Her topics cover bullying, building character, and reading and writing for young authors. Additionally, she has her own publishing company and will soon be open for new submissions.
You write picture book stories for children that teach positive actions? What inspired you to write the first book?
I was a classroom teacher and it was my students that inspired me to start writing.
You’ve published nine books. When did you actually start writing your first one?
My first book was written in 2006 and I worked on it for several months before sending it out to publishers.
Who encouraged you along the way?
My husband was my biggest fan!
Prior to writing your books, what was your publishing and writing background?
I graduated from Michigan State University with a double major in English and Child Development. I was a teacher for over a decade and used picture books in my classroom daily.
What made you decide to start your own publishing company?
After writing picture books for ten years, I decided to try something a little different. We are open for submissions every November 1st-February 28th.
How many staff members do you have working for you?
Right now, I have twelve team members who work regularly on our projects and four authors/illustrators.
How long have you been coaching and doing paid workshops?
I have been coaching way back from around 2011 when I was getting a ton of aspiring writers reaching out to me for mentorships.
Do your illustrators work strictly from your text or do you give them suggestions of how you want the story to be done?
We find illustrators from reputable art agencies. We have some art notes in our submitted manuscripts, but we allow our artists to have creative control over the project in the design phase.
Do you handle your own social media, or do you have someone/service working for you?
I am part of all my social media, but I have team members who help schedule and post. I never want my voice or vision to be absent, so I continue to play a role.
What’s the best tip you could offer other writers about using social media?
My best tip for writers using social media is to choose just two platforms to focus on. Share valuable content to your audience and be consistent about it. This will help create visibility to your brand!
What has frustrated you the most in putting your books together?
We have made some mistakes and for having a team, that frustrates me that sometimes we all miss something!
What has pleasantly surprised you in the process?
I’m surprised how much I love the work I do, all phases make for variety!!!
What advice would you give someone who wants to write children’s stories?
Just do it! A professional editor is also important. Don't allow your family to edit your work before submitting it to publishers. Have it professionally polished!
What is the writing best advice you’ve been given?
How much time daily do you have for writing?
It depends on the day. We have three young children, so I squeeze work in here and there. I am a fan of waking up before the sun (and the children and husband) to write.
What message would you like parents and children to take away from your books?
I want children to know they have the power to make a difference through simple acts of kindness that can happen in their home, school or community!
What future plans do you have for the publishing company?
Each year we plan to take on a few more projects.
What’s the next book coming out?
Dazzling Travis by Hannah Carmona Dias (Spring 2019)
That’s all for today’s interview. If you would like to learn more about what Maria is looking for in submissions or buy one of her books, here are some links to get you started.