Archive for January 11, 2010

Monday Interview: Donna McDine

January 11, 2010 11 comments
*NOTE: For those curious as to the appearance of today’s interview, I will say that the system has been very uncooperative with me today, and I heartily apologize in advance for the peculiar look to today’s offering. Thank you for your understanding.
I now return you to our interview of the day.
My guest today is Donna McDine, writer and publicist, with plenty of experience in the writing biz. 
Hello, Donna. Thank you so much for being with us today. 
Claudsy: Donna, many people know you as a PR rep for Stories for Children Magazine. You’re a writer as well. You do, after all, have a wonderful website of your own and blog. Would you care to tell me what else you do in the writing field? 
Donna: Hi Claudette, great question. Sad to say but my run at SFC Magazine is coming to an end March 2010 when the magazine closes due to the economy and personal decision by VS Grenier. On my personal writing side I offer a media release writing service, Dynamic Media Release Services, for those looking to publicize their writings and services through online media blasts. 
I’m also a member of the CWCC (Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club), which provides daily guidance in achieving my writing goals, through weekly teleclasses, manuscript critiques, monthly assignments, and networking.
I’m currently working on my marketing plan for my first story book entitled, The Golden Pathway, Guardian Angel Publishing, Spring 2010; edits on a historical fiction manuscript and picture book manuscript; monthly newsletter and blog interviews; and book reviews. 

Claudsy: All of that certainly keeps you hopping. How long have you worked on both sides of writing (i.e. writing side and publishing side)? 

Donna: I’ve been writing since 2007 (and) SFC Magazine, Marketing Manager – 1 year 

Claudsy: I’m curious. Do you find your writing time being compromised more often than your other responsibilities? If not, how do you manage to keep up with your assigned projects? 

Donna: Like many, my time constraints change on a daily basis, depending on what the universe throws at me for the day. It’s taken me some time to realize it, but instead of fighting against the day, such as this morning getting an early morning phone call from a friend without a car, whose children missed the school bus (and) needed to be driven to school. Yes, it took me away from my ease into the day attitude with a quiet breakfast after my girls head to school to being there for a friend in need. I just picked back up where I left off when I returned. Soggy cereal and all. 

It actually made me LOL when I remembered how my brother has always loved soggy cereal. But that’s a story for another day or maybe yet a picture book. My advice, go with the flow, step-by-step even if you just achieve 15 minutes on a task, it’s better than nothing. 

 Claudsy: Sometimes we all need that reminder. What would you say influences your writing the most, at least on a personal freelance project? 

Donna: Hmm, what influences me the most? Tough question. I’d have to say my critique groups. Their objective opinions are truly priceless. Now I’m sounding like a Visa commercial, but it is true. 

  Claudsy: Tell me, do you find yourself using children around you and their exploits as models for stories or as a catalyst for articles? 

Donna:  Yes, yes, yes! My girls, nieces, and nephews definitely influence me. I’m working on a manuscript now based on two of my nephews, who are avid hockey players. Hopefully, down the road I will have positive news to share about this manuscript. 

Claudsy: When you started writing, what was your primary goal for doing so? And, did you achieve it or did it change to something else? 

Donna: When I first started writing, my primary goal was to tackle the magazine markets. While I have had some success in print and online, I’m continually drawn to picture books. This experience of changing gears has very much been like going to college with a mindset on one major and then changing to another. 

Claudsy: And in today’s frenetic world, how much of its chaos do you allow to interfere with your writing?  

Donna: I’ve worked from home as a virtual assistant for 12 years and at one point I allowed outside pressures (to) interfere. My main problem was I was a people pleaser and never said no. My old boss gave me that wonderful virtual slap upside the head. “What are you doing? You’re not running a daycare, you’re suppose to be working, not carrying for other people’s kids so they can work and do errands. Cross the line in the sand. You are not a dump all because you work from home.” And you know what, when I did put the line in the sand, I became a much better wife, mother, writer, and virtual assistant since I wasn’t draining myself with others responsibilities. 

Claudsy: You’re right. There’s a lesson in that. Could you ever give up writing and why? Or, why not? 

Donna: No, I actually breathe and have a better outlook when I write at least 30 minutes a day. It provides me with a true sense of accomplishment. 

Claudsy: What’s the one worst frustration in the writing biz that you’ve encountered and would really like to eliminate? 

Donna: As most writers, the waiting period. 

Claudsy: What’s the one plum job or project that you’d really like to get your hands on in the writing arena? 

Donna: A positive response to one of my work-for-hire submission packets. Capstone Press is at the top of my list. 

Claudsy: What project(s) are you working on right now that we can look forward to seeing in the future?  

Donna: Images of the Past – in the editing stages – historical fiction manuscript based on General George Washington and Major John Andre 

Claudsy: Well, Donna, I have to say that like all of my other guests, you’ve been candid and refreshing. Your show of can-do attitude and self-commitment can go a long way to bolstering the attitudes of other writers out there. Your example also shows writers that doing articles each week, short stories, and the rest doesn’t have to be the only writing game in town. There are other ways to make your way in this business. 

I want to thank you again for coming by and talking with us. And, I want to applaud your offer to pop in, off and on, all day to field additional questions from the readers if they have any. There may well be those out there that have a question about SFC or about freelancing on the publishing business side of things. Your experience certainly qualifies you to answer those inquiries. I hope you receive tons of questions that make your offer worthwhile. 

Hear that, readers? Stop by and say hello. Donna’s willing to take the hot seat. Feel free to leave your comments and questions behind. She’s great at fielding questions, too. 

Short Personal Biography:
Donna McDine took her higher education at Berkeley. As a full-time writer she juggles a family of husband and two daughters with freelancing and regular gigs.  Donna does currently act as the Reviewer of MG novels for the National Writing for Children’s Center. 
Her book, “The Golden Pathway”, will be out in the Spring of 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. Her most recent work appears in “Children’s Writing Resources, “Writers’ Journal” – January/February 2010 or March/April 2010 /
Donna also took 12th  in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and placed twice in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition; all in the category of: Children’s/Young Adult 

Readers can find more examples of her work at:

 Please enjoy this opportunity to learn from both sides of the publisher’s desk with Donna. I’ll be posting my usual post-interview commentary tomorrow. And then, on Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing Mikki Sadil; a writer who will undoubtedly surprise those who have only taken one or two trips down the career path.

I hope all of you return to sit down with my next guest and learn what such a multi-talented writer has to offer you and your writing.

Thanks for coming by.

A bientot,





Categories: Writing and Poetry