Posted by: nancyisanders | May 22, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Discernment

My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble…The Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.
-Proverbs 3:21-26

It’s easy to get caught up in the story we are writing and cross the line into writing about ungodly things. The world’s standards are so loose and muddled these days, that it’s hard to discern what is okay to write about and what’s not. It helps to keep in mind that the world’s standards are set up by Satan, himself. God’s standards, however, are all about what’s best for us as His children. As we write and rewrite our manuscripts, let’s try to write for what’s best. Let’s not settle for second rate regarding godliness.

Dear God, please reveal to me the places in my manuscripts that do not give honor to You and Your ways. Give me common sense as I write–the sense to remember the basic truths and principles You teach in Your Word but that the world seems to have forgotten these days. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

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Can you believe I stood this close to this mountain lion to snap such a great photograph? I was just inches away from him!!! But as you’ve probably already guessed, yes, I was at a zoo and there was a nice wall of glass between us.

I get excited going to places like zoos and museums because it gives me such fantastic ideas and research for my nonfiction stories for kids. I take lots of notes and lots of photos.

And guess what?! I’m especially excited about going to an upcoming conference for nonfiction children’s writers!!!!

This conference is LIMITED to just 40 attendees. You won’t get lost in a crowd like so many writing conferences out there where you’re just one in a sea of faces. You will be HEARD and KNOWN and HELPED.

This conference is GUARANTEED to help jumpstart your career as a nonfiction writer for kids. There’s an awesome faculty line-up of published nonfiction writers who will be sharing their EXPERTISE with you. I’m so excited to be joining the faculty, too!

You and I would get to MEET in person and face to face!!!! How awesome is that?!!!

But guess what? It gets even better…this conference is SPECIFICALLY for BEGINNING writers, or writers who want to start getting published in the nonfiction market. You won’t have to feel like everyone there is a better writer than you are…it’s tailored to meet your needs!

What: NF 4 NF Nonfiction for New Folks Writer’s Conference
When: September 17 – 20, 2015
Where: Rosenberg, Texas

The schedule is jam-packed with opportunity to hone your craft and learn all about writing nonfiction. I’ll be presenting a session on Writing for the Educational Market and an intensive on How to Write a Nonfiction Book in Three Weeks.

JOIN ME at meals for informal time where we can get to know each other better.

SIGN UP for me to give your manuscript a PERSONAL critique.

Plus, it’s gonna be FUN! We’ll be hootin’ and hollerin’ Texas-style! Writers from around the country will be playing together at GAME NIGHT and DANCING at Tex-Mex Night…lessons are provided! There will be critiques and writing time and fun!

GIFT yourself with this conference (or ask your family and friends to pitch together for a special present and MAKE THIS HAPPEN) so you can get away to spend time with me and other faculty members and writers to take your nonfiction writing to the level you want it to be.

CLICK HERE to register today!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 20, 2015

Chapter Book: Ideas for Your Middle

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Let me tell you a story. A true story.

Here’s what happened in the beginning of the story:
My brother and his wife came to visit us a few weeks ago. They planned to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada! I wanted to hike a little bit of the trail with them when they were passing near our house, but there wasn’t really any place that we could connect with them locally in a timely manner. They had to keep moving pretty fast to get north as fast as possible to avoid the desert during the hottest months. So we drove them to the Mexico border where the trailhead is and we said “Good-bye!”

End of Story:
That’s me in the photo at the top of this post, sitting on a couch in the middle of the forest on the Pacific Crest Trail above 8000 feet…because, guess what?!!! My husband Jeff and I got to hike 2 miles of the trail with them after all!!!! (Okay, so I’m not a long distance hiker, lol.)

So your question now is:
What happened in the middle that changed everything so I got to hike with them after all? (And what in the world is that couch doing out in the middle of the woods?????)

So here’s what happened in the middle:
We got a phone call from my brother saying that they got caught in an unexpected snow storm and freezing weather. Even their shoes were frozen! So they had to come off the trail near our house for several days while the snow melted. We drove up to the hotel where they were staying, took them a couple of supplies, and then got to hike with them for a little bit after all. My dream came true! (Oh, and that couch was put there next to a dumpster filled with food supplies by people called “trail angels” who leave supplies to help the hikers who are hiking the trail…but that’s another story!)

THAT’S what we want our middle to be like in the story we’re creating.

We want to think of something significant that CHANGED the character and the action and the story so that the ending could happen.

So go ahead and brainstorm ideas for your middle until you think of one that will really be a gem!

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Posted by: nancyisanders | May 15, 2015

Faith Building Friday: Sing!

Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.
-Psalm 126:5-6, NLT

Have you been dejected from receiving rejections instead of seeing your manuscripts in print? Know this, scribe. As we sacrifice ourselves to write the words He calls us to write, there may be intense times of weeping on the journey to get it published. But His promise is sure–He will complete the good work He’s begun. There will be a day when we reap the harvest of our hard work, and that day will be filled with song. Why wait, then? Learn the melody today. In the midst of the tears, learn to sing as you write. Sing praises to the King of kings! After all, we’re just getting ready for the time–His time–when His purposes will be fulfilled through us.

Dear God, place a new song in my heart to sing even in the midst of all the rejections and despair. Remind me of Your promises. Remind me to sing! Amen.

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

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 14, 2015

Chapter Book: Your Mentor Text on a Plot Chart

Stink Plot chart 1

Now let’s take what we’ve discovered about the beginning, middle, and ending of our mentor text, Stink #1 and let’s write it on its very own plot chart.

Here’s what we discovered by digging around on the first page, the last page, and the middle pages of Stink:

Beginning:
Stink is the shortest person in the whole world.

Middle:
Newton grows…then is gone. It’s all part of the life cycle that Newton went down the drain.

Ending:
Stink knows he’ll grow in time because it’s all part of the life cycle.

Go ahead and print out the Basic Plot Chart A that’s on my site, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends. (You’ll find it by scrolling down towards the middle.) Then write these key plot ingredients on your chart so it looks like the one I’ve written above.

Now spend time brainstorming ideas about what you want to have happen in you very own story.

We talked about how you want your story to begin and how you want it to end.

What do you want to have happen in the very middle of your story to tie that all together? Jot down ideas you have. We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post.

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 12, 2015

Must-Have Workshop: This Week’s Teleclass on Setting

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Where in the world is the setting for the story you’re working on?

Don’t settle for a sleepy setting when you can make your story shine as bright as the sun by choosing a setting that generates high-interest and kid-appeal. I’ll show you how.

This workshop on setting will benefit YOUR writing career! Great for picture books, children’s chapter books or novels, and novels for adults.

Learn to write like the pros and discover practical techniques you can use to make your setting impact your story in a powerful way. These are actual techniques I’ve learned from working closely with editors on many of my 100+ published books.

Get an insider’s look at how publishers actually want authors to deal with setting. Learn nitty gritty techniques you can use to find problem spots in your story’s setting and fix them. Discover how the genre you choose influences the setting you use.

Also in this workshop you will learn how to:

* Brainstorm a setting that rocks your characters’ world

* Develop setting in a magazine story, picture book, early reader, first chapter book, middle grade novel, and young adult novel

* Make your setting come alive to draw your reader into the world of your characters

* And more!

BONUS EXTRA!!! When you sign up for this audio workshop, you will receive three setting-buster worksheets I’ve created just for YOU (This is worth the price of the class right here):

* a list of 250 settings to choose from to make your setting be the best it can be!
* a brainstorming sheet for choosing the general setting as the backdrop of your story!
* a brainstorming sheet for choosing specific places for your characters to go to impact your story like the pros!

CLICK HERE for more information and to sign up today!

Join me live as I teach this teleclass this Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 2:00 Pacific Standard Time or sign up to get the audio recording. WWC Club members get half-off discount (It’s free to join!).

Why wait for a summer conference or pay the big bucks when you can learn these essential skills THIS WEEK?!!! Sign up here!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 11, 2015

Chapter Book: Plotting Your Mentor Text

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In our last post about writing our early chapter book, we talked about the ending of our plot. How do you want your story to end?

Next we’ll talk about what happens in the middle of your story’s plot. But to LEARN from the pros, let’s first take another look at our mentor text. What happened in the middle of our mentor text? What was the turning point of the entire story?

First, let’s recap what we’ve discovered about the beginning and the end of Stink:

Beginning:
Stink is the shortest person in the whole world.

Middle:
??

Ending:
Stink knows he’ll grow in time because it’s all part of the life cycle.

Now let’s look inside our mentor text, Stink. Let’s dig around in the middle of the book. Let’s look for the knot that ties the beginning to the end. It’s like a gold nugget hiding in a mine, waiting for us to discover it and bring it to light!

Since Stink is 102 pages long, let’s turn to page 61. That’s exactly in the middle.

Page 61 starts with the sentence, “On Monday morning, when Stink told Mrs. D. about the G.D.I. (Garbage Disposal Incident), she said, “Let’s just tell the class Newton ran away. It’ll be our little secret.”

Okay, it’s pretty obvious that Newton going down the disposal is what happened in the middle of the book. But let’s go backward or forward a page or two to find the “a ha” moment, the moment of transformation, the moment when the characters change regarding this incident.

Again, we’re trying to find the gold nugget in the middle that ties the beginning to the end.

Turn back to page 58. Look at this conversation between Judy and Stink:

“What am I going to tell Mrs. Dempster? And my class?”
“They’ll understand. It’s all part of the life cycle, Stink.”
“The garbage disposal is NOT part of the life cycle!” said Stink.

Bingo! We found the gold nugget!!!! Look how this fits into the beginning and end:

Beginning:
Stink is the shortest person in the whole world.

Middle:
Newton grows…then is gone. It’s all part of the life cycle that Newton went down the drain.

Ending:
Stink knows he’ll grow in time because it’s all part of the life cycle.

I think that works, don’t you? It shows the thread that ties this whole story together from beginning to middle to end.

This is the gold nugget we’ll be looking for as we brainstorm ideas for the middle of our story plot, too.

And if you’re just joining us and want to catch up with us, CLICK HERE to read the first post on our new chapter book adventure. Then scroll through the posts on up until today’s.

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 8, 2015

Faith-Building Friday

GOALS

For I have come down from heaven,
not to do my own will,
but the will of Him who sent me.
-John 6:35, NKJV

Jesus’ only goal in life and only item on His “to-do” list each day was to do God’s will. As God’s scribes, how can we be any different?

Dear God, please whisper Your will to my writer’s heart today. Strengthen me to write and accomplish Your plan and purpose for my pen today.

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

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 5, 2015

Book Review: God Bless Our Country

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The Berenstain Bears: God Bless Our Country
By Mike Berenstain

Summary
Hip hip hooray, for the U. S. of A.! The beloved Berenstain Bears are back again celebrating the Fourth of July with a big parade. Brother and Sister Bear are busy decorating their bikes to join in the festivities, and Mama and Papa Bear make sure they understand just why all the fireworks and fun are going on. This paperback picture book is a brand new addition to the meaningful series, Living Lights, where children learn how God wants them to live every day.

What I Like
My kids grew up reading the Berenstain Bears books and I love how the tradition continues for the next generation with these faith-building books. I especially like how this delightful new addition to the series talks about how our country was founded as a place where people from all over the world could come to be truly free. Papa Bear even tells the cubs that he believes “that it was God’s will that our new country came to be.” A great resource to reinforce patriotic love for our nation in our little ones! It shows people from all ages participating in the celebration, and has fun stickers, too!

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

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 5, 2015

Chapter Book: The Plot Ends

Right now we’re filling out our plot chart for our upcoming first chapter book that we’re going to write.

I’ve written various chapter books over my career and have had a number of them published with publishers big and small.

And the best thing I ever did was learn how to brainstorm ideas for the plot before I started writing the book. Taking time to do this saves so much headache later on.

As we talked about in our earlier post, the plot at its most basic level is how a story starts in the beginning, what happens in the middle, and how it ends.

Today we’re going to talk about how our story’s plot will end.

On our plot chart, we already wrote how the story starts. Each of our stories should start with the main story problem, just as our mentor text, STINK: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KID does.

And likewise, each of our stories should end with the resolution of the main story problem.

How should we do that, though?

Once again, let’s turn to our trusty mentor text for our guide. (Don’t you just love using a mentor text?)

Turn to page 102, or the very last page if for some reason there are different versions of the book floating around out there. What does the last paragraph say?

Everybody says growing takes time, thought Stink. It’s all part of the life cycle. One day, it’s going to happen to me. Me! Mr. James Moody!

Viola! There it is. The ending.

So if the beginning of the book starts with the Main Character’s (MC) main story problem (As in Stink being the shortest person in the whole world) then the ending will be a resolution of that exact problem.

With books at this reading level, the ending can be fairly predictable based on which universal theme you chose.

For example, if your story starts out that your MC is afraid to go to the dentist or the doctor, the ending is that it wasn’t that bad and the MC isn’t quite as afraid any more.

Or if your story starts out that your MC discovers he had a loose tooth, the ending can be that he discovers a new tooth is growing in the hole where it fell out.

With this in mind, go ahead and write on the chart how you want your story to end.

If you have an exact scene already in mind, write that in. If not, don’t worry about HOW you’ll get that accomplished. Some writers prefer making this discovery when they get there during the writing process.

Just know the goal that you’ll be aiming for as you write.

This will help your story’s structure be stronger from the get-go and you won’t waste hundreds of words that you’ll need to try to go back and fix because you were wandering around while writing without knowing your story’s destination.

Next we’ll talk about your story’s middle.

And if you’re just joining us and want to catch up with us, CLICK HERE to read the first post on our new chapter book adventure. Then scroll through the posts on up until today’s.

Posted by: nancyisanders | May 1, 2015

Faith-Building Friday

COMMITMENT

Commit your works to the Lord,
and your thoughts will be established.
-Proverbs 16:3, NKJV

An amazing thing happens when we commit our manuscripts to the Lord for Him to use according to His holy purposes. Our thoughts gel. Suddenly, we just KNOW what we’re supposed to write. He establishes our thoughts to put words down on paper that will minister to hearts much in the same way that a tree offers shade to weary travelers in a hot and dusty desert.

Dear Lord, I commit my thoughts, efforts, and words to You. I offer myself as a sacrifice to accomplish Your purposes through me and through the words that I write.

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

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 30, 2015

Chapter Book: The Plot

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Here’s the sentence we’ve been working on for our new early chapter book:

The MAIN CHARACTER who lives in SETTING does his UNIVERSAL THEME and has a PROBLEM.

Now that we have a sentence and have brainstormed all this information, we’re ready to talk plot.

Hey, if you were in charge of building this huge skyscraper I saw in Boston when we took a trip there, you’d plan the structure before you built it, wouldn’t you? It’s the same with plot. Planning the plot structure before you write is helpful to keep your story strong in the right places so it doesn’t come crashing down all around you while you’re working on it. That would be messy, right?

PLOT
Pure and simple, the plot of a story is how it starts in the beginning, what happens in the middle, and how it ends.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. For starters, hop on over to my site, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends. Scroll down to the BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET A and print out a copy for you to use.

Let’s fill out this worksheet together to plan the plot structure for our early chapter book. While I fill out mine, you can fill out yours. We’ll brainstorm together here today for the very first part:

The Beginning: How does the story start?

For help as we brainstorm, let’s take a peek at our trusty mentor text, Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald.

Turn to the opening page of Chapter 1. Read it.

Guess what?!!! On the very first page, we discover Stink’s problem.

He is the shortest human being in the world.

So guess what?!!! For your very own early chapter book, you want the story to start with your main character’s problem.

So go ahead and write that down on the chart you just printed out. Under the question: How does the story start?

That wasn’t too hard, was it?

In an upcoming post we’ll talk about what happens in the middle. We’ll keep working on this chart until we have it filled out. Together!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 27, 2015

Chapter Book: Just Write

This past weekend I went to our local Orange County Christian Writers Conference that takes place every year. It was so much fun to network and meet such great fellow writers and learn and grow and get inspired all together!

But in the meantime since we’ve been playing around with our sentence we’ve been working on, my brain has been taking off.

Here’s the sentence framework we’ve been working on:

The MAIN CHARACTER who lives in the SETTING does his UNIVERSAL THEME and has a PROBLEM.

My brain has been having snippets of conversation pop in with ideas when I’m doing other things. And snapshots of scenes.

So I’m keeping a notebook handy to write down all these things. I don’t want to waste anything that pops into my head!

I mention this here in my post today because I want to encourage you to just write if you have ideas that are taking shape in your head. There’s no right or wrong at this point.

Just write if you want to.

But keep on with the exercises we’re going to be doing here to help get everything into shape before you get too far.

And if you don’t have any ideas to write about yet, don’t worry! You don’t need to write a thing. We’re going to do some pre-writing exercises to get things in shape for our writing journey.

And if you’re just joining us and want to catch up with us, CLICK HERE to read the first post on our new chapter book adventure. Then scroll through the posts on up until today’s.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 24, 2015

Faith-Building Friday

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
but unto thy name give glory.
-Psalm 115:1, KJV

Feel the wind beneath our sails when God calls us to write for His purposes! And the reason we write? Not for our fame, not for our honor, but for the name of Jesus Christ to be praised!

Dear Lord, please help us keep our purpose for writing solely focused on our goal to bring glory to your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 20, 2015

Chapter Book: Take Your Universal Theme Up a Notch

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Saturday my hubby Jeff and I visited the beautiful Huntington Library with our son and daughter-in-law. Sigh…it was so beautiful and such a nice day! We almost stepped on this mama duck keeping a sleepy eye on her babies. So cute!!!

In our last few posts, we’ve been exploring how to brainstorm ideas for a story for a chapter book. We’ve talked about brainstorming ideas for our character. We’ve talked about brainstorming ideas for our setting. Today we’re going to talk about our universal theme.

If you’ve been following along by now you should have a sentence that looks something like this:

THE MAIN CHARACTER who lives in SETTING does his UNIVERSAL THEME.

Or more specifically:

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

Let’s just say you have chosen the universal theme: goes to first day of school.

Now, let’s brainstorm ideas on how to take that up a notch in kid-appeal and overall pizzaz.

Of course, you want to have a problem in here. So brainstorm what kinds of problems your main character could be having with this universal them.

Make a list of ideas about potential problems she might have.

For example, she might not want to go to her first day of school. This is a very typical problem for this universal them and it’s perfectly fine to use it! You can always choose a typical problem for a universal theme to get started. For example, for the universal theme of getting a new babysitter, the MC doesn’t want to meet them and is worried about what they’ll be like or who it will be.

But then you want to take it up a notch.

Ask yourself why? Why is your MC dreading attending her first day of school, for example.

Spend time thinking about ideas and list them down.

Here are some ideas:
She doesn’t want to attend her first day of school because it’s public school and she wishes her teen idol went there, too. (A fun twist could be that he has to attend public school for a month while they register him for private school…so she meets him anyhow!)

She doesn’t want to attend her first day of school because she’ll miss being home and talking with the mail lady every morning who is the daily gossip that fills her in on everything going on at the teen idol’s house.

Along with that, you can also brainstorm ideas specifically about the universal theme itself. How can you take your universal theme up a notch?

Say I was writing a story about the baby ducks I saw (in the photograph). Instead of having them be worried about starting their first day of school where they learn to read and write, I could make it be the first day of SWIMMING school.

When I wrote a story about Dudley the dog, who appears once a year in Clubhouse Jr magazine, one time I used the universal theme of worried about going to school and made it be DOGGIE OBEDIENCE SCHOOL where he had to learn how to sit.

If we were choosing the universal theme of going to the first day of school for our wannabe popular girl, she could be worried about going to the first day of GUITAR SCHOOL or DANCE SCHOOL or MANNERS SCHOOL.

Think of how you can spin a unique angle on your age-old universal theme and that will help you come up with a fresh, new, and even commercial idea all on your own!

Once you get that idea, plug it into your sentence, along with the problem you came up with. Here’s what that might look like:

The wannabe popular girl who lives next door to a famous kid-idol is worried about going to her first day of DANCE SCHOOL because it’s a co-ed school and she’s heard rumors that her kid-idol will be going too (and she’s a klutz).

After you reach this point, just play around with what you’ve come up with and let your brain have fun with it. Walk around with it for a couple of days and see if there’s any other way you want to tweak it to take it up a notch in the pizzazz and kid-appeal factors.

Then keep an eye out for an upcoming post as we discuss what we’ll do next with our chapter book idea!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 17, 2015

Faith-Building Friday

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

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

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

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

The pocket edition of Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement to give to your critique group buddies and writer friends!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 16, 2015

Chapter Book: Brainstorm Your Setting

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

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

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

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

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

I ended up choosing a combination of 3!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So stay tuned!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 15, 2015

This Week’s Teleclass

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What is Reader’s Theater?

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

Do you like Reader’s Theater?

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what to do:

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

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

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

Then Suzanne will send you directions for payment.

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

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

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

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

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 14, 2015

Orange County Christian Writers Conference: See You There!

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

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

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

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

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 13, 2015

Chapter Book: Brainstorming Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

Write it all down in a sentence.

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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