The Author Herself

I am O'Shaughnessy.
Donna Marie Stephanie O'Shaughnessy

Donna, for my father Donald George O'Shaughnessy. He wanted to call me Donna Georgette. My mother said "yes" to Donna and "over my dead body" to Georgette. Instead, my second name, Marie, came from  the Saint Maria Magdalen Desjardin, a martyr of the French Revolution.  Which might have something to do with the fact that whenever I acted in a dramatic way my mother could be heard advising, "Stop being such a martyr."

The third part of my name, Stephanie was my confirmation name. Catholics do that, tack on another name just for fun when you are about 13 and ready for the sacrament of Confirmation and already in angst and hating all your other names.

At least I wasn't named after Our Lady Of Knock.
....."who's there?"
Or worse yet, Saint Exuberance.
     How depressing would that have been?

O'Shaughnessy is my maiden name and even though I am married, I kept it because it took me until 6th grade to learn how to spell it. Too much invested in time, cartridge pens and paper to give it up . It was my fathers' name, (Donald George O'Shaughnessy) and his fathers' name, (Thomas E. O'Shaughnessy)  and the name of his grandfather (George J. O'Shaughnessy). We believe George J's fathers name was Shufflebottom.

George J. emigrated from Ireland in 1856. So that allows me to be totally smitten with a land that never dries out. Literally or figuratively. I have made it broadside 13 times. If I had saved all the money spent traveling there, I could've bought one of their derelict mansions and rented it to other  American Tourists and be filthy rich. But I didn't, so I'm not.

For the first 36 of my adult years I worked in health care. First as a certified nurses aide and then as a registered nurse. Ten of those years were in Hospice. I loved what I did and then one day, I didn't. Too many budgets being balanced on the backs of the terminally ill.  I retired from the world of Code Blues, Browns and Reds in 2010 and returned to my first desire.

No, not black licorice, writing.

I have a minimum of professional training in this area. Prior to 2014, my related classwork consisted of English classes taken in medieval times. My published works could only be found in now defunct hospital policy and procedure manuals along with a scattering of agricultural op-ed pieces. But, at age fifty-five, I returned to the University of Illinois to complete a degree in creative writing. My first novel is now in its 6th revision because I am still unsure of the best time to use a semi-colon and good dialogue totally baffles me since my family did far more screaming than "dialoging." This past semester  I learned what an attribute was, but I'm still not sure why writing "he barked" instead of "he said" is frowned upon. My father barked most of his dialogue.

Currently, I am out of school and submitting my ass off. I write short stories, flash fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction., but I am most in love with poetry. In between submissions, rewrites and new writes, I homestead with my husband Keith on a small farm in Central Illinois, where we attempt to live under the poverty line, by choice. You can read that blog HERE

A picture of books

 Still here? Really want to snoop into my life a little more?  Avoiding your own novel? Well...

I am been married 23 years.
I have four children.
I have four grandchildren.
I am a retired nurse.
I am a non-retired homesteader.
I studied creative writing at National University Ireland, Galway (June-July 2015)
I recently graduated from the University of Illinois's Creative Writing Program. (May 2016)

I write all the time. I have notebooks all over the house, labeled 'stories' or 'poems' or 'ideas for stories or poems.'  My purse is loaded with pens and paper and I've been known to start prose on a dollar bill for lack of paper, because sometimes I forget where I put all those notebooks. I am obsessed. I would rather write more than almost anything else.

Except read.

I read all the time.  I cannot eat a single meal without a book in front of me, or go for a car ride with out 6-7 magazines, just in case the car breaks down or we get stuck in traffic. I read in restaurants, in the shower, (don't ask) while getting my hair cut, while in line, while my husband snores next to me. I am obsessed. I would rather read more than almost anything else.

Except write.

It's a large hole I've dug for myself. When you pass by, drop in some food and water.


  1. I am so glad to have found you busy writing, Donna. And have added you to my list so your new posting will come to me when you update your blog. My, you have been busy. I know how tough it is to get rejections. I'm now busy working on my third novel. I'm afraid, writing is all about learning, waiting oh and lots of rewriting. Good luck and I will drop by again soon.

  2. Would you be the legendary Donna O'Shaughnessy of Griffiss AFB, Rome, New York?