Posted by: nancyisanders | May 15, 2017

Local Writer’s Conference

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Isn’t this a beautiful setting? It’s the cherry blossoms in a local garden near where I live in southern CA.

Setting is important. It’s important to us in special events and important to us in our day to day lives. It’s also important in the stories we write.

Do you live near me in southern CA? Are you free this coming Saturday on May 20? Then come join me at a local Christian writing conference in Chino and take my setting workshop. We’ll be doing setting exercises with your personal writing project in mind, so hopefully you will get some great strategies to make your setting as meaningful and well-written as you can.

Most of all, however, the goal of this conference is to connect local Christian writers with other local Christian writers. So come on over and get connected!

CLICK HERE to see the Facebook page for the event, CHINO VALLEY ASPIRING WRITERS’ CONFERENCE.

CLICK HERE to register. It’s just $20. What a great deal for connections and information that can make a difference in your life as a writer.

Mark your calendar. Hope to see you there!

 

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 7, 2017

Faith Building Friday: Strength

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My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26, NKJV

 

Dear Scribe, beloved of your Master. Do you feel like a failure as a writer? Perhaps you struggle with a chronic illness or a physical weakness that limits your capacity to write. Perhaps your daily commitments are so taxing that you have no physical strength left at the end of the day to write. Or maybe instead of your flesh it is your heart that has lost hope, and you are overwhelmed with the idea of ever acquiring the skills to get published. The thought of experiencing breakthrough in the published market feels like an impossible task. Or you might be a seasoned writer but can find no fresh creativity to move forward in your calling. You might even be experiencing burnout and are too tired or heartsick in this challenging industry to submit anything just to receive yet another rejection. Yes, our cry can often be, “MY flesh and MY heart fail!” But wait! There is a higher power that is not bound by human flesh. There is a greater strength that is not chained to human emotions. There is an infinite resource that is not limited by human frailties. This is none other than God Himself. God—the Creator of the universe whose Word spoke the galaxies into existence—wants to speak life into the dead places of our writer’s heart. God Himself is the strength of our heart. He will lift us up on eagle’s wings and carry us in His arms close to His heart as a shepherd carries an orphaned lamb. He is our portion, our daily bread, our new mercy every day, our joy that comes in the morning even when weeping lasts for the night. He will be our strength when we have none: today, tomorrow, and each new day into eternity.

 

Dear God, restore my hope and renew my strength. Thank You for Your promise that Your power is perfected in my weakness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 4, 2017

Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s On Its Way!

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Easter’s coming! My favorite time of year!! I love celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This year my hubby and I are singing in the worship choir on Sunday for all four services. What a wonderful day of rejoicing that will be!

For Easter this year, I wanted to give you some choices of items you can put in your child’s Easter basket to help them remember what Easter is truly all about…Jesus’s death and resurrection to offer us the free gift of salvation.

CHILDREN’S GOSPEL TRACT
Here’s a free, colorful tract you can download and print out yourself to tuck into your child’s Easter basket. This also makes a great handout for your church to distribute in children’s ministry or along with your bulletin. It’s a great classroom resource as well if you teach at a Christian school. Please feel free to use this in any way you want. Let’s teach our children about Jesus and the free gift He offers to us because of what He did on the very first Easter! (And if you like this tract, please take a minute to rate it…I appreciate that…thanks!)

ONE SENTENCE STORYBOOKS
Do you have a two-year-old or preschooler in your family or neighborhood? Or perhaps you have a little one who is just learning how to read. These 3 boxed sets are the perfect size for tucking in their Easter basket. Plus, they’re the perfect size for little hands to hold and little hearts to learn from. My two-year-old grandson loves these books and asks to read them again and again!

GET TO KNOW BIOGRAPHIES
This series of nonfiction books teach second through sixth graders the TRUTH! Using historical documents, artifacts, and true facts, young readers learn how God has a plan for the world that includes Jesus, the Bible, and us. These are great for Easter baskets for kids in elementary school. Visit the website for these books for free printables you can also download and print out to put in their baskets: puzzles, crafts, and more!

He is Risen

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 3, 2017

Nonfiction Biographies

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Thanks to all of you who have purchased my audio class on how to write a nonfiction book. And thanks to one of my cyberspace writing friends who purchased the course and has asked me for some tips on writing a nonfiction biography on a current personality.

Years ago when I started writing, before I ever published my first book, one of the first things I did was interview an author and submit it to a writing magazine that published author/editor interviews. It was one of my first acceptances ever! So I continued to interview fellow authors as well as editors, eventually becoming a Contributing Editor to the writing magazine myself. Over several years, I built up experience with interviewing skills and was able to eventually interview TV and musical personalities, too.

