Posted by: nancyisanders | November 24, 2015

Writing Text Levels in Nonfiction Picture Books


Do you notice the three levels in this photograph?

That’s me in the front, the main image in the scene.

At the bottom behind me is a level of sand with seagulls standing on the shore.

And in the background is the Gulf of Mexico.

Writing nonfiction picture books in today’s industry is a lot like this photograph.

Think levels.

Of text.

Wanna hear more and learn how to use this technique to take your picture books to the next level?

Check out this article I wrote that’s posted at the Working Writer’s Club!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 23, 2015

NF PB Journey: Idea Journal


Guess what I’m really into these days? Blank composition notebooks! For example, I like the thick 80 to 100-page journals for jotting down my ideas on a new project.

I’ve used various notebooks and file folders over the years but right now I’m enjoying the slim size of blank composition notebooks. They’re easy to slip in my purse or a tote bag when I’m going out and want to carry my idea journal with me. Also, they slide so nicely into the pocket folders I love to use to store all my files for a project I’m working on.

So since I’m starting out on a journey to explore Charlesbridge, I decided to create a brand new idea journal to carry along. I thought I’d show you what I’ve done so you can make your own too if you’d like.


Here’s how I decorated the cover of my idea journal. I have scrapbooking pages that I used to cut a front cover to glue on my composition notebook.

I also save old birthday cards and other cards we get all year long. That’s where this cute cat and inspirational Bible verse came from that I glued on to decorate my front.

The verse is, “I can do all things through him.” What a great verse to start our journey on!


I want to show you the inside of my book, too. This is the Table of Contents. Yes, I label each blank page in the bottom of the right corner all the way through the book. And in the beginning, like you see here, I create a Table of Contents so I can quickly find which page has which idea on.

Each time I add a new entry to a different page, I note it here in my table of contents.


And here’s how I decorated the back of my idea journal.

I’m loving using these idea journals. Right now this one is blank, but here are some of the items you’ll find in my table of contents for the idea journal I’m using for a different picture book I’ve been working on lately:



Because this picture book is about a nonfiction topic I’m doing some “experimenting” on myself, this is where I’m recording some of my observations.





(This is a short list. Longer interviews would be filed in my pocket folder.)


This actually takes up most of the pages in my idea journal!

Sometimes I create a style guide. This is especially handy if there are variations on spelling, etc. I keep a list here of choices I make to use throughout my ms.

(Words related to the key themes in my picture book so I have lots to choose from in my writing.)

(Words on my topic that I could add to the back of my picture book)



So no matter if you use a 3-ring binder, a spiral notebook, loose pages in file folders, or what suits you best, go ahead and have an enjoyable time creating an idea journal. It can be you best friend along your journey!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 20, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: Do Well


Whatever you do, do well.
-Ecclesiastes 9:10, NLT

It’s tempting to not do our best on a manuscript when we’re rushing to get things done. Let’s train ourselves, however, to do our best on each phase of a manuscript. Let’s take time to go back through our manuscript and polish it until it shines. Let’s keep rewriting and reworking certain passages until it’s the best we know how. Let’s take the time to properly target a publisher so our idea fits their product line like a glove. Whether it’s a manuscript for a low-pay market or a manuscript for a top publishing house, let’s do well in whatever God calls us to write.

Dear Father, as I write and work at the various tasks of writing, help me always remember that I’m working for You! -In Jesus’s name. Amen.


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! Add it to your Christmas wish list today.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 19, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Journey


Ever since I attended Pat Miller’s amazing NF4NF Conference in Houston last September, I’ve been inspired to focus on nonfiction.

I mean, I’ve always loved writing nonfiction and have published numerous nonfiction books. But right now I feel totally immersed in this world and I’m loving every minute of it.

Some exciting things I wanted to share with you as a result of this include an upcoming 4-session audio workshop that I’ve been working on to help YOU be a successful writer of nonfiction for kids, too. You’ll be the first to know when it’s available for release. (Hopefully in December!)

Another exciting bit of news is that I’ve got a new contract in the works…for nonfiction of course! It will be one of the biggest projects I’ve ever done in my career. I’ll let you know about that soon, too, but for now it’s still under wraps.

But here’s the most exciting thing I wanted to share with you today. I’ve decided here on my blog to invite you in on my journey as I’m targeting a specific nonfiction publisher to submit to…Charlesbridge!

I love Charlesbridge picture books. Especially their nonfiction picture books. I’ve ordered in stacks lately and have picked out some of my favorites!

But before we get started on our new adventure, I wanted to wrap up something we’ve talked a lot about on my blog over this past year.


If you’ve been following along on my blog this past year, you may have written and submitted a manuscript to Kaeden Books as I did. Unfortunately, like others of you who have contacted me about this, I’ve never heard from them. Not even to return my post card to confirm that they got my manuscript.

One of my blog followers actually called them and asked about this and Kaeden said they are back-logged about opening the stack of submissions.

(A side note…you’ll still hear stories of writers who get contracts offered a couple of years after a submission because the publisher finally got around to opening and following through with it.)

I just wanted to update you on that bit of info.


But now let’s look ahead. Charlesbridge publishes beautiful nonfiction picture books. And what’s the best thing about this for us as nonfiction writers?

They accept unsolicited manuscripts! CLICK HERE to check out their submission guidelines.

So in the days and weeks and perhaps even months ahead, I’m going to explore Charlesbridge and work on submitting a manuscript to them. I plan on taking my time and enjoying a leisurely stroll into their world.

I’m inviting you to join me in the journey. We’ll have so much fun along the way! We’ll dissect some of their fantastic nonfiction picture books and get to know their editors and discover a whole new list of wonderful picture books to love.

And this will all help us grow as writers. Especially as nonfiction writers for kids.

I hope you’ll come along!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 18, 2015

And the Winners Are!

Thank you to everyone who joined in the celebration of Laura Sassi’s newest picture book, Goodnight, Manger! It was so wonderful to have you sign up for a chance to win a copy of her delightful book or a free picture book critique by yours truly.

Drum roll, please!

I’m happy to announce that the winner of the free picture book, Goodnight, Manger is Pamela Haskins. Woot! Woot!

And the winner of the free picture book critique is Darlene Ivy. Hip, hip, hooray!

Again, thank you to all of you who joined in the fun. It’s always exciting to participate in the release of a brand new beautiful picture book, and having you all join in the celebration made it even more special. And thank YOU, Laura Sassi, for having us join you in  your book’s online tour. Best wishes and blessings to you on its upcoming journey!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 18, 2015

Book Review: The Carols of Christmas


The Carols of Christmas
(A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs)
by Andrew Grant

Informational rather than inspirational. History buffs and trivia collectors of music history will find this book packed with detail. This book presents the history behind 21 popular Christmas Carols. Lyrics and music accompany each selection. The author is a choirmaster, church musician, and university professor.

Here are some samples from the text:
O Holy Night
“Perhaps there is something in the Unitarian worldview that lends itself to carol writing. By rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity, Unitarians bring the figure of Jesus and the events of his life into a sharper and more human focus. The story of the nativity, of a human child, certainly seems to hold a special appeal for the movement’s versifiers and hymn writers.”

Personent hodie
“It may appear slightly incongruous that one of the principal sources of English Christmas carols originated in Finland. The explanation lies in that most potent force in the shaping of human destinies: luck. The fact that this particular book survived, came into the possession of a couple of English clergymen, who then used it as a source for their own carol book, which in its turn survived and prospered, is the result of a series of coincidences and chance encounters.”

O Little Town of Bethlehem
“So next time these words and those notes work their familiar magic, remember the people who wove that magic for us: an American who imported peace from the Middle East; two dreamers–a naughty ploughboy and a real estate salesman; a devil in a puff of blue smoke; an English genius taking off his cycle-clips; and Mr. Garman of Forest Green, Surrey.”



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

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 16, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: Submission Time!


This is a photograph of our cat Sandman hiding under a baby quilt I made.

Sometimes as writer’s we feel like that! Instead of submitting a manuscript we worked hard on to write, we opt to remain hidden and never actually send it in.

I want to encourage you to follow through and submit your nonfiction manuscript for a children’s magazine you’ve been working on!

If you’re not quite done yet, go ahead and wrap it up.

Then get feedback on it, hopefully through a critique group you participate in. (Not a member of a critique group? Start your own like I recently did! I e-mailed a small group of like-minded writer friends I know from social media sites and invited them to join. It’s so helpful to have extra pairs of eyes to read through my manuscripts.)

And then send it in. I’m getting mine ready to submit too.

If you’re submitting a nonfiction article to Clubhouse Jr., be sure to mention that you followed along here on my blog to learn more about their particular interests and types of nonfiction they need.

So do you have any questions about this entire process as we’re wrapping up this discussion here on my blog about writing nonfiction articles for children’s magazines? If so, be sure to post them here and let me know.

And stay tuned for our next adventure…I can hardly wait!

Next up here on my blog, we’re going to target a publisher who accepts unsolicited submissions for nonfiction children’s picture books! I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

(And if you signed up for the free giveaway last week here on my blog, the winners have been chosen. Their names will be announced in an upcoming post! Hopefully one of them will be you!!!!!)

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 14, 2015

Book Review: My Christmas Stocking: Filled With God’s Love


My Christmas Stocking
(Filled With God’s Love)
by Crystal Bowman
Art by Claudine Gevry

This board book is written with sweet rhyming text and soft, precious illustrations. It tells in simple words the historical account of Saint Nicholas and how he started the tradition of giving gifts tucked inside someone’s stocking. Why did he do this? To “remind everyone of the Gift that God sent…” Jesus!

What I Like
Let’s start with the shape of this book. It’s a stocking, of course! Perfect for little hands to hold. (And did I mention fun?!!!) Plus it’s a board book. Sturdy pages for even the youngest child to touch and grab. Even better! I’m so enjoying reading board books to my one-year-old grandson now, and this is going to be a favorite this Christmas, I can tell. But my favorite favorite thing about this book is its focus…Jesus! This book brings the historical account of St. Nicholas up into the real world of the reader both in the beginning of the story and the ending. And here’s my favorite page of all, the very last:

“If you see stockings hung up in a row
bulging with gifts from the top to the toe,

Remember that Christmas is all about love,
and Jesus our Savior, God’s Gift from above.”

What a perfect addition to include in your family’s Christmas traditions if you celebrate the holiday with the joy and delight of a Christmas stocking!

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

I review for BookLook Bloggers


And if you haven’t yet done so, be sure to sign up for a chance to win Laura Sassi’s new picture book, GOODNIGHT MANGER or a free picture book manuscript critique by moi, yours truly. The contest ends midnight, November 15. CLICK HERE for details.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 13, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: Everything


For all of God’s words are right,
and everything he does
is worthy of our trust.
-Psalm 33:4, TLB

Everything is a big word. Yet God specializes in taking care of every single minute detail. He leaves nothing uncovered. Are there situations about your writing in which you’re feeling dejected or confused? Trust in God, scribe! He’s taking care of every single detail. He is worthy! You can trust the details of your writing with Him.

Dear Father, please help me trust you more. Help me trust that you care about my writing and that you will work ALL things together to good. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


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! Add it to your Christmas wish list today.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 11, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: Engaging Text

DSCN3662 - Version 2

I hope you’re having fun working on your nonfiction article for a children’s magazine. If you’re planning on submitting it to Clubhouse Jr. one of the things I mentioned earlier is that they like quirky, engaging text.

So how can you take your writing up a notch with text so engaging it draws young readers in like these two boys in the photograph who are totally absorbed in catching that wave?

Here are some tips!

1. Write it in Second Person Point of View (POV). With its “you” voice it draws the reader right in.

2. Match your text with your topic. If your topic is poetic or inspirational (migrating whales or dancing cranes for example), choose to write more lyrical text with longer sentences and more passive verbs that produce a melodious and flowing rhythm.

If your topic is quirky (animal noses or tails for example) choose to write with more offbeat text. One way to do this is to vary several long sentences with 3 one-word sentences. For example:

Hop. Skip. Jump. The jumping spider leaps from leaf to leaf in search of tasty prey.

3. Use interesting verbs. Circle all your verbs. See which ones you can switch out for more lively and exciting verbs.

4. Use Onomatopoetic words. These can work well as a single word or a group of three. They are also usually italicized in the text. For example:

The orangutan clanked the chain against the tree. Clink. Clink. Clunk.


The ball bounced on the ground. Boink!

5. Give fun nicknames when appropriate. For example, at times I call the main character in my crocodile article, Mama Croc.

6. Make startling declarative statements. Again, referring to the same article, I state, “Who should win first place for being the best animal mother around? Mama Crocodile, that’s who!”

So as you’re writing your article and preparing it for submission, go through it and see if it passes the “engaging text” test.

And if you haven’t yet started writing your article, go ahead and get your first draft done. At 600 words or less, you can do it!

Then go through and edit it until it shines. Soon you’ll be ready to submit it!


And if you haven’t yet done so, be sure to sign up for a chance to win Laura Sassi’s new picture book, GOODNIGHT MANGER or a free picture book manuscript critique by moi, yours truly. The contest ends midnight, November 15. CLICK HERE for details.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 9, 2015

Author Interview: Laura Sassi

Laura blog shot

Meet Author Laura Sassi

Blog: Laura Sassi Tales
Facebook: LauraSassiTales
Twitter: @LauraSassiTales

Bio: Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. Her poems, stories, articles and crafts have appeared in numerous family publications including Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Spider, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. and FamilyFun. She is the author of two picture books, GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz 2015) and GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014) (Now a board book, too!). She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.


Featured Book
Goodnight, Manger
by Laura Sassi
Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Zonderkidz, 2015
CLICK HERE to watch the book trailer!

It’s bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew that the Manger could be so loud? Young readers will find delight in Goodnight, Manger, a favorite Christmas Bible story-turned-bedtime-tale from author Laura Sassi and bestselling illustrator Jane Chapman. Laura Sassi tells the story of the baby Jesus’ first bedtime. The manger is distracting and noisy with the angels rejoicing, itchy hay, and visiting wisemen. Mary, Joseph and the animals try and lull the infant Christ to a good night’s sleep.

Sassi and Chapman also collaborated on their first book together, Goodnight, Ark!, which released in 2014. Noah and the animals on the Ark try to fall asleep, but the storm raging outside keeps them all awake. Both titles offer a unique twist on popular Bible stories by featuring a sweet, whimsical bedtime theme that ties clever rhyming with beautiful illustrations that are sure to soothe the fussiest sleeper into a content and peaceful sleep.


Q: Describe a highlight for you personally while you were writing this book.

A: As a mom, I have tender memories of putting my babies to bed and how hard it was when they were crying and overstimulated and overtired. I also have memories of my sweet daughter, who was only three or four at the time, playing with the little Baby Jesus that was part of our nativity set. She’d carry him around the house saying things like, “Baby Jesus crying. It’s okay, Baby.” Then she’d gently feed him or rock him and sing a lullaby. To be honest before listening to her tender play, I’d never thought of Baby Jesus as ever crying. But, he was human (and God) and so he must have cried. With these sweet sparks of inspiration it was personally very rewarding to write the story that was on my heart – which was to write a fun Christmas bedtime book that kids would want to read again and again and which would point them in the direction of Jesus – the real gift of Christmas.

Q: How did you experience breakthrough to work with the big publishing houses?

A: The first key to opening that contract door for both this and my first book was to find an agent who believed in my writing. I cannot emphasize enough how important it has been (for me at least) to have an agent. Not only did she help me get my story in front of the right editorial audience, she also was skilled at helping me sort through ins and outs of the contract. The second key to breaking through was to not settle for what I thought at the time was my best effort, but to instead take my agent’s advice to heart and push myself to take each manuscript to the next level before submitting it to publishers.

Q: Describe your typical writing schedule.

A: I try to set aside two good hours per day to write and reflect and be creative. I like to write in a notebook as well as on my laptop, both of which are very portable. I often take my projects on the road, so to speak. I’ve been spotted writing on park benches while my kids play at the park. I also have a favorite corner in the library where I sometimes write. But my favorite writing spot is curled up in a chair, or at my little writer’s desk, with Sophie, our little black Cockapoo, snuggled close beside me. Before any of that, though, I begin each day with prayerful journaling. Before breakfast, I dig into Scripture, then reflect on God’s word in my journal. I lift up the day to Him, writing down my joys and my concerns. Without this important writing ritual, the day just isn’t the same, for it reminds me that God is ultimately in charge of everything and, thus, I give my writing over to Him.


Q: What is one word of advice you received as a writer that you would like to share with others?

A: I’ve found that the long, hard journey to publication just wouldn’t be the same without a nice support system. For me this includes my family, my lovely agent, and the wonderful network of children’s writers I’ve connected with over the years, many of whom have become dear friends and trusted critique partners. So, my parting bit of advice today is to find a writing buddy or two to join you on the journey! I think you will find, as I have, that it makes all the difference. Happy writing!


To celebrate the funtastic release of Laura Sassi’s newest book, I’m hosting a giveaway here on my blog!

Two prizes and two winners! Yay!

The contest starts today, November 9, and goes through until midnight on November 15. Enter to win today!

The first prize is a copy of Laura Sassi’s new book, the beautiful full-color hardback copy of her picture book, Goodnight, Manger.

The second prize is a free manuscript critique (by me!) for a picture book manuscript you’re working on. (If you don’t write picture books, you may substitute this prize for the first 5 pages of whatever children’s manuscript you want.)

To be eligible for the first prize, you MUST have a continental US street address (and not just a PO box) where the book can be delivered.

To be eligible for the second prize, you MUST have an e-mail address where we can e-mail your manuscript back and forth…and you can live anywhere in the world!

Here’s what to do:

STEP ONE: Sign up to “follow” my blog and get my occasional news over e-mail.
The button is in the sidebar on the right.

(If you’ve already done that before today, just post a comment here to let me know or e-mail me at

Step 2: CLICK HERE to register on Rafflecopter for the chance to win Laura Sassi’s beautiful full-color picture book, Goodnight, Manger.
To win the picture book, contestants must have a continental US address with a street address and not just a P.O. box, where prize can be shipped.

If you do not have a continental US address, you may still enter the contest but will only be eligible for the free picture book manuscript critique.

Two different winners will be chosen for two different prizes!

The contest starts today, November 9, and goes through until midnight on November 15. Enter to win today!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 6, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: Shout!

Shouts of joy and victory resound
in the tents of the righteous:
The strong right arm of the Lord
has done glorious things!
-Psalm 118:15, NIV and NLT

Oh wonderful day when we sit down and write and meet our goals. Oh happy day when we finish our manuscript and actually submit it to our target publisher. Oh glorious day when a manuscript is accepted for publication! Shout for joy, scribe! Shout often and shout out loud. Let your praises resound in your home. God is doing glorious things!

Hallelujah, Lord! I shout Your praises! May I never be like the 9 lepers who did not return to give thanks. Instead, daily may I return to You like the one to fall on my knees and worship You! In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 5, 2015

One Sentence Storybooks: Teaching Children How to Read










I mailed a set of my newest books, One Sentence Storybooks: Bible Heroes, to my sister for her birthday. Since we live on opposite coasts (I’m on the west coast and she’s on the east) birthday packages travel via the post office. Her 5 grandchildren were visiting when she opened the package. It was fun to hear that her precious little ones enjoyed these, especially the one who is five years old and learning to read. She got excited because she felt like she could read some of the words all by herself!

That’s one of the goals of these delightful little gems. To teach young readers confidence while learning reading skills. Paired up with Bible stories and a short prayer, simple devotion, and activities at the end, so many parents are saying their little ones love these books!

Even my cat, Pitterpat, wanted to read them today!

One Sentence Storybooks: Bible Heroes
Available at your favorite bookstore or online at Amazon. What a precious gift for the little ones on your list!

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 4, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: Themes

Many children’s magazines have themes they focus each issue on throughout the year. Check their submission guidelines to keep up-to-date.

If you’re interested in writing and submitting a nonfiction article to Clubhouse Jr., I thought you’d like a copy of what I got today: The list of themes for 2016!

When you write for magazines be thinking at least 6 months ahead. Clubhouse Jr. likes to work far ahead, so aim for 9 months or more if possible. That means look at the list for July and forward. So if you’re working on an idea for them, pray and think about ways to make it fit one of the themes in the last half of the year.

Here they are!

Clubhouse/Club Jr. 2016 Themes

Jan – Living Masterpiece – God’s temple was built with the best materials. Now we are God’s temple. From food to sleep to exercise, we need to fill ourselves with only the best to thrive. Also this month: Sanctity of Human Life. (Eph. 2:10)

Feb – Lifelong Commitment – Relationships need commitment to succeed, whether that’s between family members, friends or God and His people. The results of staying committed can be beautiful. (2 Tim. 4:7)

March – Know It, Grow It, Show It – Building a spiritual foundation allows Christ followers to walk their talk. It’s through a process of learning, growing and bearing fruit that we have an impact for God in our world. Also this month: Easter. (Col. 2:6-7)

April – Family Loyalty – God gives us our families to help us grow. We need to treat our family members better than our friends—not vice versa. Looking at family dynamics in other cultures can help. (Rom. 12:9-10)

May – It’s Just a Game – The family that plays together, stays together. But many games result in hurt feelings. Sportsmanship is important, even in family competition. Also this month: Mother’s Day. (Prov. 24:17)

June – Appreciation – Show gratefulness to those who invest in your life—family, coaches or role models. Also this month: Father’s Day. (Gal. 6:6)

July – Humility – No job is too gross or embarrassing when you’re serving others. (John 13:14)

Aug – Step by Step – Enjoy the satisfaction of setting and achieving incremental goals. Slow and steady can win the race. (Prov. 21:5)

Sept – Good Stewardship – We need to be responsible with how we take care of ourselves, our money, our property and our planet. (Luke 16:10)

Oct – Wipe the Slate Clean – True forgiveness doesn’t hold a grudge. We need to give others a fresh start just as Christ has given one to us. (Eph. 4:32)

Nov – Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself – Navigate and talk through emotional intensity before hurtful conflict starts. Lean on godly wisdom, instead of following natural inclinations. (Prov. 29:11)

Dec – Welcoming Heart – Cheerfully share and invite people into the warmth of Christ. Also this month: Christmas. (1 Peter 4:9)

Posted by: nancyisanders | November 2, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: Kid Interviews


The fourth and final format I’ll mention here about writing nonfiction for children’s magazines is one you’ll find in numerous magazines: Interviews of kids who are making a difference in our world.

Clubhouse Jr. loves these kind of articles, too! I’ve never written about real life stories of extraordinary kids for them, but my sweet writer friend Margaret Albertson has!

Here are tips Margaret has to share with all of you:

Interview your feature subject.

How should you connect?
* Through a friend of a friend
* Through a publicist
* Through an author of a story you read in a newspaper or online

Interviews will give you lots of good quotes to use in the article!

Always pray before you do the interview.

Ask the child about how God influences his or her life

Thanks, Margaret, for those great tips!

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 30, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: A Message

In the past you have encouraged
many a troubled soul to trust in God;
you have supported those who were weak.
Your words have strengthened the fallen;
you steadied those who wavered.
-Job 4:3-4, NLT

Are you reading these words today? Then this is a personal message to you, fellow scribe, from God Himself. He sees the manuscripts you’ve written. He knows the words you’ve labored to write to bring strength to the weary and encouragement to those in despair. God knows! And He loves you all the more for it.

Dear God, thank You for understanding my heart’s desire as a writer. Thank You for validating me as Your scribe. Thank You for encouraging me today. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


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! Add it to your Christmas wish list today.

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 29, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: One Topic with Many Examples

A third format that you’ll see for nonfiction articles in children’s magazines is where you choose one “topic” and give multiple “examples.” For example, I wrote an article about “noses” and included information about a dozen or so different animal (and people) noses!

Here’s the article that I got published in Clubhouse Jr.’s March 2009 issue:

Nosey Neighbors
by Nancy I. Sanders

Imagine carrying a heavy load or digging in the dirt…with your nose!
Take a look at these useful and unusual noses, and you’ll see evidence of God’s amazing design!

Who knows what a nose can do? God does. He created most animals with noses, but not every nose was made for the same purpose. From dogs and cats to giraffes and gorillas, animals use their noses for breathing and smelling. But many noses have a unique shape and design that help their owners survive or do special things.

The star-nosed mole has 22 pink tentacles around its nose. These highly sensitive feelers wriggle non-stop to help the mole hunt for small fish, snails, and leeches along the edge of swamps or under water.

Marsupial moles tunnel through the sandy deserts of Australia. A horn-like pad on the mole’s nose acts as a shield and helps it push aside the sand as it digs.

Pigs dig around in the dirt with their noses looking for tasty roots and grubs to eat. A pig’s snout ends in a flat, round disc that makes a great little shovel for digging as it searches for food.

Many bats use echolocation to find insects or small animals when they hunt at night. Making a series of clicks and squeaks, bats measure the size and distance of their prey by echoes—or sounds that bounce back to them.

The false vampire bat has a large nose-leaf, or piece of skin, around its nose. This helps the bat focus its calls and locate dinner.

Birds that dive underwater, such as cormorants, have nostrils on their beak that are sealed permanently closed and watertight. The cormorant breathes through its mouth, instead.

Camels’ noses are specially designed for life in the hot, sandy desert. During a dust storm, their nostrils close to keep out pesky grains of sand.

The bottlenose dolphin doesn’t breathe out of its “nose.” Instead, this playful animal rises above the ocean waves to catch a breath of air through the blowhole located on top of its head. It can use its pointy nose for protection by ramming enemies.

Some whales have two blowholes. When a whale comes up for air, it blows an explosion of warm air and water out of its blowhole like a fountain.

Sniffers of the Deep
The sawfish uses its saw-like snout to slash through a school of fish. It then gobbles up the fish that fall to the bottom.

The angler has a flashlight attached to the end of its nose! In the dark ocean depths, this “light” attracts a breakfast of small fish.

A male hooded seal inflates his large nose to make a loud roar that can be heard from one end of the beach to the other.

What a Big Nose You Have!
The longest nose of all belongs to the elephant. The elephant’s trunk is a combination of its upper lip and nose. It is flexible enough to pluck leaves off a branch and powerful enough to lift a heavy log.

The elephant breathes through its trunk, which it can also use for other special things. An elephant uses its trunk like a snorkel when it swims under water. An elephant can also drink water using its trunk. To take a dust bath, it sucks up dust from the ground in its trunk, reaches its trunk up over its head, and then blows the dust over its back. This behavior protects the elephant’s sensitive skin from sunburn and insects.

The tip of an Asiatic elephant’s trunk has a fingerlike growth. The African elephant’s trunk has two. These “fingers” are useful for picking up small objects.

Your Wonderful Nose
Your own nose has important jobs to do. It helps you breathe air into your lungs and smell everything from a yummy apple pie to a stinky skunk. Your nose even has its very own cleaning system!

Just inside the two openings of your nose, called nostrils, short hairs help trap dust out of the air that you breathe. Sticky mucous farther inside your nose traps smaller pieces of dust.

This mucous provides important protection for your body by killing certain kinds of germs you breathe into your nose.

Achoo! A sneeze is a reflex or automatic reaction to help clear your clogged breathing passages. It’s also your body’s attempt to get rid of pesky germs. Cover your nose when you sneeze, or use a tissue. Otherwise your germs spread through the air or land in places someone else might touch.

If you decide to write and submit a nonfiction article about one topic with a variety of examples to Clubhouse Jr. like I did, here are some tips:

They like quirky, lively text.

Note how it’s written in Second Person POV (Point of View). In other words, “Imagine carrying a heavy load or digging in the dirt…with your nose!”

With an article like this, they like an engaging introduction to the topic before you start giving the examples.

When I submitted this article in 2009, 750 words was okay. Now they’re looking for nonfiction that tops at 600 words, according to their submission guidelines.

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 28, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: One Topic Focus


The second format that you’ll see in children’s magazines for nonfiction is where you present ONE TOPIC and describe several of its key attributes.

Here’s the nonfiction article I got published in Clubhouse Jr.’s May 2011 issue using this format:

Blue Ribbon Mama

Who should win first place for being the best animal mother around? Mama Crocodile, that’s who! Don’t let her ferocious looks and scary teeth trick you. Mama Croc takes tender care of her babies.

Caring Croc
Before her babies are born, Mama Croc looks carefully for the perfect place to make a baby nursery.

Once she finds the perfect spot, she makes a nest by digging a hole in the dirt. She lays about 50 eggs and then covers them with a cozy blanket of sand or leaves to keep them warm while they sleep.

Most reptiles leave their eggs and forget about them. But that’s not what God created mother crocodiles to do. Mama Croc watches over and protects her eggs.

Bunch of Babies
After three months of waiting, the big birthday finally arrives. From inside their eggs, the baby crocodiles start calling, “Peep! Peep! Peep!” They are calling for their mommy.

Mama Croc comes running. Carefully, she scratches away the sand and leaves from the nest.

Tenderly, she pulls away tiny bits of eggshell with her gigantic teeth. Gently, she rolls an egg inside her mouth. She is helping her babies break out of their shells.

A Little Help
Once the babies hatch, Mama Croc opens her huge mouth to let them crawl inside. Then she carries her hungry babies to the river where they can start eating little crabs, tiny fish, and tasty bugs. Yum!

Now Mama Croc really gets to work. Watch out, hungry birds, giant frogs, and big fish! Don’t try to snatch up a baby crocodile for breakfast. Mama Croc will lash her big tail and make a gigantic splash to frighten you away.

Mama Croc always protects her babies. If they are ever in danger, she carries them to safety in her mouth.

A mother crocodile is fierce. She is dangerous. But she is also one of the best animal mothers of all!

If you decide to write and submit a nonfiction article about one topic to Clubhouse Jr. like I did, here are some tips:

They like quirky, lively text.

These articles usually start with a short, very engaging introduction that pulls the reader into the topic.

They like 3, often 4 subtopics or key points about your main topic.

Note how it’s written in Second Person POV (Point of View). In other words, “Don’t let her ferocious looks and scary teeth trick you.”

Sometimes you do not need to include a Scripture verse, but you can always choose to do so if you want, just in case they have room to include it.

This article was only 320 words. Their guidelines say they’re looking for nonfiction that tops at 600 words, according to their submission guidelines. But as you can see by my article, a much shorter one is okay.

Think of it. 320 words. You. Can. Do. This. Yes, you can!

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 27, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: A to Z Format

One of the formats you’ll see in children’s magazines for nonfiction articles is the A to Z format. I’ve used it successfully and it’s a lot of fun! The perk is that you can always use it as a springboard to write a children’s alphabet book and get extra mileage from your research!

Here is the article that I got published in Clubhouse Jr. in January’s 2009 issue:

God’s Amazing Creation…
From A to Z!
By Nancy I. Sanders

Let all of them praise the name of the Lord,
because he gave a command and they were created.
-Psalm 148:4, NIrV
Look at a few of the wonderful things our God has made.

Aardvarks live in Africa. They lick up tasty ants and termites for a yummy midnight snack. Their long, sticky tongues are perfect for slurping up insects.

Black holes. We can’t see them, but they exist far away in deep outer space. Black holes were formed when humongous stars imploded, leaving behind a strong pull of gravity.
Scientists can’t see black holes through telescopes, but they can watch how black holes affect other stars.

Cells are like building blocks in nature. God designed some cells to make fruits, nuts, or seeds. Other cells make muscles, teeth, or blood. Our bodies have millions and millions of cells! But on the day God first created you, you started out as one teeny tiny cell.

A Dingo is Australia’s wild dog. Aborigines, the native people of Australia, trained dingos to help them hunt for food.

Eggs are little examples of God’s big design. From the tiny butterfly egg to the huge ostrich egg, each egg contains the miracle of new life. Only God can make an egg!

A Fungus has an important job to do. It helps decompose things like dead leaves and turns them back into dirt. A mushroom is a fungus.

A Galaxy is a system of millions and billions of stars all spinning around together in space. God created many galaxies in the universe. Our sun is a star in the Milky Way galaxy.

The Hibiscus is a beautiful flower that grows in warm places around the world. The hibiscus is the official state flower of Hawaii.

Iguanas live on islands and in countries that are warm and tropical. The iguana’s tail makes up half of its length.

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. Its Great Red Spot is a huge storm that has been whirling and twirling around on the surface of the planet for hundreds of years.

Kangaroos and koala bears live in Australia. What an imagination God has! He created such interesting creatures.

Lightning flashes through the sky. Thunder crashes. Storms remind us that our great big God is a mighty and powerful Creator!

Magma is hot, melted rock that is deep underneath the ground. When a volcano erupts, magma rises up to the top of the volcano and explodes into the air. After magma erupts, it is called lava and flows down the sides of the volcano.

Night is a time for rest. We sleep each night, but God never sleeps. All through the night, God watches over us because He loves us.

An Orangutan’s fur looks orange. Because of its wise face and quiet ways, the orangutan’s name means “old man of the forest.”

Polar bears and penguins live in the ice and snow on the opposite sides of the earth. Polar bears live at the North Pole, and penguins live at the South Pole.

Quartz is a beautiful crystal or rock. Gemstones such as an agate, onyx, and tiger’s eye are all types of quartz. Quartz is one of the most common minerals on the surface of the earth.

Rainforests are home to many fascinating and unusual plants, bugs, and animals. Boa constrictors, sloths, toucans, poison arrow frogs, and leaf cutter ants all live in rainforests.

At the Seashore, we see sand crabs, seagulls, seashells and lots and lots of sand! It’s fun to dig in the sand, build sand castles, and splash in the salty waves.

Trumpeter swans make a noise like a tooting horn when they call out to each other. When they fly, they sound like they are praising God on high.

The Umbrella bird doesn’t have to carry an umbrella when it rains. It wears an “umbrella” on the top of its head.

A Venus flytrap is a plant that catches flies and other bugs in its sticky trap. Then it eats them up for dinner.

The World is a wonderful place to live. The Bible tells us that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God created everything!

X-ray stars give off powerful bursts of X-rays from distant parts of the universe. To us, though, they look just like any other star.

You. God created each and every person. There’s no one else exactly like you!

Zooplankton are tiny animals that drift and float in the ocean waves. They are an important food source for other underwater creatures including the largest animal of all—the blue whale.

If you decide to write and submit a nonfiction A-Z article to Clubhouse Jr. like I did, here are some tips:

They like quirky, lively text.

Note how it’s written in Second Person POV (Point of View). In other words, “You. There’s no one else exactly like you!”

Include a scripture verse along with your article. (This does not get counted in the total word count.) The version they use is the NIrV (New International Readers Version). If you don’t have a current copy of that Bible, you can quote from it at Bible Gateway.

When I submitted my article in 2008, 750 words was okay. Now they’re looking for nonfiction that tops at 600 words, according to their submission guidelines.

Posted by: nancyisanders | October 23, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: Think

The godly think before [writing];
the wicked spout evil words.
-Proverbs 15:28, NLT

Before we sit down to write today, let’s first stop and take time to think. Let’s open the Bible and meditate upon God’s Word. Let’s pray and ask God to guide us to write words that are good and helpful and kind. Let’s dedicate our writing project today to God for Him to use to bring refreshment, renewal, and restoration.

Dear God, I would rather never write again than be like the wicked and spout evil words. Remind me each day to think and pray about what I am going to write before I sit down at the computer. Whether I write for the Christian market or for the general market, please help me write words based on godliness and truth. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


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! Add it to your Christmas wish list today.

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