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Donna F. Brown of Write: “Writing style is important”

I had a pretty rough childhood and I endured severe physical, mental, and emotional abuse by my mother, who had been abused by her dad. My mother perpetuated the cycle of abuse. The message my book conveys is that despite any adversities we encounter in our lives, we have choices on how we deal with […]

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I had a pretty rough childhood and I endured severe physical, mental, and emotional abuse by my mother, who had been abused by her dad. My mother perpetuated the cycle of abuse. The message my book conveys is that despite any adversities we encounter in our lives, we have choices on how we deal with the challenges. Making a social impact means that you lead by example and you choose what legacy you leave behind for future generations. For some people with scattered and chaotic upbringings, as in my situation, it’s easy to become disillusioned and discouraged. All too often, one sacrifices dreams in favor of making a living, raising a family and living up to societal and parental expectations of what is best. My hope is that after reading my story, readers will realize that they have the power to triumph over any adversity they face and be inspired to pursue the careers and activities they are most passionate about, and find their own “Medusa!”


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna F. Brown, an author, musician, retired RN, and certified yoga teacher and therapist living in Pearce, Arizona. Her first book, FINDING MEDUSA — THE MAKING OF AN UNLIKELY ROCK STAR, was published in April 2019, and has received rave five star reviews on Amazon. She is currently working on her second novel, a crime/thriller, that will be released sometime in 2021. Donna has also written several articles that were published in Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Woman’s World, and Huffington Post.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I discovered my writing talents at an early age. As a second grader in elementary school, we were given an assignment to write a composition about a favorite author and his story. I chose none other than the “master of macabre,” Edgar Allen Poe. My favorite story was THE TELLTALE HEART, so I wrote in depth about it in my composition. When my teacher read the composition, she didn’t believe that a second grader could write so eloquently. She called my mother to school, and when the teacher found out that I really did write the story, I gave the teacher an education!

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

There were many books that inspired me, yet the one that really stands out for me is a book called, NO MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH by Andrea Gabbard. This phenomenal story is about seventeen courageous breast cancer survivors who climbed a 22,000 foot mountain Aconcagua in Argentina to raise funds for awareness of breast cancer. This incredible book inspired me to do several fundraising climbs on Mount Rainier and Mount Hood for the American Tinnitus Association in Portland, Oregon in 2000, 2007, and 2013. I have suffered with tinnitus (aka: ringing, buzzing, whistling, and other noises in the ears) since 1996. After seeing several ear specialists, who told me to “live with it,” and after trying everything from Chinese herbs to Reiki and acupuncture, I found nothing was helpful. I was thus faced with two difficult choices; I could either succumb to the problem, or try to be part of the solution to find a cure. I chose the latter. Because I’ve always been active in sports (running, hiking, cross-country skiing, and biking), I included training for the climbs as part of my daily ritual. My training was tremendously helpful in adding to the success of the climbs. The experience was beyond incredible, and even more incredible was almost half a million dollars raised with the help of people across the USA who supported my climbs! This was donated to ATA for their ongoing research for an eventual cure for tinnitus. I later discovered that this was the largest sum of money ever donated by a fundraiser for the ATA at that point in time! One person can indeed make a social impact by making that choice and taking action in her own way.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

My first career decision was as a child when I decided I wanted to become a brain surgeon. I’m not sure if this is very funny, yet my mother told me at an impressionable age that women don’t become doctors, and I actually believed her! She encouraged me to pursue nursing instead. After working as a nurse for most of my adult career, I never did find my niche. I gained a considerable amount of nursing knowledge and skills, yet the nursing field is very stressful and demanding, and after working several years as a nurse I suffered from burnout. Therefore, I have changed careers several times throughout my life. What I didn’t realize was that nursing was just a means of making a living, not what I was truly meant to do in my life. After pursuing several other unsatisfying careers, I finally reconnected with my musical and writing roots and discovered my true purpose in life is as a musician and author.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

I had a pretty rough childhood and I endured severe physical, mental, and emotional abuse by my mother, who had been abused by her dad. My mother perpetuated the cycle of abuse. The message my book conveys is that despite any adversities we encounter in our lives, we have choices on how we deal with the challenges. Making a social impact means that you lead by example and you choose what legacy you leave behind for future generations. For some people with scattered and chaotic upbringings, as in my situation, it’s easy to become disillusioned and discouraged. All too often, one sacrifices dreams in favor of making a living, raising a family and living up to societal and parental expectations of what is best. My hope is that after reading my story, readers will realize that they have the power to triumph over any adversity they face and be inspired to pursue the careers and activities they are most passionate about, and find their own “Medusa!”

