Monday, October 1, 2018

Author Rebecca Hammond Yager on her Top Honors Award-Winning Book



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
I pretty much came out of the womb telling stories. As far back as I can remember I was making up stories in my head—not for anyone else, just for me. I became a bookworm the second I could read. Before I could write, I drew, and I thought that meant I wanted to be an artist, but even my art told stories. I discovered poetry writing in third grade and by sixth grade, I’d tumbled down the wondrous rabbit hole of novel writing, and I never looked back. My inspiration for projects often comes from the animal kingdom or from nature. A vanishing island, a feral cat, a stray whisper of wind, a star-swept night, the way a ripple of sunlight turns a leaf to pure gold—any of these might be the gateway to a new untold story. 

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
My teachers were always very supportive. The ones who stand out the most would be Mrs. Aleksiewicz (now Nancy Christmas), my much-adored 4th-grade teacher who really encouraged me while I was just discovering the magic of writing; Mrs. Olmstead, my high school English teacher who was just awesome all around. I specifically remember her saying she hoped I’d eventually outgrow my Fantasy phase—Sorry, Mrs. O! That ship has sailed!
Celebrated author Jamie Langston Turner was my Creative Writing teacher in college and has become a friend/mentor/sounding board/venting recipient since then. She is, quite simply, amazing both on and off the page. 

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I’ve always loved fairy tales—my earliest memories are of my mom reading them to me before bed. I had an idea many years ago about a cursed black lion that I knew would be some kind of beauty and the beast story, but it was quickly relegated to the back-burner as other story winds blew through and swept me away. And then a couple of years ago I stumbled across Madame Villeneuve’s 1740 The Story of the Beauty and the Beast and was mesmerized. Like so many others I always thought Madame Beaumont’s condensed version was the original take on the story, but Beaumont was, in fact, a re-inventor of the tale like Disney and everyone else. Villeneuve’s original, rambling novella contains Beauty’s fascinating backstory as well as tidbits about a fairy kingdom in the air along with their laws and hierarchy and culture, and instantly I knew I wanted to tell my own version bringing back Beauty’s side of the story. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
Probably “Take not counsel from your eyes alone.” I adapted it directly from Villeneuve’s story. I think, as a species, we tend often to trust our eyes too much. Our other senses are just as powerful and often less prejudiced. Except perhaps our noses. Our noses can be pretty prejudiced too, can’t they?

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
While I never put myself in my stories, I usually have a fair amount in common with at least one character. But with Beauty & the Beast, not so much. I guess I can go with Beauty because she likes to lose herself in books. 
Iana, though, for sure, when I’m feeling in a villainous mood. When I love or hate, it’s completely and all-consuming. 

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
To be kind to everyone. Not to treat others differently because of how they look, whether they are plain, disfigured, actually ugly, or dazzlingly beautiful. I have personal experience from all across that spectrum: I was a homely adolescent, I had a brief bloom of genuine beauty in my twenties, and then my thirties were wretchedly unkind with an explosion of sun allergies that left me bereft of the beauty that I barely realized I possessed until it was gone. I know what it feels like to be treated differently, in both good and bad ways, because others find you beautiful, what it feels like to be overlooked because you’re plain, the heartache of seeing someone actually shudder when they look at you, the dull resignation and forced smile you plaster across your features when a well-meaning individual exclaims “What happened to your face?!” It’s a beautiful, broken, cruel world we live in. We can’t make it better by wailing and gnashing our teeth, by word-vomiting on social media, by harshly judging others who seek different resolutions or have different worldviews. The only way we can make the world a better place is by being better ourselves. We can’t change how others think and see, but we can change how we think and see. And becoming better is contagious. So be better, dear ones, and pass it on. 

TELL US SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR WRITING:
While I never put real people in my stories, I have started including animal characters inspired by real animals I have known. Beauty & the Beast, for example, contains four animal characters based on animals I have known and loved. As an animal rescuer, it breaks my heart every single day that I cannot save them all. And so I do the best I can for every creature that finds me, and I’ve started including them in my stories as a way to mark their lives, to grant them a sliver of immortality, so that even though their time in this world is barely a flicker, they were witnessed, they were loved, and they will never be forgotten. 

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
Neil Gaiman, I think, or Alexander Key. C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and Alexander Key are the authors who have impacted my writing the most, and I would be tremendously honored to be compared to any one of them. Alexander Key, in particular, saw our world for what it was as well as what it could be and imbued his novels with magic and a sense of wonder. Neil Gaiman is, astonishingly I know, a recent discovery for me. I couldn’t tell you why it took me so long to read his magical tales, but now that I have, I’m a convert. He writes with such gut-wrenching beauty in both his ideas and his words, and like a wordsmithing Rumplestiltskin, he spins glorious gold on his story wheel.

WHAT BOOK / PERSON / INCIDENT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Superman. I couldn’t think of an answer to this one, and my husband gave me this inscrutable look and then casually said, “Maybe we should sell all your Superman comics and movies then.” Superman is, without doubt, my favorite fictional character of all time. He’s an outsider, a god, an orphan, a beloved child, a Christ-figure, a symbol of hope and truth and goodness in a broken world. And he can fly. He was my introduction to the concept of super-powered humanoid aliens, quickly followed by Alexander Key’s Witch Mountain novels and their Disney film adaptations. Even before I knew I wanted to be a writer in 3rd grade, I was fantasizing about aliens, super-powered humanoid aliens to be precise, and that has shaped my thinking in ways both humorous and heartwarming, delightful and dark.

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
As soon as I have a completed draft of my current novel, an agent is next on my to-do list. I was fortunate in the publishing world initially. My first novel was Winds Cove, a YA mystery novel I wrote for a class in college but never finished. A few years later, I wrangled a meeting with the managing editor of a small but well-established publishing house (“wrangled”= I had a friend who got a job there, and he talked the editor into meeting me). My intention was to figure out what he wanted to publish and then pitch him some ideas that lined up with that. But first he wanted to see some writing samples, so I dug out the most polished chapters of Winds Cove and sent them to him. Much to my surprise, he didn’t say “ok, now let’s talk about a collaboration,” he said, “I want that.” So I went home and finished it. 
For Beauty & the Beast, I was actually working on my novel-in-progress Mazzaroth and needed a break to clear my head, so I took a month off to scribble out a 40ish page re-imagining of a classic fairytale. A year and 200+ pages later, I had a novel on my hands. While Beauty & the Beast can be a standalone novel, it will eventually be a middle installment in my re-imagined fairytale series, so I wasn’t ready to shop it to a publisher and decided it was the perfect time to try out Amazon publishing. I essentially just wanted it in book format so my family and friends could read it and thought any extra sales would just be a bonus. So having it end up catching the eye of a group of authors, have its characters end up in a Christmas anthology, winning a Top Honors award from Literary Classics—that was all completely unexpected and a delicious blessing.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Just write. Too many people spend too much time trying to figure out “how to be a writer.” Find the right software, get the right computer, read that awesome Stephen King book on writing. No. Those are all good things, but they are not what will make you a writer. Sitting your rear in the chair and putting in the work of transcribing your ideas into words, from beginning to end, that is what will make you a writer. So just write. 

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Promotion is new to me, so I don’t have any pearls of wisdom just yet, though I’m guessing shove-your-shyness-in-your-pocket-and-tell-people-about-your-book would be near the top of the list. (I’m still working on that.)

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Well, the Literary Classics’ Top Honors Words on Wings Award feels pretty sweet! But honestly just finishing the books I have finished. I have a hard time finishing projects because once I know exactly where the story is going and can see it play out in its entirety in my head like a movie, I get bored with the writing part. And then I want to move on to another project. I’m also easily distracted by anything shiny or furry. In addition, I am a slow writer. I do tons of research and tons of staring at walls. So finishing a book is a huge accomplishment for me. Finishing Winds Cove over a decade ago was huge. Finishing Beauty & the Beast in 2016 was huge. Finishing A Midsummer Night’s Snow this past August, a novella prequel to Beauty & the Beast, was huge. And unless I can find a way to write faster and not get distracted, I imagine every project I sweat through until the finish will feel like a pretty great literary accomplishment. 

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
Simply to write, write, write and finish every story in my head. A Hugo or Nebula Award would be nice, but my main goal is just to finish my race.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I’m a vampire. Okay, not really, but I have sun allergies and photo-phobic migraines that keep me inside most days and keep me from driving at night. Even overhead lights are brutal. I use a lot of colored and stained glass light bulbs in my house and drape lacy scarves and mantillas over lamps with white light bulbs; I also have plants hanging everywhere, so the light in my house is filtered and soft and often green and blue and rose. 
I also rescue animals and manage a feral cat colony. I tend to be a hermit so I naively didn’t realize I was the official neighborhood crazy cat lady until one afternoon a couple of kids bravely knocked on my door to ask for my help catching their neighbor’s escaped feline because “you’re good with cats.” 

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
As a reader, I love love love the euphoria of being swept up and away in a story, in a world. My greatest hope is that my own stories and worlds will sweep readers away now and for centuries to come. 

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
Winds Cove, a YA mystery novel, in 2004.
Winter Wonder, an anthology of Christmas/Winter stories. 
I also edited a quartet of public domain missionary biographies for a publisher, and those are often credited to me. 
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Always!  I just finished A Midsummer Night’s Snow, a novella prequel to Beauty & the Beast featured in an anthology of Christmas/winter stories called Winter Wonder, released September 2017. It’s available on amazon.com.
As for the books in the works, there are too many to list here but the next book out should be MazzarothMazzaroth is a science-fantasy adventure and my flagship novel for a series of separate but overlapping stories set in a shared universe that will also include my re-imagined fairy tales. Mazzaroth features a race of human-like people from another planet seeking refuge on earth and centers around a human/alien hybrid girl and her brother trying to find their place in the world, trying to find their people, trying to find out who and what they really are. It plays with themes of identity and home and has all sorts of exciting chases, escapes, superpowers, battles, animal characters, humor, soul-wrenching anguish, heart-stopping beauty, and even a sprinkling of romance. I’m close to finishing my first draft of Mazzaroth, but it will probably be a year or two before it hits bookstores. 


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Author Julie Whitley on her Award-Winning Book


WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I have loved books since I could first hold one in my hands. Around the age of nine, I began to think that I could write stories as well and started my first book. Through high school, my favourite English teacher encouraged me to keep on writing. With his words in the back of my mind, I continued to take creative writing classes throughout my adult life. The culmination of my efforts resulted in the completion of my first novel after I retired. 

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING? My high school English teacher was my first mentor. I have had several since and with each step, I have been encouraged to continue.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? An in-class writing exercise resulted in the short story that became the background story for my book. The original character, David, didn’t want to end his journey and nagged me to keep writing until I had brought all of his family along on the ride. 

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I would like to think that I have the determination and grit of Sarah, although I’m not sure I’m quite as brave.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? That families can work through their rough patches if they communicate.  Despite outward appearances, we still have our faults and our strengths, and working together can bring peace and success
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IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE? In a couple of reviews my writing has been compared to The Narnia Chronicles and my favourite - The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I love his writing and was thrilled to be compared.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? I would tell them to write as often as they could, take classes, find a writing group to support and encourage. My groups have been invaluable to my process.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Start before the book launch and drum up anticipation.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To complete the Secrets of the Home Wood series and start on other stories gathering momentum in the background.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: As a late-bloomer, I really started living and experiencing life when I was in my 40’s: I learned to water ski, I got married in my 50’s and we adopted our teenage daughter, and in my 60’s I became a grandmother, learned to scuba dive and published my debut novel! It is never to late to do what interests you.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I have the Secrets of the Home Wood sequel in the works. It is called The Stalker.  My next book carries on a couple of months after the story of the first book. It will be on Amazon and Kindle.


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Monday, September 10, 2018

Author Wolfgang Parker on his Award-Winning Book


WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? Playing Dungeons & Dragons.

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING? I was fortunate that Steve Niles, author of 30 Days of Night, was generous with his insight and encouragement.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? The Crime Cats books were originally Christmas gifts for my 19 nieces and nephews. I never had intention of writing for kids. I was just looking for a way to stay in their lives and pass along some wisdom.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I see a lot of myself in Orville Dusenbury. He's the neighborhood recluse, who lives in a dilapidated house, and often relates to kids more than adults. He's a bit lost in life.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? That we must let go of anger. It becomes poison to our bodies and souls if we hold onto it.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: More than a few of my readers believe I am actually a werewolf. So far, I've had nothing to do with the perpetuation of this myth.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? John Bellairs. His work was a major influence on my own writing.

WHAT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? My own self-discovery. The more I work through the process of figuring out who I am—and who I've been—the more I'm able to take part in life. I have a long history of dysfunction that stems from childhood trauma.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I self-publish.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Write for the love of writing. The fewer expectations you place on yourself and the book, the more you'll enjoy it.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Do it in person and often.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Writing three novels. And by that, I mean I actually finished them.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I would like to make my living as a creative writer.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I was a punk rock recording artist once upon a time. I toured and still have fans all over.

WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Crime Cats: Missing (which won the Silver Medal in the Literary Classics Awards in 2016)

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I will be working on the fourth Crime Cats novel later this year

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Friday, August 31, 2018

Author D.G. Driver, on her Award-Winning Book

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? 
I wrote as a hobby when I was young and dabbled with my first novel in college just to see if I could do it. My real passion was performing, and I majored in Theater Arts. I really got hooked on writing after taking a class called “The Literature of Fairy Tales” my senior year in college. I was inspired to write my own original fairy tales and then was eventually hired to write an original fairy tale for a children’s theater company in Los Angeles. After that I started pursuing writing, particularly writing for children, as a career.

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
I didn’t have a writing mentor. When I was first starting out, I read Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and I followed a lot of his advice. I read (and continue to read) a lot of middle grade and young adult books to see what works and what doesn’t. I also have been a member of SCBWI since 1999 (Midsouth region since 2004) and learn so much from their conferences and workshops.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
No One Needed to Know is based loosely on my personal experience of being the younger sister of a brother with Developmental Disabilities. He is four years older than me, and we always had lots of fun playing together when we were kids. When I hit about twelve-years-old, I lost interest in playing pretend, but my sixteen-year-old brother did not. That’s when I first really noticed how different he was from other boys his age. This book is based on that time in my life. I also was bullied (for different reasons) in sixth grade, and so was my brother throughout his life, so I used those experiences to create this story.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
So, in this book, Heidi’s best friend Bobby has moved away. Since his departure, Heidi had gained a little popularity with the girls in her class, but when they find out about her brother, they tease and bully her relentlessly. Life has gotten hard for Heidi, and she writes to Bobby about it. He writes a sweet letter back to her. This line comes right after his letter.

“I hugged the letter to my chest after reading it several times, grateful that we made a pact to write real letters instead of emails. You can't hold and hug an email.”
It’s my favorite line because I have a love of real mail and handwritten notes. Another one of my books, Passing Notes, is about the art and importance of writing letters.



WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU?
 As I mentioned above, this book draws from my real life. So in a lot of ways, Heidi is me at 11. That said, she is good at sports, and I was not. She is bad at spelling, and I am not. The way she handles her bullying was similar to mine, but the way she confronts it was not something I ever thought of back then.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
Treat people kindly. There’s never a reason to bully, but you should especially not bully someone who has special needs. They are already having a tough time. Why would you want to make it tougher?
I do school presentations about anti-bullying and autism awareness (and I’m willing to travel).

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: 
When I was younger, I was better about writing whenever and wherever. Now, I need more structured time. That said, I used to have a tutoring job in an after school program for gifted students in Los Angeles. I worked primarily with a group of 4th-grade boys. At the time I was writing a historical fiction middle grade novel about the California Gold Rush. When the boys were done with their work and had some free time to play and hang out with each other, I would get out my notebook and add to my novel. The boys liked giving me ideas to add to the story. I wound up using a lot of their names, but the funniest addition was when one of the boys insisted I add a monkey to my story. Well, I did it, and the monkey wound up being essential to helping my main character solve a puzzle in the mystery I’d created. (I haven’t thought of this book in a long time. It was published and went out of print back in 2008 when the publisher went out of business. Maybe it’s time to dust it off and put it out in the world again.)

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? 
Well, (blushing) a review from Kid’s Book Weekly compared my writing to Katherine Patterson and Paula Danziger. I’ll take that.
I was a huge fan of Judy Blume as a kid, and Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy was my favorite book when I was in 6th grade. I feel like if you like those authors, and Wonder by A. J. Palacio, you’ll like No One Needed to Know.

WHAT BOOK INCIDENT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? 
Two things come to mind. In 6th grade I stayed home sick from school one day. My boyfriend called me that afternoon to break up. The next day, I went to school ready for all the sympathy, and instead, I got hate. Apparently the day I was out everyone decided I wasn’t deserving of friendship anymore. I got mean notes passed to me and was bullied and picked on for the next two years. I lost all of my friends. To this day I’m still not clear why that happened.

The other thing that was the greatest impact was that I joined Musical Theater class in 8th grade. I met a bunch of Drama nerds, and we became best friends. We stayed like that all the way through high school, and I had an amazing, unforgettable high school experience.

Being bullied was a terrible experience, and I don’t wish it on anyone. It did, however, change my life, opening me up to the possibility of meeting better people, and it taught me to value real friendship.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? 
With regard to No One Needed to Know, it was published once before, back in 2004 by a tiny press in Florida called Denlinger's Publishers, same publisher as that historical fiction book I mentioned before. It was titled Special back then. That publisher went out of business, and the rights reverted to me. In 2014, I learned that Schoolwide Inc. was looking for books to fill their Zing! digital subscription book service and were open to books that had been previously published. I did a major rewrite of my book, gave it a new title, and submitted it. It was accepted and went through several edits before they published it in December 2016. They only bought the ebook rights, however, so I took the book they’d professionally edited for me and published it in print through Create Space and Ingram Spark. If you prefer to read the ebook version, I have information about that on my website at or you can visit Schoolwide.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? 
Take your time writing the best book you can. It isn’t a race. Also, really investigate your options with traditional publishing versus self-publishing. There are pros and cons to both, and decide what fits you better.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? 
I try my hardest, but I’m not the best at promotion. What’s helped me the most is joining groups of other hardworking authors with similar kinds of books. I pay attention to what they are doing and take advice. I also read, read, read everything that comes my way about what sells and what doesn’t.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? 
That’s a hard question to answer. I have several different kinds of published books, and each has had its journey. I’m very proud of the nonfiction work I did for Morgan Reynolds Publishers (writing as Donna Getzinger) because it was challenging work and all of those books got great reviews from the big presses like School Library Journal. Those credits also helped open a few doors for me as a writer. My YA environmental fantasy trilogy The Juniper Sawfeather novels concluded this year, and that was a long journey close to my heart. That said, No One Needed to Know is my most personal book to date, and I’m thrilled at the honors and reviews that it is receiving.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? 
What I dream of is to be the kind of children’s author in demand for school presentations, writing conferences, and book festivals. I’m an actress and a teacher, and I love getting up in front of people to talk about writing and my books. I’d like to see my books in libraries everywhere and have kids doing book reports on them. This is what keeps me writing.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: Funny enough, I’m assuming most people reading this don’t know much about me at all. That said, I’ll share something super random. I have a freckle on the tip of my left ring finger. My daughter has one on the tip of her left ring toe. Weird, huh? We also like to celebrate each other’s half birthdays, because they are exactly six months apart from each other.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? No One Needed to Know is about bullying and autism awareness. If you know a tween that suffers from bullying, or you know a school or class that might like a book to help them start the conversation to stop bullying and be kinder to those with special needs, please recommend this book.

WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?

The Juniper Sawfeather Novels: YA fantasy with environmental themes
Cry of the Sea
Whisper of the Woods
Echo of the Cliffs
Passing Notes: YA sweet romance novella

I have short stories in the anthologies Fantastic CreaturesSecond Chance for LoveKick Ass Girls of Fire and Ice YA Books, A Tall ShipA Sail, and PlunderTomato Slices, and Winter Wonder – an anthology of children’s Christmas stories.

There’s more, and you can learn about it all, read excerpts, and find purchase links at my website
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I’m currently working on expanding my novella Passing Notes into a full-length book titled All the Love You Write. It will be a collection of three related stories about love letters. My hope is that my publisher Fire and Ice Young Adult Books will put out this new book next year. When I finish that book, I plan to work on another middle-grade novel about special needs to be a companion for No One Needed to Know. If you follow me at Facebook or on Twitter you can keep up with when I have new projects in the works.


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org