Posted by: nancyisanders | July 3, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Strength

I prayed for strength
to continue the work.
-Nehemiah 6:9b, NLT

Sometimes, especially in the middle of a manuscript, we run out of energy and struggle to go on writing. Let’s get in the habit of meeting with God each day and praying for the strength to continue the work. Like He did for Nehemiah, God will answer our prayers.

Dear God, please strengthen me to face the challenges I have each day as a writer. Help me fasten my seatbelt, sit down in my computer chair, and write. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 26, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Joy!

There was great joy throughout the land
because the Lord had changed
the attitude of the king.
-Ezra 6:22, NLT

What joy is ours when God changes the attitude of a publisher to accept our manuscript! And what joy is found throughout the land as the manuscript is published and ministers to the hearts of those who read it.

Dear God, when you change the attitude of a publisher to accept a manuscript You called me as Your scribe to write, the anointing of the Holy Spirit flows throughout the land. It flows through the words I write causing great joy in people’s hearts as you minister healing and hope to sin sick souls.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 24, 2015

Chapter Book: The First Draft

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I just finished sewing this baby quilt for my niece who just had her third precious little girl. Sometimes when I make baby quilts, I put them together in a week or two. On this one, I took my time and worked on it over several months. It was a new pattern for me so I met together with 2 of my quilting friends once a month and we sewed our quilts at the same time.

That’s how it is with this early chapter book we’ve been working on. Earlier this year, we wrote an early chapter book in just one month. CLICK HERE to see the first entry about that journey and get those posts.

But for this book, we’re taking our time. I’m working on my chapter book little by little and bit by bit as I have the time and interest. I’m heading into writing the first draft now that we’ve got lots of pre-writing prep under our belts!

Over the years as I’ve worked on writing the first draft of early chapter books, here are some strategies I’ve tended to use. See if they might work for you, too!

Pre-writing
I develop a roadmap of my plot and chapter by chapter summary.

Research
I gather in research books about my characters, setting, or topic that will help me along my journey.

Mentor Text
I find a mentor text that I want my story to be like in voice and structure and technique.

The first chapter
I sit down at my writing session and read the first chapter of my mentor text. Following my plot chart and chapter-by-chapter summary, I write the draft of the first chapter. After the first draft is finished, I note where I need to research something or brainstorm something. I try to do those tasks throughout the day.

The second chapter
I sit down at this writing session and read the first and second chapter of my mentor text. I read over what I wrote in the last writing session (my first chapter) and edit it for a short time. Then I write the draft of the second chapter. When finished, I note where I need to research something or brainstorm more ideas for something. I try to do those tasks throughout the day.

Continuing to the last chapter
I repeat this process until the first draft is finished.

Plug-in Techniques
After the first draft is done, I go back in and plug in techniques such as cliff-hangers, sensory detail, humorous spots, poetic devices (rhyme, rhythm, and repetition), metaphors, etc.

Self-Editing
I take my manuscript through several rounds of self-editing. If I’m participating in a critique group I get group feedback, too.

I hope you enjoy the journey with your early chapter book! If you have any questions at any time about the process, please feel free to ask!

Next up here on my blog we’ll be switching to explore various educational publishers and packagers and even submit to them. Hope you’ll join me on the journey!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 20, 2015

Welcome to My World

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You may have noticed it was a little quiet on my blog this last week. That’s because we went on a mini-vacation WITHOUT my laptop, lol!

Among other things, we traveled up to Whitney Portal, CA which is where there is a trailhead to climb Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain peak in the Continental US.

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Mt. Whitney is the peak to the right of the “twin” peaks. You can see it in the photo above. We didn’t hike the 14 miles or so to the top but we did enjoy hiking a little bit up the trail and also around the campground/parking lot area where there is this gorgeous, beautiful waterfall!

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Why am I sharing all this with you?

Because I decided that this summer I’m journaling in a SETTING notebook. I took a small spiral notebook that’s easy to carry as we travel. I’m decorating it so it’s fun, fun, fun to carry around and write in (I’ll show you a picture of it when I’m done.)

But most important of all, I’m writing in my notebook about the setting I’m in when I travel to different places. I’m including pages of the sensory details around me:

Sight
Sound
Smell
Hearing
Taste

I’m also jotting down fascinating facts I discover and observations I make and conversations I hear and the culture I engage in.

Not only do I plan to use these places and impressions in potential upcoming manuscripts, but this is really helping me improve my setting skills in general.

