Thursday, February 27, 2014

My New Book Trailer For Rose Of Skibbereen

A video is a useful tool for authors to promote their books. These "book trailers" give a visual synopsis of the book in a minute or two of running time. I just completed a new trailer for "Rose Of Skibbereen", and I think it's pretty good. It's got a few images, some sentimental background music, and a link to where you can buy my book online. It was a fun experience for me to see my book come alive in video form, and I think users of YouTube will enjoy it. The link is below. Let me know what you think of it!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

People, Not Characters

Ernest Hemingway once wrote: "When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature."
In my novels I've tried to create living people, which means they are a mixture of good and bad, of noble and despicable qualities. They have many flaws, but they're also capable of kindness and grace. Like real people.
I've gotten some feedback from readers through emails and reviews on Amazon, but last night I had a chance to speak to some readers face to face, and I got some valuable insights about my characters.
For the first time ever, I went to a book club where the members were discussing one of my books, "Rose Of Skibbereen". I was nervous about going, but the members put me at ease right away, and it ended up being a truly enjoyable experience.
It was a special evening for a fiction writer, to sit there and discuss my characters as if they were real people. The members asked me questions about why Rose did something, or what was Peter thinking when he made yet another foolish decision, and as I gave them my answers it occurred to me that it was like explaining why someone in my family did something.
And that was the best part, because I realized the characters had come alive for these readers. They were not caricatures or cardboard figures, they were living people, warts and all. People whose lives you can get caught up in, which is why we read stories in the first place.
I couldn't be happier about the book club meeting last night. It was a special experience for an author, and I'd love to do it again. So, readers, if you have a book club and you'd like to invite me, contact me at, and we can discuss the logistics. If it's possible for me to come, I'll be there.
I love discussing my people.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another Good Review, And Some News

I promise I will not use this blog to broadcast every favorable review my books get, but I can't help it, I have to post this one. I sent a review copy of "Rose Of Skibbereen" to Sue-Ellen Welfonder, who is a best-selling author of romances set in the Scottish Highlands. I figured that Skibbereen, Ireland isn't that far from Kintail, Scotland. Their inhabitants share a Celtic soul, and a perspective born of the wild beauty of their lands, I thought, so maybe Sue-Ellen would enjoy my book. 

It turns out she enjoyed "Rose Of Skibbereen"so much that she gave me this quote to use. 

“McDonnell wields his pen as masterfully as the storytellers of his own ancestral Ireland.  Rose of Skibbereen is a gripping tale, powerful and evocative, and with such a strong sense of place and authentic characters, you’ll feel transported into one of the most compelling and heartbreaking periods of Irish history.  I was hooked from the first line and highly recommend Rose of Skibbereen.  This is historical fiction at its finest. Haunting and unforgettable.”

Thank you, Sue-Ellen! It means a lot to me that someone who writes best-selling historical fiction like you enjoyed my novel. I appreciate it!

The other piece of news I have is that I am now hard at work on Book Four of the "Rose Of Skibbereen" series. I had thought that I would stop after three books, but the response has been very encouraging from readers, who want the story to continue. I enjoy writing about these characters, and seeing where the twists and turns of their lives will lead them. I hope to have Book Four published in March, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. All I can say at this point is that the story takes place in the 1960s, so you know there will be a lot of change in the air!