Posted by: nancyisanders | November 2, 2010

Welcome to My World: Mini-Retreat

This week is a busy one for me. I’m wrapping up one book and launching off on a new one. To keep the two projects separate, I’m working on one in the morning and then switching to the other one after an hour-long break at lunch.

To launch a new book, I do what I always love to do: schedule myself a writer’s mini-retreat! Wanna take a peek and see what I did? Here’s how my mini-retreat went:

First I found a CD to inspire me. Because this book will be about African American history with an emphasis on the Civil War era, I chose a CD of Marian Anderson singing spirituals. How awesome it was to spend my mini-retreat floating on the musical waves of her powerful, deep voice, so rich with meaning.

As the notes of the music filled my house, I gleaned over my bookshelves and gathered the main research books I’ve been collecting for this upcoming project. I have 3 primary source autobiographies which will form the backbone of my book. I have a book that is a collection of speeches which will round out my project. I also have several books for adults and several books for children on my specific focus. I collected all these and spread them out on my dining room table. I organized them and put them in a general loose order of which books I’d need to read for specific chapters in my book.

Because I spent this last year preparing the proposal and landing the contract for this book, the entire book is already outlined and divided into chapters so I know where it’s going from beginning to end. Oh sure, there will be lots of fun surprises along the way, but the editor needed to see the scope of the whole book before they’d offer me a contract.

Then I sat down and organized 3 pocket folders to start the book. One pocket folder contains files pertaining to the publisher such as e-mails from my editor, a copy of my contract (the original is filed away), a copy of the proposal.

Another pocket folder contains research sources I will be exploring such as a file for the Library of Congress, a file listing more potential research books, and a file for Internet sites I want to explore.

The third pocket folder contains files regarding images I will be acquiring for the book. This file will grow and grow over the months ahead as I acquire the photographs I’m supposed to supply for the book.

I also read over my proposal and just let this project take root in my soul.

Then I went out and purchased a special notebook I’ll keep during the journey I spend writing this book. I’ll share what I do with this notebook in my next post.


  1. HI Nancy,

    You are wonderfully organized! I can see how that is really the foundation of good writing. You can’t ever get lost! Thanks so much for sharing your insider tips with us!


  2. Oh you’re welcome, Val. Scheduling mini-retreats is one of the most fun aspects of being a writer! -Nancy

  3. Sounds exciting, Nancy! What book did you just finish?

    • Actually, I didn’t quite finish it yet, so I’ll try to finish it next week! It’s WriteShop Jr. Book D…I have to work a little bit ahead of the homeschooling families who are testing it out! What are you working on these days? -Nancy

      • I might be a testing family for Book D also…not sure. It might be too hard for Anna (3rd gr). We’re enjoying WriteShop so far! For me, I don’t have much writing time 😦 I did get a query acceptance to Berry Blue Haiku for a craft, wrote it, and sent it in for December’s issue. Waiting for the edits on it. I’m also revising my ladybug story for when it’s my turn in Pens & Brushes. I’m amazed at all your contracts you’re getting lined up. Some day….

      • Yes, right now with homeschooling and learning Korean, I’m sure you are swamped!!! That’s so great that you got a query accepted for Berry Blue Haiku!!! -Nancy

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