Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Interview with Donna Brennan and #giveaway!!!

Today we welcome Donna Brennan to my blog. Donna is very graciously giving away one copy  of Forget the  Mess--It's Time for a Story to one commenter. Include contact information and answer the question in bold.

Welcome, Donna! Tell us about Forget the Mess—It’s Time for a Story – a brief blurb:

Forget the mess is a collection of six short stories, some with humor and all with a twist. Sometimes we don’t have time to read a whole book, but you can read a short story quickly and get back to whatever else it was you were doing. Here’s a quick line about each one:

  • My Good Son – The son she remembers is missing; and who is this man calling her “Ma”?
  • Pretense – Sister-relationships can be complicated, especially if you’re afraid to tell the truth.
  • Another Day – Clara looks for a way—and a reason—to keep going.
  • Spectator – When watching other people’s lives is more interesting than living your own, maybe you need to take some action.
  • Taking Care of His Wife – Brad promised to take care of Megan forever—but he never said exactly how he would do that.
  • Love Your Frenimies – When Jesus said to love your neighbor, he couldn’t have meant Gina’s neighbor, Anna.

Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?

My main intent is to entertain and encourage. Often my main characters misjudge someone else initially, but then come to change their mind by the end of the story. So I guess one of my common themes is not to judge others and to look for the good in people. But each story in the collection has its own message. My hope is that these stories touch my readers’ hearts and make them smile.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

Please share, briefly, about an experience in your life that made you smile unexpectedly or gave you a new perspective on a person or thing.

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

I’ll send an autographed, paperback copy of Forget the Mess—It’s Time for a Story to the reader with the most intriguing or humorous response.

How did Forget the Mess—It’s time for a Story get started?

Each story started with a kernel of an idea—an emotion or situation that sparked my interest. And then I played with that idea over and over again in my mind, until I knew what I wanted to happen.
For example, taking care of my aging mother (who couldn’t remember me) made me wonder what was going on in her head. She often got confused or focused on something that to me seemed inconsequential—I wanted to know how the world appeared to her. So the protagonist in my first story, My Good Son, starts out not knowing her own son or where she is.

Second example: I had a friend who started to get on my nerves by pointing out things I did (or things she imagined I did) that she didn’t like or think were right. Part of me wanted to get defensive and tell her what I thought, regardless of what it would do to our friendship. I knew she was going through some “stuff”, so I held my tongue. But I was hurt and offended; it was easier to avoid her than to listen to her complain. But the hurt festered and I found it difficult to forgive. Writing Love Your Frenemies was very cathartic for me. As I wrote it, I felt my heart softening toward my friend. We have started talking again and, so far, there’s been no criticizing or complaining.

Tell us about your research process.

My research process for these stories is life itself. There are stories happening all around us all the time; we just have to pay attention—although maybe not quite as intensely as my protagonist in Spectator. (She starts to get more interested in the personal conversations between two fellow students she’s never met than in the conversation her friends are trying to have with her.) I take in what happens around me and put in a little bit of this and a drop of that and mix it with a touch of my own life experiences, until I have a story I’m happy with.

What impact did your research have on you personally?

My research didn’t impact me at all. I’m always looking at things on the news, TV shows, books, and life around me and wonder, “What if…” One of the benefits of finally writing those ideas down on paper is that they are no longer swirling around my head.

How do you see yourself in your character’s story, if at all?

Several of my characters feel that life is a bit out of control—and I can surely identify with that sometimes. They try to do what is right, even when it’s not easy or when the right choice isn’t obvious. They care deeply about others. Most of them try to have a humorous perspective on things. And they all have strong opinions—right or wrong, but they are willing to reevaluate their opinions when faced with other possibilities. All qualities I hope I have.

While you were writing Forget the Mess—It’s Time for a Story, do you think it mattered where the book was set?

Most of these stories could have taken place in any neighborhood. Spectator could take place at any university. Setting is not as important to these stories as the internal struggle and transformation of my characters.

Share your bio:

Donna DeLoretto Brennan was a technical writer for over ten years before becoming a computer programmer. Since leaving the corporate world after her twins were born, she’s had short stories, interviews, and nonfiction articles published online and in print magazines.

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG). She’s served in various capacities on the GLVWG board, including several terms as Conference Chair. She’s always looking for opportunities to encourage others and to share what she’s learned.

Social media and buying links

Donna’s website is

Forget the Mess—It’s Time for a Story is available on Amazon. It’s currently only in paperback, but a Kindle version will coming out soon.


Vivian Furbay said...

I remember when my son was in first grade. He was not allowed to take toys to school. One day he came home with his hands behind his back and said"don't look." He had taken toys cars to school. I just told him not to do it again and laughed when he wasn't in the room. Hope this is for a print copy as that is all i can read. Vivian furbay jtandviv(at) q (dot) com

HeidiDruKortman said...

I was at a cousin's house for a party on New Year's Eve. Other members of his extended family were there, and my cousin's young nephew suddenly said: "If anyone wants her (me) to stay for three days, raise your hand."

Heidi Kortman.
(I think you know my address, Laura, but email me if you need it. The answer field was not accepting my HTML codes)

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Vivien. Kids can be so funny when they think they are outsmarting us. You were wise to wait until he was out of the room before laughing.

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Heidi. How sweet that he wanted you to stay for a few days. I hope lots of folks raised their hands. :)

Alicia Haney said...

