Monday, December 28, 2015


( Children's books at a library by Project Manhattan)


( John Grisham novels by Netaholic13)

When I first began writing professionally back in 2010, I wasn't sure what genre of stories I wanted to write. All my life I've wanted to write for children but with so many genres to choose from, at first it became confusing whether my stories would survive as picture books, early readers, chapter books, etc.

The more I read about the craft of writing, the more I kept reading that writers should try to stick to one genre...i.e. picture books...instead of "spreading themselves thin" by writing in a multitude of genres. Since I was just starting out, I took that advice to heart and focused my energy on picture books. I surrounded myself with only picture book authors, read only articles about writing picture books, and over the next three years added about twenty picture book manuscripts to my portfolio.

I really tried to write ONLY in the picture book genre but my vision for my writing career was becoming too narrow and it was affecting my work.

Could all those experts be wrong about ONLY writing in one genre?

By 2013 I gave myself permission to look beyond writing picture books. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE writing picture books but I knew there were many more stories in me waiting to be born. So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

Over the next two years not only did I add some early reader chapter books to my portfolio, I found a special passion for writing creative nonfiction. In my corner of the world, children (and teachers/librarians) were begging for more creative nonfiction which validated my new writing direction.

But even then it wasn't enough. A nugget of a story had been rattling around in my mind for almost three years and this past November I finally gave myself permission to listen to that voice in my head. Three years to allow that nugget to percolate into a full blown story line which eventually grew into a three book series. With the help of wonderful novelists participating in NaNoWriMo, I finished book two of my LUNADAR series. What began as a stand alone manuscript ended up being the middle book of a trilogy and I'm excited to create the rest of Ariana's story.

Was this transition from picture book writer to novelist easy?


I can see why the experts suggest staying with only one genre. Play to your strengths. Focus on one audience of readers. Create an authentic author's voice. But sometimes, if you work hard enough, you CAN cross the boundaries of different genres to expand your writing horizons.

Now, I have a 3-6 year old voice for my picture books, a 7-11 year old voice for my chapter books, and a 12-18 year old voice for my young adult novels. It keeps me on my toes and keeps my writing fresh.

Which do I prefer?

It's like the flavor of the week...when I sit down to write in a particular genre, THAT is the one I love the most!

As a teaser, here is the beginning of my young adult light fantasy novel. 

LUNADAR: HOMEWARD BOUND is the story of Lady Ariana as leader of Lunadar and her fight to protect the waterfall city from the evil Lord Shemar in order for her legacy to be handed down to her heir, Candra. This story has magic, fairies, mermaids, pirates, and much more to keep you racing through the pages...;~)

Leave a comment below letting me know what you think. Do you write in different genres? How challenging is it for you and are there any tips you can give my readers who are thinking about expanding into other genres?

by Donna L Martin

Chapter One
     The setting sun bathed the deck in an unnatural light. The men were restless. They had been too long from land, too long from home and it weighed heavily upon their spirits. This night would be a rough one with choppy seas and razor sharp tongues. Lady Ariana’s hand was firm upon the railing and her body swayed in rhythm to the waves. Her eyes peered into the fading light as if to see land just beyond the portal. She would get no rest that night.
     Voices wafted up from below, a harsh word muttered here and there as men settled down in cramp quarters which reeked of sweat and dirt from many days at sea with only each other and the moonlight for company. Ariana’s body begged for rest but her mind raced. Crowded with the what-ifs and what-could-have-been of another life time. Too late to change things. The sea was her master and she followed wherever it led her.
     She struggled to stay awake. Many depended on her to lead them through the rocky maze which lay before them. But she was confident. She knew this path well, having traveled it many times. Truth be told, she could steer this ship through these waters with her eyes closed. Every rock and shell was as familiar to her as the stars in the northern sky.
     The maze was done and once again they were on the open sea.  A solitary moon loomed before them, the only other thing awake at this time of night.  Midnight hour. Witching hour. A time when the portal opened between the here and now to stretch into the Otherworld. Ariana’s heart raced as if mere wishing would make those sails quicken the journey. At last they were homeward bound and another moon would not rise before they were once again in the arms of their loved ones. All that stood between loved ones and Ariana was the moon. 
     The familiar waters of her secret cove finally came into view. Midnight hour was almost gone and she must pass through before the portal closed. To linger in the Otherworld too long would damn Ariana to a life without Candra.  The gods were not merciful to those who failed to pass through the portal in time.  Gliding through waters as still as the grave, she dropped anchor just as the portal faded away. Another successful run and a full bounty to share with the others. Lord Shemar might have a price on Lady Ariana’s head, but the gods favored her once again as she knelt to bless the ground beneath her feet. She was home and eager to hold Candra in her arms once again.



  1. Lunadar Homeward Bound is beautiful, Donna. A gripping first chapter. I too wanted to write more MG or YA but took up PB to learn the craft of writing. Merry Christmas and hoping you have a great New Year.

    1. Hi Diane!

      I'm glad you like my "teaser" from Lunadar. I'm in the middle of getting critiques from my CP and then will work to revise and shine up that novel before handing it off to my agent. It sounds like you and I followed the same path in the beginning. Have you tried your hand at MG or YA yet? It's definitely a challenge but one that I LOVE!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

  2. Love your writing, Donna. Lots of hooks in your first chapter - caught me! I, too, have only been focusing on picture books, though I have dipped my feet into MG and would like to write Chapter Books. I love writing PB's, mostly in rhyme, but there are times when I miss my adjectives! This next year I think I'll sail where the fickle winds send me. Have a happy writing year!

    1. HI Jill!

      My meanderings have taken me into the world of early reader creative nonfiction and I LOVE it!! I focus on little known historical events and have two completed manuscripts under my belt so far...the first one is a mystery involving chocolate, an airborn train, and children. The second one is an adventure about what happened BEFORE the Titanic sailed that could have prevented all those souls from perishing. The third one I've only begun my research but takes place during WWII and will involve 3 million children, spies, adventures in the countryside and Christmas! These three books will hopefully become part of a new creative nonfiction series about little known historical events...;~)

      Good luck to you in 2016. Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

  3. No one ever advised me one way or the other. Having just finished a YA contemporary novel, I'm toying with writing a historical, either MG or YA. Common sense tells me to stick to one mindset whichever age group I write for. So lately, since I've been writing for teens, I deliberately watch teen TV series and movies, and read YA. But I honestly wish I could work on MG, YA, and adult at the same time. Three projects at the same time. Still wondering if that's possible.
    Best wishes for the New Year! Your opening scene pulled me right in, making me curious about Candra and the portal. Who is she and what is it?

    1. Hi Sharon!

      Thank you for your kind words. I spent many years denying to myself that I live to create on paper the worlds and characters alive in my own imagination. My best friend tells me I'm naïve about some think it helps to keep my storytelling fresh. Right now I write "sweet" picture books, interesting historical creative nonfiction chapter books, and young adult light fantasy or mystery novels. I have a demanding full time job running a martial arts training facility which leaves me limited time to pursue my writerly passions but somehow I make it work! ;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!