Announcer: "It's Thursdaaaaaaaay!!! Welcome to The Blog Studio! And now, heeeeere's Carol Ann!
THE CURTAIN RAISES AND CAROL ANN WALKS ONSTAGE.
"Good morning, Blog Studio Audience! It's great to be back in the Blog Studio again. I'm so thrilled to be able to showcase another fantastic author today. This amazing lady is an inspiration to me and to many others who know her. Sharon Donovan has been writing for the past several years since the loss of her vision. Prior to her blindness, she was an artist. Painting was her life, her passion. Devastated when she could no longer paint, a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, she paints her pictures with words.
Sharon is an author for The Wild Rose Press where she writes stories of suspense and inspiration. Three of her short stories, Touched by an Angel, The Claddagh Ring and Lasting Love will be released in 2009. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Pennwriters. She is currently seeking representation for her memoir, a narrative non-fiction about her struggles with diabetic retinopathy. Two of her suspense novels are under review.
Please put your hands together and welcome my special guest, Sharon Donovan!
SHARON WALKS ONSTAGE. CAROL ANN AND SHARON HUG AND SHARON TAKES A SEAT ACROSS FROM CAROL ANN AND SMILES AT THE AUDIENCE.
CAROL ANN: Sharon, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm so excited to have you here with us.
SHARON: Hi Carol. Thank you for interviewing me today.
CAROL ANN: It's my pleasure. Which of your books are you going to tell us about?
SHARON: I’d like to talk about The Claddagh Ring which is available now from The Wild Rose Press as a St. Patrick’s Day story.
SHARON HANDS CAROL ANN HER BOOK. CAROL ANN HOLDS IT FOR THE CAMERA TO PAN IN.
CAROL ANN: Beautiful cover. Tell us about THE CLADDAGH RING.
SHARON: A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanting land, rich in culture and tradition. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to green rolling hills and long stretches of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on the hillsides of the misty mountains, it’s like stepping back in time.
A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filmed here. The Irish take great pride in pointing out the farmhouse on the Dingle Peninsula where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Inch Strand Beach, shaped like a sandy half moon, is one of the most remote areas of the island. But the best part of the trip was learning the significance of The Claddag, which has an ancient history dating back three hundred years.
According to legend, the first Claddagh Ring originated in a small fishing port off the coast of Galway. Truly a land of legend and lore, the Irish are known to spin a wee bit of the “Blarney” from time to time. Some say the original Claddagh Ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the first ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original ring was brought back to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith.
But whatever the case, the tradition of The Claddah has lived on for the past several centuries. And in today’s materialistic world where love and friendship are taken far too lightly, the significance of The Claddagh Ring has strengthened.
The Claddagh is said to bring eternal love and lasting friendship to its wearer. The design consists of two hands holding a heart and a crown on top of the heart. The heart represents love, the hands friendship—and the crown designates loyalty. But in order for the ring to cast its mystical spell, it needs to be worn in a certain way.
If worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, this means the heart is open to love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, it means the wearer is taken. But when the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found true love for all eternity and will be forever blessed.
Being part Irish, I was born with a superstitious nature. Totally awed by this legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring, a White Rose rosette of 34 pages. Because I had the pleasure of touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare.
The Atlantic Breakers pound the west coast of the county, sculpting the grey limestone into a myriad of shapes, the most notorious the Cliffs of Moher. A rich plethora of birdlife as puffins and shags dominate these rugged cliffs, adding to the savage grandeur. Beneath the rocks, the waves have spread a thin dusting of golden sand, said to be sprinkled by angel wings. Standing on these cliffs with the wind at my back and the sun on my face, I truly enjoyed writing The Claddagh Ring. May I read the blurb and an excerpt?
CAROL ANN: Yes, please do.
SHARON: “To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.”
Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort in wearing her Claddagh Ring, said to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan meets Rork, she finds love, loyalty and friendship. But before everything comes full circle, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.
Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul—and has a deep secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley tending bar at her club, he falls hopelessly in love with her and wants to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors pull them together—or break them apart?
SHARON OPENS THE BOOK AND BEGINS TO READ:
As Meghan mixed drinks from behind the bar of The Wild Irish Rose, the fiddle and violin captured the true essence of Ireland. The tantalizing aroma of Irish stew, corn beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread wafted through the room.
Suddenly, all activity came to a halt as the eerie wail of bagpipes keened through the bar. The lead singer took center stage with his rendition of Danny Boy, the haunting lyrics crawling into Meghan’s skin. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she stopped what she was doing and met his penetrating gaze. With the exception of her mother, she’d never heard anyone pluck the strings of the harp with such finesse. The Claddagh Ring on her right hand felt hot, the heart pressing into her skin. By the time the song ended, Meghan’s green eyes were misty with tears.
“Well now, darlin’,” he touched her cheek. “If I knew Danny Boy would make you cry, I’d a sung When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Meghan Shannon O’Malley lost herself in pools of midnight blue.
“I’m Rork,” the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He took her right hand and kissed the heart on her ring. “Single and looking, are ya?”
“The Claddagh Ring, darlin’,” he kissed it again. “On your right hand with the heart facing outward, means you’re single and looking for romance.”
“Ah…I have no idea what you’re talking about; it’s just a ring, a gift from my mother.”
“Ah, come on now, darlin’ girl,” he got a little closer, staring into her eyes. “Ya can’t fool an Irishman. My mother bought one for each of my sisters. I’ll have ya know they’re all married.”
Meghan felt lightheaded. “My mother gave me this ring the night before she died. It’s a family heirloom, said to be blessed by St. Patrick himself. Mama promised me by wearing the Claddagh, everything in my life would come full circle. So before you go thinking I’m wearing it to find a husband, think again.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” his blue eyes seared into hers like lasers. “What do ya say, Meghan, darlin’ girl of my heart.”
CAROL ANN: Wonderful!
CAROL ANN: Sharon, can you tell me what you believe is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
SHARON: For me, the hardest aspect of writing is finding the time. I don’t do well under pressure and hate the feeling of being rushed. When I begin a story—even a short assignment for my writing group, it takes me far too long to write the opening paragraph. I lost my vision nine years ago after a long battle with diabetic retinopathy. Prior to the loss of my sight, I was a legal secretary where I prepared cases for court. But painting picturesque scenery was my passion and when I could no longer see, my world fell apart. But after a long and winding road and the use of a computer with adaptive software, a new dream has resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.
Imagery is a vital part of my writing. When I describe a desert sunset or a Tuscan landscape in my stories, I visualize the colors I would use when painting—and make it work for me.
CAROL ANN: What comes first in your writing process? A scene, characters, title? oR Are you a plotter?
SHARON: It’s actually the plot that comes first. An idea blooms in my head and just takes off. Sometimes a brief flash will come to me in a dream kind of like a book trailer, glimpses, bits and pieces of a story. And it might be a personal problem haunting my subconscious. So I’ll let it germinate until it blossoms in my head like the first spring crocus. Then I’ll create atmosphere and the scene. The characters come next and I often use friends, relatives or acquaintances as role models. By using real dialogue and dialect, characters come to life on the page. The title is rarely the same at the end of the book. Often times the story outgrows the original title and needs a better fit.
CAROL ANN: What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how have you overcome them?
SHARON: I guess a stumbler for me is point of view—although I have gotten much better. Because I always want to know what everyone is thinking, I have a tendency to incorporate this trait into my writing. Naturally all my characters make perfect sense to me since they live in my head! But going back and forth with pov can be jarring to the reader as well as confusing. And it is ultimately the reader the author must please. I have learned to deal with pov by sticking to one for three to five pages. And when two characters are in one scene, I make one speak his or her thoughts and the other think them. I must be getting better with this stumbling block as my editor hasn’t brought it to my attention lately.
CAROL ANN: That's always encouraging. I always dread edits. **BIG GRIN** To change the subject, who can you always count on to make you smile, even if you are feeling down?
SHARON: I can always count on my fellow authors to make me smile. No one understands a writer like another writer.
CAROL ANN: Do you believe the pen mightier than the sword?
SHARON: I can speak from personal experience as far as the pen being mightier than the sword. I have been through so much in my life and have found writing to be great therapy. Blogging is a personal journal where I can share my triumphs and burdens. I write in two different genres, suspense and inspiration. Writing stories of inspiration makes me feel good, a way of giving hope to those reaching out. And when I feel shall we say less than inspired, I just run out and kill someone in the wonderful world of fiction!
CAROL ANN: I love it! Okay, let's do some imagining here. Picture this. You are sitting in a restaurant with several friends when someone thrusts a microphone in your hand. You have one minute to give a message of hope to the world. What will you say?
SHARON: Never give up on a dream. Dreams come true for those who believe in magic and miracles. Take a lesson from the Irish and spin a tale of Blarney once in a while. Laughter is good for the soul. Keeping traditions alive from generation to generation is the greatest gift we can leave when we depart this earth. Treasure family and friends by making your house a home. Make guests feel welcome with a pot o tea or a cup o Irish coffee. Regale over good times, count your blessings—and never lose sight of the simple things. But most of all, never forget to count your blessings. They far outweigh the burdens.
CAROL ANN: I always like to learn something about my guests that most people wouldn't know. So here's my question. What do you have under your bed?
SHARON: **LAUGH** Besides dust bunnies? Shoes. I love shoes and love to collect them. I also keep a penny jug which also has a collection of buttons, seashells and single earrings that have lost their mates. I have several boxes with “stuff” that I might even sort out one of these days! Old cards and keepsakes, gifts from old boyfriends, some old CDs and many many pictures and albums from different vacations. Oh…and my fluffy purple slippers…perfect for these frigid Pittsburgh mornings!
CAROL ANN: Purple is my favorite color! I have some fluffy slippers too, but they are pink. Okay, now one more personal question. Who is the hero in your life?
SHARON: My hero is a heroine. She is my guardian angel—a gold charm I wear around my neck. She never left my side in my darkest hour. I had a fatal illness and was not expected to survive the scheduled brain surgery.
A prayer chain was started the day before the surgery. After being sedated and wheeled down to the operating room, there was a lot of fuss. Nurses were concerned because my neurologist was very late. These were the last words I remember before dozing off from the initial sedation. When I opened my eyes, my doctor was standing over me, smiling. He said he was up all night going over my MRI and decided against the surgery. He said in his professional opinion, I would not have survived the operation. He decided to combat the massive infection raging through my brain with an aggressive antibiotic, to be distributed intravenously for six hours a day for one month. The side effects were worse than chemo.
I got through, never once taking off my angel. But still, my prognosis was very uncertain. Doctors gave me six months. That was 1996. It took three years to regain my strength, but I beat the odds. I had the endless support of family, friends and an incredible team of doctors. But mostly, it was through God’s healing and my guardian angel. I am living proof miracles happen.
CAROL ANN: Wow, that gives me goosebumps. What a wonderful story about faith and God's healing miracles. Thanks for sharing that with us.
CAROL ANN: I can't believe our time is up already! I have so enjoyed having you share with us today. You are a true inspiration in so many ways. Before we have to leave, would you share where the audience can learn more about you and your books?
SHARON: My website is www.sharonadonovan.com Please visit my website for a sneak preview of what I’m working on including a memoir about the loss of my vision. You can also read about my stories of suspense and inspiration. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter on my website. Thanks so much for the great interview, Carol! It’s been a pleasure.
CAROL ANN: The pleasure is mine, Sharon. Best of luck to you. Audience, don't forget to check out this book for St. Patrick's Day!
THE AUDIENCE GIVES A STANDING OVATION. APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE!!