"I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."
-Winston Churchill

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Forced To Serve Series Book Tour & Giveaway with Donna McDonald

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your books?

My guess is more than I am probably aware. I definitely think the science fiction based romances reveal the spiritual and theological issues that fascinate me. As for my characters, I think I work at becoming them in order to write their story. Each character and I become “one entity” for the duration of the book. This is likely why Malachi, my alien demon who lives in a host, is a natural creation for me. I am used to sharing my brain, body, and spirit with those I create.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing?

I typically start with a scene that keeps playing over and over in my head like a min-movie. Sometimes it’s not even the beginning of a story, but rather just a fun, interesting scene happening among characters. If I like the scene well enough, another soon follows. If I find the scenes create a chapter, then I build around them to develop the book. Sometimes by the end of one book, I have this happening for the next. The Forced To Serve series has a lot of action in it. My imagination and I never get tired of thinking about it.

Can you tell us about your SciFi Romance Series?

The Forced To Serve series is primarily set around Captain Liam Synar and the crew of his rescue ship. They move through their version of the universe, of which Earth is a part, working for the Peace Alliance. Ambassadors of the Peace Alliance visit planets who are being recruited. Sometimes those diplomatic forays don’t work out and Synar’s crew is sent in to rescue the captured Peace Alliance official.

In the midst of the “work” of being a crew member, each character on the ship is dealing with their own issues. So alongside missions and romances, personal growth is taking place. I like to clearly see development in a character. Those in this series never disappoint me.

Will you write another book in the series?

Yes, and more than one. I am currently working on “The Demon’s Change” which is Book 5 of the series. It is Malachi’s story and I’ve been waiting with great anticipation to write it. After that, I have two more tentatively planned, but really don’t see the end of the series yet. Missions are endless. Members join the crew. Members leave the crew. It could go on and on. I suppose I will stop writing when I grow tired of the characters, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I’m having too much fun writing these.

How do you cope with writer’s block?

What is writer’s block? Just kidding. I do experience it occasionally, but fortunately not often. The best cure I have found is simply to stop writing and let the story rest. I play out scenarios in my head while I do tedious things like housework and laundry. Bruce can always tell when I’m stuck because the house looks best then. It usually lasts a couple of days. I also find taking long walks helps. Really anything physical helps me.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

In the Forced To Serve series, I start with assigning an alien culture to them. Most of my characters are “hybrid”, just as most of us are ethnically hybrid on Earth. The hybrid status allows me to differentiate easily between having two “Sirens of Rylen” on board. One is full Siren and has all the common traits. The other is Siren/Greggor. The Greggor part has different characteristics which contribute plus and minus traits to the Siren part. This is the background of Lt. Dorian Zade who may be the hottest hero on my ship, but he is arrogant and not always pleasant. He also has to fight his Siren urges to dominate. Whereas the full Siren doesn’t fight them because he lacks the capacity. At the moment, he is medicating himself under Captain’s Synar orders. It is Lt. Warro’s requirement to remain on the ship. This means I can have duplicate aliens that are not really all that duplicate. Even my Earthling is hybrid, but trust me—it was necessary in her case.

The other trick I use is speech. I have a linguistics background, so I made up two of the languages by combining aspects of many. Then I realized that would be difficult to keep up with long term if I had to keep having them say different things. So for others, I chose languages that seemed interesting, and then I bastardized the pronunciation of them by removing all the normal accent marks of the tongue. I actually made a pronunciation key for the audio book narrator to use for her reading. Since Earth English is the common language on the ship, I keep the use of language to a minimum. That said, in Book 4 the main couple didn’t understand each other’s native tongues, so it was comedic for them to fight and swear at each other.

I also conduct sexual relations differently. Practitioners of Tantric Sex will understand why I use energy exchanges in lieu of connecting body parts. I don’t do anything overly kinky, but I do focus on the sacredness of those connections. To share one’s body in most of my alien cultures is to share one’s energy as well. Sometimes exchanges are made that enhance one’s partner. Really I think our normal Earth sexuality works the same. I just don’t think it is often described in these terms.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I confess I am not a plotter. Planning out scenes, chapters, and whole stories is not for me. Perhaps I just have a logical mind that says “this comes after this” and “that needs to happen before that”. Sometimes the stories come together like puzzles. I find that to be part of the excitement for me. I can’t imagine writing to an outline of everything that takes place, but I have many, many, many author friends who do this. “Pantzers” like me are a writer minority.

Sure I do occasionally get lost in plots that weave, twist, and turn. When I feel that is happening, I go back and outline what I have written up to that point. Typically, it happens between Chapters 17 and 20. Other than that, I use beta readers to tell me if they get lost, confused, or just feel like I strayed too far from the point in the books. I think staying on track is one of my writer gifts. All authors have some.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

The story tells me when it is finished. Beyond saying that, it is hard to explain. Afterward, I still go back through the entire book several times. I close all plot loops I can, except of course for the one that leads into the next book.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Science Fiction by design offers up imaginary worlds that allow a reader to safely explore all kinds of beliefs. I hope my work offers readers some thought provoking concepts. For example, many of my more evil alien planets have slavery of some sort. The urge to control and manipulate others of your own kind is one of the greatest evils I am capable of imagining. Doing so through fear and torture is horrendous and Earth’s history is littered with lots of examples. I would like to think it wouldn’t always be the case on all planets, so I create good—aka “englightened”—planets as well. And of course, I created the “Peace Alliance” whose goal is peaceful co-existence among all planets.

What are you working on right now?

I am trying really hard to finish up a contemporary romance that I owe my readers. It is a very hard book to write and is going slowly. Afterwards, I will finish Book 5 of the Forced To Serve series.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes. Always. And you will never find an author more grateful to have managed to achieve that goal. I want to do this for the rest of my life.

At what age did you discover your love of writing?

Somewhere in elementary school I discovered I loved reading. Somewhere in middle school, I discovered I loved words and wanted to write. Somewhere in high school, I found teachers who fostered that creativity in me. But it took me most of my lifetime to discover that I had the ability to make my own writing dreams come true.

What was the first story that you wrote?

I don’t remember the first one I wrote, but I can tell you the one I first finished and knew was a complete novel. It is a Fantasy Romance I completed in 2010 called “The Shaman’s Mate”. It’s very Native American in theme and tone. I have Cherokee in my family history. When faced with the death of someone I loved very much, this was the culture that offered me the most consolation. My background is also Scots-Irish, so my soul is connected to the land I inhabit. All of this shows up in “The Shaman’s Mate”.

When were you first published? How were you discovered?

I first published March 2011 after I discovered I could do it for myself.

After collecting an extensive second round of soft rejections ending with presses and agents telling me I was good writer, but they didn’t think they could sell my work. So I self-published my first two contemporary novels. The books are “Dating A Cougar” and “Dating Dr. Notorious”. DAC is still free for readers to try that series. DDN is my top selling title at the moment.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Editing. I try hard to make a perfectly edited book and never make it. Certainly some editing is subjective, but it takes me several revisions to make a title error free.

What do you like to read?

I read everything from books on Egyptology to cozy mysteries. I love romantic comedies. I love dragon books. I don’t read heart-wrenching true stories because I’ve had too many of those personally. I read non-fiction when I’m trying to change something in my life. I read what interests me no matter what rating or ranking it receives. I like science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy because it offers a true escape.

What writer influences you the most?

The list is too long to mention here. I admire the writer who writes the book they love. This is harder than it sounds because it requires keeping faith in your work alive for a very long time.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, which actors would you like to see playing your characters.

Oh, this would be a VERY exciting circumstance if it could happen. Do you think we can get Nathan Fillion of “Firefly” to play Captain Liam Synar?

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books?

My goal is to entertain readers for a short while and give them a pleasant, fun experience comparable to a movie or TV show. My favorite reader emails are those who write to tell me this was the case for them.

Also, I found a totally awesome audio book narrator for the Forced To Serve series who exceeded my expectations with the final product. She reads it just like I hear it in my head when I am writing. I am proud of the way it turned out. The audio book for The Demon of Synar is one of my best achievements this year and can be purchased from Audible, Amazon, or iTunes if anyone is interested.

Donna McDonald is a best selling author in Contemporary Romance and Humor, and lately has been climbing the Science Fiction list as well.
Science Fiction reviewers are calling McDonald “a literary alchemist effortlessly blending science fiction and romance”. Contemporary and humor reviewers often write to tell her that the books keep them up reading and laughing all night. She likes both compliments and hopes they stay true forever.
McDonald’s idea of success is to be sitting next to someone on a plane and find out they are laughing at something in one of her books. This would of course be while she was heading off on her next adventure to feed her creative soul.

THE DEMON OF SYNAR — Being captain of his own rescue ship is the life Liam Synar has always dreamed of living. Being master of a hereditary demon is not. Coveting Malachi’s power, his exiled brother hunts him to capture the demon that Liam’s life mate unknowingly hosts. Putting Malachi inside Ania two years ago had been an act to save her when she almost died saving his. If only the demon hadn’t killed again.

The Demon Of Synar (Excerpt from Prologue)

“I was nervous the first time I bound myself to a female as well,” Dorian said, watching his best friend and current captain pace the room.
“What makes you think I’m nervous?” Synar asked.
Dorian laughed when Liam paused his restless pacing and gave him a strange look.
“What still shocks me is that Ania Looren passed up dignitaries, presidents, other ambassadors, and more warriors than I can count to tumble into your bed like a love stricken Earthling. I’m in awe of you turning out to be the one male in her entire life that she couldn’t refuse.”
“If you think I’m going to be indiscreet and brag about my bonding time with Ania, you are mistaken my friend.”
Synar grinned at Dorian’s guilty, and disappointed, look.
“Being a Siren, my vows of abstinence are hard to endure every day. You have known me long enough to realize that this is a profound truth, Liam. But today the most celibate planet in the Alliance is tuned into your mating vibrations, as am I. As your best friend, the least you can do is let me live vicariously through you once in a while,” Dorian teased. “I know you were Ania’s first breach. She told me.”
“Yes I was, but I’m still not telling you any details. The first time is a private matter and a special sharing. You’ve been alone too long, Dorian. Find a willing female and start living again,” Synar ordered.
“I want peace, not another mate. It hasn’t even been a century since I lost the last one. I know not all creatures live as long as Sirens, but a century doesn’t feel all that long when you are grieving.” Dorian narrowed his eyes as his friend picked up his walking speed again. “Liam, you’re going to wear out your footwear if you keep that up.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me—just can’t seem to stand still. I’m truly not nervous taking Ania as a formal mate, just impatient to get the public ceremony over. My intuition is sending out massive warning signals, but I can’t tell if they are real or just a reaction to the events of this day.”
Synar frowned at Dorian who wasn’t even trying to hide his amusement. “Glad one of us can laugh about it. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to Ania in front of her family, so I haven’t said anything about my concerns.”
“Perhaps I should mark this historic day in my journal. The ever stoic Liam Synar has been brought to his emotional knees with mating nerves. Why are you even doing this ceremony? I distinctly remember Ania saying it wasn’t necessary for her sake. She said you filed the legal forms before ever leaving the ship.”
“Yes. I did,” Synar confirmed.
Dorian smiled and nodded. “That means all the Peace Alliance planets will honor your commitment. What will this ceremony accomplish?”
“Ania is a high-level Peace Alliance ambassador. You don’t just throw one of those over your shoulder and run off to your quarters with her screaming that she’s yours,” Synar answered dryly, shaking his head at Dorian’s outright laughter.
“You can laugh until it’s done, but it’s still happening. This ceremony is not for Ania or me. It’s for her family. They’ve waited a long time for their only child to take a mate. At least one of us is represented. My mother declined to be here, which was just as well since she hasn’t spoken to me in person since my father died. Mother says she is still grieving. I suppose that could be true. She had more trouble believing Conor killed him than I did. I’m not even sure she believes it now.”
Dorian could hear the pain in Liam’s voice without even looking at his energy. His previous losses were large, but the absence of family today was taking a toll on his Norblade friend. It was his first mating and yet he would have no other Synars standing at his side to bless the union. His Siren mother had attended both his matings, and been there to comfort at their deaths. Truly he couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be shunned by a birth parent.
“Is your brother still exiled?”
“Yes,” Synar said, feeling Dorian’s sympathy reaching out to him energetically. He bowed his head to his friend to acknowledge the support. “And it will stay that way for at least the next century of my brother’s life. Mother will just have to deal with Conor’s punishment and be glad that at least he isn’t dead.”
“Have you told Ania about your family? And your. . .inheritance?”
“No,” Synar answered, adjusting the cuffs on his uniform jacket. “I ordered Malachi to block Ania from knowing for now. Once Jonas is gone, the demon is going into the sacred amulet until I can figure out the proper person to rule him.”
Skipping over the advice he wanted to offer Liam about the dangers of keeping such a large secret from the person closest to his spirit, Dorian instead focused on the main issue he saw as a problem. “How can you be so sure that you are not the proper person, Liam?”
Synar looked and held Dorian’s gaze until he was sure his friend saw the truth in him. “No one in my family is worthy to rule the demon any longer. Certainly not Conor or me. It’s time the burden was passed on.”
“I can tell you sincerely believe that, but I think you are more suitable than you realize.” Dorian glanced at the timekeeper on the wall of the room they were in and saw it was time for them to go.

THE DEMON MASTER’S WIFE — If she’d had a choice, Ania Looren would have chosen death over becoming a 
demon host. Now as she struggles to accept the fate her mate, Captain Liam Synar, forced upon her, she must decide whether to end her life or make a deal with the demon that could unravel 800 years of peaceful enlightenment. She must decide before Conor Synar destroys everyone in his path to claim the demon for himself.

The Demon Master’s Wife (excerpt from Chapter 1)

“So who won the fight?” Gwen asked, pushing open the door to the training room.
“It was not a true competition. What is more important is that Synar surprised me and I let him get by with it,” Ania said with a frown. “That’s what should matter to you from a warrior’s perspective.”
“Much of what Synar does these days surprises me. Before you got here, he was the most stoic male I had ever met. Now he’s as anxiety ridden as any other creature. When I reported to him last, he actually yelled at me. So quit stalling and tell me who won the fight,” Gwen demanded on a laugh, removing her shoes and tucking them under the bench. “Did you beat him as badly as you did me? And can I watch next time?”
“Your competitive nature screams ‘Earthling’ to everyone who gets to know you,” Ania chastised, even though she also paused to think about Gwen’s question as she slipped off her own shoes.
Truthfully, she hadn’t really thought of what happened during their fight as her losing to Synar or either of them winning. She didn’t even think of fighting Synar the way she thought of fighting other people. She had merely been trying to prove a point, and maybe work off some justifiable anger.
“Winning is relative, but by your standards I would say I did. My body never hit the mat,” Ania said with a shrug.
Gwen snorted, examining the smaller female’s skinny frame and lack of roundness with a trained warrior’s eye.
“Synar is not all that tall for a male, but you’re at least five inches shorter than him. I know because I’m as tall as he is. Are you telling me Synar kissed you and your feet never left the mat?”
Remembering his fierce embrace and her legs wrapped tightly around him, Ania sighed and frowned. “I see your point. Perhaps the fight ended in a draw.”
“Too bad for you both that it didn’t end in one of your beds,” Gwen teased, laughing at her own joke. “If it makes you feel any better, right now I’m running from Zade. He keeps asking to speak to me privately. My instinct is to keep away from him, so that’s what I’ve been doing. You want to help me out by telling me what’s going on?”
“Why should I tell you what I see intuitively when you are able to see for yourself? If you are so concerned, use your intuition to discover the reason,” Ania ordered.
Gwen ran a hand through her hair. “Not going to happen—I’m not sure I want to even know. Zade and I—Shades of Kellnor—we have a history, okay? Or at least we could have had one. I sort of threw myself at him when I first met him. I hadn’t felt that way about a male before him and haven’t felt like that for another since. He refused me very politely, which has worked out fine. Now I think he wants to break the news to me about the mating thing you mentioned. I’m just not up for all that awkward stuff,” Gwen protested.
Ania studied Gwen, blinking in disbelief. Dorian was finally chasing and Gwen was now running. They had traded places, but the end result remained their continued avoidance of involvement with each other.
“You really need to learn to use your intuition in better ways. It rules you anyway. I suggest you concede to it as soon as possible,” Ania advised.
“Really? Well, what’s so great about knowing the future? Zade can just go do what he needs to do. Let him mate someone. He doesn’t owe me any explanations. I admit I felt a twinge when you first mentioned it, but no male is worth dwelling on forever, no matter how nice he looks,” Gwen announced.
Ania rose and took a deep breath, wrestling with the decision of telling Gwen or not telling Gwen about Dorian’s intentions towards her. When a creature rejected their intuition so adamantly, it had always seemed wrong to her to force them to epiphanies they did not seek on their own.
Besides, Ania thought, who was she to put herself in the middle of Dorian and his mate?
Deciding to let it happen as it would, Ania only smiled and gestured at the mat.
“Let’s go. I’m feeling lucky today,” Gwen told her, looking down on the top of the shorter female’s head.
“Good for you. I’m feeling like you’re going to be on the mat in the first two minutes again,” Ania teased back. “Unless you’ve magically learned some patience since last time.”

“Very funny,” Gwen said, taking her stance.

No comments: