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.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

Happy New Year

July Goals and The B-Side

I’m doing something new. I’ve decided to join The B-Side Mastermind Group as a way to hold myself accountable and get things done, as it pertains to my success as an actress and writer (and moving toward doing it full time).
Every month in conjunction with The B-Side, I’ll be listing my goals, challenges and successes. Here’s my first entry!
Last Month’s Goals
This is my first month participating so I’ll start here (no recap for June, since my goals weren’t clearly defined–I was just marking things off of my ongoing to-do list).
July Goals

1. Complete homework from Financial Planner. I met with a financial planner recently and he gave me some homework to complete before our next meeting, so I need to get to it!

2. Submit entry for specified Writing Contest. I’ve identified a writing contest that I want to submit an entry to, and I’ve even started writing the piece, but since the deadline is quite a while away, I’ve put this on the back burner. I need to finish the piece, edit it, maybe let someone else read it and then submit it.

3. Read 3 books on my list. This is a business and personal goal b/c I believe they go hand in hand. As I read, I’m expanding my knowledge, which in turn should help me to put some things into practice that will make me better at my craft and business.

 

 

Current Challenges

Time. Oh Time.
Scratch that….
It’s not that I don’t have the time; it’s that I don’t always use my time wisely. Sometimes my days consist of the 9-5 and then I go straight to rehearsals or a production meeting or I have a performance. However, I recently finished a show, so my evenings have opened up again. I’ve been so relieved that instead of using my new free time to work on my business goals, I just lounge around, doing nothing at all. So, I have to be disciplined enough to take the time to do the things necessary to achieve my goals.
Current Successes/Things that are Working
Since I’m just starting this, I imagine that the accountability of being a part of this group will help me in becoming successful at achieving these goals. We’ll see how it goes! I have high hopes for this.
b-side-button

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

Just a little note

think

 

I’m supposed to be posting every Wednesday. Sometimes I hit that goal and sometimes I don’t. BUT I am posting at least once a week. So that’s my revised goal–to post at least once a week. My schedule is so random that I can’t be sure that I’ll always be able to post exactly on Wednesday, but I can commit to at least once a week.

Constantly working on getting my life together…

Balance

I’m trying to find balance. Sometimes I think I do too much. I wanted to tell you about my experience at my first meditation class, but of course, as I was drafting the post, “something came up.” Wednesdays sure do come around fast. Oh well…until next time…

 

And yes, I know I’m about 15 minutes late in realizing that Wednesday has come and gone…but then again, it’s still Wednesday somewhere…

My First Publish

fishwings

When I was 11 years old, my mom published a story I wrote; it was called The Fish with Wings. After finding the book recently, I read it, amused. At first read, it seems to be a cute simple story about a fish who wants wings, but after further consideration, it appears that I was on the verge of telling a story about dreams and goals. In the story, the fish is determined to get wings, no matter how absurd of an idea others say that it is. And in the end, he gets his wings, despite the teasing and ridicule from his peers.

 

At 11, I had no idea about how to structure a story. All I knew is I had an idea and I wanted to get it out through writing. Foreshadowing perhaps? I think so.

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!

Writing Toolkit

I’m a writer.

Every writer has tools to help them accomplish their task of writing. Here is what I need every time I sit down to write (in no particular order).

Writing Toolkit

 

1. Pen/pencil and paper: Even in this electronic age, sometimes you can’t replace the feeling of actually putting words onto a physical piece of paper. Brainstorming and jotting down random notes feel better to me this way.

 

2. Computer/Laptop: I reserve the computer/laptop writing for when I’m ready to do a draft, edit or finalize.

 

3. Water: Helps keep me hydrated, and it’s more energizing and refreshing to me than a sugary drink.

 

4. Internet connection: For research,  when necessary. I have to be disciplined and stay off of social media though, if I really want to accomplish some writing.

 

5. Goal list: I have to have a purpose for this writing session. I need a concrete goal to accomplish in each session or else I’m just aimlessly sitting at my desk doing a lot of “busy work” and not really accomplishing anything. I try to limit this list to three things per session (and sometimes I only accomplish two), but any more than that, and I get a bit overwhelmed, and still end up accomplishing nothing.

 

6. A cardigan, sweater or hoodie: I’m very cold natured, so I have to have one of these that’s comfy and keeps me warm. Not too warm, as I may get too comfortable and fall asleep. It can’t be too stiff/rigid or itchy. Usually it’s worn-in enough for me, so that I’m not constantly pulling and tugging on it.

 

7. An environment conducive to writing: For me, this means I need to turn off my phone to prevent distractions. Additionally, I need either complete silence or an instrumental soundtrack (usually my String Ensemble or Ambient channel on Pandora).

 

If I have all of these things, I’m usually very productive! I’m actually in the process of improving/renovating my current office because sometimes the space itself can be distracting. Sometimes I look around the room, wanting to rearrange the furniture or clear off extra desk space. But that’s a post for another day. 😉

Committed

Someone I know once defined commitment as “doing what you say you’re going to do long after the initial feelings under which you first committed have subsided” (or something like that). Another person I know defined commitment as being inside of a box with the person (or thing) to which you have committed, and there’s no way out of the box.

 

No matter how you define it, commitment is difficult. We commit to things sometimes without really thinking about what that commitment means. We think something might be fun, or might help grow us, and then once we become deeply involved, we start to experience things we don’t like. Things don’t go the way we expected, and then we want to back out of our commitments.

 

One of the things I committed to doing was posting to this blog regularly. I set an internal goal to post once a week, at the very least. Additionally, I started the WSW series with the intent to feature a writer on my blog once a month. At first, these commitments seemed easy and exciting. And then I hit a hump called “life”, also known as “excuses”.When something happened to knock me off of course, I let it. I didn’t fight to stick to my commitment. I reasoned, “Who’s even reading this stuff anyway? Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. What’s one day?” Of course, as we all know, that one day turns into another, then another, then another, until you look up and all of a sudden it’s been months.

 

I identify myself as a writer, and I started this blog to hold myself accountable to actually write something on a regular basis and to practice and increase my writing skills (also with the hope of offering something helpful to the world). I haven’t been sticking to my commitment and it’s not okay. So this is me shaking a finger at myself publicly. Instead of making an internal commitment, I am now making a public one.

 

I will post every Wednesday, at the very least.

 

With that being said, today is Wednesday, so here I am, posting an entry. Check back next Wednesday for my weekly Wednesday post!

(and help hold me accountable, for goodness sake!) 🙂