Welcome to our February ‘Three Things I Learned’ blog. Meet Donna Munro, Donna loves to make her readers smile, laugh, cry and feel deep emotion, with mostly happy ever afters! Donna joins us on the blog today to share her three things she learned from writing her ‘Elephant Creek’! Welcome, Donna!
1. Fact is stranger than fiction
Elephant Creek is the third in The Zanzibar Moon series. I yearned to give Noah his own story. I (and thankfully my readers) fell in love with Kendwa’s brother and how dedicated he was to his Down Syndrome daughter, Hope. Noah possessed a story arc worth exploring. In keeping with the rest of the series, animals are part of the story. I looked to my setting, Currumbin, to find my animal ingredient.
Years ago, I met a lady who rescued two old circus elephants to her property in Currumbin Valley. I was intrigued. How lovely it was for those elephants to enjoy freedom finally. About thirty years ago a rock concert was held on her land. Scattered straw covered the ground, and hay bales were improvised seats — not placed for the ambience, instead covering elephant shit. And, yes it was a bit on the nose. One elephant had died by then, and we didn’t see the remaining pachyderm. Later, a sanctuary in Victoria took it on, so it wouldn’t be alone.
Unfortunately, there is no record of them other than in my book. I enjoyed bringing that cool, unique fact into Elephant Creek.
2. It’s best to plan a series at the start
I never planned on a series. It happened organically. Readers wanted Kendwa’s earlier story, and others needed to know what happened to Ali. Therefore, a prequel and a sequel were born. I wrote The Zanzibar Moon in first person. The following two are in third person. It ended up working because I tied in characters and themes. If I created a series now, I’d have more consistencies in the viewpoint and style and plot each book.
The Zanzibar Moon was my first self-published book, and it was a learning curve. By the time I wrote Elephant Creek, I knew I was a better writer, self-editor, designer, and publisher. At the end of it, my characters’ story was complete. I miss them, but you need to know when to retire your characters or end a series.
3. Build a network of writers to improve your craft
Without our fabulous RWA and the Facebook Groups, Elephant Creek could not have been the success it has been. I wouldn’t have joined a critique group, enrolled in OWLS, or attended conferences to improve my craft.
I knew I could write but writing well for readers enjoyment takes more than only yourself. You need beta readers, critique partners and established authors to show you the things you are blind to in your writing. Until I built better networks, I used redundant words, wrote sentences in the wrong order, punctuated incorrectly and other no-nos — not because I hadn’t learnt about them, but because I couldn’t see them in my work.
Sometimes we need things pointed out to us. We should handle constructive advice (I hate calling it criticism because it sounds negative). Don’t go all diva when a talented writer or editor gives you advice on changing something you thought was near perfect. Each writer should choose what advice to use and what to take with a grain of salt. Keep your ears alert, your mouth closed, brain churning and your heart open when listening to anyone in your network.
And, the most important thing I learnt while writing Elephant Creek is trust in my talent. As Jennifer Bacia said to me once, ‘Don’t give up, it will all be worth it.’
About Elephant Creek
Steamy, sexy, romantic suspense set on the Gold Coast will intrigue and delight.
Emma Jarvis has a dilemma — keep dating rock-star handsome Wade or pursue her crush on sexy, silent, probably-married Noah?
Noah Cooper and his Down’s Syndrome daughter, Hope, are due for a fresh start. But a car accident propels Emma into their secretive world. Will Noah put his guard down long enough to let love back into his life?
Emma finds, convincing Noah of a police conspiracy is one thing. Avoiding combusting when she’s near him is a totally different predicament.
Noah has enough problems without falling for delightful, Emma and her lust-inducing cut-off shorts. His wife’s abandonment. Proving his father’s innocence. And Hope, beginning mainstream school where bullies lurk.
When Noah learns his dead brother’s, son, Jai is with Emma’s family, he must cut contact with Emma or lose what’s most precious to him.
But when Jai and Hope go missing can the adults unite to find the missing children in the Australian bush? Will an old circus elephant be the key to bonding them before it’s too late?
The sequel to The Zanzibar Moon brings all three books to a final enthralling, emotional conclusion in a stand-alone story filled with passion and heat.
Warning: the heat level is high on love and lust!
About Donna Munro
I love family, sunshine and moonbeams, beaches with sand between my toes, animals, children’s giggles, a morning coffee, cheese, avocado and spoonfuls of Peanut Butter – and of course – books, books, books and writing.
When you read do you want to smile, laugh, cry and feel deep emotion? Well, you’ve come to the right place. There’s mostly happy ever afters – but you never know.
A fact you may not know: I’m not quite 5 foot but don’t underestimate me for my shortness.