog ever. I like to say Deirdre Lewis, the creator of AWC, is the love child of Erma Bombeck and David Sedaris. A filmmaker and screenwriter by trade, Deirdre’s unique quirkiness shines through her blog as she takes you through her neighborhood in Echo Park, CA, to a dusty old camera shop, to an airport book store and to her father’s house. There is no post I don’t absolutely love. This blog is ALWAYS fresh, pretty consistent and I feel the content is spectacularly good. One of her latest posts is an all imagined dialog between two car mechanics – notice how the conversation reveals so much about the narrator. Deirdre is not repped by an agent, but it won’t be long before she is. She uses the blog to discover her voice and hone her craft. Works for me!

What blogs do you absolutely love and why? Share them below.





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Comments (4)

  1. Ellen Meister, August 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for another terrific and informative post, Erin. And of course, the shout-out for the Girlfriends Book Club blog is much appreciated! Here’s a recent update–the wonderful Maggie Marr is now at the helm. We’re so lucky to have people like Karin and Maggie to lead the way! Ellen Reply
    • TheLitCoach, August 24, 2012
      Ellen, thanks! I truly feel what you all contribute to the blog world, especially with regard to educating writers, is so valuable. I really enjoy the blog (and need to comment more often!) and am happy to refer writers to it. While I was speaking about GBC in front of the group, Maggie was in the audience. She smiled when I mentioned the name so I stopped and asked her if she knew of the blog. When she said she was ON the blog I nearly died! I was THRILLED to meet a GBC member. Reply
  2. Marilyn Brant, August 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for the shout out, Erin! I feel lucky to be part of the GBC because, as Ellen said, it’s such a tremendously supportive group of writers. I truly enjoy getting to read the posts of the other contributors and have found the readers to be really receptive to the diversity of topics and voice, too. Looking forward to checking out the other blogs you recommended!! Reply
  3. TheLitCoach, August 24, 2012
    Thanks, Marilyn. The GBC blog is so unique and really is a compelling example of how to collaborate with your fellow authors online successfully. Reply


Donna Leigh Mystery #3 In The Works!

August 3rd, 2012 → 4:47 pm @

Donna Leigh Mysteries

Donna Leigh Mysteries

The third in the Donna Leigh mystery series is well underway. The working title is “I Wonder Why They Killed Him, He Wasn’t Really That Annoying.”

This is the first time our murder victim is male – and he’s also a friend of Donna’s.

The victim, Ed von Hapsburg is a former professional chef and, at the time of the murder, is the owner of a California vineyard and a wine distributorship. Ed’s background and interests will provide an endless supply of food and wine information and action venues.

The second in the Donna Leigh series “I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Short Sighted” has been in edit for two months now.


Look for our first ebook soon!

July 24th, 2012 → 8:17 pm @

For all of you who have asked “can I buy Is It Still Murder, Even If She Was A Bitch? for my ebook reader?” the answer will soon be “Yes!”

We anticipate the release of the first in the Donna Leigh Mystery series to ebook within the month. Thanks for your interest! We’ll make a formal announcement upon its release!


Girlfriends Book Club – Guest Blog Post

July 10th, 2012 → 5:15 pm @

Check out my guest blog post and some early comments on Girlfriends Book Club:

Guest Post: Robin Donovan: Why Write a Murder Mystery?

 Why write a murder mystery, make it funny and choose a menopausal businesswoman as your amateur sleuth? Why not?

When you start out as an English teacher with an urge to write humor and you buy into an ad agency where blogging becomes a must, the stars begin to align. Then when you’re cajoled into creating a blog on menopause –  because you’ve become the defacto resource for desperate women who have waited too long to educate themselves properly –  which is eventually republished by Vibrant Nation (a site for women 50+) and Alltop (a general information site) things start to heat up.
Book Cover

Book Cover

The feedback from Menologues, and my partnership with the Vibrant Nation community have taught me some things. Fifty-plus women are vastly ignored and overlooked by the world at large, and many of us lack the confidence to shout loud enough to insist on being heard. Are we less talented, intelligent or relevant than anyone else out there? Hell no!
Then why? Is it because we have typically been the caretakers and the ‘sacrificers?’ Or is it because, in past generations, we’ve never been thought of as amounting to much and we’re now on the downside of the equation?  You tell me. The real question is: what can we do about it? In some ways perceptions have improved, but recent experience tells me it’s nowhere near enough!
Donna Leigh, the protagonist of my first novel: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? doesn’t think of herself as old or even past her prime. She’s just living life to the fullest and dealing with what comes her way.  She’s running an ad agency when a former colleague is murdered. Since it’s a known fact that she and the victim were not on friendly terms, Donna Leigh takes the pragmatic approach and jumps right into the investigation in an attempt to stay off the suspect list. As an ad agency owner, Donna lives in a young world; and while she doesn’t try to fight the natural progression of time, she is clearly influenced by the bright young culture in which she lives.
During the arduous editing process of the first in the “Donna Leigh Mystery” series, one of my female editors noted “women that age don’t talk like that.” I thought, hmmmppphhh, she must be really young to make that stereotypical statement. When I met this editor and realized that she was my age or older, the enormous disparity of lifestyle situations among women aged 48 to 65+ really became apparent to me. We don’t know all that much about each other; how could we expect the rest of the world to know about us?
I can’t single handedly change stereotyping of women my age – some of which even originates from women my age. I have created a character who is menopausal, or even post menopausal, very real and neither old nor trying too hard to hang onto her youth. She is not an aberration, but those who are uninformed often view her as such. She’s a smart lady, but she has her share of flaws.
Although I can’t abolish stereotypes I can depict her as one realistic example of a menopausal woman today: stylish and attractive. As far as what she isn’t: mid-twenties, model gorgeous and reed thin – does that keep us from wanting to read about her crime solving adventures? Only time will tell.
But why shouldn’t women have heroes at every age? We need a reason to laugh and see ourselves through protagonists portrayed as admirable, but not flawless. We need not have to accept the premise that the protagonist must be a very young woman, so it’s too late for us!
And as far as the murder theme goes. As a lifetime Agatha Christie zealot (we already have our octogenarian role model in Miss Marple) I was delighted by two things I learned once my novel was underway; writing is incredibly fun and getting to kill off the bad guys feels damn good – even if it’s only on paper!
Visit Robin at
Robin Donovan is the author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues is republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop, and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards.