And here’s an extra perk if you opt to do this, too. Talk with your tax guy and ask if you can use any and every trip you take as a tax write-off for your business expenses because you are using it as setting research.

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 19, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Favor

It was by your mighty power that they succeeded;
it was because you favored them
and smiled on them.
-Psalm 44:3b, NLT

Enjoy the journey, fellow scribe! God is smiling upon you today. His favor is upon you. He will anoint you with His power so that you can accomplish what you set out your heart to do. You will succeed!

Dear God, Thank You for Your favor upon me. Thank You for the sunshine of Your smile. Thank You for Your power which enables me to reach out and accomplish the seemingly impossible. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 12, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Persistence

So they went ahead with these projects
and brought them to completion.
-2 Chronicles 14:7b, NLT

Is there a manuscript that has been lying, nearly forgotten, in a dusty corner of your mind? You started it, but never had enough time or interest to finish it. Get it out today, roll up your sleeves, and start to write. If you write one page a day, you’ll have an entire adult-length book finished by the end of the year. A children’s book can be finished in a much shorter time frame. Make it your goal to be persistent. Write at least one page a day until your manuscript is done. Then, and only then, can God use it for His glory.

Dear Lord, please renew my interest in this project you have called me to write. Give me the strength. Show me how to find the time. Help me be persistent until the manuscript is finished. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 9, 2015

Here’s What’s Coming!

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It’s official. Summer’s here! The monarchs have come back to our yard. This last week I counted almost 20 big fat caterpillars. I watched a monarch laying eggs on milkweed all over our yard. (I tied strings around 2 plants so I could watch the progress of the eggs. One of the eggs has already changed color from milky white to black which means a baby caterpillar will hatch any day.) Yesterday my husband Jeff and I discovered 3 brand new pupas. Yay!

Summer’s officially here, so I wanted to give you an update of what we’ll be doing here on my blog this summer.

For starters, we’ll be wrapping up our early chapter books.

Starting next week, I’m going to write the first draft of my chapter book. I hope you’re ready to start writing your first draft, too.

Sometimes this can go fairly quickly. Especially since we already planned the plot structure, brainstormed ideas for the setting, and developed our characters.

When I’ve written first chapter books under contract, after I complete all this pre-writing work, I usually write one chapter a day. For the series I wrote where each book had 15 chapters, that means I typically wrote the first draft in 3 weeks working Monday through Friday.

It’s a nice pace to work at because it keeps everything fresh and clear in your head so you can see your whole story all at once. (Versus taking several months to write the first draft.)

And since we’re aiming for 7 chapters in this book, we can write the first draft in just a week and a half going at this pace!

So after we’re done with the first draft, I’ll let you go while you work through the self-editing process on your own.

Then it will be time to launch onto a new project for the summer here on my blog.

That’s the exciting news I wanted to share with you!

I’ve decided in my own personal writing journey that I want to explore various educational publishers/packagers and even submit to them.

I thought some of you might like to join me in my journey!

So we’ll talk about writing our resume, preparing a submission packet, and which publishers to send our submissions to. If you follow along with me, I’m going to actually submit to various publishers…and you can, too! I’ll show you how.

I hope you’ll enjoy your summer this year. And I hope you’ll join me in our next adventure right here on my blog!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 8, 2015

Chapter Book: Character Development

Let’s talk character development!

Sometimes I’ve worked to develop my characters after I write my first draft.

Sometimes I work more on it while I’m writing the first draft.

But usually I like to develop a basic profile for my main character and some of the supporting cast of characters BEFORE I even start writing.

Why?

For several reasons.

One reason is that if I wait to do this until AFTER I write the first draft, there’s a much bigger stage of revision I have to do.

When I take a little chunk of time to brainstorm ideas for my characters BEFORE I start writing, I can weave in personality quirks and unique traits and make these ingredients WORK with my plot and setting to produce a stronger story from the get-go.

So if you want to join me in this journey and follow along, then go ahead and do what I’m doing this week…spend some time thinking and brainstorming ideas about your characters.

If you’re not quite sure what to do, here are some places you can get some pointers:

DEVELOPING CHARACTERS on the blog of my cat writing buddies.

Chapter 7.2 CHARACTERS WITH KID-APPEAL in my book YES! YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO WRITE BEGINNING READERS AND CHAPTER BOOKS.

And if you’d like a one-page brainstorming worksheet I developed for you to Xerox and use for each of your characters, plus learn tips on how to fill it in, CLICK HERE to sign up for the teleclass I’m teaching this Thursday, June 11 at 2:00 PST about our mentor text, Stink #1. (We’ll also be talking plot, setting, and SKILLS you can use to write your own chapter book…and then I’ll share the names of agents with you who are looking for chapter books so you can send your manuscript straight to the top.)

So have fun getting to know the characters in your early chapter book! Sometimes I think this is the most delightful part of the journey. It’s fun to carry your characters around in your head, asking them questions, talking with them, jotting down their silly quirks and lovable traits…

This is one of my favorite perks as a children’s writer…character development!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 5, 2015

Teleclass Writing Workshop: Book Talk on Stink #1

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In May, my husband Jeff and I both celebrated our birthdays, so our dear friends took us on a fun Duffy boat ride in the harbor at our local beach and then for a barbecue on the sand. Yum! (Okay, Val, if you’re reading this, your potato salad is awesome!)

While we were tootling around in our boat, we got to watch this amazing show you see in the photo above! Evidently an instructor took a young boy up with him in the air. We were so jazzed to see them blasting off into the air and soaring around over the water!

Sometimes writing is like that. It helps to have an instructor show us the ropes so we can blast off and make our writing soar.

If you’ve been following along with our early chapter book journey, using Stink #1 as our mentor text, then I’d like to invite you to join me in a special telephone workshop I’ll be doing next week for the Working Writer’s Club! I especially asked Suzanne Lieurance, the head of the Working Writer’s Club, if I could present this topic because I think it will really, really help you.

In this teleclass, Book Talk–Stink #1: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, we’re going to talk our way through our mentor text and explore KEY DETAILS it would simply take too long to discuss here on our blog.

We’re going to DISSECT this book. We’re going to explore plot, character, and setting, but most of all, we’re going to DISCOVER KEY STRATEGIES this author uses to make her book a success so you can plug them into your own manuscript and get it published, too.

And when we’re all done talking about key skills you can use to improve your own early chapter book, we’ll talk agents. I’ll share names of agents who are currently looking for new clients in the children’s book market so you can submit your early chapter book straight to the top.

I’ve written for 3 early chapter book series at this point in my career. One of the series I wrote entirely on my own and it was my own idea (5 books). The second one I collaborated with a co-author (6 books). The third series I was chosen from a line-up of wannabe authors to contribute to (5 books). And my agent is currently marketing a brand new early chapter book series to publishers as we speak.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to share with you what I’ve learned to get my chapter books published so you can get yours published too. The strategies you’ll learn during this teleclass will give you the skills you need to help you experience success.

I hope you’ll sign up today! You can join me live next Thursday, June 11 at 2:00 PST or if you can’t do that you will get the audio replay after it’s recorded.

(If you’re not yet a member of the Working Writer’s Club, be sure you sign up (it’s free) before you pay for the teleclass because members get a special 50% off discount!)

CLICK HERE to register at the Working Writers Club today!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 5, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Establish

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.
-Psalm 90:17, NKJV

There is a reason God calls us to write the manuscripts we write. He will complete the good work He began. He will establish the work of our hands. And on that day, it will be a beautiful thing! As we write, let’s keep this promise in our hearts to encourage us along each step of the journey.

Dear Father, it’s so easy to get discouraged as a writer. Please let the beauty of Your holiness fall upon us to encourage us. Thank you for reminding us that You alone will establish the work of our hands in Your perfect timing. All we have to do is write.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 4, 2015

Chapter Book: Cliffhanger

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A few months ago my husband Jeff and I drove up to our local mountains for a fun day. On our drive back, we pulled over to take photos of the spectacular view.

What feelings do you get as you look at the photograph, standing on this side of the cliff, looking out over the vista.

Nice view, don’t you agree?

Now imagine what feelings you’d have if you were on the OTHER SIDE of that rock, hanging on for dear life so you wouldn’t fall down the cliff to the sheer drop thousands of feet below.

That’s the feeling we want our young readers to have at the end of each chapter we’ll be writing in our early chapter book. That’s why we want to be sure to include a cliffhanger at each chapter’s end.

When I wrote adventure stories for the early chapter book series, The Imagination Station, as I was working on my chapter-by-chapter summary to turn into editorial for approval, I brainstormed cliffhangers for each of my chapters. Since this was an adventure the cliffhangers were as dangerous and exciting as possible!

Here in our early chapter book, and in our mentor text Stink #1, our cliffhangers can be less “adventuresome” but still have that same feeling of, “I gotta turn the page to find out what happens!”

