Posted by: nancyisanders | April 17, 2015

Faith-Building Friday

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My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.
-1 Peter 5:12, NLT

Why do we write? What is our purpose? Let’s make it our purpose to speak God’s grace into lost and lonely lives through the manuscripts we are working on. Whether we write for children or adults, in the secular or the Christian market, for magazine publishers or book publishers, our readers will be encouraged and reassured. God cares and God gives grace. Let’s extend it through the words we write as well.

Dear Father, please show me clearly how to communicate Your grace through the manuscripts I write. Encourage me each day as Your scribe so that I may encourage others. 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!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 16, 2015

Chapter Book: Brainstorm Your Setting

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Ready for another fun exercise to help you brainstorm ideas for a chapter book?

Today we’re gonna explore SETTING and get our creative juices going to come up with a setting that is highly commercial and pops with kid-appeal.

When I brainstorm for setting, I use a certain process that I put together into a handy-dandy sheet for you to download, print out, and write on.

CLICK HERE to get the brainstorming sheet, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS YOUR SETTING?

The way to use this worksheet is to write down IDEAS for each of the different setting options. Then look over the list and choose your favorite.

I ended up choosing a combination of 3!

I chose the main setting for my main character to be a FAMILIAR PLACE: my neighborhood here in sunny California. (I live near Los Angeles.) But I have his best friend be from an EXOTIC REGION of the world and together they’re going to visit a UNIQUE SPOT for one of their adventures.

Then, for the exercise at the bottom of the sheet, I brainstormed ideas to add various elements into my setting.

For example, for a dangerous place in your setting, you could include a cliff that the Main Character’s (MC) parents warn not to go near. Here are some other ideas:

Silly: A toilet used as a planter in the back yard. (My friend has one!)

Mysterious: A house in the woods where an old hermit lives and everyone wonders what goes on there.

Rock-star: A nearby neighborhood where famous people live, particularly a child rock-star the MC adores.

Scary: An area in the classroom where a teacher keeps a pet tarantula and boa constrictor and the MC is afraid of both.

Expensive: A top-end fashion mall where the MC loves to window shop.

Sports: A sports arena where the MC’s dad works and take her for birthday parties with her friends.

Frilly: A spa where the MC gets her nails and hair done every week. (Think Fancy Nancy.)

There you have it! I hope you have fun generating new and exciting ideas for the setting for your chapter book.

Now plug that new setting idea into the sentence you’re working on for your story idea:

The MAIN CHARACTER who lives in SETTING does his universal theme.

Here’s an example of what your sentence might look like now:

The wannabe popstar girl who lives next door to a famous kid-idol does her universal theme.

In an upcoming post we’ll talk about how to take your universal theme up a notch, too.

So stay tuned!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 15, 2015

This Week’s Teleclass

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What is Reader’s Theater?

It’s where you write a play with script for kids to read aloud. For example, you can write a reader’s theater play with parts for all the kids to be turtles and teach them about life at a pond.

Do you like Reader’s Theater?

I love writing Reader’s Theater plays. I use them is such a variety of ways.

As freebies on my own sites. CLICK HERE to see an example.

To earn money on sites where I sell them such as my TeachersPayTeachers store. CLICK HERE to see an example.

To land book contracts with publishers big and small such as Scholastic and Libraries Unlimited. CLICK HERE to see an example.

If you want to learn more about how to write Readers Theater plays so you can tap into this amazing market, too, join me live this week (Thursday) in a class I’ll be teaching over the phone for the Working Writers Club!

Here’s what to do:

Send an e-mail to Suzanne Lieurance at suzannelieurance@hotmail.com

In the subject line type “Readers Theater Workshop – Part 2″

Mention in the e-mail if you are a member or non-member. (Members pay double for the teleclasses, so take a minute and register before you sign up and SAVE. Registration is free!)

Then Suzanne will send you directions for payment.

After you pay she’ll e-mail you the handouts for the class.

(If you can’t make it live for tomorrow, you can still sign up and get the audio replay.)

I know lots of writer friends are sad at this time of year because they can’t afford the big bucks or the chunks of time to attend the upcoming conferences that are being advertised right now…my hour-long audio workshops are affordable and you can listen to them at your own pace. It’s a win-win situation!

For a listing of more of my past workshops you can still get, CLICK HERE.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 14, 2015

Orange County Christian Writers Conference: See You There!

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I hope to see you at the Orange County Christian Writers Conference next week! There’s still time to sign-up!

What a great place to network, meet professionals in the business, and get super-charged up and equipped to follow the calling God has placed on your life to write.

I want to meet YOU! So I hope you’ll be there. Check out all the great things that will be happening and the awesome line-up of faculty.

So whether you’re local or flying in from far away, I hope to see you there!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 13, 2015

Chapter Book: Brainstorming Exercise

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Okay, now we have enough material to do an exercise. Not the hike-up-the-hill exercise I’m about to do in this photograph. We’re going to do a fun story-generating brainstorming exercise.

This exercise is similar to the exercise I share in Section 7.1 Fresh and Original in my book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books. This exercise is guaranteed to help you come up with a fresh and original idea you can choose to write about.

Do you already have an idea for a story for your early chapter book? If so, write it down in one single sentence. Make your sentence look like this:

The MAIN CHARACTER who lives in SETTING does his universal theme.

If you don’t yet have an idea, choose either a boy or a girl for your main character. Choose a general setting such as a town or a city. Choose your universal theme.

Write it all down in a sentence.

The MAIN CHARACTER who lives in SETTING does his universal theme.

For example:

The boy who lives in a town starts his first day of school.

Now, let’s play with this sentence. Our goal is to brainstorm a fresh and original idea to write about in a story.

First, let’s brainstorm a main character that pops and sizzles and can even be commercial.

I like to ask myself questions at this stage of the game.

Instead of just an ordinary main character, what would make my main character fresh and original?

Could he be super smart at something or really good at something?
Like a math whiz or a soccer star or already a popstar musician.

Try plugging in different ideas you have for a main character who’s ultra-talented for a kid in kindergarten through second grade (this is our target age).

Could there be something funny about him?
Like he has the world’s largest collection of toilet paper rolls or he always wins watermelon seed spitting contests?

Try plugging in different ideas you have for a main character with a funny trait.

Could there be something very unique about him?
Like his mom is President of the US and he’s living in the White House or he’s the great-great-great-great-great grandson of William Penn?

Try plugging in different ideas you have for the main character with a unique quirk.

Have fun playing with main character ideas like this! In an upcoming post, we’ll play around with the sentence even more as we brainstorm ideas for a setting that zings.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 9, 2015

Chapter Book: Let’s Brainstorm for a Universal Theme

The second thing I did to brainstorm for an idea for a new chapter book was to brainstorm for a universal theme I wanted to write about.

What’s a universal theme? It’s something every kid experiences. Like losing their first tooth or getting a pet. Every story needs a universal theme to pull the reader in and keep him reading until the end.

To help you brainstorm for a universal theme you’d like to write about, you can get a list I made up of universal themes.

CLICK HERE to visit the site of my cat writing buddies. Scroll down until you see UNIVERSAL THEMES AGES 4-7. (That’s the age of kids who read early chapter books.) Click on the file to download it and print it out.

If you think of a universal theme not listed, just write it on a blank line. Look over the list and choose one you’d like to write about for your chapter book. (It doesn’t have to be in cement…just give you something to aim for at this point.)

For example, you could pick:

“the first day of school.”

I’ll show you a fun exercise to do with this in an upcoming post.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 6, 2015

Chapter Book: Let’s Brainstorm for Ideas!

In the early years of my writing career, I didn’t know about brainstorming.

I thought as writers we were supposed to show up at our computer in the morning, flex our fingers, and start to type.

That’s what a lot of people say, right?

Well it didn’t work for me. I spent countless frustrating mornings wondering WHAT I was supposed to type.

And then I discovered brainstorming.

Now brainstorming is one of my favorite things to do as a writer. Why? Because it gives me gobs of gooey and delicious ideas so that I’m itching to write and can’t stop from typing!

How do I brainstorm, you may ask?

ClICK HERE to read a funny article about the process.

Do I stare into space and wait for the “muse” to strike me? (Personally I think lightning has more of a chance to strike a writer than the muse.)

No, I get busy and look at things.

So to start our very first brainstorming session to think of an idea for the chapter book you want to work on, I’ll share exactly the very first thing I did when I got my idea.

I looked at other current early chapter books and just enjoyed reading through the opening pages of a variety of titles on Amazon. I jotted down any ideas that popped into my head without committing to any of them.

So here’s a list of current early chapter books you can browse through, too. Click on the LOOK INSIDE feature and read through the pages that pop up or listen to the audio preview. Get your notebook and jot down any idea that comes to you for your own potential chapter book even if you think it stinks right now. You never know. Have fun browsing!

Early Chapter Books with a similar word count to our mentor text, Stink #1:
Anna Hibiscus: 7577 words
Happy Birthday Bad Kitty: 4097 words
Ivy and Bean: 7828 words
Jake Drake Bully Buster: 8844 words
The Stories Julian Tells: 6268 words

Longer chapter books to look up if you’re interested:
Encyclopedia Brown Boy Detective: 10392 words
Frankly Frannie: 11400 words
Magic Tree House High Time for Heroes: 15045 Words
Nancy Clancy and the Secret of the Silver Key: 13618 words
Secrets According to Humphrey: 27000+ words

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 2, 2015

Chapter Book: Our Mentor Text

Thanks for your patience as I picked the mentor text I’m going to use for writing my next chapter book and that you can use, too, as your mentor text for following along.

Here’s how it happened.

Somewhere while I was brainstorming last month for CHABOOCHA and making lists of ideas that might be fun to write and submit to Kaeden Books, I noticed that on my list I had a highly commercial idea with lots of potential.

When I stumble across one of those gold nugget ideas now and then, I do not…I repeat…I DO NOT…submit it for a work-for-hire project. I save it for submitting to a publisher who offers royalty contracts and since I now work with an agent, I save it for submitting to my agent who then submits it to publishers.

So I saved it. For now. And now I’ll show you step-by-step the journey and the process I take when I write a brand new chapter book. And if you want to follow along and write your own chapter book, I can guarantee it’s going to be lots of fun!

I’m in the middle of another project right now, a nonfiction deadline for teens that’s under contract, so I’ll be taking this new chapter book at a leisurely pace. You can, too!

So first I wanted to find a mentor text. (In an upcoming post I’ll share with you how to brainstorm an idea you can write about.)

For awhile I was thinking about using Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Here’s why I wanted to use it as my mentor text:
1. The voice is AWESOME. I’ve even seen junior high girls reading this series because the voice of Junie B. Jones is so strong. It’s a great example of how to write with a fantastic voice.

2. It’s about a real girl in a real world. Kids this age LOVE to read about school and friends and teachers and real life.

3. It is the right length and reading level. It’s just 6570 words with a 2.9 book level. It’s got 10 chapters and 69 pages. That’s an early chapter book.

But in the end, I turned it down. Why? Because it didn’t have one important criteria I like to use for a mentor text. It was written in 1992.

Ouch.

There are just so many subtle little details in a book that old that I might try to learn from that editors today might not be looking for. I try to use a mentor text that’s more current than that…rarely over 10 years old.

So I continued my search for a mentor text we could use.

I searched on amazon and in my local library and on my bookshelves.

I came really close to choosing Secrets According to Humphrey or Nancy Clancy and the Secret of the Silver Key. But even though it’s an AWESOME book and won tons of awards, Secrets According to Humphrey was over 27,000 words, much to much for the early chapter book we’re going to write while following along here on this blog. And Nancy Clancy was a mystery…that’s a whole other learning curve I didn’t want to tackle right now.

So I kept looking. Until I found it. Are you ready?

Drum roll please.

Our mentor text is:

Stink (Book #1) The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald.

Here’s why I chose it:
1. The voice is AWESOME. I haven’t read the whole book yet, but just the opening pages on Amazon had me laughing out loud.

2. It’s about a real boy in a real world with family and school and real problems. (He’s short.) Plus it’s a boy book. Publishers are always looking for boy books. (Hint: if you can brainstorm an idea for a boy book during our upcoming brainstorming session, that’s a big plus!)

3. It’s the right word length and reading level. How do I know? You can check it out on RENAISSANCE LEARNING. Just type in the title on the tab marked “Quiz Store” and you’ll see all the stats. 5502 words and a book level 3.0.

4. It was published in 2013. That’s really current so it will be full of current stuff editors are looking for.

5. And the super-duper extra bonus is this: It’s the first book in the series! Since we’ll be writing the first book with our brand new character we’re going to brainstorm together in an upcoming post, it will really help us introduce a character and learn how to start a brand new chapter book of our very own with series potential.

So if you want to join along in our upcoming adventure of how-to-write a chapter book from beginning to end (along with tips on where and how to submit it to a royalty-based publisher when we’re done) go ahead and buy your own copy of this book. It’s only $2.99 for Kindle or $4.99 for paperback. I prefer paperback because I like to mark key elements on the pages, but if you prefer digital, go for it. The important thing is to make the investment with a few bucks because it will pay off quickly!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 2, 2015

New Early Reader Bible Stories

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

As you may or may not know, I love helping kids learn how to read. That’s part of the passion behind my love for writing early readers like the early chapter book we just wrote in March.

I hope it’s your passion, too. (I’m guessing it is!)

I remember when my two sons were little, there wasn’t much out there to help them at the very, very start. Even before they could read enough words to handle the Bob Books.

That’s when my idea for One Sentence Storybooks was born. I developed a way to tell a simple story using repetition and four key new vocabulary words over several different pages to build up to be a single sentence that comprised the entire story. And for some wonderful reason, it clicked. It worked!

That was more than 20 years ago. It took a long time for this idea to come out in full-color book form that little ones could hold in their own hands and read, but the concept still works. I’m hearing from parents whose kids are gaining confidence and skill in reading. Plus, the fact that these little books have a faith-building focus makes them even more special.

Occasionally on upcoming posts here on my blog, I’m going to share with you what parents are saying about these books and the difference it’s making in the lives and hearts of their precious early readers. To start with, I invite you to visit the site of The Proverbs 31 Mama! Hop on over to her site and see she thinks about these books. (Be sure to say “hi!”)

Plus, if you have a child who is learning to read, visit my book’s site for free printables you can download with faith-building and reading activities. (Click on the link for READING FUN AND FAITH-BUILDING ACTIVITIES once you get there.)

And if you’ve got a passion for writing early readers (or are thinking about getting started) I hope these blog posts will motivate you to pursue your passion and write and submit for this very rewarding market.

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 30, 2015

Book Review: Only God Can Make a Kitten

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Only God Can Make a Kitten
By Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

Summary
What an adorable book! This 32-page picture book begs to be read to a little one while snuggling on your lap. With sweet rhyming text, the soft and tender illustrations are the perfect compliment! A mother and her two children romp and explore the outdoors. Climbing on rocks, swimming in the sea, and discovering a newly sprouted seed, every step of they way they conclude that only God can make each one. (After reading this, I’m itching to go outside and play with children and worship God in the beauty of his creation.)

What I Like
I like the affirmation of truth this teaches little ones that God is the great designer and creator. I especially like the fun word-play and sense of wonder the text brings. For example: “Mama, look! A tiny sprout! Who made this sprig of spring pop out? He who knows our every need. Only God can make a seed.” A great read-aloud. But even more than this, the beautiful and soft illustrations are filled with joy and discovery. And of course, it includes the fact all cat-lovers will adore…“Mama, look! A little cat! Who makes it purr and curl like that? He loves animals, it is written. Only God can make a kitten.” A treasure I highly recommend for many times of reading together and sharing the truth about Creator God.

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

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 30, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

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The end of the month is in sight! How did you do with CHABOOCHA, the Chapter Book Challenge to write a chapter book in just one month? I want to give a big thank you to Becky Fyfe, our fearless leader and coordinator of this yearly event.

If you’re not yet done or even close to finishing, don’t despair. Just pick up where you left off and go for the finish line!

