Saturday, May 7, 2011

HIGH FIVE #7: Donna McDine and Tips on Getting Published

Gaurdian Angel Publishing, 2010

So you have a picture book out! Here’s a big HIGH FIVE of congratulations to you!
David lives on a farm in the mid-1700’s and is on a quest to free Jenkins, a black slave owned by his Pa. Pa is a cruel man and badgers David for his weaknesses. Using Pa’s negative outlook to his advantage, David uncovers courage from deep within to keep his promise to Jenkins and leads him to eventual freedom down the golden pathway.

Donna currently has two more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, The Hockey Agony and Powder Monkey, but release dates haven't been determined, yet.

Question ONE: How has reading picture books to your children made you a better parent?

The togetherness of curling up with a picture book and watching the curiosity of my children always delighted me. It taught me to view things through the eyes of a child and to enjoy the wonderment of new experiences.

Question TWO: What are three of your favorite picture books (because we all know you have way more than three)?

Hmmm, tough question – below are the picture books that we read over and over again to our children:
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Question THREE: How did you come up with the idea for your debut book? And what was your road to publication like? How many revisions did your manuscript undergo, if you kept count? Did you have an agent? How many publishers did you submit to before getting an acceptance letter?

I have always enjoyed American History and when the opportunity arose to create an outline for a book through the Institute of Children’s Literature, I immediately gravitated to the Underground Railroad. Everyone’s road to publication takes a different journey and The Golden Pathway started out as a short story contest submission to the 77th Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and after placing 12th in the Children’s/Young Adult category I met Lynda Burch of Guardian Angel Publishing at the Muse Online Writers Conference. We discussed the expansion of The Golden Pathway and after several rounds of edits Lynda offered me my first children’s book contract. As for an agent, I do not have one. The Golden Pathway was submitted to three different children’s magazines all resulting in rejection before the acceptance from Lynda Burch.

Question FOUR: How might teachers use your book in the classroom?
To enhance the subject matter of the Underground Railroad a teacher’s guide is currently in development with the National Writing for Children Center homeschool specialist, Amy O’Quinn, which will aide teachers within their curriculum guidelines.  The guide will include different topics for each major subject – Language Arts (English), Math, Social Studies, and Science. And to round out the guide a section on Art activities will be included. To assist the educator and student in getting to know the author and illustrator an interview with both will be also be included. More details forthcoming at my blog –

Question FIVE: What are some writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

Read the genre you would like to write for and read constantly. Study the publisher website for submission guidelines and their current catalog to get a sense of their direction. Follow guidelines to a “T”, especially word count. Publishers receive hundreds, even thousands, of submissions per month and if a writer cannot follow specific submission guidelines, it often results in instant rejection.

My PhotoChristie, thank you for interviewing me, it’s been a pleasure visiting with you.

Thanks for joining me! I wish you lots of success in your future endeavors!


  1. Hi Christie:

    Thank you for taking the time out to interview and host me. I appreciate your time and interest. I will be out at a family communion today and will check back in upon my return.

    Thanks and have a wonderful weekend,

  2. Really good, solid tips, Donna. I enjoyed reading your work as usual.


  3. Great tips for seeking publication, Donna. And, reading picture books with young children does create a special closeness, encourages children to learn to read, and helps the imagination soar.

  4. Hi Nancy and Karen:

    Thank you for stopping by and offering your support. I truly appreciate it.

    Happy Mother's Day,

  5. Very nice interview. You're so right, Donna, about knowing what a publisher is looking for.

    I always enjoy learning more about you.

  6. Hi Bev:

    Thanks for visiting. I appreciate your support!

    Best wishes,


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