Category: Illustrators

More Than Just the Facts, Ma’am

When you think about writing for children, you might picture stacks of picture books or a shelf full of novels. But did you know there’s a large nonfiction market as well? In my workshop session “More Than Just the Facts, Ma’am,” I’m going to introduce you to the world of children’s nonfiction and educational publishing.

There’s more to writing for the educational market than just getting your facts right. In the workshop, you’ll not only discover how to find reliable sources but also learn how to submit to publishers and book packagers, write for a particular reading level, complete work-for-hire assignments, communicate with editors, deal with revisions, and—of course—get more assignments. In three years, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to write over 60 books with topics ranging from frog hotels to surviving on a deserted island.

But we can’t forget the picture book! Join me in the workshop “15 Things Not to Do When Writing a Picture Book.” I’ll take you through the picture-book-making process from both an author’s and illustrator’s point of view. You’ll also learn about some common mistakes to avoid as you write for younger readers.

Can’t wait to see you in March!


Samantha Bell writes nonfiction books for the educational market and is a regular nonfiction contributor for Clubhouse Jr. magazine. She’s the author/illustrator of 4 picture books and the illustrator of 14 picture books. The best part: her 12-year-old thinks she knows everything!


Ten Things NOT to Do When Writing a Picture Book

011Do you have a picture book in the works? If so, you know picture books are a lot harder to write than most people think. Whether you’re just starting to write your manuscript or are in the final stages of revision, here are some things not to do:

  1. Don’t write down to children. Children are smarter than we think! And since picture books are designed to be shared aloud with children, vocabulary and word choice don’t have to match reading levels.
  2. Don’t think about only the words. Illustrations are half of a picture book. The two should work together to create a story.
  3. Don’t write too much dialogue. Dialogue is difficult to illustrate.
  4. Don’t include too much description. Leave some room for the illustrator to work his or her magic with your manuscript.
  5. Don’t have a passive main character. Your main character needs to take action!
  6. Don’t have a parent or another adult resolve the conflict in the story. Your main character should be the problem solver.
  7. Don’t write stories about a dream. Endings where the main character wakes up to realize it was all a dream are often disappointing and unsatisfying to the reader.
  8. Don’t forget to include all elements of the plot. It’s a picture book, and it’s short, but it still needs to be engaging.
  9. Don’t send off your first draft. Or your second. Or your third. Polish it over and over until it shines!
  10. Don’t give up if you receive a rejection. Keep writing and submitting!

If Your Future Could Speak

tony-quotesMondaysWhen I was in the 3rd grade, Mrs. Wheatley, my teacher, gave my mother a warning. She said, “Mrs. Snipes, we just can’t let his imagination run off with him.” My mom didn’t heed that warning . . . and it’s the reason why I still daydream today!

One of my favorite daydream scenarios might actually involve you.

Here’s what I mean:

I love science fiction, especially stories about time travel!

What if I were a time traveler from the not-too-distant future, sent on a mission back to this decade? Let’s imagine that I’ve been here for a few years now, so I’ve blended in very well. (I know it’s not real, but humor me for a moment!)  :)

But what if the mission I was sent on involves you?

Let’s imagine that where I’m from, your creative endeavors have already grown and have been the key to lives being impacted, prayers being answered, and people being changed.

You just don’t know it right now.

i-believeRewind back to this point in your creative life. What if you, like many creatives, are at a crossroads?

  • You’re not really sure you have what it takes, but you know it’s a passion you can’t ignore.
  • You’re frustrated because you know you have talent, but you don’t know what you should be doing with it.


What if you find yourself asking these 3 age-old questions:prayer of the creative

  • Who am I? (Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist, teacher, musician, etc.?)
  • Why am I here?
  • What should I be doing? (What’s the purpose for my talent?)

This is what my session at Write2Ignite will tackle head on. The session is based on my book, God’s 7 Keys for Creative People. We will discuss:

  • How to know your creative identity.
  • Why your talent is important to God . . . and significant to the enemy!
  • Why it’s not too late to pursue your creative dreams.
  • How to stay creative, even with a schedule that doesn’t allow you to!

I’m so looking forward to meeting you in person at the Write2Ignite conference! In the meantime, here’s a super short video clip to give you a better idea about what I plan to share during my session: God’s 7 Keys for Creative People—2016 (from Tony Snipes on Vimeo).

Want to hear more? Visit my website,, and follow me on Facebook! Take a peek at video from my LIVE art events:, or just email me at

Believing “I Can” with Lisa Albinus

12552659_1101643753180045_6760201956927515323_nMy name is Lisa Albinus, I get to live the dream of being an artist as I live my life with a Bible tucked under my arm and a paintbrush in my hand. My greatest desire is to breathe hope into the latent, creative dreams of your childhood and the crayons that have been abandoned. We trade in our crayons for deadlines and status, abandoning color for the more mundane daily living that permeates our being.

Remember the easier times when a fresh box of 96 crayons was heaven on earth? The smell as you opened the box and saw all of the little soldiers sharpened, pristine, ready to be called out of the ranks and used for great masterpieces? Let’s return to a time of wonder and unlimited potential. When we glorify the Lord through color, there is a sweet freedom of expression.

Join me at the Write2Ignite Conference, and let your fire of creativity be rediscovered. I will take you on a colorful, creative adventure where we will find beauty in the darkness and rescue her from your past. Friday night, we will discover the freedom in mixed media journaling, awakening color within. Let’s clear away the cobwebs and make a stand against the lies that whisper, “You can’t”.

In addition, on Saturday, adults and youth can join me as we explore the sketching of faces and people, always within the context of mixed media. Don’t be afraid. Be bold, be fearless as you embrace new things and dormant dreams. Allow the child of yesterday, who squealed with delight at the new coloring book, to be your guide. You can—and I will help you.

Let’s change the world, together, through color.
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Reflecting with Illustrator and Author Tony Snipes

Tony Snipes illustrates and writes with passion. He shares that passion and his love for God as he helps others discover their purpose. Tony will share his talent as he returns to Write2Ignite this year to present two workshops.

In the adult workshop “A Mirror or a Flashlight?,” Tony will guide others to discover their power of creativity. The teens will enjoy Tony as he teaches a hands-on workshop, “Sketching Faces.”

Tony’s life brims with many things, including his precious wife and three daughters, but we’re glad he took a few minutes to chat with us.

Tony, what three things are most memorable to you about 2014?

The day we gave our daughter her first car, my last Art Slam Live event, and Christmas morning.

Was it your last Art Slam event or was there something extra special about the last one you hosted?

Yes, I still host the Art Slam Live event. I should have said the “most
recent” rather than “last”. The most recent event is when we actually
partnered with the city of Mauldin, SC. It led to more credibility. We are
partnering with them this year as well!

That’s great! And, I bet your prayer level went up as well with that first car!

BIG yes on that!

First cars, first sweethearts, and first jobs will always be memorable though. What was your first job?

Working for the Housing Authority for the summer when I was thirteen years old.

What type of work did you do for the Housing Authority at age 13?

It was a part of a city-wide summer program for kids. Another
young man and I assisted the maintenance team of an apartment complex. We didn’t
fix anything ourselves, just helped a LOT on the clean-up side of things.

That early exposure to maintenance and clean-up probably makes you a great husband today!

Tony,  you’ve done a variety of work over the years. At what point did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I knew I wanted to write my first book around 2003 when I began collecting my thoughts in journals.

Looking back over your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

I wish I had known more about the marketing side.

Anything specific about marketing?

Yes, how to build a following before you launch your book. It’s much
easier to do that now that we have social media. Also, not to look at
authoring a book as a method of getting rich, but rather looking at it as
a form of a “magnified business card”. Being able to put “the author of”
at the end of your name adds significant awareness to your personal brand.

Do you have any recommendations, of books or websites on marketing, for our blog readers?

Yes. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. Great book on basic methods of building a following!

What do you hope to learn this year?

How to perfect storytelling.

If awarded one day to talk with three authors (from any time period), whom would you choose?

Dr. Myles Munroe for his awesome books on purpose and the Kingdom principles of business; marketing guru Seth Godin; and entrepreneur expert Dan Miller.

The theme for Write2Ignite 2015 is “Shine.” What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

  • Tell great stories.
  • Have a marketing strategy.
  • Build your following, even before you launch your next book, using social media.

Tony, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Readers, you can connect with Tony at and and on Facebook.


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