About Author

Gifford MacShane

Gifford MacShane
BIOGRAPHY

Gifford MacShane is the author of historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

Her novels feature a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s. With an accessible literary style, MacShane draws out her characters' hidden flaws and strengths as they grapple with both physical and emotional conflicts. Her debut novel, WHISPERS IN THE CANYON (Book 1 of the Donovan Family Saga), is available on Amazon.

Singing almost before she could talk, MacShane has always loved folk music, whether it be Irish, Appalachian, spirituals, or the songs of the cowboys. Her love of the Old West goes back to childhood, when her father introduced her to the works of Zane Grey. Later she became interested in the Irish diaspora, having realized her ancestors must have lived through An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. Writing allows her to combine her three great interests into a series of family stories, each including romance, traditional song lyrics, and a dash of Celtic mysticism. Having grown up in a large & often boisterous Irish-American family, she is intimately acquainted with the workings of such a clan and uses those experiences to good purpose (though no names will be named!)

MacShane studied literature and philosophy at Centre College of Kentucky, is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Western Writers of America, and is an #OwnVoices writer. A self-professed grammar nerd who still loves diagramming sentences, Giff currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, the Pied Piper of stray cats.

Gifford MacShane's Books

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Book
$2.99 kindleeBook,
The Winds of Morning: Donovan Family Saga Prequelby Gifford MacShanePublish: Nov 20, 2020Series: Donovan Family SagaHistorical Romance Historical Fiction
(6) $3.99 kindle Free with KUeBook,
Whispers in the Canyon: Donovan Family Saga #1by Gifford MacShanePublish: Sep 18, 2019Series: Donovan Family SagaHistorical Romance Historical Fiction
$3.99 kindleeBook,
The Woodsman's Rose: Donovan Family Saga Book 2by Gifford MacShanePublish: Jan 25, 2021Series: Donovan Family SagaHistorical Romance Historical Fiction

Gifford MacShane's Series in Order

It's exciting to find a book series to follow. Discover the world created in the book series by Gifford MacShane.
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  • Donovan Family Saga

    The Woodsman's Rose: Donovan Family Saga Book 2 - Published on Jan, 2021 The Winds of Morning: Donovan Family Saga Prequel - Published on Nov, 2020 Whispers in the Canyon: Donovan Family Saga #1 - Published on Sep, 2019

Gifford MacShane's Awards and Achievements

    Gifford MacShane has earned excellence awards over time. Here is the glimpse of the accolades clinched by the author.

  • Book of the Year, Honorable Mention, The Coffee Pot Book Club
    2019

    Whispers in the Canyon: Donovan Family Saga #1

    award

Gifford MacShane interview On 17, Feb 2021

"Author of historical fiction, Gifford MacShane is a member of a large Irish-American family like the one she writes about. She studied literature and philosophy at Centre College of Kentucky. Lover of folk music, one of the first songs she learned from her father was Lavender Blue. Her writing is wonderful with historical accuracy and vivid description."
What’s your happiest memory from childhood?

At the school fair when I was in 7th grade, I won a puppy! He was a border collie mix & I named him Sam. I don’t think my father was quite as pleased as I was.

What books do you remember reading during your childhood?

Everything I could get my hands on. All the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys (when I could steal them from my brother), Brains Benton—all finished before the 5th grade. I absolutely adored Five Little Peppers and Louisa May Alcott’s novels, too. Then a librarian gave me Owen Wister’s The Virginian, and my father allowed me to read his Zane Grey novels. I finished most of them the summer before 8th grade. Though there were a few where the writing was beyond me at that point, I did read all of those in high school.

What is the earliest experience you had with writing that you remember?

Cowboys were all the rage when I grew up, and I wrote a fanfic piece for one of those shows.

Which was the first Zane Grey novel you read?

West of the Pecos. I adored it because the female character had disguised herself as a cowboy. I was determined to be a cowboy when I grew up, even had an alias that included “Junior”, as that was the only way I knew of to gain a boy’s identity.

What challenges did you face while publishing your debut novel, WHISPERS IN THE CANYON?

It’s really difficult to find an agent to represent a book that doesn’t fit exactly into one category, or deals with subjects that are sensitive. After about 175 rejections/no replies, I learned that there were publishers who accepted direct submissions; I pitched a few in a sponsored contest and got two offers, one of which I accepted. But if I’d known how easy and inexpensive it is to self-publish an e-book, I would have done that with the first book, as I’ve done with the two follow-ups.

Who inspired the character of Jesse Travers?

Well, I’ve never been physically abused, but I’d left a job that had a very toxic environment and a boss whose sole pleasure in life seemed to be making his female employees cry. Plus, I’d just broken off a relationship with a passive-aggressive type & was living alone with a mortgage to pay that unemployment benefits wasn’t going to cover. I was feeling pretty miserable, and daydreaming about that Calgon TM moment. Then a friend who’d been through some similar situations recommended writing out my feelings. Creating Jesse out of my angst, and giving her someone like Adam to lean on, was really therapeutic. (And the toxic boss was later arrested for money laundering! That’s what I call Karma.)

How did you come up with the plot of your book, THE WINDS OF MORNING?

This book was actually requested by several of my readers. I told a very abbreviated tale of the experiences in Ireland of Molly, John Patrick, and Katie when I wrote WHISPERS IN THE CANYON, so I had that outline to work with.

What started the whole series is a matter of serendipity. I’d been looking at some genealogy work my cousin and niece had done and, at the same time, saw an article about a sculpture being erected in Ireland paying homage to the Choctaw Tribe of Native Americans. Since my mother has a smidgen of native blood, I began to read about the Indians sending money to the Irish during the Great Potato Famine of 1845-1852.

I realized quickly that my father’s family, who emigrated to the US quite early in the 20th century, must have lived through that famine. And the more I read about it, the more horrified I became. A natural disaster—the fungus that wiped out the potato crop—became a tragedy of immense proportions. Deaths by starvation and related illnesses among the Irish peasantry numbered between 800,000 and 1,000,000 in this 7-year period, simply because the English ruling class would not stop the exports of grain and other food from Ireland.

I felt compelled to write the stories of those who somehow managed to keep body and soul together, and lived long enough to prosper.

What are the best things about being a romance book author?

You can make your daydreams become real by writing them out. Then you get to share them with others.

How many books do you plan to write in The Donovan Family Saga?

That’s a fair question, but I’m not sure how to answer it. Book 3, titled RAINBOW MAN, is written but needs a ton of editing. I hope to have it out by the end of the summer. Following that, I have an idea for a book that has two different (but related) romances in it—but if the past is any clue, it will wind up being two separate books. (Books 1 and 2 in the series were once one verrrrry long book.) I’ve got a plan for Jake’s book, but it has to come after the two-romance one. Then I’m thinking about one or two books with the children as the centerpiece. So... five for sure, maybe up to eight.

Which is your favorite folk song in your country?

One of the first songs I learned from my father was Lavender Blue, and it still brings out warm memories. On the other hand, the one I sing most is probably Poor Wayfaring Stranger, (aka Roud 3339) an old hymn or spiritual whose origins are lost in time. Theories about its beginning include Appalachian folk music, a variation of an old Irish song, or an African-American spiritual. It was first recorded in a hymnal in the early 1800s.

Since how long have you been a member of the Historical Novel Society?

I believe it’s been 7 or 8 years. I especially like the reviews they print in their magazine—I often make reading decisions based on them.

If you could improve one thing about your writing, what would it be and why?

Oh, it would definitely be the ability to write more succinctly. I’ve had to cut anywhere from 4 to 12 thousand words from each manuscript before they’re ready for publication. And since I don’t focus on descriptions of place or dress in the original drafts, for every word of description that goes in, another word must come out. Trimming, for me, is the very worst part of editing.

How do you keep in touch with your readers and fans?

I have a website (giffordmacshane.com) that I update about twice a month. It includes information about my books, of course, but I post traditional folk song lyrics, as well as Old West and Irish trivia, and it’s got a list of resources useful for writers.

I have a quarterly newsletter (you can sign up via my website) and a Twitter account (@AuthorGMacShane), as well as Goodreads and Amazon pages. Folks can also follow me here on AllAuthor, on BookBub, Barnes & Noble and other retailers, and on Books2Read to get notifications of my new releases and/or promotions.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

How many ideas there are depends on the day of the week! It sounds counter-intuitive, but the busier I am, the more ideas I have.

Seriously, though, I’d like to write a story that’s only tangentially related to the Donovan Family Saga, where Conor Donovan (the third Donovan son & a seafaring man who seldom gets home) acts as a minor character and provides the inciting element. The story would take place in the Pacific Northwest and would be a love-triangle romance, with two of the three main characters having major secrets lurking in their pasts. It’s all very vague right now, but someday... maybe after Jake’s book...

What is your takeaway based on your experiences with AllAuthor?

Though I only started my account at AllAuthor recently, I’ve had a lot of fun with the GIF creator to highlight snippets from my books’ reviews, and I find the instant mock-ups created for me to be very high quality. Both the GIFs and mock-ups are quite easy to use as they come ready-to-post on Twitter and elsewhere.

I also like the ability to list all my books in one place. I know there are several modules I’m not using yet, but now that the book launch for THE WOODSMAN’S ROSE is complete, I hope to spend some time exploring them.

And finally, I’ve found the customer service to be excellent. As I spent most of my business career training service reps, that’s not faint praise from me!

Ask Gifford MacShane a Question

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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 6 months ago
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    • Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
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      • Gifford MacShane Gifford MacShane 6 months ago
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      • Well, since I come from a big boisterous Irish-American family and I write about a big boisterous Irish immigrant family, there's definitely some real-life anecdotes that creep into my work. But don't worry, family, no names are revealed!
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      • Gifford MacShane Gifford MacShane 6 months ago
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      • I do read them. I think that all feedback is valid. There are very few people who write a critique or review to deliberately hurt the creator or the work. I don’t deny that I sometimes react badly to a negative review at first (I have a tendency to stomp around a bit). But just like paintings and sculpture, not every novel will appeal to every person, and realizing that helps me keep it all in perspective.

        Of course, I prefer a reviewer to provide an explanation for what they like or don’t like -- that type of comments are more helpful. I might not agree and I might not change anything, or I might consider a change based on their feedback. I’m always willing to consider a well-thought-out critique.
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