Technically, we can plug in a cliffhanger at any point when we’re working on our manuscripts, but I’ve found it helps to brainstorm ideas now as we’re preparing our chapter-by-chapter summary of where we want our book to go.

So if you’d like to give this a try, go ahead and add cliffhangers to the end of your chapters that you’re brainstorming right now!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 3, 2015

Book Review: Devotions from the Garden

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Devotions from the Garden:
Finding Peace and Rest from Your Hurried Life
by Miriam Drennan

Summary
This beautiful, full color book is bursting with photographs of country gardens, butterflies, flowers, birdbaths, and ladybugs. Sigh. What a refreshing and lovely addition to our time with God. Each of the devotional thoughts begins with a Scripture and includes a personal lesson to apply by looking at nature through the eyes of the Creator who made each dewdrop and sparrow to bless and nourish our souls as a reflection of His love and tender care for each one of us. There is a simple prayer at the end.

What I Like
I’ve read devotionals for years. My favorites are MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, STREAMS IN THE DESERT, and CHARLES SPURGEON’S morning and evening devotions. Well, now I have a new favorite! I love, love, love, how these lessons are taken straight from the garden. From harvesting blackberries to waiting for seeds to grow to planting a butterfly garden, each devotion has such a tender and encouraging life lesson for us to learn.

The author’s heart and love for gardens and for God shine through in this wonderful book. But better than that, the heart of God, the love of Jesus, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit shine through each vivid example of God’s creation and the lessons God wants each of us to learn.

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

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 3, 2015

Chapter Book: Chapter by Chapter Summary

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The next thing I’m doing to learn from my mentor text is to go through each chapter and write down a little summary of it.

Why?

Because then I want to write a little summary of my own book, chapter by chapter.

Why would I want to do that, even before the book is written?

Because that’s the way I’ve been trained to do it. And I’ve learned it really helps build a stronger book from the get-go.

It’s not always necessary to write a book that way. But when one of my publishers flew me back to their publishing house to attend plotting meetings on 3 early chapter books I would be writing for them, that’s what we did…we worked together and then on my own (to eventually get approved) to write a summary of each of those books, chapter by chapter, before the books were even written.

Wow. That experience taught me a lot.

So how about it? Want to learn how the pros write early chapter books?

Go through and examine our mentor text, Stink #1, and write a little summary of what happens in each chapter. Compare it to the plot chart we made for the book.

Then use your plot chart to help you write a chapter by chapter summary for YOUR book.

At 7 chapters, this is very do-able…and a super-great experience for you to learn as a children’s writer.

But if you don’t want to do this all on your own, don’t panic! Next Thursday June 11 I have a surprise for you!

I’m going to teach a teleclass called:

BOOK TALK: STINK #1: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KID

In that teleclass we’re going to dissect our mentor text including going through a chapter-by-chapter summary of the entire book!

So if you’d like help on this step (plus tons more of exciting stuff that will really help your writing career!) then watch here on my blog for upcoming details about how to sign up for the teleclass.

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 29, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Cheerfully

Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you [write], as though you were [writing] for the Lord rather than people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward and the Master you are serving is Christ.
-Colossians 3:23-24, NLT

It’s easy to get in a slump as a writer because editors and publishers send us continuous streams of rejection letters. Cheer up! Write your manuscript with a song of joy in your heart. Respond to God’s call to write and write it for Him. He will reward you with a rich inheritance after you complete the task, even if you never see it in print. Leave the prospects of publication in His hands and get back to writing your next assignment from God–with joy.

Dear God, please renew my vision. Give me a new song in my heart as I write. Help me keep my eyes on pleasing You as Your scribe, rather than just trying to land a contract. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 27, 2015

Writing Challenges

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Recently my husband Jeff and I attended a local airshow where we watched pilots like this one climb into their plane and zoom off into the skies. What a challenge!

As writers, it’s great to join fun events that challenge us to soar to new heights, too!

So I’m putting together a list of writing challenges that are available out there for us as writers to participate in.

If you’d like to share a one or more writing challenges that you have heard of or that you participate in, just post it here in the comment section and I’ll be sure to add it to my list. Please add the link to its website or e-mail of the contact person if you know what it is so we can find out how to join in the challenge, too.

I’m hoping to post the list soon here on my blog so you can all see it, too!

If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, I’m thinking along the lines of Nanowrimo: The National Novel Writing Month that happens each month in November.

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 27, 2015

Chapter Book: Get Organized

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I’ve been carrying around a notebook, jotting down ideas for my early chapter book wherever I go.

I’ve written some actual conversations as my character’s voice is popping into my head.

I’ve jotted down ideas on developing my cast of characters.

I’ve made notes about potential plot points and twists.

So this morning I felt the need to organize all this.

I spread out everything I have so far on my table. My writing buddy Sandman decided to help me since he’s working on an early chapter book, too. His story features a cast of birds who visit our bird feeders every day and taunt him from outside our window.

Then I made file folders and put them in my pocket folder. Here are some of the folders I put in already:

A folder for my current manuscript in progress since I’ve already written a couple of chapters as the beginning has started to take shape in my head.

A folder for any general notes I’ve taken. (I rip these out of my notebook and put in here or in the corresponding file folder in my pocket folder.)

A folder for SETTING.

A folder for PLOT.

A folder for TITLE. (I’ll brainstorm ideas for my title and put these in here.)

A folder for MENTOR TEXT: STINK #1. (I put in all the plot charts and notes I’ve taken on this so far.)

A folder for RESEARCH. (I’m putting in research notes here since one of my characters is an animal. I got in a tote bag full of nonfiction picture books on this animal from the library. I read these over the weekend and plan to re-read them and take a bunch of notes.)

Folders I haven’t yet included but plan to make will be TOP SECRET DETECTIVE FILES for my cast of characters, especially my main character and his closest friends. I’ll also include a folder for BACKGROUND CHARACTERS when I get there.

And I also got out my book, YES! YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO WRITE BEGINNING READERS AND CHAPTER BOOKS and re-read Chapter 7: “Writing Strategies for Beginning Readers and Chapter Books.”

Yes, I do read my own books! Smile. That’s because I switch genres so frequently (I just finished a 190+ page nonfiction unit on FROGS that I posted to my store in Teachers Pay Teachers) that I needed a refresher on the basic elements of early chapter books that are fiction. I recommend you do the same and read that chapter, too!

So if you haven’t yet organized all your notes, I encourage you to do so in the next few days.

Next week here on my blog we’ll be wrapping up brainstorming on PLOT and then we’ll move forward onto CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT in the week after that. Creating a pocket folder now will help you keep all your notes organized!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 26, 2015

Chapter Book: Plotting Your Mentor Text

Mentor Text Plot of Stink

Do you know what the three-act structure is?

Basically, it divides every story into a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Over the years, I’ve developed a worksheet that I call:
Basic Plot Worksheet A. It helps me plan out the plot structure of my children’s stories, both fiction and nonfiction.

You can download and print out this worksheet by visiting my site, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends. Scroll down the page to CHARTS AND WORKSHEETS TO GET ORGANIZED FOR SUCCESS and click on the “Basic Plot Worksheet A.”

As you can see from the worksheet, the beginning takes up about a fourth of the picture book. In the 3-act structure, the beginning is called Act I.

The middle takes up about half of the picture book. In a 3-act structure, the middle is called Act II. There’s a first half of Act II and a second half of Act II.

Then the ending takes up about a fourth of the picture book. In a 3-act structure, the end is called Act III.

In most chapter books, you’ll find this same structure, so if you pattern your story after this structure, it will be stronger from the get-go.

(A note here…if you google the 3-act structure or even read plotting books or articles about the 3-act structure, you’ll find a lot of authors who say they don’t like the 3-act structure and it’s not needed so don’t follow it.)
• HOWEVER!!! And this is a big however!!!!!
• I have yet to meet the EDITOR who says toss out the 3-act structure. Every single editor I’ve ever worked with when it comes to discussing the plot of a children’s story, they say to use the 3-act structure.
• So am I going to listen to those other authors, even if they’re bestselling and popular? Or am I going to listen to the editors?
• You can bet I’m going to listen to the editors. Because that’s who I want to fall in love with my book so much they’ll publish it. Therefore, I use the 3-act structure.)

Let’s look a little bit closer at the Basic Plot Worksheet.
There are 3 significant changes that occur in a story that follows the 3-act structure:
1. You can see that there is a significant change that occurs at the end of the Act I to usher in the middle, or Act II.
2. There’s a significant change that occurs in the middle of Act II and this also occurs in the middle of the entire book.
3. Plus, there’s a significant change that occurs at the end of Act II to usher in the end, or Act III.

As you can see at the top of this post, I went through our mentor text, Stink #1 and plotted its chart with the three-act structure. You can download it and print it out so you have a copy to refer to.