Posted by at 7:38 AM


  1. OMG…how have I missed your blog. As soon as I stop pouring ice down my blouse to relieve my hot flashes, I’m headed right there.

    Can’t wait to read this one! At 59.5 years old, I so appreciate you!


  2. I absolutely love the title of the book and your protagonist! It feels like a complete breath of fresh air and much needed. I will definitely look this up, right now!


  3. Excellent post. Looking forward to book two.




A Big Thanks to Erin Reel: The Lit Coach

June 21st, 2012 → 2:47 pm @

Check out the wonderful post that Erin Reel, The Lit Coach, wrote on her blog after interviewing me last week:

From Blog to Book with Robin Leemann Donovan
by TheLitCoach | on June 21st, 2012 | 0 comments

I love book titles that really get to the heart of what the book’s about. I also have a penchant for humor. When I was invited to attend a book reading/signing event for author Robin Leemann Donovan, I was only too glad to go – with at title like, Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch?, how could I not be entertained? And I was! In the decade I’ve been working with authors and their books, I don’t recall laughing quite so hard at a book reading. Totally refreshing.

The Lit Coach Interview

The Lit Coach Interview

Donovan, a Managing Principal at Bozell, one of the top advertising agencies in the country, understands the vital importance of hook. At the urging of a friend, Donovan created Menologues, a blog devoted to helping women stumble less blindly through menopause. Her hook? Clearly humor but also authenticity – Donovan blogs, writes and speaks off the cuff, from the heart and with authority not just about menopause but about topics important to women 50+, who have largely been ignored in publishing and other media. That organic combo works for her. From my perspective, she’s on to something.

I asked Donovan for her three most important, need-to-know tips about writing and blogging. Here’s what she shared.
On Writing

Prepare for nothing happening as you would expect it.
Take notes on every chapter so you know where you’re going, where your loose ends are and when to tie them up (very important for mystery writers).
Get your work professionally critiqued and proofread. Friends and relatives are not your best beta readers, except my mother and I’ll loan her out.

On Blogging

Be specific. Stand for something.
Be relatable. Be authentic.
Be prepared. Do your homework. Discover and understand your market. Don’t touch on topics that everyone’s touched. Know what’s important and what isn’t.
Be open to the realities of the people around you and their unique experiences. Avoid stereotypes.

If you’ve had success creating a book from your blog, share your tips (and links!) here.



Exciting Feedback from a Literary Agent

June 7th, 2012 → 7:17 pm @

I felt extremely fortunate to have had a professional literary agent attend my talk at the Millard Branch of OPL. The fact that she sent me the following note was more than I could have hoped for:

Dear Robin:

It was a pleasure to meet you Tuesday night – I thoroughly enjoyed myself. In over ten years in the publishing industry, that was the first time I laughed so hard and so frequently at an author event. You’re a breath of fresh air! You’ve got it.

As I mentioned, I’d love to get together and hear more about your blog/book experience. I’ll be a guest speaker at the Los Angeles chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) in August and I think they’d love to hear about your experience. My workshop is “From Blog to Book” where I discuss what it takes to make an editor/publisher take notice of an author blog.

Would you have any time available next week to meet for coffee or drinks?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Erin Reel

The Lit Coach


Huge Thanks to the Millard Branch of the Omaha Public Library

June 6th, 2012 → 9:13 pm @

Great audience at the Millard Branch!

Great audience at the Millard Branch!

Last night I had the distinct honor of kicking off the Millard Branch’s Authors Series. Attendees were wonderful and supportive! They asked some excellent questions and gave me some feedback that made it difficult to fit my head through the door as I exited the building! Every “talk” should be so much fun – for me!

I also appreciate being able to trot out an excerpt from the second book in the Donna Leigh Mysteries series, I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Short Sighted! It really helped to be able to share my plot and characters with a new audience, and hearing the laughter was music to my ears!

I want to thank all of the wonderful folks at the Millard Branch for being so welcoming and supportive!

I recently had an acquaintance laughingly ask me if I really felt like a “celebrity.” And to his surprise, I was able to respond that there are actually a few people who treat me as though I’m a celebrity. I count the great folks at the Millard Branch and their wonderful audience as some of those few!
Authors Series