Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW)-Donna L. Martin

Happy New Year!

I am pleased to reboot Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW), and the first WSW of the New Year features:

Donna L. Martin

Donna Martin

“I can’t imagine NOT writing!”

Q: What subject matter do you specialize in writing? Why do you write?

A: The various fiction genres I write in are picture books, early reader chapter books, and young adult novels. I have a number of completed picture books but I am currently shifting more toward writing creative nonfiction.

I suspect I write for the same reason any other serious writer does…it’s as vital to me as the air I breathe and I can’t imagine NOT writing!

Q: Tell me about your book and what inspired you to write it.

A: My debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER, is about a little girl who comes from a family of readers, or story catchers as they like to call themselves. Addie tries to catch her first story but the wiggly words keep playing tricks on her. It takes a little faith and a nighttime ritual to help her become the next STORY CATCHER.

story catcher

Addie is dear to me. She represents any child with a learning disability or even just beginning to learn to read and struggling to untangle the words on the page. I am a READ TO ME approved volunteer, and I spent one year tutoring a young girl who really struggled to comprehend the words in the books she was read to by her family. By the end of the school year of us working together, she could finally read her first book all on her own.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of releasing your book, and how did you overcome that challenge?

A: Do you mean besides exercising tremendous patience while my book went through the long publishing/production process? The most challenging part is probably the extensive marketing aspect including expanding my author platform. I’ve done a lot of research this past year and I’m learning new things every day. I have created an extended promotional campaign to help get the word out about THE STORY CATCHER in the upcoming months ahead.

Q: What are you currently working on? Any other upcoming projects?

A: Earlier in 2014, I completed a creative nonfiction chapter book about a historic event involving chocolate, children, and an airborne train. It’s an unsolved mystery that really happened many years ago and I call it THE CHOCOLATE TRAIN WRECK. I will start subbing it out this month. I’ve also finished research on a Titanic angle never done for children before as well as starting to write first drafts from some of the many ideas I wrote down during Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month event last November.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, and how have you applied that advice?

A: That’s a tricky question because I’ve tried to learn something from everyone I come in contact with in this industry, but maybe one of the best pieces of advice I was told early on was to have lots of patience and grow a thick skin when it comes to handling rejections. The publishing industry is very subjective so what one agent or editor is interested in today may change tomorrow depending on how they read the market trends. It is NOT the norm to go from receiving a manuscript request to signed publishing contract in six days like it happened to me and THE STORY CATCHER. Even after my book is about to have its official release day, I’m still receiving rejection notices for agent representation. I believe in my skills as a story teller so I don’t take it personally when one of my stories is rejected for some reason. With hard work I was lucky enough to get this far so I have no doubt the rest will come when the time is right.

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If you would like to join Donna’s FREE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB to receive a bi-monthly newsletter, a reading log with the chance to become an “official” story catcher, membership certificate, and story starring YOU, send an email request to: storycatcherfanclub@gmail.com Include your name, age, and email address with your request.

Donna can also be found on the following social media sites:

(click on a logo below to be redirected to that page)

FB

twitter

pin

goodreads

linkedin

amazonAuthor Email: donasdays@gmail.com

Author Website: www.donnalmartin.com

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Cheers to the journey to “catch” many stories in the New Year!

Happy New Year

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The Return of Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday

What up folks?!

latrishawrites

A while back I used to feature various writers through a monthly series I called Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW). Well, I fell off the bandwagon, but I’m ready to hop back on board. Writer’s Spotlight will be returning in January 2015. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, catch up on the previous WSW features HERE.

Are you a writer? Want to be featured? Contact me at: info@latrishawrites.com

Wishing you a fun and safe holiday season!

Christmas "Tree"

Blog Hop

I have been tagged in a blog hop. Yay!
I was tagged by the lovely Phyllis Turner.
Phyllis Turner
Journaling since her pre-teen years, Phyllis has always had a passion for writing and traveling. She is a freelance writer with the heart of a gypsy, a wife, mother of one, Vero Beach Florida beach bum, lover of food, animals, sunsets and all things outdoors. Check out her blog at www.phyllisiturner.com
As a part of the blog hop, I am to answer the following questions and then tag another blogger. So here goes!
What am I working on?
I’ve written so much in different genres, so right now I’m still trying to determine my niche—out of all the writing I’ve done, what area I would like to focus on. I think I might like to focus on writing screenplays. I’ve written 5 short films in the past month, and I have loglines for 7 more, so I’ll be working on turning those loglines into short films. Once they’re complete, I will begin pre-production preparation to shoot them. So I guess in short, I’m working on building my portfolio.
How does my work differ from others in its genre? 
This is a tough question. I guess since I’m also an actress, sometimes I write with the intent to make it understandable for an actor who may read it. This can sometimes be helpful or a hindrance because I may end up second-guessing myself. I’m still in the process of determining what’s “my” thing–my signature style that differentiates me from the rest–so this is still a work in progress.
Why do I write what I do?
Writing is therapeutic for me. It gives me a way to release emotions and thoughts that are pent up inside of me, and it also allows me to stay in tune with my creative side. I also share my writing in the hopes that I’m helping someone get through something that they may be going through. I know that my experiences are not for myself alone, and so I share what I’ve learned (or what I’m in the process of learning).
How does my writing process work?
I carry a journal with me at all times because I constantly have ideas. I jot them down in my journal as soon as they come to my mind (because if I wait, I’m sure to forget the idea later). When I sit down to actually flesh out the ideas, I make sure I have everything I need to write (water, clean desk, pen & paper, computer/laptop, quiet environment). Also, prior to each writing session I make a list of things I want to accomplish in each particular session, usually no more than 3 line items. And then I write. I have this bad habit of writing and editing at the same time, instead of just getting it all out and then going back to edit later. So I’m working on being more effective in that aspect of my writing. Baby steps… 😉
And now, to pass on the love…
I tag: GG Renee, of All the Many Layers.
GG
GG is an independent author, a life coach, a feeler and an overthinker.  She writes for the crazy beautiful complex free creative inspired love drunk woman who relishes her quiet time and believes in miracles.
Visit her blog and become inspired and encouraged at: www.allthemanylayers.com

What’s Your Blog?

I’m always looking for inspiration. Online, sometimes I find it on my Facebook timeline, and other times I find it on YouTube or from a link to an interesting article that was sent to me by a friend or family member. I am subscribed to quite a few email lists and blogs, and here are a few that inspire me often. These are my favorite blogs at the moment (in no particular order).

 

 

  1. Positively Present: One thing about following someone’s blog is that you’ll eventually find yourself being led to other blogs that they may recommend, especiallyPositive if they have guest bloggers often. Such is the case with this blog. I was reading another blog (can’t remember which one) and somehow ended up on this page, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Dani (the blogger) is always upbeat, positive and offers great practical advice for everything from dealing with grief to how to break bad habits. Every Friday, she posts a list of her favorite things of the week, including playlists, books, and various websites/blogs.

 

 

  1. Sincerely, Jess: This is the blog of one of my very good friends, whom I met when I was in college. I make it a point to read all of my friends’ blogs just to keep up with what’s going on in their lives, which is why I initially started reading hers.  However, I have found that over the years, her blog in particulaJessr has developed into something more to me than just a place where I can check in on my friend. It has become an inspirational outpouring that encourages me to live boldly. I’m not sure if she actively intends it to be that way or not—I think most times she is simply compelled to get her thoughts out—but I admire the way that she unapologetically puts her heart onto the page. She’s a great example of how letting your light shine can unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

 

 

  1. All the Many Layers: I came across this blog through Blog #2. One aspect that I enjoy about this blog is her “Soulful Beauty of the Week” series. As a part of this series, the individuals that she highlights share whATMLat they believe it means to be a Soulful Beauty and what it took for them to fully embrace themselves, as well as what inspires them. The Soulful Beauties always have great advice and insight on being true to yourself, and it’s very encouraging and inspiring to read their stories. She recently just started a new series called “Inspired By”—enough said.

 

 

  1. Brene Brown: Another person I was led to through Blog#2. She also has a series (The Daring InterBreneview Series) where she interviews individuals who, as she states, inspire her to “show up, be seen, and live brave.” They share fun facts about themselves, as well as their vulnerabilities and how they’ve used those vulnerabilities to succeed in their work.

 

 

It seems that the thing that all of these blogs have in common is the encouragement to live boldly and fully embrace and love who you are, which is an important aspect that I’m discovering in my life right now.

What are some of your favorite blogs and why? Please share!

Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW)-Angela Grant

FINALLY!! I finished this new aspect of Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday, and I’m so excited to share it! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard and diligently to make this happen. Today’s WSW features Angela Grant. Check out the video below to learn more about Angela and her inspiring story, 2:7 The Awakening of Love. I hope you enjoy this new WSW, because there is more to come! Let me know what you think.

Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW): Evelyn Christensen

This month is a special treat. January is a long month (even though it seems to be going by so fast), and on this blog, a long month equals not one, but TWO Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW) features for the month! Whoo hoo!

For our second WSW of this month, I am happy to highlight the achievements of:

Evelyn Christensen

Evelyn Christensen

“Don’t give up!”

