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.

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?

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 1, 2020

A Treasure Chest of Library Books

Hip hip hooray for public libraries! Our library is finally semi-opened and the 30 nonfiction picture book biographies I ordered in before the shut-down are arriving fast and furious for pick-up.

So that means I’m working fast and furious to read and dissect them.

For starters, I’m picking out the ones that really resonate with me. I want to use them as mentor texts while I’m learning and writing my own picture book biographies. I’m either typing these out by hand, including the Author’s Note at the end (which is frequently soooooo much longer than the picture book text) and the source notes.

Others, however, especially ones that the art is important to me, I’m photocopying. Yes, this is legal. Over the years I’ve checked in with multiple libraries from public libraries to university libraries. Their policy is one and the same. I am permitted to photocopy entire books for my own personal research as long as I don’t share them with others.

Plus, I’m taking the time to evaluate each one before I return it to the library. I’m using the handy worksheet I created to do this. You can use this NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK RUBRIC, too, as you dissect the nonfiction picture book biographies you read for mentor texts.

CLICK HERE to visit one of my websites where I offer free worksheets for children’s writers. Scroll down until you find the link for the NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK RUBRIC and then download the file. Print out a copy for each nonfiction picture book you are evaluating.

Why do I take the time to fill out each of these worksheets/rubrics for the nonfiction picture book biographies I’m reading? For many VERY IMPORTANT reasons. Here are a few:

#1 By learning to look for strengths and weaknesses in published books I learn to look for strengths and weaknesses in my own manuscripts.

#2 By having a rubric to follow to evaluate published books, I now have a list of techniques I can look for in my own manuscripts to evaluate.

#3 With the info about the publisher and copyright, this gives me a handy place to remember what publishers are looking for.

The list of benefits goes on and can be an entire workshop on its own!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 15, 2020

Encouragement in Challenging Days

Psalm 61 eagle.png

Praying you will find strength, encouragement, comfort, and wonderful times of refreshment in God’s presence during these days of sheltering in. (Read Acts 3:19-20.)

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 9, 2020

NF PB Bio Step 9: Self-Editing

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 2.14.50 PM.png

Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 9: Self-Editing

Now that I have my first draft in my hands, I’m busy working on it to get it ready for today’s publishing standards.

I like to print out a check-list to go over to help me at this stage. You can print it out for free and use it too as you’re working on your biography.

CLICK HERE to visit the site where I list freebies and scroll down to print out the NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK SELF-EDITING CHECKLIST.

Basically, I go over this list and over it and over it. I check off items I feel are doing okay. But the ones that need work I keep working on.

Let me know if you have any questions about this!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 6, 2020

NF PB Bio Step 8 The First Draft

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 2.21.32 PM.png

Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 8 The First Draft
For those of you who are following along, I just wanted to give you a reminder that I’m sharing in this series of blog posts the journey my brain is taking to write a picture book biography for a BREAKTHROUGH topic.

Read More…

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 3, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 7 Act 1

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 10.00.38 AM

As I mentioned in my previous post, my brain started coming up with opening lines, ending lines, cliffhangers, and other tidbits. I started jotting down anything my brain wanted to work on and I encourage you to do the same.

But right from the get go, I also plotted out my story arc following the 3-Act structure I always like to use.

Act 1 is the Beginning of the story
Act 2 is the Middle (It has a first half and a second half)
Act 3 is the Ending of the story

And then I became very intentional about writing my story’s beginning.

When I write a picture book like this, I like to write it in 4 different sittings. Even if I’ve been jotting down actual text my brain is coming up with, I’ve found that my story arc is stronger and my plot is stronger and each different part of my story is much stronger and fresh if I separate it into at least 4 different sittings.

So for this first sitting, I worked on my beginning. At this point, I didn’t worry about word count. But do the math. If you want to write a 500 word picture book, the beginning should only be about 175 words. If you’re gearing for 800 words, the beginning should only be about 200 words. If you’re gearing for 1000 words, the beginning should only be about 250 words long. I wouldn’t aim for anything longer than that for today’s picture book market with a breakthrough topic.

But again, I didn’t worry about the word count. I just wanted to get the first draft down. As it turns out, my beginning was probably about 300 words for my first draft. But I had to get it all down before I could trim it to be what it should be. I encourage you to do the same.

Just sit down and write the first draft of your beginning.

Now…since most of my “mentor” texts are still sitting there at the library waiting until the library opens, I did some digging around in my own book stashes and discovered the perfect mentor text for a breakthrough topic about a woman picture book biography!

ALABAMA SPITFIRE is the biography of Harper Lee, the author of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

The great thing is that you can look up this picture book. CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon. Then click on the feature: LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK. You can read the first several spreads of this picture book…it’s a great mentor text for the beginning or Act 1 of your own biography!

I encourage you to type this out, word for word, as much as you can read of it. And while you’re at it, type out the Author’s Note at the end. And take a screen shot of the bibliography, too.

You see, even though I own this book, I typed it out word for word. And I typed out the Author’s Note, too. Why? You may ask? Because typing out mentor texts of published books trains our brains for the pacing and word count in a way that’s simply irreplaceable. I do it all the time! I encourage you to do it too. Have fun!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 2, 2020

NF PB Bio Step 6B More on Story Arc

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 10.00.38 AM

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY STEP 6B MORE ON STORY ARC

I thought I’d give you another sneak peek into what I’m actually factually doing on my own journey to write a picture book biography. And the peek this time is to understand more clearly how I filled out my BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET A that I encouraged you to download in my previous post.

First of all, there are lots of formats you can pick to use to write the plot of your picture book biography:

You can write a birth to death plot.
You can write a plot that focuses on a significant event.
You can write a comparison between two people.
The list goes on.

For my picture book biography, I played around with different formats. I plugged different plot points on my BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET and actually went through a couple of different versions.

But the one I chose to use at last was one that focused mostly on the career of the woman I’m writing about because it was her career that was significant. And even more specifically, I focused on one small part of her career so that I could better tell a story instead of just a list of accomplishments.

So here’s how my BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET turned out:

For the BEGINNING, to answer “How does the story start?”:
I show my Main Character, as a child, encountering a problem. (This is the same problem she will later deal with in her career as an adult.)(This literally took less than 100 words.)

CHANGE !: This is where my Main Character, still a child, deals with this problem. This shows how she works to solve it as a child.

First Half of the Middle:
Then I give some brief background information about my Main Character and where she grew up and how it gave her a passion to deal with that problem.

Change 2: The Turning Point of the story. The Middle.
What happens in the middle?
The turning point of my story is where my Main Character, because of her passion, applies and is hired for a special job to deal with the same problem she dealt with as a child. This makes her the first woman to ever do this. The reason this is the turning point is because it was the build up of everything she was as a child and now the story turns because this will be what she spends the rest of her life doing.

Second Half of the Middle
This is where I show what my Main Character’s duties were in her new job as she’s working to deal with the problem.

CHANGE 3:
The big change that happened was one key significant event that shaped the rest of her career.

The End: How does the story end?
I again tried to bring out her passion for the problem she deals with. I tried to tie the ending back into the beginning and show her dealing with the same problem, but successfully now as an adult instead of as a child. I ended the story with how she successfully accomplished one milestone in her career.

Author’s Note
Then in the Author’s Note, I tell everything else there is to know about her. In the author’s note I tell all about her whole career. All the rest of her background about her parents and where she grew up. And all the rest of the information about her, how she got famous, etc.

In other words, for the actual picture book story, I picked one problem that she dealt with as a child and then as an adult, with key plot points to move the story forward. I focused just on that story, and not on her life as a whole. I saved her life as a whole for the author’s note.

Please feel free to use this same story arc with the same plot changes as I have, if it makes it easier for you to focus on and learn how to craft a strong story arc.

Have fun and let me know if you have any questions!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 31, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 6 Story Arc

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 10.00.38 AM.png

Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 6: Story Arc

As I started moving forward at this point, a lot of the activities I was doing with my manuscript began to overlap.

I started reading a lot of my research.

My brain couldn’t help it. It started to come up with opening lines. Ending lines. Little tidbits of scenes and snippets of dialog.

Story arc ideas started floating through my brain.

Ideas for stronger curriculum tie-in and universal theme that could tug at every reader’s heart.

But in this midst of all this overlap, I want to isolate out specific details so you can join in on the process my brain was taking and hopefully help your own brain move forward in a positive way with your manuscript.

One of the things I started working on is my story arc. The plot. A picture book is so short and such a page-turner that I always like to determine and plan my plot before I start.

So I printed out a copy of my handy-dandy plot chart that I ALWAYS use when I write a picture book. You can use it too. CLICK HERE to go to my website WRITING ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY AND FRIENDS. Scroll down to the link for the BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET A. (It looks like the image at the top of this post.) Download the worksheet and print it out. I actually have about 20 copies printed out that I keep handy because sometimes the sheet I’m filling in gets messy and I want to re-do it.

Also, you may want to click on the link next to the worksheet with tips on how to fill this out.

I didn’t do this in one sitting. I filled this out as I read up on my research. And then I changed it several times.

The key is that I really didn’t start writing my manuscript until I had plugged in my story arc on this chart and also started to read my mentor texts to help me with this genre. (Even if you’re not yet able to get in any mentor texts because your libraries are closed, try to look them up on Amazon to peek at as much as you can in their ‘LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK’ features. It will help you get started.)

Oh, and sometimes I like to fill in outlines, too, to help me create my story arc chart. If you want to create an outline for your manuscript, you’ll find worksheets on that same site to help you.

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 28, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 5 Footnotes

Very Oldest Pear Tree from Albert Whitman website)

As we’ve been moving forward on writing a nonfiction picture book that is a breakthrough topic, in my last post I talked about gathering my research.

I also mentioned that I usually put together my bibliography right at the beginning. It makes it so much easier to track research as I’m typing my manuscript into a document. Every day I can just copy and paste from my bibliography into my document to track where I got that fact that I stated.

To show you what that looks like, I created a pdf document of my most recent picture book, THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE. (release date August 20, 2020…CLICK HERE to pre-order it on Amazon). In this pdf document I included the first 3 pages of my manuscript. It’s a work in progress but it’s getting near the final shape as I had gone in and included the publisher’s name and the illustrator’s name on my manuscript.

I just want to make it clear that the publisher NEVER saw this version of my manuscript, however. This is my research reference ONLY. When I submitted any version to my publisher, I always went through and deleted all my footnotes. This is just for my frame of reference.

In other words, I kept one version for myself to track all my research, and then I made a second copy of that version, deleted all my footnotes, and then sent it to the publisher.

Hope this give you an idea of how I track my research while I’m typing out my picture book manuscripts.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Here’s the pdf to show you how I add in footnotes:

The Very Oldest Pear Tree with footnotes

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 26, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 5 Research

home-office-336378_640.jpg

Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 5 Research

While waiting for my mentor texts to arrive (this process is taking a lot longer than normal due to the libraries closing), I started gathering my online research.

Read More…

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 23, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 4

2015 Los Angeles bookstore DSCN2905

The very next thing I did after choosing which woman I wanted to write about was to order in mentor texts from my local library.

Basically, mentor texts are books that are already published in your genre that you want to model your manuscript after.

I am targeting a specific publisher so I looked through their catalog and basically ordered in from my library about 8 of their picture book biographies about women. Plus 2 others from a different publisher just to compare. (I also ordered in more titles from my library from the links below, also to compare.) Unfortunately, our local library is now closed, but I ordered about 30 picture books anyhow and hope to grab them as soon as they open back up. Hopefully soon!

So if you’re targeting a specific publisher, you can do the same. But don’t worry if you don’t have a specific publisher in mind. Just order in 10-20 (or more!) picture book biographies about women that have been recently published.

Here are several links you can explore to order in titles from your library that interest you as potential mentor texts:

12 Picture Book Biographies of Truly Amazing Women

25 Biographical Picture Books for National Women’s History Month

31 New Picture Book Biographies

And just a note…stay healthy! Read lots of Psalms to strengthen you and comfort you in these challenging days!!!!

Posted by: nancyisanders | March 19, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 3

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 12.50.17 PM.png

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY Step 3
Now that you’ve brainstormed ideas for potential lesser-known famous women who did a big thing, it’s time to choose which one you actually want to write about.

Here’s the litmus test I did while I was at this stage.

TEST A
I searched on Amazon to see if there were any children’s books biographies about the one woman I was most interested in. THERE ISN’T. This is good because if there were already books about her, it’s not really a breakthrough topic to write another one. It might be a good topic to pitch to your editor if you are already working with an editor and they don’t yet have a book about this woman in their product line. But it wouldn’t be a BREAKTHROUGH topic to try to break into a publisher in general.

TEST B
I searched online to see if there was ANYTHING written about this woman anywhere. THERE IS. In fact, I found lots of little documentaries from her home town and from organizations in the field she worked in. I even found lots of quotes she said! This is key, because in ten minutes of searching online, I found enough research that I could use to write a picture book. This was important to me because I want to write this book fairly quickly and not spend several years digging through dusty archives. Plus, because this woman was famous in her local/national circle, this told me she was a big enough topic to write about.

TEST C
Was her record “clean” according to today’s culture and standards? For example, she didn’t own slaves, which would have been a very touchy issue in a current picture book to feature this woman as an outstanding role model but have this controversial part of her life to deal with.

TEST D
Was her claim to fame something that could be included in today’s classroom curriculum? Fortunately, it’s not hard to pass this test because even if a topic isn’t necessarily taught in today’s curriculum (such as being a famous ballerina or being a famous scuba diver), women who overcome great obstacles to be the first in their career or simply brave women role-models, are a tie-in automatically. Just be certain that the woman you choose to write about does fit in somehow with today’s curriculum standards. And if you really want to take this up a notch, choose an unsung woman hero to write about that supports STEAM…meaning she has a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, or Math.

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: