Donna Small, Author of “A Ripple in the Water”

A Ripple in the WaterWhat is your book about?

A Ripple in the Water tells the story of Katharine Penner, a widow and single mom, who finds a second chance at love with Riley Morgan, a man thirteen years her junior and the son of one of her best friends. What makes this story more than just your typical “cougar” love story is that while Kate is the older woman, it is the young man who pursues the “older” woman. Throw into the mix an overprotective mother who can’t bear to see her son date, let alone date a woman she considers a friend and you’ve got yourself a bit of conflict.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The inspiration was a bit of gossip actually. I was swimming with a few friends at our local pool and one of them made a comment about the two swim coaches and whether or not they were dating. Another remarked that the mother of the young man “wouldn’t like that at all.” I found it interesting since the young woman in question was an intelligent, and well-behaved young lady. I wondered why this young man’s mother might find this particular woman not good enough for her son. Then I realized that for some women, no woman is good enough for their son. Thus, the beginnings of a story began to work their way into my mind.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

That’s easy. Riley. But not because he’s unusual; because he’s so hot! In the first chapter, Kate spends all morning staring at his physique without realizing who he is. I have to admit, I really enjoyed creating this character and putting myself into Kate’s mind while she was utterly distracted when looking at him. In addition to his good looks, Riley is smart and knows what he wants out of life. He also knows that he wants Kate and pursues with a vengeance I think any woman would find very flattering.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It generally takes me about a year to write a novel. I have an idea for a story and start to think about the characters…get to know them in my mind, if you will. I tend to write sort of splotchy – a scene here, a conversation there – and then spend a lot of time editing in order to get the story to move smoothly until its conclusion.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

When writing this book, I really wanted to get a feel for what a mother might feel like if her son were to date someone she didn’t approve of, particularly someone she considered a close friend. I presented this scenario to women I was close to and who had sons who were about ten or so years younger than me. I would ask these women their thoughts on someone like myself dating their son. Though they tried to hide their horror at the question, it was clear to me that I was asking a very uncomfortable question. They couldn’t explain why they felt as such, only that it made them shudder. Once I saw that reaction, I knew I had to write about it.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I would love for readers to fall in love with Riley and Kate’s story. They have to overcome so many obstacles in order to be together that hopefully, the reader begins to really pull for them. There is a sequel in the works for this novel and I hope my readers will stay with me until I can finish it and get it out there for them to devour!

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Schedule? What’s a schedule? Seriously, though, I don’t really have a schedule. I work full-time and have two daughters to raise. I write whenever I get five minutes to myself. I try to piece together these little snippets of time and hope that at the end of the day, I’ve got a paragraph completed.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Each day, I begin my writing session by editing what I’ve written the day before. Not only does this give me a chance to make some corrections, but it also puts me in the right frame of mind and the right place in my story to begin. Of course, before I can do this, I check email, facebook, twitter and then see if there is anything of interest on Ebay. Only then can I begin to write.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

There isn’t any particular time of day that words better for me. It’s more about what is going on at the time I choose to write. I’m one of those writers that needs quiet in order to complete a sentence so I can’t be watching TV while I’m trying to write a scene. Because I have children who simply cannot be quiet, I will sometimes jot down ideas for a chapter and then go back to it later once I have some quiet time.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on a story about a woman who, after the death of her husband, discovers that not only had he been having an affair, but he fathered a child with his mistress. The child has special needs and my protagonist must determine exactly what sort of relationship she can have with this woman and her child.

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

I’ll read pretty much anything. I do tend to stick to women’s literature and will only stray if referred to it by a recommendation. I’m also a bit of a book hoarder in that I have a very vast collection of “to be read” books in a spare bedroom of my house. It’s gotten too large, in fact, that it takes me several minutes to determine the next book I’m going to read! I’ll whip out several books and read the first few sentences and the book that pulls me in the most becomes the winner!

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Oooh, I love this question. James Cameron should feel free to contact me at any time so that we can begin working on the screenplay. I would love to see Sandra Bullock play Kate Penner. Not only would she be great in the role but I truly feel that if we were to meet, we’d be the best of friends! For Riley, the actor I’d choose would be Alex Pettyfer, if only to see him wearing the tiny swim suit Riley spends much of his time in throughout the book.

Where can we learn more about your books?

From my author page at Second Wind Publishing:

Donna Small, Author of “Just Between Friends”

What is your book about?

Just Between Friends is the story of Emma Stewart, a young woman who is helplessly in love with her best friend’s husband. She finds herself torn between her best friend and the man she loves when her best friend, Layne, tells her she has married the wrong man and begins to have an affair. Emma, like most woman, will do anything for their best friend, but just where will (where do any of us) draw the line?

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I’m smiling as I type this because I’m never finished. “Finished” is such a subjective word when it comes to writing. I can read the same paragraph every day and change something in it. Each day, after editing, I will think it’s as good as it’s going to get . . . until I look at it the next day.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

When reading Just Between Friends, I want people to put themselves in Emma’s place. I want them to think about how they’d respond to what happens to her and if their opinions would change as they read the book.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

The most difficult part about writing the book was finding the time! I work full time and have two children so finding a quiet hour or so to get something down on paper can be tricky. I’ve stopped searching for those large blocks of time and find that if I can write a sentence or two down, I feel as though I’ve accomplished something.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am working on my next novel entitled, Cinnamon Rainbows. It’s the story of a woman whose husband passes away unexpectedly. She finds out that not only was her husband having an affair, but he had a child with his mistress – a child with Down Syndrome. I’m hoping to have the first draft completed by the beginning of summer.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing does come easy to me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s anything worth reading! There are days that I’ll write pages of work, only to return to it later and wonder why I even bother to save it! I think the writing is the easier part – it’s the editing your own work that can be challenging.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Too many to count! I like to say that the voices in my head won’t shut up! I keep a notebook with me at all times and jot down anything that might have some possibility. Sometimes, I’ll just write down a word that sounds beautiful to me, knowing that I want to use it somewhere.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Never, ever give up. When writing my novel and seeking publication, I would visit the website of every author I’d ever heard of, read, or wanted to read. They all pretty much said the same thing: Their first (or fourth, or fifth . . .) novel was rejected dozens of times but finally, their work still found a home. It was so encouraging for me to hear that everyone in this business has been in the same rejection-filled spot. Knowing that they’d experienced rejection as well made it easier for me to keep plugging along.

Have you written any other books?

The first book I ever wrote is called Unintentional Acts of Malice and is stored on my computer. I think the story is a great one – it’s the story of a woman struggling with her sister in law, who is an alcoholic. The mores she drinks, the more she puts the family in danger – but I’m not so sure my writing is as good as it can be. I would like to get back to it at some point and see if I can make it better.

The other book I’ve written is called A Ripple in the Water. It’s the story of a thirty-two year old widow and single mother who falls in love with her daughter’s nineteen year old swim coach. I’m hoping to have this one published as well. Stay tuned to find out!

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names for characters are tough for me. I will write chapters using ‘ajdfjkd’ instead of names. I just have a hard time finding the right one for the character since I’m a huge believer in your name being having an impact on who you become. Both of my daughters play sports so I keep the rosters from their events and refer to them for different and unique names that will fit my characters. I also Google a lot!

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

That depends on whether it’s a good day or a bad day! If the writing is flowing, I feel invincible, wonderful, smart, and witty. If I’ve been stuck on the same sentence for hours, I feel irritated and ready to give up. That’s when I need to remember that all writers have those days.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Readers can read more about me and my book(s) at Just Between Friends is available on

It is also available at