The Official Website of Author Donna McDougall


More About Technology

Posted by on Jul 14, 2011 in Uncategorized | 570 comments

As Alice says, it gets curiouser and curiouser as technology evolves.

Technology in  the e-book format  enables speed of access to the story. Getting directly into the plot takes precedence over setting and character which have a limited need to be developed and clutter the landscape. But what if you want to take time on a certain part of the text, or flip back to a previous segment? Doesn’t seem likely. Just go forward to the final sentence. Period.

Now, digital technology is making even more advancement.  Multimedia enables the story teller to use short segments of the text to  attract the reader and combine it with visual images and sounds that compliment the content.  Such applications are being developed and funded considerably. It would seem that writers will be able with the new technology to expand into other fields like interactive film. 

How will these works be accessed by a reader?  Sounds pricey. And what computer expertise and applications are necessary for the writer?  Not for the faint of heart  on a budget but for big publishers working with bestselling titles.  Computer science seems to be dictating what tools writers will need for such their work. 

If you are like me, a Luddite as far as technology is concerned, there will be no issue. I shall plod on having fun as has been my experience in story telling .  I will share it with other like minded souls who lack the interest and ability to delve into this new approach to high powered  reading.  Was it not a wise man who said less is more? Is reading not an act of the imagination and how is ‘watching a story’ not just another passive experience?


Posted by on Jul 12, 2011 in Uncategorized | 133 comments

After days of the ‘blank page’ syndrome I found inspiration or desperation in The

Globe and Mail’s article  about digital technology and whether is will change the way

we tell our stories. 

My summer reading consists of works by the original mystery writers dating

back to the 30′s. These are classics and well worth reading especially for the

modern day crime writer. Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh

and Georgette Heyer are the ones stacked on my desk. They are of varying

length, some only one hundred and fifty pages, give or take. Thus, they are

good for going to the beach or sitting in the garden, wherever.

What I notice is details of description, sometimes outlandish characterizaion

and an interweaving of the plot that totally engages the reader. And no

graphic sex or violence.

My response to the story is to feel entertained and satisfied. I doubt this

writing on the page will translate to the electronic novel  which appeals to a

‘plot-y feeling to the reading’ which may not conform to a writer’s style. Will

this impact on how one sets about writing the narrative?  Only time will tell.

Starting Off New

Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

All Of the Posts Made Before Now Come From My Old Blog. I have started off with this new blog but I have moved all of my old posts to this website for reader enjoyment. To read any of the original articles from my old blog, please click here or visit:


Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 19 comments

I’ve notified my contacts, family, friends and debtors that I will not be answering calls at seven in the morning. Please leave a message.

The matches begin tomorrow and I’m wired to watch them. Why? Watching tennis reminds me of experiencing the blank page phenomenon that writers encounter. Just imagine how Isner feels. Last year he played 11 hours and 5 minutes against  his French opponent, Mahut.The match was the longest in history.  And this year’s draw pits them against each other once more. Will they play on the same court as last year?  How will fate play inject itself?

Is that not how it is for writers? Each day we take our pen (raquet) and put it to paper (serve that ball)and hope it’s an ace. Except that aces in writing narrative take much longer than hitting a ball over the net. It’s the focus, sweat, and practice that correspond.

Good luck to all  sitting at the desk or computer striving to put the right angle on the narrative to make folks sit up and take notice. Think of each sentence as the serve that sets the scene for the next play, the strategy that unfolds, from this stroke, the beginning of the story, the flow of narrative, conflict, resolution and outcome. How will creativity reveal itself in the game of story telling?  Connect with the passion of  Nadal, Williams, Federer and other brilliant players as they each face their opponent, their blank page, create the strategy that will bring success.

I shall return after the final ace in the match, the final period on the manuscript that grips  the fan’s attention.

Endings and Beginnings

Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 541 comments

As a spectator sport,  tennis sustains my enthusiasm for competition and it also reminds me of the writing process when the writer sits down with pen and paper or in front of the computer and endeavours to score.

Watching the dance of Nadal and Federer at the French Open reminded me of  atheletes competing at an Olympic event. As I watched the incredible focus of each contender, noticed how they presented themself in preparation for a serve, a return or attending the next play, frozen in the moment, I marvelled at their intensity and grace. If there could be a moment to cast in marble, Nadal or Federer would be the perfect subject.

As well, I projected that each displayed a contrast in energy. In the beginning,Nadal  seemed to hold back and play defensively. Federer played strategically, appeared watchful, collected and centered.  Then the energy shifted and Nadal took on his other persona as he  exhibited the prowess of a lion charging and attacking. His opponent, Federer, like a student, continued to appear watchful, collected, and centered as the sets unfolded. What a match, what a spectacle.

At the reunion of class-mates ths past weekend, I also noticed how  behaviours define us.  Is it not always how we interact with others? I can identify the Swiss approach, quiet,poised and watching. However, in some colleagues, there was the exuberance  and pizazz of the Spanish.

How to operate in one”s place and remain in touch with the creative energy is always a challenge for yours truly

My classmates enthused about my achievement of publishing a novel  and were excited about the possibility of one to follow. Still I hold back while, at  the same time, another plot percolates in my head.

So, it was a weekend to reconnect with people from long ago, revisit  familiar places, walk the patterns of memory, re-focus my efforts, restore my confidence and belief in myself. How shall I perform, as the lion pacing, or the student learning? I resonate with the creativity in movement, stretch, bend, flex,  that can be the warm up as I enter into the process of putting shape to the writing on the page. It is part of the writing process and can inform my story.

I now have a FB site  but the process of navigating these pages proceeds slowly. Have patience, dear readers.

More About Growing My Novel

Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 139 comments

My novel, Missionary Cay, is like a child. Or at least I am responding to the novel as I remember responding to my children. Be positive, the glass is half full, you are a creation on the way to being (although I showed this, hopefully in my interaction with the family rather than telling them so), trust yourself, don’t worry over what others say, have fun, don’t sweat the small stuff, so you messed up but were you born knowing how to do life? I don’t think so which is my mantra for this stage of being an author.

The learning curve is steep but also exciting and what more does one want and need? If all the pieces fell into place who would do puzzles. Who would do cross-words (me, but I rarely complete one)?

Yesterday, I goofed. I went into an unnamed box book store to inquire about arranging a signing. Spur of the moment, without my novel or business card. in hand. No, no, no. Long story short, I put myself in a disadvantageous place. The manager was accomodating and forthcoming. We set the date. I needed to order the books. The cost of paying for shipping the book plus the book store’s consignment fee meant I would be subsidizing any book sold at the signing. Wow, a business person, I am not.

It gave me time to reflect on what it is that I’m hoping to achieve. Is it making money,  or getting my message across to cause people to reflect and learn?  Probably the latter. I must choose and that is my conundrum. To make a profit? To relate with folks on an essential level? Can I do this in the mystery novel Missionary Cay or am I fooling myself as to why people read, how they read and what message they take from a mystery novel?


Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 13 comments

This past week I had my first opportunity to do a ‘reading/signing’ for Missionary Cay. My days leading up to it were angst filled, an emotion that requires vigilance on my part to prevent it from consuming my positive energy. Meditation offered some reprieve. I also remembered that unless you feel nervous before a production as in the world of entertainers and in any public forum, you may fail. That was my consolation.

The event went well from beginning to end and I learned much from the experience. I mingled with the group as they arrived and that personal touch put me into a more focused place. As I spoke my first words and heard my voice,steady and clear,the process of reading became fun. I enjoyed it and the audience were attentive and engaged.

What I learned from talking with people was their affinity for certain authors and what they like to read. Given the age group,  (retired women) I came to the conclusion that there is a niche for writers of each genre and that gives me the confidence and direction in writing my next novel. I will take into consideration my potential reader as a guide and develop a kinship with such an audience. Their tastes are vast, their life experiences diverse and their critical skills are thorough. The balance of the comic and the serious is always  a vital quality in  what satisfies.

This experience galvanized and, as an introvert, I sense that there is a tiny part of me that is extroverted and that I am enriched by coming out of my shell.  The activity of writing can reinforce introversion and facing the fear to put myself into a public and exposed place will always challenge.

Growing Your Book

Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 25 comments

It has been interesting to become a promoter in addition to being a creater.

I wrote the novel, MISSIONARY CAY, and now I will grow it. Sounds so much better than ‘sell’,  ‘promote’ or ‘flog’. I like growing and cultivating. That’s what happens in this next stage of my life. I insert myself more into the characters.

Oh yes, Sheila is a woman in process. She was a certain kind of woman in Cambellville but in Rock Point she evolves. She learns how to assert herself. She learns how to trust her instinct. She learns that community is essential for survival. Being an outsider is lonely and frightening. It challenges one to face one’s fear and plod on.

I learn that to promote one’s work I must find an audience, an audience that can empathize and an audience that the story will resonate with. That deepens my connection with the story. Kate, Sheila’s daughter, is the archetype of one’s offspring who cuts to the chaff and makes a parent proud for the clarity that the younger generation can offer.

Miss Felicia represents stability, conformity and resilience. How else does a community survive given the traditions of one’s fore-mothers and the challenges of the landscape.

Cecil is endearing. He cultivates the soil, trusts his intuition and knows that ‘what is for you will not go by you’.

The chorus of quilters, nuns and congregationalists provide the constancy of life.


Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 28 comments

I promised the book review that lifted my heart. After all, being human means that acknowledgment can be confirming and instructive. So here it is, my first review.

MISSIONARY CAY, the newly self-published murder-mystery  by Canadian author, Donna McDougall, is a page turner from beginning to end. Sheila Woods, the novel’s protagonist, is a fiftyish widow and is decidedly stuck in a five year rut since her husband’s death. Longing to reawaken and recreate her life, she decides to leave her predictable life pattern in Canada to experience an adventure on a Caribbean island.

Having lived on the periphery since her husband’s death, Sheila first experiences the community’s warmth and welcome. Little does she realize, however, that she will also become increasingly pulled into the island community’s traditions and its  history. Her decision to choose this new life allows her to experience objectivity and prejudice of an outsider and to observe its unspoken rules and secrets.

Yes, I make judgements that come from my short experience in this culture. I speak their language, but I have no guide to interpret the context, or to interpret the space between their lines, or to interpret the text that lies buried in their story. I am the woman from away, and the local people close ranks  when I try to insert myself into their stories. I will always be the outsider.

McDougall draws the reader further into the story when Sheila discovers the body of one of her friends, a beautiful and mysterious island resident with a questionable past. As Sheila’s involvement in putting together the pieces of the puzzle develops, she simultaneously makes her journey of self-discovery.

It has been a long journey: marriage, family, loss and now here. Who would have believed how the path would unfold? I am blessed in having such a life, in waking each morning and breathing. What more am I entitled to?

Different elements in this murder-mystery also contribute to its richness and the reader’s enjoyment of the story: the momentum of the story’s events, Sheila’s engaging midlife romance, the novel’s cast and richness of its characters, the detailed, poetic description of island life and the self-reflection whic is characteristic of Sheila’s personality and her angst.

Cecil, one of the characters speaks these words as he alludes to the circumstances of the murder.

It’s not the end, Missus, ’cause I feel there’s more to it and we may never know parts of the story, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. He may see fit to send a sign. You gotta watch for it, missus. I watch,too.

Perhaps these are also the words we as readers of this first novel might use to describe our own feelings about the story as we hopefully await the continuation of Sheila’s story in future novels.

Moving On

Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 180 comments

The heightened energy that accompanies being a ‘published author’ has come and gone. Believe me, the folks I have met are generous and kind in their response.

So far I’ve approached the Independent Book Stores and their owners are charming. They, too, are doing what they love to do which is sell books. They are so personable with regard to their merchandise and know it well.  We are kindred spirits which means they treat my book gently and make space for it on their shelves.  Very exciting.

Living in a small city with a Chapters, Smith’s and Cole’s book outlets means I must be creative in my marketing strategy. It seems that face to face is the method of choice. I’ve had one book signing event and I truly felt elated from this experience. People love to talk, share their opinions and even their life stories. What writer can ignore mining this landscape?

I know the Virtual book market is vast and necessary but the personal touch of an audience captures my attention and time.  I’m having so much fun promoting that the time for writing suffers. I know this stage shall pass and I will eventually get back to the blank page.

In my next post I will share my first review which has lifted my spirits and inspired me to keep writing.