Dawn Menge is the author of the Queen Vernita’s educational series. There are currently five books published. Queen Vernita’s Visitors, Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer and Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline. Dawn Menge’s series has won nineteen literary awards.
Dawn Menge has been teaching severely handicapped students for fourteen years. She holds a Masters and clear credential as an Educational specialist. She is currently working on her PHD in Curriculum and Instruction.
Dawn Menge is the mother of three and the grandmother of five beautiful children.
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Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer's Coastline. What was your inspiration for it?
A: Queen Vernita travels to many foreign places through out the twelve months of the year. She has been to the Blue Ice Mountains, the Enchanted Islands, Gator Country, learned about the universe from HeathyBean the Astronomer and visited Baja Quail. She will soon be visiting volcanic Islands with Sea Captain Jeff, sailing with John Alden, walking the Trail of Tears with the Cherokee Indians, sailing in a paddleboat to follow the trail of Louis and Clark and visitng Paradise Reef.
Q: When did your passion for children’s books begin? Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?
A: I have three children, five grandchildren and I am a teacher by profession. Whe I was in the third grade I was having trouble reading. My dad sat with me every night until I had mastered it. After that I had trouble putting books down. I am having a great time writing my books and traveling around researching them and presenting them. It has been an exciting journey and believe the excitement will only increase as time goes on.
I loved the outsiders, Nancy Drew and the Boxcar children.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any difficulties along the way?
A: I took a weeklong road trip up the coastline of California and it took another week to write the book. The illustrations took several months.
Q: What do you find most challenging about writing for children?
A: The most challenging part for me is not having enough time to research, write and present them. I also have to be careful in the informational levels being presented in each book and trying to keep them at the same academic level within each subject. As I was writing Gator Country one page would address an alligator and then another would have a more sensitive subject such as the Underground Railroad or slavery. Keeping the information being presented at the same comprehension level is sometimes difficult.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A: My writing schedule ebbs and flows. Sometimes I am able to commit a lot of time and my ideas and research other times I'm not able to do anything with my books for weeks or months. I teach full time, I am also working on my PHD and I have five grandchildren.
Q: Tell us about your publisher and how you found it.
A: I am self-published through Outskirts press. I researched the company before I started with them. As I continue to write more book and receive positive feedback I will look for an agent in the near future.
Q: What was it like working with an illustrator and how much control did you have over the artwork?
A: Working with an illustrator is very exciting. I have worked with two and they are able to take a description of what I would like and put it into life. Pamela Snyder my current illustrator researches the areas she is drawing and some of the history. She takes her time in creating the page and makes sure that it is as accurate as possible.
Q: How do you define success?
A: I define success as having made a positive impact on some through my books. If is I learning new information about an animal, subject or area, getting a child outside to explore or just the enjoyment of reading rather than watching t.v, I believe I have been successful. I am also in the learning process in writing my books, I am evolving as an author and it is a new dimension of myself that I wasn't aware of.
Q: Do you think that becoming an author entails sacrifices?
A: No, I am having a wonderful time and do not feel I am sacrificing anything. I am expanding my life and experiences.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers? Do you know of any helpful resources you’d like to share?
A: That they should write about what they love, not write just for the sake of writing. If they are writing about something they care about and are invested emotionally then it will show and their readers will be interesting and engaged in their stories.
Q: What’s on the horizon for you?
A: I do not know what is in my future. Many more books, a second series I am going to title "Where in the World is Grandma?" based on my mother and the seven plus wonders of the world. Of course I will have to personally do all of the research, it will be lots of fun and very exciting.
I will continue presenting my books, looking for an agent and just enjoying the journey of being an author.