Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Donna Mabry.
Ms. Mabry is the author of the recently released novel, “D’Arcy Curran: The Currans, Book One” (CreateSpace)–Volume 5 of The Manhattan Stories. Her previous works include The Alexandra Merritt Mysteries, a series of historical romances, and several stand-alone thrillers, as well as the light-hearted “Conversations with Skip,” about an adopted shelter dog. Mabry’s most popular novel, “Maude,” was a #1 bestseller on Amazon and spent multiple weeks on the Wall Street Journal‘s Top-10 List; that title was recently released in Italian and is also being translated into Russian and German. A Michigan native who studied writing in school, Ms. Mabry now makes her home in Vegas.
“D’Arcy Curran” was published earlier this month. Reader Joyce M. praised: “Author Donna Foley Mabry has done it again! Another superb story! This tale takes place in the Civil War days and features the complex relationship between two sisters, one of whom is D’Arcy Curran. Her spunky character shines brilliantly throughout the book–you will fall in love with her immediately. The author does a phenomenal job with both plot and character development. You will laugh and cry. You definitely don’t want to miss it. It will stir your emotions as the story unfolds. D’Arcy Curran will leave an indelible impression on your heart.”
From the publisher:
In 1861, in the small town of Manhattan, Kansas, the Curran girls have expectations of what their lives will be.
D’Arcy, 12, redheaded and freckled, curious and rebellious, wants to grow up and dominate her world.
Suzanne, not yet 18, wants only to marry her handsome lieutenant from Fort Riley, Jonathan Taylor.
The beginning of the Civil War and Suzanne’s one night of passion sends everyone’s lives in an unexpected direction. Jonathan is sent to the battlefields that will determine the survival of the nation. To avoid scandal in their small town, the girls are sent to Detroit to live with family.
They not only find a welcoming aunt and uncle, they discover a burgeoning city, both ugly and beautiful, rough and cultured, drunk and refined.
As she matures, D’Arcy develops a friendship with the older boy next door, and it changes her opinion of men. Fate throws both girls undreamed-of twists, and D’Arcy is forced to cope. A rash decision changes everything.
Will D’Arcy be prepared for the consequences?
Now, Donna Mabry weaves together the story of her emergence as an indie author …
Hartford Books Examiner: What inspired you to embrace indie publishing – and how has doing so changed your life?
Donna Mabry: I released my first book when indie publishing was very “new”. The publisher had restrictions which forced me to cut 20,000 words from that book and the pricing was their choice instead of mine. From that experience it wasn’t long before I discovered CreateSpace and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, and everything from that point changed for me. I can tell my whole story and have much more control over my work. If it takes 150,000 words, as “Maude” did, I can tell it all without restriction. I can only do that by publishing my own work.
JV: There are both digital and physical platforms for publication. What do you see as being the benefits of each – and do you have a personal preference between eBooks and “real” books?
DM: I am like a lot of people, I personally prefer a paper book in my hands. This, of course, is accompanied by a glass of wine. However, on an airplane or in a doctor’s office, my Kindle is my best friend. From a business perspective, Kindle readers have been a large part of my success. They have been a powerful force to “spread the word” when they find a book they like, and with the various perks that Amazon offers such as Kindle Unlimited and lending library those readers can quickly get behind an author they enjoy. At personal appearances I do have a number of Kindle readers who have also added a print copy of a book to their library and they like to have those autographed. I think it’s important to try to meet the needs of as many readers as possible, including through audiobook formats.
JV: Self-publishing has made significant strides toward mainstream acceptance in recent years. To what do you credit this trend – and how would you advocate for self-publishing “done right” among burgeoning authors?
DM: There are several things that make self-publishing preferable to me personally. One is the time involved in finding an agent or a publisher. The last time I made the effort, a publisher toyed with me for six months before deciding to pass on the work. At my age, I don’t know how many “six months” I have left. Also, the time from having a publisher accept your work and actually seeing it on the market is around two years. A writer friend of mine is going through that right now.
When I publish my own work, I am the one in control. I can write as many words as it takes to do justice to the story. I can set the price, choose the cover, and (are you listening God?) negotiate a contract with a film studio.
JV: How can storytelling help us to understand the world around us – and in what ways has writing allowed you to positively channel your energies during times of struggle?
DM: Through the ages, the storytellers have always been appreciated. The Bible is a collection of events passed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next. Before humans had written words, they drew pictures on the walls of caves to tell their adventures. When I read of another person experiencing the same grief or joy that I know, I feel an empathy with them.
I remember seeing Out of Africa and the scene where they gave Karen a line, and she went on to make a story out of it. I thought, I can do that. I also think I could win Project Runway, but that’s another interview.
JV: What advice would you give those looking to explore their own creative ambitions? How can they keep the work of writing fun?
DM: I constantly hear from people who want to write a book but are overwhelmed by the immensity of it. I advise them to write a letter and tell one thing they want to include. Write it as if they were sitting next to me and telling it to me in person. Then make that a chapter. Then go on to the next story, and the next. So, don’t think of a book. Think of an event, or think as if it were a scene in a movie. That’s how I write, as if I were seeing a movie in my head and recording it in my computer. Write it as if you were telling it to a friend. It’s much easier to tell a friend something that happened to you than to write it in a book that people you don’t know will read.
With thanks to Donna Mabry for her generosity of time and thought and to Gabrielle Torello of Grand Communications, Inc. for facilitating this interview.