Use it as a guide to plot these basic plot points for the chapter book YOU are working on!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 22, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Discernment

My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble…The Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.
-Proverbs 3:21-26

It’s easy to get caught up in the story we are writing and cross the line into writing about ungodly things. The world’s standards are so loose and muddled these days, that it’s hard to discern what is okay to write about and what’s not. It helps to keep in mind that the world’s standards are set up by Satan, himself. God’s standards, however, are all about what’s best for us as His children. As we write and rewrite our manuscripts, let’s try to write for what’s best. Let’s not settle for second rate regarding godliness.

Dear God, please reveal to me the places in my manuscripts that do not give honor to You and Your ways. Give me common sense as I write–the sense to remember the basic truths and principles You teach in Your Word but that the world seems to have forgotten these days. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

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Can you believe I stood this close to this mountain lion to snap such a great photograph? I was just inches away from him!!! But as you’ve probably already guessed, yes, I was at a zoo and there was a nice wall of glass between us.

I get excited going to places like zoos and museums because it gives me such fantastic ideas and research for my nonfiction stories for kids. I take lots of notes and lots of photos.

And guess what?! I’m especially excited about going to an upcoming conference for nonfiction children’s writers!!!!

This conference is LIMITED to just 40 attendees. You won’t get lost in a crowd like so many writing conferences out there where you’re just one in a sea of faces. You will be HEARD and KNOWN and HELPED.

This conference is GUARANTEED to help jumpstart your career as a nonfiction writer for kids. There’s an awesome faculty line-up of published nonfiction writers who will be sharing their EXPERTISE with you. I’m so excited to be joining the faculty, too!

You and I would get to MEET in person and face to face!!!! How awesome is that?!!!

But guess what? It gets even better…this conference is SPECIFICALLY for BEGINNING writers, or writers who want to start getting published in the nonfiction market. You won’t have to feel like everyone there is a better writer than you are…it’s tailored to meet your needs!

What: NF 4 NF Nonfiction for New Folks Writer’s Conference
When: September 17 – 20, 2015
Where: Rosenberg, Texas

The schedule is jam-packed with opportunity to hone your craft and learn all about writing nonfiction. I’ll be presenting a session on Writing for the Educational Market and an intensive on How to Write a Nonfiction Book in Three Weeks.

JOIN ME at meals for informal time where we can get to know each other better.

SIGN UP for me to give your manuscript a PERSONAL critique.

Plus, it’s gonna be FUN! We’ll be hootin’ and hollerin’ Texas-style! Writers from around the country will be playing together at GAME NIGHT and DANCING at Tex-Mex Night…lessons are provided! There will be critiques and writing time and fun!

GIFT yourself with this conference (or ask your family and friends to pitch together for a special present and MAKE THIS HAPPEN) so you can get away to spend time with me and other faculty members and writers to take your nonfiction writing to the level you want it to be.

CLICK HERE to register today!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 20, 2015

Chapter Book: Ideas for Your Middle

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Let me tell you a story. A true story.

Here’s what happened in the beginning of the story:
My brother and his wife came to visit us a few weeks ago. They planned to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada! I wanted to hike a little bit of the trail with them when they were passing near our house, but there wasn’t really any place that we could connect with them locally in a timely manner. They had to keep moving pretty fast to get north as fast as possible to avoid the desert during the hottest months. So we drove them to the Mexico border where the trailhead is and we said “Good-bye!”

End of Story:
That’s me in the photo at the top of this post, sitting on a couch in the middle of the forest on the Pacific Crest Trail above 8000 feet…because, guess what?!!! My husband Jeff and I got to hike 2 miles of the trail with them after all!!!! (Okay, so I’m not a long distance hiker, lol.)

So your question now is:
What happened in the middle that changed everything so I got to hike with them after all? (And what in the world is that couch doing out in the middle of the woods?????)

So here’s what happened in the middle:
We got a phone call from my brother saying that they got caught in an unexpected snow storm and freezing weather. Even their shoes were frozen! So they had to come off the trail near our house for several days while the snow melted. We drove up to the hotel where they were staying, took them a couple of supplies, and then got to hike with them for a little bit after all. My dream came true! (Oh, and that couch was put there next to a dumpster filled with food supplies by people called “trail angels” who leave supplies to help the hikers who are hiking the trail…but that’s another story!)

THAT’S what we want our middle to be like in the story we’re creating.

We want to think of something significant that CHANGED the character and the action and the story so that the ending could happen.

So go ahead and brainstorm ideas for your middle until you think of one that will really be a gem!

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