Tag Archives: newsletter

Interview with Melissa Donovan, creator of “Writing Forward”


Interview with Melissa Donovan, multi-talented writer and creating ofmelissadonovan “Writing Forward,” an award-winning site for writers 

Melissa Donovan is a self-employed copywriter and web content specialist. She writes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her blog, Writing Forward, which was recently named one of Writer’s Digest “101 Best Websites for Writers,” offers creative writing tips and ideas.


1. How did you get started as a writer?


Like many writers, I started out as a reader – a voracious reader. I could read before I turned four years old and I have always devoured books. When I was about thirteen, I started journaling and writing poetry. I also enrolled in journalism class and worked on the school newspaper.

2. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Writers can learn a lot by reading well-written works by successful authors. If you want to improve your language, read Jazz by Toni Morrison. If you’re having trouble creating realistic or believable characters, read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Read the classics and read extensively in whatever genre you want to write.

3. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I’m a huge animal lover, and one of my goals is to write and work on behalf of the No Kill movement, which seeks to end the unethical and unnecessary killing of homeless animals in shelters. You can learn more by visiting the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Normally, I’m pretty shy and I don’t like speaking in public or being the center of attention. The only exception is when I’m dancing. I love to dance, and when I do, my inner exhibitionist comes out and my shyness disappears. I like to own the dance floor.

I started working as a freelance copywriter on a whim. I had been working for a company that went out of business, and six months later I was tired of the job search, tired of corporate life, and tired of playing it safe. So, I took a leap of faith and less than a month later, I was in business.

4. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer is telling a story that people care about. Also, the writing community is incredibly warm and supportive, so it’s an honor to be a part of that. It’s all about making that human connection.

Having said that, the worst part is the solitude. The only thing I miss about having an office job is meeting and working closely with other people. The Internet is helpful in maintaining a sense of community but it’s not quite the same.

5. Advice for other writers

Read and write. Those are the only two things every writer absolutely must do.

Where can people get writing tips and exercises?

My website features writing tips to help writers improve their craft, along with activities like poetry prompts and writing exercises. The poetry prompts are especially popular because the challenge is simple – write a poem that contains all of the words from a list.

One of my favorite fiction writing exercises asks writers to get into their characters by chatting with them, putting them in situations outside of the story, and writing a monologue from the characters’ perspective. It’s called “Getting Into Character.” 

Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I took a fiction writing course in college, and I remember reading my story out loud to the class – not something I enjoyed much, but it was a class requirement. They laughed, and the best part was that they laughed where the story was supposed to be funny. I remember thinking that I can do this – if I can make people laugh with my writing, then I can be a writer.

Q & A with Donna McDine, children’s author and publisher of new newsletter for writers


Note from Wendy: This is not the usual “10 Questions for…” format but rather a Q & A from Donna about her new newsletter for writers. I thought this was worthy of posting in the place of the standard author interviews.


Write What Inspires You! Newsletterwritewhatinspiresyoulogodonnamcdineblogphoto

By Donna M. McDine


Publication Frequency: Monthly

Distribution Method: Email with .PDF file attached

Length of Existence: Three months


Coming off the inspiration of The 2008 Muse Online Conference, Donna has embarked on the maiden voyage of her debut FREE newsletter, “Write What Inspires You!” published on a monthly basis.  It is the intent to deliver to the reader a combination of:


•  Author, Illustrator, and Editor Interviews

•  Book Reviews

•  An essay column entitled, Reflections or Dreams (which can be non-fiction or fiction)

•  Proclaim Your Successes! Section, so we all can cheer one another on.

•  Audience: Peers in the Children Publishing Industry

Creator Name & Bio:

Donna M. McDine is a native of Rockland County, NY and lives with her husband and two children. She writes, moms, and is the Marketing Manager for Stories for Children Magazine from her home in Tappan. Her publishing credits include 15 print and ezine publications and she placed 12th in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the category Children’s/Young Adult Fiction. She is also an active member of the SCBWI and Musing Our Children.

Q: What was your biggest concern about pulling it off and how did you lay that concern to bed?

Donna: My biggest concern at first was why would someone want to subscribe to my newsletter, what makes me worthy of putting out such a newsletter.  I’m a list person and immediately wrote out my pros and cons. The pros heavily outweighed the cons. My gut told me, what do you have to lose…so I went for it.  I went ahead and sent out Media Releases and posts to children writer discussion boards and my writing groups and my efforts resulted in positive responses.  Even before the debut issue in December 2008 was released my opt-in subscriber list stood at a little more than 75 subscribers.  To tell you the truth I was quite shocked and pleased.  As of this interview I’m at 120 subscribers and momentum continues to build.  Not as much at first, but steady enough.  I feel like a child receiving the perfect gift and shout out a YIPPEE every time I receive in opt-in request. 

Q: What purpose will your ezine serve your readers?

Donna: The purpose of my ezine newsletter is to provide interviews on a monthly basis from authors, editors, and illustrators, giving the reader a glimpse into the daily musings of the children publishing industry.  Also, included is a submission column entitled, Reflections or Dreams (more detail below), one book review per month usually tied in with the author or illustrator interviewed and of course a Proclaim Your Successes column for fellow writers to announce their accomplishments.  I’m currently booked through July and a sneak peak for the March 2009 issue includes interviews with author L. Diane Wolfe and Kristie Smith, editor Vivian Zabel, and illustrator Sarah Ackerley; The Circle of Friends ~ Book 1 ~ Lori book review. 

Q: How are you generating subscribers?

Donna:  I am learning the marketing techniques as I go along and to date I have been successful with Media Releases, posting announcements at children writers discussion boards, including the newsletter in my signature line of my emails, having an opt-in selection at the top of my website, and of course word of mouth.  Over the past several months I am becoming more comfortable with my abilities as a writer and have discussed my writing career and my newsletter more openly.  Networking IS key!

Q: Will you accept submissions from writers?

Donna: At this time I accept submissions for the Reflections or Dreams column. The guidelines for submission are: select to write a poem or an article (fiction or non-fiction) around the topic of “reflections of your writing” or “dreams for your writing.”  No more than 500 words.  The column will not include more than one article or a combo of one poem and one article for the Reflections or Dreams column. This is a non-paying market.

Learn more about Donna’s writing career at: http://www.donnamcdine.com, sign her guest book and receive a FREE copy of “Write What Inspires You! Author Interviews,” compiled by Donna M. McDine.


5 Q’s with Wendy on freelance life


I was just interviewed by Susan Johnston of the Urban Muse Writer. She asked me about common mistakes writers make, staying organized and motivated as a freelance writer, advice for other writers and more. Read the interview and then sign up for The Urban Museletter to get your monthly fix of writing tips and tidbits. It’s good advice; Susan has written for The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, SELF, WomenEntrepreneur.com and Yahoo! HotJobs, among other places. She also teaches and does copywriting. Here’s her other Web site: www.Susan-Johnston.com