Posted by: nancyisanders | October 22, 2020

Social Media for KidLit Authors: The Good, the Bad, and the Hopeful

THE BAD

Okay, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. If you want to be a successfully published author, you have to have a bazillion followers on all of your social media platforms. And as if that isn’t enough, you now also have to have a ton of engagement…meaning you have to get lots of comments and post lots of replies.

I’m glad that for some of you, this isn’t bad news. You love social media and thrive on it. But for a huge number of KidLit authors I know, this news is daunting. Depressing. Bad.

THE GOOD

So now let’s take a deep breath and drink in the good news. If you don’t like social media, you can still have an AWESOME KidLit career!!!!!! Seriously!!!!! Here’s how:

*Team up with a friend who is a social media expert but may not have the skills you have as a writer. Co-author and offer your writing skills as your part of the team. I have co-authored numerous books with writing friends and it’s so much fun!

*Land work-for-hire contracts. Yep. You have to do ZERO social media tasks for a work-for-hire contract. Why? Because they pay you to write the book and take it from there. In my career of writing 100+ books, I’ve written numerous work-for-hire books. I LOVE IT! Some have given me some pretty nice checks. Some have even won big awards. Some have been bestsellers and look awesome on my resume. For some I was flown to the publishing house for meetings with the project editors and other authors on the team. Stuff of dreams! And I didn’t have to spend one minute of social media time in the deal.

*Write for educational publishers. Many educational publishers already have a built-in target audience. Teachers. And they often have their very own platform and don’t require all the social media stats other publishers are looking for. Some even offer royalties. I’ve written for some educational publishers where I’ve earned over $100,000 and still counting! CLICK HERE to tap into Ev Christensen’s amazing resource for the Educational Market.

*Ghostwrite. Yep. This is kind of a mix between work-for-hire and co-author. You name isn’t even on the book usually, but you’re writing for a big name with a big platform and that means big sales numbers that once again look very very nice on your resume. And can often bring in a nice income as well!

*Write for magazines. I love to write for children’s magazines. I have another deadline this month! I get to sign frequent contracts, see my stories frequently in print, and read lots of my stories to my grandkids. Without any social media required.

THE HOPEFUL

Okay, but what about the books you want to write for the KidLit trade market and need those social media stats?

There’s hope! I felt hopeless. I simply was not able to conquer this social media thing and I want to write picture books for the KidLit market. So this past May I signed up for the most awesome year-long social media class I know of. Every month we learn a new social media platform and have our own personal social media coach..for very reasonable price and for an entire year! I feel hopeful now as I haven’t in these past few years when social media was added to our author’s plate.

So if you would like to learn marketing strategies at a nice pace, with an author who is a social media guru to hold your hand and help inspire you each step of the way, CLICK HERE on this affiliate link to find out the amazing details and pay a monthly fee.  CLICK HERE on this affiliate link to sign up and pay all at once for the whole year.

I’m so thankful for this librarian’s review of my book! This is a great book during election season to share with kids about a little known part of American history!

Youth Services Book Review

   The Very Oldest Pear Tree – Nancy I. Sanders, illustrations by Yas Imamura, Albert Whitman & Company, 9780807566817, 2020 

Format: ARC (Hardcover available August, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 What did you like about the book? Any time a book encourages me to gather more information, I feel it is a good book. After reading this story, I immediately went to the Internet to see what else I could learn. This story is basically about a pear tree that has survived for almost 400 years. The interesting part is that this pear tree is an important part of American history. In 1630 there was a ship travelling from England to America and it was carrying several different sapling trees–one of them was a pear tree. The Governor at the time was named Endecott and he tended to this young pear tree…

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Posted by: nancyisanders | October 5, 2020

Experience Writing Success with Goals in Sight!

-image from Pixabay

I’ve developed a strategy that helps me accumulate publishing credits and helps me grow as a writer even during winter seasons when all I get is rejections for the book manuscripts I submit. I call it the Triple Crown of Success.

I explain how this works in detail in my book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career.

I’ll give a quick overview of how the Triple Crown of Success works:

Basically, I try to work on 3 different manuscripts to meet 3 different goals.

Project #1:
For the goal of writing for personal fulfillment, I work on whichever manuscript I’m passionate about. I devote a certain amount of time each week working on this to keep my writer’s passion alive.

Project #2:
For the goal of writing to get published, I write for the no-pay/low-pay market. I still do this today! Do I get paid for these? Not all the time. But I build up my publishing credits. And I work with editors. And I keep honing my writing skills. And I build my author’s platform by getting my website and blog and name out there. And I get to read my published stories to my grandkids. These benefits are my “paycheck.”

Project #3:
For the goal of writing to earn income, I send out queries and proposals and try to land book contracts or high-paying magazine contracts so I get paid to write something. To do this I study different publishers product lines and the books or magazine articles they’re putting out right now. I look for holes in their market. Then I submit queries and proposals for potential books to write that would fit into their product line. This is how I earn most of my income each year.

So what can you do if you feel like you’re in the middle of winter as a writer? Don’t lose all your leaves like a deciduous tree or shut down and give up on writing.

Be like an evergreen. Start working on three different strategies and manuscript projects to meet the three basic goals most writers have. Take control of your writing by using the Triple Crown of Success and shine like an evergreen all year long.

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 1, 2020

Our Goals as Writers

-image from Pixabay

Would we watch a football game if there wasn’t an end zone or there weren’t any goals to be scored? Of course not! It would be silly to watch the players just run back and forth on the field for several hours.

Would we watch a soccer game if there wasn’t a goalie or net and there weren’t any goals to be scored. No. Going for a goal makes the sport FUN.

It’s great to have goals in our writing career as well.

It gives us something to aim for, something to strive toward, something to energize and motivate us.

If you’re overwhelmed by unfulfilled goals, try what I do: just give yourself ONE goal to work toward.

That’s what I’m doing right now with a marketing plan I’m working on. I have ONE goal I’m working toward. Just ONE. In this huge ocean of social networking and Internet marketing, it makes it seem actually do-able to just have one goal. When that one’s met, I’ll get a new goal for my marketing plan and move forward on it.

If you’re really charged up and rarin’ to go, I recommend pursuing 3 different goals in my strategy called THE TRIPLE CROWN OF SUCCESS.

You’ll follow a specific strategy to pursue the goal of writing for personal fulfillment.

You’ll follow a specific strategy to pursue the goal of writing to get published.

You’ll follow a specific strategy to pursue the goal of earning income.

You can find out more about the TRIPLE CROWN OF SUCCESS in my book for children’s writers.

But whichever way you choose to go, definitely add goals to your life as a writer. It will be like following a treasure map to find the gold!

Posted by: nancyisanders | September 30, 2020

Leer. Analizar. ¡Hacer!: EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO

If you’re a published author, check out this amazing resource to help market your book!

Laura Sassi Tales

Today I’m delighted to share a very special Read.Discuss.Do! graphic created by children’s author Rebecca Gomez for the Spanish edition of LOVE IS KIND — EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO!

This is the same activity that she previously created in English:

A couple of week’s ago, it struck me that my Spanish language readers might enjoy this activity, so I asked Becky if she’d be up for creating a Spanish version. She said yes! It was a group effort, with special thanks to Rebecca’s husband and the Spanish team at Vida, but the final, lovely presentation is Rebecca’s. Thank you!

Although this is the first graphic Rebecca has created in Spanish, it is far from her first Read.Discuss.Do!

This campaign (hashtag #ReadDiscussDo), which celebrates reading beyond the book by creating sharable images that give simple ideas for book related discussions and activities, was created by Rebecca in 2017. That’s when she posted her very…

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Posted by: nancyisanders | September 28, 2020

Refocusing as a KidLit Author

Photo from a frame on my wall. Each frame has a crown above it and inside is a picture of a different manuscript I wrote for each different crown in the Triple Crown of Success

With all this stuff going on around the world and in our daily lives, I think I’ve sort of been wandering aimlessly around regarding my writing.

So recently I revisited my goals as an author and did some soul-searching.

I fell back on a strategy I’ve used throughout most of my career…and if you’ve been following me for awhile you’ll know what I mean…the Triple Crown of Success. It truly has been the key to my success as a career author.

Basically, I sat down and evaluated my goal of Writing for Income…what income did I want or need to generate in the next 12 months, hopefully from my writing?

Then I took a look at my own barometer for my personal need to feel success at Getting Published. Was I getting published and in print in the year ahead as much as I wanted to be in this season of my career?

And finally, I did a lot of soul-searching for this one…was I steadily writing fresh content for a project that is near and dear to my heart so that I feel a sense of Personal Fulfillment as a writer?

Sitting down over a period of a couple of weeks and really asking myself these questions have made a difference in my attitude as a writer. Now I have a clear vision again of the why and the goal of writing in this season of my life.

Here are the steps I took LAST WEEK to get back on track with the Triple Crown of Success:

Writing to Earn Income: This last week I started the process to land a contract to write a book so I’ll be getting paid while I write. I also started a separate process for a potential work-for-hire contract which again guarantees money right up front so I can get paid while I write.

Writing to Get Published: I sent paragraph pitches to a magazine editor and landed several assignments to guarantee I’ll see my name in print and hold my published children’s stories in my hand in the year ahead. (Plus, I’ll get to read them to my grandkids!)

Writing for Personal Fulfillment: I’ve renewed my commitment to writing a devotional for kids that is near and dear to my heart. When it’s finished I’ll try to find a publisher. Even though there is no guarantee that it will get published, I get a sense of personal fulfillment working on this manuscript because it is near and dear to my heart.

If you’re not familiar with the Triple Crown of Success, I’ll be reposting in the days ahead some of my former posts from this blog about it. I hope you’ll be encouraged and re-energized to get on track for your writing goals and experience success as a children’s author, too!

Posted by: nancyisanders | September 25, 2020

Anchor in the Storm

What are you doing to cope during 2020?

First it was Covid…I remember the day we were officially on lockdown and weren’t supposed to go out of the house.

To cope, I started meeting regularly with God for an hour each day every morning. I’d been neglecting my time alone with him. It felt good to worship, pray and listen to His Spirit, and read His Word.

Then, when we could finally walk around our neighborhood, we received the city-wide announcement that we were on curfew/lockdown because of rioting a couple blocks away (right where we walked).

Instead of just sitting on the couch for my daily hour with God, I started meeting outside with Him, sitting on our back patio enjoying our flowers, praising the Creator and reading the Word along with the birds each morning. The crisp morning air replenished my weary soul from all the hours spent inside.

Then, when it became okay to walk around out neighborhood again, the fires broke out. The picture at the top of this post is the plume we’ve been watching for over 3 weeks (On days we can see past the falling ash and cloudy haze). So even my morning garden meetings with my Savior have been relocated back inside.

Challenging? Yes. Not as bad as some have been experiencing, I know, because my husband is on the prayer team at our church and prays all week long for people who call the church for prayer.

But every day as I continue to meet with God and sit at the feet of Jesus, I’m experiencing wonderful times of refreshment in his presence. Each day my peace is restored, my hope is renewed, and my trust is strengthened that God is on the throne and He is mighty to save.

What are you doing to cope with all that is going on in your corner of the planet?

Posted by: nancyisanders | September 21, 2020

Five Fun Facts

CLICK HERE to hop on over to the funtastic blog of my writing friend, Laura Sassi. Today she’s featuring Five Fun Facts about the journey I took to write my newest picture book, THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE.

Be sure to leave a comment and say “HI!”

Posted by: nancyisanders | September 3, 2020

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Ahoy mateys! It be coming up soon, the celebration we all have been waiting for.

September 19, 2020, is the official International Talk Like a Pirate Day and this be a perfect year to celebrate.

If yer wee ones have never celebrated this before, just put on an eye patch, swagger around, and use all the piratey words ye can think of.

Teachers, educators, homeschoolers, and librarians! ARRRRRR ye looking fer some fun ways to Zoom with yer students? Encourage them all to join in the rollicking fun by dressing up and make it educational to boot.

Here be some resources ye can use:

A Pirate’s Mother Goose. This picture book illustrated by Colin Jack is filled with rollicking nursery rhymes retold piratey style. A great read-aloud for your wee ones at home, yer students over Zoom, or an online storytime. Hurry up and ye can buy it in time fer the festivities if ye click here on Amazon or on yer favorite online bookstore.

Free Educator’s Guide. Click here to visit the book’s website for a free downloadable Educator’s Guide and other exciting piratey treasures. You’ll find pirate crafts, pirate coloring pages, and a printable pirate dictionary! Shiver me timbers! Now that’s a gem to steal.

Entire Pirate Unit. Do ye have pirates in training? Do ye love teaching English, Math, and Science all with a piratey theme? This be the perfect month to engage yer students preK to Second Grade whether online or in person. What a great way to get yer young whippersnappers excited to be back in school, whichever way ye’re spelling it. This unit be available to them that clicks here to visit my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

If ye’ve never celebrated before, this be the perfect year to start. And if ye be celebrating it again but looking fer something new…check out these resources to enjoy a swashbuckling good time.

Ahoy!

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 24, 2020

Encouragement for Your Writer’s Soul

As writers, it’s very easy to get discouraged. Especially if you’re a writer (like me) who is passionate about picture books, we have to come to terms with the fact that we’re trying to break into the toughest market in the industry. Why is it so tough? Two main reasons. The first is that the competition is fierce because everyone–from the postal worker to the grocery clerk to your very own grandmother wants to write a picture book. Why? Because of the second reason–these books are full color and beautifully illustrated which happens to make them the most expensive book of all for publishers to produce and the most pricey book of all for consumers to purchase.

So if you’re dedicated to writing picture books and fully illustrated books, here’s a survival tip to keep you going and keep you from quitting or dropping out of the race altogether:

Write for 2-3 no-pay or low-pay markets so that you’re getting published on a steady basis throughout the year. I mean, even when I landed my contract to write my alphabet book, D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, it took nearly 3 years to finally see the book in print. First I had to write it. Then they had to find an illustrator for it. Then E.B. Lewis had to paint the pictures. Then they had to print it. All this took a lot of time. If it was the only manuscript I was getting published in all that time, I would have gotten very discouraged as a writer.

But I didn’t! In between book contracts and all throughout my days, weeks, months, and years of writing, I also write for no-pay and low-pay markets on a steady basis. The perks far outweigh the cash. I develop friendships with the editors I work with. These editors supply tons of kudos and positive feedback! I get validated over and over and over again with a steady stream of publications. And these add up nicely on my list of published credits. I feel like a writer because I’m constantly working within the world of a writer.

Here are just a few of the no-pay and low-pay markets I have written for over the years:
church newsletters
puzzles for kids’ magazines
book reviews for magazines
online devotions
local school writing projects
parenting newsletters
writer’s newsletters

The list could go on and on. I’ve accumulated hundreds of credits with no-pay or low-pay markets over the years.

So I want to encourage you to do the same. While you’re working so hard to target a picture book publisher, sit down every couple of days or so and just write a short article and send it in to a no-pay or low-pay market that you’re practically guaranteed to get accepted. Local community magazines, online freebie magazines, Sunday School take home papers, small unknown publishers… Start building relationships with these editors to guarantee a steady accumulation of published credits. Forget about the pay–the experience and the validation as a writer are worth much more than anyone can pay you right now. Start today and make it your goal to get published in these markets on a regular basis. It will help you keep on writing and working toward your goal of landing a book contract.

Image Credit: Image by Monoar Rahman Rony from Pixabay

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 17, 2020

Master Class for Christian Writers

If you write fiction for children, young adults, or even adults you are invited to join Write2Ignite for their first ever Virtual Master Class. On September 19, 2020, multi-published author Joyce Moyer Hostetter will help master four big elements in writing fiction.

Creating Memorable Characters — Tried and true strategies for creating characters.

On Writing Plot: What’s the Problem — Structure and the power of conflict in creating a great plot.

View Point and Dialogue— Dialogue that works overtime and strategies for creating an authentic narrator.

W2I provides Christian writers of children’s and young adult literature with:

Instruction

Inspiration

Encouragement

Challenges

Community

Their focus is on those who write for youth.

Their foundation is Christ and His Word.

This Master Class format provides one-day workshops designed to help writers build specific skills. If taking your writing to higher levels is your goal, you will benefit from these Master Class features:

Instruction by master authors like Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Guided hands-on practice of new writing skills

Immediate feedback

This Master Class will be an online event using Zoom. If you’re not familiar with using that platform, no worry! We’ll have a practice session on Friday, September 18, 2020 just for you.

If you’re not familiar with Joyce check out her Youtube video here. Her books are available through any bookstore.

We’re excited about this innovative opportunity. Hope you’ll join us on September 19, 2020.

Registration is just $79 for a full day of instruction, practice, and encouragement.

Click here to Register.

Image Credit: Image by Лариса Мозговая from Pixabay

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 14, 2020

Free Resources for Kidlit Authors

I have cats. And naturally, because I’m a kidlit writer, they like to write for children, too. Here’s a picture of my cat, Sandman, who is doing research for a new book he’s writing on the history of Legos for kittens. I mean, he’s gonna write about how they make good chew toys and fun toys to chase when they have a set of little wheels on them. They even make a great place to nap when they’re all spread out in a pile. Comfy! (According to cat standards, that is.)

So naturally, being writers, my cats have lots of helpful tips on how-to-write for kittens. If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you already know about their website. But if you’re new here, you just might want to check it out.

There’s free tips on everything from character development to research. PLUS, there are oodles of free worksheets and printables to help you write with success. Their website is the cat’s meow!

CLICK HERE to visit their website, WRITING ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY AND FRIENDS.

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 12, 2020

Kidlit Author: Agent or No Agent?

You’re a kidlit author. You write for children. Chances are you have a manuscript. Right now it’s in the caterpillar stage. You’re longing for it to find a publisher, go through a process of metamorphosis, and take flight as a beautiful butterfly.

But you’re worried. Do you need an agent? Or do you NOT need an agent?

Here’s the answer: Yes. And no.

Yes, you need an agent if you want to work with the big publishing houses. You know: Zonderkidz, Scholastic, Penguin. I currently have an agent and I’ve had an agent for years because I want some of my manuscripts to be published by the big houses. And they have.

But no, you don’t need an agent if you want to work with the many, many other publishing houses who don’t require an agent. All throughout my writing career I’ve also written plenty of manuscripts (nearly 100 books!) for other publishings houses and haven’t needed an agent to work with them: Chicago Review Press, Scholastic Teaching Resources, Christian Ed Publishers.

When I first started getting books published, I didn’t have an agent. But as I started learning my craft and diving into different genres, I realized I was ready for an agent.

So if you’re in this whole agent/no agent vortex right now, I encourage you to click on two links of mine to get more information:

CLICK HERE to read a list of agents who represent children’s books.

CLICK HERE to read a list of publishers who don’t require an agent.

(NOTE: I haven’t updated this list since COVID-19, so please let me know if you find a link that isn’t working or that no longer fits.)

(ANOTHER NOTE: I know lots of reports are going around about publishers not accepting things at this time, but I just want to let you know that I’m hearing from writer friends who are currently landing contracts…so be encouraged as you move forward on your journey!)

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 23, 2020

Mentor Text for Nonfiction Picture Book Biography

Girl Running IMG_3084

I’ve been really enjoying diving into all the nonfiction picture book biographies I’ve ordered in from my local library.

I wanted to share this one with you, too, as a potential mentor text to use as you’re working on your biography.

The reason this book really stands out to me as a mentor text is the way it handles the universal theme.

Every book has a universal theme. It’s the tug that reaches every heart in a deep way and keeps us engaged with the story. GIRL RUNNING uses its universal theme as the golden thread that ties the first page of this picture book across the pages of the story and to the very last page.

Here’s an example:
Opening page:
Bobbi Gibb must wear a skirt to school because she is a girl. She is not allowed to run on the school’s track team. Because those are the rules–and rules are rules. But after school…

And the last page includes this text:
[The race officials] insist that rules are rules. But Bobbi has shown that it’s time for some rules to change.

Using this book as another one of my mentor texts, I’m going to go back through my drafts and pick out the thread of my universal theme. And make it the golden thread that ties my book together from the very first page to the very last one.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 20, 2020

Amazing Marketing Course for Writers

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 2.46.15 PM.png

When January 1, 2020 hit the calendar, I was ready! My biggest goal for the year was to get a handle on how to market myself as a children’s book writer, engage in social media, and make key connections in the kidlit community.

