Monday, 20 August 2012

Guest Post with author Don McNair

I’m sitting here in my home office fifty years after my first published work, after a lifetime of writing for others and having ten books published, wondering just what was that spark? The answer’s lurking in the cobwebs of my mind, hard to focus on.

I think, though, the first glimmer came when I was in grade school, and the teacher asked us to write a story about Mother’s day. She liked my story so much she read it aloud to the class the next day, and a pretty little girl approached me afterwards and said “I loved your story, Donnie.” That launched both my writing career and my fear of pretty little girls.

In high school I was determined to be the world’s greatest cartoonist. I took a practical general business class in college, but continued my interest in creative things, becoming the school paper’s cartoonist. After college I joined a trade magazine’s editorial staff, started my forty-year career of writing for others: eleven years at the magazines, six as a public relations professional, and twenty-one as head of my own commercial editing and writing business, McNair Marketing Communications. Along the way I wrote three published “how-to” books on my own.

But writing business articles and fiction are two entirely different animals. Along the way my creative side exposed itself in unusual ways. I did my own photography for those articles, penned two comic strips (which apparently I thought were better than the syndicates did), sculpted busts, painted pastoral scenes, and so on. I eventually realized that my soul was fed by creating in the privacy of my own home, more than in excelling on the commercial side of things, in spite of the fact that I won the nation’s top PR award (The Silver Anvil) and regional awards.

So I set about learning the fiction-writing craft. I eventually turned garbage into credible writing, and raw manuscripts into published novels. I was able to funnel my lifetime of experience into my passion to create. I learned that my writing hundreds of articles on hundreds of subjects gave me the ability to write in whatever genre I wanted.

Take romance novels, as an example. One day I told my wife, “You know, I think I’ll write a romance novel.” She stared at me and said, “You? What do you know about romance?” (Of course, that’s a different subject entirely.) The point is, I knew how to research and present ideas. I knew a secret to writing romances—or any fiction, for that matter—was to start out with conflict and keep that conflict going throughout the book. So I got to work reinventing myself, and the results were my two romance novels, “Mystery at Magnolia Mansion” and Mystery on Firefly Knob.”

Based on my total background—both commercial and fiction writing—five years ago I launched Today I edit for other fiction writers, and am enjoying myself immensely. My muse is fed very well as I help other writers present their best work to editors.

My latest project is a how-to-self-edit book titled "Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave." It will be published on April 1, 2013, by Quill Pushers Books, a publisher with several how-to-write titles.
Don will giving away reader's choice of a copy of one of his books on to one randomly chosen commenter.  The tour dates can be found here:

About the author:

Don McNair, now a prolific fiction writer, spent most of his working life editing magazines (11 years), producing public relations materials for the Burson-Marsteller international PR firm (6 years), and heading his own marketing communications firm, McNair Marketing Communications (21 years). His creativity has won him three Golden Trumpets for best industrial relations programs from the Publicity Club of Chicago, a certificate of merit award for a quarterly magazine he wrote and produced, and the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil. The latter is comparable to the Emmy and Oscar in other industries.

McNair has written and placed hundreds of trade magazine articles and three published non-fiction “how-to” books (Tab Books). He’s also written six novels; two young-adult novels (Attack of the Killer Prom Dresses and The Long Hunter), three romantic suspense novels Mystery on Firefly Knob, Mystery at Magnolia Mansion, and co-authored Wait for Backup!), and a romantic comedy (BJ, Milo, and the Hairdo from Heck).

 McNair now concentrates on editing novels for others, teaching two online editing classes (see, and writing his next romance novel.


  1. It sounds as though you have enjoyed every stage of your life. Now you are enjoying this next stage. Good luck, Don

  2. Yes, Monjane, I am! Getting old has its issues, but also its rewards.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading both books.

  4. Ingeborg...I hope you enjoy them? If you do read them, will you let me know what you think?


I love comments from my readers! However, I will delete all spam and irrelevant comments.

*Note - I reserve the right to remove comments from the blog. Please leave comments that are useful and respectful.