Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Writer's Life with Nancy Sanders

Welcome to day two of Nancy Sanders’ 6-day NWFCC February Author Showcase tour.

Q: What do you like best about being a writer?

A: I love being a writer! There are so many different aspects of a writer’s life that I enjoy. Every day is different. Some days I’m searching the Library of Congress for historic photographs I can use for free in my books. Other days I’m visiting the children’s library to collect dozens of books related to my current project. And still other days, I’m talking with people on the East Coast whose ancestors go back to the days before the American Revolution. In between all these fun tasks, I get to create and imagine and write.

Just this last week, I was writing an activity for a nonfiction book I’m writing right now. In the research I was doing about sailors in America in the mid 1800s, I discovered a picture of a sailor’s hat on the Internet, along with an explanation of how sailors used to make their hats. Basically, they took fabric from old sails, cut out pieces and stitched them together to form a hat. Then they covered the hat with tar to make it waterproof.

After giving this a bit of thought, I decided to try making a replica of this sailor’s hat, which was called a tarpaulin hat. I went to the fabric store and got a yard of fabric. I cut out some circles and hand stitched them together. I knew I couldn’t write a craft that had the kids painting a hat with tar, but suddenly I got the idea to use paint! So I painted the hat with black acrylic fabric paint.

I couldn’t believe it! The hat I made looks exactly like the actual tarpaulin hats sailors wore in the 1800s!

On my digital camera, I took a zillion pictures of each step as I made the hat. I’ll send these along with the written activity so the illustrator of my book will know exactly how to draw each step.

Just to know that kids all over America are going to learn now to make a sailor’s hat that looks like the real deal is very exciting to me. And all that work was part of a typical writing day.

When I was writing the book, Readers Theatre for African American History, I got to experience the excitement of creating read-aloud plays for the first time. I practiced reading some of the scripts aloud with my cat and writing buddy, Humphrey. My husband Jeff, a fourth grade teacher, took some of the scripts to his classroom and field-tested them. It was so exciting to hear reports of how his students really got into the scripts!

Interested in learning more about Nancy, visit:

Follow Day 3 of Ms. Sanders' tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix - at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.


  1. This was so interesting to read about how Nancy made a sailor's hat and about her writing day. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Great interview. I've read some of Nancy's work. She's very talented. Reading her books makes it easier for me to figure out how to share my love of history with young people.

    Best of luck,



Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my writing career.

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

I look forward to visiting you too.