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Guest Post from Donna Morang, Travel Author

I recently reviewed Donna’s terrific book Big Backpack – Little Word and am thrilled to bits that she agreed to do a guest post for me. I described her book as “a travel memoir that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and gives you a good shake!” So, over to Donna.

Stephanie has asked me to be a guest on her blog, and now I feel like I’m walking down the runway to accept an Academy Award. It is such a great honor to be here among readers and writers. I promise I won’t bore you with thanking everyone from my children to the pink-haired girl in Spain, but I do want to thank Stephanie for this opportunity.

Big Backpack—Little World tells my stories of teaching and traveling as an older, single woman. It is the stories of meeting new people, seeing countries I never dreamed I’d visit, having fun, and discovering an amazing life as an ESL teacher. It doesn’t tell you about the other doors that opened because of my traveling.

Twelve years ago if someone told  me to write a book, I would have known they were crazy. Today, my book is real. I see it on my Kindle. I see the paper copy. It sits on my desk, and I view it daily, hourly, gazing at the most incredibly beautiful thing in the world. Writing this book was  like packing-up everything I owned and moving to a foreign country, except it was scarier. I was no longer traveling solo. I was now traveling with everyone who picked-up my book. I was showing everyone my personal story, my soul, and it was frightening. Those that have read Big Backpack—Little World can verify I’m not afraid of many things, but this thing had me shaking.

I had kept good journals, and the first several months of writing was incredible. It was  fun revisiting countries, remembering people I’d met along the way, laughing at the crazy things I’d seen and done. Then one day, I knew I needed someone other than a friend to read my manuscript. At that time, I don’t think it could qualify as a manuscript, more like a bunch of writing.

So entered my first editor, who gave me the encouragement to continue. Then she became ill, and I had to find and pay for someone new to begin the ordeal again. My next editor, whacked and chopped my writing into a manuscript. I have to say none of this was fun. I re-wrote so many times I could hardly stand the sight of one more page of red slashes. It was rather like being back in grade-school with the teacher telling you that you could do better. She was usually right, but it still wasn’t fun.

My biggest problem with my editors were they wanted my book to be a soul-searching, gut-wrenching, in search of and finding myself. They wanted me to express the loneliness, or the hardship of being alone in a strange country. This was impossible for me, because I wasn’t searching for myself or a new love. I went on this journey for fun, and I found open arms around the world. I wanted my readers to know that at any age, it is possible to pack-up and leave their country, friends, family and happily go off into the vast unknown.

Writing your own stories, or poems can open a new adventure into your life. It can grab you, shake you, and awaken you to all this wonderful life has to offer. It doesn’t have to be for the world to view, do it for yourself, and see what you find.
Happy writing, my new friends. Thanks, Stephanie!

You can jog on over to my blog and read the incredible review Stephanie wrote about Big Backpack—Little World.

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Books Are Cool is back

Books Are Cool, my books and writing website – me being Stephanie Dagg – is back. It started out back in 1996 when I began my authoring career as a children’s writer in Ireland. The site was aimed at kids with online stories they could contribute to, games, colouring pages, and poems and competitions. A lot of people had a lot of fun.

 

And I certainly had fun as an author in Ireland. I visited schools and libraries, handed out awards, toured round Irish bookshops with Don Conroy and enjoyed my writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Then the life of Dagg family changed dramatically in 2006 when we moved to France. As well as leaving Ireland behind, I left my children’s authoring behind. Building our new lives and business here took a lot of energy, on top of looking after our 75 acre farm, taking care of our herd of llamas and alpacas and our three lakes of carp, renovating two very old houses. We run a gite and carp fishery and offer llama and alpaca treks. Books Are Cool, like my writing, took a back seat.

But we’re back! I’m writing for adults now. Children’s writing was fun, and I have a couple of Young Adult ideas swilling around in my head at the moment, but my main focus will be grown up books. Which I am intending to self-publish on Kindle. I bought a Kindle in January and have become hooked. Take a look at these blog entries about it from my living in France blog, Blog in France. (Kindle Thoughts, Curling up with a Good Kindle)

In my post Write Back Where I Belong I talked about getting more books with my name on the spine onto the shelves. That was pre-Kindle. I will definitely be going the electronic route, so I’ll be doing a lot of research on that and sharing my findings with you.

I’m mainly working on three books – Something Fishy, my fishing mystery, a vaguely-knitting-based mystery and my moving to France book. All are coming along well and I’ll be posting up snippets in the very near future.

As part of my preparation for my France book, working title Heads Above the Water, I’ve read a lot of books written by other ex-pats. Some have been brilliant, some have been dull, some have been downright dreadful! Anyway, I shall be including reviews of the good ones. I don’t like doing bad reviews, there doesn’t seem much point.

So join me as I get busy again at my computer!