Home > Writing and Poetry > Monday Interview: Donna McDine

Monday Interview: Donna McDine

*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 http://donnamcdine.com/dynamicmediareleases.html, 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 http://www.writersjournal.com /
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: 



http://www.the goldenpathway.blogspot.com
 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
  1. January 11, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Hi, Donna,

    I’m so glad to see you here, today. I’m disappointed that SFC is going to have to close its doors. Is there any chance that they will return in the future?

    You said that you started writing in 2007. Did you have earlier dreams of writing or was this something that you just suddenly decided you would like to do?

    Do you have a basic writing schedule or do you simply have a goal of thirty minutes of writing per day?

    Thank you, Doona, for answering my questions. If I have more questions, do you want me to put them all in one comment or would you rather I list them separately? Thanks, again.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya’s Changing World

  2. January 11, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Hello Claudette…thank you for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure to be here.

    Yaya…thanks for stopping by today. I appreciate your interest. When I was in Junior High and High School I dreamed about becoming a reporter, but for some reason or another I did not pursue it.

    I try and write first thing in the morning, but some times that is not possible, but I try my best to stick to it. Once the day gets going, I feel much better that my writing is done.

    Of course, stop by and ask any further questions you may have. I’d be delighted to answer them.



  3. January 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you, Donna. I wanted to ask you if there was any possibility of you taking over the SFC Magazine or, if that was something either you or VS Grenier had thought about?

    I also see that you have many writing credits to your name and wondered how you have managed to do so much in just the last two years. It does sound as if you have done a lot in two years’s time. Do you have a minimum number of words you reach for each day or each week? Do you work on mainly one project in a day?

    I know that you are always open to new ideas, so I am curious if you are using the information from Diane I. Sanders’ book, “Yes! You Can Learn How To Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, And Build A Successful Writing Career”?

    Thanks, again, Donna. You are a great inspiration in what can be done and I do so appreciate your willingness to share.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya’s Changing World

  4. January 11, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Yaya:

    Even though I’ve had some success in getting my short stories and articles published I’ve yet to create a steady stream of income. I am in the process of reading Nancy Sanders book and I’m enjoying it very much and making a ton of notes.

    I shift gears quite a bit during the day. I don’t have set word count, I go with my muse and write as much as I can.

    It is VS Grenier’s hope to eventually bring SFC Magazine back and to be quite honest with you…with my family, writing, and part time virtual assistant position I truly don’t have the time to put running the SFC Magazine on my plate. Thanks for thinking my background is strong enough to do it. Besides VS there was a team of 10-12 people that made the magazine work so wonderfully.

    Be well and best wishes for a wonderful 2010 and beyond,

  5. January 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Donna, I have to apologize for that faux pas. Of course, her name is Nancy I. Sanders. Even as I was typing, my mind knew it. Evidently, the fingers weren’t paying as much attention. LOL

    I’m sorry. What I meant to ask is if you had found that certain markets were more accessible to you, personally. Looking back over my questions, I realize that it sounded as if I was questioning your specific monetary income. I do apologize for that. What I was referring to was more the specifics of your choice of markets. I understand that you are leaning more towards the picture book genre. What I meant was, do you feel that with picture book ideas, are smaller publishers more inclined to be open or, would you say that a writer would have a better chance with the larger companies? Please forgive me for the wording on my earlier question.

    As I’ve watched your progress, I am amazed at how you have managed to assimilate different types of writing capabilities, while at the same time taking care of the business end. Have you had training that includes all the areas of writing?

    And one last question, Donna. Do you mind if I ask what a virtual assistant does?

    Thanks so much, Donna. Have a great evening.


  6. claudsy
    January 11, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Well, folks, I’m calling dinner hour here to let our guest have a chance to eat with her family before considering a return engagement. I do want to thank Donna for the time and effort put our on our behalf. She’s been a thoroughly gracious and generous lady.

    Yaya, I’m sure you asked questions that floated around in the minds of many. Thank you for having the courage to ask them and to listen to the answers.

    Take care and have a good evening and a productive week.


  7. January 11, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you both so much for your time and for being willing to share your expertise. I am enjoying all that I’m learning and always look forward to learning more. Have a great evening. Take care.


  8. January 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Hello Yaya:

    No need for apologies. I did NOT take offense to your question. I honestly don’t know if smaller publishers are more open to picture books or not. Many times I truly believe it is the luck of the day whether or not a manuscript gets accepted or not, besides one’s good writing.

    When I worked in Fortune 500 companies I always had to balance at least 2+ bosses at once and became accustomed in changing hats quickly and efficiently and it is certainly helping me in the writing world.

    A virtual assistant is an administrative assistant (secretary) who works from home for either several clients or one main company.

    Claudette…it’s been a pleasure…thanks for having me!


  9. Marie Elena
    January 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Another excellent interview. Donna, it’s a pleasure reading about your success on both sides of the coin. Naturally, the closing of SFC is a great disappointment.

    Your sentiment that the objective opinions of a great critique group are priceless is something I’m learning quickly. Just recently, I’ve joined ranks with three gifted, intelligent, honest people. I anticipate wonderful improvements as a result.

    Thanks for doing this interview with Clauds. Good stuff here.

    • claudsy
      January 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      You’re ever so kind, Marie Elena. Thank you for dropping by in your busy day. Please come again.

  10. January 18, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Hi Marie…thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comments. Thrilled you enjoyed it!


  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: