Guest Blogger: Donna Lee Schillinger on The Quilldriver

A born and bred Texan, Donna Lee Schillinger has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and a master’s in cultural anthropology. She served in the Peace Corps in Quito, Ecuador, and continued to work in social services for 10 years, serving several years as executive director of a homeless shelter for single, young mothers.

In 2000, Donna “retired” from social work to take care of her elderly grandparents and homeschool her daughter. She soon began The Quilldriver, a custom publisher for nonprofit organizations and traditional publisher of inspirational nonfiction books.

So what exactly is The Quilldriver and why did Donna become involved in this?

She is here today to tell us all about it.

“In 1999, I visited my grandparents and took my grandpa out for an ice cream at Dairy Queen. I didn’t know he was diabetic! He and Grandma were getting to the point where they would have to make some changes. I asked him what his plan was. This calm, rational person who was giddy about getting away with eating ice cream all of the sudden turned irate with me. He said, “I’m staying in my house until I die and that’s that!”

Gees. Okay, Grandpa. I didn’t know I had hit the nerve so many others were probing for such a long time.

One year later, I sold my house, quit my job and moved half way across the country to live with my grandparents. The only way Grandpa could stay in his house was if someone was there with him. And this actually worked out for me because I wanted to homeschool my daughter and I had no idea of how I was going to be able to do that as a single mother. The grandparents took care of our living expenses in exchange for me caring for them.

That didn’t pay the rest of the bills though. I needed some income to cover clothes for my daughter, school supplies, car insurance and more. But what could I do? Leaving the grandparents for an eight-hour shift was not possible. One day when I was having my oil changed, I scanned the want ads and found an opening for feature writer for a local newspaper.

I got the job, and then another job for a monthly local publication. Then more freelance writing jobs were offered. So I set up shop as The Quilldriver. The bread and butter of my small business has been producing Hearing Health magazine for Deafness Research Foundation. I also produce two other smaller nonprofits publications, and I do some English/Spanish translation work. I used to interpret and get calls for that occasionally, but since I adopted a newborn in October 2007, I’ve let that aspect of my business go.

In 2006, a manuscript written by a friend of mine reached me and as I read it I thought, “I should publish this.” I had toyed with the idea of publishing books and with a simple decision (and two years of self-teaching) I became a book publisher! While working on publishing my company’s first title, Walking Man: A Modern Missions Experience in Latin America, I became inspired to write a book of my own.

As my book project evolved, I decided to develop a niche for The Quilldriver, inspirational/devotional multimedia publications for young Christian adults. I’m still doing all the nonprofit publications and some translation projects, but I do plan on phasing that out to exclusively concentrate on this niche.”

You can visit Donna’s website at
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