Hi, yes , unfortunately we as humans judge someone without knowing them at all, which a lot of the times I know i have been wrong to think that way about a person, but I have also judged some people who have really turned out to be super nice. I would say we need to give people a chance and not judge them by first sight , just like a book, we cannot judge a book by it's cover, a lot of times we are surprised by what is actually is about. I enjoyed this blog and Thank you for sharing it. It really makes people think twice about just judging people by their looks or how they are acting because we also don't know what that person is going through,. Your book sounds and looks awesome! God Bless you.

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Alicia. Thank you for your kind words about my book.

It's true that you can't judge someone by how they look or even how they act. Sometimes they act tough to cover up that they are scared or hurt. Or sometimes they don't talk much or turn away when others talk to them because they are shy, but other people think they are stuck up.

And sometimes it's difficult to see why someone else is acting the way they do because we might be feeling uncomfortable, or angry, or even scared--that can also affect the way we interpret other people's actions or words.

Unknown said...

I purchased this book earlier this year and am planning to read it during the long drive on vacation. I've known Donna for a few years now and traveled with her to a writer's retreat. As a person, she is engaging and enjoyed the retreat with her. I've read her short stories before and loved her writing style.

"Forget the Mess - It's Time for a Story" is a great approach to reading and also reminds us to take time to enjoy and relax during the day. Reading allows me to take my mind on its own personal journey with the help of an exceptional writer like Donna.

Loved the interview.

Rev. Robert P. Mitchell said...

Hi, Donna! Glad to see this book out there. I miss our little group which helped me enormously in my writing. You especially provided a calm assuring presence to my struggles to become a good writer. Being a pastor causes one to see others in a special way: we are all God's children, and sometimes we all act like God' brats. It just seems to go with the territory, myself included. I look forward to reading your book. I know in advance it will be well written, thoughtful, provoking, and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your insights with us. God bless!

Brenda said...


I can't wait to read your stories, because I love and enjoy your personality so much, and I know your personality comes through in each one!!

Judging. We have an 88-year-old friend who says he's the happiest he's ever been. He is a school traffic director in a small NJ town. The whole town loves him. When we see him at work, we might think, "How nice--old man in little village loves the simple life." Well, he does. He also has a couple PhD's from Princeton and years of experience in teaching and writing.

Even if his resume were not so fancy, Ted's presence on that street corner every morning reminds me that every person I see--especially an older person--has experiences and stories that make them fascinating individuals.

Donna Brennan said...

Dear "Unknown",

Thank you for your kind words. I have this narrowed down to three possible people (I go to a lot of writing retreats!), and each one is a fun person and a fine writer. I'm headed the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference this summer. Let me know if you are interested in carpooling again.

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I hope you also enjoy the book. Let me know!

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Bob.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I enjoyed those years in our critique group--I think we all benefited from it.

I was at a friend's memorial service this morning and as I listed to the pastor I kept thinking how difficult a job it must be. She knew and deeply cared for my friend, who fought cancer for eight years.

As a pastor, you are a part of your parishioners' good times (like weddings, baptisms, etc.), but you are also there when they are going through rough times, emotionally and physically. How can you always find the right words to say? I don't envy you your job. I admire you for your willingness to serve God in this capacity.

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Brenda.

Thank you for your kind words. I enjoy and love your personality as well. I miss seeing you at meetings, and wish we could spend more time together just talking.

Your story about the crossing guard is so true--to those who see him doing his job he is just an old man maybe looking for a little extra money to supplement his income. But I bet he has no need of the money and loves his job and spending time talking to and encouraging the kids as he helps them across the street. Likely he would do the same job even if he didn't get paid.

Sometimes I like to make casual conversation with folks standing near me on line at the grocery story or just walking their dog in the park. Often they offer details that give insight into what they care about or a snapshot of what their lives are like at that moment. People have so much more depth than we might think by casual observation.

Marilyn R. said...

Something that always make me smile is seeing an elderly lady assisting another elderly lady at the story. I see them often and it's a joy to see the two together--trying to assist one another even though the one has limited eye sight.

Darlene Steelman McGarrity said...

What a great interview. It's nice to read about you and your ideas. I also incorporate some of my own life experience into my fiction.
I really love that you engage strangers!
Thanks for sharing with us!

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Marilyn.

I agree, I think it's so sweet seeing two elderly ladies assisting each other and often giving each other advice. I often see this at church or at the senior housing where my mom used to live (and my aunt still lives). Sometimes I wonder about their history: Have they been friends for years? Since childhood? Or have they started relying on each other after husbands or other family members have passed.

Sometimes, if I engage them in conversation, they tell me a bit of that history, or maybe just a recent event that happened in their lives. They are happy to share their stories, and I am happy to listen. We all usually walk away smiling.

Donna Brennan said...

Hi, Darlene.

One of the fun things about sharing life experiences in your writing is that you can change the outcome if you wish. But I think a bigger advantage of writing from life experiences is that your writing rings truer and more people can identify with it. I think you can also infuse it with more genuine emotion, and really get into your characters head and bring your reader along for the ride.

Writing from life experiences can also have a cathartic effect on you! It can help you work through issues you haven't completely resolved and can help you forgive and move on. But you probably know that already. ;)

lollipops said...

winner is Brenda

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