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Donna HartleyName:  Donna Hartley

Book Title(s): Fire Up Your Life! A Journey to Transformation, Fire Up Your Intuition! A Journey to the Knowing, Fire Up Your Healing! A Journey to Restore Relationships and Health, Fire Up Your Life! (workbook), Speak and Make a Difference (workbook), Is Your Attitude Showing? (workbook), Healing Meditation CD with Insights (workbook).


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What is your latest book about? The third book in my Fire Up series, Fire Up Your Healing! is the continuation of my life story, and deals with my experience healing from Stage III melanoma, as well as repairing several important relationships in my life. I created a Healing Meditation CD with matching cover and a workbook, Insights, so there are three products that work together in this set. 

What inspired you to write your book? I am a full-time speaker, and my audience members kept asking me if I had a book they could buy for themselves or a family member.

Can you describe your writing process? I use a few different methods. I first meditate and start to see the book form in my thoughts. I jot down ideas. Not sentences—just thoughts. I flesh out an outline, and sometimes it works, but most of the time I expand it as I go along. As I said, I’m a speaker, so another method I use is to dictate my ideas into a recorder so I can keep the thoughts coming. I don’t worry about structure or if the idea is out of a time order; I just keep going. When I type up my thoughts from my recorder, I correct some, but again, I really just get the ideas on paper. Then I go back, change verbs, structure, and eliminate or add sentences. After a week or two, I look at it with new eyes and start to rewrite again. I read it out loud. I have friends read it to get their input, then rewrite again, and finally, I send my draft to a professional editor and I rewrite it yet again with the corrections.

How did you come to do what you’re doing today? In 1978, I was on assignment as former Miss Hawaii, and was the last surviver from my section of a DC-10 plane crash at Los Angeles International Airport, on a flight departing to Honolulu, Hawaii. That flight changed my life forever—I testified at the investigation of that crash, and six years after that, I became a professional speaker. It took years before I became an author.

Can you describe a typical day in your life? When I’m writing a book, I’m usually also travelling for speeches, so many times when I arrive in my hotel I can write for two-hour blocks. In my office, I market during the day and write late afternoon or early evening.  If I’m not travelling, I write on Fridays for a few hours, and I write every other weekend.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?  I really like the speaking part of my career and I love when a book is completed.

Can you share some business tips for our readers who want to maximize their speaking experience? Speak as much as you can—small groups, large groups. Even if you aren’t paid, get before an audience and make sure you’re able to sell your products in the back of the room. Also, find a niche for speaking, like healthcare, education, real estate, etc. Market every week—on the phone, by email and social medial, and join the National Speakers Association. Make sure you have a fun, short, easy pitch for your products on stage. Have change for your back-of-the-room sales, and take credits cards. I have a very simple form for buyers to fill out, because most of my sales happen 20 minutes after I speak. I don’t have the time to run credit cards in the frenzy.  Make sure buyers fill in their phone number in case you can’t read the credit card numbers later. Have your products listed on your website.

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you? The best part of my life is being a mom. Being a single mom and having a career is two full-time careers. My first-grade teacher told me I couldn’t speak well, or read out loud, but I turned my greatest fear (speaking) into my greatest asset. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

What’s next for you?  I will be writing another book about my near-death experience during open heart surgery, what I gained from the experience, and how readers can apply it to their own personal growth.

Is there anything else you would like to add? A speaking career takes years to develop. Seek representation from a speakers bureaus, and develop a strong niche in your industry. Know that you will be doing weekly marketing, and stick to it.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?  I read lots of biographies, and admire Wayne Dyer as a speaker and a writer.

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