Mymcbooks's Blog

Keepsake that Educates!

Mymcbooks Interview Author Rhonda Lucas Donald

Rhonda Lucas Donald has written more than a dozen books for children and teachers, including her newest book, DEEP IN THE DESERT, from Sylvan Dell Publishing. Other titles includeLIFEON OTHER PLANETS and Scholastic activity books on AMERICAN HISTORY CRAFTSANDGAMES, FROGS, SHARKS, SPIDERS, and WOLVES. Rhonda specializes in writing about science, and she particularly likes to create science-related crafts and activities and write songs and poems about animals and space. Rhonda loves animals, traveling, and movies. She shares her home inVirginiawith two dogs and two cats.

Interview with Rhonda Lucas Donald author of Deep in The Desert.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read? Arthur and George by Julian Barnes

What were your earliest memories of writing? I remember writing a story in second grade that earned an A+++. Pretty encouraging!

What was your favorite children’s book? Frederick by Leo Lionni. I loved the illustration technique.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? I think I was naturally drawn to writing, but I was equally attracted to drawing and art. Too bad I never became an illustrator as well!

Are you working on a new book? Yes, several in various stages of completion.

What inspired you to write Deep in the Desert? I knew the publisher (Sylvan Dell) was looking for such a book and happened to be in the right place at the right time!

Tell us about your reaction when you first found out that your book won the silver medal in the 2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards? I was thrilled! I am especially happy, too, for illustrator Sherry Neidigh, whose illustrations are so wonderful.

What is the most difficult part of writing? Finding a publishing “home” for a manuscript. I have plenty of ideas, but finding a publisher interested in them is part timing, part persistence, and part luck.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books? I also write educational materials for teachers and students, particularly science and social studies content.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block? So far, I haven’t had a bad review (fingers crossed). When I hit a creative wall, I surf the net. It’s the next best thing to a brainstorming session when you work on your own. I always find science news inspiring.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book? I hope they will appreciate that deserts aren’t barren, lifeless places at all, but beautiful, vibrant communities deserving our admiration and protection.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? I actually have dined with Vera B. Williams, Gail Carson Levine, and Sneed B. Collard III. This was at an SCBWI retreat in eastern Pennsylvania. This and other SCBWI events are priceless opportunities for children’s writers and illustrators to learn and be inspired.

What author inspires you the most and why? Margaret Wise Brown is inspiring because her writing is so gorgeous, spare, and well, perfect. 

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.? I try to put in a regular business day. I fit books and speculative projects around the “paying” ones. When regular work is slow, I get extra time for my books.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? I don’t think there should be any rules. Books that appeal to the senses (visually, lyrically, even the feel of the paper) are good choices.

What advice you would give to new writers? Don’t give up, and seek out others to form critique/support groups.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Thanks for checking out Deep in the Desert. I am happy to send a free, signed bookplate to anyone with a copy of the book. Just e-mail your request to

Thank you for this interview.


February 16, 2012 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , ,


  1. Science is so exciting when presented by a caring and wise author as Rhonda Lucas Donald…. I like her email with “browntabby”, and she has cats I see! There seems to be much thought and talent in her interview responses…I look forward to sharing her book with a young person!

    Comment by Elsie Brockett | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  2. Have you ever illustrated anything that you have written? Is it difficult to find an illustrator to depict exactly what you want?

    I so agree about no rules to picking books. As a special needs teacher, I often have to assit my students in selecting books. Even if a student cannot independently read a book, they may be attracted to if or other reasons – they could have it read to them, they may like the pictures. But whatever the reason, whatever attracted them to the book, may be enough to assist them in attempting to read it. Big motivation!!!!

    Comment by Sara Kovach | February 17, 2012 | Reply

    • Unfortunately, I’m no illustrator, so all of my books have been illustrated by others. Publishers select the illustrator. You have to trust that the publisher will make a good match. I couldn’t have been more pleased with Sherry Neidigh’s work on “Deep in the Desert.” I think she struck the perfect combination of realism and softness.

      Comment by Rhonda Lucas Donald | February 18, 2012 | Reply

  3. I like that she’s inspired by Brown. I also find her simplicity of prose inspiring.

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

    Comment by domestic diva | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  4. Actually an interesting dichotomy from the writing of educational material for teachers to the writing of children’s book! So often people assume that if one is very analytical they’re not as artistic. I’d also be interested in seeing some of Rhonda’s science related crafts ideas.

    Comment by Lori B | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  5. it seems almost too simple the way children learn things when put to verse and music. i love the idea. i just heard the song “The Twelfth Day of Christmas – Canadian version” and it was great. Would love to give this book to the children’s library!

    Comment by Marianne | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  6. I found it interesting about having to ‘shop’ a book around to find a publisher, and how you happened to find that Sylvan Dell was looking for a book like this. I like to take my grandkids to the library & let them pick whatever they like – they do pick some ineteresting books for sure!

    Comment by Teresa Young | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  7. I like she was inspired by Brown. Great idea of putting words and music together for children to learn, I feel they learn more that way.

    Comment by Susan Peck | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  8. A lot of times, the cute little desert animals get lost in the shuffle. I like that you use them here. Its a nice teaching tool for the kids, as they learn new animals, and new words to old songs! The book promotes education as well as fun! I hope to read this to my avid 5 year old reader/listener! Any book with animals catches his attention. When he is done reading new books at home, he always wants to share at school! I’m a proud mommy to one that I hope will grow up to be a reader like myself!

    Comment by monica p | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  9. Frederick by Leo Lionni. I love this book too!

    Comment by Marci | February 18, 2012 | Reply

  10. Very inspiring author! Can’t wait to read her stories!

    Comment by lisa | February 18, 2012 | Reply

  11. I agree there should be no ruled for picking children’s books. My kids love all kinds of books, and I encourage that.

    Comment by jeryl m | February 19, 2012 | Reply

  12. So nice to only have good reviews!🙂

    Comment by Kristie | February 21, 2012 | Reply

  13. I especially like Ms. Duncan’s statement on selection of books: “Books that appeal to the senses (visually, lyrically, even the feel of the paper) are good choices.” This says it as one that is opposed to ebooks. Hold the paper in your hand and feel the texture of it. Savor the beauty of the book. My grandchildren are true book lovers and would appreciate this book.

    Comment by Vera | February 21, 2012 | Reply

  14. I think this book would appeal to all children, and teach them about the desert too. I’d like to read it myself!

    Comment by harvee | February 22, 2012 | Reply

  15. I think it is great she is willing to send a free bookplate to readers! Makes us think she cares!

    Comment by sahmandtw | February 22, 2012 | Reply

  16. I have always agreed with the opinion that children learn quicker when things are set to music. This book sounds like a winner for Children in that they learn the Desert is more then a dry and barren land.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    Comment by Carol L. | February 29, 2012 | Reply

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