Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guest Post by Donna Cook

Please welcome Donna Cook to my blog. 

Author Donna Cook
Donna Cook is an Arizona native transplanted to Boise, Idaho, where she is delighting in the change of scenery. When she’s not writing she spends her time chasing the kids, exploring delicious eateries downtown, and dancing with her talented husband. Her fantasy adventure, Gift of the Phoenix has won several awards, including Semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Awards, and Notable Read in the Shelf Unbound/Half Price Books Indie Book of the Year competition. It was also nominated for the Whitney Award, which recognizes LDS writers. She’s currently working on the sequel to Gift of the Phoenix.

Donna says:

I graduated from college with a degree in creative writing, then didn’t write a thing for 10 years. There were a couple reasons for that.

First, in spite of a lifelong dream to become an author, college sucked all the joy out of writing. The emphasis (or so it seemed to the younger version of myself) was on literary writing. “Genre” was practically a dirty word. The more our stories delivered fluffed up metaphors and self-importance the better. Bonus points for dark, dark angst.

This isn’t to say I don’t like literary writing. I do like it, and I still write this way sometimes (minus the angst and ego, I hope). This also isn’t to say it wasn’t a good program or that I didn’t learn a lot. It was and I did. In fact, I chose my college specifically because of its writing program. But college was my first exposure to literary elitism, which didn’t resonate with me. I was still too immature and insecure to say, “Forget that, I’ll write what I want to write.”

Instead, I clammed up.

The second reason I didn’t write for a decade had nothing to do with the program. They say that in high school you think you know everything, but by the time you graduate college you realize just how much you don’t know.

That was certainly true for me. I did (and still do) want to write stories that speak to the human condition. That reflect the complexities of our lives. That exude the kind of wisdom that only comes from experience.

I decided I needed to live life and get some experience.

If only I knew to be careful what you wish for. (But that’s a topic for another post.)

Fast forward 10 years and you find a mother of three young children and a writer in hibernation. What woke the bear from a long winter’s nap?

The Harry Potter craze was in full force. J.K. Rowling had released four books and two movies. Since I’m late to pretty much any trend, I was just now picking up on things. I started to wonder what this Harry Potter kid was all about.

So I watched the first movie. Then I watched the second. Then I devoured all four books.

It was my first true exposure to the fantasy genre and it lit me up. I remembered how fun stories could be. For the first time in years, I longed to tell a story of my own. I saw this magical world of Harry Potter and I wanted to play, too.

So I did. I started gathering ideas in a notebook. I listed everything that excited me, no matter how small. My love of lighthouses inspired the magical Rock of Light. Dolphins worked their way into the story. Cool boxes, the sea, mazes, they all fed my imagination and transformed into something new. The entire story centered around the myth of the Phoenix, something that has always fascinated me.

I finally had the self-confidence to tell the story I wanted to tell. And I was loving it.

In a way, I’m like the Phoenix: my dream of being a writer was reborn from the ashes. I suspect the Phoenix is something a lot of us can relate to. How many of us have been knocked on our backs just to get back up again? I think we all know what that’s like.

gift of phoenix tour

Gift of the PhoenixGift of the Phoenix When three strangers are brought together by the discovery of a common enemy, they must fight to keep the magic of the Phoenix out of dangerous hands before their world is destroyed forever. The Three must learn to unite in spite of what separates them, and unlock the magic of three stones that seem to harm as much as they help. But uniting will not be easy for Nicolai, the simple peasant with a powerful secret; Marcellus, the warrior prince who’s no longer heir to the throne; and Corren, a gifted wizard whose ambitions threaten to ruin them all. Full of magic, mystery, and a touch of romance, Gift of the Phoenix is an epic fantasy that takes the reader deep into the heart of a wondrous world and the three men destined to defend it.

Praise for Gift of the Phoenix “An incredibly impressive book that grips you from the very start. There is plenty of action in the story, some wonderful characters and magical, atmospheric settings. Donna has created a fascinating realm in this story which, even if you don’t consider yourself a fantasy fan, you’ll definitely enjoy.” – Excerpt of Stephanie Dagg’s review at Books Are Cool. “As an avid reader of fantasy, I often encounter boring or overused plotlines—this was neither! With a fresh new take on fantasy adventure, Cook constructs an enchanting world of magic, kingdoms, rebirth, and death.” – Excerpt a review by Artemis at Fantasy Book Lovers Unite “Gift of the Phoenix reminds me of a mix of Paolin’s Eragon and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but stands on its own as a unique fantasy-adventure. Cook creates a magic system that is intricate and unique, which can be hard to do in a genre littered with magic. The story is very complex, and yet very easy to follow… layers upon layers of intertwined plots that all culminate to a fantastic ending. I would recommend this book to anyone of any age.” – Excerpt of a review by Will Wortner at Zero2Fiction

Awards Gift of the Phoenix has won several awards, including Semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Awards, and Notable Read in the Shelf Unbound/Half Price Books Indie Book of the Year competition

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1 comment:

Donna said...

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for hosting me and my book! It's lovely to be part of your blog.