Learning how to interview someone is a learning curve in itself. Learning how to interview a famous person is an even bigger learning curve. And learning what it takes to get that person’s interview published can involve copyright issues, permissions, and journalism/research skills.

So, what happens if you want to interview a current personality and get it published as a children’s nonfiction biography?

First of all, know your publishers. Most current picture book biographies are published by educational publishers. These publishers usually do entire series on these biographies. They often offer work-for-hire contracts and expect to hire you and have you sign a contract with them before you write the book.

For example, Scholastic published this book on Taylor Swift as part of its easy reader series. And National Geographic published this book on Barack Obama.

If you’d rather write a chapter book or a YA nonfiction title about a celebrity, that would include a different list of publishers as well. Find out which publishers publish these types of books. Look on their submissions guidelines to see if they prefer to sign a contract with you before you write the book or want to see the finished book.

You don’t always need to go this route, however. There are some publishers who publish individual titles on current personalities. If you would rather go this route, but don’t have any experience with this type of project, you can start with baby steps:

  • Contact this celebrity person and ask if you can interview her on  your blog.
  • Then after that is published, ask if you can interview her for a small magazine or local freebie magazine that most likely publishes anything people submit.
  • In the meantime while you are developing a relationship with this personality, you can be working on your book writing skills. Eventually you can ask her if you can write her story up as a picture book or other book for potential publication.

If you’re apprehensive about any of this, however, you can save this particular goal of yours for Nonfiction Book #2.

Start instead writing a nonfiction biography with an old dead guy like Alexander Hamilton or Bach. It will make your life much much easier and let you focus on learning how to write a nonfiction biography without all the extra work, copyright issues, permission requirements, journalism skills, and interview skills you need to learn to navigate through to write about a current living celebrity.

Then, after you get your Nonfiction Book #1 published, ask your editor if she’d like a book on your favorite celebrity. It will make your writing journey so much easier!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 31, 2017

My Cat Is an Alien

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Sometimes I wonder if my cat Sandman is an alien, and now I know it’s true. I set up the portable crib for my grandbabies to come and visit. Next thing I knew, this alien jumped in and decided to blast off to outer space in his new rocket ship.

Okay, okay. I know Sandman isn’t actually an alien, even if he does look like he has glowing alien eyes in this photo. But he is actually my writing buddy and a good writer, too! (Well, maybe not that good. It depends on your definition of good writing.)

But today he’s appearing as a guest blogger on the blog of my cyberspace writing friend, Jean Matthew Hall. He’s talking about primary sources and digging into research to get at the bottom of things.

Stop on over at Jean’s blog and say “Hi!” Hopefully you’ll learn a tip or two to help you in your research.

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 17, 2017

Faith Building Fridays: God’s Book

You saw me before I was born
and scheduled each day of my life
before I began to breathe.
Every day was recorded in your book!
-Psalm 139:16, TLB

What an amazing concept this is! In His great love for us, God has kept a memory book about us from even before we were born. How precious each day of our lives is to Him–may we as His scribes grasp this wonder and dedicate ourselves to His purposes. May we not waste another day away from His great call upon us to write.

Dear God, on this particular day of my life, may I spend time writing the words You planned for me to write from even before when I was born. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon.

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 13, 2017

Book Review: I Believe in Jesus

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I Believe in Jesus: Leading Your Child to Christ
by John MacArthur
Illustrated by Dominique Mertens
Published by Tommy Nelson

Summary
Starting with the account of Creation, this beautifully illustrated picture book shares the Gospel in clear words for children. John MacArthur, the author, explains how everything God created was good. But then the sins of Adam and Eve separated them (and us) from God. Yet because of His great love for us, God did not want heaven without us. So God had a plan. His plan included sending Jesus to die on the cross and offer us forgiveness for our sins. God offers us the gift of eternal life to each one of us so that we can live with Him in heaven forever.

What I Like
One of my favorite things about this book is that it provides an understandable and practical way for parents and grandparents as well as teachers and caregivers to share the Gospel with children. The text is conversational and engaging to draw the child in. Plus, there are Scriptures all throughout the book that ground each concept on the Bible. At the end of the book, there is an opportunity for children to BELIEVE that Jesus is the Savior of the world. And then RECEIVE Jesus as their personal Savior.

The most important thing we can share with anyone is the Truth about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. This is a wonderful book to read with children and share the Gospel in a meaningful and complete way. But it is more than that. It is a book that can be shared with adults, too. If you have unbelieving relatives or friends, this would be a very meaningful gift to give them or have in your home when they come to visit. Highly recommended.

