Journalist turned Novelist Ellen Valladares Signs with WiDo™ for YA Novel

SALT LAKE CITY, UT September 1, 2016


WiDo Publishing™ submissions team was impressed not only with the manuscript but with the author, Ellen Valladares. This was a strong factor in the decision to offer a contract for her YA ghost story.

Ellen Valladares self-published her first novel, Jonathan’s Journey to Mount Miapu, in 2008. The book received several awards, including a Mom’s Choice Gold Award and the 2009 Coalition of Visionary Resources Visionary Awards Book of the Year.

“Clearly Ellen is the kind of author we are looking for right now,” WiDo’s managing editor Karen Gowen says. “She not only sent us a polished, well-written manuscript but an excellent marketing plan. The fact that she’s done this much with her self-published book is a sign of someone committed to her career.”

Valladares got the idea for her story on an airplane when the image came to her of kids playing with a Ouija board and contacting a teen spirit who had died and was coming back to help prevent a similar tragedy. She remembers, “I scratched out my idea on the little paper bag they give you in case you get airsick. As I started writing, the characters and the story took on a life of their own.”

“It was easy for me to relate to Laura, the teen spirit from the 80s, since I was a teenager in the 80s,” states Valladares. “I had a lot of fun going back to that time, scouring my old yearbooks, reading my old diaries, and revisiting high school memories. As I was wrapping up the first draft, I attended my 30th high school reunion, just like the characters do in the book. All the reminiscing served as great inspiration.”

Valladares has been a writer for as long as she can remember. “As a child, I spent a lot of time writing stories and poetry just for fun. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting my old elementary school to speak to students there about my books and writing. I showed the students a paper I had written when I was nine years old that said, ‘I want to be a writer when I grow up.'”

She did become a writer, studying journalism at the University of Florida and writing professionally ever since. With so many differences between journalism and fiction writing, Valladares found a learning curve with writing her books. “Writing, rewriting, and being open to feedback are critical elements in the creation of a novel. The other keys are patience and persistence. I had to set deadlines for myself and commit to getting a certain amount of writing done every day, or each week. It’s a long process, but if you stick with it, you’ll get it done.”

Valladares is currently playing around with ideas for her next project. She is thinking about a non-fiction book and breaking into yet another genre. “Some of the books that have impacted my life the most have been non-fiction, so I’d love the chance to perhaps pass on that kind of inspiration to others.”

When asked what brought her to WiDo Publishing, the author says, “I was looking for a small or medium-sized publisher and when I found WiDo Publishing’s website, I felt right away it was a perfect fit for me. When I read the words that said they were looking for compelling stories and writers eager to work hard to make the book wonderful, I thought, ‘that’s me.’ I had the kind of story that didn’t fit into a particular mold, so WiDo’s mission statement really spoke to me.”

“We are so happy Ellen and WiDo™ found each other,” Gowen states. “Her story resonated with us. It is the kind of book we want on our list.”

“I cannot express how thrilled I am that my book has found a home with WiDo Publishing. I love the idea of working with a small, family-owned press and am looking forward to this new partnership and publishing adventure,” says Valladares.

Ellen Wolfson Valladares is an award-winning writer/author, workshop facilitator, community volunteer, and mother. A native Floridian, she grew up in St. Petersburg and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. She has worked as an editor, public relations professional, and freelance writer.

Her articles have appeared in numerous publications and she was a frequent contributor to South Florida Parenting magazine where two of her articles received Gold and Silver awards from the Parenting Publications of America. Currently, she writes for several alumni magazines at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and a member and former Board member of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA). Valladares lives in Weston, Fla., with her husband and two sons. Learn more at her website at