That was my BIG goal, but my little goal was small. I chose one platform to really learn: Instagram. (Why? ‘Cause it’s where the teachers and librarians and homeschooling mamas hang out and share books, books, and more books!)

I took my first online class on Instagram and I tried to figure out all the rest on my own. One stumbling step at a time.

Well–you know how 2020 threw us a loop with all the challenges we’ve been facing. But I continued to plug along until I heard about a course on marketing that sounded too good to be true: Building Platform 101.

Once a week, for an entire year, I would get a new video class on marketing and social media. Every month we would learn a different platform. And it was all for an unbelievably low price. The perk? It was hosted by none other than Christian social media guru, Victoria Duerstock. I’ve interacted with her before on various platforms and love her books on home decorating with a godly focus. (I bought each of my daughters-in-law one of her books for Christmas.) So I signed up.

And I got more than I bargained for.

She sent us all an actual hardhat to wear while we’re building our platform. She offers office hours twice a week where we can e-mail her any questions we have. She meets with each of us several times in the year personally for our own personal zoom meeting. Plus, she runs our Facebook private group where we cheer each other on. Plus more! I mean, I feel like I have my very own marketing mentor and personal coach!

I was planning on sharing about this incredible, inspirational journey I’ve been taking, but I didn’t want to make you feel bad because it’s a closed group. And then I just found out that she’s opening up to new members RIGHT NOW for just a short time! And at an incredibly low price.

So if you would like to learn marketing strategies at a nice pace, with a godly Christian author to hold your hand and help inspire you each step of the way, CLICK HERE on this affiliate link to find out the amazing details and pay a monthly fee.  CLICK HERE on this affiliate link to sign up and pay all at once for the whole year.

My life as an author is never going to be the same…in a very, very good way.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 17, 2020

Mentor Text for Nonfiction Picture Book Biography

You. Must. Read. This. Book. That is, if you want to learn how to write winning nonfiction picture book biographies for kids.

This is nothing short of a game changer in learning how to write.

Why? For starters, look at the title in this picture. THE AMAZING COLLECTION OF JOEY CORNELL. But wait…read the subtitle ABOVE the title:

“Based on the Childhood of a Great American Artist.”

Based.

This one word gives us the freedom as authors to create a wonderful picture book that’s classified with all the other nonfiction picture books that are out there in the market today. But we can use liberty in writing dialog and emotion and scenes that pure nonfiction can’t take.

Based!

Then there’s the plot line. It’s brilliant. (But then aren’t all Candace Fleming’s books brilliant?!)

This is not a birth to death timeline like so many other picture book biographies. Birth to success to death. Predictable. Ho hum. Boring.

Not this book! This book introduces us to Joey, who likes to collect things. It takes us along a journey to see what he collects while he’s young. It shows us a sad point in his childhood that motivated him to take his collection and turn it into an art show for his mother and sisters to enjoy.

End of story. We don’t find out when he was born. We don’t find out how he became famous. We don’t find out how he died.

Because all of that can be found in the Author’s Note at the end.

So if you want to learn a magnificent way to tell the story of your nonfiction biography, get this book, read it, type it out word for word, dissect it, and use it as a mentor text to write your biography BASED on the life of your subject.

My goal is to write a third draft of my nonfiction biography using this book as my mentor text. Then I’m going to compare and contrast the three drafts I’ve written…and move forward from there. I hope you do the same!

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 14, 2020

The Very Oldest Pear Tree Book Launch!

Hi friend! I’m so excited to share the word about my upcoming newest children’s book. THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE is the amazing true story of the very first pear tree ever planted in America and it’s still alive today!!!!!

It’s due to be published on August 1, 2020 and I was wondering if you would like to help me get it launched into the world.

If so, could you please visit my book on Amazon and add it to your wishlist? CLICK HERE to see my book on Amazon.

And if you have an account on Goodreads, it really helps give the title a boost if you add it to your To-Read shelf.

CLICK HERE to see my book on Goodreads and add it to your WANT-TO-READ shelf.

