In addition to writing children’s books, Wanda Luthman, author of Gloria and the Unicorn, is a guidance counselor. She strives to help parents and teachers develop healthy children, who are able to grow up and find and follow their passion. Wanda writes entertaining stories that connect children with positive social and emotional messages, such as forgiveness, perseverance, and self-acceptance.
Wanda Luthman shares how she got started as a writer, the differences between writing for children and adults, and more in this Author Q&A.
What inspired you to write children’s books?
One day, when my daughter was five years old, I woke up with a story burning to be written. I mean, it just came spilling out. I wrote it down on a legal pad and then read it to my daughter. She loved it, except I had killed the dragon in the story and she started to cry. I knew I had to change that. So I started working more on the manuscript and knew I wanted to make it into a chapter book. I loved seeing her face light up over my story, and for her to feel so attached to the dragon that she didn’t want to see him die. That’s when I knew I wanted to write for children to both entertain them, as well as give them positive messages in story form.
Why did you write Gloria and the Unicorn?
This story was inspired by a miniature white pony I saw standing alone in a field one day, while I was pedaling my bike through the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. Something about him just drew me, and I was in love. I knew he had a story that needed to be told. As I sat down to write, the protagonist of a little girl with a droopy face on one side came out. I wasn’t sure I could write about a girl with a facial disfigurement. I wanted to be sensitive to her and I also wanted her to be strong. She kept being persistent that her story should be told, so I listened very carefully to her and wrote it all down.
What was your favorite part of writing it? The greatest challenge?
My favorite part of writing this story was her meeting the unicorn for the first time. He was so kind and gentle and wise. Just his presence was healing, but he did so much more.
The greatest challenge was getting the story right. I really wanted to be sensitive to her issues, so other children who had issues would see themselves in a new light. And those children who don’t have those struggles would still be able to relate to her and love her, too.
In what ways is writing for children different than/similar to writing for adults?
I talk to children like they are adults. I believe they can think deeper than we give them credit for. I like to honor that in my books. However, you do have to be more careful not to describe things that are beyond them. For instance, Gloria’s birth was difficult. Her mother died during labor. I was cautioned by my editor to not say too much about that, whereas with adults, you could. With children, you skirt around some of those types of things.
What was your publishing and promo process?
I self-published, using CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. I have a wonderful team of people who create my book covers, edit, and format my books for me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to bring the quality of books out to the public like I do. I’m very grateful to each one of them. I promoted the release by doing a Facebook Release Party, and also promoted pre-orders through the various groups I’m a part of on Facebook.
Advice for children’s authors?
I would tell a children’s author to be true to yourself. Publish what you feel in your heart.
Advice for self-publishing?
My advice for self-publishing is to learn how to market your book. I didn’t realize so much marketing needed to happen when I first self-published. Now I know it, but I still don’t have all the tools necessary. I may need to take a marketing class.
Additional tips for writers?
Do it for the love of writing, not the paycheck. There are many days it’s easy to become discouraged. Find a group of writers locally and lean on them during these times. Eventually, the paycheck will come.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started writing?
There are so many things I’ve learned on this journey, but truly, the marketing piece is the most difficult for me. I am not normally a salesy-type person, so my brain doesn’t even work like that. I’ve really had to stretch to learn about marketing, embrace it, and do it.Tags: Author Q&A Book Marketing Children's Books CreateSpace Gloria and the Unicorn Kindle Direct Publishing Self-Publishing Wanda Luthman Writing for Children