Category Archives: Uncategorized

Welcome to Wordsmiths!

We’re so happy you’ve stopped by to visit our site! Welcome, fellow writers and wordsmiths!

Wordsmiths is a group of women who have a heart for the Lord, a passion for writing, and a commitment to encourage each other as well as fellow writers.

Wordsmiths no longer meets, but we want to welcome you to explore our site that we created while we did. Browse through our numerous posts on writing! Search for key words or terms about a topic on writing that interests you! Stay here and visit for awhile to be inspired and encouraged and challenged to grow as a writer who is called by God.

To get to know us better, please visit our page Meet Our Members.

To gather practical tips as well as inspiration on writing, read our page Blog Highlights.

We pray you are blessed as you explore our site.

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Adopt a Classroom

I recommend that every writer adopt a classroom.

How?
Most people I know live fairly close to an school. Go to a local school where children are the same age you write for. Volunteer to help in one of the classrooms. Work in your comfort zone. If you love to work with kids, volunteer for tasks such as working with slower learners or accelerated students. If that’s not your cup of tea, volunteer to help photocopy teacher handouts or prepare craft materials for class projects.

Why?
Each time you walk into that school, you’ll automatically see the stuff that’s hanging on the walls. You’ll learn the cutting edge information about how teachers work and how schools are being run. You’ll interact with students, even if it’s just saying “Hi” as you pass them in the hall. And if you’re really brave, you can work with the teacher and share samples of your writing on a regular basis, gathering student feedback.

Adopting a classroom is also beneficial if you’re writing for the educational market. It gives you lots of material to use, plus beefs up your resume with school experience even if you’re not an educator. And if you’re not writing for the educational market, you can tell your publishers in the trade market how your book might fit into school curriculum, which is a big plus for potential sales.

-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders

School Visits? Maybe…

I am probably the least qualified of any member of Wordsmiths to write about the School Market!  I have never written for an educational publisher, and the only school visits I’ve ever done were a presentations, for a few years, for Career Week at the elementary school where my daughter teaches.  Let’s just say these were not the high quality presentations she, and I, would have liked!  But, here are a few tips I learned along the way to help anyone’s school presentation be better.

*Speak slowly!  When we are nervous we tend to speak more quickly (at least I do) and not only is it difficult for listeners to keep up, but what you thought was a 20 minute presentation can easily turn out to take only 10 !!

*Be as inter-active as possible.  When you can get the students involved, they become more eager and interested (and the time goes faster, too!)

*Visual aids are always a help.  Even if you don’t have a published book, pages from magazines with your stories and articles on them (especially if they are in color) will hold students’ interest.  Any other charts or posters you can devise will also be interesting.

*Have “freebies” to give out, if possible.  Elementary school kids love to get something free and unexpected.  Small token hand-outs, such a bookmarks or copies of your short story, or other similar items are always a hit.

*Be prepared for questions, even the unusual.  Teachers often prepare the class to ask such things as, “What do you like best about your job?” and “What is the most unusual thing that ever happened to you in your work?”  But I’ve also heard “Are you rich?” and, from one bemused young boy, “How old were you when you got married?!”

*Be prepared to sign autographs!  For some reason, young kids are enthralled by getting someone’s signature, and even if I wasn’t the most scintillating speaker, they still asked me to sign the copies of my stories or even a blank piece of paper.

*Always keep a smile on your face, even if you feel you are sinking fast, and thank the teacher for inviting you and the students for listening. 

I don’t know if I’ll do school visits again, but if I do, I’ll keep the above ideas in mind.  I hope they will help others, too!

Marjorie Flathers

Writing for the School Market

Tapping into the school market can be tricky. First, you must study the state standards for the grades you are focusing on. This is essential, for markets typically zone in on subjects kids are expected to learn about. Second, you must research thoroughly the subjects you want to write about — and that research must be up to date and reliable. Third, you must find publishers who have gaps that you can fill.

Ideally, writing for the school market will involve assignments. I wrote about fifty articles for Current Health 1 (younger kids) and  Current Health 2 (older kids). The subjects were assigned and could cover anything from replacing a lost tooth to bulemia. Sports articles and articles about good sportsmanship are also popular, as are pieces that talk about peer pressure and how to settle arguments.

The magazines I wrote for wanted nonfiction written with fiction techniques. In other words, I created characters who had problems, interacted with each other, learned new information, and felt better about themselves as a result.

If that sounds like a story line . . . it was. Sharing facts through story telling makes it easier for kids to absorb important information.

If you are thinking of writing for this lucrative market, remember those three rules: (1) know your subject; (2) research until you really know what you are talking about; (3) look for gaps that you can fill. Before long, you will be in demand as an expert on writing articles that fill requirements of state standards, and the checks will will come rolling in!

The First Visit

I hoped my nervousness didn’t show. I was standing in front of a class of 60+ kids, waiting to talk to them about writing and being a writer. Many of them had seen me around school before. One of their classmates was my daughter, so I was no stranger. Yet, I felt strange. This was my first school visit, and I hoped my preparation would pay off.

I began by talking about writing in general, and then I spoke about my own writing journey. They were able to see samples of my work, from the newsletters I started with, to the colorful magazines I still contributed to, to my brand new nonfiction picture book, my first published book. The kids were very attentive. The listened in silence, asked questions at the appropriate time, and were very enthused about the bookmarks I handed out. Of course, the best part was the end when I had several students  asked me to autograph their bookmarks. Weeks later my daughter was still hearing, “Your mom is sooo cool!”

The first school visit will always include some element of fear since a beginning author doesn’t know what to expect. But planning out a presentation, bringing samples that can be looked at, and handing out something the kids can keep, will all help make your presentation fun and exciting. I know I’ll always remember my first school visit. I just hope those kids will, too.

Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio

School Days are Here Again!

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
Matt 13:31

Welcome back to the school students!
May the knowledge you receive grow with God.

Welcome back to school, teachers!
May the instruction you give be filled with God’s care.

Welcome back to school, authors and illustrators!
May your words and pictures be like the smallest of seeds, ready to sprout and grow in God’s service!

 

contributed by Veronica Walsh, children’s book illustrator

C is for Critique Group

Cheers for a job well done!
Really fun fellowship and friends
Ideas and inspiration
Timely market tips
Important feedback and constructive criticism
Questions asked. Answers provided.
Understanding ears and sympathetic hearts
Encouragement, enthusiasm, and energy!

Guidance and grace
Restoration, refreshment, and renewal
Opportunity for testing the waters
Uplifting prayers for God’s purposes
Polished to perfection and ready for publication!

-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders