Welcome to this week's edition of Write What Inspires You Feature of the Week. Today, I'm pleased to share my recent interview with award-winning children's author, Michelle Nott.
Michelle, like so many of my fellow author connections we have developed our connection via cyberspace and have never met in person. I’m pleased our paths have crossed and I know have the honor of interviewing you.
Now to get to know you a better, I’m curious, as I am sure our visitors are:
DMc: Your publishing career covers several genres. How many books do you have published? Please share the titles, genre, publisher and synopsis of each.
MN: My first published works were poems in literary magazines and recognition in contests, including Writer’s Digest (Honorable Mention) and the Asheville International Poetry Contest (three in the top 10).
Since then, I have embraced children’s literature. My first two Early Readers are published by Guardian Angel Publishing: Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses and Dragon Amy’s Flames.
Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses is about a boy named
Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses
My debut Picture Book, Teddy Let’s Go, will be published this fall from Enchanted Lion Books.
Hand-stuffed with Grandma's love, Teddy pushes out of his wrapping paper and lands by baby Mye. Like best friends, they are made for each other. He flies, he swings, he falls, and she picks him up again. But as she grows, other stuffed toys in the bedroom start to disappear. And sometimes, Teddy gets stuck in the toy chest or he sleeps in the car all night. Just when he fears he's out of dreams to whisper in her ear, she scrubs him up and holds him tight. That night, Teddy finds himself in their old crib but into a new life that will keep him close to Mye and to her new little brother.
DMc: Your picture books are written in prose and in verse. Do you find it difficult to switch your style of writing when focusing on a middle grade manuscript?
MN: Whether I’m writing in prose or in verse, PB or MG, every single word counts. Character and voice dictate my choice of words, how I use them, and whether the story is suited for a picture book audience or a middle grade audience. So, it’s not necessarily more difficult to go from writing shorter text (in prose or in verse) to a longer text as in a Middle Grade manuscript. If anything, it’s more of a challenge to condense a full story arc and character arc into a 500-word picture book manuscript.
I’m glad to be able to write in different styles. It’s simply more enjoyable to go from one to the other depending on what I feel like writing. It’s great to be extremely focused on a short text and craft that on the page, while other times to “lose myself” in a longer text and see where that story takes me.
DMc: Do you conduct author visits? If yes, do you travel far and how is your visit structured?
MN: I love doing author visits! I used to be a teacher and absolutely cherish time back in the classroom with young readers. I’m also happy to travel. I’ve scheduled school visits and bookstore events from Texas to Belgium and in between.
The structure and time allotment depend on the age of the classroom and I proceed as an educator would in using the chosen book to underline a previously discussed curriculum point. I do start by introducing myself with visuals of me as a child at their age and what led me to want to write. I also give a brief description of what an author does. Then I do a warm-up activity to focus the students’ attention on the theme and characters of the chosen book. I read it aloud. Then we do a hands-on or physical activity to underline what the character experiences in the story. I like to end with an activity that the students can take with them, something physical and/or an understanding they can go home and further discuss with their families.
As I also used to teach Creative Writing, my workshops for older students focus on inspiration, story structure, genre, and character development.
DMc: Your latest book, Dragon Amy’s Flames was published December 2019. Please share your inspiration to create this story as well as the synopsis.
MN: As mentioned earlier, Dragon Amy’s Flames tackles frustration tolerance many little dragons (and humans) face. The inspiration for the story came from my experience teaching pre-school and elementary students as well as raising toddlers. And the children aren’t the only ones who get frustrated when the day doesn’t go according to plan. At the time I wrote the original manuscript, we were living abroad, very far from family, and my husband was traveling a lot for his job. Honestly, I probably wrote it in part to help myself stay cool as much as for my two little girls.
DMc: Dragon Amy’s Flames has an Educators Guide. Do you offer Educator Guides for all your books? What is the benefit in offering an Educator Guide?
MN: I do offer Educator Guides for my books. As a former teacher, I know how important books are to a classroom and how valuable they can be to enhance learning. The educator guides are clearly written, as I would have my own activities and lesson plans, in order to best incorporate the particular book into current curriculum.
The benefit from a teacher’s point of view is that the lesson plan is done and clearly written with a list of any materials needed. My guides offer various lesson plans for each book so that the educator can choose which are best suited for students’ learning styles. I include skills such as social/emotional, small muscle, large muscle, math/spatial, language arts, etc.
The benefit from a student’s point of view is that they can better understand and appreciate the themes in the book while enjoying the activities presented.
DMc: Please share with our readers your current work-in-progress, your marketing strategy and how to reach you.
MN: I’m currently working on a series of picture book biographies, written in verse, on various artists. I’m also working on a historical fiction middle grade novel and revising a young YA eco-fantasy.
To learn more about me and my projects, please visit my website to send me a message and/or sign up for my newsletter.
On my Facebook page, Michelle’s Kid Lit Bookshelf, I promote my books as well as books by many other amazing authors and illustrators for children.
I’m also on Twitter @MimiLRN.
Lastly, and I’m still rather new at it, I created #abookandabeautifulline on Instagram (michnott). I simply showcase a book and a beautiful line from it, one that stood out and gave me pause. There is so much great literature out there, and I find some of the most profound writing in children’s books.
Michelle, it’s been an honor to interview and profile you at Write What Inspires You! Wishing you all the very best personally and professionally.
Donna, thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about my work and inspiration. I wish you all the best as well.
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Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author
Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!
Angel's Forever Home ~ March 2019 ~ Mascot Books ~ 2019 Purple Dragonfly Honorable Mention Picture Books Six and Older
Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters ~ December 2015 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2016 Purple Dragonfly Honorable Mention Picture Books Five and Under and Story Monster Approved
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014 and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Historical Fiction 1st Place, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Honorable Mention Picture Books 6+, New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist