Posted by: nancyisanders | December 22, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Discussion Questions Part 2

The second part of the Discussion Questions for the nonfiction titles at Kaeden Books is:

During Reading.

For this section, a variety of questions can be used. The key is that these questions support the Common Core State Standards for this level.

Since we’ve been discussing how to write books such as The Bird Feeder, Fiesta, and Flowers which are written for the kindergarten reading level, we’re trying to write discussion questions that support the kindergarten level of standards for the Common Core. If you are writing a manuscript for a first or second grade reading level, then you’ll need to read those standards and make sure your discussion questions support those standards.

Compare the discussion questions DURING READING for both Fiesta and Flowers by looking at their google preview.

Now brainstorm ideas for questions you could ask about your own manuscript based on these Common Core State Standards. (Make sure these would be questions teachers could ask their students DURING the reading of your book) Here are some ideas to help you get started that you can tailor to your own specific topic:

Key Ideas and Details:
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

What is happening in this setting?
Who is this about?

With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

Compare and contrast the pictures of the XX on pages Y and Z.
Look at pages X and Y. How are AA and BB the same? How are they different?

Craft and Structure:
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

What are [one of your vocabulary words]? After listening to the students’ responses, invite them to turn to the Glossary and find [the vocabulary word]. Read the definition together.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).

Look at the illustration on page XX. What is happening to the YY and ZZ?

With prompting and support, identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text.

Where was the writer when this took place? What was the writer doing? What was the writer thinking?

What does the writer see, hear, taste, or smell?

With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

Compare and contrast the XX on pages YY and ZZ.

So go ahead and write 3 questions teachers can ask their students for DURING READING. Try not to stress out too much about these or overwrite them. If you simply draw a blank, it’s okay to use some of the wording on the Fiesta book or Flowers book to use in your own manuscript.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 20, 2014

Book Review: It Will Be Okay


It Will Be Okay:
Trusting God Through Fear and Change
by Lysa TerKeurst
Art by Natalia Moore

When Little Fox met Little Seed in the farmer’s shed, they became best of friends. Little Fox was afraid of dark shadows and scary things and Little Seed didn’t like change, so the two friends felt safe staying inside the shed. But one day the Farmer, who was good and kind, came and took Little Seed outside and planted him in the ground because the Farmer had important plans for him.

At first they are both sad. Little Fox misses his friend and Little Seed doesn’t like being alone in the dark. But then Little Seed sprouts and grows into a tall tree that Little Fox can play near and sleep under. An all the time, the Farmer, who is good and kind, watches over them.

What I Like
This is a sweet, tender story about little ones who are afraid of things and don’t like change. (Every child can identify with this!) It gives comfort and hope and reassurance that good things happen to those who wait and that even though we don’t understand what is happening, we can trust that God has a wonderful plan for us and will always take care of us because He loves us.

This is a precious bedtime story or story for cuddling together to calm a fearful child. A quiet book, it ends with a reminder that just as Little Fox and Little Seed learned to trust the Farmer, we can learn to trust God.

I also really like the art in this picture book. Very quiet and soft yet fun and whimsical. A delightful complement to the story.

-Thanks, BookLook Bloggers for another wonderful free book in exchange for my honest review!

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 20, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Discussion Questions Part 1

As we’re preparing our manuscripts to submit to Kaeden Books, we’re now working on the very last page of the published book.

The final section on this last page is the Discussion Questions. There are 3 parts to these questions:

Before Reading
During Reading
After Reading

If you’re a teacher or write for teachers, you’re probably already familiar with these educational strategies. If not, it might be a little tricky to prepare these, but you can do it. It just might take a little longer to think through what you’re going to write.

I looked through all the google previews of all the nonfiction books listed at Kaeden Books and found only 2 that showed me the page with the discussion questions. These 2 books are:



Go ahead and click on the google previews for these books and scroll all the way to the Discussion Questions on the last page of both.

An important fact to note is that both sets of discussion questions for both books are driven by the Common Core State Standards. This means that these questions are based on what the Common Core Standards require teachers to teach when they introduce nonfiction (informational texts) to their students.

So go ahead and look at the Common Core State Standards for teaching Informational Text to Kindergarten. Click on the link and take a minute to read over this strand of standards. It only takes a minute and every time we can read these standards, we’ll become more familiar and less apprehensive of them.

After you read these standards, let’s take a look again at the first set of Discussion Questions we find in FIESTA and FLOWERS.

If you notice, both books have similar questions that they present in this section.

Here are the questions I wrote for my own manuscript, just so you can compare mine as a third example for your frame of reference:

Before Reading:
• Take a picture walk. Point out the special features of the book: the Table of Contents, the Glossary, and the Index. Discuss what each is used for.
• Have the students turn to the Index. On which page can you find mammals?

Notice how I copied their formatting. I put the heading Before Reading in bold. I bulleted my two discussion questions. I italicized the word I told them to look up in the index. I used similar wording to the ones in Fiesta and Flowers but made them apply to my own manuscript instead.

So go ahead and write two or three questions to include in this section of your own manuscript.

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 19, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Word List

On the back page of some of their nonfiction books, Kaeden Books includes a Word List.

To prepare the Word List for my own story, first I printed out a copy of my story.

Then I dug around and it doesn’t look like they add the sidebar words in the word lists I saw, so I didn’t add these in for mine either.

I referred to my printed pages and typed in each word in alphabetical order that is used in my main text of my story. I added in every single word such as “a” and “I” too. Now my Word List is done.

So go ahead and type out your Word List on the bottom of your manuscript, too.

Let me know if you have any questions!

In an upcoming post I’ll give tips on how to write the discussion questions for your story!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 18, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Back Page

Even though I used THE BIRDFEEDER as my mentor text to write the nonfiction story itself, I’m now using FIESTA as my mentor text to write the back matter. This is simply because on google preview I can’t see what THE BIRDFEEDER has for its back matter.

But I can see it in FIESTA. And I see that there is a back page at the very end of the book.

This page isn’t included in the Table of Contents. It doesn’t even have a page number at the bottom. This makes me think that it’s pasted in the back cover of the book.

So it’s important to include this page in our own manuscript for our own story.

Here are the features that are included on this page:

Word List:

Word Count: (This is where you’ll put your word count you calculated yesterday.)

Following are discussion questions for use before, during and after reading.

Before Reading:

During Reading:

After Reading:

We’ll talk about how to prepare these in an upcoming post!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 17, 2014

Writing Opportunity: The Word Count

I decided to feature a separate blog post just on the word count because I wanted to share the exact steps I took to determine this myself. That way you can know how to do this step, too.

First I saved a totally new version of my manuscript and called it:

TITLE word count

Then I deleted the glossary. I deleted the index. I deleted any footnotes. I deleted the table of contents. I deleted the page numbers I added in.

I wasn’t sure if the word count Kaeden gives for their books includes the sidebars or not, so I went back and checked a couple of their books. For the books I checked, they did NOT include the sidebars in their word count.

So I deleted all the sidebars, too. All I was left with was the text in large type that would be at the bottom of each page of the published story.

I had 48 words.

Go ahead and check the word count for your story. Then check your mentor text to make sure your word count is in the same ball park as the word count of your mentor text.

My mentor text is THE BIRDFEEDER. It has a word count of 55 words. So I knew I had hit the mark with 48.

How about your word count? Did you hit the mark? If not, think of ways to lengthen or shorten the word count to be closer to that of your mentor text.

In books like these where children are learning to read, word count is very, very important. Kids would feel overwhelmed if the book is too long and takes them too long to read it on their own. Yet a teacher will not feel it is worth the price if it has too few words in it. It’s important to make sure your manuscript is in the right ball park with the other books like yours that Kaeden Books has already published.

Make a note of your final word count. You’ll need it in the very next exercise we do.

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 16, 2014

Writing Opportunity: The Index

For the Kaeden Book manuscript submission of a nonfiction story I’m preparing, the next step along the journey was to prepare the index.

Have you ever prepared an index for one of your books? I have and it can be a tedious process…especially if your book is over 100 pages long! Fortunately, the indexes for these short gems aren’t too involved.

As you’re working to prepare your own index, look at your mentor text. My mentor text didn’t have an index that shows up in the google preview, so once again, I looked at Fiesta to see how the index is done. Click on the google preview and take a look yourself.

For starters, I noticed that not every word was listed in the index. Repeating small words such as “we” and “is” aren’t included. Most of the rest are, however.

The easiest way to type up my index was to first print out a copy of my manuscript. As I looked at it next to me, I simply typed all the main words starting at page 4. (Page 3 is the Table of Contents.)

I typed these in alphabetical order as I progressed through my manuscript. Each time I typed a word, I put the page number next to it. If a word appeared more than once, I added that, too. Like this:

tree 7
water 5, 8

Even though their index is in 2 columns, I just kept mine in one long column since this is a manuscript.

So go ahead and write your index! If you have any questions, let me know.

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 15, 2014

Writing Opportunity: The Glossary

For the nonfiction manuscript we’re writing for Kaeden, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and write the glossary!

Adding a glossary to a story geared for second grade elementary kids automatically supports the Common Core. Here’s the specific standard it supports:

Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.

Most of Kaeden’s nonfiction books have a glossary, so we should put one in ours, too.

My mentor text, THE BIRDFEEDER, doesn’t show a glossary in its google preview, so I found a similar one that does. Click on FIESTA and look at the google preview if you’re doing one at this level. Otherwise, check your own mentor text or a book similar to it to follow as a guide.

To make my glossary, I chose 4 words in my manuscript that kids might not know. You can choose 2 to 4 words to explain further in your glossary, too.

First I highlighted these words in the actual text of the story.

Next I listed them alphabetically in my glossary on page 15 of my book.

Then I looked up each word online in the Merriam-Webster free online dictionary. Why did I use this dictionary? Mostly because when I was working on early readers with a different publisher these last couple of years, that was the publisher’s go-to dictionary of choice. So I used it for now until I find what Kaeden Book prefers if they offer me a contract to write more of these books.

Another reason I chose to use this dictionary as a reference for my own glossary that I’m making is because most words have a feature under their full definition that you can click on to see the definition for kids. I always like to see how other people word things for kids. It helps me keep my own writing kid-friendly.

After I looked at both definitions (the regular one and the kid-friendly one) then I wrote each word’s definition in my own words on my manuscript. It’s always best to do this so you don’t have to mess with the copyright infringements of dictionaries you use. Plus, it’s just good practice learning how to put things in your own words like this.

So if you haven’t yet done so, go ahead and write your Glossary!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 12, 2014

Welcome to My World: A Sneak Peek

Cover from Amie 978-1-58997-799-0

I’m excited to give you a sneak peek today of what’s been happening in my world this last year. A brand new set of beginning readers is about to be born! BIBLE FAVORITES, the first set in the ONE SENTENCE STORYBOOKS series is preparing for release in January/February 2015!

It’s been a busy week this past week here at my house and at my publisher’s. I wanted to share a little bit of the inside story of what goes on behind getting a new book series launched.

* I finished preparing a blog post they will post on the publisher’s blog to coincide with the books’ release.
* The publisher e-mailed and said they recorded an audio version of the books this week. (Now THAT’S exciting.)
* My main editor e-mailed and said she might be in my area around the time of the books’ release–maybe we could get together?!!!!!!
* Marketing e-mailed and said let’s schedule a phone call in January to discuss marketing ideas
* We tossed around some ideas for building the books’ website so it’s ready to launch when the books are released.
* The publisher sent me a near-final copy of the book’s cover so I can post it here on my blog and also on a page I’m building on one of my sites, Bookzone, where I list my published books.

Whew! And as if that wasn’t enough, I decided to start building some of my author’s platform to support the books’ launch as well. Because this new series is all about teaching kids to read, I decided to post material for sale in our store, Teacher Plus Writer, on Teachers Pay Teachers that teachers can use to help students learn to read. In the blurb for these products I give a plug for ONE SENTENCE STORYBOOKS.

So with all that going on, I’m happy to introduce PHONICS MERRY-GO-ROUND games to the world! These printable board games help young children get excited and get reading while playing fun games. You can see the sample of one of them below.

One of the things I wanted to share with you about this is that it was a little bit tricky for me to figure out which standards my PHONICS MERRY-GO-ROUND games support for the Common Core. So here’s a tip. If you’re having trouble figuring this out, just search on Teachers Pay Teachers for products similar to yours that say they support the Common Core. Then look up those standards that they support and see if your product supports that same standards as well.

If you’re seriously considering posting material to Teacher’s Pay Teachers, my sweet writing friend, Tina Cho, mentioned on her recent blog that she might be giving tips out on this. (Way to go, Tina!) So if you don’t yet, sign up to follow Tina’s blog. She’s a Christian, she’s a teacher, she’s a homeschooling mama, she’s a blogger who shares, and she’s a published writer. What better combination can you ask for?

But now it’s back to the nonfiction stories we’re preparing to submit to Kaeden. Watch for this in my next post!

Phonics Merry-Go-Round Chick

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 11, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers and more

As many of you know, I posted my nonfiction story on Teachers Pay Teachers at the store my husband and I have.

And Tracy asked me if she could open a store there if she’s not a teacher.

The answer to this is…just ask!

That’s what I did when I wanted to open a store. I’m not a teacher, but my husband is. So I sent an e-mail to Teachers Pay Teachers and asked if I could sell stuff I write on there even though I’m not a teacher but my husband is. They graciously replied and welcomed me on board.

So if you’re not sure you qualify to sell products there or not, just e-mail them and ask! They’ll help get you the right information according to your personal circumstances.

And guess what?!!! Tina Cho, a dear friend and awesome writer, has just opened her own store on Teachers Pay Teachers, too!!! Yay! Way to go, Tina!

CLICK HERE to get her freebie, Holiday Haiku Craftivity (what a great product!)

CLICK HERE to buy her nonfiction product on martial arts for kids, Kicking Off the New Year Right. (Kids will LOVE this.)

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 5, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Table of Contents

As many of you know, we’ve been working on writing and submitting a nonfiction picture book to Kaeden Books. (If some of you are new to following my blog, you can CLICK HERE to start with the very first post I made about this adventure and get caught up.)

If you’ve not yet finished writing the text and the sidebars for your story, go ahead and get that finished up.

Today let’s talk about adding in the Table of Contents.

Some of you may be wondering why books such as The Bird Feeder have a Table of Contents. I mean, this is a short short book. Not very much text. That’s probably how your manuscript is, too.

It’s because of the Common Core State Standards. For example, if you look at the standards in second grade RI.2.5, you’ll see that this standard states:

Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.

So simply by adding in a Table of Contents to your manuscript/book, it now supports the Common Core.

So go ahead and add a Table of Contents to your manuscript. If you have questions how to do that, look at your mentor text (The published book on Kaeden Books that is similar to the one you’re writing.)

First you’ll need to add page numbers to your own manuscript and then plug those page numbers into your Table of Contents. The main thing is to make sure your pages will be in the right layout for when the book is actually published.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 30, 2014

Book Review: NIV Discover God’s Heart Devotional Bible


NIV Discover God’s Heart Devotional Bible

This NIV version of the Bible features a simple plan for reading through the Bible in one year: Six readings each week with one day off every week for a total of 52 weeks. The unique feature of this Bible, however, is that each of these readings is accompanied by a one page devotional that includes three keys:

God’s Story
This is a summary of the passages you just read. This is especially helpful in some passages that may be more difficult to read through or hard to understand. This pulls out the main theme of the section they highlight.

The King’s Heart
This section of the devotional really reveals God’s heart. I especially love this section because so often unbelievers quote a passage from the Bible and criticize God for doing such and such. In this section of the devotional, we are reminded that God’s love is so infinite for each of us and that the events in the verses we just read were part of God’s amazing plan to shower his love on us and protect us and bring about His ultimate good in our lives and in the lives of the people who were living at that time.

This section of the devotional is so helpful to understand at a deeper level what the passages we just read in the Bible are really all about. It really sums things up in a nutshell

What I Like
The devotionals included for each day’s reading are unique from other Bibles (and I have a lot since I’ve read through the Bible each year for many years!). This Bible, overall, has a very simple feel. No commentaries for the verses. Just simple footnotes. No maps or concordance or other features. The whole focus of this Bible is to reveal God’s heart to us from the first page of Genesis to the last page of Revelation.

I think this Bible can be given to someone who has been hurt or who has felt abandoned by God because that person can find healing and hope and see that God really does love them passionately and beyond what they could ever have imagined. Just reading the devotionals myself made me feel very encouraged and loved. The great God of the universe loves me (and you!) in a very personal way as is revealed through His Word, the Bible.

As a bonus to the one year reading plan, in the back there are also several other reading plans including:
* A tour of the Bible in 90 days
* A 30 day reading plan for a new Christian
* A 30 days with Jesus reading plan (I love this!)
* 30 themes in Psalms
* And more!

-Thanks, BookLook Bloggers for another wonderful free book in exchange for my honest review!

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 29, 2014

Book Review: Love Letters from God


Love Letters from God: Bible Stories
A Lift the Flap Book
Written by Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp

This children’s book features retellings of 9 Old Testament Bible stories and 9 New Testament Bible stories starting with the Creation of the world and concluding with the Resurrection of Jesus. These stories are very sweet to read aloud to young children such as, “The Little Lost Lamb” where it says that the shepherd was counting his sheep and realized Little Fluffy was missing (based on the parables of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15). Another story, “The Super-Duper Picnic” tells how a little boy named Nathan got to share his lunch of five loaves of bread and 2 small fish with Jesus (based on Feeding the 5,000 in John 6).

The unique feature of this book is that each story is accompanied by a “Love Letter from God.” You lift the flap and see the letter inside. There is a line to write your child’s name on, “Dear _____,” This is followed by a personal message from God. For example, for “The Super-Duper Picnic,” the letter says, “Imagine how happy Nathan felt when he made Jesus smile. Do you think you can make Jesus smile too? You can! Whenever you are kind, whenever you are generous like Nathan, that makes Jesus smile. And guess what–when Jesus smiles, I smile too! With lots of love, God.”

There is also a Bible verse featured along with each story and letter that is very encouraging to young children and reassures them of God’s love. For example “I am pleased with you,” -Exodus 33:17.

What I Like
The first thing I noticed about this book was how beautiful it is. The artwork is simply delightful with butterflies, birds, seashells, and buttons scattered throughout the pages. Children love mail and the envelopes are decorated with precious postage stamps that relate to the story. The people’s faces are so tenderly done…this is truly an artistic style that is a joy to share with little ones. Also the pages are thick and sturdy…a plus for a lift-the flap feature.

As I began to read the stories aloud, I also noticed how well-written and fun each story is. This isn’t a Bible for kids…this is a collection of imaginative and creative stories with fun word plays such as the very smelly belly inside Jonah’s giant fish and plip plop, plip plop for the rain that started the Flood. This is a good book to snuggle up with and read to your child at bedtime or on a snowy day when you’re stuck inside. The personal love letter from God helps little ones (and us) be reminded that God is a personal God who loves each one of us and wants to communicate with us.

-Thanks, BookLook Bloggers for another wonderful free book in exchange for my honest review!

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sing to the Lord a new song,
for He has done marvelous things.
-Psalm 98:1, NIV

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and share in the rich blessings the Lord has given to each of us.

I pray that no matter where you are or what your circumstances are that you will be filled with an overwhelming joy and thankfulness for our amazing God.

If you’re called to be one of God’s scribes and would like devotions to encourage you along your journey, please visit my site Scribes.

And if you’ve never yet met God personally or would like to know more about how to connect with the best friend you could ever have, please CLICK HERE.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 26, 2014

Working with the Common Core

It was so much fun to hear from so many of you yesterday! I’m so glad so many of you are rolling up your sleeves and exploring the world of nonfiction. If you posted a comment yesterday and didn’t yet get my pdf file, check your spam folder or junk mail. Also, e-mail me at and I’ll hit reply to send you the file. Perhaps I typed in your e-mail address wrong.

And I wanted to thank you Donna for asking such a super great question in my personal e-mail yesterday after receiving the pdf file, that I thought I’d post the answer for you all to see and benefit from!

Here’s the question:

May I ask how you pair up subject matter with sections of the Common Core? How do you know what grade it should be geared for?

And here’s the answer:

In a general sort of way, any time you write informational text or nonfiction for students to use, it will support the Common Core for Language Arts.

And if you want it to support specific standards, just make certain you incorporate elements of specific standards into your finished product. For example, if you include captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, or icons in your text for second graders, your manuscript supports the CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.5 Standard.

Another factor to consider is the readability level of the text. Run it through the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Check and see what grade level of student your text can be read by.

Another factor to consider is which grade teaches what subject. I address this in depth on pages 49-55 in Section 3.2 STATE AND NATIONAL STANDARDS in my book YES! YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO WRITE BEGINNING READERS AND CHAPTER BOOKS. In a nutshell, though, you can visit the site of Education World to see what topics are taught at what grade level. Then when you find where your topic would fit in, write your manuscript to match the reading level of the Flesch-Kincaid score, and choose some of the Common Core standards at that grade level to incorporate into your manuscript.

Hope this makes sense! If you have any more questions about all this, just let me know.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 25, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Self-Publishing a Nonfiction Story

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.00.56 AM

I’m very excited to share that I decided to go ahead and self-publish my nonfiction story that I’ve been working on! That’s because it will take me a few more posts to explain the submission process I go through with my other manuscript that I plan to submit to Kaeden Books right now. But this story was already ready to go.

I wanted to share it with you so you can see the final product and try doing this yourself! The title is PETS OF THE PRESIDENT. You can click on the link to where it’s posted in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

It took me quite a bit of time to look up and find royalty free images at the Library of Congress that I could use in my story. Plus I had to plug in my footnotes for my research on my own version of the manuscript so I could keep this for future reference. That took me quite a while, too. (But it’s great practice on such a short manuscript for you to see what the research process is like if you want to write nonfiction for kids.)

Then I wrote some discussion questions and activities for the teacher to use that support the Common Core State Standards.

And finally, I walked through the submission process to get this up and running on Teachers Pay Teachers. I had to make a cover, write a blurb for selling it to teachers, and upload it onto their site.

But now it’s finished and available to purchase.

And if you have any questions about all this, just let me know! After Thanksgiving, I’ll start sharing how to wrap up your nonfiction story and submit it to Kaeden Books. And then after that, we’ll walk through the process of writing and submitting an early chapter book to them!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 21, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Image Research

I finally got my fourth and last research book in at the library.

First I started to read my research books. One of the books had a lot of historic photographs in it that I hoped I could use.

Second, I looked in the front (sometimes this is in the back) for the list of photographs and where they found each one. They had a number of photographs from companies that looked expensive, but I found a bunch that were from the Library of Congress.

Third, I went online to the Prints and Photographs division of the Library of Congress.

I typed a key word in and instantly the photograph I was looking for came up. (That rarely happens. Usually I have to dig around a little bit.) So I was super excited I found this image so quickly.

Fourth: I did three things.
1. I checked the RIGHTS ADVISORY. It says: No known restrictions on publication.
2. I printed out this page. Since I plan to self-publish the book that will have this photograph in it, I will need to cite the correct information in my bibliography/photo source page.
3. I checked if a jpg image was available for me to download onto my own computer (and eventually plug into my word document). It was. So I downloaded the photograph onto my computer and I printed out the actual photograph.

Fifth, I went back to my manuscript I was working on. I kept the original version that was already finished.

But this time, I started to rewrite it based on the free historic photographs I could actually find.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 14, 2014

Christmas Gospel Tract

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 5.19.56 PM

It already feels like Christmas here at my house. I’ve been listening to Christmas music all day long and researching what really happened at the first Christmas 2000 years ago. That’s because for the last month I’ve been writing stuff for a Christmas project I’m working on. I only have until next Wednesday for my deadline, but am almost done. Whew!

So today I felt like taking a break and putting together some of the exciting things I’ve been enjoying and make a Gospel tract for kids.

It’s free!

You can download both sides of the tract (front and inside) at my store at Teacher’s Pay Teachers. Then you can print it out, back-to-back.

*Print it out and share it with the kids you cherish. (Encourage them to share it with their friends, too.)
*Print it out and give it with your gifts this Christmas.
*Print it out and mail it with your Christmas cards to your family and friends.

It’s my (early) Christmas gift to you this year! Feel free to use it in whatever way you want and share the TRUE gift of Christmas with others.

CLICK HERE to download the front page of the Gospel tract. (See above)

CLICK HERE to download the inside page of the Gospel tract. (See below)

Then print them back-to-back, fold like a trifold, and share the Gospel with your family and friends.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 5.20.16 PM

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 13, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Research Books Arrived

Last night I picked up my research books that I ordered in at my local library.

You see, even though we’re writing simple little nonfiction manuscripts, the research process is still important. I want to back up my facts with solid sources.

So here’s what I’m planning on doing in the next few upcoming days:

Finish the text of my manuscripts.
I’m writing one to submit to Kaeden and one to self-publish and sell in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Finish the sidebars in my text.
These will be simple yet informative, just like the sidebars in my mentor text, THE BIRD FEEDER.

Finish the footnotes to verify the research in my text.
I want to plug in 3 resources for each fact I state.

Add in art suggestions to accompany my text.
For my one story, I will be submitting it to Kaeden. I plan to suggest one main photograph that will have a different object photoshopped in for each new page.

For my second story, I will self-publish it. I want to dig around on royalty free sites that I shared about in a previous post. If I find enough photographs I can use, I plan to use these. If not, I plan to use one main photograph that I took. I will copy and paste a different royalty-free image on this photograph for each new page in my story.

I’ve actually been progressing more slowly on this adventure than I originally planned. That’s because I have various book manuscripts (and magazine stories) in the publication stage. Every day, it seems, I have one or more editors with various publishers contacting me with things I need to do right away to keep the books or magazines on their production schedule. Just to give you a peek at some of the stuff that goes on during this stage, here are a few of the tasks I’ve had to deal with in this past week alone with various publishers:

*Schedule a phone appointment with marketing to discuss ideas for the book’s website
*Write 6 new pages of content ASAP to get to the illustrator so he can start working on that section
*Fill out tax forms so I can get paid on one project
*Reschedule the phone appointment with marketing due to a snowstorm in their area
*Receive a book map prepared by the editor with the entire text of my picture book plugged into each page so that I can edit it for typos and prepare for upcoming editing sessions in the next two weeks
*Read over a contract that’s in negotiations and call the publisher’s legal department to straighten out some issues
*E-mail marketing to thank him for creating the awesome bookmarks that arrived on my doorstep on Monday for my new books
*Connect with my agent to contact the contracts guy so that we can get paid in a timely manner

How is your book manuscript coming along that you want to submit to Kaeden? If you haven’t yet done so, plan to finish writing your manuscript text, your sidebars, and your photo suggestions.

In upcoming posts we’re going to talk about finalizing the text by adding in front and back matter (table of contents, glossary, word lists, etc.). Then I’m also going to share the cover letter I’m writing so you can copy it and send it in with yours, too. I have an extra special secret strategy that I’ve used time and time again in my cover letter and it’s gotten me so many book contracts I can’t even remember the exact number. I’ll share that with you. Then we’ll talk about the submission process and actually put that puppy in the mail.

And then, after that, I’ll share the process I go through to self-publish my second manuscript for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. (If you want to do the same, go ahead and set up a free store there so you’re ready to self-publish your own story, too. When you set up a store, you first have to post several free items such as bookmarks or printable teacher worksheets. So go ahead and get that all done as soon as possible. Then you’ll be ready to post your story and sell it like I plan to sell mine.)

So stay tuned! Lots of fun stuff up ahead!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 10, 2014

Writing Opportunity: Searching for Images and Creating Art

Over my writing career, I’ve had to work extensively with finding images for publishers to use in my books.

For two of my nonfiction books, I had to find, acquire, (and pay for) all the images in the books! Here are my books I’ve done that for:





Needless to say, I figured out FAST how I can get the most free images I could use.


This experience has come in handy as I have also self-published some teacher resources in my store on the site Teachers Pay Teachers.


Here are some tips on how you can find images that you can use, too.


1. Sometimes I take photographs that I can use. (I don’t have a high-quality camera. But it’s digital and not just a cell-phone.) I always take a ton of photos and hope that at least one isn’t fuzzy or out of focus.

1.A. If it’s in a public place such as a wheel on a wagon or a tree, usually you don’t need to get permission to use it. Here’s a photograph I took of a wagon wheel and put it in a word file for a read-aloud play on the gold rush that my husband Jeff wrote: CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH.


1.B. If it’s inside a museum or belongs to someone OR if it has an identifiable person in the photo, you do need to get written permission to use it. Hopefully, they’ll let you use it for free. Many of the images I used in FREDERICK DOUGLASS FOR KIDS were from museums that let me use the photographs I took for free.


2. Another way to use photographs or images is to get them from free sites.

2.A. Here’s a link I posted about using Creative Commons on Flickr.


2.B. And here is an amazing resource Laura Purdie Salas put up with tons of links for royalty-free images. (Thank you, Laura!!!!)


3. Of course, you can always pay for images to use. I’ve had to do that, too, for the two books that I mentioned above. Here’s a blog post I wrote with some info about that.


And here’s another post on photo research as well.

4. And sometimes I use Inkscape, a free drawing program to create my own clipart. It takes me awhile to do it and it’s not very good, but if you like to do this, it’s definitely an option. Here’s a product I sell in my store at Teacher’s Pay Teachers where you can see some clipart I’ve made.

Here’s one of my favorite clipart I created:


pirate frog hopping green





If you have any questions about all this, just let me know!



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