Please welcome children's author, Donna L Martin to Write What Inspires You! A bit about Donna before you get to know her even better through her intriguing interview. Ms. Martin writes engaging children's books, middle grade adventures, and young adult novels. When Donna is not training for her Master Fifth Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo or helping run her martial arts school in Tennessee, she is working on her latest writing project. Donna is an active member of SCBWI Midsouth and participates in a variety of online writing communities including 12 X 12 in 2012, PiBoIdMo, WANAtribe, Linkedin, and Children's Book Hub Facebook groups. Without further ado, Donna welcome...
Q: Donna, you write across the genre’s, what challenges do you come across in children’s picture books, middle grade and young adult?
A: Thank you, Donna, for allowing me the opportunity to stop by and chat with you for a bit.
I’ve only been writing professionally for the past year and a half, so everything is a challenge for me these days. But all kidding aside, I have discovered some differences between the genres. I have to aware of my intended audience at all times so I can be sure my writer’s voice is distinctive for the particular type of book I am working on. For example, my main character in a young adult novel should not take on the mannerisms of a nine year old. I also have to be aware of things like word count, vocabulary, and subject matter. My picture books are usually less than 400 words, my middle grade novels run around 10, 000 words and my young adult novels run between 40,000 and 50,000 words so I try to make sure each word is perfect for advancing a particular storyline. I don’t want to talk down to my audience, but I don’t want them to have to scramble for a dictionary to be able to read my books, either. And finally, some subjects I just wouldn’t cover in a picture book or how I approach a certain subject may be handled differently in a middle book story versus a young adult one.
Q: You participated in the April 2012 A to Z Challenge and survived, how did you develop topics for each letter of the alphabet?
A: This was the first year I participated in the A to Z Challenge and I LOVED it! I started out wanting to focus on basic ideas that would encourage writers. That’s the theme of my blog so I felt it would be easy to keep up if I stay with the same idea. But the more I thought about it, I didn’t want the challenge to be an easy one for me. I was surfing the Internet a few weeks before the challenge began and came across a website that listed unusual words and their meanings. That’s when I decided I wanted to do a “double-header” for my own personal challenge. Every day I would choose an uncommon word from the website and show how it could relate to the writing life. The second part of my daily post would then provide a “teaser” of a lesser-known children’s book beginning with the letter of that day’s challenge. My readers loved it, and I was blessed to receive quite a few new followers over the course of that month due to my theme. I can’t wait until next year!
Q: Please share your latest work-in-progress.
A: Well, I have a number of things I’m working on right now. I’m participating in Julie Ledlund’s 12 X 12 in 2012 challenge where I complete a first draft of a picture book for each month of the year. So far I have six finished PB drafts and hope to be able to finish another six before year’s end. I also have a completed middle grade adventure novel called The Warriors Three that I am in the middle of editing, and I have two young adult novels I’m in different stages of completing. Lacey’s Bridge is a mystery about halfway finished and Lunadar: Homeward Bound is young adult high fantasy. I am focusing on Lunadar almost exclusively at the moment because an agent has recently said they wanted to see this story but it is not complete so I will be extremely busy the next few months with that manuscript!
Q: What inspired you to become a writer?
A: My childhood was filled with books. My mother was a huge Zane Grey fan and encouraged me to start reading from a very early age. I was the youngest of four siblings so I think I started reading my first book around four years old. I was so fascinated with books that I even read a children’s picture book dictionary from cover to cover one summer. My mother didn’t believe I had actually read the book so she quizzed me on definitions and I didn’t miss any. I entered a writing contest at my local library one summer when I was about 10 years old and won first place. The prize was a copy of Misty of Chincoteague. By the time I finished reading that book I realized I want to be able to write stories like that one day. I began writing poetry, was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, and even had a couple of poems and essays published by the time I was in my early twenties. I think writing has always been in my blood, and now I find writing is as vital to my everyday life as breathing. It is a means of escape, a comfort at the end of the day, and a chance to maybe one day influence the lives of others in a positive way!
Q: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit from their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Donna, can you please share one with us?
A: If it’s all right with you, I think I will share two things about myself that a lot of people wouldn’t realize if they had never met me before. I am basically a rather shy, introverted person for the most part, but for the last twelve years I have helped run a martial arts school in my city where I currently hold the rank of Senior Certified TaeKwonDo Instructor and Fourth Degree Black Belt. Oh yeah, I can also talk like Yoda from Star Wars! ;~)
Donna, that is so cool you can talk like Yoda from Star Wars. I love Star Wars. Thank you for visiting Write What Inspires You it’s a delight to get to know you better!
Visit Donna L. Martin:
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval Recipient and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist