Interview with Author Donna J. Shepherd.
Donna J. Shepherd looks at everyday life and finds God’s fingerprints everywhere. A columnist for The Dabbling Mum and NABBW, her articles and poetry have been published in Reminisce Extra, Just Between Us, Guideposts for Kids, Wee Ones, and more. Her devotionals and stories appear in Daily Grace for Women (Honor Books), Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms (Warner Books), and The Best Grandma in the World (Howard Books) to name a few.
For the past seventeen years, Donna’s husband has pastored an Assemblies of God church in Ohio. Donna is pursuing a Theology degree. She’s the Women’s Ministries President, Adult Bible Class Teacher, pianist, singer, and speaker.
Donna is the founder of Greater Harvest Workshops and Middletown Area Christian Writers and in demand as a Bible teacher, conference speaker, and singer. To read more about the author click link http://donnajshepherd.com/aboutus.aspx
Donna Shephard author of Poodle & Doodle.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
Thank you for asking me!
What is the last book you read?
I’m reading “The Exceptional Life” by Stephen Arterburn and John Shore. Evidently, the dawn of 2012 sparked a renewed interest in improving myself.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I can always remember reading, but not writing until high school. I began to fill notebooks with poetry about teenage angst. I even dared to show one poem to a couple of friends. They began to cry, and I realized how deeply writing can touch others. Then I got busy with singing, work, marriage, kids, and didn’t write again until the children were grown. I’m constantly encouraging writers – especially moms – to make time for writing. I regret not jotting down all the wonderful and funny things my children said and did. I have a good memory, but there’s nothing like writing in the moment.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
My high school English teacher encouraged me. I did compose a few songs in my twenties, but didn’t get back to writing until 2003. Once I started writing, it seemed as if a dam had burst, and I couldn’t stop. I’m blessed with supportive family and friends, who kept encouraging me – especially after I got a couple of rejections.
What was your favorite children’s book?
I don’t remember Mom reading to me that much when I was little. I am the eldest of five children, all born within ten years. That might explain it!
I do remember reading anything and everything I could get my hands on once I learned to read. I think I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books the library had (yes, the original ones!).
What inspired you to write ‘Poodle and Doodle?’
I set up a home studio and started by providing voiceover for book trailers, and I’m now recording audio books. It has been an interesting and fun way to use my voice.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
I would love to have dinner with Max Lucado. He is such a prolific writer, speaker, minister, and missionary. He wears many hats. I’d love to hear how he manages to do it all and do it so well. Many times, he works with co-authors, which is something I’ve yet to do, but I’m open to that possibility.
What author inspires you the most and why?
For my children’s writing, I’d say Shel Silverstein. When my son came home from school with a Shel Silverstein book, I read it with him, and we laughed and had such fun. I think it made an impression on him as well, because now he buys ME Shel Silverstein books. I love Silverstein’s sense of humor and wordplay. I may never be a ‘Shel’ but I have the same fun as I write for children.
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
So far, I’ve been blessed with good reviews. One reviewer thought my rhythm was slightly off in one of my books, and that bothered me. I work for hours – no, make that days, and sometimes months, on my poetry. I analyze the story, the characters, each line, and then each word. But the reviewer still gave the book a positive review overall, so I couldn’t complain.
I’ve never suffered from writer’s block yet. Quite the contrary!
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
It thrills me when someone writes to me about how her children want my books read to them over and over. That’s a child’s greatest compliment. I received the most precious picture from a grandfather. His granddaughter dressed up like the little girl in “Poodle and Doodle.” She had two of her stuffed dogs at the table and was serving them tea.
I’m extremely blessed when I receive emails from readers inspired and encouraged by the devotions and articles.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
A writing friend, Mayra Calvani, emailed to ask if I’d like to be interviewed on her blog “Pets and Their Authors.” But she didn’t really want me to answer. She wanted to interview my dog! Mayra thought the answers were funny and asked why I hadn’t written about Sadie’s antics. I thought, “Why haven’t I?” and started writing. The book is written from my poodle’s point of view. I also write from Angel’s perspective on a blog called “Oodles of Fun.” I have coloring pages, videos, and fun stories.
Are you working on a new book?
The next book to be released is “Ava’s Secret Tea Party.” It is my first strictly ‘girly’ book and I’m having a delightful time setting up a blog with tea party recipes and decorations. The book has recipes and crafts included.
Another book, “Miss Emma Ant” is with the illustrator now about an ant that’s the lead architect for her colony and decides to quit her job. The underlying theme is we all (even ants!) have unique talents and as we work together, we can accomplish great things. I’ve written nonfiction for ‘grownups’ for several years, but now I’m venturing into fiction with a novelette called “Love Under the Bubble Wrap.”
What is the most difficult part of writing?
Finding time, of course, but my personal struggle is finding a singular focus. That’s one thing I have to say I’m lacking. I take multi-tasking seriously.
Tell us a little about Devotionals for Children.
My slogan for the Topsy Turvy Time site is “Life without Christ is Topsy Turvy.” There are so many things about God’s way that seem upside down and backward! God says when you give, you get. He says when you’re humble, He’ll lift you up. When Jesus came, He came as a servant, yet He’s our King. Because I had written a children’s book about a topsy-turvy land and I love to write devotions, it seemed natural to write devotions for children about God’s wonderful and unique way of loving us.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I like to sing and speak for women’s meetings and conferences. I teach an adult class and play the piano at the church where my husband and I pastor.
My Google calendar comes in handy to keep me on track. I write self-imposed deadlines on it, and have reminders sent to my inbox. I write or market every day except Sunday. I’ve found that if I have a chunk of time, I can write several blog posts and schedule them to be published. I love that feature from Blogger.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
When my children were little, we went to the library and checked out as many books as we could. Many times my kids surprised me with their choices. I read poetry, fiction, nonfiction, funny, quirky, and serious books. I mixed in books suggested for a slightly older age group to challenge my children. Now with the e-readers and growing supply of eBooks, parents have an endless supply of new material along with the classics.
What advice you would give to new writers?
In 2003, I sent in my first submission. Within a week, I met a woman who ran a group for writers online. When she found out I had just stepped my toe into the writing waters, she informed me that I should be prepared for a lot of rejection and disappointment. Thank God, that first submission was accepted. I think He knew I needed that push. I could have easily decided writing wasn’t worth trying had I adopted that same negative attitude. If you are passionate about your writing, you won’t let the naysayers or even a stack of rejections discourage you.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Write every day. Write about anything and everything. Soon, your unique voice will emerge. No one else in the entire world writes from your perspective. After you write, join a critique group. And then – submit. If you’re rejected, submit again!
I pray for inspiration. God is the Ultimate Creator and I believe we follow His leading when we are creative.
And I hope you’ll come visit Topsy Turvy Land soon!
Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for taking time to interview me. I enjoyed it, and hope something I’ve written will help and encourage your readers.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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