Saturday, April 1, 2017

0 Donna Cooner, author of WORTHY, on facing public scrutiny

We are beyond unworthy but so thankful to get the chance to sit down with Donna Cooner to discuss her latest novel WORTHY.

Donna, what was your inspiration for writing WORTHY?

Creating the world of WORTHY was an opportunity to explore relationships confronted by judgement, and that was a very personal topic for me. By many people’s views, my husband and I are very different. I was born in the United States. He was born in the Philippines. His skin is brown. Mine is white. He was raised Catholic in California and I was raised Southern Baptist in Texas. When we first started dating, many of those differences were judged by friends and family. Building strong relationships is hard, especially in the initial stages. Creating the world of WORTHY was an opportunity to show how relationships can grow, even in the face of public scrutiny.



How long did you work on WORTHY?

I worked on WORTHY for a little over a year. The rough draft took about nine months to complete and that is definitely the slowest part of the process for me. Edits and final tweaks took another six months.

What do you hope readers will take away from WORTHY? 

The best thing about writing WORTHY was crafting a story around the concept of worth in our society. Merriam-Webster defines worthy as: good and deserving respect, praise, or attention. In a saturated social media world, I think it is especially difficult to feel worthy. There is so much comparison and judgement, and I wanted to build a story about overcoming self-doubt in this environment. I hope readers leave this story understanding they are worthy of love, friendship and respect.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Ok, so I here I go... *standing up*

"Hello, my name is Donna and I'm a procrastinator."

It's been four days since my last writing session (wait, I think I'm getting that confused with confession). Anyway, here's what it looks like and maybe someone out there can relate: Today is Saturday and I have time to write. Ahhhh...sitting down in front of the computer. Open manuscript? Not yet. Open Facebook. Read. Post. Open twitter. Read. Open online news. Check email. Check celebrity fashions. Nice shoes. Shop for shoes online. Now, I'm ready to open the manuscript and get down to business. Cat jumps on desk. I tell cat to get down. Cat doesn't (repeat several times). Pet cat. Notice cat hair on shirt. I should really wash that. Do a load of laundry. Ok, back in front of the computer. Open manuscript! Look at word count. I need more words. Plot out word count on calendar beside my desk. Look at screen. Time for lunch. Ok, back in front of the computer. Now, I'm really doing it. Write a sentence. Read the sentence. Change the sentence. This is going sooooooo sllllloooooowwwwly. You know what would help? Listening to music. Go on ITunes. Look for song that I can't remember the title for... email fellow muse for title. Get title. Download song. Listen. Perfect. It'd sound even better with some good speakers. Shop for speakers online. They'll come in the mail in a week or so. I should check the mail. Walk to mailbox. Sun feels really good...warm. Sit outside and promise God I'll go inside and write when the sun goes behind that cloud over there. Ok, I'm back.

The truth is, writing (like me) isn't perfect and maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

1. Cultivate a work team that supports the dream. If you work full time at a day job while you're writing, it's important to have their support. Talk to them about your writing dream and give them periodic updates. You don't need to bore them with all the details, or ask them to read drafts, but including them now will be helpful later. When you start seeing publishing success, they will feel like they have been part of the journey all along. I constantly tell my co-workers I need and appreciate their support.

2. Prioritize. When it gets really bad, look at only the very next thing that has to be done. If I'm completely overwhelmed, I can't focus on the big picture. I can just do the next thing. Maybe that "next thing" is five hundred words or taking out the trash, but accomplishing it is enough get me moving again.

3. Exercise your body to support your mind. I've become quite addicted to my evening WALK/runs and am trying to turn them into RUN/walks. At first it was a bit stressful to take precious time away from actually sitting in front of the computer, but I found this nightly ritual to completely support the mental process of writing. Exercise gives me that buffer zone between the day job brain and the mindset I need to create a story.

4. Use the gaps. A writing friend recently told me she keeps her laptop always at the ready and even tries to jot down words on the newest manuscript when waiting to pick up her child from school. While I'm not quite that disciplined, looking for natural spaces in the day is a great way to squeeze in some writing time.

5. Finally, appreciate the wonder. I can't stress enough the importance of celebrating success along the way. Whether it’s only a tiny step or a huge milestone, celebrate them all.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Worthy
by Donna Cooner
Hardcover
Point
Released 3/28/2017

Once again, Donna Cooner (Skinny, Can't Look Away) taps into the zeitgeist to bring us a searing story about online bullying and superficiality.

An addictive new app is all the rage at Linden Wilson's high school. Worthy ranks couples, determining via votes and user comments if one person is "worthy" of the other. Linden is happily dating Alex Garcia, and can't imagine the app will affect them. Until Alex is labeled "worthy," and Linden "unworthy." Suddenly, everything changes. Linden must struggle under this newfound scrutiny as her relationships -- with Alex, with her friends -- are put to the ultimate test.

Purchase Worthy at Amazon
Purchase Worthy at IndieBound
View Worthy on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

donnanewhead.jpgDonna Cooner was born and raised in Texas. She is a three time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She’s a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).

Donna is the author of two novels for young adults, SKINNY and CAN’T LOOK AWAY. She’s also the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children’s television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers.

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Have you had a chance to read WORTHY yet? Do you share your tiny steps or huge milestones with your circle? Have you considered including your coworkers? Do you exercise to help stop writer's block? What have been some of your more successful workout strategies? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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