Thanks, BookLook Bloggers for another wonderful book in exchange for my honest review.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 10, 2017

Faith Building Fridays: The Door

Then Jesus said to them again, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”

As writers, God opens doors for us or closes them. How comforting it is to be reassured that Jesus, Himself, IS the door for us as His scribes. Do you feel like you’re stuck in the sheep pen because of all the rejections you receive? Learn to hand over your manuscript that has just been rejected and work on the next manuscript He is calling you to write. He calls us to write and keep on writing whether or not the manuscripts are rejected. He is the door. He will take our manuscript where it is supposed to be on its journey through eternity. We’re just called to be His sheep…and as His scribes this calling means we continue to write no matter what the current market trends are or today’s publishing world does.

Dear God, Thank You for helping me keep my writing in perspective. Please encourage me to continue writing for Your glory even while I am inside the sheep pen. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon.

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 8, 2017

What Motivates You to Write?

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What’s the main difference between a career writer and a wannabe writer? Is it skill? Is it networking? Is it luck? In many cases, it’s none of these. The main difference between a writer with multiple published books to their credit and someone who longs to get a book published is motivation. Motivation is key. The good news is that you can get to know yourself better as a writer so you, too, can be motivated to write the books of your dreams.

Without motivation, our passion dries up before we finish our manuscript. Without motivation, we spend valuable time attending to a hundred smaller immediate tasks rather than working on our important writing goals. Without motivation we are like a forgotten pool of stagnant water instead of a rushing stream cascading down a mountainside, pouring out the words that burn on our hearts.

Motivation gives us the drive to pursue our passion for writing, day after day, in good weather or bad. Motivation lights the flame for a “do-it-or-else” attitude that gets the job done. Motivation compels us to find the time to write and then fuels our desire to actually take that time and sit down to write.

Motivation is not a one-size-fits-all topic. What motivates me to write may be immensely different than what motivates you. And during different seasons entirely different things might motivate us altogether!

Discovering what motivates you will help you actually find the time to write.

Understanding what really motivates you on this day at this time right now will help you actually sit down to write in the time you have.

What motivates you to write?

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 6, 2017

Book Review: Starter Bible

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Starter Bible
Published by Tommy Nelson

Summary
This is a sturdy board book with a plastic handle for little hands to carry. It has twenty Bible stories from the Creation account in the Old Testament up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Each Bible story is told in a short paragraph that is just right for little hearts to hear.

What I Like
I love introducing God’s Word to babies and toddlers. This board book is a great way to snuggle with your children or grandchildren and share stories of the Bible with them. I also think it’s important to teach little ones to take their Bible with them to church. Having the handle on this Bible makes it a wonderful choice. It’s just meant to go somewhere and church is a great place to take it!

Each story is short enough to hold the attention of toddlers, but not too short to miss the important lessons to learn. A great gift for Resurrection Sunday!

-Thanks, Book Look Blogger for another wonderful free book for my honest review!

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 1, 2017

Submit in Faith

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Isn’t this a beautiful scene? My husband Jeff and I recently took a walk at San Elijo State Beach here in southern CA and captured the sunset and the waves on film. What vibrant waters…what a glorious sun!

In my last post for FAITH BUILDING FRIDAYS, we looked at the Scripture, Ecclesiastes 11:1 about casting our bread upon the waters. (Just look again at those waters and know the “Son of God” is shining down on you.)

After posting that last devotion, I submitted one of my picture book manuscripts.

I want to encourage you to submit one of your children’s manuscripts, too. Don’t just let it sit there forgotten in your computer files. Polish it up and submit it.

Where?

Well, if you’re looking for an agent to submit it too, click here to check out this list I collect here on my blog.

And if you’re NOT looking for an agent right now, but want to submit directly to an editor, click here to check out this list of publishers who accept manuscripts directly from writers.

And then pop on over to a brand new interview of yours truly that is featured on the blog of children’s writer, Patricia Saunders.

CLICK HERE to read the interview.

CLICK HERE to click “like” or add a comment on Facebook! (And especially let me know if you decide to submit something!!!)

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | February 10, 2017

Faith Building Fridays: Cast


Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
-Ecclesiastes 11:1, NKJV

Submitting a manuscript is like casting our bread upon the waters. How often as a writer it is tempting to leave a finished manuscript in our file cabinet. Yet it is very important to submit it. Otherwise, how can God do anything with it? As we start this brand new year, let’s commit ourselves and our manuscripts into the Lord’s hands. Let’s submit our manuscripts on a regular basis until they find a home.

Dear God, thank You for Your promises. I stand upon Your Word today. I will cast my bread upon the waters. I will submit my manuscripts this year. You promise that I will find the good and just reward! Amen.