And if you’ve been following along here on my blog and have been using THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER as your mentor text, it’s time to finish up your manuscript and submit it.

EDITING
For starters, let’s talk about editing your manuscript. CLICK HERE to read an awesome (and fun) checklist by Lee Wardlaw for editing and revising.

FINALIZING YOUR MANUSCRIPT
Let’s also talk about finalizing your manuscript. It needs a chapter title for each chapter and also Table of Contents at the front of your book. Don’t worry about page numbers for your table of contents. You won’t know that until the book is typeset and illustrations are added in.

Go over the submission checklist from the last time we submitted a nonfiction early reader to Kaeden Books to make sure you have all your ducks in a row.

COVER LETTER
Go ahead and type up your cover letter. (Especially remember to include your SASE and the extra fun, super-duper strategy I recommend in the cover letter.)

And then pop it in an envelope and submit it in the mail.

Then dance a happy dance. Pick up your favorite feline writing buddy, kiss him on his furry little head and say, “We did it!” (Well, actually, you did it. He just shed furry hairs all over it and took a nap on the envelope after you addressed it and put it on the counter to be there when you’re ready to go to the post office.)

And then get ready!!!!! Our next writing adventure here on my blog will be to write an early chapter book and submit it to a publisher who offers royalty contracts to their authors. (Think 10,000 words or less. You can do this!)

We’re going to take our time. No rushing for this next adventure. We’ll just complete one task at a time.

We’re going to go step by step along the journey. No questions left unanswered…All you gotta do is ask them!

I’ve had a number of chapter books published with publishers big and small–both nonfiction and fiction! I’ve been flown to a publishing house to meet with their editor and marketing and series creator to brainstorm outlines for 3 chapter books so I’ll be sharing firsthand and insider experiences and more on how to create and write a chapter book from beginning to successful end.

So if you didn’t have the chance to write a chapter book this month because of your crazy schedule or you just weren’t sure where to start, plan to join in on the upcoming fun!!!!!
(I hope you’ll join in. You’ll be happy you did. And we’ll be happy you did too!)

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 27, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

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As we’re finishing up our back matter for our early chapter book, here are some tips to make it easier.

Creating the Abbreviated Word List
To make a list of 48 of the more challenging vocabulary words in my story, I opened up my story in a document and moved that open document to the left side of my screen. I changed the text to be 150% and made the document as small as possible to fit on my screen.

Then I opened up a new document and put it on the right side of my screen. I sized this document as small as possible so that both documents were now side by side.

Starting with Chapter 1 on the left document, I read through it and added long or difficult vocabulary words to the blank document on the right. I also numbered these with the automatic number system. I spread out to find words in every chapter until I had 48 words listed. Then I deleted the numbers and copied these words and pasted them at the end of my story in the document on the left.

Writing Discussion Questions
For the Discussion Questions in the back matter, I actually copied some of the questions in our mentor text, THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER, and used words from other questions. I know enough about Common Core State Standards to recognize the wording they like in this section supports the second grade English language arts standards for reading literature.

My story is about a little boy who finds an abandoned baby raccoon in the woods. Here is a sample of some of the questions I wrote for my back matter:

Before Reading:
* What do you think happens to wild animals that need help?

During Reading:
* How do you think Landon felt when he found the baby raccoon in the hollow oak tree? Use examples from the story to explain your answer.

After Reading
* Have you ever wanted to help an animal? Describe your experience.

Once you write the back matter to include with your manuscript, you’re on the home stretch! Time to finish this baby up and put it in the mail. I’ll post more on that in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 24, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

This week as we’re wrapping up our early chapter book to submit to Kaeden Books, it’s time to write the Back Matter.

In our mentor text, THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER, there is one last page of text that is printed on the inside of the back cover. It has an Abbreviated Word List. It lists the Word Count. It also has three sets of discussion questions for a parent or educator to use. All of this is called Back Matter.

Does your mentor text have Back Matter? If so, this is the time to work on it.

If you are using the same book as I am and following along here on my blog, here is what you’ll need in the Back Matter you include with your manuscript:

1. Abbreviated Word List of 24 words in alphabetical order. If you know how to format columns within your document, you can put this in 6 columns. (If not, a single column is fine.)

2. Word Count: THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER has 2600 words so you want to make yours as close to that as possible.

3. Discussion questions:
Before Reading: 2-3 questions
During Reading: 3 questions
After Reading: 3 questions

Let me know if you have any questions about this!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 23, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

CHABOOCHA calendar 2015

If you’ve been following along with my calendar here on my blog to write an 8-chapter early chapter book using THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER as our mentor text, we’re flying into the home stretch now!

If you’ve fallen behind as I have, you can do this! Just start where you dropped off and schedule time to write on your calendar this week.

Also, this week is the time to edit your book and make it shine. If you belong to a critique group, take it and ask for feedback. If not, ask a young child to read it and give you feedback.

Plus, this is the week to start writing the back matter. First of all, read the back page in THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER. This will help you write a similar section in your manuscript. I’ll post some tips on how to do this in an upcoming post this week.

Have fun!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 20, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

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How are you doing with ChaBooCha and the Chapter Book Challenge? If you’re following along on my blog and writing an early reader chapter book did you finish your last chapter yesterday?

I’m still not done! Sometimes life gets so busy and you have to attend to other things. That happened to me this week.

The art galleys came in for a set of 10 early readers that will be published soon. I had to drop everything and pore over 120 pages of cute and adorable illustrations. What fun! And then I had to write a dozen pages of little “games” and simple “activities” for the books that we’d been waiting for the galleys to come in because the games and activities were based on the art.

Whew! That’s all done and turned into my editor.

So here I am, back again at the Chapter Book Challenge. I’m picking up right where I left off and am moving full steam ahead.

How about you? If you haven’t finished the challenge, don’t despair! Just pick up right where you left off and move forward full steam ahead.

These challenges are here to motivate you and encourage you, not to defeat you or make you feel like you’ll never succeed.

So wherever you are today, just take the next step. And then the next! And most of all, have fun with what you’re doing.

Happy writing!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 17, 2015

WriteShop: A Writing Curriculum that Rocks!

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As some of you may know, I’ve had the amazing privilege of working with the publishers of WriteShop to help write their Primary and Junior curriculum for elementary kids. Can I tell you how much fun it was to take all the techniques and skills I’ve used during my career as a writer and put them into a hands-on incremental curriculum for kids that’s fun, engaging and teaches them to love writing as much as I do?!!!!!

As most of you may NOT know, however, right now they are having a free give-away contest of a COMPLETE WRITESHOP CURRICULUM SET!!!!! This is such an amazing opportunity. I just had to share this exciting news with you. If you are a homeschooling mama (or dad) or know someone else who is a homeschooling parent, and you want to have a chance to win this amazing curriculum, just hop on over to one of these blogs and register to win today. Plus you can read the reviews they posted of the curriculum and how their kids really do love it and are learning to love to write.

THIS READING MAMA

TEACH BESIDE ME

GRATEFUL FOR GRACE

writeshop_junior_books

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 17, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

As we’re working on writing chapters 5 and 6 yesterday and today, I wanted to share a couple of tips with you.

#1. Usually around this spot in my manuscript I discover I don’t really like what I’m doing. It helps to remember that this is a first draft. If I can just get the first draft written from the beginning to the end, I can go back in and fix things later. It’s okay to have lousy spots now.

#2. I like to start my writing sessions each day usually by reading over what I wrote the day before or even earlier. I like to go back and fix glaring spots that bug me. For example, originally I had 2 adult characters named Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. I totally deleted Mr. Smith and combined his lines and character with Mr. Jones. I felt this was simpler for a kid’s book at this reading level. Then I also changed Mr. Jones’ name to “Construction Boss” similar to how “Measuring Man” is named in our mentor text, THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER.

#3. I’m keeping a short character log with notes about each different character such as “Construction Boss” speaks in short sentences and barks out commands because he’s used to giving orders to his crew. Then I go back over what I’ve written and fix Construction Boss’s lines to make sure they are as short as possible and in a command tone as much as possible. This is helping my characters to each have a distinct voice.

Also, in these two chapters (5 and 6) we want to make sure our characters are heading toward the end of the book and they are directly influenced or dealing with the change that happened at the turning point to get them moving toward the conclusion of the main story problem.

Happy writing!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 13, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

Red Flyer Roller Coaster plot

If you look at the plot chart for THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER, the mentor text I’m using along with some of you for our CHABOOCHA Challenge this month, you’ll see that Chapter 4 is where the turning point happens.

Here are some tidbits of info about a turning point:
*This is the middle of the book.
*This is where something happens that changes the main character in some way that it propels her to the end of the book and the conclusion of the main story problem.
*This is the place some authors claim is like the door of no return. Something happens and the main character will never be the same.

Here in our mentor text, the turning point is where Sophie Bean’s legs start hurting. We don’t know it and she doesn’t know it but this is where the solution to the entire story arc will generate from: she’s starting to grow tall enough so that by the end of the summer she’ll be able to ride the roller coaster!

So if you’ve already written your Chapter 4 or are just getting ready to start, make sure you have the turning point in here.

Then on Monday we’ll write Chapter 5 and start moving our main character toward the ending. Yay!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 13, 2015

Book Review: Words To Dream On

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Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers
By Diane Stortz
Art by Diane Le Feyer

Summary
This is a sweet and beautifully illustrated 224-page book with over 50 Bible stories from both the Old and New Testament. Each selection starts by listing which Scriptures the story covers so you can read it from a Bible if you’d like. There is also one key verse before the story starts called “Words to Dream On” which gives the theme of the story as a nice take-away for bedtime devotions. After the story is finished, there is a “Bedtime Blessing” which is an encouraging thought to leave with your child before you turn out the light along with a “Sleepy-Time Prayer” to pray together. At the end of the book there is a short section of tips to help create a happy bedtime routine with your child.

What I Like
I especially like the whole feel of this book. What a beautiful, tender, and biblical treasure to share each night together as you tuck your little one into bed! I love all the features that make it perfect for using with a bedtime routine such as the “Bedtime Blessing” and “Sleepy-Time Prayer.” The art is so fresh, original, and delightful, too. I especially like how in night-time scenes (including on the cover) it looks like the stars are hanging on strings from the sky. So adorable!!!! Between the beautiful re-tellings of these Bible stories in words little ones can understand and the soft and endearing illustrations, this is sure to become a favorite for families who are intentional about sending their children off to dreamland with God’s Word tucked into their heart and the love of God wrapped like a blanket around them.

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

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 11, 2015

Challenge: Write a Chapter Book in One Month

CHABOOCHA calendar 2015

If you’re following along with my calendar this month to write an early reader chapter book using THE RED FLYER ROLLER COASTER as your mentor text, today we’re working on Chapter 3.

As you’re writing new content for this chapter as well as editing Chapter 2 which you wrote yesterday, there are a couple of tips I’d like to share.

For starters, both of these chapters are all about different ways your main character is trying to solve the main story problem. In our mentor text, Sophie Bean informs Grandma that she is simply too big to ride the merry-go-round any more but she’s still not tall enough to ride the roller coaster.

In Chapter 3, Sophie Bean brings along a pair of Mommy’s high heels to wear to make her tall enough to go.

What is your main character trying to do in your Chapters 2 and 3 to solve her main story problem? Show this happening in your Chapters 2 and 3.

Also, let’s talk a little bit about transitions.

Chapter 2 is one complete scene.

It starts with a TRANSITION: “When they got home…”

This transitions from the previous scene in the last chapter to the next scene in Chapter 2.

You’ll find transitions such as these in between scenes in our mentor text and you can use similar ones in yours. When you’re writing a short chapter book such as this with a limited word count, you don’t want to waste an entire paragraph moving from scene to scene.

On page 12, the transition in between scenes is “The next week…”

On page 17, the transition in between scenes is “The next week…”

On page 18, the transition in between scenes is “At the beach…”

On page 20, the transition in between scenes is “A few weeks later…”

You can go from scene to scene with very short transitions just like these to move quickly through the passage of time to concentrate on scenes, the building blocks of your story!

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