Posted by: nancyisanders | July 27, 2015

Educational Publishers: Work-for-Hire


When we submit to educational publishers who need authors to work on projects they develop, they expect us to have our ducks all in a row. Most of their contracts are work-for-hire contracts meaning that they pay you a flat fee and keep all the rights. Be sure to follow their submissions guidelines very carefully.

Here are just a few of the publishers listed on Ev Christensen’s amazing site, EDUCATIONAL MARKETS FOR CHILDREN’S WRITERS who follow into the category:









As you’re clicking on links to explore these publishers and others similar to them, get a feel for the type of products they publish. Don’t worry about the publishers you look at and think, “This is way out of my comfort zone.”

Just keep an eye out for any publisher you look at and think…hey! I think I could write a book like that.

Those are the ones you want to submit to.

And if you have trouble pinpointing their submission guidelines, just google “Submission guidelines for name of publisher.” Sometimes they like to hide this info on their site and this usually gives good results.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 24, 2015


Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you are like white-washed tombs
which indeed appear beautiful outwardly,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones
and all uncleanness.
-Matthew 23:27, NKJV

These scribes are anyone who writes without the anointing of Jesus Christ. Their books are beautiful on the outside with fancy covers and glitzy awards. But inside, the text is full of ungodly concepts and foul words.

Lord, I beg of You! Do whatever it takes to keep me from being a scribe like this. May I always be humble and only write for Your glory and not my own. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


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 | July 23, 2015

Educational Publishers: Different Fish in the Same Pond

As we’ve been exploring the list of educational publishers listed on Ev Christensen’s amazing site, EDUCATIONAL MARKETS FOR CHILDREN’S WRITERS, we’ve been talking about how there are different categories of publishers listed.

Here are two categories I divide them into that we discussed in a previous post:

Publishers who need authors to work on projects they develop.

Publishers who accept original ideas from authors.

Each of these publishers have different expectations from authors who submit to them.

For publishers who need authors to work on projects they develop, in general they want to see an author’s resume plus writing samples.

Then they keep your name and samples in their files and contact you if they think they have a project they want to develop that matches your expertise as a writer.

Of course, you need to follow their specific submission guidelines, but in general, that’s how they work.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 17, 2015

Faith-Building Fridays: Reflection

lake fulmor reflection

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
-Ephesians 5:1, NKJV

As we write, let’s strive to reflect God’s glory and imitate His characteristics to our readers. How do we do this? By choosing to stand on the clear Truth found in Scripture rather than the muddied waters of the world’s opinions. Let’s not pride ourselves in supporting or endorsing our friends, family, co-workers, or even our government’s decisions. Let’s follow wholeheartedly after Jesus and be reflections of His good and holy ways.

Dear God, please help me discern your Word rightly without being swayed by the news, the media, the publishing world, or even my personal friends. Give me the strength to write words that reflect You and Your truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 16, 2015

Educational Publishers: Different Fish in the Same Pond

lake fulmor boy fishing

As I’ve been exploring the list of educational publishers listed on Ev Christensen’s amazing site, EDUCATIONAL MARKETS FOR CHILDREN’S WRITERS, I’ve realized an important point that I want to share with you…

Not all educational publishers are the same.

Since we were on vacation this past week and took a short hike around this small lake, seeing this young boy fishing reminded me that this list of educational publishers is like different fish in the same pond.

For example, I’ve written for various publishers listed on Ev’s site and some have similar submissions policies and similar products than others.

So I thought for starters let’s look at some of the categories of publishers on this list.

I’ve written a couple of books for Corwin Press. These projects have been work-for-hire where I’ve been handed a fairly lengthy packet of formatting rules to follow and my manuscripts have to fit into a series with other authors working on them, too. These books were based on the publisher’s ideas, not mine.

I’ve written several books for Chicago Review Press. For these books, I submitted my own ideas and landed royalty-based contracts with an advance.

I’ve written a couple of books for Libraries Unlimited that were my own ideas and landed royalty-based contracts with no advance.

For all 3 publishers, I signed the contracts before I wrote the manuscripts.

I don’t know how other people might categorize these publishers I just mentioned, but here’s the two categories I divide them into:

Publishers who need authors to work on projects they develop.

Publishers who accept original ideas from authors.

Why is this important to know?

Because you approach each type of publisher differently.

(And just a note…some publishers do both kinds of projects! It’s important to realize which type you want to contact them about.)

So as you’re continuing to explore and click on different links on this site, keep these 2 categories in mind.

We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 13, 2015

Book Review: NIrV Study Bible for Kids


NIrV Study Bible for Kids
by Zonderkidz

This Bible features the updated version of the NIV just perfect for young readers. The hard cover will guarantee it lasts through lots of wear and tear. The soft, muted colors and dreamy-like illustrations throughout this Bible convey a sense of peace and comfort–a big plus for a young child who is reading this just before going to bed. Lots of engaging features are sure to keep a young reader’s interest and help present God’s Word in delicious bite-sized chunks.

What I Like
As a writer, I’ve used the NIrV version of the Bible for years. There are some Christian publishers who require writers to use this version when we write for them. And no wonder…the NIrV stands for “New International Reader’s Version” and is geared with grade-level vocabulary for kids ages 6-10 to read it. So when I saw they put together this version of the Bible as a Study Bible, I was so excited to get it! I love study Bibles as an adult, and I’m jazzed to think of using this with the kids in my life.

And yes! I like the features in this Bible! Here are some of my favorites:
*Full color/glossy/illustrated pages scattered throughout with IMPORTANT information such as who the Holy Spirit is and what the Ten Commandments are.
*Introduction to each book with top verses to read
*Soak it Up! Verses highlighted to memorize.
*Brain Game with questions to about a passage to make your thinker think!

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

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 10, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Scribes

Therefore, indeed,
I send you prophets,
wise men,
and scribes.
-Matthew 23:34, NKJV

We are God’s scribes. As we write, God is working through us with the gift of prophecy to address issues that He alone can know. God gives us the gift of wisdom to write words that are wise and good for such a time as this, or for future generations.

Ah Lord God! Your scribes write under the anointing and calling of the Lord Jesus Christ! Oh, may I alway be one of Your scribes that You send personally to write words that lead people to You! May the words I write bring life and plant godliness in the hearts of my readers. Even if I am never noticed, may my books and the words You call me to write bring glory to Your name. Amen.


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

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 8, 2015


Let’s get better acquainted with the amazing resource that Ev Christensen maintains for us at the site, EDUCATIONAL MARKETS FOR CHILDREN’S WRITERS.

At the top of this page, there’s a link to click on if you’re new to the educational market. (What a great resource, too, Ev! You’ve thought of everything!!!)

Click on that link even if you’re an old pro and you’ll find reminder tips and helpful info about writing for this market.

Getting back to the site’s main page, scrolling down you will next see an alphabetical list of educational publishers, packagers, and developers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had numerous market guides and this list is very, very comprehensive. It’s exciting just to look at it and think of all the possibilities for writing and getting paid while you write.

Below that list, you’ll find a short list of Test publishers. How exciting is this?! Somebody has to write the little stories that kids read while they’re taking standardized national tests…why not you? It’s fun to click on these links too.

And at the bottom of this site is “Additional Information.” This is the place we find another alphabetical list of publishers. Only this time this list includes publishers that are going out of business or don’t return phone calls, etc. This stuff is really handy to know!

Now that we’ve taken an overview of this site, feel free to explore some more. Just click on anything that interests you or start with the first publisher and click your way on down the list. We’ll be exploring this more together in an upcoming post.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 7, 2015

Let’s Explore the Educational Market


I hope you had a great time celebrating the Fourth of July! Summer is here with beach days, hikes in the mountains, and lots of family time.

It’s also a great time for us to start exploring the educational market because schools will be starting back in session before we know it.

And the best place to start exploring this exciting market is at Evelyn B. Christensen’s AWESOME site, EDUCATIONAL MARKETS FOR CHILDREN’S AUTHORS.

I’m not going to say much about it because its amazing information speaks for itself.

So hop on over and spend some time relaxing and clicking and looking and reading and following links and…EXPLORING!

(And thank you, Ev, for putting together and maintaining such an awesome resource for all of us as writers.)

To show your appreciation and gratitude to Ev, share her site with lots of your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!

And stay tuned for fun stuff coming up all about the educational market and YOU.

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.


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.


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

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 24, 2015

Chapter Book: The First Draft

DSCN2716 - Version 2

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!

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

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.

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


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.


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!


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:


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.


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.


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

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 9, 2015

Here’s What’s Coming!

1-26-2015 monarch #1c

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.


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.


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


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.


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


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!

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