Author Lisa Amstutz on Creating Nonfiction, plus Giveaway!

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Hello world!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome the talented nonfiction writer Lisa Amstutz. I consider her one of my mentors, so this is a real treat! She’s got a brand new nonfiction book out, Amazing Amphibians: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring Frogs, Toads, Salamanders, and More published by Chicago Review Press. Let’s support her by buying her book and/or reviewing it.

But first, Lisa is generously offering a FREE critique of a picture book (fiction or nonfiction) or the first ten pages of a longer nonfiction project! To be eligible, please leave a comment on this blog. It’s that easy! Deadline May 25.


Please describe the journey to publication for this book.
Chicago Review Press came onto my radar when several author friends were published with them. I liked the idea of writing for an already existing series, so I studied their catalog to see what might be missing. I pitched several ideas and wrote up a proposal for the one they were interested in, a book on amphibians. This was the longest book I’ve written to date, and I was responsible for finding the images as well, so it was a big project! I learned a lot in the process.

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
I’m an ecologist by training, and one of my goals as a writer is to help kids understand and appreciate the amazing world around them. I see education as the first step to building a more sustainable world. People tend to protect the things they know and love!

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
It varies by project, but I usually start with an outline. For a long project like this one, I break it down into manageable chunks and write one at a time. I am usually researching and writing more or less simultaneously. After I had a draft written, I revised and sent chapters off to critique partners for their comments. One the text was in place, I started searching for photos.

What draws you to the world of nonfiction?
I love the challenge of finding the story in science and making it interesting, fun, and accessible to young readers. It’s a satisfying blend of science and art.

Where do you see your career headed? Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
Upcoming titles include PLANTS FIGHT BACK (Dawn Publications/Sourcebooks, Fall 2020) and MARVELOUS MAMMALS (Chicago Review Press, 2021). And of course there are lots of other things in the works!

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts. Pick one classic and one contemporary book. What is it about them that moved you?
It’s hard to pick just one, but one of my favorite classics is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I love how she made very complex science topics accessible to the average reader. I’m also a fan of Sy Montgomery’s work and the way she brings the heart to science.

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
Go to a bookstore and browse the shelves in your genre. Notice which books you pick up. What made them stand out? Consider how you can give your book that same quality.

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any flavour of ice cream, which one would you be and why??
Since I just finished writing a mammal book, I’ll have to go with Moose Tracks! J

Lisa Amstutz is the author of more than 150 children’s books, including Applesauce Day, Finding a Dove for Gramps, and Amazing Amphibians. She specializes in topics related to science and agriculture. Lisa’s background includes a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Ecology/Environmental Science. She lives on a small-scale farm in Ohio with her family.

Social Media
Twitter: @LJAmstutz
Available wherever books are sold.
Amazon link:

30 thoughts on “Author Lisa Amstutz on Creating Nonfiction, plus Giveaway!

    Riya said:
    May 22, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing your process. Looking forward to ‘Plants Fight Back’ too. Such a great title!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Yes that one looks great too!


    Paula Henson said:
    May 22, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    This looks great. Also looking forward to Plants Fight Back!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 16, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Yay for science!


    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 16, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Heather Haylock said:
    May 16, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Always great to read about the processes different people use to write. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    kelbelroberts said:
    May 16, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Always love there author stories about the road to getting a book on the shelves!

    Liked by 1 person

    Sara Petersohn said:
    May 16, 2020 at 1:09 am

    What a great Q & A! I appreciated hearing about your process for writing this book. Thank you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    aturner513 said:
    May 15, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    I’ve read several of your interviews on various blogs, Lisa, and I always learn something and it’s always interesting. I also have a science background. Love your Amazing Amphibians book and thank you for the critique offer.

    Liked by 1 person

    Susan said:
    May 15, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    It is so wonderful to see the non-fiction books are on the rise! Lisa is reputable and interesting. Thank you for the good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    Nora Nickum said:
    May 15, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this interview and finding some pieces of wisdom as I work in marine conservation and am working on writing picture books that make science and nature fun and engaging too. Thank you both!
    I look forward to checking out these books. And I would just love to win the critique!

    Liked by 1 person

    Elia Ben-Ari said:
    May 15, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Congratulations on your new book! It’s encouraging to see a fellow scientist having such success with children’s books.

    Liked by 1 person

    Linda Hofke said:
    May 15, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Congrats, Lisa! This book looks toadly awesome.
    I love amphibians. I just read an article out the wolverine frog. Wow. It is one mighty weird frog.
    I can’t wait to see which amphibians you’ve featured in the book and to look at the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 15, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    What a great comment!


    Marta said:
    May 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    So glad to see an environmentalist so successful. It’s wonderful what you are doing. With more books like yours, children will grow up respecting their surroundings.

    Liked by 1 person

    Jeanette Koscheski said:
    May 15, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing about your book. Thanks for offering a critique.

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 15, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Glad to see you guys are buddies already!


    Kathy Halsey said:
    May 15, 2020 at 11:55 am

    This looks like a book my grandson Tobin and I will dig. I know Lisa, we’re Ohio SCBWI buddies, and shared a lon car ride to Ga for an NF retreat. Congrats on another book, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 14, 2020 at 8:32 am

    I agree with that! Thanks for stopping by 🙂


    Laura Purdie Salas said:
    May 14, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Congrats, Lisa! Researching and writing simultaneously…yep! They’re not nearly as separate parts of the process (for me, anyway) as lots of people think!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 13, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for stopping by Anita!


    anitayasuda said:
    May 13, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Looking forward to sharing Lisa’s book with students!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 13, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    I’m not sure who would love it more, my daughter or I!

    Liked by 2 people

    Angie said:
    May 13, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    This book sounds so good! Love the picture! Thanks for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 13, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    It’s always interesting to see how books come into this world…


    Mia Geiger said:
    May 13, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing how this book came to be! It looks informative, interactive, and fun! Best wishes with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 13, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it!


    idzikola said:
    May 13, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks Lydia for your interview of Lisa! I love her amphibian book!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lydia Lukidis responded:
    May 13, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    It’s a goodie! Good luck 🙂


    Susan Johnston Taylor said:
    May 13, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    This book looks great! Thanks for the opportunity for a critique.

    Liked by 1 person

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