Good News!

I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled programming (I usually reserve Thursdays for introducing new symbols and creativity exercises in the symbols for writers series) for a spot of good news:

I just had my first nonfiction book published: Voyagers in Space.

Voyagers in Space_Reading A-Z Level S Leveled Book

Voyagers in Space is a leveled reader produced by Reading A-Z, a publisher that produces a broad range of leveled reading material for classroom use. As such, it’s not a book you’ll find in the library or bookstore–it’s only available for Reading A-Z subscribers.

I loved this project, and I’m delighted with how the final version came out. Thanks for celebrating with me!

:~) Cheryl


The Ultimate Creativity Power-Up for Introverts

As an (almost) off-the-chart introvert, I could be perfectly happy spending my days tapping away at the computer in a cabin in the woods, far away from civilization, without ever venturing into the real world. And despite the appeal that this scenario may have for the other introverts out there–you know who you are!–doing so would be a huge mistake.

Why? Because travel, and stepping outside your comfort zone, is one of the world’s best creativity boosters. All you have to do is keep your eyes, ears, and notebooks open.

Rather than list all the fine ways that travel, a change of scenery, and the unexpected can stimulate ideas–insight!–and lightning bolts of inspiration, I’d like to share some photos from my most recent creativity-boosting excursion: a visit to the little-known Bishop Castle.

Bishop Castle


More of a living sculpture than an actual building, this remarkable place is the creation of metalworker Jim Bishop. He’s been working on it for 40-plus years and is still hard at it, with plans for a dungeon, a wall encircling the property, and a rotating chamber seated atop one of the stone towers, covered with a geodesic dome of iron and tempered glass panes.

This building will certainly influence one of the major settings in my next novel. The man behind it–well, let’s just say he’s as inspirational as the building he’s creating. Talking with him was a delight! Reading his signs was almost as great. Scroll down to see what I mean :).

Bishop CastleBishop Castle





Bishop CastleBishop CastleBishop CastleBishop CastleBishop Castle


Fun Publishing News

My friend and fellow writer, the fabulous Anna-Maria Crum, announced the release of her new interactive picture book Monster Numbers. It is SOOOO cute! This is an app for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The program will read the story and count the monster parts—or you can record your own narration for a personal touch.

imageI’ve purchased a few picture/photo books for the Kindle and been sorely disappointed. The Kindle format is great for text, but isn’t kind to a book’s layout—resulting in picture books where the pictures are divorced from the relevant text and captions and graphs are difficult or impossible to read.

I love Anna-Maria’s book/app, because it takes advantage of the medium to accomplish more than a picture book could. It’s not a game, though—it retains that picture book feel but adds an interactive touch seldom found in an actual hard-copy book.

Plus it’s easier to pack :).

Another successful book-for-iPad effort I’ve seen recently is Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night, by nonfiction children’s book author Mary Kay Carson. This book/app is written slightly older readers, but it’s so filled with fascinating facts, illustrations, text, and animations that my high school kids confiscated it to read. This book, too, takes advantage of the medium with panoramic screen shots that give you the feeling that you’re flying through the forest. “Callouts” offer sketches, additional facts, and photos.

I’ve never seen a book experience quite like this one…but then again, I’m not an expert in the growing electronic picture book world.

Have you seen any great book apps for the tablets, smart phones, or other devices? Any features that work especially well for the electronic format?

Meet Award-Winning Author Nancy I. Sanders—and her Publisher, Chicago Review Press

This week, I’m participating in Nancy I. Sander’s Book Launch Party for her new picture book, Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities. Here, she shares insight about working with her fabulous publisher, Chicago Review Press. Hop on over to her site for more book launch fun!


Featured Book

Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities, by Nancy I. Sanders

Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.

Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.

You can purchase Frederick Douglass for Kids here.

clip_image001Interview with the Author

How did you hear about Chicago Review Press?

When our sons Dan and Ben were in elementary school, their teachers and the librarians at our local library had these great children’s nonfiction books they were using chock full of activities and great information! I fell in love with books like Westward Ho! and Colonial Kids by Laurie Carlson and had fun making the crafts and activities with my sons. As I became more familiar with these books, I started to think, “Hey! I could try to write a book like this.” So I wrote a proposal and submitted it to them along with my resume.

They rejected my proposal. But I got a letter back from the editor along with the rejection saying that they saw on my resume that I write for the Christian market. They asked me to submit a proposal to them on the history of the Bible. That’s how my very first book with Chicago Review Press was born: Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide.

What sets this publisher apart from others in the industry?

There are two things that make Chicago Review Press children’s nonfiction books unique.

First, there are plenty of craft and activity books out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s activity books for kids include a phenomenal amount of interesting historical information. These activity books read like exciting history books!

The second thing is that there is plenty of great nonfiction out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s history books are famous for their activities that are included. These aren’t just crafts or busy work, however. These are historical based activities, the kind you’ll find at a museum for kids to do to get an authentic feel for what life was like during that era.

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