Monday, January 21, 2013

Introducing Donna Winters, New York State historical writer



Kathy: Welcome, Donna. We are so happy to have you here this week, and that you have agreed to share a bit about yourself and your writing.

Donna: Thanks for inviting me! I’m honored to be your guest!

Q: First of all—cake, cookies, brownies, or tofu (gack!) ?
What a question! I’d have to say Krispie Treats! My husband has become sensitive to wheat so we make Krispie Treats with a variety of marshmallow flavors and sprinkle toppings.  They were always my favorite dessert from childhood and they’re quick to make, so I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing by sticking with the Krispies for most of our desserts.

Q: When did the writing bug first hit you?
Back in 1982. In the early 1980s, news reports came out on TV that the romance genre was exploding and even housewives untrained as writers were getting published. I had a full time job as a technical proofreader, and was formally trained in music, but I was interested in finding out about this fad. Even though I had read very little fiction, I sent for three free Harlequin romances offered for proofs of purchase from Hefty trash bags. They sent out three reprints from the 1950s, British stories. After reading them I wanted to try writing contemporary romances, so I bought myself a new typewriter (yes, my career predates the age when personal computers were common).  By the end of that year, I bought an IBM personal computer. By 1984 I had written three romances, none of which ever became published. My fourth story, submitted as three chapters and a synopsis to Thomas Nelson for what was then their Promise romance line, became my first published writing, releasing on Valentine’s Day in 1985.

Q: How does New York play into your writing?
That first romance for Thomas Nelson was set in a fictional version of my hometown of Brockport, New York, twenty miles west of Rochester. After that, I wrote fifteen historical romances set in Michigan, where I have lived since getting married in 1971. Then, in 2011, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal was released, historical fiction set in Brockport and on the Erie Canal in 1830. Right now, New York stories are the bookends of my career, but my WIP is contemporary women’s fiction set in the Midwest.

Q: If you could sit down and interview any person, fictitious or real from any time, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?
I’m not sure about the sitting down part. I would ask Jesus if I could walk in his dust.

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?
Every editor I have ever had has been a mentor in some way, and a writer friend who passed away in 1993, Hilda Stahl, was also a very important mentor. My editors taught me how to improve my work, and Hilda, an inveterate story spinner, helped me learn to plot. I really felt the loss when she suddenly suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and soon after, went to be with the Lord. She was only in her early fifties when that happened, but she already had over 100 Christian fiction titles published and/or under contract. I miss her still.

Q:  What do you hope your readers will take away from your stories?
I hope readers will grasp the zeitgeist (spirit) of the times in which my stories were set.


Q: Do you have a question you would like our blog readers to answer?
If you have been to the State of New York, what is your favorite place? If you have not been to New York State, where in the state would you like to visit if given an all-expense-paid trip?

Thanks for letting me visit! This was fun!


Donna Winters Bio
Donna adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids.
She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.
Donna has written fifteen historical romances for her Great Lakes Romances® series. Recently, she turned her attention to her hometown on the Erie Canal and produced an historical novel, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, which released as a paperback in June 2012, and has now been offered in Kindle format.

Connect with Donna Winters at her blog where her links are located:



Here’s a little about Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal

Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?

Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?

 Thanks again Donna for being with us this week and for sharing about yourself and your writing. I loved the tidbit about the hefty bags and Harlequin books! It goes to show that each one of us has a unique path that the Lord leads us in His plans and purposes. Wishing you all the best as your write for him.

Readers, be sure to leave an answer to Donna's question in the comments section below. One lucky commenter will win a copy of her book, Bluebird of Brockport, to be drawn by random.org and announced Friday Jan 25th at 7 PM. You may increase your odds of winning by following this blog or www.fictionaddictionfix.blogspot.com and by sharing this post on facebook or twitter. 

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for being here this week, Donna. It's wonderful to have a fellow New Yorker!

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  2. Fun to learn more about you, Donna!

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  3. Debbie Lynne and Kathy,

    Thanks so much for inviting me here! I appreciate the opportunity to meet your blog readers.



    Loree,

    Thanks for stopping by to read my answers to the interesting questions.

    Blessings to you all throughout the week!
    Donna Winters

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  4. I visited NYC years ago on my senior class trip! We only spent a day there, but really enjoyed visiting Ellis Island. We also visited the Teddy Roosevelt birthplace which I think was somewhere in NY state.

    Thanks for the interview ladies!

    Patty
    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Patty,
      Thanks for telling about your visit to NYC. The Teddy Roosevelt birthplace is on E. 20th Street in NYC, so you were right about it being in the state.

      When I was in school, my class also took a trip to NYC, but we were only seventh graders. I don't remember all the sites but we hit the major ones for that time, the early 1960s. Ellis Island became a tourist attraction in 1990 so I'm certain we didn't go there. The Roosevelt birthplace was opened in 1919 but I don't recall seeing it on my trip. Thanks for reminiscing about your visit!

      Blessings,
      Donna Winters

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  5. I have never been to New York, but if I could win a trip, the place I would want to visit is a very small, old town called McDonough. My baby brother lives there and I would love to be able to see him. We are so far apart and both too poor for trips. And, not getting any younger. He lives in a house built over 100 years ago.That is the important part of NY for me. I've never gotten to be around his children and grandchildren, so hardly know them. Enjoyed this interview, especially the part of the Bluebird. Please enter my name. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Maxie,

      Thanks for stopping by and telling where you'd go in NY State. I did a little research on McDonough and discovered it was named for Thomas McDonough, an American Naval officer. He served in the first Barbary War and in the War of 1812 in the Battle of Lake Champlain where he helped defeat the British and bring the war to an end.

      McDonough is a town of about 800 in Chenango County which is in the south central region of the state. I lived in Hancock, New York, not too terribly far from there, for a few months before getting married at the end of 1971.

      Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Blessings,
      Donna Winters

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  6. Donna, thanks for this info on where my brother lives. It is neat to hear about it's history. Now I can tell him. They only have one small church, a Methodist. He is Baptist, but they just took him right in and he is involved in all of the activities. His house is right across the street from the church, It used to be the parsonage.
    They do have a Walmart about 15 miles away, I believe he said. I imagine most go there for most of there needs. Thanks, Maxie

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    1. Maxie,
      History is a passion of mine, so checking into the history of your brother's town was an adventure that brought to light areas of interest relevant to my book. In my story about the canal, the heroine's father had served in the War of 1812 and fought at Plattsburgh in 1814. That was way before my story opens in 1830, but was background info that came out during the early chapters.
      Blessings,
      Donna

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    2. Thanks, Maxie. Since you're a follower, I'll give you two entries.

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  7. My high-school trip was to New York City and then Washington D.C.! Of the two I liked the Potomac city better. A farm raised girl, my neck wasn't stretched every minute to see the top of buildings. Boy, I must have seemed dim kawking up half the time. My first kiss ever, a late bloomer, was on the Potomac at 18, by Sammuel Immanuel Tucker. We wrote for a few weeks. He said he owned a white stallion. Sorry to hear you lost your friend, Hilda. I lost a antique bookseller, Robert Koelz, from Jackson, Michigan. He was the first person to believe I had a usable brain. Dsylectic, you know.

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    1. Rohn,
      Thanks for stopping by to reminisce about your trips to NYC and DC. At my school, the eighth grade trip was to DC. There was no senior trip when I went through high school. We'd done it all in 7th and 8th grades, evidently, and at an age when we were less likely to cause serious damage to our lives than as high schoolers.
      Blessings,
      Donna

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  8. An upstate New York writer! Me too! I live and write in Rome, NY on the shores of Delta Lake on the edge of the Adirondack Mts. New York state is so beautiful with the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes. I love all of New York State and hope your book sells a million!

    Blessings,
    Elaine W. Miller
    www.SplashesofSerenity.com

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    1. Elaine,

      Thanks for stopping by! We visited Rome last summer, more specifically the Rome Village museum. I did a little checking on Delta Lake and learned it is a reservoir that was intended to make certain the Erie Canal had sufficient water.

      I certainly agree about the beauty of New York with its mountains and lakes. Before moving to Michigan I lived in Hancock, New York, on the Pennsylvania border, in the Catskills. Gorgeous!

      Great getting to know a little about you!

      Blessings,
      Donna Winters

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    2. Hi, Elaine! Delighted to meet another NY writer! what do you write?

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  9. WOW! A real Yankee writer. Welcome aboard. This is a great place to meet and greet other bloggers. I'm living in the Atlanta area, but we still speak to many Yankees. :>)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to welcome me! I imagine many northerners have moved to Atlanta over the last few decades.

      Your mention of Yankee brings to mind the very first book I wrote for Thomas Nelson, a Nashville publisher. My editor there told me I was her only Yankee writer. Until then I hadn't reckoned with the strong regionalism that exists south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

      Blessings!
      Donna Winters

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    2. LOL, Steven. Many Yankees, but not all. Can't be too careful!

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  10. I really liked Manhattan; I loved the museums, statue of liberty, and Ellis Island. I'm a fictionaddictionfix follower and became an email follower here. Also shared on twitter. shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Veronica,
      Thanks for stopping by and telling about your New York experience. Manhattan certainly has a lot to offer. Thanks for following here and sharing on Twitter.
      Blessings,
      Donna Winters

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    2. thanks, Veronica. I have you down for four entries. Good luck!

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  11. I have never been to New York. I think if I went to New York I would love to visit Time Square and someday I would like to be in Time Square to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve.
    Katie J.
    johnsonk133[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  12. I have never been to New York, but I would like to see the statue of Liberty if I were to go.

    bluegrassbirdie at gmail.com

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    1. Brittany,

      The Statue of Liberty is really something! I saw it decades before the renovation. It must be even more spectacular now.

      Blessings!
      Donna Winters

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  13. And the winner is Veronica! Congratulations, Veronica. You will be getting an email from one of us soon to find out where to mail your book.

    Thnak you everybody for visiting this week and coming out to chat with our guest, Donna Winters. Blessings to you, Donna for being such a great guest. Wishing you all the best on your writing endeavors.

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  14. Katie,
    Thanks for stopping by! Times Square is really a busy place, 24 hours a day so my husband says, who visited there and noticed it doesn't get quiet at night. New Year's Eve is definitely the most exciting time. I hope you get to see the ball drop there in person one day. As for me, I'm in bed before midnight so wouldn't see the ball drop even if I had a TV signal and could watch the show.
    Have a great New Year!
    Blessings!
    Donna Winters

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