It's a real treat to have as my guest award-winning and extraordinarily prolific (she's written over 75 books, after all!) author Nancy I. Sanders. To promote the release of her latest children's book, America’s Black Founders, Nancy will be touring the blogosphere this week. On this the second day of her tour, Nancy talks about her book, her inspiration for it, the publishing process and her writing habits. I hope you'll enjoy the interview!
Hi, Nancy. It's great to have you here. I see you write a lot of nonfiction children's books about the African American culture? Can you tell us when and how your passion for this subject started?
The first book I wrote on the African American culture was A Kid’s Guide to African American History. It covers the entire history from the glorious kingdoms in Africa during the Middle Ages up to current events. After I was done with that book, I realized I was in a very unique position. I knew a vast amount of university-level information on this topic AND I was a children’s writer. I therefore made it my goal to share the info I had learned in as many formats and genre as I could to reach as many kids as possible. I wanted to share my discoveries with the world! So far I’ve had a trade picture book, a book of readers theatre plays for middle grade students, and a nonfiction activity book published, along with my current title America’s Black Founders. This spring will also see the release of my first middle grade novel and a nonfiction book of primary sources—all on the topic of African American history for kids.
Your latest book is AMERICA'S BLACK FOUNDERS. In a nutshell, what does the book offer kids, educators, librarians and parents?
My goal and desire with this book is to show today’s generation the faces of the amazing men and women who helped found our nation. My book is filled with portraits of America’s Black Founders, many of which were difficult to find and not commonly seen in a children’s book. Through my book, I hope today’s generation will discover heroes by learning about Black Patriots and early African American leaders. My book features many biographies of America’s Black Founders. By telling their stories in my book, I want to inspire today’s generation to make a stand for the freedoms and rights of each individual, and to make a difference in our world. My book is filled with powerful accounts of individuals and groups of African Americans who rose up against tremendous odds and influenced history in amazing ways. Through this book, I want to offer kids, educators, librarians, and parents, role models for today’s generation to shape our nation’s future in positive ways.
Give us a timeline for this book, from coming up with the idea to its publication.
· April, 2005: I first got the idea to write this book. I let the idea germinate and grow inside me until I felt it was strong enough to share.
· March, 2006: I pitched the idea for this book over the phone to Chicago Review Press, the publisher of A Kid’s Guide to African American History, and the publisher requested a proposal.
· October, 2006: I submitted the proposal to the publisher.
· November, 2007: Editor Jerry Pohlen called me on the phone and offered me a contract. We set a one-year deadline. Wahoo!
· January through December 2008: I wrote the book.
· December, 2008: I finished the book and submitted it for my deadline.
· January, 2010: America’s Black Founders hit the market, already racking up presales of over 1700 books.
From the time I first got the idea for this book in April, 2005 until I signed the contract in December, 2007, I worked on other book deadlines. Then I cleared my plate of most other deadlines so that for an entire year, I could devote my energies and focus on the intense research needed to write this book. It was a very challenging, yet very very rewarding journey to take.
I love reading about the writing habits of other writers. Can you talk a little about the way you work once you have been offered a contract for a book that's not yet written? Do you have any writing quirks?
When I’m ready to start writing a book that’s under contract, I take a mini-writer’s retreat and set aside 3-4 hours by myself to really get connected with my current book project. Because I line book deadlines up like ducks in a row, it may have been 6 months or so since I signed the contract and I might have been working on 1 or 2 other deadlines in between. Then, when I feel totally connected with my new book, I launch off on the exciting adventure!
One of my writing quirks is that I tend to change location frequently when I write. I have different spots in my house where I complete different writing tasks. I set up a research center on my card table or at a small desk where I do my research. I sit in my office at my main desk to type my manuscript. I sit on a chair looking out at my birdfeeders to read manuscripts out loud. (Children’s authors should always take time to read their manuscripts aloud. Smile.) Then I put my feet up in my reclining sofa for editing and brainstorming sessions. Plus, I take frequent breaks throughout my day to do manual tasks such as ironing and washing the dishes and gardening, while I plot the next scene in my head or think through a problem area of my manuscript. Not only does all this moving around give me fresh perspectives on my writing, it minimizes stiffness, helps avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, and reduces eye strain.
Thanks, Nancy, and good luck with the tour!
Nancy will continue her virtual book tour all this week, so be sure to visit her other stops. To her complete schedule, visit her BLOG.