Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Jacquitta A. McManus of Worlds to Discover

1) Describe your journey as an author/writer.

I first started my company with the idea of starting a fantasy adventure children’s magazine, called Labyrinth’s Door. But that morphed into a mag book titled Labyrinth’s Door that kept some of the same ideas as the magazine.

The idea for the first Labyrinth’s Door mag book came from working on the back-story of Anyia, who is character in a novel I’m working on.

Once I had the first installment of Labyrinth’s Door published I started thinking about creating my first coloring book adventure, and that’s when the Talee series was born. It is based on a concept I had started earlier for the magazine. It first started off just as a coloring book adventure series but once I had a rough draft of the coloring book I decide to write an earlier reader chapter book of the story, after many requests from friends to do so.
I’m now working on the 2nd installments for Labyrinth’s Door and Talee.

2) Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)

I do! My genre of choice is fantasy adventure stories for children and YA. I love that genre and find it fun to work in.

3) What was your first published work?
My first book published was Labyrinth's Door--Anyia "Dream of a Warrior", a fantasy adventure mag for ages 9-12.

It is about a young girl named Anyia, whose dream of becoming a Nagoran Warrior is infused with adventure and danger. Running from her duties as a Yora, she dares to break tradition to follow her own dream, during a time when Empress Zarina threatens the magic treaty that protects her village. 

This is a story that flows wonderfully and woven into the action are mysteries that make for an exciting teaser that will leave you eager for more of Anyia's adventures. You will not want to wait to find out how her personal journey, the chief and Empress Zarian's war, as well as Amoonda's involvement and the role of the Treelins develop in coming installments. 

4) Tell us about your other books.

 My second book is a fantasy adventure book for children 4-8 titled Talee and the Fallen Object. It’s an early reader chapter book and a coloring adventure book.

Talee is an adventurous eight-year-old girl that loves purple, yellow and big puffy muffins. She lives on the planet Gala, which has two moons, and landmasses that float. It’s a great elementary school-aged children’s book, as it will transport kids to another world through the description given by the protagonist, Talee.

5) Who illustrates your books? Describe that process.
I’ve used a couple of different illustrators over the various projects. For my first book Maurice Novembre worked on the concepts of all the male characters. Toujour Byrd worked on the concepts for all the female characters and she illustrated all the scenes as well as did the entire coloring for the book.
For my second book, Toujour did the concept work on Talee but Brian Hardison did all the illustration work and I did all the inking of the illustration with the help of Brian and Toujour did the coloring of the cover.

I’m very hands on and art direct all of my projects. My process is to send the illustrator a package of the project, which always consists of my ideas, screen shots and any references I might have. Then I talk with them about the needs of the project and they work on rough sketches. Once the rough sketches are good the final illustration work begins.

6) Tell us about Worlds to Discover.com.  Are your books really available free of charge? Why?

WorldsToDiscover.com is the website for Worlds To Discover which is a children's book publishing company that is inspired by fantasy adventure stories that push the imagination. And yes! On WorldsToDiscover.com you can read both of my books for free. I made the decision one night as I was working on one of my books.

As I was writing I wished I had a fan base of children who were looking forward to the story I was working on and wondering what Anyia, Talee, and Nola were up to next. But that’s not possible if they have never read any of my stories and they don’t know the characters. Some people have told me not to post my books for free on my site. They said I wouldn't make any money while others have told me to do it for a short period of time. But, that didn’t concern me. My mind was made up one night when I was watching one of Oprah’s Life Classes where she posed a question: "Would you be doing what you’re doing even if it didn’t make money?" The answer for me was an easy…YES! I love creating stories, new characters and worlds. Just today, after not writing for weeks, I was working on one of my novels and realized how much I miss working on my stories. Although I do want to get paid for my stories, I also want people to get to know my characters. So for now they will be on my site and people are welcomed to read them for free.

7) How do you promote your work? What strategies have been the most successful?

I have mostly promoted my books on the internet, through interviews and blog tours. But now that I’ve teamed up with Eva’s Bakeshop for the Puffy Muffin I’ve started promoting through flyers and posters in my area. Our local library has been really helpful in helping to promote the Puffy Muffin as well as some daycares and etc.

8) What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?

Well with the launch of the Puffy Muffin, I also hope to publish at least 2 books this year. One of which will be the next book in the Talee series.

9) What advice would you give to budding writers?

Take your time. There is no rush, although it can feel like it is. Get your artwork done by an artist whose work you love. And spend the money and time to get a line edit done by a professional. It will be time and money well spent. 

10) What is your definition of success as a writer?

The individual defines success. Some people are content with just publishing books regardless of sales. Others want to make their living off their books. For me, success is being able to take my stories from books to animation while earning a living.

Author Bio

“All my life, I’ve gravitated to fantasy stories. Stories I felt I could be a part of and completely immerse myself in … in my imagination.” – JMcManus
Jacquitta A. McManus, a little girl from Kentucky and author of two fantasy adventure children’s books, Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia “Dream of a Warrior” and Talee and the Fallen Object, was always drawn to fantasy stories. It was a way for her to immerse herself into exciting adventures in faraway lands that she otherwise wouldn’t experience. As she got older she would find that immersing herself into those fantasy stories, as a little girl, was just the beginning of a journey that would lead her to writing her own fantasy adventure children’s books.


  1. This is a very informative interview. Good advice to would-be authors, too.

  2. Excellent interview. Thanks for sharing.