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

There are many interesting stories within my life story! Using my mountain climbing experiences as an analogy to highlight overcoming adversity, the most compelling story is what I encountered on my ascent and descent to and from the summit and what I learned from the experience! When I climbed Mount Rainier and Mount Hood, I wrote in depth about the challenges I was faced with during those climbs. Even though I trained for six months for the climbs, I still was challenged by sleep deprivation due to being extremely nervous about the arduous task I had undertaken, self-doubts about reaching the summit, whiteout conditions, fierce gale force winds and bitter cold temperatures, to name a few.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

My “aha moment” was the whole purpose for my writing this book. It all started with a phone call. In the early ’70s, I played rhythm guitar in a garage rock band in Chicago where I was born. We idolized the music of legendary bands such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and so many more. We created our own music inspired by our idols, and recorded our music on four track reel-to-reel tapes. The only reproduction of our music was released as a 45 RPM recording. Our band played local gigs around the Chicago area and stayed together for three years. Thinking I couldn’t make a living as a musician, I left the band to pursue nursing. The band split shortly thereafter. I ended up marrying Gary, the lead guitarist of Medusa, and we then moved to Colorado, leaving our music far behind, or so we thought. Flash forward forty years: I received a call in 2012 from a producer at a well-known Chicago record label, Numero Group. He had found our 45 at a record convention, flipped over our music, and one year later our first album, First Step Beyond, was released. The most surprising fact about this whole story was that our album received worldwide acclaim! This was my inspiration and motivation to write FINDING MEDUSA, and to share this story with the world.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Realizing that our music was still relevant and back in vogue forty years later, we reformed the band with a new singer, bassist, and drummer. We toured the Midwest, and west and east coasts. We were mobbed by hundreds of adoring fans, and were even invited to play in 2015 and 2018 at the internationally known music festival South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. Both times we played to a packed house. One young adoring fan was in the audience for our second show and brought his two friends to our venue. They saw us play at our first show and traveled 500 miles from El Paso to see us again! After our set was finished, this young fan informed me that he had quit his job so that he could attend our show. Music is the universal language, and it’s obvious our music has impacted thousands of people across the world.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

When I wrote FINDING MEDUSA, it was at first intended to be a musical biography and document the story of how our band Medusa came to fruition. The more I wrote, the more the writing took on a life of its own and it turned into my life story. There are several problems I discuss in the book, yet the main problem I’d like to address here is child abuse.

  1. I believe that communities can help by initiating more parenting skills classes that teach parents how to become better parents. Politicians can help by encouraging investigations into our current Foster Care system.
  2. We need more counselors in schools to help children who have behavioral issues, and provide affordable and easily accessible counseling programs for adults with mental illness.
  3. We also need to BRING MUSIC AND ARTS PROGRAMS BACK INTO OUR SCHOOLS! Children all across the world NEED the arts in their school’s curriculum, especially music! Our government and politicians are trying to cut funds for arts-related programs in schools and fail to understand that the arts are every bit as crucial for children as are industry, science, and math! Music helps increase children’s cognitive function, hand-eye coordination, academic achievement, and more. There are a few grass root organizations that are helping to keep music programs alive, (i.e. www.KeepMusicAlive.org) and we need to show our support as a society to keep these vital arts programs going for the welfare of our children!

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership means someone who leads by example. The sign of a good leader is someone who leads by being a good role model for her followers. A good leader is organized, energized, wise, and inspires admiration and emulation from her supporters.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

There are certainly more than five things I wish someone could have told me about the whole process of writing a book!

  1. First and foremost, I think beginning authors and “would be” authors need to know that writing a book is indeed a process. I kept saying that I needed to write a book until I actually began writing my first book and realized it involved more than just writing ideas down on paper. Making an outline of the story gives you a guideline to follow and adds clarity and organization to the story.
  2. Do your research! I wish someone would have told me that writing a book takes time and research into the topic you’re writing about! It took me six years to write FINDING MEDUSA. This book is an autobiography, so I thought I would breeze through the writing, yet researching various events that occurred during my lifetime took a considerable amount of time for the actual writing of the book.
  3. Writing style is important. Writing a good story that engages the attention of the reader is crucial, and involves engaging readers with an interesting style of storytelling. Regardless if you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, your story needs to be compelling, realistic, and believable.
  4. Make sure you and your editor are on the same page. Having another set of eyes on your manuscript is important to correct grammatical errors and typos, yet make sure that the editor keeps your voice throughout the story.
  5. Become a marketing and publishing expert. The real work of the book writing process is the marketing and publishing components. Know your target audience and learn as much as you can about the various types of marketing and publishing available (i.e. traditional vs. self-publishing).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Ghandi

Throughout my life, I have always strived to become a better person, and to somehow leave the world a better place than when I first entered it. As an author, I have the authority to write about things that have meaning in my life. If my story is compelling, realistic, and believable, I have the power to positively influence and impact my readers. As a teacher, I need to practice what I teach. As a musician, I want to leave a memorable musical legacy for future generations. I believe I have done just that.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Tina Turner! She is the most awesome singer/songwriter, entertainer, musician, and inspirational musical legend I can think of, other than The Beatles. She has always been my favorite female musical icon, and I would be honored to meet her and hear more about her journey to fame and fortune.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn:

https://www.facebook.com/dfb51
https://www.facebook.com/writeondonna/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/donna-brown-733a20169/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

You are welcome. Thank you!


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