Donna Deloney earned her B.A. from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL. She is also a freelance editor and writer, with her works appearing in The Wall Street Journal and Epitome Magazine. Donna was a second-place winner in the 2007 Black Expressions Book Club Fiction Writing Contest. Her first novel, Journey to Jordan (Hollygrove Publishing) debuts in May 2009.
She is also a contributing author to the Christian fiction anthology Bended Knees (November 2009, Hollygrove Publishing). In addition to being a workshop presenter at the 2009 Black Writers Reunion Conference, she will be a featured author/panelist at the 2009 Faith and Fiction Retreat in Orlando, Florida. Donna resides in Chicago and is a married mother of one and a member of the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago. Visit her blog at http://www.dcdeloney.wordpress.com/ or on Facebook (Donna Dickson Deloney).
Ella: Donna, tell us about your passion for writing.
My passion for writing stems from my love of reading. I’ve been reading since I was three years old. I read everything I could get my hands on and writing was a natural extension of that. In grammar school, I was enrolled in a gifted program at Chicago State University. We were taught skills in research and creative writing. It was during those years that my desire to write – anything – was fully realized. I’ve written skits, plays, poems, short stories and a novel. I’ve also written non-fiction pieces for publication.
Ella: Please introduce us to your new book, Journey to Jordan. What does it offer the reader?
My first novel, “Journey to Jordan” tells the story of Jordan, a successful attorney who has decided that she has no use for God in her life. But it’s her struggle to reconnect with the people that mean the most in her life that takes her on a parallel journey of emotional and spiritual rediscovery.
This story speaks to all those who have lost things in life and question why God allows things to happen and how we react to those events. It’s a story of reconciliation, healing and most of all, forgiveness. Jordan’s journey is not easy because forgiveness isn’t easy. Whether you’re a Christian or not, you will be able to connect with Jordan’s story.
Ella: Finish this sentence: I am Powerful because…
I am Powerful because… I am a child of God who is fearfully and wonderfully made! I am Powerful because I know I am a conqueror in Christ who knows that all things work together for good and nothing can separate me from the love of Christ!
Ella: Where are you from? How did you start your writing journey?
I’m from Chicago; I’ve lived here my entire life. I’ve been writing for most of my life, mostly for church and myself. It was only in the last ten years that I seriously considered becoming a “real” writer. When I started the novel, it was only an idea. I had no idea that I would wind up writing an entire novel!
Ella: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them?
There are actually four main characters, but I’ll focus on Jordan and Evan. What I like about them is that they are successful but they are flawed.
Jordan’s whole life has been a series of losses, but she doesn’t play the victim. She’s strong and determined, but she’s not so hard that she doesn’t feel.
Evan is what I call a strong, black man. He lets his faith guide him, even when the rest of the world would call him crazy. In fact, Jordan thinks he’s a bit crazy too, but she’s reluctantly drawn to him because of his faith, whether she’ll admit it or not!
Ella: What makes your book stand out and would entice a reader pick it up?
If you look at the cover, two things immediately come to mind: first, the minute I saw the cover, I thought, “Footprints in the Sand.” If you know that short parable, you’ll have an inkling of where the story is going. Second, who doesn’t love a walk on the beach? You know that someone is going on a journey, but to where and why?
Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
Besides the message of healing and forgiveness, I hope that those who aren’t saved will be willing to accept the message of salvation. For those who are Christians, I hope they will understand that even in our darkest hours, God is still moving and he’s still real.
Ella: What is the most surprising thing you have learned in creating books?
It’s hard and time-consuming! Just finding time to get your words on paper is a chore in itself. But when you add in time to revise/edit, search for agents/publishers, market and promote the book, it can be years between books! I admire those writers who can get a book out each year, and the ones who do two or more a year are my heroes!
Ella: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
I think coming in second place in the fiction writing contest with Black Expressions Book Club. When I got the call from Carol Mackey, I nearly died! She was so effusive in her praise for my submission, it just blew me away.
Ella: What advice would you give a new writer? Would you change anything?
Don’t give up! If you’re going to be in this for the long haul, give up your dreams of fame and fortune and get down with nitty-gritty of writing every day. Write because it’s what you love to do. The only thing I’d change about my journey was becoming more disciplined about writing. It’s something I still struggle with. When I started the novel, if I had written every day, I’d be on my 4th or 5th book by now. Then again, I may not be where I am today if I hadn’t traveled this route.
Ella: Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author, in your opinion?
First, learn your craft. There are classes, books, magazines, websites, etc. that you should take advantage of. Go ahead and start writing, but learn how to write as you go along. Get into a critique group, in person or online. Just because you know how to get words on paper doesn’t mean you’re a good writer. Learn your craft!
Second, learn the business of writing. By that I mean learn about agents, editors, publishers and all that goes into it. Learn about promotion and marketing. First time authors will have to do all the work into getting the book sold, whether you self-publish, go with an independent publisher or land a contract with a major house. If you go through the trouble of getting your work published but nobody reads it, you’ve just wasted a lot of time and effort for nothing.
Third, hire a good editor! Authors will self-edit, but we tend to be very biased about our work. A good editor will take a critical eye to your work and help you do what it takes to get your work ready to be published. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been excited to read a new author’s work only to slam it down because it was poorly edited. You get only one chance to make an impression on a reader; don’t blow it because of poor editing.
Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m contributing to the “Bended Knees” anthology coming in November from Hollygrove Publishing and I’m currently at work on my second novel, tentatively titled, “A Decent Proposal.” I have several story ideas that I’m working on, including a children’s mystery novel that’s in its infancy.
Ella: Share with us your latest news, events or upcoming book releases.
“Journey to Jordan” will be released by Hollygrove Publishing in May 2009. “Bended Knees” will be available in November 2009. And look for “A Decent Proposal” in 2010!
Journey to Jordan, May 2009 and Bended Kness anthology, November 2009!!! (www.hollygrovepublishing.com)
Visit my blog: http://dcdeloney.wordpress.com/