Newest Book!

* TX Bluebonnet Master List! * 2017 Orbis Pictus Recommended Book * ALA/ALSC Notable book * Carter G. Woodson Honor (NCSS) * Writer's League of Texas Book Award * Junior Library Guild Selection * 3 starred reviews A horse that could read, write, calculate math problems, and more? Ridiculous! That's what people thought until William "Doc" Key and his "educated" horse Beautiful Jim Key proved the power of kindness.

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Releasing Spring, 2018

Blurb: "A rollicking story, well told with all the original color."James M. Cornelius, Ph.D. Curator, Lincoln Collection—Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum— When he was a young lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln did something so rascally, it landed him on the dueling ground. He would need his wit and a heavy dose of humility to save his life and his career. Ultimately, his great big mistake taught him to be a better man. It's a good thing, too, because the future of this great country was at stake.

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About me / Interviews / Upcoming appearances

Bio Options:

Fave 2 IMG_1627a 5 x 7 72144-words—   Donna Janell Bowman is the author of the picture book biography STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS, which earned many accolades, including three starred reviews, a Writer’s League of Texas Book Award, and a Carter G. Woodson Award Honor from NCSS. It was also named an ALA Notable Book, a NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended book, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and has been named to the 2018-19 TX Bluebonnet master list. In spring 2018, her next picture book biography titled ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS releases from Peachtree Publishers, followed by KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: THE GREAT BLONDIN in 2019. Donna has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and enjoys speaking with and mentoring writers of all ages. She lives near Austin, Texas and is represented by Erin Murphy—Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

104-words –—     Donna Janell Bowman is the author of many books for young readers, including the award-winning picture book biography STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS (Lee and Low, October 2016), now a Texas Bluebonnet finalist. Two additional picture book biographies are forthcoming: ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS (Peachtree, spring 2018), and KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: THE GREAT BLONDIN (Peachtree, spring 2019). Donna has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and enjoys mentoring and teaching writers of all ages. She lives near Austin, Texas and is represented by Erin Murphy—Erin Murphy Literary Agency.


Casual Bio:

IMG_0595-225x300When I was a kid, I lived on a Quarter Horse ranch in central Texas. While my city friends rode bikes and hung out with neighbor kids, I was busy with ranch chores, taking care of animal friends, and training for upcoming horse shows. I mucked a lot of stalls, gathered a lot of eggs, helped with a lot of fence-mending, moved a lot of hay. I also groomed and rode a lot of horses—which made me happiest of all. During quiet times, amid the wide open spaces, my imagination was cultivated. I wrote poetry and stories in spiral notebooks, then later on a portable typewriter tucked into the corner of my pink and purple bedroom. On that ranch, so long ago, the first seeds of my writing interests blossomed. As a grown-up, I detoured into the corporate world for many years, but I eventually found my way back to writing. Today, I have a stack of published books, a stack of not-yet-published books, and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I am proudly represented by Erin Murphy—Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

See my author page on Amazon here.

Interviews with me:

November 2017 post on Picture Book Month

Cynsations hosted my cover reveal for, and introduction for, Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed, along with Cynthia Levinson, for The Writing Barn’s  Porchlight Podcast.

Interview for the VCFA launchpad, January 2017

Interview for Lee and Low Books about writing Step Right Up, November 10, 2016

Interview for The Booking Biz, November 1, 2016

Cynsations New Voices interview, October 12, 2016, re: Step Right Up

EMU’s Debuts interview, October 10, 2016, Step Right Up

EMUs Debuts interview with editor Louise May re: Step Right Up, October 11, 2016

Interview for Austin SCBWI, July 30, 2015.

Interview about rejecting rejection from The Writing Barn, November 2014.

Upcoming Appearances 

2018  (incomplete schedule—contact me for availability)

October 2018—Round Rock ISD school visits
July 21-23—ILA — Austin, TX
May 3-4, 2018—Glenbrook Academy — Medlin, Louisiana
April 15, 2018—Book Launch party for Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words – 2pm at Book People: 603 North Lamar–Austin
April 3-6, 2018—Texas Library Association conference — Dallas
April 1, 2018—Release of Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words
March 2018—Dallas school visitis
February 12, 2018—Colonies North Elementary school visit-San Antonio, TX
February 1, 2018—Skype visit with Dallas school
January 17, 2018—Graham Elementary School — Austin, TX


December 5—Ortega Elementary — Austin, TX
November 28—Double File Trail Elementary — Rock, TX
November 14—Mark Twain Elementary — Houston, TX
November 17-18—NCSS Conference – San Francisco, CA
November 8, 2017—Reed Elementary–Cedar Park
November 4, 2017—Texas Book Festival — Austin, TX
October 26-27—Llano Elementary and Packsaddle Elementary – Llano, TX
October 24, 2017—Forest Creek Elementary – Round Rock, TX
October 11 – Writing Workshops – Round Rock School
October 6 2017—District 3 Fall Library Meeting – Austin, TX
September 26, 2017—Alcuin School-Dallas
Sept. 22, 2017—Region 20 Library Resource Roundup – San Antonio, TX
August 11, 2017—Presenting at the Region 10 Library Summit-Dallas
July 6 – speaking at the San Gabriel Writer’s League
June 24-25 —American Libray Association Conference – Chicago. (signing SRU at 2pm June 24)
June 11 – July 30 — I’m teaching a six-week nonfiction picture book class at the Writing Barn
May 4, 2017—Step Right Up presentation for tweens- Round Rock Public Library
April 29, 2017— 1pm-6pm  Pflugerville Book Pfestival
April 19-20, 2017—Texas Library Association Conference, San Antonio, TX.
March 29—School visit—Round Rock Christian Academy


April 19, 2016 — Texas Library Association (TLA) conference. Houston. I’m honored to be on the 2pm panel, “What’s new with Texas Authors and Illustrators for Elementary Readers.”
May 14-15, 2016 — Austin SCBWI conference. I’ll be on a panel about writing work-for-hire books.
May 20, 2016 — School visit – Old Town Elementary
July 22, 25, 26, 27, 2016—Varius Austin locations—Author presentation—Four creative writing camps for 3rd-12th graders.
October 13-15—Ft. Worth Book Festival
October 15, 2016—Official release of Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Taught the World About Kindness.
October 16, 2016—2:00pm Elgin, Texas Public Library presentation
October 23, 2016—3:00pm book launch celebration for Step Right Up. Book People, Austin.
November 5-6, 2016—Texas Book Festival, Austin. I’ll be speaking on a panel, open to the public. Please come.
December 1, 2016—School visit – Houston, Texas. Reading Rock Stars
December 3, 2016—Three-hour workshop on creative approaches to Picture Book Biographies. The Writing Barn.

Latest Blog

Lincoln — What Sparked Lincoln’s Duel & His Unusual Fight Terms

Wednesday January 3, 2018

In the mid-nineteenth century, the state of Illinois was experiencing a financial crisis, and the two political parties—the Whigs and the Democrats—were in constant conflict about how to resolve the issues. Thrown into the mix was Lincoln, a Whig lawyer and then-former legislator, and Democratic state auditor James Shields. In 1842, James Shields, along with [Read More]