Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guest Author, Nancy Sanders

Join me in welcoming guest author, Nancy Sanders. Nancy illustrious career will astound and inspire. Be sure to leave Nancy a comment and/or question, for she will be checking-in throughout the day. Without further ado, I present to you my interview with Ms. Sanders.

DMc: Your latest book, America’s Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders, celebrates the lives of Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Forten. How did you come about in focusing on these three individuals?

NS: When the capital of the United States was in Philadelphia during the late 1700s, all eyes of the newly-forming nation were focused on this city. During the time President Washington resided in Philadelphia, this city was home to the nation’s largest growing community of free blacks. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Forten were leaders of this community, and they were also close friends. Through the petitions they signed, the sermons they preached, the newspaper articles they wrote, the churches they founded, and the organizations they started, these Black Founders influenced the newly forming nation in powerful ways.

DMc: You specialize in writing about African American history for kids. How do you filter out and expand on one particular incident in so much rich content in African American history?

NS: I try to fit into series of books that publishers are already publishing. For instance, Sleeping Bear Press has a line of alphabet books on different cultures. So I pitched an idea to them for an alphabet book on African American history. They offered me a contract and I wrote D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet.

Libraries Unlimited has a series of books for teachers with readers theatre plays about American history. So I pitched an idea to them for a book of readers theatre plays on African American history. They offered me a contract, and my husband, a fourth grade teacher, and I wrote Readers Theatre for African American History.

Chicago Review Press has a series called “For Kids.” In this series I saw how they are publishing books on America’s Founders such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. So I pitched an idea to them for a book in this series about African American Founders. They offered me a contract, and I wrote America’s Black Founders.

Simply fitting into an existing series helps me focus on the content that will be in a certain book. To expand on one particular incident, I visit local universities and search through their collections of African American history to learn all about the event or individual. So in essence, I’m taking university level information and presenting it, some of it for the very first time, to the world of children.

DMc: Please share with us your current work-in-progress.

NS: Right now I have four book projects that I’m working on. Each one is under agreement with a separate publisher. My current deadline that I’m working on every day is for the second book in my series for children’s writers and will be released in late summer, 2010: Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books.

I’m also working on the second book in a middle grade series of historical fiction. The title of the series is the Black Patriots in the American Revolution. The first book in the series, A Dangerous Search: From Lexington to Bunker Hill, will be released this spring, 2010. I’ve already seen the artwork and the proof of the book, so I’m eager for it to come out! The second book, the one I’m currently writing, takes place at Valley Forge and revolves around the many African American troops who spent the harsh winter there, helping to protect the countryside around Philadelphia from marauding British Troops who had settled inside the city to wait out the winter.

DMc: Please share with us your differences in writing fiction and non-fiction.

NS: The facts stay the same in both types of writing, so the research is very intense for both. For my children’s nonfiction, I try to borrow fiction techniques to make the text come alive and the result is what is known as creative nonfiction. In other words, at times I try to incorporate dialogue and create realistic scenes within my nonfiction books, but I have to be very careful to stay true to the facts and not invent something of my own.

In my middle grade series of historical fiction, the Black Patriots in the American Revolution, the world is the same as the world of nonfiction. However, I invent an entire cast of imaginary characters to exist within this world. I work hard to make sure these characters fit into their world and often base their lives on actual people I’ve read about who also lived there. For instance, in the book I’m currently writing in this series about Valley Forge, I discovered that many women and children stayed at Valley Forge to cook for the troops and do the laundry. Even Martha Washington spent the winter there with the President! So I created a girl who has run away to escape being a slave, but breaks her leg and is forced to hide at Valley Forge while it heals, and accept the help of one of the women working for the troops. In my story, this girl interacts with some of the actual Black Patriots who spent the winter there, and that is how my readers come to know who these Black Patriots really were.

Interested in learning more about Nancy, visit her at:

Where you will also find a complete virtual book tour schedule.

Nancy, thank you for visiting today. It has been an honor to host you.


  1. Hi Donna and Nancy,

    What a great interview. I really enjoyed to stop by.

    Take care,

  2. Great interview Ladies! I learned so much about weaving actual facts with fiction.
    Your tip about finding a publisher who already has a series that you can write about is a smart way to find success. Thanks, Nancy, you're an amazing writer.

  3. Great interview!

    Nancy, today I listened to your interview with Suzanne on Book Bites for Kids. You're so prolific, it's really an inspiration.

  4. Very nice interview, and more facts I didn't know. Thanks for sharing. Nancy is an inspiration.

  5. What a wonderful interview ladies. I'll be reviewing Nancy's latest book at my blog soon.

    Nancy, your next book that is coming out is certainly something I would also be interested in reviewing. I'm definitely going to need to get my hands on more of your books anyway, because they all sound just wonderful.

    Keep up the great work.

    All my best,


  6. Hi Nancy: I admire your work. How do you begin your research process? Where do you go to get your information? How can a person follow this path?

  7. Hello Irene, Kathy, Mayra, Terri, Cheryl, and Kristi:

    Thanks for stopping by today and leaving Nancy such wonderful notes. Nancy will be stopping by later today, so be sure to check back in for her responses.

    Best wishes,

  8. What a great interview! Nancy thanks for sharing a bit of interesting and important history with us, as well as your writing process.

  9. Hi everyone! Thanks, Donna, for being such a wonderful host on my Virtual Book Tour today! I'll try to answer each of your comments. -Nancy

  10. Irene, thanks for being a stop on my tour yesterday! It's been great to have you on board. -Nancy

  11. Kathy, I call this strategy of looking for series to plug into being a Piggyback Writer. I explain in detail how it's done in my book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Career. It's how I've had some great success stories, so you should give it a try, too! -Nancy

  12. Mayra and Terri, I'm so glad you're being inspired. I truly believe that you can experience success, too, as a children's writer! -Nancy

  13. Cheryl, I'm so jazzed you're going to post a review of AMERICA'S BLACK FOUNDERS, too! Thanks a million! -Nancy

  14. Kristi, I explain a lot of my research process in depth in my book for children's writers, Yes! You Can... One key answer to your question is I recommend that as writers we build our own personal research library on a topic we're passionate about. Then we can write about a topic in many different genres and reuse our research and refer easily to the research library on our own shelves instead of always having to dig up more. -Nancy

  15. Veronica, thanks for stopping by and joining the tour! -Nancy

  16. Hi again, Nancy,

    I wanted to ask you something.

    You mentioned in your audio interview with Suzanne that you wrote and had published two picture books this past year.

    Were these fiction or nonfiction? Were these personal fulfillment projects or did you also sent proposals before writing them?

    I'm curious! :-)

  17. Hi Mayra,

    One was a ghost-write work-for-hire picture book someone asked me to write. So that was a low-pay project. The other was a personal fulfillment one where I wrote it for a friend who has a small publishing house--in other words I put her story into words--and then she published it. The name of that one is Princess Batilda. Both were fiction. And I didn't "seek" either of these out. It was a lot of fun to write in between this book's nonfiction research. So in other words, I used an entirely different "strategy" for getting those "published" than when I wrote America's Black Founders as my goal of earning income so I landed the contract before I wrote it.

    Thanks for asking! -Nancy

  18. You're a box full of surprises, Nancy! :-)

    Thanks for sharing that.

    How many middle-grade novels have you written? Have most of them been assigned?

  19. Mayra, I'm under a 4-book contract to write a series of historical fiction middle-grade novels. The first book is slated to come out this spring and I'm in the middle of writing the second book. I pitched the idea to an editor for the series and signed the contract for the first one. The other 3 haven't actually been under contract yet except to say in the contract that the other 3 are expected to follow. -Nancy

  20. With so many books published, how do you promote all of them? Or do you only have time to promote the last ones?

  21. Promotion is always a big issue. I don't promote my work-for-hire titles. Other titles have gone out of print so don't need promotion. Plus, some of my titles have sold big chunks, like 60,000 copies, to a single venue, and the publisher arranges those large deals. I'm constantly thinking of ways I can promote my current books in a grassroots sort of way, and that's why I put on stuff like a Virtual Book Tour. It seems that events like this help my other books, too, not just the featured one. Right now I'm reading a couple of books about internet promotion, which seems a solid way to reach people these days. I'm hoping to use some of these strategies for various of my books.

  22. Very impressive interview and information. Thank you Donna and Nancy.

    Nancy, I can't wait for your book about learning to write for beginning readers and chapter books comes out! That's just what I need.

    Karen Cioffi

  23. You've obviously hit a real niche that needed filling with your stories about African Americans. And, you obviously know your market and where to find publishers. Good job researching. Congratulations!

  24. Hi Karen, I'm glad you're interested in it! After I signed the contract to write the book I started looking for reference books on writing beginning readers and I can't find a thing. So it's REALLY needed. I'm busy working on writing the book right now and hopefully it will come out summer, 2010. -Nancy

  25. Thanks, Katie! That's exactly how I land most of my contracts to write books. I look for holes in a publisher's line and then pitch them an idea to fill that hole. It's usually be quite successful for me on various topics. -Nancy

  26. Hello All:

    Thanks for stopping by today and commenting and leaving questions for Nancy. It's been a wonderful day.

    Nancy, it's been a pleasure hosting you today. You certainly are very helpful to all those that come in contact with you. Best wishes for your continued success!

    Warm regards,

  27. Thanks so much, Donna! It's been a joy to have you as an Official Stop on my Virtual Book Tour!

    Best, Nancy

  28. Donna,
    What's your trick for getting people to enter into a discussion? I'm jealous. lol
    Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer


Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my historical fiction children's book, The Golden Pathway.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.