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

Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement for you to have to start a brand new year as a writer!

Posted by: nancyisanders | February 7, 2017

The Writer’s Pyramid

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Last week, one of my blog followers posted a comment asking how social media fits into the Writer’s Pyramid. Thanks, Kelly, for your great question!

The Writer’s what?! you might ask.

The Writer’s Pyramid. It’s a time-management model that I describe in my how-to book for children’s writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. (See Chapter 6.) It’s a model I use myself and have used for years and years in my career.

First of all, Kelly, I’m so jazzed you are reading my book! I hope hope hope that you find some real gems that will help you jumpstart your career to the next level of your dreams in the year ahead.

Secondly, I want to encourage you and everyone else who reads this that the Writer’s Pyramid is a MODEL. Please feel free to tweak it to suit your own schedule and personal writing needs.

In fact, I want to share what Mary Kay Carson told me recently in an e-mail. (Mary Kay didn’t even know you asked me this question!) Mary Kay is my critique buddy and also fellow Chicago Review Press author. (Check out her website and be sure to buy her newest AWESOME book, Mission to Pluto.)

“I use your pyramid all the time and have for YEARS now. Every month on my calendar I draw it and have adopted pen colors even for each of the divisions which I use to schedule in stuff–green for make money work; red for love/heart work; and blue for promo/exposure stuff which usually includes school visits, book fairs, blog posts, etc. Funny b/c it’s been so long that I’ve done it that way that I forgot it’s supposed to be PUBLISH not PROMO. Just reread that chapter.” -Mary Kay Carson, author of Mission to Pluto

I just love how Mary Kay uses the third part of the Writer’s Pyramid for promotional activities which includes posting in social media. (Thanks for sharing, Mary Kay!)

For me right now at this point of my career, I save social media for working on AFTER I’m finished on my Writer’s Pyramid accomplishments for the day or week.

So there you have it. It’s really a matter of personal preference and how you want to work social media into your writing day. Do you want to save it for AFTER you finish up your writing commitments that you’ve plugged into your Writer’s Pyramid. Or do  you want to make it part of the Writer’s Pyramid itself? The point is to do what works for you to make your career happen how you want it to.

I hope this helps!

And oh…ha ha ha! I gotta quote Mary Kay again because when she gave me permission to quote the e-mail she sent me out of the blue last week about how she uses my Writer’s Pyramid, she said to be sure to tell you, “Buy Nancy’s book!”

(Aren’t critique buddies the best?)

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 26, 2017

Exciting News: Christian Writers Conference!

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I’m so excited to share with you that there’s a brand writers’ conference in town. It’s coming to southern CA this summer and it’s going to rock because it’s founded on the Rock!

Check out the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and see all the amazing staff who are already lined up to teach us how to be the best scribes in God’s Kingdom that we can be.

Come one and come all. Come near and from far away. But if you live local to La Mirada, CA, and you would like to help out in exchange for a scholarship to cut the registration fees, GUESS WHAT?!

They WANT, they NEED, they ARE ASKING for volunteers!

CLICK HERE to find out all the great and glorious details!!!!

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 6, 2017

Faith Building Fridays: Encouragement

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Let everything you [write] be good and helpful,
so that your words will be an encouragement
to those who hear them.
-Ephesians 4:29, NLT

We are called to set the standard in our world for godliness, holiness, and righteousness. Is there a way we can share God’s message through our manuscripts in a way that is encouraging and uplifting instead of condemning? As God’s scribes, let’s think how we can share His message through inspiration and encouragement rather than criticism or condemnation. From the critiques we give to fellow writers to the fiction or nonfiction manuscripts we get published, let’s strive for our words to be good and helpful.

Dear God, forgive me for the times I’ve beaten others down because of my harsh criticism or condemnation. Please give me Your tender heart. Help me write words that encourage people to chase after Your goodness! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 2, 2017

Happy Mew Year!

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Happy Mew Year!

Hi. My name is Sandman. I’m a cat. You probably already know that. But what you may not know is that I’m also a writer. Yup. I like to write nonfiction for kittens…I mean kids.

Just like you, I like to follow along with this blog. It’s the cat’s meow. But lately I’ve noticed my writing buddy, Nancy I. Sanders, has gone AWOL. I mean, where are all her blog posts?

I did some investigating and discovered she’s been all tied up working hard on a very intensive writing project. She’s got a book deadline May 1, 2017 and it’s taking up all her time.

So I figured I’d try to help her out. I mean, what’s a feline friend for if we can’t help out our buddies now and then? Especially our writing buddies.

