Dawn Menge is the author of the Queen Vernita Educational series. She holds a Bachelors in Human Development, a Master's in Special Education, and some doctoral work in Curriculum and Instruction.
She has received fifteen national awards as a self-published author. Her awards include but are not limited to EVVY, Reader's Views, USA Best Book, Purple Dragon Fly, and Scooter .
About “Queen Venita”
Queen Vernita and her friend Carl continue her twelve month long journey with her new friends as she explores the coastline of the Oceaneer's Kingdom. During her journey she meets twelve wonderful friends for in which she spends an entire month with. She learns about sand dollars, stalagmites, stalagtites, octopus, star fish and sand crabs to name a few. She sleeps on the beach under the stars and in the Redwoods forest.
DP: When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
Dawn: I took a math class while getting my special education credential. An assignment in the class was to write a children's book based on math including a game. Several years later I decided to self-publish it. Within months I received my first award and interview. I continued to write about my travels and my friends.
DP: How did you decide on the idea for your first book?
Dawn: My first book was based on math concepts which include repetition of the days of the weeks, months of the year, and seasons. Each month consists of seven facts about a specific subject. One fact for each day of the week and one new subject for each month of the year.
DP: How long did it take you to write your first book?
Dawn: It only took me a few weeks to write the first book, but it took several years before I decided to publish it.
The research I do for each book may take me a year or so to complete or as short a time span as a week. It is dependent on what I am researching and writing about.
DP: Did you self-publish or are you signed to a publishing company?
Dawn: I have chosen to self-publish for now because I have more freedom to write what I have a passion for. I also have more freedom to set up my book signings and interviews.
DP: How did you decide on the cover for your most recent book?
Dawn: The cover of my most recent book is a picture I took of the California Coastline while on a road trip this summer.
All of the characters in my books are real people in my life.
DP: Tell us about your writing style. Do you write on a schedule?
Dawn: No, I do not write on a schedule. I try to get one book out each year. At the present I have researched 3 books and am currently writing them.
DP: What makes your writing unique?
Dawn: My writing is unique because I write about real people in my life. The main character in my book Queen Vernita is based on my grandmother Vernita, all of the other characters in the series are members of my family or my friends. I have traveled to many destinations to research my books.
I have swam with the dolphins, sharks, turtles, toured a Sea Horse sanctuary, explored caves, kayaked to glaciers, had a crab feast and many more exciting adventures.
I also co-authored the Queen Vernita Meets sir HeathyBean the Astronomer with my brother Heath Rhoades as the main character. He is the Astronomy Team Leader at the Jet Propolusion Laboratory's Table Mountain Observatory and specializes in software and technology for the optical telescope systems. He participates in asteroid and comet astrometry and is conducting research in asteroid light curve studies, as well as training and assisting visiting scientists.
DP: As a writer, what motivates you?
Dawn: What motivates me to write is the love of travel and the need to share my experiences in the form of writing.
DP: How do you balance your writing and various responsibilities that come along with being an independent author?
Dawn: I have learned to manage my time between my passions by staying as organized as possible and learning to enjoy everything that I am doing.
DP: When you’re not writing what are you doing?
Dawn: I teach severely handicapped students at the high school level. I am currently enrolled as a doctoral student. I also have five very beautiful grandchildren whom I spend much of my time with.
I also love to travel and explore.
DP: What’s a typical day like for you?
Dawn: I teach severely handicapped students, I spend much of my time with my grandchildren, I travel and research my books and I work on my dissertation.
DP: Tell us about your last book signing.
Dawn: My last book signing was at a public library. Most of my book signings are at public libraries during the summer when they have the children's programs.
DP: Do you have contests or giveaways?
DP: Many independent authors find it hard to get readers to buy their books. How did you handle the challenges that come along with being a first-time author in a competitive and ever-changing market?
Dawn: I sell many of my books at the signings I do at the libraries. A few summers ago I went to fifteen libraries within the southern California region and sold my books after my readings. I also have a website and facebook account.
DP: What did you do on your 2nd book that you did not do in your first one?
Dawn: My second book did not change that much, but as I have written the fifth and sixth I have added more details.
DP: If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming author, what would it be?
Dawn: To write....
DP: Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Dawn’s literary awards include: Evvy Awards, Reader's Choice Awards, American Children's Book Society-Scooter award and A+ rating, Readers favorite and Purple Dragon Fly Award.
Dawn Menge and Heath Rhoades were honored as the visiting authors in the Young Author's Awards for the Snowline School District for 2011 and 2013.