The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives of many. For Donna Schwartze, going into lockdown at the start of the pandemic proved to be an opportunity.
After years of working in sports marketing and public relations and even starting her own business, Schwartze is now a full-time author.
She officially became a full-time author in September 2022 after publishing several books since the first year of the pandemic.
Schwartze grew up in Jefferson City. She went to St. Joseph and Helias before attending the journalism school at the University of Missouri. Her career took her to St. Louis, Kansas City and the state of California.
When Schwartze graduated from Missouri, she first worked as an intern for the St. Louis Cardinals. She said her dream at the time was to be a beat reporter for the Cardinals, but soon changed her sights to public relations and marketing.
From there, she went on to work for Anheuser-Bush and the Sacramento Kings. Tired of the hours her job required of her, she eventually created her own business where she worked with athletes directly on their public presence.
Owning her own business, Schwartze returned to Missouri. She now lives in Kansas City, only a relatively brief drive away from her parents, who still live in Jefferson City.
Then the pandemic hit.
Finding herself stuck at home with an abundance of free time, Schwartze decided to finally work on the novel that had been swirling around in her head.
"That was I want to say April of 2020. I published my first one in July of that year, and I'm getting ready to publish my ninth novel in two weeks," Schwartze said.
Schwartze's first book, "Eight Years," was a Navy SEAL romance novel and the first in what would become "The Trident Trilogy." The other books in the trilogy are "The Only Reason" and "Wild Card." Her other six books, including the newest addition, "Pretty Close to Perfect," fall into the "Grand Slam" and "Blitzen Bay" series.
All of Schwartze's works are interconnected standalone books. She said each novel can be read on its own, but they take place in the same universe and feature some recurring characters.
Her other books are "Truth or Tequila," "Raine Out" and "Leave it on the Field" in the "Grand Slam" series, and "The Runaway Bridge of Blitzen Bay" and "No One Wants That" in the "Blitzen Bay" series.
Schwartze said all her novels are romances.
She publishes her novels through Amazon. She said she spoke with a traditional publisher, but she wanted to get her work out now instead of waiting years for a publishing house to publish them.
She also said her years of experience in public relations and marketing may have made it easier for her than someone just starting out.
Schwartze said the hardest part of the writing process is having the discipline to sit and write for four or five hours every day.
"I get up in the morning, and I start writing immediately," she said. "That's when I feel most of my inspiration, and I just get words on the page, you know? It's the first draft thing. We're just going to tell the story now, we're going to get it on the page, get everything done and then go back and edit it."
She said she often struggles with resisting the urge to edit as she writes instead of waiting until she's done with a draft. She said it might come from her journalism background, so she's had to train herself to get away from that mindset.
Her books have seen success publishing through Amazon, Schwartze said. Her books have combined thousands of reviews on Amazon, and they all have a four- to five-star rating.
Schwartze uses social media, friends and family and an email newsletter to market her books. She said this year she's starting to do book signings. In February, she's doing a signing in Kansas City and in March, she's going to Denver to do a signing at an event called Readers Take Denver she said will feature some 300 authors.
For others who might be trying to get their start as an author, Schwartze shared some advice.
"I had started writing books before where I was like, 'Eh, you know, I don't think this is very good,' and I would put it to the side. On this one I decided whatever I do, even if I don't publish it, I'm going to get a complete book. Once I did that, I felt like that was the stepping stone to going forward to publishing. I needed to get the discipline down and write a book cover to cover," Schwartze said.
Schwartze also said she read a book called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron that helped her bring out her artistic side. She said before, she was scared of letting that energy out and the book helped her sit down and let it flow.
Going forward, Schwartze said she has plenty of ideas for more books. She said the next one she writes will be a standalone novel completely separate from the interconnected series she's written so far.
"I've had ideas throughout my adulthood about books I wanted to write and just never really had the time or the patience to sit down and write them," she said. "I think starting to write novels in my 50s, a lot of those had been stockpiled already so I have ideas for the foreseeable future. We'll see if I have them for the next 2o years or not."
Her newest book, "Pretty Close to Perfect," comes out Jan. 30 on Amazon.