Meet Debut Author Kit Donner

Kit Donner writes Regency romance and can’t imagine setting her stories in any other period. A Brit Lit major who spent her senior year studying in Wales, Kit is an anglophile who admits to having a love affair with all things British.

Kit sold her debut novel to Kensington in a two-book deal. The official release date of The Notorious Bridegroom is August 4, so we’re here to celebrate the exciting event with her.

Kit was born and raised on a dairy farm in central Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia area is now home, where she lives with her husband, one teen-ager, two cats and two dogs–a terrier named Merlin she’s had ten years and a rescue dog the family recently adopted, Scout. (See Dog Stories on Kit’s Web site for more details.)

When she’s not immersed in research or writing, Kit likes to pen poetry, study how to be a better writer and read pretty much anything. She hopes to obtain her Masters degree in Education. One thing she doesn’t like to do is wear shoes, preferring to go barefoot as much as possible, a habit she got into while growing up on the family farm.

Join me as we learn more about Kit and her journey to publication.

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Kit Donner with her writing buddy, Merlin

Kit Donner with her writing buddy, Merlin

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Kit Embarks on Her Journey

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•Like many writers, you’ve enjoyed crafting stories most of your life, having penned your first masterpiece at age ten. When was it that you began writing with the goal of publication?

I had read many romances during my teen years, mostly Harlequin, and then later, Kathleen Woodiwiss, the genius of romance novels. In my late twenties, I thought,  “I could write a romance.” My sister and I joined Romance Writers of America® as well as our local chapters. At the time, I was part of a small chapter in Delaware.

Our first RWA® Nationals was in St. Louis in the early nineties. It was incredible and simply amazing! For a novice, the sky had just opened, and the information about writing romances soaked my skin, my mind, and my heart. This is where I was meant to be. This was what I was meant to do.

•You obviously returned to your writing and to your first story. When and how did that come about?

I spent three years researching the Regency period at the University of Delaware. This was way before the Internet! While I loved my story, I was ready to retire from writing for a while. I was still single and spending too much time writing and researching and not enough time having fun and looking for a man!

The next several years, I chased dream jobs, moved around, worked hard, paid bills, and still looked for the guy. I finally found my fellow, we were married and I started writing.

One day many years later, I told my sister-in-law that I’d written a book. Alice wanted to read it. I didn’t even remember what shape it was in. I found all my old disks, and my husband downloaded all ten to our old computer from 1993–this was now 2007. To my surprise, it was all there. And it was still a pretty good story. I began a rewrite, more for fun than anything else. It was a story I was going to give Alice to read, and that’s it.

At some point during revisions I thought maybe I’ve got a Golden Heart® winner or at least a finalist on my hands. But I didn’t final and was very disappointed.  However, by this time, Alice had read the book and really liked it. Yes! Maybe I had something here after all.

Alice gave it to a friend who liked it, and I was on a roll. Eventually, it ended up in the hands of a Kensington editor, who also liked it, and called to offer me a two-book contract.

•With your love of Britain and its literature, it’s easy to see how you came to write stories set in the Regency period. How did you come up with the idea for The Notorious Bridegroom? During your time abroad perhaps?

I have always loved spy stories, and I couldn’t imagine writing anything too heavy. The idea began with what if SHE thinks he’s a spy, and what if HE thinks she’s a spy. I imagined the more humorous aspects of this for a plot.

My sister and I traveled many times to England and Scotland. We mostly went for the creamed teas (tea and clotted cream for scones) but also enjoyed the scenery, the sights, and pretending we actually were Brits home visiting.
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Kit’s Process

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•A reviewer praised you for your “vivid period detail.” How much time do you spend doing research in order to add so much spot-on description to your stories?

First, like most Regency authors, I have such a love of this time period that I enjoy researching little things, like how many removes did they have for dinner, what would have been served or what did a woman wear under her thin muslin dress? The details are so fascinating that I don’t consider research to be work. Since I’ve been researching and reading this period for quite some time, the details remain with me when I’m writing.

•With a degree in Brit Lit, I’m sure you strive for accuracy in period detail as well as in your creation of believable characters and a plausible plot. How long do you tweak a story before you’re happy with it? Are you a perfectionist, or are you able to say, “Enough is enough” and move on to the next project?

It’s different with each book. I rewrote the first chapter of my first book at least fifty times, and then in the end, I deleted it because it just didn’t work. I labored intensely over The Notorious Bridegroom, since it was my first book, and I didn’t want to give up on it.

For my second book, the writing flowed more smoothly because I was constantly studying my craft to be a better writer. (Stephen King’s On Writing was immensely valuable. Although he’d be horrified at the number of ‘ly’ words I’ve used so far!)

The last book I’ve just finished, I’m actually very happy with the first draft. I’m in the process of revising and tweaking at this time. But I’m also anxious to move on to my next Regency of Lorna and Peter’s story!
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Peaks

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•Nearly eighteen years passed between the time you began writing what has become The Notorious Bridegroom and when you sold the story. How did the sale come about? Where were you when you received The Call? Did you jump for joy, scare your cats with your shrieking or collapse on the couch in a state of shock?

First, I do give credit to my sister-in-law, Alice. If she hadn’t asked to read my book, we probably wouldn’t be talking right now. I had truly forgotten how much I enjoyed writing and what I was capable of.

As for the sale, I missed the first call from my editor. I was disappointed, sure she wouldn’t call again and believing I had lost my opportunity. I carried my cell phone with me everywhere waiting for that return call.

The Call finally came, as I got into my hot car ready to go home from work. I couldn’t hear very well with the AC on, so I sat in the parking lot in my car sweating with the window rolled down, capturing everything she said on the back of an envelope, which, of course, I still have. Then, I believe, I drove home. I floated on air for a few days and couldn’t wait to tell everyone, especially my family members, who were so happy for me.
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Valleys

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•Back in 1993, you sent your story out into the world, received a rejection and decided to shelve your manuscript–and your dream. That had to have been a low period. How did you deal with the disappointment and feelings of defeat?

The funny thing is the rejection from the editor was very nice and encouraging. I can only think my feelings at the time were more resignation than defeat because I knew a lot of work was needed to revise the manuscript for possible publication and to search for an agent.

I needed and wanted a break from writing. I had poured myself into the book for three years, didn’t know what I wanted out of life and certainly didn’t know if it would include writing romance novels. However, I did think I would get back to writing some day, not knowing how far away that day would be.

But during this time, I also discovered how much I enjoyed writing poetry and wrote several poems for weddings, babies, and other momentous occasions. It’s amazing how much time it takes to write a sonnet!
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Partners on Kit’s Journey

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•I saw during my research for the interview that you come from a family of writers. How have they influenced you? What part did your twin sister, a writer and producer, play in your eventual success?

The five of us grew up on a dairy farm, and we all had chores to do. We were not above bribing or a little fabrication to get out of milking or raking the stalls. But when everyone was needed, we came together and supported each other as we always have. Sometimes, I wish I could go back for one day and relive a lazy summer day milking cows with Dad or bailing hay and at night, sitting in the yard, gazing up at the stars, eating watermelon, and hearing the cows settling down for the night.  Very peaceful.

My family has had a huge influence on me, especially my twin sister, Kim. I have often told her she’s a much better writer than I am, and I know she’ll have her novel about a young lady reporter during the Boer War published, when it’s finished. She’s my rock, my go-to person for everything, and my best friend. She’s also the most amazing person I’ve ever met.

I’m also fortunate to have my husband and his family’s support. They have been wonderful and are very happy for me.

•You’re involved with RWA®, serving as vice-president of the Bucks County Romance Writers. What do you see as the greatest benefits of being involved in your local chapter?

If you love to write and love to share your thoughts about writing, then your local chapter is your support group and a place where you can learn to be a better writer, whether that’s through critiquing or having a program each month educating everyone on the aspects of the business and craft of writing romances. If you want to write something other than romances, you’ll benefit as well, because it’s all about becoming a good storyteller.
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Kit’s Journey Continues

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•You’ve completed The Notorious Bridegroom as well as the second in the series due out November 2010, The Vengeful Bridegroom. I understand there’s a third book, tentatively called The Wrong Bridegroom. Are you currently writing that story, or have you completed the manuscript. Has your editor shown interest in it?

I recently finished The Wrong Bridegroom, which I’ll submit to Kensington to see if they might be interested. I’m looking for an agent to represent it (and me!) My editor is interested in book #3, but she’s working on book #2 right now and waiting to see how well book #1 sells. (If a lot of people buy my book, then I can keep writing!) But like all writers, our goal at the end of the day is the same:  tell a great story.

•What’s next?

I plan to start book #4 in September. I have a couple of ideas, but right now, I’m leaning toward white slavery as a plot. But don’t worry, I’ll make it funny or at least try to!
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Kit’s Debut Novel

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•Please tell us a little about The Notorious Bridegroom.

The Notorious BridegroomPatience Mandeley is spying on Lord Bryce Londringham because she believes he is a French spy who has accused her brother of treason. Of course, he’s the good guy who will help save her brother in the end. But before that happens, they will fall in love, fight the real French spies, and save England from a possible invasion.

Then there are my lovable secondary characters like the circus tot, the orphaned footman, my bungling smugglers (who will have to make a return visit in another book!), and a black cat.

You can view my book trailer here.

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Five Facts About Kit the Writer

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~ I keep some toys at my workstation, such as a Slinky and Play Doh. My husband gave me the idea as a way for me to work through those moments when words won’t come.

~ Right now, my writing is done on the couch, in front of the TV. Most of the time, I don’t have the TV on, but if there is an old movie is on, I can fool myself into believing I can write and watch TV at the same time.

~ I spend a lot of time critiquing others’ works because I like to share my thoughts and suggestions with other beginning writers. And most of the time, I’ve been told, my critiques are helpful. It’s all about what I hear in my head when I’m reading.

~ My day of writing can take a back seat to two dogs who want my attention or food, usually the latter, or my husband or googling. And then there’s always my three nieces and nephew that I enjoy spending time with.

~ Once I sit down with the laptop on my lap, I’ll write something. But some days, I know I’ve written crap and get discouraged. No words gel. Nothing flows. Then on the next day happens, and I love almost every word I write. Creative flow or your muse is a very strange and nebulous thing and can be very finicky.

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Five Fun Facts About Kit the Person

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~ Unless I become a bestseller some day (s00n), I plan to become a secondary teacher in Language Arts as my next career. I’m a stand-up comedian and actress in disguise, and I’ll have a built-in audience.

~ I’m proud of my three beautiful nieces, Ariel, Fiona, and Veronica and of my sweet nephew, Quinn, who actually owns my heart. And my stepdaughter, Alison, who has shown remarkable courage having just been diagnosed with diabetes.

~ I’m a huge old movie fan, courtesy of my Mom and Aunt Nancy. We practically have shed blood when playing Classic Movies Trivial Pursuit. Sad, but true.

~ I met Prince Charles when I studied in Wales during my senior year of college. What a thrill! I really mean that!

~ I feel very fortunate, with or without a published book, because of my family, my relatives, especially Aunt Em and Aunt Elsie, my husband, and all my good friends and supporters. They have made my life worthwhile and worth living.
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Kit’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Kit. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. And now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors. What would you like to know?

If you could go back in time, what day would you pick, and why?

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Learn More About Kit

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Visit her Web site – http://www.kitdonner.com

Friend her on Facebook: Kit Donner

Follow her on Twitter: KitDonner
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Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win

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Kit’s Drawing
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Kit has donated a copy of The Notorious Bridegroom to be given away to one lucky visitor.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on Kit’s post by midnight August 7th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On August 8th, I’ll post the winner’s name here.

Congrats to Bethanne, winner of the copy of The Notorious Bridegroom.

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Keli’s Regular Drawing
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My next drawing will take place August 10th. The winner will receive a set of thirty vinyl-covered paper clips and a set of six binder clips decorated with mock typewriter keys, a fun addition to any writer’s workspace.

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Blog prize-binder and paper clips

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To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by August 10th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On August 11th, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
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If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and August 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On September 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in author interview, first sale story, Golden Heart, Romance Writers of America, RWA Nationals, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Meet Debut Author Kit Donner

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Kit! I’m delighted to have you as my guest and have enjoyed this opportunity to get to know more about you and your writing.

    My family just finished watching the mini-series John Adams, so that’s on my mind. If I could go back and offer President Adams encouragement on the day he learned he’d lost his bid for a second term to Jefferson, I would. He gave so much to our country and made many sacrifices. While I was there, I’d thank Abigail Adams for being such a loyal supporter of her husband and for playing such a big part in our country’s foundation in her own special way.

  2. Kit Donner says:

    Thanks Keli. I’ve been wanting to see that series because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to go back in time and meet with someone famous just to say a few words to them? Charles Lindbergh comes to mind but I have the idea that he wasn’t much of a talker.

  3. R.M.Gilbert says:

    Kit, It is wonderful to read your process, your story. Congratulations! I will look for your book when it comes out. 🙂

  4. Kit Donner says:

    Hi Rachel, Thanks so mcuh for commenting. Every time I checked here, it kept saying 2 comments, so I missed yours until now. I think I’ve figured it out though. I’ve found copies in Borders and B&N. I hope you enjoy my first book!

  5. That’s so cool. I don’t remember hearing your “sell” story before.

    Hey, my hubby went to Univ. of DE. 🙂

  6. Quilt Lady says:

    Hi Kit, nice to meet you and congrats on your new series! I would love to go back in time and visit our history that’s why I read historical book because I travel in them. I would love to go back and visit in the Gone With the Wind times and meet the famous Rhett Butler Ha! Do you see yourself writing a book of Poetry?

  7. Kit Donner says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for commenting! U of D has a nice campus and I’d spend almost every weekend hanging out in the library looking up the dewey decimal system of books! Good luck with everything coming your way!

  8. Kit Donner says:

    Hello Quilt Lady and thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment! I really appreciate it! I never thought about “traveling” in historicals but I think you’re right. It is like reliving the past or living in history, especially those periods of time that especially fascinate us. For me, it would be the Regency period, even with the war happening, and for you, the old South. What it must have been like before the war. Margaret Mitchell created a hero unlike any other that all other heroes would be judged against. As for a book of poems, they are a hard sell, no matter what. It’s tough because if I’m working on a poem, I’m not writing my novels. I’ve got to figure out how to do both and do them both well. Thank you again.

  9. Bethanne says:

    Oh, my heart went out to your stepdaughter. I know, crazy fact to pick up on, but I’ve been type I for 20 years. Big hugs to you and your hubby.

    Now for the question…
    A day in time.
    Hmm. I wish the question was what historical moment in our favorite hostical romance. LOL Still, I love history, the civil war, ww2. Just plop me on any day so I can find the closest person and talk to them… if they were tall, dark and HOT that would be even better. 😀 LOL

  10. Lorna says:

    Hi Kit – I think if I could back for a day in time,it would one of those market days in Carmarthen -probably it would have been a Wednesday, when we would often echew the cod for pizza and jacket potatoes at Serendipty. I believe we would go to the market before lunch and pick over the Mills and Bloom books and talk about writing romance novels … I am so proud that you stuck with your dream and that it’s come true.

  11. Kit Donner says:

    Hi Bethanne,
    Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment. Yeah, this whole diabetes thing is a HUGE change for all of us. As for part II, I’ve always been partial to WWI, the great war, something romantic about it, but yet thousands of casualties. I just picked up a YA book called “Prada and Prejudice” for my 16 year old niece. It’s about a teenager shopping in London, then hits her head, and goes back to 1813. I thought she might enjoy it. Take care!

  12. Kit Donner says:

    Lorna,
    Thanks so much for dropping in! I have often said over the years that my six months stay in Carmarthen, Wales was one of the best times of my life. And if I got another chance for another day, then absolutely. It would be Market Day Wednesday for pizza and jacket potatoes, when the world was before us, and we had dreams yet to dream and believed they could come true. All the best, my friend. Look for your name in book #4.

  13. terisawilcox says:

    Morning, Kit. Loved the interview! I’m putting your book on my TBR list 😀

  14. Kit Donner says:

    Hi Terisa,
    Thank you for stopping by to read and comment! I greatly appreciate it! I hope you enjoy “the bridegroom.”

  15. Chelle says:

    I’ll definitely look for it this weekend!! I love your journey story!!

  16. Kit Donner says:

    Hi Chelle,
    I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. Funny, it all still feels strange and hard to believe it’s really happening. I hope you enjoy my first book! All the best!

  17. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read Kit’s interview and leave her a comment.

    I held the drawing for a copy of The Notorious Bridegroom. Congratulations to Bethanne! You’re the winner. I’ll be in touch.

  18. Bethanne says:

    OMG! Sweet. Thanks, Keli. Cant’ wait.

  19. Kit Donner says:

    Hi,
    I want to add my thanks to Keli’s to everyone who stopped by to read my interview. It was a lot of fun, and I truly appreciate Keli’s wonderful questions and how she personalizes them for each writer. This is a wonderful blog and I hope you’ll continue to check in for more great writer stories! All the best to you, Kit

  20. prada says:

    Kit, It is wonderful to read your process, your story. Congratulations! I will look for your book when it comes out.

  21. Lola says:

    Morning, Kit. Loved the interview! I’m putting your book on my TBR list

    Yep yep yep….

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