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True Story Blog


Donna Mae dreamt of writing a children's book but, like so many of us, was busy taking care of a family. Once her children grew up and left home, she dusted off that old dream and made it sparkle! Today she shares the story of self-publishing her first picture book MARSHMALLOWS GALORE.

Q. Was MARSHMALLOWS GALORE the first picture book manuscript you ever wrote? If not, what was the first picture book you wrote and what happened to it?
A. MARSHMALLOWS GALORE was not the first one I wrote. The first one I wrote is the one I’m revising at the present moment. I wrote it many years ago. It needed a lot of revising, so I let it percolate.

Q. What event or person inspired MARSHMALLOWS GALORE?
A. I must confess, I was daydreaming at work! The thought came into my mind and I ran with it. It seemed like a silly concept, marshmallows falling from the sky, but I like SILLY.

Q. How did you pick the title of your book?
A. The story is about giant marshmallows falling from the sky. I envisioned giant marshmallows everywhere. The name seemed perfect. MARSHMALLOWS GALORE!

Q. What is your favorite part of MARSHMALLOWS GALORE? And was that part in the first draft?
A. My favorite part of the book is the end and it was always in the manuscript. I won’t give it away. It fills my heart!!!!!!

Q. Why did you decide to tell the story in first person?
A. I write in rhyme, from my heart, and that is how it came out.

Q. How much of the story did you know when you began to write MARSHMALLOWS GALORE?
A. My initial story was just a silly thought about giant marshmallows falling from the sky. Next I needed to tell a story about caring, sharing, compassion and maybe some much needed team work. I was hoping to write a story that would plant a seed! Ask the question? What would you do with giant marshmallows that fell from the sky?
I’ve created “The Marshmallow Pledge” that accompanies my reading, the kids recite it at the end of my story. Parents love it!!!

Q. MARSHMALLOWS GALORE is self-published. Can you tell us about the process? Did you submit it to traditional publishers?
A. I took on self-publishing as a personal challenge. I had an overwhelming feeling of Do This Book By Yourself. I took baby steps and decided that the only way I would be able to do that was to take fear and doubt out of the equation. It’s an all inspiring story from start to finish. Do you have all day ????? It’s really the story of my life.

Q. How did you select the illustrator for MARSHMALLOWS GALORE?
A. I’m a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and there are many illustrators to choose from. But I found an illustrator's website and loved his work. It was the highlight of my life. I decided to do this book through an epiphany I had and people just showed up for me as I needed them. It was truly MEANT TO BE.

Q. What jumped out at you when you saw the first sketches and jacket cover?
A. I loved his color choices. He (Brandon Fall) is from Colorado, so his southwestern color scheme was very pleasing to me. We really hit it off throughout the process. Our collaboration was very easy and flowing. Brandon had illustrated six or seven books prior to mine. He does work for Disney and had been in the business for a while. He was so helpful and knowledgeable. The perfect fit for me. Like I said, the right people showed up for me as I needed them. The illustration he chose for the jacket is perfect!!!!

Q. How long did MARSHMALLOWS GALORE take to be published—from the time you decided to self-publish until it printed?
A. It took 18 glorious, fun-filled, baby-step months. I was so sad when it was over. I learned so much.
I now do all the marketing for my books and love every minute of it. It’s a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and it’s so much fun. I love to tell the story of how my book actually came over ON A SLOW BOAT FROM CHINA!!!! HAHAHA!!! It’s sooooo true.

Q. Is there anything you would change in the book today if you could reprint it? (Was there a part that you really loved but had to edit out? Or did you think of something later that you wanted to add? )
A. I think the only thing that I would change would be the shape of the giant marshmallow treat that the boy makes to share. It’s round and I think it should have been heart shaped to show more LOVE. There isn’t anything else I’d change.

Q. When you do readings of MARSHMALLOWS GALORE which part of the book gets the best reaction?
A. There are two parts of the story that visually the children oooh!!!and ahh!!! over. The first being the pages where the giant marshmallows are falling from the sky and the pages where the boy and all his friends feed the WHOLE WORLD. That’s my favorite too.

Q. What is your #1 tip to those who want to write picture books?
First, I want to say that it has to be your passion. It’s not as easy as some might think. And most of all, read and pay attention to what others are doing. Stay informed and be aware; think outside the box and never follow trends. Always do what YOU do. Believe in yourself and know that there is room for all. I think that’s more than one tip, but I could go on. Love what you do. I get to work from home—in my pajamas if I want to.
To learn more about Donna Mae, visit her website .
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