Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi, I’m Wanda Luthman. I’m an award-winning children’s book author and I’m a high school guidance counselor. I love working with kids and helping them be their best selves. My books all carry social/emotional messages such as forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-love, and perseverance. My books range from picture books for the 0-6 age range to short chapter books for 7-12 age range.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
The stories behind my books are related to being a Mom to a beautiful daughter who taught me so much. She has been my inspiration and muse. But, also, the stories are based on a bit of my life experience as well. For instance, in my first book, The Lilac Princess, Dreama longs to go outside the castle walls to smell the fragrant lilacs but she’s not allowed due to the wars going on in the land. I can say I was probably a bit of an over-protective Mom and my daughter longed to escape the confines of my protection. She was never defiant or anything but she’s definitely independent! And then as the story progresses, I had my own dragon in my life that I needed to forgive and have and it has brought me so much peace. So, that’s how the two intertwine in my story-telling.
How do you deal with creative block?
I rarely feel this but if there’s something I want to write about and it’s not coming immediately, I just let it percolate in the back of my brain while I go about the rest of my life. I don’t try to force it. Then, when I sit down, sometimes I start writing thinking I’m going one direction and the writing will go in a completely different direction. I’m usually pleased with the direction it takes and feel that is my inner self channeling through my fingers as I type. That’s the beauty of letting things percolate, your front brain that does all the critical thinking tends to shut down your creativity, so you have to give way to your back brain and let it flow. I’m not a scientist and that’s probably not right regarding front and back brain, but that’s how I think of it.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I have to say that you must research titles!! I did not do this on my 2nd book, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure. I was nearly ready to publish when I started reaching out to people for reviews and someone said they had already read my book and I’m like, “Um no, no you haven’t.” Turns out, there was another book with nearly the same title. While that’s okay, you don’t want people confusing your book with another book and all the sales you’re trying to drive to Amazon or wherever go to the other person.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I say you’re not a real author until you’ve had at least one bad review. I have had a few. Sometimes people are just mean spirited and don’t have anything nice to say about anything so you have to just blow those off. But, if they give you actual feedback, you need to slow down and think about that because someone saw your book in that light. There’s a real possibility others may too. I try to take criticism and use it to make me a better writer.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The surprising thing to me was just how wonderfully supportive other indie authors are to new authors. I had no idea what to expect when I went to my first book fair and met some local authors. They were all so nice and friendly and have been a huge support to me.
The best thing that I have encountered was when I won a silver medal from Reader’s Favorite on my first picture book, Little Birdie Grows Up!! I was like a little girl squealing and jumping around the room when I got the news.
The worst thing has been trying to figure out marketing. I was so green and I had no idea I had to do all my own marketing and I haven’t a clue how to do it. I haven’t studied marketing and my brain just doesn’t work that way. I do my best but it’s really hard.
What are your plans for future books?
I am making a series out of my Franky books. The first one is Franky the Finicky Flamingo about a picky eater and the second one is Franky the Thirsty Flamingo about not littering and the third one that I’m working on right now is Franky the Friendly Flamingo about bullying. I have others in the pipeline…
I would like to work on sequels to my other books. I have some written and ready to go but I can only do one thing at a time.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I’m not sure how quirky it is but my neighbor and I have rescued about 15 feral cats so far. Two female cats showed up pregnant at the same time. We both couldn’t turn them away so we began feeding them and then they had their babies that we had to also catch and get fixed. One cat got pregnant again before we caught her, so she had a second litter. But, all, now, thankfully have been fixed. Her name is Rhonda and I’m Wanda so we’re the RhondaWanda Feral Cat Colony Ladies. She has a white dog that she walks down the street and most of the cats are black and they all follow the two of them down the street. It’s a very funny sight!