Thanks Carrie for inviting me. You have such a great blog!
Congratulations on your debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER.
Thanks, I’m pretty excited about it.
You are a very active blogger. How has blogging played a role in shaping you as a writer?
Actually, I never intended to become a blogger. Back in January, 2010 when I decided it was time to go beyond writing just for myself to become a professional writer I didn’t even know what a blog was. I can thank Tara Lazar, creator of the Picture Book Idea Month event. After I participated for the first time that November I posted my first blog on December 6th, 2010 and haven’t stopped since! Writing weekly posts forces me as a writer to meet deadlines and be concise in my writing. My blog has allowed me to connect with writers all over the world and I get the chance to learn from them every day!
We became acquainted with one another through several picture book communities. Which of these communities has played the biggest support role for you?
While people can connect with me through many social sites, Facebook by far has played the biggest support role for me. I participate in about a dozen different Facebook writing communities as well as numerous author & marketing communities. It connects me to hundreds of thousands of writers all over the world and I have begun many online friendships (like ours) that I wouldn’t have had otherwise!
When did you start submitting picture books for consideration? Did you submit mainly to editors or agents?
My first attempt at submissions was in March of 2011 to a larger traditional publisher. I did what most newbie writers do and sent out a manuscript that really wasn’t ready to be submitted. Back then I thought I knew what I was doing but found out quickly I had MUCH to learn. I took the rest of 2011 to read anything I could get my hands on about the writing and publishing process. In January 2012 I decided I wanted to focus on agent representation. I might sub to small presses or magazines with my niche writing because agents generally don’t have the time or resources to work those markets, but for medium to larger publishers, my hope is to find an agent who will help me get my foot in door there.
What was the inspiration for THE STORY CATCHER?
In 2013 I was an approved READ TO ME volunteer. I would visit local elementary schools and read to the children as an advocate for Children’s Literacy. Occasionally I would tutor an individual child who was struggling to read. There was one little girl I worked for the entire school year helping her learn to read. She came from a family of readers where everyone read to this child but she still struggled comprehending what the wiggly letters on the page meant. She LOVED being read to but was frustrated she couldn’t read her favorite book on her own. I was so happy by the end of our year together that she was finally able to start reading by herself.
As you know, rejection is a huge part of a writer’s world. Can you share with us how you have used rejections as a positive to help you keep going?
While writing for me is an extremely personal endeavor, the process of submissions is not. I try to look at it from a business aspect and not take the rejections of my work personally. There are so many reasons why an agent will have to pass on a manuscript and poor writing is only ONE of them. Sometimes they just acquired a similar story and can’t accept another one like it. Sometimes it’s just not right for their agency. Sometimes they just didn’t feel enough of a connection to the story to fight for it. There are so many reasons out there and if I’ve truly done my part to make my manuscript the most polished product it can be, then I have to have faith that I WILL find a home for it someday. It also helps to know EVERY author before me has gone through the same experience as I have so I’m certainly in good company!
The new year is here for us to get the most out of it. What would be your greatest recommendations to writers both new and experienced?
I have a three point plan for 2015:
BELIEVE…believe in your skills as a writer, believe that your stories will find a home, and work every day toward that goal.
GROW…never stop learning. Take a class, join a critique group, listen to a webinar, read a book or a blog…there is always more to learn and always someone out there willing to share their knowledge with others.
CREATE…keep writing. Every great skill takes time to learn and improve. The goal is not PERFECTION but PERFECTING your storytelling ability and the only way you are going to do that is by working on it every day.
Thanks for being with us today, Donna!
Thanks, Carrie, for this fun interview! I hope your readers enjoy it and here is to a productive writing year in 2015!
By day Donna is a 4th Degree Black Belt Certified Taekwondo Instructor. By night she’s a Ninja Author where she writes picture books, early reader chapter books, creative nonfiction, and young adult novels. Donna is the creator of the free STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB where members receive a bi-monthly newsletter, a reading log, and a story starring THEM. She’s also a contributing author for CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: ANGELS AMONG US as well as an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Donna enjoys meeting new people, cuddling with her cat, and adding to her growing book collection. You can follow her at