First of all, I want to wish you all a Happy Mew Year!

My advice for a successful writing year in 2017? Here are 3 Terrific Tips:

Tip #1: Take lots of cat naps so your writing is always fresh. Me? I like to put myself to sleep plotting out the next scene or fact I’ll be writing about when I wake up.

Tip #2: Eat lots of tasty treats while you write. Just keep them healthy. Hold off on too many tuna treats or beachside crunchies.

Tip #3: Just focus on one goal per day. One bitesize writing goal. Write the next sentence in your picture book. Write the next paragraph in your middle grade novel. You get the picture. If you’re crunched for time like my writing buddy is, you’ll accomplish more on your project if you just focus on getting one writing task done each day.

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 18, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Lord of Eternity

As I was praying and worshipping this morning for all of America and for all of you, God’s scribes, this was the worship song filling up my prayer closet with hope. As you listen to this, may each of you be reminded, as I was this morning, that God is Lord of eternity. He is on His throne. He has called us by name to be his scribes for such as time as this.

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 10, 2016

Oldie But Goodie: New Purpose

Here’s an Oldie But Goodie that I hope helps you find a new purpose for some of those dusty manuscripts in your files. Enjoy!

Let’s admit it. Getting published in today’s market is tough. I know. For every one of the books I’ve had published, I probably have three complete manuscripts still in my file cabinet that have earned me enough rejection letters to wallpaper my entire house. That’s a lot of unpublished manuscripts!

Some of them are 20 years old. But none of those manuscripts are forgotten. Oh no! I have fun finding new purposes for my old manuscripts.

I post some of my old manuscripts for children’s books in their entirety on my website.

Other manuscripts I post section by section on various blogs I have.

Some manuscripts I’ve even self-published with Print On Demand publishers.

Sure, I’m constantly writing new material for deadlines and book contracts that will be published. But I also have fun with my other favorite manuscripts that never yet found a home. One by one, I’m finding a home for each of them and it’s been a very rewarding experience.

How about you? Do you have favorite manuscripts you’ve written that have never yet been published? Go ahead…have some fun! Post them on a blog and you’ll get people reading them all around the world. Self-publish them with a print-on-demand publisher and you can give them as gifts to family and friends.

Pull out those old manuscripts and find a brand new purpose for them. You’ll be glad you did!

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 7, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Prosper

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with scoffers.
But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants;
day and night they think about his law.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither,
and in all they do, they prosper.
-Psalm 1:1-3, NLT

The secret to prospering as a writer is not about measuring our success by the world’s standards. It’s all about measuring our success by God’s standards. Have you ever looked closely at a tree? It’s not a world traveler and nobody sees it except those who pass by. A tree stays right in one spot day after day and is considered prosperous if it bears the fruit it’s supposed to bear. A successful writer is one who sits down day after day at the computer, typing the words we’re called to write, delighting to do what God wants us to do, meditating on His Word as we write for His glory.

Dear God, my heart’s desire is to write the words You put on my heart. It truly doesn’t matter if I’m successful in the world’s eyes, as long as I know I’m prospering by bearing the fruit and completing the manuscripts you have called me to write. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon.

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 5, 2016

Oldie But Goodie: Beginners’ Tips

Here’s an Oldie But Goodie for beginning writers:

 

If you never had an 8th grade English teacher who drilled grammar and punctuation rules into your brain until they became part of your DNA, don’t despair! It’s possible for you to return to the basics to learn these skills. Best of all, you’ll improve as a writer. Guaranteed!

Some writers who never learned grammar or punctuation rules and others who have had learning difficulties bring their manuscripts to critique groups with hopes of their friends finding and fixing all the errors. What these writers don’t realize however, is that it takes so much time to correct all these errors that their manuscript really doesn’t get the feedback it deserves. If you take the time to learn the basic grammar rules and punctuation rules, then spend the time self-editing your own manuscript to fix your errors BEFORE you take it to your critique group, it’s more beneficial to you in the long run. By the time you arrive at your critique group with the basic errors already fixed, everyone can focus on helping you revise and polish your manuscript so that it rises to the next level–one step closer to publication!

There are three great books for teachers that I recommend for beginners to use to learn the basic grammar and punctuation rules. They are part of a series called Writing Skills Made Fun by Karen Kellaher:

* Capitalization, Punctuation, and Spelling

* Parts of Speech

* Sentences and Paragraphs

Purchase these books online or at a store that sells teacher resource materials. Have fun doing the exercises for each lesson about grammar and punctuation. Then take the time on your very next manuscript to put your new-found skills to use–BEFORE you share your manuscript with your critique group. You’ll be one step closer to success!

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