Poodle and Doodle by Donna Shepherd
I have the pleasure of interviewing author Donna Shepherd today.
Donna, I want to thank you for taking time and being my guest today.
Do you only write for children? If yes, why for children?
When I first started writing in 2003, I wrote inspirational articles and Christian devotions for magazines and several anthologies. One day a silly poem came to mind. After having a few pieces in places like Wee Ones and Guideposts for Kids, I began working on Topsy Turvy Land. With Kevin Scott Collier's illustrations and publication by Hidden Pictures Publishing, that became my first book for children. I love both types of writing and cannot imagine choosing one over the other.
How did the story for Poodle and Doodle come about?
Mayra Calvani emailed to ask if I'd like to be interviewed on her blog. But she didn't really want me to answer. She wanted to interview my dog! She has a blog called "Pets and Their Authors." I answered questions on behalf of my labradoodle, Sadie. Mayra thought the answers were funny and asked why I hadn't written about Sadie's antics. I thought, "Why haven't I?" and started writing. (Original interview) Although Mayra interviewed Sadie, the book is written from my poodle Angel's point of view. I also write posts from Angel's perspective on a blog called "Oodles of Fun." I have coloring pages, videos, fun stories, and pics of a lot of dogs.
Are your story ideas influenced by your family in any way? If so, how?
I have a red-headed son on whom I've slathered gallons of sunscreen with him fussing every step of the way. That was the inspiration for Ouch! Sunburn. I've heard that book has helped moms convince their children to wear sunscreen and protect their skin. With No More Gunk, I've gotten thanks from parents whose children started brushing their teeth without complaining. All of the Topsy Tales (
When you first began writing for children, did you read tons of books as all the how-to writing books recommend? If so, how did these children books help you perfect your craft?
I read a lot of children's books, several books about writing for children, joined several Yahoo groups, devoured all the advice I could find on the web, and most importantly, joined a couple of critique groups. It is my belief that if you're willing to take criticism, you're much more likely to succeed as a writer. My crit buddies have been invaluable.
What do you find the hardest when it comes to writing for children?
There are already books about almost any subject you can think of. My greatest hope is that I can write books with a fresh twist using fun wordplay and rhyme.
Tell us a bit about Poodle and Doodle and where readers can purchase it.
Poodle and Doodle is available any place books are sold and can be ordered on the Guardian Angel Publishing website. It's also available as an eBook and this will be my first book that's slated to be released as an app for the iPhone. Jack Foster's illustrations will work perfectly in the format. I'm going to have to get a new phone!
Any advice to writers who are contemplating writing for children?
I don't trust myself to be objective with my own writing. It is so important to get feedback. For a while, I had what I called my 'Review Crew" at church. I'd take pieces I was working on to this group of kids for feedback. I also have two children who are older, but like me, love children's writing. They give honest and sometimes brutal critiques. Since I began meeting monthly with a group of writers, several moms with toddlers and a couple of teachers have joined us. They really help me with their comments and suggestions. Research publishers before submitting. Go to brick and mortar bookstores to read all the latest releases in your genre. I find myself eavesdropping on conversations in bookstores. It's amazing how much you can learn about children's writing by listening to children's comments while shopping and listening to the adult's recommendations. Talk to the clerks in the children's section. The librarians in the children's department at your local library are also wonderful. Visit the message boards on Verlakay.com. for a wealth of information and advice about writing for children.
Thank you for the interview, Lea. I hope everyone enjoys reading Poodle and Doodle as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I'm sure they will, Donna. There's just something magical about children's picture books that as one ages we still find ourselves attracted to them because of their simplistic and fun reads.
Visit Donna’s blogs: