Brook Cottage Books Blog Tour

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Welcome romance author, Don McNair...




 Hi Don, great to have you here today! I think you are the first male romance author to visit my blog so I'd love to learn more why you chose romance as your genre. Also, I can't wondering if you find your female characters easier to write than your male? My male characters are always so much stronger when I start writing than my female characters, I'm wondering if the opposite is true for you!

Anyway, let's get started with the questions...

 QUESTION: What is your writing routine?

ANSWER: Today I wake up, make coffee, read my emails, and write or edit in my home office.  And it’s great!  I’ve retired from firing-line writing—eleven years as a magazine editor, six for a PR firm, twenty-one running my own marketing communications firm—and now I set my own schedules. 

For the past five years I’ve been editing for others under the McNairEdits.com name, and generally I start with that in the morning.  I spend afternoons on my WIP and on promotion of my backlist.  Occasionally it occurs to me that I’m not retired at all, but I love what I’m doing.


QUESTION: Which is your favorite romance subgenre to read? To write?

ANSWER: I think sweet romances are my favorites.  In my opinion, the mechanics of sex often get in the way of telling a good story.  That said, I did recently write and publish a ten-thousand word, super-erotic story, titled “How the Ensign Got His Wings.”  My computer was smoking when I finished it, and I sneaked it out of the house without my wife knowing.   I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, hoping it doesn’t find its way back home.


QUESTION: How do you deal with criticism/rejection?

ANSWER: I handle it very well, and in fact believe my expertise today is due to criticism/rejection yesterday.  It can be tough, but writers who can’t handle them aren’t writers for long. And I’ve learned firsthand that some writers can’t. 

Case in point.  I teach an online course titled “Editor-Proof That Chapter!” in which I work with students individually. One lesson called for them to develop a hook to open the story, and send the first few paragraphs to me for comment.  When they arrived I decided to go a step farther, and edited those paragraphs.  Well, that was not smart of me.  Some writers were incensed that I’d dare do such a thing to their babies, and let me know in no uncertain terms.  These, I’m afraid, are the writers who will receive nothing but rejection all their writing life. 


QUESTION: What do you expect from an editor?

ANSWER: I hope publication editors will help me make the book better, and that usually happens.  I keep an open mind.  Yet sometimes I run across one who has no business being in the business. 

My brother, for example, wrote a book that was accepted and sent to an editor.  He waited for months, listening to her reasons for not doing anything. Finally he was given another editor, and she proceeded to prove her worth lay elsewhere.  Her idea of editing was to switch the sequence of scenes, for no apparent reason.  She explained to a mutual acquaintance, “I generally edit a book a week.” 

Editing is serious business.  Done properly, it takes time and experience.  This is one of those areas where “you get what you paid for.”


QUESTION: Tell me about the last book you wrote.

ANSWER: That would be my how-to, self-editing book, “Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave.” It will be published April 1, 2013, by Quill Driver Books. In it, I tell writers how to improve their work, based my long writing and editing career. 

I wrote it because I found that most books on self-editing were confusing.  They contain a great amount of knowledge that is not tied into a writer’s real world. They take a shotgun approach, while this book aims single bullets at easy-to-identify targets in a student’s own work. While other books cover many of the same topics this one does, they don’t actually tie these subjects to a writer’s particular needs.  Editor-Proof Your Writing does, by working with the student’s actual manuscript. I can’t wait for it to come out!


QUESTION: Tease us with blurbs or short excerpts from your romance novels.

ANSWER: Certainly. Here’s a thumbnail of my two latest romance novels. 

Mystery at Magnolia Mansion: Brenda Maxwell’s new interior design client tells her to “paint, wallpaper, whatever” his hundred-year-old landmark mansion, “but for God’s sake, don’t go overboard.” When she figures her grandiose plans will fit handily into his edict’s “whatever” section, they’re launched into a constant head-bumping mode.  Brenda’s poor money management skills (that’s his view, but what does he know?) and lawyer David Hasbrough’s ridiculous need to control her life (that’s her well-reasoned evaluation of the situation) combine to keep the battle going. Is this couple’s romantic goose cooked? Well, she can’t be near him without sparks flying and goose bumps popping out everywhere.  But that mansion has to be done right!


Mystery on Firefly Knob: When Erica Phillips visits choice inherited property on a Cumberland Plateau knob overlooking a beautiful valley, she finds scientist Mike Callahan camped there to study unique fireflies. She needs to sell it fast to buy a new building for her antiques business, but he freaks out when a condo builder offers her a contract. Miffed, she tells him, “If I have my way, this place will be sold within the week. And, Mr. Callahan, I will have my way!” Their budding romance plays out before a background of a murder mystery, distrust, and heart-racing hormones. Will it blossom into a lifetime relationship?



QUESTION: Which is your favorite character in the books?  Why?

ANSWER: I have to say that, in both cases, it’s the heroines.  They’ve each run into a huge problem in the first pages, and I’m anxious to see how they resolve them. 

When I start a book I first identify a lead character.  I can see that person, and in some ways have lived with her (or certainly her clones) all my life.  Once I find her I play the “what if” game.  What if she has to find a new place of business, and something stands in the path? What if she finds the perfect home to renovate, and its owner thinks all it needs is a good paint job?  That character and I write the story together, and by the end we are very good friends and know each other’s quirks, loves, problems, and hang-ups. Or at least I know hers. 


QUESTION: What are you working on right now?

ANSWER: I have another romance cooking, but my editing for others is on the front burner.  I find myself immersed in the dishes the author is serving, and completely involved in adding the seasonings that will make it fit for the king.  I guess this comes from my forty-year career of writing for others. 


QUESTION: Your biggest piece of advice to aspiring novelists?

ANSWER: Don’t be too proud of your first work. Edit it to within an inch of its death, show it to critique partners and seriously consider their reactions, and edit some more.  When you’ve finally finished the manuscript have an experienced editor look it over before sending it to a publisher or publishing it yourself. 

As a fiction editor working through an editing network, I’ve seen hundreds of novels written by writers who are confident their work is top quality.  While a handful are almost ready to go, eighty percent need heavy editing, and most of the rest, at least light editing.  The rest are simply not editable. 

Remember: The manuscripts I see are by writers who realize their work might not be the best it could be, and have asked for help.  The rest send their work directly to agents and publishers, and most will get them back with a nice note thanking them for their interest.  They won’t know what mistakes they’re making, and for the rest of their lives will make the same ones, producing manuscript after manuscript that will find their way back to them.  A professional editor can tell you what you’re doing wrong and short-circuit the process.  I’m hoping Editor-Proof Your Writing will help new writers solve problems before sending their manuscripts out to publishers and agents.

QUESTION: Where can readers find you?

ANSWER: My website is http://DonMcNair.com, and my email address is dwmcnair@gulftel.com.



BOOK ONE

MYSTERY AT MAGNOLIA MANSION
By
Don McNair

BLURB:  
Brenda Maxwell’s new interior design client tells her to “paint, wallpaper, whatever” his hundred-year-old landmark mansion, “but for God’s sake, don’t go overboard.” When she figures her grandiose plans will fit handily into his edict’s “whatever” section, they’re launched into a constant head-bumping mode.

Brenda’s poor money management skills (that’s his view, but what does he know?) and lawyer David Hasbrough’s ridiculous need to control her life (that’s her well-reasoned evaluation of the situation) combine to keep the battle going. Is this couple’s romantic goose cooked? Well, she can’t be near him without sparks flying and goose bumps popping out everywhere. But that mansion has to be done right!

NOTE: Don McNair actually lived in this house, and did the very things to it that he has heroine Brenda Maxwell do.
   