Evelyn has devoted her life to helping others through her writing. She has authored/co-authored over 42 educational puzzle books, and also writes for children’s magazines. I had the opportunity to learn more about Evelyn and her craft as she answered some of my questions below.

Q: Why do you write?

Evelyn InchimalsA: I write educational puzzle books, and the primary reason I write is because I love to create resources to make learning fun for all ages. I was a teacher by profession, but even more important, I’m a teacher at heart.  I have a doctorate in math education, and my career plan, after being home for ten years when my children were little, was to teach math methods to prospective teachers at the college level. My teaching experience had been at the high school level. Since I was going to be telling elementary teachers how to teach, I felt it was important to have some experience at that level. I thought I’d do that for just a couple of years, but I fell in love with the little ones and stuck with that age for the rest of my teaching career.

My first elementary teaching was at a Montessori school, and I think that really influenced the direction my writing career took. In a Montessori school the primary channel for teaching is the materials, rather than the teacher.  With wonderful examples all around me, both the traditional Montessori materials and those created by the team of teachers I joined, I also became adept at creating engaging, effective materials for the classroom. I loved using my creativity to come up with new ideas for helping students to learn.  On vacations, riding on trips, or at family reunions, I always had materials along to color, cut, or paste, because creating materials was such a passion for me.

A natural next step for me was to share my materials with other teachers and parents, and that’s how I got into writing for publication.

 

Q: Tell me about your new book that’s just been released.

 

KYpuzzlesA: My newest book, Kentucky Puzzles: Bluegrass Brainteasers for Ages 6 to 106, is from The History Press.  I’ve had 42 books published and this is one of my favorites. I’m especially excited to see it make its debut, because it took me 9 years to find a publisher for it. So if you’re having trouble finding the right home for a book you love, please don’t give up on it.

I particularly like this book because of the variety in it. Puzzles range from easy to complex, and every page has a different kind of puzzle, each based on some aspect of Kentucky’s history, geography, or culture. It’s great for individual enjoyment, family fun, classroom challenges, and cooperative group problem-solving—a delightful gift for puzzle lovers you might know who have lived in Kentucky or had a connection to it.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about your career, and how do you address it?

A: Finding publishers for my manuscripts is the most challenging part of my career. I address it by spending lots of time researching potential markets. I network, I’m active on Verla Kay’s writer chat board, I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), CBI Clubhouse, and Working Writers Club, I subscribe to newsletters like ICL’s free Children’s Writers eNews, and I belong to two local writers’ groups.  I long ago decided that helping other writers by sharing the results of my research with them was a good thing to do, so I have on my website both a list of Educational Markets for Children’s Writers (http://evelynchristensen.com/markets.html) and a list of magazines at my Writing for Children’s Magazines ezine (http://evelynchristensen.com/mags.html ).

Q: What is your personal motto or mantra?

A: “My God shall supply all your need.” (Philippians 4:19)  I’ve had the opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness in keeping this promise in a fresh way in recent months, when I lost much of my vision due to an antibiotic that caused optic nerve damage. I faced the very real possibility of no longer being able to continue my writing career. God would still have supplied my needs if that had been the case, but I’m thankful to him that I’ve been regaining my vision these past weeks.

Q: What inspires you? 

A:

●   Children inspire me. I love children, and creating materials that will help them learn and, at the same time, will be fun for them, brings me great joy!

●   Games and puzzles inspire me.  I grew up in a family with five siblings before the days of internet, computers, and even much television.  We played oodles of games and challenged each other with all kinds of puzzles.  That laid the foundation for me of thinking in terms of puzzles, and, of course, being a math major helped, because doing math is very much like solving a puzzle.

Evelyn Addition

●   Customers inspire me. Nothing is more special to me as an author than having someone say, “My kid loved your book!” Two of my upcoming books are actually the direct result of customer inspiration. A customer emailed me saying her family loved my Addition Adventures and Subtraction Secrets, and wanted to know if I’d done a book on double-digit addition and subtraction. The resulting two books, Double-Digit Decoders: Addition and Double-Digit Decoders: Subtraction, are being published by MindWare this summer.

●   God inspires me.  I can’t tell you how often ideas come to me that truly seem to be gifts straight from God.  Being creative makes me feel especially close to God. I think that’s because I believe in a Creator God, who made us in his image, so when I’m creating, I’m expressing some of that image of himself he’s put within me.

 

Evelyn, thank you for sharing your passion for making learning fun!
For more information about Evelyn and her work, visit: www.evelynchristensen.com

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

This is your chance to win your own copy of one of Evelyn’s books (your choice of one of the three books shown below). All you have to do is leave a comment below (before Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 at 11PM CST) and you will be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 3, 2014. *Drawing limited to United States residents only.*

KYpuzzles

Kentucky Puzzles:Bluegrass Brainteasers for Ages 6 to 106

Coin Clue PuzzlesCoin-Clue Puzzles (for grades 3 & up)

Tactic TwistersTactic Twisters Level B (for grades 9 & up)

Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW): Phyllis Turner

Happy New Year!

Starting out 2014 with our first Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW) of the year is

Phyllis I. Turner

Phyllis Turner

“My favorite part of my career…is finally doing something I feel I’ve been designed to do.”

Phyllis may just be getting started, but don’t be fooled. She’s accomplished much in the six months that she’s been a full-time freelance writer, and has taken on the career with admirable determination and gusto. I was delighted to learn more about Phyllis and her craft as she answered some of my questions below.

Q. What do you write? (What’s your niche/specialty?)

A. I write non-fiction for the most part and have narrowed my focus to writing about travel, writing a column for other writers, writing for magazines and promoting other writers’ books and blog posts. I just recently, in the last 6 months have been able to focus on my freelance writing business full-time, and I still have a lot to learn so I’m doing a lot of research, reading and taking workshops and other courses to improve my writing.

Q. Why do you write?

A. I have been writing creatively for as long as I can remember.  I got my first journal when I was in elementary school and kept journaling well into my adult years.  Writing, to me, is a creative outlet.  Like a painter paints or a musician plays his instrument.  I write to express myself in a creative way and also to inform and teach.  I’ve always been a bit shy and even a bit self-conscious, and writing is my way of using my creative energy without putting myself in the spotlight like a singer, dancer or musician would.  I can quietly go about my work and nobody notices.

But we’re noticing, Phyllis! When you put your heart into your work, people can’t help but notice, and you have definitely done that by going wholeheartedly after your dreams.

Q. How did you prepare yourself for a freelance career?

A. I’m not the corporate-America type and never felt like I fit in, in that setting.  I would sit in my cubicle, week after week, miserable and wishing for more freedom.  I guess I can say I prepared myself for this by never ceasing to write.  Journaling, desktop publishing, writing family newsletters every year and marketing for a side business we had when we had our farm in Missouri helped prepare me.  I was always creating ads, writing press releases, publishing newsletters and websites, etc.  I also started blogging back in October of 2007.  I’ve started several other blogs since then and continue to enjoy blogging.  I took a creative writing class at our community college and also a public speaking class, so I guess with all of that, I was priming myself for my current career as a freelance writer.

Q. What are your current or upcoming projects?

A. I just finished a Writing for Magazines workshop just before Christmas & have been researching the magazine markets that I want to write for and sending queries.  The week between Christmas and the New Year, I spent planning my goals for 2014 so I could start off the new year with a bang!  I’ve set my goals now and am putting my action plans in place so that I can confidently schedule my days for writing that will help me meet my goals.  It’s been a fun process so far and it’s really gotten me excited for the new year.  I also took part in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) for the first time in November of 2013, so I’ve got tons of ideas for children’s picture books that I plan to write.  I’ll always be blogging and looking for opportunities to write more.

Q. What’s the most exciting (or your favorite) thing about your freelance career?

A. My favorite part of my career as a freelance writer is finally doing something I feel I’ve been designed to do.  My entire life, people have told me I should pursue a career in writing but I didn’t know the first place to start so, when I found myself in a circumstance where I could, I took a writing class and the rest is history.  I continue to learn more and more and just keep moving forward every day.  I love waking up in the middle of the night with an idea and I can get up and start writing at 3am knowing, if I need it, I can take a nap later.  I couldn’t do that when I worked in corporate America.  I also love that I can work with my cat in my lap and in my pajamas if I want to and I can write wherever I am.  At the beach, in a hotel in a new city, the local coffee shop, or wherever!  Not from a cubicle.  I love the act of creating something on what was once a white page that people are interested in reading!  The most exciting thing for me today is…the very real possibility of having a book published in this new year.  My goals are set, my plans are laid, and it’s exciting for me to start making those steps to see that book published for the first time.  Magazine articles in print are awesome to see too but I think holding a book in my hands with my name on the front will send me over the edge of absolute euphoria.

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Phyllis I. Turner is a freelance writer with the heart of a gypsy, a wife, mother of one, Vero Beach Florida beach bum, lover of food, animals, sunsets & all things outdoors. She lives in Vero Beach, FL with her husband Jon. Visit her website at: www.phyllisiturner.com and her blog at www.jonandphyllis.com

Phyllis, thank you for sharing! I wish you success as you continue your journey and I can’t wait to see what wonderful things you will continue to share with the world!