If you know of any teachers, librarians, homeschooling mamas or folks who love nonfiction picture books, please feel free to share this post with them and help spread the news.

Thanks so much. This really means a lot to me, especially with everything going on in the world today and how difficult it is to launch a new book for kids!

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 9, 2020

Mentor Text for Nonfiction Picture Book Biography

As you know if you follow my blog, in March I started a series of posts about writing a Nonfiction Picture Book Biography. CLICK HERE to start at the beginning of those how-to steps.

I finished the first draft of my picture book biography somewhere in April/May. (I’m still tweaking it.)

But because the libraries were shut down and none of my mentor texts arrived, I set this aside for awhile and have been working on other projects.

Now that our library is semi-operational, the books I ordered in back in March are finally coming in. Here is one of them: Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos.

I want to share it with you because it is simply brilliant and it’s sending me in a new direction with my picture book biography.

When I wrote my most recent nonfiction picture book biography manuscript, I started with a pivotal scene from my subject’s childhood. Then I brought her to adulthood and featured another pivotal scene. And then I ended with one final important scene in her history-breaking career.

But author Monica Brown chose a different way to portray the life of Frida Kahlo. She chose to feature Frida’s many animals and paint a story of her life based on these. Most pages start with the sentence: Frida had a pet named XX. Then the text goes on to show how Frida was like that pet.

This format has inspired me so much that I’m going to schedule a few upcoming playdates and personal writers retreats so I can play with my topic again. I want to rewrite a new draft of my picture book using this book by Monica Brown as my mentor text.

That’s right. I’m going to write a totally new draft of my picture book biography using a unique mentor text.

So many times we cut ourselves short as writers. We write a picture book manuscript and then we feel like we’re finished with it and then we start to submit it. We forget to “play” with it. Experiment with it. Enjoy the journey and write multiple drafts in different formats.

Each time we do this, we become better writers and our stories become better, too! I encourage you to pull out a picture book manuscript that you wrote (whether recently or long ago). Find a brand new mentor text and rewrite that story using your new mentor text as a guide.

Have fun!

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 8, 2020

Let’s Regroup and Recharge!

It seems like everyone I chat with is feeling discouraged…family members, friends, neighbors, and other children’s writers included.

Could today be the day we regroup? Take time to get refreshed, reenergized, and recharged?

Pouring over all my recent library books and looking for mentor texts has made me feel revitalized and reconnected with my writing goals again. So has participating in a weekly online marketing class that I’ve been taking since May. And most of all, I’ve been really trying to get in bed in a timely manner so that I can wake up early and spend my hour alone with God before I start my day. This has probably helped me regroup and recharge most of all.

What are you doing to take a second breath, regroup, and embrace your new normal in your corner of the world?

If you want to get reenergized by taking a course on writing for children, you can also help my friends and fellow writers at the Serious Writer Academy celebrate their third anniversary! They are offering 26% off on all their courses, including the three I teach:

Writing Humor for Kids

Developing 3-D Characters for your Children’s Stories

Say Goodbye to Writer’s Block…Welcome to the Writing Zone!

Use the code BIRTHDAY26 when you register to get the discount. Then after you take my class(es) let me know how you feel refocused and recharged in your vision and goals as a writer!

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 6, 2020

My Writer’s Notebook

In my last post I explained how I’m busy evaluating and dissecting nonfiction picture book biographies I borrowed from the library. And to help me, I’m filling out a Nonfiction Picture Book Rubric for each one.

Your next question should be: What are you doing with those rubrics?

Great question! I’m glad you asked.

I’m putting them in my Children’s Writer’s Notebook, of course!

Well, actually I have 2 notebooks now. I was getting so many rubrics for picture books I evaluated that I recently took them out of my first notebook and gave them a notebook all their own. I just file them in here in alphabetical order by the title of the book so it’s easy to find when I want to refer to it again.

As a children’s writer, I think it’s important to have a Writer’s Notebook. It’s the place I keep a lot of my printable worksheets so when I want to print out a new worksheet, it’s handy. I also keep lots of other notes and tidbits in my notebook, too.

Plus, I like to have fun with it. You can see the fun stickers and cover sheet I created for each of my notebooks.

Do you have a writer’s notebook? What do you keep in yours?

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