EXCERPT: 

He kept staring at her. “Stained glass? New patio? Do you have any other surprises?”
If this conference room had a grandfather clock, she thought, you could hear it big time. Tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock . . .
“Well . . .” she said.
“Well, what?”
“Well . . . no. No more surprises. Except—except for your new office suite.”
“Aha!”
Startled, she looked up. “What? Aha what!”
He took giant strides to his chair, but remained standing. She watched him flex his fingers. Open . . . closed . . . open . . . closed . . . tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock . . .
“And that gorgeous desk,” she said. “You’ll really like that desk, David. We’ll put it in your new office suite. It has brass handles, and fancy ormolu, and—and it’s more than a hundred years old!  Almost two hundred!”
He stared at her, mouth open, saying nothing.
She frowned. “We’ll have to bring it in through the upstairs window, though. It’d never make that turn on the stairs. I guess we’ll have to hire a crane or something.”
“Office suite,” he muttered. “New patio.” He plopped into his chair. “Stained glass . . .”
“Think about it, David. Right now, at home you’re working at a kitchen table. But if you decide to move down here permanently—”
“Hire a crane . . .”

BOOK TWO
MYSTERY ON FIREFLY KNOB
By
Don McNair

BLURB:  
When Erica Phillips visits choice inherited property on a Cumberland Plateau knob overlooking a beautiful valley, she finds scientist Mike Callahan camped there to study unique fireflies. She needs to sell it fast to buy a new building for her antiques business, but he freaks out when a condo builder offers her a contract. Miffed, she tells him, “If I have my way, this place will be sold within the week. And, Mr. Callahan, I will have my way!”
Their budding romance plays out before a background of a murder mystery, distrust, and heart-racing hormones. Will it blossom into a lifetime relationship?

EXCERPT: 

Mike stepped aside, and she saw a clearing. The treetop canopy opened to let in sunlight and blue sky. Grass, kept at bay by constant shadows in the deep woods, covered an open area the size of an average yard. Weeds and wildflowers sprinkled the ground, and sapling maples and vines fringed the woods.
“This is it?” she said.
“Yep. The original site. See if you can spot where the cabin stood.”
She saw nothing but the woods and grass. To her left she noticed a stone outcropping. Beyond it was blue sky, and the hazy distance of Sequatchie Valley.
“Why, we’re right at the knob’s edge,” she said.
“That’s right. If you jumped off that big rock you’d fall almost two thousand feet."
As she approached the rock she gazed about the clearing. And then she saw it—a vertical stone chimney that at first glance resembled the tall trees surrounding it. Now she made out its individual stones. She stepped closer and saw beneath it the stone foundation of a one-room cabin. The chimney rose from one corner, with its hearth opening toward the center. She stared at it in awe. It was the precursor of the cabin her father lived in. Perhaps it was even built by Rymer himself, the knob's namesake, in the early eighteen hundreds.
The sun's slanting rays streamed through the tree canopy and threw light patterns on the chimney and foundation. She touched Mike’s arm. “It’s like a shrine,” she whispered. “I feel like I’ve just stepped out of a time machine.”




AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Don McNair, now a prolific fiction writer, spent most of his working life editing magazines (11 years), producing public relations materials for the Burson-Marsteller international PR firm (6 years), and heading his own marketing communications firm, McNair Marketing Communications (21 years). His creativity has won him three Golden Trumpets for best industrial relations programs from the Publicity Club of Chicago, a certificate of merit award for a quarterly magazine he wrote and produced, and the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil.  The latter is comparable to the Emmy and Oscar in other industries. 
McNair has written and placed hundreds of trade magazine articles and three published non-fiction “how-to” books (Tab Books). He’s also written six novels; two young-adult novels (Attack of the Killer Prom Dresses and The Long Hunter), three romantic suspense novels  Mystery on Firefly Knob, Mystery at Magnolia Mansion, and co-authored Wait for Backup!), and a romantic comedy (BJ, Milo, and the Hairdo from Heck).
McNair now concentrates on editing novels for others, teaching two online editing classes (see McNairEdits.com), and writing his next romance novel.

Don will giving away reader's choice of a copy of one of his books on http://www.donmcnair.com/ to one randomly chosen commenter. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/06/virtual-book-tour-mcnair-mysteries.html




3 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me on. I enjoyed the enterview process… and your graciousness as a host!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Don! I must just chime in here, Rachel, and say Don's online course is absolutely fabulous. I still use the notes every single manuscript I write to defog them!

    ReplyDelete