On Borrowed Time

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If one has a zeal for something in life nothing can stop them from cultivating their dream.  Donna Michele Ramos nurtures family, holds a job with the City of Sacramento, is a food, play, and movie critic for the Sacramento Culture Hub, her hometown newspaper, and is the author of two published books.  The first book, High Rise did so well that Ramos is presently working on its sequel, this while in the throes of doing book signings on both coasts for her current book, Borrowed Time.

Borrowed Time is an epic piece that takes place during slavery and records the generations of one family.  It is a love story filled with passion, fear and the brutality of slave life.  A period piece written during the Civil War era, the story alternates between New York and Virginia.  The focal point is centered on a beautiful young inexperienced, copper skinned, African American/Native American slave named Smiling Fawn who captures the unwanted attention of her cruel master, Jim Lakeland.  Smiling Fawn is enamored of Cord, a rich, young, wounded Union Army Captain whom she nurtures back to health.  Ramos’s story pits all three characters together in a love triangle rife with danger.

“After my maternal grandmother died, to assuage my grief, I started researching my family history.  I found out that my grandmother’s mother was a Blackfoot Indian. After a while, I had compiled so much information that I decided I should do something with it. I decided to pen a fictional historical piece.  It didn’t take long before I discovered when writing about history, one has to be well versed in the subject matter.  It requires a lot of research in order to be historically accurate since you cannot approach a historical rendition in the same way you would approach a contemporary book,” explained Ms. Ramos of her period pieces. 

Writing can sometimes be both an arduous and rewarding endeavor.  “People often ask me how I come up with my ideas when writing my books. Everyone has a different process as to how they come up with fodder for their books. Character names for instance.  I make a list of names I may read about, see, or hear and then later I will use my list of names to fit the character I have in mind.  It’s like naming your child.  In Borrowed Time my main character is named Smiling Fawn,” remarked Donna.  “In my minds eye I already see how she looks.  She is petite, cooper complexioned, with oval almond shaped eyes and thick braided wavy hair.  I get very close to the characters I am working on.  I totally submerge myself into the writing process.  I eat, sleep, and drink the characters until I am sick of them.  Once that happens, I will either move on to another part of the book or put it aside and work on a different book, returning later when fresh ideas occur to me,” stated the popular scribe regarding her writing method.

Formerly, a New York resident, Ramos, a vivacious divorced mother of 2, and grandmother of 4, is now a 20 year resident of sunny California.  “I love New York but I always appreciate getting back to my house, my lawn, the trees, my driveway, and that wonderful 80 degree Sacramento weather.  I live a pretty full life.  I am anticipating my upcoming interview with Governor Arnold Swartznegger because there are a lot of issues I want to address with him, especially issues concerning children,” remarked Donna. “I am always interested in children.  In fact, I am putting together a merchandising line for kids. Somehow, I find the time for it all. When the opportunity presented itself to bring my book to New York, I jumped on it since I have family in New York.  I was able to arrange a book signing at the Hue Man Bookstore in Harlem.  I enjoyed that.  I also did book signings in Miami, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada.  Readers may think that authors earn money right away but most of the monies I make through my book sales is put right back into promoting my books.  The money I make pays for hotels, food, airfares, etc. My goal is to one day make enough so I give up my day job and sustain myself solely as a writer.  That day is not here yet, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” chuckled the prolific author.

“In selecting the title of my current book, I decided to call it Borrowed Time because my characters are on borrowed time.  Smiling Fawn is on borrowed time.  Everyone on a slave plantation lived on borrowed time.  Slave life was unpredictable.  They could get raped, killed, sold, separated from their families -- anything could happen to a slave because their lives weren’t their own,” explained Ramos regarding the scars left as the result of human bondage. 

”I’ve been known to work on a book for a year, then put it aside a year to work on a different book.  Sometimes, I work on 3 or 4 books simultaneously.  High Rise, my first published book, detailed the lives of 3 couples of varied ethnicities.  I am presently working on its sequel.  High Rise sold well.  It was on the Essence Best Seller List in January 2006 and ended up as No. 5 on Black Book Plus.com.   It’s also being considered by HBO, so I have my fingers crossed,” stated Ramos who has nearly completed a love trilogy based in Hawaii which is due to be released this summer.

Ms. Ramos began writing children’s books at age 9 and is presently writing one at the request of her grandchildren. “My grandkids are giving me feedback since they are my target audience.  I enjoy comments from all my readers thus encourage them to email me at [email protected] with their feedback so I know I am on the right track.”

Borrowed Time and High Rise can be purchased at Amazon.com

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